Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Simen Johan says "Hallo dahling"

"Hello, darling" -- photo by Simen Johan
"Untitled," Simen Johan, All rights reserved

Simen Johan
is a Swedish photographer, born in 1973. I saw his show, "Until the Kingdom Comes," last week at the Yossi Milo gallery in Manhattan. The prints started at $20,000 each.

Unfortunately, the show is now closed, but here's a link to all the pictures.

This is from Yossi Milo's press release:
"Photographs from Simen Johan’s ongoing project, Until the Kingdom Comes, depict an unsettling natural world hovering between reality, fantasy and nightmare. Johan merges traditional photographic and sculptural techniques with digital methods. Having originally photographed a variety of plants and animals in natural preserves, zoos, farms, museum dioramas or his own studio, the artist then resituates them digitally into new environments constructed from images photographed elsewhere."

And this is from an earlier write-up at the Robert Koch Gallery.
"In his most recent images, from the series "Until the Kingdom Comes", Johan depicts animals in scenarios where their actions or demeanor mirror human conventions. The images allude to our inclination to anthropomorphize and domesticate what we see and find around us, and they speak to realms of emotion, our fears and desires, rather than reason."

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pictures from the world's newest country

John Rae, warming a polaroid
"John Rae, warming a polaroid," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

My friend & colleague John Rae has traveled to more unpronounceable places than anyone I've ever met. He takes pictures all over the world for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. A lot of this involves hard travel & rough living, not to mention daily immersion in the often grim realities of poverty & disease. But there is beauty too.

Here is his lightly edited take from a recent visit to South Sudan, the newest country in the world. I'm not sure why John desaturated the color in most of these shots, but I like the effect.

See more pictures by John.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Ruins of Detroit" by Yves Marchand & Roman Meffre

"Packard Motor Plant," Yves Marchand, Roman Meffre, All rights reserved

Ah dystopia! As a culture, we seem to be wild right now for wrecked grandeur, for dramatic ruins (with or without zombies). Personally, I've always been thrilled with the notion (remember what Neil Young sang, "Don't let it get you down/It's only castles burning."). In fact, to this day I get a schoolboy jolt of pleasure from the grim ironies of Shelley's imaginary "...look upon my works, ye mighty, & despair" poem.

Unfortunately, the initial evidence suggests that our own real-life declineas a nation -- & as a world -- won't be nearly as much fun.

See Ruins of Detroit

Here's part of what Marchand and Meffre say about the city:

"Nowadays, unlike anywhere else, the city’s ruins are not isolated details in the urban environment. They have become a natural component of the landscape. Detroit presents all archetypal buildings of an American city in a state of mummification. Its splendid decaying monuments are, no less than the Pyramids of Egypt, the Coliseum of Rome, or the Acropolis in Athens, remnants of the passing of a great Empire."

Thanks to Jessie Allen, author of The Blackstone Weekly, for the tip.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Guest artist -- Daniel Traub

By Daniel Traub
"Vacant lot, Philadelphia," Daniel Traub, All rights reserved

See the series by Daniel Traub.

See his website for more from Philadelphia and photojournalism from China & other far flung places.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Guest artist -- Thatcher Keats

By Thatcher Keats
"Drunk on floor" from "DSM III (g.a.e.t.)," Thatcher Keats, All rights reserved

Take a look

The 1st pictures I saw by Thatcher Keats were flash closeups of very drunk & stoned teenagers. I got the impression from the friend who told me about him that these were taken early in his career, that he settled down some as he got older. I can see that. But the pictures are still as blunt as a whack from a hammer, even when they're tender & funny, like some of the shots in the The Kids series. I think this guy is terrific.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tonight's guest artist -- Evgenia Arbugaeva

By Evgenia Arbugaeva
By Evgenia Arbuaeva, All rights reserved

See more of this series at Photo Lucida's Critical Mass 2011 Winners. Arbuaeva describes the project this way:

"Tiksi is a small village located on a shore of Arctic ocean in Russia. It was built in USSR by people who believed in the future of the Arctic and were coming here from all over the country: scientists, explorers, the military. I was born in here and after fall of Soviet Union my family, as most of the population left Tiksi. But I could never forget this place with it's vast tundra blown off with winds so strong that if you are a little girl it can easily pick you up and bring to places. My playground with stars during Polar night, lighthouse in a blizzard... This year I came back to my home village for the first time in twenty years. It was a journey to surreal childhood memories. Some people say that Tiksi will be closed in near future because it doesn't serve a purpose anymore. Before that happened I wanted to capture this special place 'in the middle of nowhere'."

Monday, December 5, 2011

Today's guest artist, Greer Muldowney

"6,426 per km2," Greer Muldowney, All rights reserved

From a series on the architecture of Hong Kong, the most densely populated urban space in the world.

More pictures by Greer Muldowney.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Today's guest atists -- Sebastian Liste

Sebastian Liste photo
"Young Bahia girl with bracelets," Sebastian Liste, All rights reserved

“And when the guitar whines in the hands of the serenade singer, in the bustling streets of the agitated city, woman, do not doubt for a minute. Attend the call and come. Bahia is waiting with its daily feast. Your eyes will be flooded with the picturesque, but also with the miserable. Grieve for these left-over colonial streets where modern skyscrapers rise -- violent, weak and ugly. "
Jorge Amado

See the portfolio I recently submitted, here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Entering "Exposure 2011" contest

"Painting 'The Town,' " Tim Connor, All rights reserved

The picture above is part of a portfolio I'm submitting in the "cityscape" category of a competition called "Exposure 2011."

See my portfolio here.

Read what I wrote about my pictures:

"I first saw these images through the 12th-floor window of my office in Manhattan. Gigantic in scale, they appeared on the outer wall of a 21-story-high office tower a few blocks uptown and gradually took shape against the sky. First they were colored paint in seemingly random patterns. Then they became star-crossed lovers; machines at war; bank robbers dressed as sinister nuns; a bulldog as big as an elephant.

What surprised me most about these images – really they are nothing more than wildly scaled-up movie ads – is how disconcertingly intimate they can be. At this size – the size of a city building -- they transfigure my neighborhood skyline like a new slide clicking onto the wall in a dimly lit room.

The images are created by an intrepid team of mural artists (artfxmurals.com), who sketch and paint each poster with rollers and large brushes in a day or two, then, after the movies have opened, crank their scaffolds up and down the wall again, whitewashing everything. I’ve been photographing this process for over three years.

The light in Manhattan changes quickly, especially above the rushing street-level canyons, which fill with shadow early. I love all the manifestations of this New York light, but most of all -- for this project -- I love it at the end of day. As darkness gathers below in the grumbling rush hour streets, I'm blown away by these fierce (and/or silly) outsized fantasies, thrusting insistently into the light . Sometimes I enjoy imagining them as visitations from our cultural gods. Other times I'm just glad they make us look up and forget ourselves for a moment."

Preview the book from which the portfolio is taken.