Photographers


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Alex, 2012 © Jess T. Dugan  


Think of a man - I mean a real dude kind of guy. Masculinity drums up a certain image, specific ideas and blunt mannerisms. A portrait of that man can strip away assumptions and allow for a much more fleshed out identity. Most of gender is read through parts of a person's body. That body becomes fleshy and naked in its insecurity, or maybe not, it can be in a persons mind and the pieces arbitrary. Jess T. Dugan's project and new book Every Breath We Drew deals with these issues. What is gender? How is masculinity defined? Through Dugan's subjects she is able to establish intimate relationships; each individual bares their experience, there's a huge sense of comfort. Dugan's portraits build; some of the subjects have been totally marginalized by society, many of the people in the photos are given new voice, they are dynamic.

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Bucky, 2013

Every Breath We Drew is a collection of people of all different sizes, shapes, backgrounds, orientations and identifications. Dugan is fascinated by masculinity and capturing what she refers to as "vulnerable masculinity." "I find all of my subjects myself. It's hard to say exactly what it is that qualifies them. Something about my initial reaction to them." The process every step of the way is about this kind of personal intimacy. Dugan is very involved and an integral part of the photographic narrative. She uses self-portraits throughout the body of work; they become a constant. With Dugan as the familiar face throughout the photos she turns into a representation of the identifiable self. Dugan becomes anyone, in this way the viewer is interjected into the narrative through her. Suddenly her subjects are more noticeably looking at you. The conversation evolves, as the viewer is able to take control of the portraits.

There is a huge sense of community given the nature of the images. How does a person come into their body while also connecting with others? The source of this inquiry can be open ended; after all, it's highly individualized and deals in the self. The images keep pushing on a desire to seek a genteel masculinity. Dugan stresses that there is a need to redefine; masculinity is more expansive than commonly understood. The self is a starting point, as the subjects allow their comfort to creep in, more information is revealed. Light and pose play into these peoples places. All of Dugan's images are crafted in the subject's home where they could be most susceptible to allowing an authentic moment to play out. Dugan's frames are slow, the thinking and consideration to the environment is evident, and each moment retains a charged emotion.    

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Colby, 2012

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Ryan and Josh, 2013

Every Breath We Drew has a very concise interest, however it's crafted by a broad pressing of intent. The portraits are full of unexpected juxtapositions. People are somber, they are gay, they are with child, and without specificity. A person is a glorious hairy mess. And even though the work is very interconnected to the LGBT community the feeling of the work goes deeper than assumptions, conditions, or titles. It should be said that it doesn't matter who these people love or how they love, it's how they pose themselves that allows them to be themselves.

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Herb, 2013

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Taan, 2012 

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Kim, 2014

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Tim, 2014

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Self-Portrait, 2012

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Elle, 2012
all images © Jess T. Dugan
 

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Fabulously simple series with a strong impact! Jeff Alu's been waiting patiently for this blog post.... thank you Jeff! According to his bio, he once spent a number of years working at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, CA. As one does.

"The Lucerne Valley in drought-stricken California is a unique desert location containing not only many abandoned buildings, but also a housing project/golf course site that was halted mid-construction due to funding problems."

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"These shots were taken on a single visit, during a passing storm which allowed for varying lighting conditions."  Jeff Alu

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All images © Jeff Alu

According to Wikipedia, Lucerne Valley is a census-designated place located in the Mojave Desert of western San Bernardino County, California. It lies east of the Victor Valley, whose population nexus includes Victorville, Apple Valley, Adelanto and Hesperia. The population was 5,811 at the 2010 census.


Just 15 minutes, to remind you of what's important.

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Images by Pacifico Silano. Article by Efrem Zelony-Mindell.

Pacifico Silano is a BAXTER ST 2015 Workspace Resident. His new body of work, Tear Sheets - currently on view at BAXTER ST Camera Club of New York - pushes conversations that, as he puts it, "are my history." The images in his new body of work deal with issues of gender, identity, HIV/AIDS awareness, abstraction and photography. Silano is a photographer of photographs; a historian in many senses, and his work challenges the stigma of both the camera and HIV/AIDS. The images in the show are cultivated appropriations of historic queer ephemera, psychiatric literature like Martin S. Weinberg's 'The Male Homosexuals: Their Problems and Adaptations,' as well as various porno mags from the 70's - 80's. Magazines are favorites of Silano: Blueboy, Torso and Honcho These weren't just the cum rag, boy blasted, flip throughs of their day, they were also a platform of activism, nightlife, awareness, and gay rights. Historically these things were used as a way of illuminating secrets. The images in Tear Sheets add to a new context of queered identity - what it is and what it is capable of becoming.

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The world has changed for gays since the AIDS crisis - the death of many. Today, there are new developments in medicine, technologies, and there are new rights - HOORAH. Never before has this powerful interconnectedness been so accessible and so present; so able to bring together as well as divide. The advances of our times are exciting and contradictory. Silano's work is a reflection of these juxtapositions. The world spins forward, and we look back in commemoration - to learn and reflect, to see new. From this inquest of space and history there is discovery and invention. Here the parts come together - for Silano. The images he makes are inescapably contemporary for all their awareness and sensibility. 

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The wrecked savagery of sex and print are salvaged by the treatment of Silano's compositions. "The work comes from boxes of scraps that for a while I couldn't think of what to do with," he shares. The removal in the work happens as an affect of his excavating his archive. The work plays out before us. His appropriations become void and lucid, highly suggestive and pensive. 

At their most basic, the photos are abstract. They posses a quality of recognition and a hunger to delve deeper - to learn more. His images are at times figurative, always sculptural - becoming almost architectural. Depth and space are a tricky deception in a photograph. Silano plays off these sensibilities and discomforts. His iconography is one of a picture's generation - an aesthetic of elimination, down to a single idea. This suggests a sense of the sublime in nature.

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Silano is as much a historian as he is an archivist. When I offered him a friend's VHS porn collection a few years back, he jumped at the offer. He's a collector of things, moving, still, tactile and articulated. These parts fuse in his practice - and the images are just as much photographs as they are collage. Cutting and tearing appropriated images - placed precisely - there is gesture, and the hand is always present in front of his camera. It's interesting however to note the use of negative space, huge fields of white, sometimes black. The edges of the appropriated image, or object, casts a shadow on the voided space. Suddenly, the photos teeter in a questioning way. Depth and object are brought into the flat surface of the photo. There is a sense of forgetting, of something lost. But then, he builds on top, next to, tucked behind - overlapping so as to become something new, or at least, changing the meaning of where it began. Reinterpretation blossoms from Silano's metamorphoses. 

All these pretty words for such pretty things - the facts are the facts - the work is engaging for a multitude of reasons.

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Douglas Eklund, Exhibition Curator of the Department of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, has put it best in regard to The Pictures Generation and how they, "worked at the intersection of personal and collective memory, rummaging through the throwaway products of their youth... in search of moments that both never existed yet were indelibly stamped in the mind." The scavenging of Silano's photography is addressing this history of indelible making. Some of these are before his time, but there's always a yearning to know what happened just before you got here. The work in Tear Sheets is a way of capturing and reanimating something that's been lost. 

I'll give you an example: Six of the seven original members of The Village People are still around. It's a desire like that, to find out, to know that something isn't gone, and now is full of potential in its anonymity. Anyone can search for a sense of culture that seemed important at a certain time, but now is so vague, it's almost antique. Capturing that hazy memory - remembering it - and allowing it to become what it wasn't before, is Pacifico Silano's most powerful asset as an artist.

The work is great and it's on view at BAXTER ST CCNY till January 16th. - Efrem Zelony-Mindell

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All images: Pacifico Silano

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Nanette Rae Freeman is an inspiration this week. She submitted this series of still life photographs of blown-out tires that she made, which helped deal with the death of her husband of 25 years in a road accident. Big respect to you, Nanette. 

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"My husband was killed on July 18, 2011, on a motorcycle speeding down the Dan Ryan Expressway on his way to work. In the wake of this unfathomable loss, I began to find fascination in the remains of blown out tires on the expressway. One day the violent energy of a blow out jolted me to the point that I felt compelled to stop and retrieve it. I finally had something tangible that evoked feelings of trauma, violence and even death. I found a surprising comfort in the physicality of the mangled tire. It connected me to my husband, Fred, whose body and mind I lost in this harrowing accident."

"For this body of work, I've been employing found blown-out tire shreds to document them as a photographic material. I photograph them in a way that exemplifies their physical features which helps me interpret and transform them. The rendering of rich textures aims to inspire memories of skin, hair and other humanizing elements - elements torn and obliterated from their former shape, which is very much like the relationship I now share with my husband."

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British photographer Mark Griffiths photographed eight children from Belarus taking a month-long recuperative trip to Pembrokeshire in Wales, U.K., thanks to Life Line children's charity in Chernobyl.  

The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant meltdown was the biggest nuclear catastrophe in world history. Now apparently "85 per cent of Belarusian children are deemed to be Chernobyl victims: they carry "genetic markers" that could affect their health at any time and can be passed on to the next generation. A vicious cycle that unfortunately could continue for hundreds if not thousands of years." 

Mark told me "Clean air and uncontaminated land can reduce radiation levels in their immune system by up to 68 per cent which helps fight illnesses and diseases and can add years to their lives."

Since they started in 1992, Life Line has brought 46,000 children over to stay with host families. 

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All images © Mark Griffiths

More from Life Line:
"Before this tragic event, Belarus was known as the breadbasket of Russia, with a stable economy. Now the people live with radiation all around them. They drink contaminated water and wash with it. There is very little to eat in Belarus and what there is, has a high chance of being contaminated. The compromised food chain means that they now have to import a high proportion of their foodstuffs. The most disadvantaged have no option but to eat crops grown in the contaminated earth - a vicious cycle.

The Chernobyl Children's Life Line looks after children who are ill, organising respite breaks to Great Britain to give them a chance to live in a "clean" environment and eat uncontaminated foods for a month. During their stay all of the children receive medical attention such as dental care and having their eyes tested."

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Norm Diamond was among my reviewees at the wonderful Photolucida portfolio event in April, 2015. His wistful, and sometimes puzzling, photographs from "What's Left Behind" are made at estate sales.

"Estate sales are commonplace in America. They frequently take place in homes once lived in by the elderly, who have since died or moved on to a nursing home. Their children hire companies to catalog and sell their parents' possessions," saith he. 

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"After getting past the massive arrays of dishes, furniture, and jewelry, one can find poignant mementos of strangers' lives. Reminders of life's finite cycle are present everywhere. They make me think of my parents and the possessions they left for my sister and me.

"I take pictures during the sales themselves. At first I was self-conscious about shooting, but after a while I realized no one seems to mind. Shoppers and sellers are much more interested in buying and selling. I also sometimes purchase items at the sales and photograph them in another setting with better lighting and background."

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All images © Norm Diamond

Norm plans to continue with this series, and I think people will be fascinated, and relate to the photographs. Perhaps they may make a person reconsider how much stuff they are holding on to, and how whomever is left behind will have to cope.

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British photographer John Paul Evans' bodies of work take a sideways look at traditional representations of marriage - "performative responses to the history of the wedding portrait in western art" - and feature himself and his husband, Peter. 

You can see some of Evans' photographs right now, as part of the Pride Photo Awards at Foam Museum of Photography in Amsterdam, July 31st to August 20th, 2015.

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This image is a finalist in this year's Hasselblad Masters of Photography Award in the 'wedding' category.

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All images © John Paul Evans

Evans is pretty prolific - check out lots more over on his website.

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Gabriela Herman's portrait series features sons and daughters of gay parents. The Kids get a chance to tell their stories as part of the project - some of them are pretty surprising, some are funny, all of them are interesting. Gabriela began the project before the US Supreme Court ruled on same-sex marriage, addressing this strange question about whether it is in kids' interest to be raised by two people of the same sex...

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Elizabeth

I asked 'Are you gay?' and he says 'Well, I haven't had any experiences to be sure.' And I think the next words out of my mouth were, 'Dad, I'm pretty sure you're gay.'

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Hope

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Kerry

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Moshe

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Danielle
All images ©  Gabriela Herman

Read and hear the rest of their stories here.  

Props to Gabriella and the "kids" for their collaboration, and my personal props to my dear friend Jenny Laden, one of the founders of a camp for children of gay parents some moons ago; I believe their chosen collective noun was "Queerspawn"! Read Jenny's story here.

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Another photographer scored at Photolucida portfolio reviews. Bangalore-based Archana Vikram asked women between the ages of 35 and 55 to bring her five objects that hold important memories for them. 

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Vikram says: "The series seeks to convey the deeper connection betweens the "things" we hold dear and who we are. The nuances depicted by each object in a frame and how and why it was one of the five things treasured by each subject were fascinating. The essence of each personality isn't the object or group of objects in each frame but its significance to the subject or the memory or experience it calls to their mind."

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What would you choose? 

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All images © Archana Vikram

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