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.
Erica 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.
With a somewhat long and multifarious background in photography, including being a 1982 Pulitzer finalist, a DP, and an educator, Walt Stricklin
submitted his 'Made in China' series knowing that the full screen format of aCurator would do the images great justice.*
In 2010 Walt took an opportunity to travel to Inner Mongolia, attend the inaugural photo festival and enjoy the photo opp - favouring panoramic format he says "I want to go beyond the edge of the frame of my camera. The problem I had with most panoramas I had seen was their homogenized, static, and lifeless. I want my pictures to have context, a sense of place and most important, my vision of the scene." - and the results are some glorious 'Scapes.
"I have been working seriously in composite panorama landscapes since 2008. I love the freedom it allows me to open my vision and shoot pictures that are not possible any other way. I have tried to carry it beyond the traditional landscapes and make them a blend of reality and my interpretation of any given situation.
These images are from a recent visit to Xiang Sha Wan (a tourist destination in the Gobi), Inner Mongolia, China. I was one of 10 American Landscape photographers invited to participate in an exhibition for the inaugural photo conference presented by Photo China magazine." View the full screen magazine photo feature
*And, it does! In fact, this particular series would look very impressive
on the largest monitor you can find at your local Apple Store. Go ahead, pull up aCurator, and bring some full screen eye candy to your fellow shoppers!Whispers of the Singing Sand © Walt Stricklin Gina LeVay
has always impressed me, ever since as a youngster she tipped up in my office with a bunch of contact sheets of Morgan Spurlock around the time of 'Super Size Me'. Gina has gamely tackled New York City's underground Sandhogs, the guys who drilled our city's water tunnel (featured in the launch of aCurator
magazine) and is working on her (sadly, ongoing) 'American Widow Project'.
Her latest exhibition is from the project on female bull fighters she executed in Spain and Mexico over the past 5 years, portraying elegance in a brutal circus. "I was curious to meet the few tenacious young women who have upended centuries of tradition by penetrating the antiquated, machismo world of bullfighting."
More info at Hous Projects
, where the exhibition opens on May 5th and runs through June 25th.
I'm squeamish, so I chose a few images that do not show any pierced flesh.
I had the pleasure of meeting the artist Anne Arden McDonald
at a solo exhibition in Brooklyn recently. Anne works in a really wide range of media, including photographic prints that she makes both with and without cameras. The recent installation includes prints measuring up to 90" in some cases along with smaller prints that feature details. In intricate processes Anne makes contacts prints using various objects, bleaching and manipulating the resulting prints (in one case, painted with "medicines, spices and household cleaners").
As a person with almost no patience I am fascinated and in awe of Anne's work. Here are just a couple of examples of her photography and there are more series on her website
.Bone, 2011, 105 x 50 ins.
Bleach painting made with spongesFragility, 2011, 126 x 50 ins.
Contact print of a pile of layers of glass and eggshells, exposed with a flashlight
Cells, 2007, 69 x 50 ins.
Contact print of circular and spherical objectsAll images © Anne Arden McDonald
Talk about stumbling upon... I was asked to answer some questions for the Parsons School of Design MFA Photography Catalog and whilst browsing last year's I saw this and just had to post it.
Bobby Davison has some most intriguing work on his website, Untitled Proof
, that you need to check out.
"Interstate 40 divides the state of Arizona from north and south where two cultures touch. AAA maps call it Indian Country to the north and state land to the south. I went to photograph the Four Corners, inspired by an image Robert Frank took in the Americans, Number 35 US 66, between Winslow and Flagstaff, 1955. Four adults stand over a blanket covering the bodies of a fatal car accident during a snowstorm outside Winslow Arizona. As they gaze on the victims under the blanket multiple stories unfold about the place and the incident. I wanted to look under that blanket and get the story to understand what had happened, somehow put the incident to rest."
"With camera in hand I looked under the blanket to find the borderlands of two cultures unresolved migrating along the crossroads of the past and the future. A border that tries to preserve an old culture with respect for the land and one that has tried persistently to take advantage and change that land into the next American theme park. But with each attempt the land takes back in an attempt to cultivate the truth leaving hints of the last attempted theme park. This is an ongoing dialogue that will move forward with additional trips and one that will not answer the query, as the blanket may never be lifted from this accident." - Kurt Jordan
, April 2011View the full screen magazine photo feature
The first photo book I ever bought myself had a Robert Frank photograph on the cover. At the time, 16 years old and living in the suburbs of London, I had no idea of the weight and influence of his work. It's fulfilling to be publishing this work of Kurt's as I continue to learn about photography and its important place in history. - aCurator, April 2011
Receiving an email from Michael Massaia
whilst on the hoof this week, I first looked at these images on my silly little iPhone. They brought a big smile to my face, both because they remind me of the freedom of buying fireworks when I was a kid in London (they're illegal in New York) and because I love how he consistently produces these beautiful, dark, moody images across all his various portfolios.
'Quiet Now' is Michael's first still life portfolio; as with most of his other work he shoots on large format b/w film, develops in Pyro
, then produces handmade platinum prints. Gorgeous.
One might think of washing as monotonous, but Sivan Askayo
's 'Laundry' series is a delight: sometimes sea creatures, sometimes notes on a stave. Sivan has been to Madrid, Barcelona, London and Buenos Aires, to snap anonymous smalls.
"Laundry project begun in the vibrant alleyways of Tel Aviv's Jaffa
neighborhood and has become an ongoing project, taking me to Madrid,
Barcelona, London and Buenos Aires to snap the anonymously displayed
drying clothing. The project, that was named 'Intimacy under the Wires'
reveals images of laundry both intimate and unconfined while their snoopy character makes laundry, a seemingly prosaic subject, all that more intriguing."
I spent a long time wading into Sonja Thomsen
's work. Although each of Sonia's series warrants its own feature, I decided to chose from across Oil, Water and Re:Current. I encourage viewers to visit Sonja's own site where the layout and information add to the appreciation of her work.
Thomsen has been widely exhibited across the US since graduating from San Francisco Art Institute in 2004. Currently, images from "Oil" can be seen as part of the exhibition Earth Now: American Landscape Photographers and the Environment
at the New Mexico Museum of Art
, now through August 28, 2011.View the full screen magazine photo feature
"The winter of 2006 diverse circumstances came together, in which oil seemed to be the unifying factor. Trying to navigate my relationship to this war, my family, and my consumption of noxious petroleum I began photographing oil. I remain captive of this elusive and complicated substance that affects our economy and politics."
"Re:Current considers time and its cyclical nature through an installation including projection, thirty-seven still images, and motion sensitive light boxes. Conceptually the installation points to time's ephemeral constancy and considers how the stillness of a photograph can represent and distort this seeming contradiction."
"Churn is a series of 7 photographs of Lake Michigan in winter. Watching the quiet surging under the surface of water is a visceral experience. I am drawn to the aggressive movement hovering under the surface and the contrasting soft palette of the water." / "Swept is a series of 12 photographs of a white river. Each image is taken seconds apart capturing the water's response as the wind so sporadically dances across it. Each moment is its own and through the sequence one can see the invisible." / "Surface is a series of 17 images. The series explores the potential of waiter and the seductiveness of looking. Small puddles of water become glass, dense fog, toxic haze, bodily fluid, and primordial soup in my viewfinder. The unfathomable potential of water to sustain life is a phenomenon that preoccupies me."