Books


Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing LDE-025.jpg
© Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing, 1995

 After making two trips to the West Bank twenty years apart, Belgian photographer Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing has collected his photographs into a book, titled "Lueurs d'espoirs / Glimmers of Hope." The book shows de Bellaing's travels through everyday life in both 1995 and 2015.

Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing LDE-041.jpg

The book includes an essay by Leila Shahid, Palestine ambassador in France and then Belgium for the last 20 years. 
Here is Frédéric's own statement:
"When I present this project, the same question comes back again and again: "Why Palestine?" Of course there is my indignation against oppression but, rightly, some respond to me that the Palestinians are not the only ones suffering. As often in this case, it is the personal journey that makes the difference.

The first intifada broke out in 1987. I was 16 years old. TV screens fed me up me with pictures of teenagers fighting with stones against heavily armed soldiers. I was shocked but the media release their floods of dramatic images all day long drowning indignations in an ocean of bad news.

Two years later when I began high school, I met Mina Shamieh. He was Palestinian and student like me. He was a warm person and his smile was disarming. We quickly became good friends. Until then, the Palestinian issue was but a media abstraction. Through my friendship with Mina, it took human shape.

The media feed us with pictures which are sometimes sensational but generally disconnected from human touch and identification to the Palestinian people has, for too long, take shape through empathy for their suffering.

To overcome this cathodic anesthesia, we must awaken the sympathy and empathy, in other words, we must become human.

With "Glimmers of Hope", I hope to convey the warmth and the desire to live which inhabit the Palestinian people.

To you, Mina, my old friend, with whom I have enjoyed sharing the small pleasures of everyday life."

Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing LDE-012.jpg

Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing LDE-048.jpg

Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing LDE-019.jpg

Above: images from 1995. All © Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing

Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing LDE-2015-7495.jpg

Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing LDE-2015-5887.jpg

Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing LDE-2015-4497.jpg

Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing LDE-2015-3251.jpg

Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing LDE-2015-3484.jpg
Images from 2015. All © Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing

Parr_Geeting_covers.jpg
From Autoportrait, by Martin Parr © 2000 Dewi Lewis Publishing & From South Korean Nature Photography, by David Brandon Geeting © 2016 DBG

Words by Efrem Zelony-Mindell.

When you go on a trip, photography's bound to get involved. Simple enough right? Actually, maybe it's not so simple, and often it's totally foolish. The snap shot is an international treasure, it's made from horsing around and taking the time to notice something you never did before. 

That's what getting away is all about. You go somewhere to be out of your element, to interact with others and bring home something to share and remember. Sometimes the mundanity of those stories and shots are the most joyous and absurd thing in the whole wide world. Martin Parr's revised edition of Autoportrait and David Brandon Geeting's newly published South Korean Nature Photography are all about this sentiment. These gentlemen have kicked it up a notch. Putting them together is a trip all on its own.

Martin_Parr_01.jpg
© Martin Parr from Autoportrait / Dewi Lewis Publishing 

Dave_Geeting_02.jpg
© David Brandon Geeting

If you spend too much time Googling the name "Martin Parr" you read the same thing over and over again: Martin Parr is Britain's best known contemporary photographer. A satirist and quirky down to earth guy, Parr's photography is dumb. He's so dumb it's good - dumb in all the best ways one can be. Not bad, not in the slightest. The images in Parr's Autoportrait are his way of laughing at you, thinking you're laughing at him. Autoportrait is a collection of images Parr has compiled over the years from numerous business trips. The images aren't photos he has taken; he's the subject of images taken in studios, at tourist attractions, in photo booths, in any and all ways that reminiscence is created by the camera these days. On a cruise ship, in the mouth of a shark, on a flume ride, his head superimposed over the beefy flesh of a Mr. Universe contestant. The man has made himself an exquisite circus of blundered imagery and familiarity. To reference John Waters "A tasteful book about bad taste" - so too is Parr's Autoportrait, out now by Dewi Lewis Publishing.

Dave_Geeting_03.jpg
© David Brandon Geeting

Martin_Parr_04.jpg
© Martin Parr from Autoportrait / Dewi Lewis Publishing 

"No one would ever take a photo of that." That's as good a place as any to start with David Brandon Geeting. The guy's too good to be true. He doesn't need to try to be anything. Geeting's sincerity is only matched by his authenticity and all around playfulness. The work he produces is not a joke. His new book South Korean Nature Photography, like Parr's book, is a collection of snap shots he took on a recent trip to South Korea. The images evoke elation, even laughter, but they walk a line that holds a deeper sense that lays behind their amusement. Geeting is a master of composing composition inside the camera with everyday stuff that you just would never think to put together. Mystery's important and it's fun to cross boundaries. Getting away is all about being lost in many ways - not bad lost - good lost. Geeting puts it best in regard to the work, "What the fuck's going on here?" Often the images in South Korean Nature Photography are so stupid they're brilliant. Geeting chuckles his big smile hearing that come out of my mouth. We're in agreement. So too are his images of the somewhat everyday reimagined in photographic execution. The images are as much about what's in the frame as they are about what's been left out of the frame.

Martin_Parr_05.jpg
© Martin Parr from Autoportrait / Dewi Lewis Publishing 

Dave_Geeting_06.jpg
© David Brandon Geeting

There's an intrigue in the guise of fear that one feels when out on an adventure. The trauma that occurs when overcoming fear leads an exploration to rebirth. It's often boneheaded and confusing, but its so god damned rewardingly wonderful in it's contradictions.


Dave_Geeting_07.jpg
© David Brandon Geeting

Martin_Parr_08.jpg
© Martin Parr from Autoportrait / Dewi Lewis Publishing 

Martin_Paar_09.jpg
© Martin Parr from Autoportrait / Dewi Lewis Publishing 

Dave_Geeting_10.jpg
© David Brandon Geeting

Dave_Geeting_11.jpg
© David Brandon Geeting

Martin_Parr_12.jpg
© Martin Parr from Autoportrait / Dewi Lewis Publishing 

LOSTROCKERS_Betty-Davis.jpg

Betty Davis, 'They Say I'm Different' photo shoot, Just Sunshine Records, 1974. Photo by Mel Dixon. Courtesy of Light in the Attic Records and powerHouse Books

 Lost Rockers: Broken Dreams and Crashed Careers (powerHouse Books) is a fascinating collection of tales about musicians who almost made it, back in a time when really making it through hard work and dedication, without entering a TV talent contest, was an option. "Some were ahead of their time, some were ill-equipped to deal with success, some simply fucked up." 

LOSTROCKERS_HI_PT1-75.jpg

Gloria Jones, Los Angeles, 1973. Photo by Jim Britt

'Lost Rockers' digs deeply into each of the 20 or so musicians in the book, with several pages about their histories, success and failures, and even lyrics, accompanied by lots of great photos and ephemera. I was interested to see Betty Davis on this list, but the book suggests her "cuckolded" ex-husband, Miles, played a role in her early retirement from the industry. It is hard to summarize what went awry for each here in the blog, so go ahead and pick up a copy of the book for under $30. 

LOSTROCKERS_PRESSIMAGES-6.jpg

Rik Fox, hair metal hero, Surgical Steel, 1986. Photo by Michael Richard Sneeburger. Courtesy of the Rik Fox Archives

LOSTROCKERS_HI_PT2-58.jpg

Kenny Young, "Bow Wow, Kenny with his Pomeranian," New York, 2003. Polaroid Color 668 by Gail Thacker. Courtesy of Gail Thacker

Lost_Rockers_PRESSIMAGES-2.jpg

Chris Robison and David Johansen with Andy Warhol, Max's Kansas City, 1975. Photo by Bob Gruen

LOSTROCKERS_PRESSIMAGES-10.jpg

Cherry Vanilla, New York, 1978. Photo by Leee Black Childers. Courtesy of Leee Black Childers
All images courtesy powerHouse Books.

Lost Rockers: Broken Dreams and Crashed Careers, by Steven Blush with Paul Rachmann and Tony Mann, is out now from powerHouse books. 

Thanks to Madison Morales for her publicity skills.

robert_rutoed_righttimerightplace_08.jpg

© Robert Rutöd

 It was in 2010 that Robert Rutöd first contacted me and made me smile with his photographs. Since then he has stayed right in the zone, consistently entertaining. So I'm happy to report the news that he has collected 50+ into a new book. 

Right Time Right Place is out now in a limited edition available from the artist.

"Being at the right place at the right time is usually associated with happiness and success. But what happens when we are at the right place at the wrong time? Do we even know that this is the right place? And what if it turns out that it is the wrong place after all? But the right time!"

robert_rutoed_righttimerightplace_02.jpg

'Right Time Right Place' received several awards including the New York Photo Award, the Special Prize of the Czech Center of Photography, and most recently Artist of the Year at Dong Gang International Photo Festival 2015 in South Korea.

robert_rutoed_righttimerightplace_07.jpg

robert_rutoed_righttimerightplace_13.jpg

robert_rutoed_righttimerightplace_05.jpg

robert_rutoed_righttimerightplace_01.jpg

robert_rutoed_righttimerightplace_book_17.jpg

All images © Robert Rutöd

MOSSLESS-Mag_01.jpg
Untitled, East Liverpool, Ohio, 2010 © Nat Ward

Words by Efrem Zelony-Mindell.

Romke Hoogwaerts is a guy you may not know. I get the impression I may embarrass him if I say he's quiet and may prefer to go a little under the radar. I don't mean to embarrass him, but he is quiet. He's also friendly, and an insanely driven and talented editor, curator, and advocate of photography. An all around good dude. His ideas and vision for photography and design are nothing short of totally new, and unlike most interpretations and concepts I see in the community currently. True there's really a lot of great stuff out there and hard working folks who are killing it. But Romke is so sincere and totally dedicated to imagery that he stands out. So does his magazine, MOSSLESS. He's a big photo nerd and I am crazy about him for it. Everyone should be.

MOSSLESS-Mag_02.jpg
Untitled, near Gothenburg, Nebraska, 2013 © Alex Matzke

I sat down with Hoogwaerts to talk about him. It quickly became clear that the conversation would be more about mission and less about individual personality. Mossless magazine, which really isn't a magazine, is a chameleon; it's meant to be something that excites. It's currently in its third issue, with more on the way if all goes well. (Spoiler alert, work on issue four, MOSSLESS; Embargoed, with Charlotte Cotton is already underway.) No issue is the same and the publication explores the voice and breadth of all different kinds of photography and the state of sharing imagery and looking and seeing images. Hoogwaerts stresses to me the impossibility of Mossless were it not for the involvement of Grace Leigh, his partner at the time. Mossless is a huge labor of love and each page reads clearly in that mission and dedication to the images and the photographers.

MOSSLESS-Mag_03.jpg
Untitled #10, Rutland, Ohio, 2009 © Morgan Ashcom

I'll let Hoogwaerts set the stage for issue three of Mossless. "Who is tasked with bringing the true nature of American culture to recognition in its own home? Some photographers can frame reality in one poetic snap, so long as they know the context truthfully and can find visual references for their experiences spontaneously." There is a whole big kind of American identity between our shores. Sometimes it can seem unclear yet defiantly defined. Mossless issue three is tasked to capture a nation through its possibility and cull through its image-makers to find it. This issue collects the photos of 118 photographers from all walks of life. The layout breaks rules. Spreads vary from single photographer profiles and featured images in certain places, to spreads that are an accumulation of different photographers images. This flexing of space and names creates an engaging hodgepodge sense of photo album. What could be more American?

MOSSLESS-Mag_04.jpg
From MOSSLESS, by Romke Hoogwaerts & Grace Leigh © 2014 Romke Hoogwaerts & Grace Leigh

MOSSLESS-Mag_05.jpg
From MOSSLESS, by Romke Hoogwaerts & Grace Leigh © 2014 Romke Hoogwaerts & Grace Leigh

Mossless is a beautiful publication put together by two young talents who love and care about photography. The publication creates an inclusive community. It's visually fun and knowing that there is more in the world leaves a sense of exciting insecurity. The mission of Mossless stretches outside of itself, and helps viewers realize that each of us has an influence. Something bizarre happens with this publication - it's worth trying new ideas. They will work.

Get your hands on a copy of this beautiful publication by clicking here.

MOSSLESS-Mag_06.jpg
See Through Mine Shaft, California, 2014 @ Suzanna Zak

MOSSLESS-Mag_07.jpg
Sisters, Missouri, 2012 © Lara Shipley

MOSSLESS-Mag_08.jpg
Coolin Out At The Upper Deck, Virginia Beach, 2012 © Carl Gunhouse

MOSSLESS-Mag_09.jpg
Sheep, Norris, Montana, 2010 © Nich Hance McElroy

MOSSLESS-Mag_010.jpg
Abandoned Bank from and Earlier Boom, White Earth, North Dakota, 2012 (fracking related) © Terry Evans

MOSSLESS-Mag_011.jpg
From MOSSLESS, by Romke Hoogwaerts & Grace Leigh © 2014 Romke Hoogwaerts & Grace Leigh

David-T.-Hanson-02.jpg
Tooele Army Depot Superfund Site, Tooele, Utah 1986 © David T. Hanson

Words by Efrem Zelony-Mindell.

The obsession with landscapes will undoubtedly be around as long as there are people to view them and capture them. The question is, why do we need any more of these wonderful, beautiful, idealized images? Landscapes change, the planet changes, people change, views and ideals affect how we see things philosophically, physically, and literally. The planet is in direct conversation with the land we see every day; it's around us and beneath us, the landscape. It's all consuming and reveals misdeeds; David T. Hanson's images expose this topographical understanding. Wilderness to Wasteland (Taverner Press) is a collection of images from across the country that raise a flag; they shout into the distance, "Look at what you're doing!"

David-T.-Hanson-03.jpg
East edge of Atomic CIty, Idaho 1986 © David T. Hanson

Something very normal and recognizable begins Hanson's work - deserts, fields, tattered homes and boxy ranches in the central west of the United States. As the book progresses, something aggressive shifts in the imagery, as do the settings of the photographs. The landscapes become unspeakably altered, almost totally foreign. How can this be terra? Wilderness to Wasteland is a collection of images Hanson has pulled from his archive. It's interesting to note that the images, even with hints of 70's and 80's automobiles, somehow feel totally now, today. It's in the interruption of humans interacting with these environments. Those actions are unalterably timeless.

David-T.-Hanson-04.jpg
Mt. Con Mine and Centerville, Butte, Montana 1985 © David T. Hanson

The book takes us through chapters, ebbing and flowing from ground views to aerials, from west to east  all over the United States. Progressively one becomes more and more aware of the reality and the ways in which sites used for testing, mining, and waste could be affecting everything outside the frame of the photographs. The social and ecological implications complicate the language of the photographs. The images are just as much about what's not in them as what is. There's a psychology of landscape that blends with technology becoming inseparable from nature. Nothing will ever be the same, always evolving with many signs signifying progress. With enough distance and with the right kind of eyes these places and photos read like "open wounds," as poet Wendell Berry puts it in discussing Hanson's work.

David-T.-Hanson-05.jpg
New housing development, Rancho Cucamonga, California 1985 © David T. Hanson

Hanson's book doesn't feel like a period at the end of a sentence. In his own words, "These sites may be seen as monuments to the dominant myths and obsessions of our culture. Indeed, it seems likely that the most enduring monuments that Western civilization will leave for future generations will be . . . the hazardous remains of our industry and technology. Landscapes of failed desire, these sites become both arena and metaphor for the most constructive and destructive aspects of the American spirit." Hanson's photographs are a reflection of this apropos closing statement. It is this highly loaded atmosphere and unusualness that breathes an air of cautious beauty into the images. In Wilderness to Wasteland, Hanson has found a way to combine disbelief with the sublime.

David-T.-Hanson-06.jpg
Waste slag and Irrigated Cropland along the Jordan River, Sharon Steel Corp. Superfund Site, Midvale, Utah, 1986 © David T. Hanson

David-T.-Hanson-07.jpg
Yankee Doodle tailings pond, Butte Area Superfund site, Butte, Montana, 1986 © David T. Hanson

David-T.-Hanson-08.jpg
Sunset on the California Coast [Union Oil Company of California, Richmond California], 1983 © David T. Hanson

David-T.-Hanson-01.jpg
From Wilderness to Wasteland, By David T. Hanson © 2016 Taverner Press

Mapplethorpe_Identical-self-portaits-of-Robert-Mapplethorpe-with-trip-cable-in-hand,-1974.jpg

Robert Mapplethorpe, American, 1946-1989
Identical self-portraits of Robert Mapplethorpe with trip cable in hand, 1974
Gelatin silver print. Sheet (each): 9.3 x 11.6 cm (3 11/16 x 4 9/16 in.)
Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Held at the Getty Research Institute, 2011.M.20.24
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

The first photography exhibition I ever saw was Robert Mapplethorpe, in London, and I have always said it ruined me for life. In my memory the exhibition was at the Festival Hall, but the web won't support this and insists it was the National Portrait Gallery, 'The Perfect Moment' retrospective, 1988/89. Regardless, I remember staring endlessly at one of his highly sexual portraits and listening to the outrage of the person viewing next to me. I felt happy. 

Mapplethorpe_Ajitto,-1981-Gelatin-silver-print.jpg

Robert Mapplethorpe
Ajitto, 1981
Gelatin silver print. Image: 45.4 x 35.5 cm (17 7/8 x 14 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation, 2011.7.13
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

That Mapplethorpe-related happiness has carried me through my journey in the world of photography so I was beyond thrilled when a review copy of Robert Mapplethorpe: The Photographs (J. Paul Getty Museum, March 2016) arrived. What a book! 

Mapplethorpe's most recognizable and less-known images, both the graphic and the gorgeous, are drawn from the J. Paul Getty Museum's own collection, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, and Mapplethorpe Archive housed at the Getty Research Institute. 

Mapplethorpe_Grapes,-1985-Gelatin-silver-print.jpg

Robert Mapplethorpe
Grapes, 1985
Gelatin silver print. Image: 38.5 x 38 cm (15 3/16 x 14 15/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation, 2011.7.20
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Mapplethorpe_Thomas,-1987.jpg

Robert Mapplethorpe
Thomas, 1987
Gelatin silver print. Image: 48.8 x 48.8 cm (19 3/16 x 19 3/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation, 2011.7.31
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

"This publication is issued on the occasion of the exhibition Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium on view at both the  J. Paul Getty Museum and at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from March 15 and March 20, respectively, through July 31, 2016; at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montreal from September 10, 2016, through January 15, 2017; and at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, from October 28, 2017, through February 4, 2018."

Let it be known that the young me spent not inconsiderable time wondering if she could scrape together the £1,500 that a print was going for back then. They say one only regrets the things one did not do... But then, how would I have chosen?

Get your copy of Robert Mapplethorpe: The Photographs for under $60. Money well spent for a lifetime of Mapplethorpe mastery.

Mapplethorpe_Calla-Lily,-1988.jpg

Robert Mapplethorpe
Calla Lily, 1988
Gelatin silver print. Image: 49 x 49 cm (19 5/16 x 19 5/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; partial gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation, 2011.9.26
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Mapplethorpe_Derrick-Cross,-1983.jpg

Robert Mapplethorpe
Derrick Cross, 1983
Gelatin silver print. Image: 48.5 x 38.2 cm (19 1/8 x 15 1/16 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, L.2012.88.910
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Mapplethorpe_Flower-Arrangement,-1986.jpg

Robert Mapplethorpe
Flower Arrangement, 1986 
Gelatin silver print. Image: 49 x 49 cm (19 5/16 x 19 5/16 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, L.2012.89.566
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Mapplethorpe_Self-Portrait,-1980.jpg

Robert Mapplethorpe
Self-Portrait, 1980
Gelatin silver print. Image: 35.6 x 35.6 cm (14 x 14 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; partial gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation, 2011.9.21
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Mapplethorpe_Self-Portrait,-1985.jpg

Robert Mapplethorpe
Self-Portrait, 1985
Gelatin silver print. Image: 38.7 x 38.6 cm (15 1/4 x 15 3/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation, 2011.7.21
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

DeSana_cover_01.jpg
From Jimmy DeSana: Suburban, Aperture/Salon 94, 2015

Words by Efrem Zelony-Mindell.

It's difficult to pick a starting point to talk about Jimmy DeSana's book Suburban, out now from Aperture and co-published by Salon 94. Suspicious and sexual, unusual, surreal, and yet somehow surprisingly domestic. Well, not so typically domestic. There's a good amount of exciting and unexpected debunking happening in DeSana's images. The photos aren't against suburban spaces, they alert a different sense of possibility in them. White walls and power cords, high heels and purses worn on feet and hands or placed over heads and genitals. Chairs, beds, and cabinets used like a circus, an array of different everyday objects scattered and used in tandem with the naked body, achieving a much different sense of the everyday. But it's not really erotic, all the parts are kind of true to themselves.

DeSana_2.jpg
Storage Boxes, 1980 © the Jimmy DeSana Estate/Salon 94

Gelled tungstens, in an array of colors, confuse the space and stage where these bodies perform. These photos are a performance. Captured motion and a slower shutter speed (sometimes) is hugely essential to DeSana's characters. Whether there is a single figure in the frame, or two, there isn't so much a feeling of sexuality between them as much as there is a sense of exploration. A sense of touch is second-most important. The debauched quality of everyday objects as they find new place on the body accentuates that touch. There's also touch between the two figures interactive with the space around them. All the parts become inescapably intimate.

DeSana_3.jpg
Instant Camera, 1980 © the Jimmy DeSana Estate/Salon 94

The work has an interesting dialogue; it's easy to think of Philippe Halsman. DeSana's work courts a kind of contemporary surrealism. His photos are nearly abstract in moments where they almost completely lose gravity but stay rooted in a semblance of reality, because at the end of the day his props are very commonplace. It's interesting to see the ability of these mundane objects and how they can become more. The photos are not of the mundane, and yet they're straight out of the tedious everyday. There's an argument - a disbelief - you can't take your eyes off these obfuscated photos because they're so seemingly recognizable. They are meant to be read into, and from one suburban-raised kid to another, clearly DeSana had some - as Laurie Simmons puts it - "emotionally lethal stories" behind his relationship to suburbia. 

JimmyDeSana_9.jpg
Four Legs with Shoes, ca.1980 © the Jimmy DeSana Estate/Salon 94

Suburban is a delightfully bizarre book and body of work. Period. And the book is a celebration of DeSana's forwardness. It doesn't waste time and it doesn't feel sentimental. The book reflects the feeling of the work. It's interesting to see what a whacky guy and a few friends are capable of with the most basic tools to make photographs. That's not passé, in-fact it was Minor White who said, "It's not about the tools but how you use them." Jimmy DeSana embodies that sentiment in this surrealism. 

Get your hands on a copy by clicking here.

DeSana_5.jpg
Cardboard, 1985 © the Jimmy DeSana Estate/Salon 94

DeSana_7.jpg
Untitled (Plywood Interior), 1979 © the Jimmy DeSana Estate/Salon 94

Thomas-Roma_01.jpg
© Thomas Roma

Words by Efrem Zelony-Mindell.

Collaboration between two people can be challenging. Mixing, matching, trying to push a medium - it's difficult. Coming to a deeper understanding through interactions of people has its rewards. Two plus two isn't always simply just a four. Such is the case with Thomas Roma and Giancarlo Roma's book The Waters of Our Time. The book, out for the first time in hardcover, is irrefutably one of the most rewarding reads I've ever had in one sitting. It sucked me in - I couldn't stop myself. It tugs at you; it's intimate and intrinsic like looking through the family album, listening to your favorite song, and reading that poem you love over and over again because you just can't help yourself. These wonderful men have built a personal backyard for themselves and their readers. The book couples together Thomas' photos - images taken over the course of his entire career - and the words of his mindful son Giancarlo, who was always absorbing and watching. It's inspired by, and an ode to, Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes' book The Sweet Flypaper of Life. Thomas and Giancarlo stress to me how important it is to enter into a conversation with history.

Thomas-Roma-&-Giancarlo-Roma_02.jpg
© Thomas and Giancarlo Roma

Both men are inside each other. Chatting with them it became obvious that it's always been that way. They're more than just father and son, and what reads so clearly in their book is that their words and images are meant for everyone. The Waters of Our Time holds a universal truth; it's a reflection on finding identity and finding one's own flesh. "It's hard to love someone sometimes. Being a part of each other's successes and failures." It's interesting to watch how Thomas talks to me, and looks over at his son. Thomas didn't originally intend for the words of the book to be written by his son, in fact he'd planned on someone else filling that role. "Giancarlo went to my wife and asked for the layouts. I had no idea." We chuckle over the notion of son asking mother (Anna) for his father's goods. Thomas has an incredible sense of design in his books; he knows as much about shaping the landscape of a layout as he knows about taking a really great photo. Giancarlo's words flow through the space between the photographs. There is a kind of reverberation in that space and throughout the spreads. Something almost extra sensory is happening and it isn't out of bounds to think of it as a kind of synesthesia.

Thomas-Roma-09.jpg
© Thomas Roma

Reading through The Waters of Our Time, suddenly the reader may realize this isn't purely a visual book, nor is it just words on a page. It's thrilling, and hearing the sounds of this book is inescapable! Giancarlo tells me, "It happened on its own. I locked myself in my room and was totally consumed by writing these words." During our interview I keep taking note of these two hugely talented men's expressions and how they look at each another. It's so important to note that they both seem welled up with huge emotion and love. At some points they're almost crying; it is definitely from joy. The book is a conversation between two people who love and respect each other very deeply, it's more than just the blood they share. Without needing to hear them say it this book reads as one of the most important things either one has done in his life. All the while the words are very aware of the images and the photos support the structure of the story. And then Thomas comes in demonstrably, "I hate all this tribalism in the world today! I want to see people excel without separation! These photos - this book - is for everyone!" Thank you Tom! I don't think there's any better way to put it.

Thomas-Roma-&-Giancarlo-Roma_04.jpg
©Thomas and Giancarlo Roma

The Waters of Our Time becomes personal, both in message and in size. It always was about being close to the heart, being pocket sized. It is approachable and almost jaunty in its synergy. There's a somberness to it of course, but it's regenerative in its mission and achievement. The book does something hugely well: it raises consciousness and reminds us that we are all special. Maybe sometimes special just because. It is able to be as complex or as simple as the reader wants it to be. The Waters of Our Time is about everyone and that sense of togetherness.

Get your hands on this beautiful book by clicking here.

Thomas-Roma_05.jpg
© Thomas Roma

Thomas-Roma-&-Giancarlo-Roma_06.jpg
© Thomas and Giancarlo Roma

Thomas-Roma-11.jpg
© Thomas Roma

Thomas-Roma_08.jpg
© Thomas Roma

01-Photography-Is-Magic.jpg
From Photography Is Magic, By Charlotte Cotton © 2015 published by Aperture

Words by Efrem Zelony-Mindell.

The world of photography is changing and evolving, fast, right now. It is seemingly unstoppable, verging on out of control. That's not a bad thing necessarily, just an observation. It's an exciting time, mixed in with a whole lot of confusion and potential. In many ways so many people are paying attention to photography, however in other ways because there are so many photos being taken the craft is somehow being seen as diluted. I was in an audience when curator and writer David Campany suggested: "But isn't there a huge amount of potential in the fact that now because so many people think they're photographers that photography can really start to break the rules and become its own?" I'd take a guess and say that in many regards Charlotte Cotton, author of Photography Is Magic, might agree with Campany. Now that photography is in the hands of so many, becoming a language that so many people speak, the lens can now be used as more of a jumping off point. Photography is no longer just a two dimensional copy of what is presented in front of a camera. 

02-Jessica-Eaton.jpg   
cfaal 340 © Jessica Eaton

Cotton has a long relationship with the arts and with photography; she is intelligent and eloquent. This isn't flattery; there's just no avoiding the fact! She is an unstoppable force of looking, seeing, curating, thinking, and interpreting. She is very present in the time we live and her book, Photography Is Magic, is a collection of photographers whose images deal with the present state and future of photography. Cotton is, simply put, taking the temperature of the present so as to try to grasp at the state of what's to come. One day people will pick up Photography Is Magic and be able to realize its contribution; it will act as a map of the time. The book is a collective aim at what people can achieve together, and the artists in the book epitomize that notion with the images they make. Change doesn't have a solid structure, it's not a list of rules to be set. Newness is completely genuine, and real change is accepting that it constantly needs to change. As confusing as that may be it may sum up many notions of contemporary photography in general. There's always the next, the newest, and a huge need to stay ahead. Holding tight to photography's innate sense of community and contemporary fortitude will allow it to keep from becoming pure drivel. 

05-Annie-MacDonell.jpg   
Untitled, from the series Flatness, Light, Black & White © Annie MacDonell

What is magic? It has the ability to make something seem removed from everyday life. It is remarkably wicked and delightful in its confusing and titillating obscurity. Some people walk on fire, others pull rabbits from hats, and further some people have the power to move beyond a mere experience. After the restraint of reality there is a powerful place for play. Magic happens inside your head - ideas, images, and concepts of external objects not present to your senses are made there. This is the stuff that imagination and imagery are made of. Our imaginary life becomes very real. The confusion and surrender of this relationship is an important part of magic.

03-Kate-Steciw.jpg
Composition 008 © Kate Steciw

What of the photographs in between the covers of Photography Is Magic? In Cotton's own words from the book: "Collectively they provide a timely narrative of art photography's relationship with the technologies of contemporary image culture." The camera is a starting point; it is the adaptation of technology that intermingles and coerces a new imagery. She continues: "They also implicitly show us the critical positions that artists are adopting within media systems." There are many applications after the shutter. In so many ways the initial image is like a freshly stretched canvas, bare and plausible. The next step is to reimagine, add, subtract, restructure, and transform the photograph. This process may allow the image to become less precise but more specific. It can be executed this way, and why shouldn't it be? Photoshop isn't a photography tool as much as it is a painting tool; it provides that potential. It's up to the person in the drivers seat to decide what needs saying, or needs making.

Maybe the last important thing to realize is beyond technology the new addition to photography (the "newest technology") is the body. Not a literal photographed body but the addition of the hand and gesture to photographic images. Photos are being allowed distinct parts and joints that interact with real space the way a sculpture would. It has more surface and qualities of being an object now than it ever has. A photo isn't just a window anymore: it has touch, it can be tampered with, and it can establish an elaborate system of vision while also upholding a constructed narrative. It gives back to its viewers because it allows them to think: "What the hell is it I'm looking at?" The exciting part is making a connection and finding that magic. 

Find out how to get your hands on a copy of Charlotte Cotton's beautiful book here.

06-Asha-Schechter.jpg
Picture 049 (Cardboard Box, Autumn Leaf Red, Funky Monkeys) © Asha Schechter

08-Taisuke-Koyama.jpg
Untitled (Seventh Depth 013) © Taisuke Koyama

Recent Entries

Categories

Links