Magazine


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

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

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

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

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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

Hair Follicle, 100x © Aoife O'Donnell

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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

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"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 2011

View 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


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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."

Re:Current, Abyss 2008 © Sonja Thomsen

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Maria de la Iglesia was born in Madrid and currently lives in London. She took a Bachelor Honors Degree in Photography in Dublin Institute of Technology and a Master in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at London College of Communication. There are several very interesting projects on her website but I was most taken by 'Pueblo'.

In Maria's words "'Pueblo' is a portrait of a Spanish village in 2010. The pictures create an intimate, sometimes absurd representation of a remote village in a period of economical crisis. Elderly people are the protagonists facing the decline of the population. The land shapes the village and its characters, suspending them in an age from long ago.  This is a place where animals roam the streets and death is ever present, a place that refuses to accept modernity, preferring to stay close to the ghosts of tradition... 'Pueblo' is not only a personal journey into the absurd, but it has also become an exploration of the human condition. It is a visual and psychological observation that looks with irony and dark humour at the individuals themselves in a context of contrasts."

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Main street, 2010  © Maria de la Iglesia

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Contemplating landscapes is oft the practice of San Francisco-based photographer David Gardner. Follow him as he discovers fascinating and varied examples of humans, over centuries, making a point, whatever that point may be, in this series 'Marking Our Place in the World'.

"As humans we must communicate - it is what we do best. We seem hardwired from birth to do this via a complicated system using signs and symbols. But removed from our normal settings and tools, how do we compensate? What does it look like when we turn our communication skills loose on the landscape around us; why are we compelled to 'leave our mark' upon landscape, whether or not others understand its meaning or semiology?

In my photographic investigation of these ideas, the marks themselves are more relevant to me than the particular landscape they inhabit. I am interested in how our interventions impact the landscape, both natural and urban, in ways that are permanent as well as changed by time and nature. I explore themes of history, language and communication, while observing the dynamic of personal and group expression as it plays out on the landscape. We imagine mythical figures in the stars; we see the Virgin Mary in the knots of a tree; we are both compelled to make marks as well as to decipher their meanings. By looking at how we have marked the landscape through time, we can gain insight into our personal and collective history. To decline such a study is to leave to others the control of the world of meanings in which we inhabit." - David Gardner.

View the magazine full screen photo feature.

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Chinese poem carved into the barrack wall at the immigration station/detention center at Angel Island:

Detained in this wooden house for several tens of days,
It is all because of the Mexican exclusion law which implicates me,
It's a pity heroes have no way of exercising their prowess.
I can only await the word so that I can snap Zu's whip.
From now on, I am departing far from this building.

All of my fellow villagers are rejoicing with me.
Don't say that everything within is Western styled.
Even if it is built of jade, it has turned into a cage.

Images © David Gardner

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In November 2010 David Goldman took a trip to Addis Ababa with Salaam Garage, an organization that partners with international NGOs and local non-profits to "create and share independent media projects that raise awareness and cause positive change in their online and offline social communities." Immersing himself in the challenge of portraying hope, he returned with this positive story - a tale of renewed life for two young women who had been needlessly suffering for years. Thanks to some missionaries, the women were both taken to the Hamlin Fistula Hospital for treatment.

"This is a story of love and faith. Love because I fell for these two young women, watching them support each other; and because there are two villages full of family and friends that gave these women the courage to take a journey to the unknown in hopes of being healed. Faith, they simply must have, or they would have given up a long time ago.

The women are both from a remote area in Ethiopia known as the Bali Mountains; both lost their babies and suffered from the same affliction: an obstetric fistula. Both women were left incontinent for more than four years, and their social value had dropped with their inability to function as normal, contributing woman of the tribe. Like the thousands of women that arrive at the gates to the hospital each year they are not turned away regardless of whether they can afford to pay, and of course they cannot, they cannot even pay for a bus ride to Addis Ababa."

David decided to take them home himself.

Click through for more information on the Hamlin Hospital and how to donate.

View the full screen magazine photo feature

Getting home © David Goldman

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"Here you have my heart" he said, and he took me away.

Brandan Gomez is a photographer based in Santiago de Compostela; his transcendent photographs are rooted in the spirituality of his location which is a medieval pilgrimage route dating back to the 9th century. He is interested in "religions, the sacred, superstitions, and how that can be translated into images."

"It all began in a very small coast village in the North of Portugal called Costa Nova. This place has such a special light because it has the Atlantic Ocean on the west and a water channel on the east, this land is like a needle that penetrates the sea, there is always some mist floating in the air, water acts like a mirror, light reflects in every object and somehow blinds you enough to see what has never happened."

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The sacred © Brandan Gomez

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Klaus Pichler introduced aCurator to his work and I decided to publish from his ongoing project 'Middle Class Utopia'.

"This series focuses on Austrian allotment gardens in and around Vienna called 'Schrebergärten'. These tiny gardens were invented in the late 19th century, mainly to provide space for the working class people to grow their own vegetables and fruits. Over time, the use of these gardens changed and now they are mainly used for recreational purposes. 26,000 of these gardens exist in Vienna, not only located in the boundaries of the city. It's a special kind of people who live there - mostly older people, but also younger families who combine the advantage of urban life with the escapism of the garden colonies. Due to the strict rules of these colonies, concerning both the look of the gardens as well as the behaviour of the occupants, a special mood surrounds the gardens. The artificial idyll of the garden gets foiled by feelings of paranoia, fear and sometimes loneliness that surround the people who live there.

Nature is declared friend and foe at the same time. On the one hand, the occupants enjoy the beauty and peace of nature - on the other hand, the natural growth of the plants is seen as enemy and needs to be fought with scissors, lawnmowers and hedge-trimmers. This dichotomy leads to a slightly grotesque appearance of the gardens, looking like outdoor living rooms.
'Middle Class Utopia' is a portrait of the strange world of the garden colonies and their inhabitants - daily and nightly, throughout a whole year." - Klaus Pichler

View the full screen magazine photo feature

Visit Klaus' website to view his other projects, not least of all 'Skeletons in the Closet', a project in Austria's Natural History Museum

© Klaus Pichler

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'The Dealership Wreck' continues Kirk Crippen's work on The Great Recession that began with his 2009 series 'Foreclosure, USA', photographed around Stockton, California.

"In the first quarter of 2009, one in every twenty-seven housing units in the area received a foreclosure notice, against a national rate of about one in one hundred and fifty-nine. Foreclosure, USA explores Stockton's foreclosed homes and the abruptly suspended housing developments in its hardest hit neighborhoods."

Kirk says in some areas "the pride of ownership soured", a sad statement for the capitalism-centric USA.

"I never noticed the monolithic deserted auto dealerships alongside the freeway until recently, when I began to notice empty dealerships everywhere I traveled. I researched the phenomenon and discovered that since 2009, over 2,300 auto dealerships in America shut down. The closings, which happened largely as a result of the US governmentʼs auto industry bailout and restructuring, put 70 million square feet of commercial real estate on the market. Thousands of industry workers lost their jobs. During recent visits to auto malls in California, Oregon, and Texas, I explored many of these abandoned structures. I've witnessed a foundation being poured for a brand new auto dealership directly across the street from two closed dealerships. I've observed that some of the buildings are scheduled for demolition; some are being repurposed; and a few are reopening as new dealerships. At a time when GM is emerging from a structured bankruptcy and things are looking up for auto manufactures, I hope this series captures a glimpse of the fragile and changing infrastructure of this iconic American industry."

View the full screen magazine photography feature.

Kirk will be part of a new exhibition at the Modernbook Gallery in San Francisco, CA. opening March 3rd 2011.

Foreclosure, USA: 3 Car Garage, 2009 © Kirk Crippens

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