Efrem Zelony-Mindell


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© Gerhard Richter. Courtesy of Blah PR

 Words By Efrem Zelony-Mindell

Gerhard Richter is now a staple in artistic history, which is a strange notion given he's still hugely prolific in his making and production. In no short order he is significant in many places, to many people, to all kinds of making and mediums. I must declare my own admiration, especially now that I've seen Richter's 40 Tage. A collection of 40 graphite drawings that miraculously sketch a design of his abstract works that I would never thought possible to blueprint. The finesse of Richter's mark making is truly perplexing. The gesture is not nearly as random as it is wonderfully understood. Coercing possibilities of materials is a knowable craft and seeing the results of Richter's practician is subtle and monumental.

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An exhibition in conjunction with the release of this limited edition book is on now through April 9, 2017, at HENI, First Floor, 6-10 Lexington Street, London, W1.

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All images © Gerhard Richter

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Interview between our outstanding contributing editor, Efrem Zelony-Mindell, and "badass" photographer, Patrice Helmar.

EFREM ZELONY-MINDELL: Excited to be talking to you about your work from Reykjavík. Why don't we start by telling a bit about the why and what of the work we are looking at here.

PATRICE HELMAR: I first went to Reykjavík in 2012 to attend a workshop with Mary Ellen Mark. At the time I was a public school teacher, and bartender living in Alaska. I'd never had the luxury of devoting all of my time to making photographs. I fell in love with Iceland, or more accurately Icelanders. Being there was familiar and foreign at the same time. Iceland has so much culturally and politically going for it that I wish for as an Alaskan - as an American. Northerners share certain traits: strong mythologies, love of drink, resilience, an understanding of darkness and light - both in our physical world, and within. 

EZM: Your practice of people is personally fascinating to me. You make first interactions personal; it reads in the work. Is there a most important part for you in gaining peoples' intrigue?

PH: No matter what we do as people, or photographers, our intentions in regard to others are clear. Very few people are able to hide how they feel. If I can avoid inserting myself, I do. It's not that I'm invisible, as some photographers describe themselves. I'm there. I show myself. I'm like a bull in a China Shop, hard to miss. A better door, than a window. I generally just smile, or nod - in New York, most people are so busy it's a non issue. If someone asks why I'm photographing them, I'm honest about it. Thomas Roma taught me that - if you think someone's beautiful, it's okay to say that. It works if you mean it.

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© Patrice Helmar

EZM: Do you find lasting relationships with these people? Maybe lasting isn't even important, passionate may be more significant?

PH: The photographs I made in Iceland, I spent days and nights with people. I'd follow folks home from the bar, and we'd spend evenings walking around the city together - or I'd find myself at an after hours party. I returned in 2014, two years later and met back up with people I'd photographed, and met new characters. My friend Dyrfínna is someone I met in my favorite bar in downtown Reykjavík. We're still in contact. I photographed her on both trips. We say, "I love you" to each other. 

Passion is possible, but it isn't always relevant. It's about making the work. The anecdotes don't matter - the photographs do. I'm not always going to be around to talk about them, and that's something I keep in mind.

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© Patrice Helmar

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© Patrice Helmar

EZM: If the photograph is most important then why the people? Is that just happenstance? 

PH: What I meant was my personal anecdotes don't matter. Recounting my experiences or feelings, and doing a song and dance to try to make someone care more about my work is cheap. It's in the photograph. Happenstance is important. Being ready to meet chance, yes that's part of it. I prefer the word luck, and that doesn't come often without a good amount of work. 

EZM: Are you excited about anything right now? Where's your luck looking these days?

PH: I wouldn't say I'm excited, but I'm hopeful. I keep making photographs, and that's life affirming. Luck is like the weather. I'm superstitious, and try not to talk about it. I grew up fishing in Alaska - if someone commented on it being nice out on the water, it was tempting fate. I'm always afraid of the other shoe falling.

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© Patrice Helmar

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© Patrice Helmar

EZM: I'm of the opinion that music and literature is pretty important to you. I also think it's pretty important to photography in general. I'd love to close by sharing a favorite ending that makes me think of your Reykavik work. I'll share mine, if you'll share me yours. Mine comes from John Logan's play RED.
 
Rothko: "You need to get out there now, into the thick of it, shake your fist at them, talk their ear off...
Make them look. When I was your age, art was a lonely thing: no galleries, no collecting, no critics, no money. We didn't have mentors. We didn't have parents. We were alone. But it was a great time, because we had nothing to lose and a vision to gain. Okay?"

PH: "It is a curious emotion, this certain homesickness I have in mind. With Americans, it is a national trait, as native to us as the roller-coaster or the jukebox. It is no simple longing for the home town or country of our birth. The emotion is Janus-faced: we are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known." - Carson McCullers

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© Patrice Helmar

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All images © Patrice Helmar

Patrice Helmar is a graduate from Columbia University's MFA program. She lives and works in New York City where she teaches and lectures. Helmar has shown her work domestically and internationally at various institutions and galleries including the Jewish Museum, National Museum of Iceland, Houston Center for Photography, Fisher Landau Center, and the Anchorage Museum.

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 Cherry Lips © Pacifico Silano

 Contributing editor to this blog Efrem Zelony-Mindell is not only a great writer, and artist, he is also a great curator. Never doing anything by half, Efrem put together a fascinating group show that is running now through September 23, 2016 at the Rubber Factory down on New York's lower east side - 29 Ludlow to be precise.

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Untitled © Izaac Encisco

I credit Efrem for keeping me on my toes and making sure I don't get too comfy in my taste. There is such a variety of works here that the show feels huge but is in fact small and easily consumable. You can read a proper sensible interview on Humble Arts between Efrem and Stephen Frailey, head of SVA's photography program and founder of Dear Dave magazine, which is concurrently featuring the images from this show. 

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Marital Troubles © Ilana Savdie

The full list of exhibited artists is: Thomas Albdorf, Ellen Carey, Alli Coates, Joy Drury Cox, Dillon Dewaters, Izaac Enciso, Aaron Hegert, Nico Krijno, Namsa Leuba, Ryan Oskin, Signe Pierce, Ilana Savdie, Pacifico Silano, and Quinn Torrens.

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Untitled II, from the series "The African Queens" © Namsa Leuba

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Mickey Aloisio may have the best tactic to banish the dilemma of how to make a nude subject instantly comfortable for the camera. "I'll get naked too, that's fine." He tells me it happens just like that. Everything's ok if you're naked together. Aloisio's body of work Gay Wildlife makes you comfortable. His passion for his community and his peers is instantly read in the photographs. There's something individual and unique about each subjects gaze into the camera. Aloisio and his subjects talk the entire time they're shooting; they share roles of dominance and submissiveness. That performance isn't one that happens in the photos, but there is something matter of fact and bare that results in the images from those interactions.

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© Mickey Aloisio

"I love photographing the bear community because bears have this confidence about them. Maybe it's taken them a long time to achieve, but they understand the beauty of their bodies." The men in Aloisio's images give him something, but they are also able to take something from him. So do we as viewers. These photographs establish a connection and allow for the ability to be a part of a very significant and established history of camaraderie among certain types of men. The photos aren't just of naked men; they're about people. The men in Aloisio's images are more bare than naked, they tell us something about themselves. The playfulness of his imagery and the subject overcomes a very human feeling - nervousness.

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© Mickey Aloisio

Sometimes it's incredibly difficult to be comfortable in your own skin and know who you are. Gay Wildlife is Aloisio's way of talking to these men who captivate him and finding out who they are, who he is, and what his community of peers is all about. These men come from all walks of life, and by photographing them in their private spaces their personalities shine through. The work is a collaboration. It'd be too easy to say these images are pornographic, position and environments are sexual, our bodies are simply the form of who we are. Just because we don't know these men doesn't make these photos voyeuristic. A huge part of any great portrait is not knowing who's in the picture. Aloisio just wants to allow these men a platform and voice to be heard, they are beautiful.

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© Mickey Aloisio

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© Mickey Aloisio

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© Mickey Aloisio

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© Mickey Aloisio

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© Mickey Aloisio

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© Mickey Aloisio

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You've probably seen memes floating around about The Bronx. I have two personal favorites. The first is Superman being interviewed saying "I fight crime everywhere, except The Bronx, fuck that!" The second is the scene from The Lion King where Mufasa and Simba are talking about everything the light touches is their kingdom, instead Mufasa says to Simba when he asks "what's that shadow area?" Mufasa says, "That's the Bronx, you must never go there unless you're about that life."   

The Bronx has lots of culture, Puerto Ricans especially. PUERTO RICANS LOVE TO SAY THEY'RE BORIQUENA. AND I MEAN WHO CAN BLAME THEM?! I'M PROUD TO BE A BORICUA FROM THE BRONX. They love their island but they make due in the Bronx. There's a lot of representation of the immigration from Puerto Rico to the Bronx. My grandma came to the Bronx from Puerto Rico when she was 15 years old. And without her there would be no me.

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The Bronx has been having some gentrification issues. They'd like to change the name of the South Bronx, to "the Piano District." I mean, what the fuck are we in the Hunger Games or something? like come on. Don't tell me you wanna change the name as if we're out here playing piano keys on every corner instead of dominoes during the summer.  

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Young Adults of The Bronx have dreams. Celebrities like Regis Philbin and Billy Joel were raised here. Former United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, grew up on Kelly Street, which is a couple blocks away from my house. Fashion Designers Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren were born and raised in the Mosholu Parkway area and look where they are now. Most importantly the one who coined the term "Jenny From The Block," Jennifer Lopez. It honestly gives hope to a young Latina like myself that dreams are possible. I want to be able to share my art. 

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That's my dude Sam in the blue, he owns the store and never fails to call me sunshine. He was cool to let me take his and his cousins picture. He even let me set up a fake hold up of his store with girls in a bejeweled mask and nerf guns for another project. He's definitely about that life. 

St. John's Church was built in my neighborhood in 1899. When people refer to The Bronx, they usually refer to the quote "The Bronx is burning" The Bronx used to be filled with burnt down buildings, rampant crime and empty lots, that children like my mother used as playgrounds. These images are to be seen as an observation of my environment and myself. There are plenty of old buildings that still have the original architecture from when they were built. What's funny about them now is they're used as Planet Fitness, a McDonald's or a liquor store. Too many of the Bronx's historical buildings are being torn down instead of restored to help community revenue. I think neighborhoods need to see these abandoned buildings as stages to create a voice for the community.

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I've had the opportunity to make my own set of friends that have reintroduced me to my hometown. As a child I didn't have friends around here and I wasn't able to explore on my own. I've gotten a lot of flack for being a Bronx Native that didn't really look like I belonged in the Bronx. I wanted to create these images not just for myself, but to prove that regardless of where I'm from or where you're from that there's something that could be discovered about our places. This is the place that raised me. I fell in love with the rawness and realness of my neighborhood and the people around here. This place isn't perfect but I wanted to show that it isn't inferior. 

Under it's tough exterior; the Bronx is beautiful. 

Actor Al Pacino, who you'd be surprised to know is from The Bronx said an interesting quote when asked by a journalist about his lack of security, he said "I don't need no bodyguard, I'm from the South Bronx. I can handle it!" 

I'm extremely proud to be from the South Bronx. I'm tough, I'm loud, I'm Boricua, and I'm here behind my camera to bring it.

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All images © Kasey-Lynn Rodriguez 
Words by Kasey-Lynn Rodriguez, edited by Efrem Zelony-Mindell

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Paulo and Andrew © Kris Graves


Kris Graves portrays color; color of light and color of flesh. The boundaries of his contemporaries expand a conversation of self, race and culture. Graves' men are of their parts; their eyes, their noses, their mouths. They are the hair on their heads, their clothes and jewelry, and the glasses resting on their ears. They are not idealized. They are documented. It is this blatant presentation that allows them to be human. It's not a photographic truth as much as it is honesty. Down to the the bone beyond the flesh Graves' photographs are deeper than stigmas or preconceived ideas. They tell a story that regardless of where you come from, each individual's part is universal. As is light. There is an interconnectivity that creates a sense of equality in the work and in its realization.

You can catch a solo exhibition of Graves' work in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, opening on June 4th, 2016 at NorteMaar.

Find out more about the Testament Project here.

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Frank 

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The Artist 

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Keith 

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Jacob

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The Producer  

All images © Kris Graves

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Untitled, 2014 © Judith StennekenGalerie 5, 6


The last visit I made to AIPAD - in 2008 - was the first and last time I attended. I left that first time and didn't make a photograph for four years. 

Upon hitting the Armory floor that year I quickly took note of the many Minor Whites, Aaron Siskinds, and Harry Callahans there were on the floors leaning up against the walls of booths. I risked picking up a framed Minor White in a booth in which I felt particularly invisible. No one seemed to notice the 20-year-old cretin picking up and waving around the framed image. "That's how it's gonna be huh?" I thought to myself. 

I came around a corner to a well-established contemporary photography booth; a gallery, which will remain nameless, with a featured image of an artist, who will also remain nameless. The print was bigger than me; I'm six foot four. Shot, framed, and lit with the utmost perfection. The subject of this photo is something one would find at a local zoo. What you can't find at your local zoo is the best photography equipment and the most expensive flashes money can buy, which the photographer clearly used to achieve the photograph. Needless to say the creature's photographic impression was something to behold, every inch an idealized image of absolute perfection. "How could anyone, who doesn't want to make images like this but does want to work in this field, compete with something like this object?" was my bone-crushing thought.

And that's how I left my feelings for photography. For four years.

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I didn't know then what I realize now. The Armory's AIPAD is as much an antiques road show as it is the Fine Art Photography world's Comic Con. It's a chance for photo galleries and institutions, and people, from all over the world to gather in New York City. There's some good quick sales to be made and, if you take the time, a few new friends to make as well. With the right intentions and a good pair of eyes, it's not totally impossible to yield some meaningful experiences with the people and large display of very concisely and purposefully curated photos. After all there are some exquisite images.

So this time I decided I wanted to turn the experience around on itself. I spent over seven hours every day this year at AIPAD. I'd like to point out that doing this doesn't make me special - just stupid, crazy, and driven enough. The heroes of AIPAD are the gallerists, assistants, and Armory staff who dedicate their time, energy, and maybe even souls to this convention. I tip my hat to them. 

Their passion inspired me to play some part, so I kept a stream of conscious diary during and after everyday.

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Jack Ruby Shoots Lee Harvey Oswald © Bob Jackson, Gary Edwards Gallery

Opening Night:
Opening night is like chasing around after some semblance of cordiality and imagery. It's more social than photographic but the evening is hugely photogenic. Name tags and introductions, stumbling over hors d'oeuvres. It's great to sift through the confusion and endless stream of booze.

"Where on earth do they put all those empty glasses?" I wondered on my way out.

Day 1:
Standardized words flush the halls of the Armory - words like fresh and contemporary. There are things in those silly haphazard bins with far too many zeros. Like the Robert Frank I found for $80,000 with only a simple matting and plastic sleeve for protection. 

"You're not going to forget me," someone brightly beams at a gallery owner, "my last name's Art." There are joyous little words of amusement muttered by many different patrons. When you catch one it's like finding a diamond. "You're a craftsman! And I mean that in the best way I can mean that!" Such passion. It's hard not to laugh out loud. 

Rest becomes a commodity on the well-placed benches. The tax is worth the spectacle of the company of strangers and friends alike.

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Vandalism Series, 1974 © John DivolaLee Gallery

Day 2:
By now things seem much more solid. You're even starting to memorize where things are. Close your eyes and you can remember exact locations of your favorite images even though your head does nothing but spin from the sheer volume. There's no more casual strolling and looking; you can actually see the photos on the walls. This is no longer a convention, it's an endurance trial.

Day 3:
[I've written one word here. It's the same word I've written for day four.]
Gossip. 

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Dings & Shadows, 2013 © Ellen CareyM+B

The whole thing becomes too much and I certainly have to admit it may be because of the degree of my visits, but not totally the fault of my obsession. AIPAD is a lot of work! As a casual goer it's great to stroll through and give the time it deserves. Talk to people - there's no reason not to - they're surprisingly friendly, intelligent, and engaging. (Many attendees are actual working professionals; make friends, but don't ask for favors!) Maybe all that is actually not so surprising. After all, we're all at AIPAD for the same reason; we really feel passionately towards photography. Given my first interaction with AIPAD and this recent experience, I've come to realize in many ways that this crazy experience is what you make of it. If you let it put you on your ass it will. It's much more rewarding to make it yours. For me, I gave myself over to it. I'm eager to get back behind my camera.

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Barak Obama, The White House, Washington D.C., 2010 © Mark SeligerSteven Kasher Gallery

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Place (Series) #125, 2009 © Bill Jacobson, Julie Saul Gallery

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Chongqing I, Chongqing Municipality, 2006 © Nadav KanderFlowers Gallery

Editor's note: AIPAD will relocate next year from the Park Avenue Armory to the Piers. 

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


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.

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© Martin Parr from Autoportrait / Dewi Lewis Publishing 

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© 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.

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© David Brandon Geeting

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© 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.

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© Martin Parr from Autoportrait / Dewi Lewis Publishing 

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© 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.


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© David Brandon Geeting

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© Martin Parr from Autoportrait / Dewi Lewis Publishing 

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© Martin Parr from Autoportrait / Dewi Lewis Publishing 

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© David Brandon Geeting

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© David Brandon Geeting

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© Martin Parr from Autoportrait / Dewi Lewis Publishing 

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Untitled, East Liverpool, Ohio, 2010 © Nat Ward


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.

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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.

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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?

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From MOSSLESS, by Romke Hoogwaerts & Grace Leigh © 2014 Romke Hoogwaerts & Grace Leigh

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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.

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See Through Mine Shaft, California, 2014 @ Suzanna Zak

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Sisters, Missouri, 2012 © Lara Shipley

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Coolin Out At The Upper Deck, Virginia Beach, 2012 © Carl Gunhouse

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Sheep, Norris, Montana, 2010 © Nich Hance McElroy

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Abandoned Bank from and Earlier Boom, White Earth, North Dakota, 2012 (fracking related) © Terry Evans

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From MOSSLESS, by Romke Hoogwaerts & Grace Leigh © 2014 Romke Hoogwaerts & Grace Leigh

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


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!"

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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