Magazine


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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."

View the full screen magazine photo feature

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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Harold Ross' series 'Night' is other-worldly, uncanny, ethereal, and rooted in his childhood fear of the bogeyman.

Harold is a practitioner of light painting: a specialized technique which requires working in a completely dark environment, opening the camera for an extended period of time, and 'painting' the light onto the subject. This reveals greater shape, texture and color, and is very much sculpting with light. What you see in his work cannot exist in nature nor in one moment in time. Instead, it's the result of a 'merging' or 'gathering' of light.

"When I was young, I often went camping in the mountains of southern New Mexico. One of the strongest memories from those trips is being absolutely terrified of whatever was beyond the light of our campfire. It didn't help that my older brother, Norman, and his friends told me horrific stories! During those sleepless nights, I was convinced that some murderous renegade or rabid coyote was just waiting to pounce on me.

I'm sure this has something to do with why I started this project. In some ways, I think that I'm dealing with the childhood fear of being out in nature in the dark. As it turns out, the first image I shot in this series (Quaker Cemetery Wall) was photographed in a place you would have never found me as a kid! I'm not afraid anymore, at least not when I have a helper with me...

One of my motivations in making these pictures is curiosity. I'm curious about just what will be revealed by the very descriptive lighting techniques that I employ. I don't really start shooting projects at the beginning, but somewhere in the middle.

The details that are present in these images can't be seen normally, as the lighting is built up over time. Normally, when using artificial light, especially light painting, one tries to be consistent with direction of light in order to make the lighting appear as natural as possible. In this landscape work, I'm not overly concerned with this, and, in fact, I'm interested in the interplay between the reality of the scene and the purposeful artificiality of the lighting." - Harold Ross, February 2011.

Two images from the series were selected for the 10th Annual International Photography Competition at Fraser Gallery in Bethesda, MD, on view through March 5th, 2011.

View the magazine full screen photography feature.

Get info about Harold's Light Painting Workshops in PA.

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Brian David Stevens is an excellent photojournalist, based in London, who's been in touch with his various consistently great series over the last few months. I ran his portraits of WWII veterans 'They That Are Left' in the blog last year, and was fascinated by this new project on the British artist Billy Childish.

Stevens spent the day with Childish (aka William Charlie Hamper, Bill Hamper, Bill Hamper-Childish, Guy Hamper, Jack Ketch, Gus Claudius, Danger Bill Henderson) at Childish's home in Kent. I not only love Brian's photographs but am excited to have been introduced to the intense world of Mr. Childish. Be warned: if you go there, you may not return.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Listen to some noise.

Billy Childish © Brian David Stevens


01_Mikael_Kennedy.jpgMikael Kennedy told me he spent the first dozen or so years of his life convinced he was going to die, and that when he didn't, he began seeing the world differently, wanting to experience everything he could. These photographs are a sampling from the results of Mikael's recent years of domestic and international "wandering around" with his Polaroid camera: couch surfing; sleeping on beaches, in vans; nomadic. Ambivalent at first about a feature, unsure about the format, the photographs have grown on me. I've found myself daydreaming, enjoying a vicarious moment.

Mikael has a new limited edition book available for pre-order, 7 in his series 'Passport To Trespass'. More info here ; heads-up - all volumes sold out, with volume 6 going in four weeks. Hunt them Out' is a limited edition booklet printed in conjunction with the release of these 20 Polaroids for sale through a special online exhibition of the prints available only through Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art Gallery in NYC. Read the back story on Mikael's wanderings.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Melaena, Cayos Cochinos, Honduras 2009 © Mikael Kennedy

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This arresting feature was guest curated by Louisa Curtis of Chatterbox Enterprises.

"I met photographer Art Murphy a few years ago when he was also working as an accomplished retoucher and printer in New York. Fast-forward a few years, add in a life-changing move from the city to the Catskills, and an already-existing interest in things past, and we have a new fine art project, inspired by nature, studying 380 million year-old fossils that are found in abundance around his home. Art has created an exquisite body of work that one minute transports us into feeling we are truly underwater, exploring for hidden treasures at the bottom of the inland sea, and then another that might remind us of ancient life forms, marine invertebrates that existed all those years ago. The images have a softness and subtlety of color that seem unlikely for such crusty remnants of old age. They are, quite simply, beautiful. Last year, prompted by an exhibition opportunity, Art's work was presented as a one-of-a-kind art book in the style of an old Catskills scrapbook, where a link was examined between the painters of the Hudson River School of Art and the earliest geologists who explored the country. To see more about the project, the book and the images, please visit his website." - Louisa Curtis

"My images are an attempt to focus on the intrinsic beauty of these early life forms and provide the viewer with a more visceral and emotional interaction - a connection between the distant past and the present, what is buried all around us as part of the evolutionary trail of life here in the Hudson Valley. As I see it, this work tends to bridge a gap between art and science. The visual manifestations of science and nature contain an often-overlooked wealth of aesthetic experience. I have the good fortune of living in a most beautiful area, tucked in the woods between the Hudson River and the eastern edge of the Catskills. Thanks to its unique geologic history, fossils abound, specifically invertebrate fossils from the Devonian Period. In many locations it sometimes seems that every other rock contains a fossil. They can appear to be so commonplace that, aside from schoolchildren hunting for them on science field trips, most of us stumble over them with barely a notice. Not long ago, I took the time to look a bit closer and was amazed at what I found. The images that appear here are part of a long-term project, a decidedly unscientific one that reflects the intrinsic beauty of these creatures from an incomprehensibly distant past. In removing any reference to suggest scale, they appear as beautiful sculptural objects seeming to grow out of the surrounding rock.

I have often said that, while the Hudson River painters hiked the area they carried hammer, chisel, and sketch book, I carry hammer, chisel, and digital camera. I shoot while out in the field, particularly when I find something too big to carry back to the studio. Most often, though, I carry bags full of rocks home. Some of the fossils are free-standing. Most are buried in rock. Once you become familiar, you can tell that certain rocks will have greater or lesser possibility of containing fossils. I carefully begin cracking them open and then the fun begins. Cracks in the rocks will often lead to well defined fossils and then I explore the patterns and designs that emerge with the camera. Sometimes a single large rock can have me busy for days." - Art Murphy

Thanks to Louisa for her work on this story. View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Fossil ©  Art Murphy

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London-based Katie Ell is a colleague of aCurator-featured photographer Michael Corridore who kindly directed her to the magazine, prompting her to submit 'A Piece of My Mind', the latest collaboration by Katie and Creative Director Paul Alexandrou.

"From the wildly irreverent to the deeply heartfelt, the series documents the different words and messages people choose to have tattooed on their bodies. Collected over a nine-month period, the project explores the power of language, the line between public and private, and the universal need to share what's on our mind."

An exhibition opens in London at Tapestry, 52 Frith Street, W1, from January 10th to March 10th, 2011.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Katie is a commercial photographer shooting celebrity portraits, fashion and art projects. A trip to her website is a good time.

Sparky © Katie Ell

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