Magazine


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Head of Medusa, after Rubens


Look carefully and discover the world of Chadwick Gray & Laura Spector.

These two artists have been working with museums for many years, gaining access to storage facilities, working with the curators to find paintings (mostly 19th century female portraiture), documenting them, and Laura Spector subsequently recreating them on Chadwick Gray's body. The painting process takes between 6 and 18 hours, is then photographed and printed up to the size of the original art work, sometimes a large mural.

Employing the illusion of multistable perception the final photograph often keeps your eye wandering around and around the frame.

"The recreated paintings of these historic portraits recapture the subjects in their own moment in history. The resulting photographs reveal a unification of art combining antiquity, history and technology in a contemporary context."

Most museums seem to not want people viewing their hidden treasures. Then there's examples such as New York's Metropolitan Museum who claim they don't have a storage facility. Now, as Chadwick says, somewhat ironically they themselves have a body of work that hasn't been seen by the public. So the two award-winning artists are putting together an exhibition which will be shown initially at the Pratt MWP Arts Institute in Utica, NY and it is for this they are looking for crowd-funding to produce and frame the works. Information is available over at Kickstarter. Incidentally, Chadwick & Spector are offering one of my favorite rewards: for a pledge at a certain level, wine and cheese via Skype!

There's a TEDx lecture that's fun to watch, which includes a time-lapse video of a 15 hour painting, compressed to 45 seconds.

View the aCurator magazine full screen photo feature.

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Laurel Aitken, aka The Godfather of Ska, at home, Leicester, 1980 © Janette Beckman

I have known Janette Beckman since the early 90s when I had the pleasure of being invited for a good rummage in her basement to unearth her colour trannies from the 1980s, which were then duped for resale at my agency. Over the years I've been amazed by the number of times I've said "JB shot that??" as I read the credits on an album cover or picked up an old copy of the Face. 

For her second aCurator feature, Janette wanted us to focus on Style. She generously scanned a selection from her negative archives, some frames of which have never been published before.

"In 1979 I was living in South London, working for a weekly music magazine. Taking the bus to work through Brixton I would see the local youths, West Indian-style suits, narrow highwater trousers and trilby hats, hanging out by the underground station. At night I would shoot bands like The Specials, Dennis Brown and The Clash. Black culture had a big influence on the punk and skinhead scenes. British youth loved Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Reggae and Ska and combined the dress styles of the musicians with their Dr Marten boots, braces, Harrington jackets and loafers. For British working class youth trying to find an identity, clothes, fashion and music went hand in hand."

After much harassment by those who know what gems she's sitting on, Janette finally caved in and became a blogger this year. Visit "Archive of Attitude" for a peek at her shots from the past three decades which she posts alongside her current work.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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"I might even show you my photograph album. You might even see a face in it which might remind you of your own, of what you once were. You might see faces of others, in shadow, or cheeks of others, turning, or jaws, or backs of necks, or eyes, dark under hats, which remind you of others, whom you once knew, whom you thought long dead, but from whom you will still receive a sidelong glance, if you can face the good ghost. Allow the love of the good ghost. They possess all that emotion... trapped. Bow to it. It will assuredly never release them, but who knows... what relief... it may give to them... who knows how they may quicken... in their chains, in their glass jars. You think it cruel... to quicken them, when they are fixed, imprisoned? No...no. Deeply, deeply, they wish to respond to your touch, to your look, and when you smile, their joy... is unbounded. And so I say to you, tender the dead, as you yourself would be tendered, now, in what you would describe as your life." Harold Pinter from 'No Man's Land' requested by Pinter to be spoken at his funeral. Via Steve Pyke

Los Muertos, Mummies of Guanajuato, opens at Art Jail, 50 Eldridge Street, NYC on September 23rd, 2011, with a reception on Thursday 22nd - hope to see you there.

Full the full screen magazine photo feature.

Read the story behind the photographs on Joerg Colberg's Conscientious.

© Steve Pyke

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Onion ©
Ajay Malghan

Ajay Malghan hadn't been in touch since last year, when I looked through some very different, very personal work of his. I had been impressed with his attitude towards a grave diagnosis followed by multiple surgeries (see his light-hearted statement here.)

Studying hard in the interim, and taking advantage of rapidly-disappearing resources (a photo store going out of business; the impending removal of color darkrooms from his school) Ajay produced this camera-less series of fruit and veg - his statement on humans' modification of the natural world around them.

"Naturally Modified deals with how our intake has forced us to modify our crops in order to keep up with our methods of consumption. By altering genes and modifying these crops we're altering nature without fully understanding the consequences. There's a reason the cycle of corn (and other crops) takes as long as it does and I think we're opening up a Pandora's box by speeding up the process.

Nature has developed its cycles over thousands of years and we've managed to alter (them) in the last couple of decades... Our imposition on nature is distorting the line between what is needed and what we construct to support our needs. This is why (in this series) a lemon is purple or an onion is red; because with genetic modification, pesticides and fertilizers, they're no longer what we thought they were." Ajay Malghan

Ajay plans to make this body of work his thesis and aims to present large, mounted prints.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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Tiny Ropes of Misery, 2008. Collaboration with photographer Anja Schaffner

Riitta Ikonen is a self-described "interdisciplinary artist creating visionary images through costume and collaboration." Working across different media, Riitta produces delightful work, insightful work, political work or a combo thereof. Everything on her website is enjoyable (try 'Fantasticology'); she's done some really cool things ('Mail Art') and won some wicked awards (Shortlisted for the London 2012 Olympic Bridges arts commission).

Riitta was born and raised in Finland, and now lectures at the University of Brighton in England.  She has exhibited worldwide regularly since 2004 and been involved in a myriad of creative ventures. Hat tip to photographer Janette Beckman for the intro via her pal, artist Ian Wright.

This was a tough edit to make so better visit her website and see what else you might enjoy.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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Artist Rob Hann is physically in New York much of the time. But I know deep down he's always on the road. I'm thrilled to present a summery selection of rich and gorgeous photographs from a trip earlier this year.

"While trying to decide where to go on my latest road trip I found myself singing Little Feat's 1971 song, Willin', one of my absolute favourites. There's a line in the song that goes "I've been from Tucson, to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonopah" so that's what I did. I flew into Tucson, Arizona, got a rental car and headed off. In 2 weeks I drove 5,700 miles and took in 7 States. Curiously, I never took any pictures in Tucson or Tucumcari, Tehachapi or Tonopah."

View the magazine full screen photo feature
.

View Rob's 2010 feature 'Deserted States of America'.

Amboy Rd, California © Rob Hann

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"I'm in Costa Rica working with the ants. And they're stars."
 
Catherine Chalmers' wonderful photographs of praying mantises have graced these pages. Keeping in touch, I was excited when I heard she'd be in Costa Rica working with leafcutter ants this year, and hence a series for the height of summer featuring my personal favourite bugs.

"Leafcutter ants are the principal herbivore in the tropical and semi-tropical regions where they live. They do not clear cut rainforests quite like we do, but they can strip a tree in a single night, and repeat this night after night. At a time in history when humans are causing deforestation at an alarming rate, this insect provides rich and relevant opportunities for illuminating man's impact on the environment.
 
Throughout history, dominance begets hubris, the language of which humans have used to heighten divisions and impress superiority across tribes, cultures and nations. The leafcutter ant project borrows that language and uses it as a metaphor for the relationship between humans and the natural world today."

It's easy to become enthralled with Catherine as she masterfully reflects humans' fascination  and relationships with creepy crawlies back on us and relates their behaviour to ours. It's hard to do this new ongoing project justice here, so I must encourage you to follow the links and learn more.



Ant Works preview: "Usually leafcutter ants cut green leaves high up in the forest canopy. In order to film the 'Ant Works' video, the heart of which is a stop-motion sequence of the colony completely denuding a tree, I need to find a plant the ants were willing to take that was also on my scale. I offered them more than a dozen plants they are known to like and they refused them all, except this one. The aesthetics of the video were framed by their choice of a plant that happened to resemble a Jackson Pollock painting. The final scene is an art show of the ants parading their works."

Excellent interview with Catherine about the Leafcutters project at Scientific American.

I highly recommend these radio interviews from Catherine's archives.

View the magazine full screen photo feature.

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Little Richard at KPIX-TV, San Francisco, 1967 © Baron Wolman

I've worked with Baron "Mixing business with pleasure since 1965" Wolman for almost 20 years now. Baron's iconic photographs graced the earliest years of Rolling Stone magazine, when he was their first shooter. His new autobiographical book, 'Baron Wolman: The Rolling Stone Years' is packed with icons of the 60s and 70s, the stories behind the photographs, and is an honest account of starting out green - "I didn't know what backstage was."

"I hope people spend some time reading the text. We look at pictures and wonder how they came to be. Or we speculate a bit about the life of a photographer, especially one who has been on the front lines, the front lines of any subject, be it music, war, politics, etc. In my book I tried to provide a small window into that photographer's life and offer a few words about the origin of the photos."

"...The other message I got from my days at Rolling Stone, one that I carry with me to this day, is the joy of having an idea and bringing it to reality. It was so wonderful; Jann presented this idea in April of 1967 and not even six months later the idea had turned into a reality as we watched our new baby come off the presses. An idea, Jann's and Ralph (Gleason)'s idea, had now become a reality."

Read lots more in the Rolling Stone Years blog. Buy a premium, signed edition. Buy a regular copy. Buy a T shirt, take a photo wearing it and Baron will put it in the blog.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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Priya Kambli is an artist and professor currently based in Missouri, whose work has been widely exhibited across the US. This beautiful series was created over the last five years.

"My photographs visually express the notion of transience and split cultural identity caused by the act of migration. I have been viewing this issue through the lens of my own personal history and cultural journey from India to the United States. This journey left me feeling disconnected, unable to anchor myself in any particular cultural framework. I have therefor formed a hybrid identity, a patching together of two cultures within one person. In my work I explore absence, loss and genealogy through the use of my own family snapshots. These personal artifacts are recontextualized alongside fragmented images and staged imagery to reveal the correlations between generations, cultures and memory."

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Inoculation © Priya Kambli

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Introduced to me when I was still at the photo agency I ran for many years, Leland Bobbé had a virtually-unseen archive of classic shots from the heyday of CBGB's. Going through his archives recently he came across another cache: long-forgotten photographs of Times Square and the Bowery in the 70s. We collaborated on this, Leland's second aCurator feature (the first was the critically-acclaimed 'Women of Fifth Avenue'), to present a good, graphic selection.

"New York City in the 1970's was a dark, dangerous and gritty place. Before gentrification, neighborhoods had unique personalities; no Starbucks, Duane Reade or Gap every few blocks. Son of Sam, the big blackout, a city on the verge of bankruptcy. Times Square wasn't a playground for Middle America and the Lower East Side didn't look like the Upper East Side. The Bowery was the end of the line for many. Some of these shots were taken shooting from the hip, pre-focused to 6', with a 28mm lens without looking through the viewfinder so I wouldn't be noticed. My intention was to capture the grit and personality of a unique period in New York City history. Long live The Ramones." - Leland Bobbé

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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Top: 8th Avenue between 42nd and 53rd Street

Bottom: "The Ramones on the original small stage at CBGB before they signed their deal with Sire Records. Probably '74."

© Leland Bobbé

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