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I am so honoured to be included in this, the first Photo Blog Awards from Life.com. Indeed, it was visiting the Time Life Picture Collection in 1993 when I first thought about publishing my own magazine, wanting to show more in-depth features than had become vogue. Not only in incredibly good company, including ConscientiousTime's LightboxAmerican Suburb XBurnFeatureshootNY Times Lens Blog and NPR Picture Show, but also such a wonderful write-up. 

"This is a blog in love with photographers. Scroll down aCurator's page and you'll see one photographer's name after another in bold, black letters with sharp, seductive images in between. These posts often link to glorious, full-screen features - free of surrounding navigation bars and text - on the main aCurator.com site... But the signature strength of the aCurator blog is, in fact, suggested by its name. Grahame is a curator with a flawless eye and, in her assessment of the work she presents, an immediately trustworthy, no-frills tone...  aCurator's triumph is a clarity of purpose wedded to a keen intelligence, and a willingness to let its stunning photographs largely speak for themselves." - From Life.com

I am fortunate and thoroughly privileged to have also been named in the top ten photo blogs by JM Colberg of Conscientious in his interview with the British Journal of Photography

Girl_David_Pace.jpgMy colleague Stella Kramer met David Pace this year at Photolucida and recommended his work. She thought I would particularly enjoy 'Friday Night', the week's end party in Bereba where David lives when he's in Burkina Faso. Upon visiting his website I was struck by all his images from this small, land-locked country in West Africa, so we decided to create a broader feature.

"Two of my colleagues from Santa Clara University formed a non-profit organization called Friends of African Village Libraries (FAVL) in Burkina Faso in 2001. Burkina Faso has one of the world's lowest literacy rates and FAVL builds small libraries in rural villages to help address this problem. In 2007 my colleagues invited me to visit them while they were doing research in Burkina and asked me to photograph the libraries. That was my first trip to Africa and my first experience of village life. I began taking portraits of the villagers and documenting everyday activities. It was a life changing experience.

Over the years I have developed several ongoing photographic projects in various parts of Burkina Faso. The Bereba Portraits and Friday Night portfolios are all shot in and around the village of Bereba in the southwest. The photographs of the Kiosks and the Tabtenga Quarry are taken on the central plateau near Ouagadougou, the capital.

I spend the fall teaching digital photography to American college students in a study abroad program through the University. My students stay in Ouagadougou, the country's capital, for the first weeks of instruction and then I take them to live in remote villages without electricity or running water where they photograph, experience traditional village life and do internships in rural libraries. The students study French & French Literature, developmental economics, environmental studies and digital photography. One of their main projects is to work with someone in their village and create two photo books which explore some aspect of village life. The students write texts in simple French for beginning readers. We publish the books in small quantities and take them back to the libraries."

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

© David Pace

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There's a new gallery in Austin, Texas. B. Hollyman Gallery is opening their third show on June 4th, 2011, with Texan photographer (and aCurator favourite) Jo Ann Santangelo. Her series 'Walking the Block' is a collection of black and white photographs documenting the LGBT community of New York City's Christopher Street. Jo Ann worked on this project for close to two years, shooting at night. 

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From the gallery's Q & A:
What were your intentions at the beginning of this project?
"I didn't have any intentions; it was pure curiosity, the project started pretty organically. One evening, a fellow classmate and I went to Christopher Street in search of Damion, a homeless transgender teenager I had been hanging out with, and passed Chi Chiz bar. The sidewalk scene in front of Chi Chiz was something I had never witnessed before. My friend and I hung out in and outside of Chi Chiz for the rest of the night. After a while, one of the ladies asked if we were cops, saying our presence was making some of them nervous. I admitted we were photo students and I was looking for one homeless trans kid, and she replied, "Well, we all aren't homeless." I said, "I know, that is why I'm here...I don't mean any harm." Qwana replied, "I know. That is why you are still here."

For some reason, they allowed me to not only take their photos, but welcomed me into their family. Night after night I went back down to Christopher Street."

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How did the project transform along the way?
"As I changed from curious on-looker to an insider my only intention was to document. It was a privilege and honor to be accepted into this community. I wanted others to see them as I did. Not just as a bunch of transgender sex workers and male escorts walking the block, but as human beings, as individuals."

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All images © Jo Ann Santangelo

B. Hollyman's current exhibition is from another aCurator fave, Walker Pickering

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"By making a connection between one's inner life and the greater world, art transforms not only what we see but who we are. At the heart of this process is empathy."

David Wolf's series 'Nurturing Time - Life in a Backyard Garden' called to mind two of my favourite books, Michael Pollan's 'The Botany of Desire' and 'Second Nature', both about our relationship to and influence on the natural world.

"I unexpectedly became a gardener when I moved into my current home, allowing me to connect with Nature in an altogether different and deeply rewarding way. In the series, 'Nurturing Time', the intimacy of a backyard garden serves as a metaphor for the greater natural world, exploring how we shape and control Nature even as we nurture it. 

Our presence in Nature is depicted in arrangements I've made from plant and flower cuttings taken from my garden. I photograph the plants in isolation as types--often altering them by drying, tying or otherwise reconfiguring their appearance--and in arranged combinations that speak to associations, or suggest contradictions, presented by the assembled elements against a chosen background. A simple cardboard box acts as both neutral container and conceptual envelope to display the arrangements.

Beyond typology, 'Nurturing Time' offers us the richness of the garden and illuminates our connection to it. The assembled flower boxes resonate with a range of emotion, reflecting our own experience of the cycle of life that embraces vitality and decay, abundance and loss. Memory, Time's shadow, is present here, too, as events and lives are evoked and memorialized by these images." - David Wolf.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Wolf's photographs have been exhibited nationally at such venues as the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Griffin Museum of Photography, and the Photographic Center Northwest.  He exhibited his current series, Nurturing Time, Life in a Backyard Garden, at the Lishui International Photography Festival in Lishui, China.

Orange tree: blossom, leaves and fruit 2008 © David Wolf

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We would like to congratulate teachers Jennifer Grimm, Lydia Hardacre and Darren Vaast of Glendale School, Calgary, on the completion of their brilliant Karsh project. Each of the Grade 5 and 6 students recreated a Karsh portrait and also made a documentary style movie based on the person they each chose.

"This project really came about through serendipity and involved a wistful desire to go to the Glenbow Museum and a chance look at the upcoming shows to discover that a Yousuf Karsh exhibition was coming to Calgary. After an innocent email asking for permission to use Karsh portraits as inspirations, we had our final photography assignment!"

After learning about Mr Karsh's history, the students referenced dozens of portraits including Mandela, Hemingway, Schweitzer, Warhol, Hepburn, Keller, Cousteau and Bogart, researching their subjects and recreating the original photograph.

Click through to 'Finished Products' to enjoy the complete set of images and videos - you might even learn a thing or two! Nothing I did at school came close to being this cool!

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Sam as Nelson Mandela / Top: Leyla as QEII

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Aimee as Audrey Hepburn. Original photographs © Yousuf Karsh

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Welcome to Aoife O'Donnell's minuscule yet magnificent world. aCurator is fascinated by these photomicrographs.

"Art and science are moving towards each other, enabling both disciplines to discover common issues and methods. Once-clear divisions are no longer reliably separate, prompting this project to represent the potential for an increasing overlap of interests. While the outcome of studies in art and science often differs, the creative imaginative processes are similar.

Micro Portraits falls under what has been deemed the genre sci-art which seeks to locate connections between the arts and science through borrowed methods and collaborations. It is the result of an interdisciplinary collaboration between the photographer and Fergus Ryan, professor of biology at the Dublin Institute of Technology. The project is concerned with alternative imaging techniques used in laboratories and the element of non-human intervention in creating imagery. The photographer is using microscopes to record images of cells, tissue, DNA and various other effluvia from her family and herself.

Removed from their usual context of the laboratory, these new genetic portraits seek to interrupt the traditional notion of the family portrait in photography prompting the viewer to consider the transformations and changes occurring inside the body on a cellular level,and questions when the alternative portrait produced by scientific imaging moves from the generic to the personal. The photographer provides a privileged opportunity for the viewer to get up close and personal with elements of the body which may previously have eluded recognition."

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Aoife O'Donnell is an Irish visual artist based in New York City, who specializes in photomicrography. O'Donnell completed a B.A. in photography at the Dublin Institute of Technology and has previously studied at Columbia College Chicago during 2008. Upon graduating she was awarded the Dublin Institute of Technology Medal for exceptional performance. Having exhibited her current body of work entitled Micro Portraits at the Gallery of Photography, she was selected to exhibit at the Photo Ireland Festival and at RUA RED's summer exhibition 2010. Her work has also been exhibited at Filmbase, The Joinery, The Back Loft, The Homeless Gallery and The Complex. It has been reviewed in the Irish Arts Review autumn edition 2010. O'Donnell has contributed to various companies including Merc London, Red Stripe UK and Starchild Chicago. She currently divides her time working at Griffin Editions, The International Center of Photography and Rick Wester Fine Art. Micro Portraits will be exhibited at Raandesk Gallery, New York City in October 2011.

Hair Follicle, 100x © Aoife O'Donnell

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Miriam O'Connor is my latest crush. Her submission of 'Attention Seekers' filled me with joy; it's refreshing, smart and humorous. I think her statement outlines this project best, but I will say to go to her website because each category is a gift in its own right. Relatively young still, Miriam's been exhibited in her hometown of Dublin and elsewhere in Europe. I hope she continues to get the exposure she deserves.

"In this work O' Connor's approach is best surmised as being concerned with the representation of scenes which appear to 'petition for attention'... Each of the scenes, while executed with a formal exactitude, exhibit ambiguous clues and mischievous impressions, where the interplay of color, form and sequencing are all-important signifiers in engaging with the series."

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All images © Miriam O'Connor


Baron_Wolman_invitation.jpgComing soon is one of the best books you'll buy this year, Baron Wolman's Every Picture Tells A Story: The Rolling Stone Years. In case you don't know, Baron was Rolling Stone magazine's first photographer and photographed every cool and groovy musician at the time, Jimi, Janis, Jim, Jerry et al.

Whilst we prep for the release of the book, Baron will be nipping over to Moscow for the opening of his solo show at Pobeda Gallery. Head on over to the Red October Chocolate Factory!

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Stifling, claustrophobic, oppressive, sweltering. I'm not talking about the tube's airless Circle Line or the subway's over-conditioned L train in rush hour but the unreserved general compartments of Indian Railways.

Kolkata-based Ronny Sen has worked for publications in both India and abroad. His works have been published and exhibited in many countries. Since 2006 he has been awarded by the Sony World Photography Awards, National Geographic Magazine, Shoot nations by the UN, Powerhouse, The Forward Thinking Museum, and The Lonely Planet Magazine. Presently, he is working on his long term project 'Documenting Death' which revolves around people who are dying.

Ronny waxes lyrical about this work-in-progress:

The apparition of these faces in the crowd,
Petals on a wet, black bough.
- In a Station of the Metro.

...unforgettable as an expression of a poetic experience of the highest order. The inexorable spell of these two lines by Ezra Pound weighs upon me whenever I catch sight of a typically Indian scene crammed with people. The lines recycle themselves into visuals as I scratch around for the right frame to showcase my perception of the Indian reality. Particularly when my camera chances upon the mess one finds so frequently in the unreserved general compartments of a railway carriage.

It is needless to remind ourselves that the lines have nothing characteristically Indian about them. Ostensibly, though, they depict the crowd in a station of the Metro. The pen-picture of the 'Petals on a wet, black bough' speaks clearly of a different clime. 'The apparition of these faces in the crowd' of the first line, on the other hand, keeps haunting you even as you try to escape.

Travel the length of the country. Board a train, thrust your way through the crowd to some messy corner of a general compartment and you start loosing your identity. One can safely predict a traumatic journey to the destination of absolute facelessness.

What the series seeks to capture is the chaos of a sick, thick throng gasping of air. It takes you straight into the heart of the muddle and the mess. It makes you listen to the muffled voice of individuality.

Ruthlessly robbed of your right to breathe, you are already there, sharing with the hapless masses the unbearable tightness of being---bearing with them the full burden of an inescapable Indian experience.

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All images © Ronny Sen

VIV-ALBERTINE_Erica-Echenberg.jpgErica Echenberg is a name I knew from the little stickers we used to use on slides back in the 80s and 90s* - my agency repped her extensive archive in the US - and I only just met her in person recently. We will be working together over the coming months along with another important woman in the industry, Dede Millar, ex-Director of the Redferns picture library, on an exciting new project. Details will follow but in the meantime, having read and shared Viv Goldman's article in the Village Voice about Poly Styrene and other influential women in music Erica sent me a couple of recent shots of Viv Albertine, formerly of The Slits.

"The gig was at the 100 club in Oxford Street, and Viv Albertine was supporting Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols. Viv... does a solo 30 minute set of quirky, sometimes amusing and very memorable acoustic-guitar backed songs about love, sex and boys. It's the same set that went down so well at the Rich Kids' reunion at the start of the year, and with the venue quickly filling for the main event she gets a great reception from the crowd." - Erica

Viv Albertine © Erica Echenberg

*see me for history lesson.

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