⁞ ‘Real Life is Elsewhere’ ⁞

white mirror didactic© Sam Durant, White Mirrors, from the project Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres and Monuments, 2006. Inkjet print, 42 x 36 inches.

9_pilgrim39© Sam Durant, Natural History Part II, from the project Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres and Monuments, 2007. Mixed media; Dimensions vary; Photo credit: Scott Massey.


May 1968 and France on the verge of anarchy… An atmosphere of martial law in Paris and hundreds of factories occupied… one hundred and forty American cities in flames after the killing of Martin Luther King… German and English universities occupied… Hippie ghettos directly clashing with the police state… The sudden exhilarating sense of how many people felt the same way… The new world corning into focus… The riots a great dance in the streets…

Today – nothing. The Utopian image has faded from the streets. Just the endless traffic, the blank eyes that pass you by, the nightmarish junk we’re all dying for. Everyone seems to have retreated into themselves, into closed occult groups. The revolutionary excitement that fired the sixties is dead, the ‘counter-culture’ a bad joke. No more aggression, no more laughter, no more dreams. “To talk of life today is like talking of rope in the house of a hanged man.”

Yet there were thousands and thousands of people there. What has happened to us all?

The Paris May Days were the end for the SI. On the one hand, the police state pressure on the French left after May made any overt action virtually suicidal. […]

The presence of the SI never made itself properly felt in either England or America. The English and what could well have become the American sections of the SI were excluded just before Christmas 1967. Both groups felt that the perfection and publicising of a theoretical critique was not sufficient: they wanted political subversion and individual ‘therapy’ to converge in an uninterrupted everyday activity. […]

Henceforward the dissemination of situationist ideas in both countries was dissociated from the real organisation that alone could have dynamised them. 0n the one hand this led to obscure post-grad groups sitting over their pile of gestetnered situationist pamphlets, happy as Larry in their totally prefabricated identity. On the other, the more sincere simply went straight up the wall: The Angry Brigade, very heavily influenced by situationist ideas (translate Les Enrages into English … ), destroying themselves at the same time as they took the critique of the spectacle to its most blood-curdlingly spectacular extreme. […]

9_pilgrim18© Sam Durant, Male Colonist (cornstalk), from the project Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres and Monuments, 2006. C-print, 60 x 48 inches.

9_pilgrim16© Sam Durant, Female Indian, Male Colonist, from the project Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres and Monuments, 2006. C-print, 48 x 60 inches.

What then remains of the SI? What is still relevant? Above all, I think, its iconoclasm, its destructiveness. What the SI did was to redefine the nature of exploitation and poverty. Ten years ago people were still demonstrating against the state of affairs in Vietnam – while remaining completely oblivious of the terrible state they were in themselves. The SI showed exactly how loneliness and anxiety and aimlessness have replaced the nineteenth century struggle for material survival, though they are still generated by the same class society. They focused on immediate experience – everyday life as the area people most desperately wanted to transform.

Rediscovering poverty cannot be separated from rediscovering what wealth really means. The SI rediscovered the vast importance of visionary politics, of the Utopian tradition – and included art, in all its positive aspects, in this tradition. […]

What was basically wrong with the SI was that it focused exclusively on an intellectual critique of society. There was no concern whatsoever with either the emotions or the body. The SI thought that you just had to show how the nightmare worked and everyone would wake up. Their quest was for the perfect formula, the magic charm that would disperse the evil spell. This pursuit of the perfect intellectual formula meant inevitably that situationist groups were based on a hierarchy of intellectual ability – and thus on disciples and followers, on fears and exhibitionism, the whole political horror trip. After their initial period, creativity, apart from its intellectual forms, was denied expression and in this lies the basic instability and sterility of their own organisations. […]

Look, after so many, many pages, let’s try and be honest, just for a moment. I feel very fucked up myself, and I know it’s my responsibility. Yet whenever I go out on the streets my being somehow reels back appalled: these terrible faces, these machines, they are me too, I know; yet somehow that’s not my fault. Everyone’s life is a switch between changing oneself and changing the world. Surely they must somehow be the same thing and a dynamic balance is possible. I think the SI had this for a while, and later they lost it. I want to find it again – that quickening in oneself and in others, that sudden happiness and beauty. It could connect, could come together. Psychoanalysis and Trotskyists are both silly old men to the child. Real life is elsewhere.

9_pilgrim34© Sam Durant, Still Life (speaker, bowls, bread), from the project Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres and Monuments, 2006. C-print, 40 x 50 inches.

9_pilgrim32© Sam Durant, Still Life (head, jug, electric parts), from the project Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres and Monuments, 2006. C-print, 40 x 50 inches.

٠ 21st century food styling ٠

8075500939_6ed8c56764_z© Henry Hargreaves, in collaboration with chef/stylist Caitlin Levin, from the series Mark Rice-Ko.

8075500639_b4b0fb31e9_z© Henry Hargreaves, in collaboration with chef/stylist Caitlin Levin, from the series Mark Rice-Ko.

SarahAnneWard_2© Sarah Anne Ward, in collaboration with food stylist Heather Meldrom, Pollock-rice krispie treats

SarahAnneWard_4© Sarah Anne Ward, in collaboration with food stylist Heather Meldrom, Mondrian-jello jigglers 

Catherine_Losing_Gourmand_Still_life_OCT© Catherine Losing, from the series The Serpent That Ate Its Own Tail

Catherine_Losing_Gourmand_Still_life_PUD© Catherine Losing, from the series The Serpent That Ate Its Own Tail

Catherine_Losing_Gourmand_Still_life_UV© Catherine Losing, from the series The Serpent That Ate Its Own Tail

parliament© Hong Yi (Red), Day 26, from the series 31 days of Food Creativity. Made of Tang orange powder dissolved in water.

squid© Hong Yi (Red), Day 12, from the series 31 days of Food Creativity. Made from squid and squid ink.

lant2© Alexander Crispin, LANTMÄNNEN

Lant-3© Alexander Crispin, LANTMÄNNEN

09_strawberrieschocolate_900© David Schwen, from the series Food Art Pairings

01_ketchupmustard_900© David Schwen, from the series Food Art Pairings

07_baconeggs_900© David Schwen, from the series Food Art Pairings


sandy_skoglund_2© Sandy Skoglund

Sung_Yeonju© Sung Yeonju, Banana, from the Wearable Food series

Matt-Walford4© Matt Walford, flatbed food

Matt-Walford5© Matt Walford, flatbed food

٠ The language of (mutilated) flowers ٠

florero_orquis-lugubris© Juan Manuel Echavarría, Orquis Lugubris, from the series Corte de Florero/Flower Cut Vase, 1997

«Asked on a radio interview a couple of years back why he drew animals and not people, the great cartoonist Chuck Jones of Bugs Bunny and Road Runner fame replied: “It’s easier to humanize animals than humanize humans.” Recently the Colombian artist Juan Manuel Echavarrı´a gave this a twist. Reacting against the stupendous violence in his country, he humanized flowers by photographing them like botanical specimens, replacing the stems, leaves, flowers, and berries with what look like human bones. He called this series of thirty-two black-and-white photographs The Flower Vase Cut, referring to the name of one of the mutilations practiced in the Colombian violencia of the 1940s and 1950s in which the amputated limbs were stuffed, so it is said, into the thorax via the neck of the decapitated corpse.


florero_dracula-nosferatu© Juan Manuel Echavarría, Dracula Nosferatu, from the series Corte de Florero/Flower Cut Vase, 1997

At one point in an interview, Echavarrı´a says, “My purpose was to create something so beautiful that people would be attracted to it. The spectator would come near it, look at it, and then when he or she realizes that it is not a flower as it seemed, but actually a flower made of human bones — something must click in the head, or in the heart, I hope.”

I myself do not see it that way. The flowers are so obviously not flowers. Instead it is the very clumsiness, the deliberateness of the artifice of posing bones as flowers, that perturbs one — and this is of the same order of artifice that makes the mutilation of the Corte del Florero so powerful, too.

The flowers in Echavarría’s photographs have stems made of curving ribsor of the decayed long bones of arms. The petals are formed from what appear to be the human pelvis or spinal vertebrae. In some photographs, small bones like teeth or chips of bones lie to one side, thereby disturbing pretensions to symmetry or completeness. A vertebra hangs delicately off a rib, five of which are bunched together like plant stems emerging from a column of three vertebrae glued together, not as in the human spine, but separated from that, like a child’s building blocks, then stuck front to back, one on top of the other.

florero_orquis-negrilensis© Juan Manuel Echavarría, Orquis Negrilensis, from the series Corte de Florero/Flower Cut Vase, 1997

Lying on their bleached-out background, the flowers appear fragile, suspended in midair and ungrounded. They could be flying. The lawof gravity no longer holds. There is a sense of a world on hold, a painful absence of sound. What we see is silence, the silence of something gone awfully wrong with the human world such that we are all, God included, holding our breath, which is probably what happens when you fall a long, long way.

To add to their strangeness, each photograph bears a title like the Latin names used in the plant illustrations of the famous botanical expedition to Colombia organized by the Spanish crown and led by José Celestino Mutis at the end of the eighteenth century. Echavarría is very conscious of this genealogy. In fact he sees his flowers as its latest expression. The difference is that Echavarría’s latinate names are hybrids suggesting the grotesque, one pelvic bone flower being named Dracula Nosferatu, while another flower made of a curved rib with a bunch of metacarpals at one end, suggestive of petals, is called Dionaea Misera. Although these names are in small, discreet letters, names are of consuming importance to this work, beginning with the name of the mutilation — The Flower Vase Cut. The name is crucial because on viewing the mutilated body without the name, I doubt whether an observer would get the point — as we say of a joke — without the name. All the observer would see would be a bloody morass of hacked-off limbs and a limbless trunk.»

excerpt of “The Language of Flowers” (2003), by Michael Taussig

More of Juan’s work here

٠ Kant’s classes clash ٠

The title references Pierre Bourdieu’s critique of Kant’s famous essay on aesthetics – The Critique of Judgement. Bourdieu’s take on Kant’s distinction between ‘taste’ (available to all animals) and ‘beauty’ (exclusive to the humankind) implies a marxist notion of the separation of classes. For him, Kant’s praise of beauty and of ‘pure taste’ is a praise of the bourgeoisie:

‘Pure’ taste and the aesthetics which provides its theory are founded on a refusal of ‘impure’ taste and of aisthesis (sensation), the simple, primitive form of pleasure reduced to a pleasure of the senses, as in what Kant calls ‘the taste of the tongue, the palate and the throat’, a surrender to immediate sensation which in another order looks like imprudence. At the risk of seeming to indulge in the ‘facile effects’ which ‘pure taste’ stigmatizes, it could be shown that the whole language of aesthetics is contained in a fundamental refusal of the facile, in all the meanings which bourgeois ethics and aesthetics give to the word; that ‘pure taste’, purely negative in its essence, is based on the disgust that is often called ‘visceral’ ( it ‘makes one sick’ or ‘makes one vomit’) for everything that is ‘facile’-facile music, or a facile stylistic effect, but also ‘easy virtue’ or an ‘easy lay’. The refusal of what is easy in the sense of simple, and therefore shallow, and ‘cheap’, because it is easily decoded and culturally ‘undemanding’, naturally leads to the refusal of what is facile in the ethical or aesthetic sense, of everything which offers pleasures that are too immediately accessible and so discredited as ‘childish’ or ‘primitive’ (as opposed to the deferred pleasures of legitimate art). […]

Aristotle taught that different things differentiate themselves by what makes them similar, i.e., a common character; in Kant’s text, disgust discovers with horror the common animality on which and against which moral distinction is constructed: ‘We regard as coarse and low the habits of thought of those who have no feeling for beautiful nature… and who devote themselves to the mere enjoyments of sense found in eating and drinking’. […]

For it is a familiar enough fact that men wholly absorbed by their senses have much greater perceptive powers than those who, occupied with thoughts as wel l as with the senses, are to a degree turned away from the sensuous. We recognize here the ideological mechanism which works by describing the terms of the opposition one establishes between the social classes as stages in an evolution (here, the progress from nature to culture).

BOURDIEU, P. (1996) Distinction: A social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge: Harvard University Press

YinkaShonibare_2© Yinka Shonibare, Immanuel Kant, Life-size fiberglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton, mixed media, 2008

Immanuel Kant, sculpted after the Age of Enlightenment philosopher and presented with amputated legs — a fictional disability suggesting that intelligence can be a hindrance when it creates a damaging thirst for conquest.

03large© Joachim Koester, The Kant Walk #1, 2003-2004

01large© Joachim Koester, The Kant Walk #3, 2003-2004

“Throughout his life, Kant never left his native Königsberg (former capital of Prussia, later renamed Kaliningrad), nor did he keep a diary or describe his habits in the letters he wrote. And although he was sociable as a young man, one might even venture to say gregarious, as a mature man he became rather reclusive and hypochondriacal.

All we know about him are his walks. Walks Kant invariably took unaccompanied and which helped him to focus his thoughts. Knowing where the two homes in which Kant lived are located, Koester was able to recreate those strolls the philosopher went on with such punctuality that his neighbours used to tell the time by them.” excerpt of text by Jose Manuel Costa

f_02© Laurent Millet, Calmez-Vous Mr. Kant, 2009, from the series Les Derniers Jours d’Emmanuel Kant/The Last Days of Immanuel Kant

f_11© Laurent Millet, Vous y etes Presque Mr. Kant, 2009, from the series Les Derniers Jours d’Emmanuel Kant/The Last Days of Immanuel Kant

f_05© Laurent Millet, Pas Si Vite Mr. Kant, 2009, from the series Les Derniers Jours d’Emmanuel Kant/The Last Days of Immanuel Kant

The title of the exhibition is taken from Thomas de Quincey’s novella of the same name, in which the narrator describes the declining health and diminished perceptual faculties of the eminent philosopher, rendering Kant less capable of interpreting the world around him. Millet takes Kant’s waning powers as the inspiration for his own explorations of phenomenological doubt. For all of their pleasurable optical revelations, Millet’s constructions are hardly the effects of a naïve dabbler, but rather make knowing and winking reference to a wide-range of Modernist art and scientific discoveries. From Tatlin’s Constructivist reliefs to molecular models: against this matrix of signs, Millet’s work evinces a critical doubt and wonder at our ability to understand and perceive the world around us in any objective fashion.

٠ Rodrigo H. and the case of curiosity’s drift ٠

This post introduces another invited scribe for this blog: Rodrigo H.. Though it’s not his first post as a newcomer, he has made a singular contribution to accompany his visual work, which is entitled to its own post. From here on Rodrigo will wonder adrift amidst his affair with curiosity and the places it leads him to. From now on, we will be fortunate enough to share.


20110728-_MG_8789© Rodrigo H., Principe Real, Lisboa, July 2011

MG_5784© Rodrigo H., la naturaleza de la representación II, 2012

Why do I photograph?

I photograph out of plain “simple” curiosity or, perhaps, nosiness. I am an observer. I ask questions, lots of them, everyday and about everything; although most of them are not —cannot be— verbalized. I have always been what some would define as shy but I’d rather refer to as “quiet”.

I don’t see the world as a spectacle —this word makes me uncomfortable, it is too patronizing, too cocky (too French) and too simplistic for the complexities that surround us— and neither as a stage. There is something overtly teleological about this other word, as if there were always a final purpose, a closure dictated by a script.

However, it is true that our lives are filled with dramas, stories and epic struggles; after all, we are —that is, our minds are— hard-wired to spot patterns and causalities in each and every one of our activities, thus it could be said that we evolved to create narratives.

But I prefer to think of the world not just as stories, but also as problems to be pondered upon, as explanations to be sought. I long to understand the things, the objects that surround me. I want to find the order of causalities, to grasp their consequences. I want to find relations. I want to be able to understand; to know. Not to find a purpose, or a motive or even a structure, just phenomena, things that happen not for a specific reason but for a series of circumstances so complex we have not yet learned how to imagine them.

And that is, perhaps, my only true ambition.

28000.story_x_large28003.story_x_large© Rodrigo H., from the series Fixed, Carcavelos

The problem, as Craigie Horsfield[1] often has said it, is the difficulty we all face when we try to “say” the world. It lies in the incompleteness of our language, in us being unable to fully communicate our experiences, to —objectively— share the minute details and subtleties of our daily existence in all their uniqueness. A sort of “phenomenological handicap” that is. A paradox which, simultaneously, makes us feel frustrated and forces us to keep trying. It makes us look for common grounds, for metaphors, analogies, formulas to identify with others and with the world. Ways in which we could be able to “say” how we really apprehend beauty, pain, concern or any other feeling or experience which moves us.

I chose photography not so much as a way to do this —to tell the world— but as a way to ask, to wonder if I can actually do it. Rarely I have been able to “tell” something visually, to formulate a message, to articulate a discourse. In part because I always feel obligated to assume a certain responsibility not to leave “open” my telling or, at least, not to leave it all in the vicinity of ambiguity, as it often seems to be the mainstream formula nowadays.

I also chose —mainly— chemical photography as a method of slowness, of pause.

50871.story_x_large© Rodrigo H., Algarve Agreste27871.story_x_large© Rodrigo H., from the series Residues, University, Lisbon

Photography, as everyone who takes it seriously knows, has to do a lot with chance, more than we usually care to admit. But it also has to do with readiness, with the ability to extract something out of that chance, it means to be able to “jump” —Vilem Flusser[2] has an excellent reflection on the etymological meaning of the word apparatus and its relationship with photography— and preserve whatever we saw or felt and that might be worth communicating.

Of course, this doesn’t always comes as we initially thought. Something goes wrong. The end result is innocuous, wordless and bland; redundant. And that is when we try to revive it, to fiddle with whatever scraps of visual meaning we can extract out of it and try to turn it into a valid formula that someone else —anyone else— might also find interesting. Digital workflows make this process so much easier and fast.

And I have nothing against them, except, that they no longer “works” for me. They make me anxious.

Good formulas are hard to derive, they are built on general principles, valid principles —some might say “universal,” but I feel that this is too big of a word. These formulas are able to function not only as good descriptions but also as tools, as starting points, as referents. We always come back to them, we tear them apart, we try to understand them, to read them. But they always seem to have more meaning, more narrative, more memory underneath.

Good formulas take time and a lot of trial and error to be built, and, of course, a lot of luck too.

I assumed chemical photography because it is —more— vulnerable to human mistake, it functions at a slower pace, it makes me wait. It allows me to think if my questions are well articulated, if I am actually making any questions or just collecting random visual data out of a mere temporary “interest”. It gives me time to build a purpose for my initial curiosity. It allows me to learn —as Horsfield would say it— this «method of a vulnerable time»[3] that, I’ve come to believe, is photography.

Rodrigo H, Lisboa 2013

post_tren-950x460© Rodrigo H., tram portrait

1. Horsfield, C. (2006). “World and Word.” In: Craigie Horsfield. Relation, edited by Catherine De Zegher, 43 – 68. Lisboa: Jeu de Paume [Paris] / Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian [Lisboa] / Museum of Contemporary Art [Sidney].

2. Flusser, V. (2006). Towards a Philosophy of Photography. Translated by Anthony Mathews. London: Reaktion Books. Original edition, 1983. Reprint, 3d.

3. Horsfield, C. (1999). Im Gespräch / Conversation [Exhibition Catalogue]. Edited by Uta Nusser. Stuttgart: Dumont / Württembergischer Kunstverein.

┐ Vilma Pimenoff └

© Vilma Pimenoff, Untitled (figures-left + beings-right), from The Dark Collection

© Vilma Pimenoff, Untitled (beings), from The Dark Collection

© Vilma Pimenoff, Untitled, from the series Demoiselles de Paris

“Pierce called indexical the process of signification (semiosis) in which the signifier is bound to the referent not by a social convention ( = “symbol”), not necessarily by some similarity ( = “icon”), but by an actual contiguity or connection in the world: the lightning is the index of the storm. In this sense, film and photography are close to each other, both are prints of real objects, prints left on a special surface by a combination of light and chemical action. This indexicality, of course, leaves room for iconic aspects, as the chemical image often looks like the object (Pierce considered photography as an index and an icon). It leaves much room for symbolic aspects as well, such as the more or less codified patterns of treatment of the image (framing, lighting, and so forth) and of choice or organization of its contents. What is indexical is the mode of production itself, the principle of the taking. And at this point, after all, a film is only a series of photographs. But it is more precisely a series with supplementary components as well, so that the unfolding as such tends to become more important than the link of each image with its referent.

Photography has a third character in common with death: the snapshot, like death, is an instantaneous abduction of the object out of the world into another world, into another kind of time-unlike cinema which replaces the object, after the act of appropriation, in an unfolding time similar to that of life. The photographic take is immediate and definitive, like death and like the constitution of the fetish in the unconscious, fixed by a glance in childhood, unchanged and always active later. Photography is a cut inside the referent, it cuts off a piece of it, a fragment, a part object, for a long immobile travel of no return. Dubois remarks that with each photograph, a tiny piece of time brutally and forever escapes its ordinary fate, and thus is protected against its own loss. I will add that in life, and to some extent in film, one piece of time is indefinitely pushed backwards by the next: this is what we call “forgetting.” The fetish, too, means both loss (symbolic castration) and protection against loss. Peter Wollen states this in an apt simile: photography preserves fragments of the past “like flies in amber.”6 Not by chance, the photographic act (or acting, who knows?) has been frequently compared with shooting, and the camera with a gun.”

excerpt from the article Photography and Fetish, by Christian Metz, published in October, Vol. 34 (Autumn, 1985), pp. 81-90

more of Vilma‘s work here

┐ roots & fruits #2 – Jorge Miguel └

© Jorge Miguel, Untitled, from the series , 2010

© Jorge Miguel, Untitled, from the series , 2010

© Jorge Miguel, Untitled, from the series , 2010

© Jorge Miguel, Untitled, from the series , 2010

“Mó is a village in the central region of Portugal with only 13 inhabitants, in one of the most desertified areas of the country. These few remaining habitants are now a last glimpse of traditions and habits of rural life in harmony with nature. The youngest went to the big cities in search of better living conditions, leaving their old villages to die slowly. The average population age here is around seventy years old, so it is expected that within fifteen or twenty years many of these places will be left for oblivion.”

Jorge’s statement

Jorge Miguel’s photos are driven by an edgy approach to light (maybe life itself?) and grounded on a documentary style that relies on careful compositions. Whether shooting landscapes, animals or people, he tends to frame reality in a very crude way. Objects, in particular, tend to give away some tension as if they wanted to break away from the picture.

The nostalgia for the rural life, the obsession with the human condition in its anthropological context, the tendency to animate objects do not only describe his work as well as that of many other Portuguese authors. These similarities denote the esteem we have for our culture and an urge to document and thus immortalize these chunks of our life; on the other hand, these contained, dark and direct approaches can also stand for the fear we have of losing the symbols that identify us.

by Sofia Silva

More of Jorge’s work here

┐ Rachel Bee Porter └

© Rachel Bee Porter, #2, from Subzero

© Rachel Bee Porter, #10 (Lemon Meringue Cake with Key lime Tartlets and Margaritas on the rocks), from he Joy of Cooking

© Rachel Bee Porter, #3 (Blackberry Pie), from Wallflowers

“Having grown up reading a multitude of home and lifestyle magazines, my work confronts the expectations that developed from buying into the alluring photographic fantasies of the pristine and perfect domestic life. I devoured every issue of Martha Stewart Living that I could find. Drawn in by the beautiful eye-catching photographs, I absorbed all of the tips, tricks and how-tos in those pages because I was convinced that I would need them someday.

Using the skills that I learned from years of reading these magazines, I bake elaborate cakes which I then throw into carefully constructed scenes and photograph the aftermath. By appropriating the lush, brightly colored imagery of magazines and perverting it, I explore the aftermath of unfulfilled expectations.

This disillusionment manifests itself in a playful, yet irreverent defiance. I subvert the delicately crafted trompe l’oeils found in commercial and editorial photography by corrupting domestic strategies. Through the intermingling of creation and destruction, I explore the reality beyond the glossy varnish and the destructive consequences of disappointment.

Using a cross-disciplinary approach that combines aspects of performance, sculpture, and painting, I create colorful domestic scenarios that serve as the stage for my actions. I photograph these scenes using a 4×5 camera. Afterwards, I scan the film and create large-scale digital c-prints. My work is an ironic commentary on the picture-perfect world created in the glossy pages of lifestyle magazines and the frustration that ensues from trying to attain it.”

more of Rachel’s work here

┐ Edmund Clark └

© Edmund Clark, Inmate’s table, from the project Still Life Killing Time

© Edmund Clark, Stairwell, from the project Still Life Killing Time

© Edmund Clark, Shared Room, from the project Still Life Killing Time

© Edmund Clark, from the project Still Life Killing Time

“Edmund Clark’s Still Life: Killing Time is a quiet meditation on the slowness, the fabric and the accoutrements of prison life for elderly inmates. It was two years in the making.(…)

The only statement I can find directly from Clark, the photographer, is worth meditation.

What you can see in the pictures is to what extent they are engaged with their routine, and on top of their regime and what sort of engagement they have with time. One man, who wore a long grey beard, coped with the passage of time, as far as I could see, by disengaging with it completely. He spent most of his time sitting in his chair … He just sat and disappeared within himself. After about a year I could go and talk to him, and this man was clever, he’d been a captain in the merchant navy and had sailed around the world. I asked him once what was the best place he’d been to and he lifted his head and said, ‘Sao Paulo, I loved Brazil …’ And then suddenly this life came out, his life was all there, hidden away. The bulldog clock on the book cover belonged to him, it was one of his prized possessions.

Apparently, Clark created this body of work spurred by reports from the USA about mandatory sentencing under “Three Strikes Laws” and the consequent swelling of America’s prison population. Clark engaged with Britain’s aging prison population in direct response to demographic disasters in American penal policy.(…)”

excerpt of article by Pete Brook, in Prison Photography. continue reading here

More of Edmund’s work here

┐ Moyra Davey └

© Moyra Davey, The Coffee Shop, The Library, 2011 25 C-prints, tape, postage, ink

© Moyra Davey, Musik, 2010

© Moyra Davey, The Whites of Your Eyes (for Bill Horrigan), 2010 25 C-prints, tape, postage, ink

© Moyra Davey, The Whites of Your Eyes (for Bill Horrigan), 2010

I’d say that these pictures are about the life of objects. I had a funny revelation recently–and in a way this takes me back to my art school days as a nascent photographer–that my Fridge picture is very similar to Edward Weston’s toilet. In his diaries and notebooks, which I read in my early 20’s, and loved, he talks about photographing his toilet over and over, each time refining the composition until he attained a formalist perfection. And he writes about his exaltation at finally getting it right. Perhaps it’s odd to be identifying with Weston at this point in my life, but I have to admit that my process with the fridge was strangely similar. It involved a slow, methodical deliberation, a stalking of light, of waiting for the precise moment of solar illumination in an otherwise dim room. To get back to your question about the concepts in my work, maybe this comparison to Weston speaks to the idea of ‘slow time’, “the cyclical and durational” that Miwon Kwon mentions in relation to my photographs.

JTD: Can you speak about your interest in everyday objects, including objects that are often overlooked or regarded as a nuisance, such as dust and empty bottles, and how these objects influence your photographs?

MD: Bottles, especially the clear glass ones, refract light in beautiful and surprising ways. I began the bottle series because of an accident, a blurred Johnny Walker bottle that turned up at the tail end of a B&W contact sheet. I loved the look of it and began to take intentional pictures of empty whiskey bottles consumed in my household, and did this for a period of five years, realizing at the end of this term that the totality of the images constituted a kind of calendar, a finite block of time denoted by the consumption of a particular type of spirits. I followed the B&W series with a color series, also documenting five years of consumption.

JTD: What is your attraction to dust, and what do you believe it conveys to the viewer about human nature?

MD: I’m kind of obsessed with dust as this nuisance substance, and just the whole Sisyphean nature of it that Simone de Beauvoir talks about in relation to the futility of housework, the housewife’s ‘endless, hopeless battle against dust and dirt’. Beauvoir says that the only way out of this trap is to embrace the “life in death” in decay. Dust is made up of dead matter, but it’s also totally alive in its entropic, inescapable fashion. If you can find a way to make your peace with it then you won’t be doomed to “the general and the inessential.(…)

excerpt of an interview by Jess T. Dugan, in Big Red & Shiny. continue reading here

more of Moyra’s work here

┐ Daniel Evans & Brendan Baker └

© Daniel Evans & Brendan Baker, from the series Sleeping Through an Earthquake, India, 2011

© Daniel Evans & Brendan Baker, from the series Sleeping Through an Earthquake, India, 2011

© Daniel Evans & Brendan Baker, from the series Sleeping Through an Earthquake, India, 2011

© Daniel Evans & Brendan Baker, from the series Sleeping Through an Earthquake, India, 2011

© Daniel Evans & Brendan Baker, from the series Sleeping Through an Earthquake, India, 2011

More of this work here

┐ Seo-Yeoung Won └

© Seo-Yeoung Won, Chair, from the series Compressed Reality, 2010

© © Seo-Yeoung Won, Wheel, from the series Compressed Reality, 2010

“My work starts with sublimating from a mere common object in dairy life to an entity having a particular denotative meaning. For this, I have paid attention to existing expression methods of painting and installation art that take a dairy life object as a target of expression, and have continued experimentations to realise the methods in a particular space of a photographic studio. The illusion of space created by the painting, and the relationship between an object and space, all these are compressed into a photography taken in a photo studio, for the sake of expression. Also, it presents in a photo the process of representing an object by different media and the differences between them. As the result of this, a common object perceived objectively becomes an entity of expression shared in media such as installation art, painting, and photography, and at the same time an entity of symbolic expression containing the artist’s subjective view.”

Artist statement

More of Seo-Yeoung’s work here

┐ Erwan Frotin └

© Erwan Frotin, Pain à Pieds Bleus, from the series Sketch, 2006

© Erwan Frotin, Perdreau Fantôme, from the series Sketch, 2006

More of Erwan’s weird “species” here work here

┐ Jean-Noël Pazzi └

© Jean-Noël Pazzi, figure 5 – les cadavres exquis, from the project In(ter)vention

© Jean-Noël Pazzi, forêt 6 – paysage, from the project In(ter)vention

© Jean-Noël Pazzi, figure 3 – les cadavres exquis, from the project In(ter)vention

“Ménager les site frappés de croyance comme indispensable territoire d’errement de l’esprit. Gilles Clément Manifeste du tiers paysage

Cela aurait pu être une belle histoire, un doux romantisme entre l’homme et la nature. Mais il n’en est rien. Je trafique, reconstruis et extrais. Je recherche des formes à construire ou à mettre en lumière. La nature a toujours été mon terrain de jeu; je la transforme.
Michel Foucault disait à propos des hétérotopies qu’ils sont des lieux précis, que l’on peut définir sur une carte, mais investis par des mondes utopiques. Un théâtre ou un musée, par exemple, sont des hétérotopies, définissables géographiquement mais investis par des mondes imaginaires; des mondes dans un monde. La nature a, pour moi, aussi cette faculté. C’est un lieu magique, un lieu imaginaire.
Mon travail est fortement lié à cet imaginaire, qui est vu au travers d’un prisme intermédiaire, celui d’un appareil photographique. Composée de deux séries (Les cadavres exquis et Paysages), In(ter)vention est une recherche de formes et de textures, où la nature est détournée au profit d’une interprétation personnelle de ses éléments constitutifs.
D’un côté, c’est une nature décontextualisée et arrangée par mes soins; des compositions traitées en studio. De l’autre, c’est le studio qui s’invite dans la nature et dévoile par la lumière des formes et des ambiances. Dans les deux cas, il y a de cette inquiétante étrangeté. La présence de la mort dans Les cadavres exquis ou l’ambiance nocturne des Paysages confère à cette série une dimension surréaliste.
Mon univers est la nuit, le monde des rêves, celui des chimères qui sortent de leur caverne. Des bruits nous guettent, ils nous survolent, nous effleurent. Un craquement à droite, puis des ailes se déploient, elles ululent, tourbillon: silence. Le vent soulève les feuilles. Il caresse nos cheveux et chante entre les pieds de géants feuillus. Un éclair! L’appareil à tout vu. Pour moi, encore une fois, c’est une figure étrange qui s’est dessinée dans l’ombre des branches. Une interprétation innocente, mue par la curiosité: une aventure.
C’est à cette étrangeté nocturne et sylvestre que je veux convier le spectateur.”

Jean-Noël Pazzi

More of Jean-Noël’s work here

┐ Iiu Susiraja └

@ Iiu Susiraja, Näytös, from the series Älä nyt suutu, 2008/09

@ Iiu Susiraja, Kannel, from the series Syömään, pöytä on katettu, 2010

“In Susiraja’s esthetics, an image does not remain an image; rather, it requires an entire life. Although Susiraja has focused on photography, her art genre is more comprehensive: to shape a work of art from life. Usually, the salesmen of this genre rely on the American smile, non-sense polished with first-class product phraseology, but Susiraja doesn’t work that way. She scavenges ultimate experiences and the most dismal version of reality, although sometimes the imaginative possibilities for light-hearted gliding on the surface. However, without the history of long-term exclusion and bullying, the pictures would be something entirely different.

The history of exclusion and feigned betterment repeats itself from one society and community to another. There is supposed to be a mold, into which everyone should fit and get stuck. There is still space for one more, ridiculed and excluded, who helps those feigning betterment to recognize their excellence. Susiraja becomes a sacrifice on the cross, saying: “Spit more”; except Susiraja doesn’t climb all the way to the cross, because there is bench closer, and a handy hostess can make a cross from the handle of the broom faster.

Susiraja shows how the crappiest experiences can mold an artistic counter-weapon: cripplingly mundane and fatally ridiculous all at once.”

More of Iiu’s work here

┐ Bridget Collins └

@ Bridget Collins, Untitled, from Olly Olly Oxen Free

@ Bridget Collins, Untitled, from Olly Olly Oxen Free

Jonathan Baron, editor-in-chief of Baron Magazine:

We are visually saying that emotions are not progressive, that instead of being emotional with others, let’s do it through entertainment. So for the debut issue – Baron has commissioned artists and photographers known for creating staged situations, who have reinstructed sex and the female nude for a viewer seeking emotions through entertainment not others.


We just came from a rather sexually repressed decade, where we seemed to travel back to the late fifties and early sixties when sex was presented as a big embarrassment or joke, we saw photographers such as Terry Richardson practically reproducing the Carry On films and Barbara Windsor being replaced by Jordan.This decade has so far been a crescendo of emotions, from riots to Lady GAGA hanging herself on stage, I think at the moment art and photography is almost slightly YBA in immediacy, we are seeing a real explosion of provocative work that isn’t confessional but staged, for a society concerned with being emotionless. This issue is about the future, edited as though the publication is some sort of time line – from a society concerned with being emotional to a society unconcerned.

More of Bridget’s work here

┐ Jane O’Neal └

© Jane O’Neal, Persimmon #1, from the project Environmental Memory – Part I – Home Grown, 2009

© Jane O’Neal, Apple Cactus, from the project Environmental Memory – Part I – Home Grown, 2009

“Jane O’Neal acquits her flatbed scanned portraits of flora and root systems with whiffs of the semi-clinical, sexualized near-abstractions of Edward Weston—an obvious comparison if for no other reason than subject matter. Due to advances in technology, the feats of the flatbed scanner, and her eye for fleshy, saturated palettes, her images are undeniably literal and escape all sentimentalism. There remains a bit of a lepidopterological feeling due to the march across the wall of mostly same-size/scaled, identically-framed specimens. There is also a definite anthropomorphism to her images of roots, flowers, and vegetables, which is hardly a scarcity in art’s big book of thematic tactics, yet never gets old.
O’Neal’s subjects (aside from the fact that her real subject is photography itself,) in any case her “sitters” or pretexts are, so to speak, natural models, photogenic at every instant and from any angle. But eerily, it is also clear that nothing on display is still alive. It’s all been plucked, pulled from the earth, harvested in some way; it may be ripe and even edible, but it is all already dead and dying. That’s where some of the most humanity in the work reveals itself—not on the explicitly formal level of a Weston, but on the spiritual, existential level of an organic life.”

excerpt from an article by Shana Nys Dambrot, taken from Whitehot Magazine. Continue reading here

More of Jane’s work here