Last night I went by the Nelson Hancock Gallery to pick up prints from my recent show & stumbled into the opening for "Beneath the Surface: Springs, Swamps and Oceans" , a knockout selection of mostly color work by Karen Glaser. Aside from being underwater, Glaser shot them straight. But in her case straight is definitely phantasmagorical. My favorites -- the most disorienting of all -- were shot in a humble Florida sinkhole -- a place Glaser calls "...my favorite on the entire planet."
"Spidersharks," Karen Glaser, All rights reserved
I thought of a story I once heard about Arthur C. Clarke, the great science-fiction writer, who had dreamed from boyhood of traveling into space. As Clarke got older, he realized he would never fulfill his lifelong dream, so he did the next best thing. He moved to Sri Lanka so he could scuba dive full time.
"Maxim Kovalov, Cossack soldier, Rostov-on-DonNorthern Caucasus, March 2005," Simon Roberts, All rights reserved
Who knew that a Cossack horseman right out of legend would have teenage acne? I discovered this at another just-opened, brilliant show, "Motherland," by photographer Simon Roberts , serendipitously encountered as I left Nelson's (in fact, next door at the Klompching Gallery).
"Identical twins, Elena and Vera Karnova, Magadan.Far East Russia, August 2004," Simon Roberts, All rights reserved
Roberts made the pictures while traveling east to west for a year across post-Soviet Russia. They are firmly in the documentary tradition but feel personal in a very modern way. The Cossack acne mentioned above, for example, is the sort of unforced detail that fills the images with life. Using a large-format camera & color film, Roberts records Russian everyday scenes & people with great skill & wit -- but no editorializing. His pictures feel thoroughly relaxed & connected to their subjects. But they also brim with an awareness of just how odd images can look outside the context of their own culture.