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Mark Cohen's 'Dark Knees' Best Photobook of 2013 by Lensculture

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This photobook, Dark Knees, and the accompanying exhibition in Paris at Le Bal, opened my eyes to one of my new favorite photographers, Mark Cohen — a new discovery for me of a man who has been making photographs since the 1960s!

I love the obsessive, cinematic nature of these tightly cropped images that seem too close for comfort, but endlessly fascinating all the same. These are compulsive images, rather than compassionate. But they have the intensity of actually seeing through someone else’s eyes — you see what he notices, you notice what he repeatedly sees — and there is consistency of vision and subject matter decade after decade after decade. There is a celebration of abstract shape and form here, as well as the love of luck and chance. There’s also a strong sense of voyeurism, perhaps a little too strong, but that is a significant factor in the success of these images, too, I think.

The book is beautifully edited by Diane Dufour of Le Bal, and the pairings of images seem perfect and add to the appreciation of the work. The simple titles are printed by hand, making it feel like a very personal photo album of stunningly unique images.

Here is the excellent introduction that accompanied the exhibition:

Mark Cohen was born in 1943 in Wilkes-Barre, a small Pennsylvania mining town. A figure of the street photography genre which dominated American photography in the early 1970s, he is also the inventor of a distinctive photographic language, marked by a fleeting arrangement of lines and, at the same time, an instinctive grasp of the organic, sculptural quality of forms. Two photographs hang opposite each other in his studio: one from Henri Cartier-Bresson's surrealist period and another by Aaron Siskind. The elegant geometry of one and the dry plenitude of the other transpire in the work of Mark Cohen, which John Szarkowski showed at the MoMA as of 1973.

Over the past 40 years Mark Cohen has walked the length and breadth of the streets in and around his hometown, seizing - or rather extracting - fragments of gestures, postures and bodies. In his photos we see headless torsos, smiling children, willing subjects yet still frighteningly vulnerable, thinly sketched limbs and coats worn like protective cloaks. Thus Mark Cohen slices and sculpts the very thick of the world to impose, in successive touches, a Kafkaesque vision, ruthless and poetic, of an environment that encompasses him. A vision from within.

This remarkable body of work - Cohen rarely uses the viewfinder, holding the camera at arm's length - is rooted in impulsions that last just fractions of a second. A disconcerting strangeness emanates from his subjects, some caught in the dazzle of the flash. Bodies seem uncomfortable, threatened, lost, grinning too wildly or reduced to their erotic dimension. Ordinary objects appear isolated, mysterious, sinister. The decline of this small mining town is right there, in its yards, at its bus stops, on its porches, but Mark Cohen's intentions are anything but documentary. Repetitive to the verge of obsession, he has no idea what brought him there or what he hopes to find. Rather he is driven by the beauty of a chance encounter, by the torments or delights he detects in another's substance.

There is, in the brutality of his gaze, a rawness and a nervous energy, an ambivalence and a grace through which the making of a photo becomes the expression of a revelation.

If you treat yourself to just one photobook this season, this is my personal recommendation.

— Jim Casper

To view Casper's other selections please click here.

Wayne Lawrence Selected in Best of Miami by V Magazine

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We are proud to share that V Magazine has selected Wayne Lawrence's Cinnamon, on view at the ROSEGALLERY booth at PULSE Miami, as a fair highlight in their latest Miami dispatch.

To read the article, please click here.

John Chiara Honored by his Alma Mater CCA

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For Bay Area native John Chiara (MFA 2004), who is preparing to create a series of photographs in and of New York, swapping the Bay Area for the Big Apple presents a few challenges.

The issue is not at all about tackling New York's art scene; having had 2013 shows at Pier 24 Photography and the de Young in San Francisco, as well as at galleries in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Zurich, it's clear that he is already coming into focus for an increasing audience worldwide.

Take a virtual walk-through of the Pier 24 show with Chiara’s work »

Rather, New York will be a challenge in terms of the subject matter it offers up, given that until now Northern California has been such a looming presence in Chiara's work. The Bay Area infuses the photography of this San Francisco-born artist like the terroir of a vintage bottle of Saint-Emilion.

Working throughout the Bay Area, Chiara takes large photographs -- as big as 50 by 80 inches, to be specific -- using a massive, custom, hand-built camera that he transports on its own trailer.

Once he's selected a location, he situates and then physically enters the camera, placing positive color photographic paper on its back wall, then using his hands to burn and dodge the image by manipulating the light coming in the lens.

The paper is then developed by spinning the drum, which agitates chemicals over the photographic paper. The process often leaves irregularities on the picture, and each picture is necessarily one of a kind, since the process involves neither film nor negatives.

Given the painstaking, manual method, progress is steady and measured. Currently, he is having another camera built in preparation for his project in New York.

Watch a KQED Spark video feature on Chiara’s process »

John Chiara, “21st at Kansas,” 2004 50 x 63 in. Unique photograph on Cibachrome paper

Finding His Artist’s -- and Teacher’s -- Voice

After graduating from the University of Utah in 1995 with a BFA in photography, Chiara found it a challenge to support his artwork financially. He had a succession of jobs, from graphic design to substitute teaching (K-12), running a screenprinting business, and web development for real estate firms.

"When I graduated," he says, "there were two jobs I swore I'd never do: work in a Joe Schmo photography lab and teach high school." Not only has he served his time in a photo lab ("a real sweatshop," he laughs), but also he now teaches part-time at Jewish Community High School of the Bay in the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco.

“I love that school," he says. "It's one of the best places in the city. I teach photography and sculpture. There are seven or eight kids in each class, so I feel I can really have an effect."

Chiara credits his teaching skills to his mentors at CCA: Larry Sultan, Richard Misrach, and Susan Ciriclio.

"Susan gave me really practical advice: how to format a professional teaching résumé, how to develop a teaching philosophy. She also championed programs in which grads could co-teach, which hugely improved my ability to support myself."

Ciriclio played a part in Chiara's education even before he got to CCA. "I started applying in 1995, although I wasn't accepted until 2002," he recalls. "And even before I ever arrived, Susan was helping me. We talked about my process, about Cibachrome printing and drum processing. She gave me the technical information I needed to grow as a photographer."

Advice from Larry Sultan

Nearly a decade out from his MFA, as he starts to see wider success with his photography, Chiara continues to draw on advice he was given at CCA.

"This year I sold some work. It's the first time I've hired people. It's the first time I've made some money. And I remembered something Larry Sultan told me: 'When you make money from your art, invest right back into it.' So when I heard that the manufacturers of Ilfochrome paper were discontinuing it, I bought what I hope is a lifetime supply, plus a freezer to store the paper at minus-20 degrees. I'm definitely committed to working this way."

Sultan also played a critical role in Chiara's evolution as an artist. In 2003, his photography featured jagged elements on the surface of the paper. "There was a lot of psychological disruption to the image. I felt it was meaningful to the state I was in. It was a difficult time for me -- I was dealing with a lot of stuff, working too hard running my business.

"Larry recognized the sense of controlled chaos in my work, and told me the control had gone too far. My hands were in it too much. So I started to find elements in the landscape that would disrupt the field of view. I became more of a photographer.

"Larry Sultan was the most articulate, intuitive professor. Almost shamanistic, at times. He had hyper-intuition; he'd be looking at your work and get totally under the surface of it, and then articulate his reactions so clearly."

Bay Area Roots

Chiara was born in San Francisco and grew up in the hills near Concord and Walnut Creek. As a youth, he found himself drawn to early photographers of Northern California such as Carleton Watkins, who used an oversize camera and huge glass-plate negatives.

Chiara's work combines much of that sensibility with an appreciation for the imperfections of the medium: hazy light, uneven exposures.

This past year, Chiara's geographical focus opened up. Over six months he made a series of trips to Southern California, commissioned by Rose Shoshana of Rose Gallery in Santa Monica, and subsequently showed them at her gallery. "L.A. is fascinating," says Chiara. "And for my work, it wasn’t a stretch at all."

He has also spent time recently in a different kind of art hotspot: Clarksdale, Mississippi. "That idea came from Rose Shoshana too. I really trust her, and she told me, 'I think your work would really sparkle there.' She set the whole thing up. It was kind of magical. And incredibly hot! It's so different because it's flat farmland. And it's all green. Everything's green."

Upcoming Solo Show

Wherever he sets his lens, from Contra Costa County to Clarksdale, from the East Bay to the East Coast, John Chiara continues to develop. You can see his work here in San Francisco in his upcoming March 2014 solo show at Haines Gallery.

Please click here to be directed to the CCA website.

Wayne Lawrence's 'Orchard Beach: Bronx Riviera' Reviewed in ASX

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Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera By Peter Baker, for ASX, November 2013

In Robert Caro’s Pulitzer Prize winning classic The Power Broker: Robert Moses and The Fall of New York (Vintage Books 1974) he describes Orchard Beach, a 1.1 mile stretch of sand that Moses himself had imported to the Bronx from Sandy Hook and Rockaway, as resting “here, in New York’s northeastern corner, so far from any built-up areas in 1934 that visitors could hardly believe they were still within the borders of America’s largest city.” Eighty years later we’ve seen the Bronx built-up, burnt down, abandoned, and later reclaimed, by an array of immigrants and a new generation born in the only borough on the American mainland. And yet, as a native Bronxite myself, I’m willing to bet the vast majority of New Yorkers, certainly those living in Manhattan or Brooklyn today, would have the same reaction as those who visited Orchard Beach in 1934: We’re still in New York City?

Earlier this month, in what was the least suspenseful election in recent memory, Bill de Blasio was named the next mayor of Gotham. Suddenly his campaign slogan, which pleads that this is “A Tale of Two Cities,” the rich and everyone else, has become populist sentiment. Rest assured, the rich are always safe in their unambiguous category. It’s the everyone else that gets complicated, embodying a thousand shades of color and a multiplex of micro economies. As the city changes and gentrification implodes, its no secret that the habitable space of the city is shrinking for average families. One thing is certain for now: The Bronx belongs to the working people of New York. And for the 1.3 million who call the borough home, they take the Bx12 bus across the Pelham Parkway, or drive to the sprawling 8,000 car parking lot, and arrive at their cramped yet beloved Riviera at Orchard Beach.

The Bronx is now considered the most diverse area in the United States and the only borough of the city with a Latino majority. The beach’s popularity should come as no surprise considering the thousands of Bronxites who come from the islands and shores of the Caribbean. In his new book Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera, photographer Wayne Lawrence points his lens toward New Yorkers who flee the grid of sweltering streets for this modest but sacred summer haven on the Long Island Sound. Lawrence, who migrated to New York from the West Indies island of Saint Kitts, was drawn to the underdog status of the Bronx and sees the people at Orchard Beach as “children of survivors who went through that period in the Bronx and somehow made it.” Lawrence’s book serves as a kind of high quality, all-inclusive yearbook, representing the various denizens of Orchard. The subjects participate in the making of the portrait, in a straightforward style that brings to mind Avedon or Arbus. As for the pictures themselves, they succeed or fall flat based on the level of individuality expressed by the particular subject. The inevitable problem with this process of portrait making, i.e. asking a person to stand in front of a large format camera at eye length and stare into the lens, is an apparent passivity from the subject, as a result of simply doing what the photographer has asked them to do, which isn’t much. The hope is that somehow something profound will transmit from this exchange. The least effective pictures, however, merely look like the person is thinking about having their picture taken.

In such projects we hear about the photographer’s desire to convey the dignity of a people, an admirable gesture no doubt, and a familiar note in the history of photography. But, more often than not such amicable attempts wind up being reductive or sentimental. As Geoff Dyer writes of Dorothea Lange “[She] was all the time keen to discover and represent people’s dignity. As became the case with Paul Strand, the danger of this approach is that people can be reduced to their dignity.” In the strongest pictures, and there are many in Lawrence’s book, there is a kind of resistance and attitude from the individual, who while consenting to the photographer, still pushes back with a sense of self that overwhelms the process. In this case the most engaging pictures by far happen to be of women. We see the women of Wayne Lawrence’s Orchard Beach represented with more distinctiveness and intrigue. The beach of course prompts sexuality, but it’s the combination of toughness and vulnerability that makes the pictures of women memorable. Gestures and stances vary, and the viewer is invited to eye the details of the body, the fierce assortment of swimsuits and jewelry, tattoos that read like proverbs, and the multifarious shades of skin basking in the mixed light.

To read the article at ASX, please click here.

William Eggleston 'At Zenith' in Musee Magazine

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Eggleston is a big deal in the photography world. He is credited with the invention, or at least the dispersions of the idea of color photography. His work is legendary. Through the 60s and 70s he took America in it’s bleakest condition and added a splash of color.

Sometime in the mid 90s, Eggleston started taking pictures of clouds from his car window. From there he naturally progressed to taking pictures of clouds as an art form, focusing his lens skyward and capturing what’s above.

At first view, someone unfamiliar with Eggleston’s work would perhaps say, “These are just pictures of clouds.” The word ‘just’ is very important. Employing a time tested method, I made my way to the gallery with someone completely ignorant of not only Eggleston, but of artistic photography in general.

“These are just pictures of clouds.”

“Not just”

“Fine, these are pictures of clouds.”

“They are a Rorschach test. You can see anything in them.”

“I see clouds.”

What my friend lacked was a reference point. The clouds are clouds and our brains perceive the images. Young children lay in the grass looking up at the clouds and see rabbits, dragons, faces – but ultimately, they see clouds.

The Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto takes pictures of the sea. His pictures, black and white, all look fairly similar. They look like the sea. Black and white, with a flat clear sky of gray separated by the horizon from a darker ruffled mass. So why is Sugimoto lauded for his seascapes, while I poke fun at Eggleston?

The Japanese are known for their minimalist approach to art. There is a history that welcomes Sugimoto into their ranks. We go to an Eggleston show expecting the same thing he was doing 10, 20 years ago. The artist must move forward, and the pictures should be scrutinized as new work.

The cloudscapes are innocent. The sky is blue and I see a Rhino in the white curls.

Review by John Hutt

Photo Credit:

WILLIAM EGGLESTON At Zenith I, 1979-2013 (C) Eggleston Artistic Trust.  Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery.

Jo Ann Callis: Early Color on ASX

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Although my work outwardly seems to vary over many years, there are certain links running through all of it. I consistently want to make things that satisfy my sense of beauty. I respond to the tactile nature of things. Another element that pervades it is tension or anxiety. These elements always live within me and are present in all my art. -Jo Ann Callis

Callis began her art studies in Ohio in the 1950s, as a high school student in Cincinnati and in college at Ohio State University in Columbus. However, her academic work was interrupted by marriage, a move to Los Angeles, and child rearing.  After the interruption, she returned and studied under Robert Heineken and would emerge, in late 1970s, as one of the first important practitioners of the “fabricated photographs” movement. Callis began teaching at the California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) in 1976. Callis is represented by ROSEGALLERY in Los Angeles.

Martin Parr 'The Non-Conformists' on TIME LightBox

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We are pleased to announce that we will be showing selections from 'The Non-Conformists' at Paris Photo this year. We hope you can join us and see this fantastic work in person! Not going to be in Paris? Visit TIME LightBox to view some a slideshow of selected works from this series. To purchase a copy of The Non-Conformists, click here.

“In the 70s, in Britain, if you were going to do serious photography, you were obliged to work in black-and-white,” master photographer Martin Parr tells TIME. “Color was the palette of commercial photography and snapshot photography.”

“It’s only late in the decade that we began to see color photographers being shown in museums — like Eggleston and Stephen Shore,” he adds. “I took note of that and got excited.”

A few years later, in 1982, Parr made the switch from monochrome and never went back. To the many fans who have come to know his work over the last three decades in color, it may come as a surprise encountering Parr’s first major project in black-and-white. The Non-Conformists finally finds closure over 35 years after it was started with the publication this month of his latest monograph from Aperture.

It was 1975, and two years out of art school, Parr moved from the gritty, bustling city of Manchester to a picturesque mill town in the English countryside called Hebden Bridge. There, he found a traditional way of life in decline. Factories were closing, industry was leaving and the town was gentrifying. A new community was emerging made up of  “incomers — youthful artistic refugees… in search of alternative lifestyles and cheap housing,” Parr’s wife Susie writes in her introduction to the book.

With four other artists, he opened up a storefront workshop and darkroom in the middle of town. Equipped with a Leica and a single lens, he took to the streets and began one of his earliest extended photographic studies.

“Places change all the time and the type of people who live there change. I was not so much looking at the new incomers,” of which he was a part, “but at the traditional lifestyle there.”

He would wander around, attend events listed in the local paper, and on Sundays, go to services at the Non-Conformist churches which were all over town. In these chapels, which had historically distanced themselves from the rules of the Church of England, he and his wife, who had been working on an accompanying text for his pictures, found the focus for the body of work.

“There’s a certain independent spirit these Non-Conformists have, which not only gave the chapels their names,” — like the Mount Zion Strict and Particular Baptist Chapel — “but was also very emblematic of the fading attitude of the whole place,” he says.

Parr’s photographs in which he aimed to capture that attitude reveal a greatly skilled young documentary photographer with a keen eye for British quirk, anticipating the tremendously poignant sense of humor for which he has become known. There is great wit in these images, but it’s more subtle and less sardonic than his later saturated color work; it seems above all, affectionate.

“Black-and-white is certainly more nostalgic, by nature,” he says. “My black-and-white work is more of a celebration and the color work became more of a critique of society.”

Parr and his wife, whom he had married in Hebden Bridge, became very active in the community during their documentation, if at first only to gain trust and access. Some church members mistook their interest as one in keeping the chapel life going in the future.  The documentation came to an end, however, and the Parrs moved on. By the late 90s, most of the chapels had closed and the communities disappeared. Hebden Bridge today, “sandblasted and quaint,” his wife writes, “is a lesbian stronghold and a lively commuter town to professionals working in Leeds, Bradford and Manchester.”

“We did this photographic documentation and that’s all that’s left,” Parr says. “Virtually everyone in the photographs is dead now. It was just another era. But that’s the great thing about photographs; they’re there forever.”


Martin Parr is a British documentary photographer, photojournalist and photobook collector. The Non-Conformists is available through Aperture from October 2013. The work will also be on view at Media Space in London through March 16, 2014. Read more: http://lightbox.time.com/2013/10/21/the-non-conformists-martin-parrs-early-work-in-black-and-white/#ixzz2iUBJNHSX

Mark Cohen's new exhibition 'Dark Knees' reviewed in TimeOut Paris

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Time Out says:

In the 1970s, when Mark Cohen began to take his first pictures, ‘street photography’ dominated the American photographic scene. This Pennsylvanian native appropriated the movement while putting his own spin on it: instinct. Without conforming, his camera always at the ready, Cohen pinched bits of ideas from his contemporaries and reassembled the pieces into an infinite puzzle.

Hands, shoulders, legs and mouths mix together like a kaleidoscopic portrait, brave and immediate. Sometimes rendered sepulchral by the shock of the flash, other times touched with a strange overtones, as if his lens managed to capture what the eye didn’t have time to see, his impulsive images always surprise. They see reality differently and tell, in counter-relief, the decline of a small mining town.

To read the article on the TimeOut Paris site, please click here.

Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr Photographing the English

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Photographers Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr were united by their gently satirical documentation of our national characteristics.

Excerpted from: Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr: Photographing the English by Lucy Davies.

Martin Parr on the influence of Tony Ray-Jones on his photography: [In] 1970 [at] a lecture theatre at Manchester Polytechnic, where an 18-year-old Martin Parr was studying photography. Enter Bill Jay, on a mission to infuse the country’s fledgling photo­graphers with the same energy and outlook that he had seen in the work Ray-Jones had shown him. Parr, now 61, remembers hearing Jay talking about Ray-Jones. 'That [visual] language that [Ray-Jones] caught, that he encapsulated, was able to portray the atmosphere and the feeling of the time in a way that hadn’t yet been achieved. Even though there had been lots of photographs of Britain, such as the images in Picture Post, his just felt different. They brought something else… a sort of street theatre, or in this case beach theatre.’

Portobello Road Market, 1966, by Tony Ray-Jones PHOTO: Tony Ray-Jones © National Media Museum Next month visitors to Media Space, the new home for the National Photography Collection at the Science Museum, London, will be treated to a display of these vintage Ray-Jones prints, alongside 'The Non-conformists’, the work Parr produced when he moved, in 1972, with a group of other Manchester graduates, to Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, and set up the Albert Street Workshop. It is a study of the local community, in chapel, at tea, queuing for Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Parr has always acknowledged that this work was fundamentally inspired by Ray-Jones. 'He learnt the way that people made their own world, generated their own world, from, in this case, the streets of America. He applied that idea to the UK. That’s what inspired me.’

Silver Jubliee street party, 1977, Todmorden, by Martin Parr. PHOTO: MARTIN PARR. MAGNUM PHOTOS

Ray-Jones died of leukaemia in 1972, aged 31, but his experiments were everything for the generation of photographers that followed. 'There’s a certain benefit of hindsight,’ Parr says. 'You can think differently 40 years on, and we’ll never know if Ray-Jones would have approved. But his best shots from back then still stand very well, they’re still brilliant images. The Beachy Head boat trip, and the shots of Margate and Glyndebourne. Those pictures are icons of documentary photography in the UK; they’re difficult to better.’

  • Only in England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr, at the Media Space, Science Museum, London SW7, from September 21 (sciencemuseum.org.uk/onlyinengland); National Media Museum, Bradford, through March 16 (nationalmediamuseum.org.uk). Martin Parr: The Non-conformists (Aperture, £30), out October 7, can be ordered for £24 plus £1.35 p&p from Telegraph Books (0844-871 1514; books.telegraph.co.uk)

Bruce Davidson Interviewed on NPR All Things Considered

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This weekend, the Rose Gallery at Bergamot Station celebrates photographer Bruce Davidson, who celebrated his 80th birthday yesterday by stopping by our studios.

Perhaps best known for his work covering the Civil Rights era, Davidson said he likes to immerse himself in things he knows nothing about–and, to revisit subjects over time.  The focus of this particular gallery show is Los Angeles, where Davidson was sent nearly 50 years ago on assignment for Esquire magazine. His take on the city now, he says, is completely different.

We talked to Davidson about the spiritual nature of the March on Washington, how this long-time New Yorker changed his mind about LA, and how he is now delighting in chronicling the ordinary in his neighborhood on the Upper West side.     -Lisa Napoli

Click here to stream the podcast of Bruce's interview with Lisa Napoli on All Things Considered.

Rinko Kawauchi 'Ametsuchi' on ASX

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Review: Rinko Kawauchi Ametsuchi (2013)

By Sören Schuhmacher for ASX, September 2013

Rinko Kawauchi’s new book Ametsuchi (Heaven and Earth) published by Aperture, reads like a Haruki Murakami novel. Kawauchi merges reality with the spiritual world and reveals an invisible but tangent point of connection between apparently unrelated events. Even the concept of Ametsuchioriginates from a dream, Rinko Kawauchi had years ago.

“I was drinking my coffee on a Sunday morning, idly watching TV with my head still half-asleep, I was surprised to suddenly see the image from that dream reappear. It was a scene of many people and horses together in a green meadow before a large mountain – a place called Aso.”

Rinko Kawauchi entered a new territory with Ametsuchi. This time she worked with a 4×5 large format camera instead her Rolleiflex, which led her to break out from the self-imposed pattern of the square format. Also the typical soft tones in her images disappear. They became darker and reveal an almost mystical atmosphere.

Aso, where most of the photographs were taken, is a region famous for it’s 1,300-year-old farming ritual, in which fields are burned on an annual basis in advance of planting new crops. The agricultural burning and the cyclical nature of life, functions as the central theme in the book.

Kawauchi is known for her exceptional editing of her books and the manner to tell a story on a page by juxtaposition of two images. Although her previous books were always pursuing a certain concept, they could be considered more like a collection of short stories than a novel without an ongoing storyline. Ametsuchi on the other side, is sequenced with single images on a double page, which invites the viewer to follow the story through the entire book, from beginning to end.

The book starts with a smoke darkened sky, caused by the flames of the agriculture burning, that turn the dry fields into an apocalyptic landscape. In the further course, burning fields, green meadows and in snow covered landscapes alternate to illustrate a recurring cycle and and the elapse of time.

At about the middle of the book, images of a theatrical Shinto dance ceremony, the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and the starry sky in a planetarium were interspersed. Different from the agricultural burnings, the images of the Wailing Wall and the Shinto dance ceremony are blurred and overexposed. The sudden appearing and disappearing of these interspersed images, are like zapping through TV channels, where different events, at different locations, take place at the same time.

At first glance this events seem unrelated, but under a closer look, they all representing a certain resistance in a time that rapidly changes. Rituals – Spiritual remains of the beginning of mankind, formed a circle by passing on from generation to generation. Ametsuchi is a veneration of the invisible world that has continued since the distant past. Rinko Kawauchi uses these rituals as a juncture between past and present, spiritual world and reality, heaven and earth.

The award-winning Dutch designer, Hans Gremmen, translated the concept of Ametsuchi into the book design, and managed even to enlarge Kawauchi’s work by pushing the photobook to the next level. Questioning the medium of the book, and how people tend to use them, Ametsuchi is bound in a variation of a Japanese binding. The upper sides of the pages are closed and the bottoms open, which generates a space between the actual pages that can only be seen by lifting the pages bottom corners up. In this almost hidden space, the images are the inverted color version from the outer surface, visualizing a parallel world, where darkness turns into light, fire into water and vice versa. As a nice extra the dust jacket of the book is also a double-sided poster with a inverted image of the cover on the back. Nothing was left to chance and is perfectly integrated into the main concept, from the beginning to the end.

This leads to the last image in the book, which shows the actual scene of people and horses together in a green meadow before a large mountain. The scene, Rinko Kawauchi dreamt about and which later reappeared on television – a recurring cycle.

“On the ground of one of the stars among the immense universe, I think of the beginning, The Earth is a mirror to project heaven. Photography captures the mirror. It connects the Earth and heaven. When the darkness reaches at the bottom, the light will arrive.”

- Rinko Kawauchi

ASX CHANNEL: RINKO KAWAUCHI

(All rights reserved. Text @ Sören Schuhmacher and ASX, Images @ Rinko Kawauchi)

Robbert Flick at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art

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Three very different styles of landscape photography are being served up in a small but savory sampling of images from deep in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Part of a series of exhibitions meant to showcase objects that rarely see the light of day, “Landscapes in Passing” features work from a trio of photographers, each of whom is represented by a single body of black-and-white work: Elaine Mayes, Robbert Flick and Steve Fitch.

The show spans a single decade and begins with Mayes’s “Autolandscape” project documenting her 1971 cross-country road trip from San Francisco to Amherst, Mass. Shot from inside a moving car — sometimes while she was driving — the 18 images are arranged in geographic order and include pictures from 11 states. (Only one image of Utah, hung outside the entrance to the show, is out of sequence.)

Because her camera was moving, there’s a bit of blur in most of the images, which only adds to the feeling of exhilarating speed and spontaneity that comes from the fact that Mayes usually wasn’t even looking through the viewfinder. As a result, there’s a random quality to the subject matter, which avoids the photogenic grandeur of scenic parklands for the banality of street signs, offramps, distant mountains and telephone poles. Most of Mayes’s sea-to-shining-sea travelogue emphasizes hypnotic monotony over purple mountain majesties.

“Autolandscape” contains a double meaning, referring both to the artist’s vehicular vantage point and to the automatic nature of the shooting, which was guided primarily by instinct, not aesthetics. Flick’s photos, from his 1980 “Sequential Views” project, are similarly robotic.

Each of Flick’s works contains a 10-by-10 grid of 100 postage-stamp-size images of such Los Angeles area neighborhoods as Beverly Hills and Venice Beach. Like Mayes, Flick is also a documentarian of the landscape, except he’s moving through it on foot, not in a car. Shot at prescribed intervals, his grid of Inglewood, for example, documents a stroll down 10 blocks of Regent Street. Look very closely at the left-hand row, and you can just make out the street signs.

Surprisingly, the effect is less numbing than you might think. Shooting the quintessential car culture as a pedestrian — with his shutter blinking every few steps or so — Flick creates an almost filmlike effect, like an extended tracking shot. Evoking frames of a movie, Flick’s sequential views aren’t so much panoramas as miniature “cineramas.”

Steve Fitch’s work is unlike anything else in the show. Shot between 1971 and 1976 for a series (and book) called “Diesels and Dinosaurs,” the images document a Western America characterized by truck stops, motels, drive-ins, roadside reptile zoos and dilapidated dinosaur sculptures. Wit — along with careful composition — replaces the seemingly haphazard, deadpan tone of Mayes’s and Flick’s work.

Most of Fitch’s humor derives from irony. His idea of “nature” or “landscape” is epitomized by Woody Woodpecker on the screen at a Dallas drive-in or a mural of mountains painted onto the wall of the Big Chief Motel on Highway 80 in Gila Bend, Ariz.

It’s tempting to dismiss Fitch as the least landscape-y of the three artists. After all, his subject, more often than not, is vernacular architecture.

On one level, his work is about displacement, not place. Still, like Mayes and Flick, he conveys a real sense of a country in which no one — least of all the artist — stays in one place anymore.

The Story Behind the Work

Flick’s series of sequential views were shot for the Los Angeles Documentary Project, a survey sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, that put into service seven photographers (in addition to the Dutch-born Flick) who were known for their work in California: Gusmano Cesaretti, Joe Deal, Douglas Hill, John Humble, Bill Owen, Susan Ressler and Max Yavno.

Surprisingly, all of the artists shot in black-and-white, other than Owen, who focused on swimming pools, clubs and other colorful SoCal stereotypes.

That may be because the NEA survey project was as much conceptual as retinal. Although there aren’t many people in Flick’s images — a rare exception being his grid of a crowded Venice Beach on Labor Day weekend — his photographs are all about man’s effect on the environment. There isn’t much nature in his pictures. Mostly, it’s restricted to the street signs that evoke an American myth of rusticity that exists only in the place names on urban maps: Prairie, Eastwood, Hillcrest, Locust, Fir and Eucalyptus.

To read the article in its original format please click here.

Paris Photo: Rinko Kawauchi

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Rinko Kawauchi, Untitled, from the series Ametsuchi, 2012

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RINKO KAWAUCHI

May 17, 2013 — Jun 22, 2013

ROSEGALLERY Los Angeles Fair Exhibitor

Bergamot Station Arts Center Gallery G5 2525 Michigan Avenue 90066 Santa Monica info@rosegallery.net T +1 310 264 8440 www.rosegallery.net Fax +1 310 264 8443

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ROSEGALLERY presents the American debut of Ametsuchi, the most recent body of photographs by world-renowned Japanese photographer, Rinko Kawauchi.

Though her subjects are drawn from the tangible world around her, she is driven to take pictures by a belief in mystery, a love for things in motion, and a curiosity about the connectivity of everything she sees. Through the medium of photography she attempts to confront and comprehend what she finds puzzling about existence and to transcend the unavoidable flow of time by concentrating on a particular moment, which is neither past nor future. For her latest body of work, Ametsuchi (Heaven and Earth), the artist has expanded her view of time and memory both figuratively and literally.

She put aside her signature 6 x 6 inch Rolleiflex in favor of the more labor-intensive 4 x 5 camera and set out to explore the origins of civilization and culture. The results are photographs on a grand scale that focus on sacred time, ritual, and collective memory.

Text courtesy of Paris Photo.

Art Daily: Rinko Kawauchi's Ametsuchi

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Recent body of photographs by Japanese photographer, Rinko Kawauchi on view at Rosegallery

Rinko Kawauchi, Untitled, from the series Ametsuchi, 2012. 58 x 72 inch. Lambda Print. From an edition of three. Images © Rinko Kawauchi, courtesy ROSEGALLERY, Santa Monica.

SANTA MONICA, CA.- ROSEGALLERY presents the American debut of Ametsuchi, the most recent body of photographs by world-renowned Japanese photographer, Rinko Kawauchi. Large-scale photographs are on view from 17 May through 22 June, 2013. Rinko Kawauchi doesn’t think of her photography as documentation. Though her subjects are drawn from the tangible world around her, she is driven to take pictures by a belief in mystery, a love for things in motion, and a curiosity about the connectivity of everything she sees. Through the medium of photography she attempts to confront and comprehend what she finds puzzling about existence and to transcend the unavoidable flow of time by concentrating on a particular moment, which is neither past nor future. For her latest body of work, Ametsuchi (Heaven and Earth), the artist has expanded her view of time and memory both figuratively and literally. She put aside her signature 6 x 6 inch Rolleiflex in favor of the more labor-intensive 4 x 5 camera and set out to explore the origins of civilization and culture. The results are photographs on a grand scale that focus on sacred time, ritual, and collective memory. The artist writes: “I had a dream. I think it was probably six or seven years ago. I remembered the dream clearly because the internal scene was so powerful, so beautiful, it was almost scary. About six months later, as I was drinking my coffee on a Sunday morning, idly watching TV with my head still half-asleep, I was surprised to suddenly see the image from that dream reappear. It was a scene of many people and horses together in a green meadow before a large mountain – a place called Aso.” Kawauchi made her first pilgrimage to Aso, in Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture, in March of 2008. The cold, cloudy weather had kept tourists away, and the lush green field of her dream was now grassland, scorched and enveloped in flames. But it was there, in a solitary moment, on a vast stretch of land that she felt for the first time, the overwhelming sensation that she was standing on an actual planet and experienced the illusion that she herself had been burned up and reborn anew. For five years following, the artist returned to the region during various seasons and captured not only the visually dramatic yakihata, (the ritual burning of the fields in Spring), but the renewal of life there as well. In Ametsuchi the artist presents the field burning at Aso and the cyclical nature of life as a central motif. Along with this ritual, which has been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years, Kawauchi also includes images of three other subjects, which emphasize ancient ideas of time, motion, interconnectedness, and the confluence of heaven and earth: the Shiromi Kagura festival (a theatrical Shinto dance ceremony in the Miyazaki Prefecture), scenes of people praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and abstract drawings made with a laser pointer on a starry planetarium ceiling. Born in Shiga, Japan in 1972, Rinko Kawauchi is celebrated for her unique contributions to photography in both her native country and worldwide. After graduating from Seian of Art in 1993, Kawauchi worked as a freelance photographer for several years before creating a sensation in the Japanese art world when she released a trilogy of critically acclaimed photography books in 2001 titled Utatane, Hanabi and Hanako. In 2002 she was awarded the prestigious Kimura Ihei Award for Utatane and Hanabi. Those publications were followed by Aila in 2004, the eyes the ears and Cui Cui, 2005, and Semear in 2007. In 2011, her first and highly anticipated American publication, Illuminance, was released by Aperture and is now in its second printing. Her most recent monograph, Ametsuchi, also published by Aperture, has just been released. Kawauchi’s work has been exhibited internationally and has been the subject of solo exhibitions at major institutions including Foundation Cartier pour l’art Contemporain, Paris; Hasselblad Centre, Göteborg; Museu de Arte Moderna de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo; and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.

Text courtesy of Art Daily.

Genius in colour: Why William Eggleston is the world’s greatest photographer, by Michael Glover

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The godfather of colour photography, William Eggleston, inspired a generation – from David Lynch to Juergen Teller. As the 73-year-old from Memphis is honoured by the Sony World Photography Awards, and Tate Modern open a permanent exhibition of his work, Michael Glover pays tribute to his genius plus fans, critics and fellow artists put questions to him.

Click here to read the full article from The Independent

The 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition, featuring William Eggleston, is at Somerset House, London WC2, Friday to 12 May; 30 of his works will also be on display at Tate Modern, London SE1, from Monday

Review: Photographer Hisaji Hara channels Balthus at Rose

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Hisaji Hara's "A study of 'The Room.'"

Hisaji Hara's ravishing photographs at Rose are billed as "portrayals" of the paintings of Balthus (Baltusz Klossowski de Rola, 1908-2001). They adopt subjects, poses and scenarios from the French artist's work, but like all acts of translation they interpret rather than merely replicate, and have a provocative life of their own.

Young girls spread languorously across chairs and benches, in postures of surrender -- to sleep or potentially seduce. One gazes at herself in a hand mirror; another, on all fours, reads a book on the floor. Hara's adolescent models are Japanese and wear traditional schoolgirl uniforms (based on British sailor suits), which in Japan carry a peculiar sexual charge. Still, if the stilted eroticism in Balthus' scenes frequently jolts, these altered versions vibrate with subtler, more sublimated tension.

Hara, who lives outside Tokyo, staged the pictures in an Art Nouveau-style medical clinic built in the 1920s, lending the scenes a sense of temporal remove. The palpable, luminous atmosphere within (created with the help of a fog machine) further shifts the images into a stylized past, dreamlike and vaguely pictorialist. Balthus' palette, rich in reds and earthen golds, has been traded for a soft grisaille. Complementing the figurative pieces are several beautiful still lifes. One breathtaking assembly of persimmons, freckled and split, speaks as poignantly as Hara's young women of ripeness, purity and vulnerability.

Rose Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 264-8440, through July 7. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.rosegallery.net

Text courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

Lise Sarfati: She — New Monograph from Twin Palms Publishers

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Essay by Quentin Bajac,Chief Curator of Photography, MoMA

A family album preserves only carefully selected photographs. Out of an entire life, it stores only handpicked moments, privileging special occasions, happy ones usually, and consigning the rest to oblivion: happy faces, relaxed moments, places of leisure rather than work. It tends to underline a group's social links and affective relations, to highlight an identity, a communal spirit, a shared life and destiny. The portrait of the couple or group, with all its attendant conventions, is one of its inescapable figures. The family album tries to register the evolution of a particular human community, to write its story and scan the passage of time with each succeeding page. None of this figures in She: instead of a chronology, time is stopped, it appears to stammer and bite its own tail. There is no group photo or desire to stage a collective destiny, but only isolated models and individuals who do not seem to communicate amongst themselves, or only barely; no happy moments or picturesque places, only indifferent moments in ordinary places; no strong gesture, none of the conventional poses, and no complicity with the photographer. The models pose, but reservedly, more often than not without looking into the camera. And even when we do see their faces, we don't really seem to see them. They are here, but they are always there, elsewhere. When we close the book and think a bit about it, we cannot but see She as the anti-family album par excellence.

Text courtesy of Twin Palms Publishing.

Hisaji Hara - An Interview

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The Fog of Time

An Interview with Hara Hisaji

The legacy of Showa Japan runs deep and is also evident in your photographs. What is your attraction to Showa?

The building that appears in the pictures was a privately-run clinic built in the Taisho era (1912-26) and actually used until Showa 40 (1960). Discovering this building was the direct catalyst for my having realized this series. If this series exudes the feeling of Showa at all, then I think that’s largely due to the atmosphere of the building itself. Of course, having been born in Showa 39, I think that the age carries a lot of meaning for me. The values of Showa have probably had no small effect on the formation of my character.

However, for an artist like me who expresses himself through photographs, Showa pretty much means the 20th century just as it was. Photographs that appeared in the 19th century define the way of life of that age, certainly for having spanned some 100 years, and those 100 years mostly overlap with Showa, too. Living now in the 21st century, I’m seeking new means of photographic expression and to that end I think it’s essential that I look back and consider the 20th century with a critical eye.

Your photographs deftly balance innocence and eroticism. Can you please comment on this?

Is there in fact an underlying concept of innocence pairing off with eroticism? I suspect that reading an antithesis between these two components in the series comes from a 20th century mode of photographic expression. In the original Balthus paintings that I chose to use as my motif, quite a bit of the young girl’s arms and thighs appear. While that might be deemed eroticism, at the same time, a sense of tranquility hangs about it, as in early Italian Renaissance religious paintings. Perhaps the reason why Balthus dared to paint the limbs of a young girl was that he was attempting to provoke narrow-minded 20th century notions of eroticism. And so in this photographic series the dual presence of innocence and eroticism points to the objectification of 20th century values, which is itself an important part of the work.

Can you talk a little about your work flow (art direction, setting up, development, etc)?

Vis-à-vis the thousands—we might even say tens of thousands—of years of painting history, photographic history is but 200 years old. And yet, you can consider photographic history in the same context as the history of the discovery of photosensitive materials. Assuming that photography is an expression born of our gazing at the world, then I believe that photography should be included in the long history of painting.

To recreate in this series the same feeling of depth that appears in the paintings, I used a smoke machine to artificially create fog. It was one of those huge smoke machines normally used in concert halls. While the rooms depicted in Balthus’ paintings have a kind of flat illumination, he still manages to provide a fitting context for his figures and backdrop. I found that it was necessary to fog my backdrop with the right amount of smoke in order to control this sense of depth.

Also, the perspective in the paintings is different from the optical perspective of a camera lens. When shooting this series, I intentionally impaired the authentic perspective of the lens, and to achieve that, I had to take various multiple exposures. I made a huge matte box to surround the camera and lens. I then attached a mask to it that would cover up part of the picture and took multiple exposure shots. Because I was shifting the focus as I took the multiple exposures, the optical perspective was impaired and I got a really attractive sense of space.

Taking multiple exposures also has another benefit. When you combine the various frames that you’ve taken, you can reproduce your trusted model and have her perform elsewhere in the picture. Artists would often use a model they liked and paint that figure multiple times into their picture.

You sometimes appear in your own photographs. Why?

I only appear once in this series. That piece is based on Balthus’ own self-portrait. Going by 20th century definitions, a photographic self-portrait is very different from a painted self-portrait. In an age where identification photographs can be forged because of digital technology, do meanings based on 20th century definitions hold any water? I think there is quite a bit of opportunity to investigate this notion. Of course, this isn’t confined to a discussion of self-portraits alone, but perhaps even all the modes of photographic expression.

Who are some photographers you admire and why?

It’s not really photographers whom I admire, but the incredibly accomplished Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky. It seems to me that he was a director who created his own cinematic devices, rather than rely on the cinematic devices shared by most 20th century works. That’s why his work never seems to grow old.

http://hisajihara.com

Hara Hisaji is represented by: MEM INC. NADiff a/p/a/r/t 2F, 1-18-4 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0013 tel. 03-6459-3205 (gallery) tel/fax. 03-6425-9482 (office)

Check out more at Ko-e Magazine

Lise Sarfati: New York Times

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Exposures

On Hollywood

By LISE SARFATI

Published: March 24, 2012

I began with the concept of psychogeographical dérive, an approach analyzed by the French writer Guy Debord.

He defined psychogeography as the study of the precise effects of geographical surroundings on the emotions and behavior of individuals.

This dérive is the process I used to experience brief stays in a variety of atmospheres. In Los Angeles I drifted through Hollywood, staying several months. I did not scout locations like a director of photography or an artist hungry for new surroundings. I strove to find places where I would feel good physically, places that would affect me emotionally.

These places were street corners, sidewalk strips, recesses. Nothing extraordinary; on the contrary, very often quite banal.

My series “On Hollywood” shows women who really live in Los Angeles. They probably came to project themselves in the Hollywood landscape and to take advantage of the possibilities of success in this landscape. Hollywood interested me more for the concept of landscape as fantasy.

They are very real, and in different ways they seem to be the targets of a strange fatality. They shine in a very peculiar way. Like Pier Paolo Pasolini’s fireflies.

Lise Sarfati is a French-born photographer who lives in the United States. Her upcoming exhibitions “On Hollywood” and “She” will be at the Rose Gallery in Los Angeles.

To see a slideshow of more images from SHE series please visit the New York Times website