Italian artist Alessandro Falco was a finalist in a competition I co-judged in 2012. He has kept busy and kept me posted, and I am thrilled to see what he is producing in Rio, where he headed for three months to make photos about and around the World Cup.
We present two series in the magazine. The first is of a Colombian community in a favela in Rio watching their team play Greece; the second is about a young dental technician who dresses as Batman to protest against the spending around the World Cup in a country where so many people lack even the basics.
After an update reminding me of his "father series" I'm running a few images from Jay Sullivan's series "Glove" for Father's Day, but we're not talking about a Hallmark moment...
"When I was five years old, my father suffered a bipolar breakdown and was sent to a psychiatric institution. It started him on a long descent from top IBM salesman to homeless on the streets of Brooklyn some 20 years later. Our relationship followed a similar trajectory. When he died we had spoken only twice in his final ten years.
"I began "Glove" seeking to reconnect with my father by photographing the childhood objects that I most associated with him. Over time it became a journey into the emotional core of these objects, unearthing the feelings and memories associated with a black wallet, wingtip shoes, zippo lighter, baseball glove and many other long forgotten items."
Jay is producing some remarkably emotive images. See more of this and other projects, including My Father's Ashes, a photography-based installation that documents the journey of his father's ashes from 1992 to the present day, over on Jay's website.
Young master photographer and printer Michael Massaia's "Deep in a Dream" series has until now shown us images of Central Park made in the wee-est hours of the night. Sometimes up to the top of his waders in the lake, or being cruised by guys, chattered to by rats or growled at by dogs, the long-exposure photographs he takes are finessed to within an inch of their beautiful lives in his homemade darkroom where he spends days mixing chemicals to outstanding effect. His prints need to be seen to be believed; they are stunning.
It turns out that Massaia has been making these sunbather photographs since 2006, concurrently with his other series, many of which are long night-time exposures: "Afterlife" consists of stunning images of a Jersey Shore pier before and after Hurricane Sandy; "In The Final Throes" shows the streets of suburban New Jersey; "Seeing the Black Dog" renders long-haul trucks at rest in stark beauty. "I tried in every way possible to visually/graphically make the environment come to life in its most lifeless moments," he says of Afterlife.
One ought probably to not ever be surprised by Michael, but still when the first "Deep in a Dream - Sheep's Meadow" sunbathers dropped in, I was bowled over. All I could imagine was him laying flat in a hide in camo. I couldn't understand how he'd get his 8x10 in there. But in fact, he's in plain sight. The final prints are small gold toned silver prints. Divine.
"Though people are the focus, my objective was to wait to capture the moment they turn into unassuming sculpted objects." It's hard at first to work out what is going on in these images. The subjects have surrendered to their environment and must have no pretensions of privacy (unlike the spying in "Through Their Windows" by Arne Svenson, which I happen to really enjoy.)
aC: I understand you set out with a large format, 8x10 camera - was it one of your handmade ones? Impractical setting up a tripod in Sheep Meadow and trying to surreptitiously photograph people sunbathing, you decided to downsize to just an RZ... All the conversations these days are about how much less intrusive an iPhone is to taking photographs, how on earth do you manage to make these with a 6x7? MM: For about 1/4 of the portfolio I used an 8x10 camera. It was not a fancy modified one, just a standard Sinar F2. It became quickly apparent that I simply could not handle the pressure of getting so close to the subject while using such a large camera. I literally felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown when I was using the view cameras for this portfolio, but it was tempered by my excitement over the results I was getting.
The problem was also, not so much the people I was photographing, but all the people surrounding me. It was pretty clear I had to change my working method, so that's when I switched to using a RZ67 (along with several other cameras.)
I basically used every camera I could get my hands on to accomplish this job at the highest quality.
Ironically, when I started the portfolio in 2006, I used a Sony digital camera that I hacked up to do some test pictures, and get some readings/measurements. Looking back on the images I was actually very impressed with the look of them, so I asked my friend/gallery owner, Tom Gramegna, (of Gallery 270, in Bergen, New Jersey) who has a very long relationship with Leica, if I could borrow their flagship medium format digital camera - the S - to also use on the portfolio. I've been very impressed with the results from that camera, and while it's a digital camera, I still create analog negatives from the files that are in turn contact printed on traditional fiber based silver gelatin paper.
aC: You mentioned a camera where it's not easy to tell the front from the back. MM: It's a Sinar f2 with standard bellows on it. As you can see from the picture it's very hard to tell the front from the back (especially when I use recessed lens board with a wide angle lens on it.)
aC: What inspired you to make a series in the broadest of daylight in the first place? MM: I think the inspiration came from simply trying to create a portfolio that involved people in some way. The majority of my work over the past eight or nine years has been void of any people, and I thinks that's a result of my inability to connect to most people in an earnest way. As a result, I usually set out to document a world I can more relate to, which is usually an isolated/slightly disconnected world. But back in 2006, I saw these people laying out in the Sheep Meadow and was very drawn to how "out of their bodies" they appeared. All of the pretense was gone, and what remained was this perfect unassuming figure. I found myself being very connected to the honesty/perfection of the people at that moment. My goal was to then figure a way to photograph the people in the most exacting/intimate way. During the printing process is where I started to severely "burn" out everything surrounding the subject. This way, there is no distraction. It is just the viewer and the person.
aC: Why gold tone? Were you inspired by the burnished bathers? MM: Gold toning silver prints can create many different types of looks. I gold toned the prints in this portfolio to create what many people would consider to be the opposite of what gold toning is supposed to do. I use a warm-toned fiber-based silver gelatin paper to print the portfolio, and for the most part, when you use gold toners on warm toned paper, it cools down/introduces subtle shades of blue to the print. The gold toning helps in making the image and print more hyper-real. I was inspired by the skin tones of the people, but my goal was to cool them down a bit, creating a bit more of a ghostly appearance.
aC: You are not a gregarious person and you seem to like to work in solitude and often at night when you might be hassled by security, or mad dogs. What about annoyed sunbathers? MM: To this day, no one I've ever photographed, has noticed me. The last thing I ever want to do is to make someone feel uneasy or uncomfortable, but no matter what, I have to see my ideas through until the bitter end. Hopefully my luck keeps up...
Minnesota-based photographer and professor Laura Migliorino was fascinated by ice houses as a kid. She had a rather skewed sense of what they were for, but they are in fact used as a base for people ice fishing on the lakes in winter. They look pretty spooky to me!
I just love James Fike's series of photogram-like plant portraits.
"These edible plants grow all around us, in yards, alleys, ditches, and empty lots. Each testifies to our symbiotic evolution with all of life, and functions as both poetic metaphor and concrete proof of our intimate tether to the natural world. It is my hope that this art foments contemplative wonderment by offering viewers both information and insights that if realized kindle a reconnection to the natural world and a mystical counterbalance to scientific objectivism.
"I envision this as a thoroughly inclusive catalogue that will result in hundreds of photographs. The aesthetic consciously combines empirical and visionary traditions, by taking advantage of digital imaging's capacity to create rhetorical shifts in the photograph. The resulting images are elegant, layered, historically aware and able to evoke mystery, amplify interconnectedness and offer a critique of classical taxonomy." J.W. Fike
"These photographs portray people whose lives have been changed by accidents, medical malpractice, and defective products."
Hoping to reach some people who love this sort of thing, here's the story:
"Collin LaFleche and Bonnie Briant have been working with the photographer Bob Walden to put together a book of his photography, culled from his 20-year career as a legal photographer in and around New York City. He worked as a freelancer, hired by law firms to photograph accident victims or accident scenes for civil negligence cases (although he did work on a few criminal cases). Some of his photos were used in major legal cases - for example, the crane collapse a few years ago - but for the most part, he was working on low-level cases that would never make the news."
These guys are running a Kickstarter campaign to fund publication of a book - read more over there. Please spread the word.
Jana Cruder's "Great Expectations" ran here in the blog a couple of years ago. Through a series of vignettes, shown on two side-by-side films, Jana explores the societal and relationship roles through the icons of Barbie and Ken while creating a unique individual viewer experience: In order to display the series Jana built a replica Viewmaster stereoscope. This beast/beauty is now up for sale!
"Jana Cruder's 'VIEWMASTER' titled "All that Glitters is Gold" a piece that combines the artist's mild obsession with nostalgic nuances with her increasing curiosity of the moving image. Jana's golden VIEWMASTER is an exact replica of a 1956 Bakelite VIEWMASTER. This sculpture stands 5' 4" and spans over 36'' wide. This hand built, carved and sanded piece is meticulous in its execution. The golden reflective automotive painted finish gives the piece a real 'plastic' feel."
Check out the stop-motion film, and take a closer look at the Viewmaster below. If you're in the market, you can reach Jana via her website.
"For more than 30 years, New York based photographer and painter Mariette Pathy Allen has been documenting transgender culture worldwide; in 2004 she won the Lambda Literary Award for her monograph The Gender Frontier. In her new publication, TransCuba, Allen focuses on the transgender community of Cuba, especially its growing visibility and acceptance in a country whose government is transitioning into a more relaxed model of communism under Raúl Castro's presidency. This publication therefore records a cultural watershed within Cuba. In addition to color photographs and interviews by Allen, the book also includes a contribution from Raúl Castro's daughter, Mariela Castro, who is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana. In 2005, Castro proposed a project, which became law three years later, to allow transgender individuals to receive sex reassignment surgery and change their legal gender."
Charito at home with one-week-old piglet, Camaguey