November 21, 2004
More Exhibitions, More Photodocumentary, In Galleries and Online
* Sepia International in New York is currently running a retrospective of 45 images from Raghubir Singh, an Indian photodocumentarian who was one of the more distinctive early photographers using color. Sepia only has five images on its site from the exhibition, but a short article and more images can be found here. A more extensive write-up on Singh's career can be found here, and another extensive article from an Indian viewpoint can be read here. A description of the retrospective at Sepia from the Village Voice's Vince Aletti is also worth reading. An excerpt:
"Singh isn't likely to enjoy the sort of art-world boom that many of his
contemporaries have experienced recently, if only because there's
nothing remotely cool about his work. He remains a photographer's
photographer, close in spirit to Henri Cartier-Bresson (who was an
early influence) and Garry Winogrand, but so uniquely, definitively
Indian that it would be hard to imagine him working anywhere else".
Raghubir Singh image
* Sepia is interesting in that it seems to specialize in collections of photo-documentary work from Asian photographers, several of whom I had never encountered before. Most notable (click on "artists" to track down their portfolios): Fumiko Nozawa's gallery of 23 images of the contents of his mother's drawer, which contrast interestingly against Miyako Ishiuchi's more sexualized photographic meditations on her mother's memory; Katsumi Omura is another interesting photographer, with only 7 images online at Sepia's site, but all are interesting in their mood, toning and cryptic subject matter. Finally, Marissa Roth's photographs from the Philippines are highly graphic and iconic, a distinct notch above most standard photo-documentary renditions of the country.
* From the US, check out Debbie Fleming Caffery's outstanding black and white photodocumentary work. Too many highlights to list, but a good start would be Polly, a series of affectionate portraits, candids, and still lifes taken in the house of an African American woman in her seventies, all photographed by Caffery in moody available light:
'You know when you become consumed with a project?', the photographer asks. 'I went there so often and I thought about her so much--I would dream about her. Going to Polly's was like being vacuumed into a feeling of security and warmth. I would rather have gone to her house than any place during those years.'
Debbie Fleming Caffery image, from Polly series
Pretty much everything else in the Fine Art galleries are worth looking at as well -- there's a mystical, Deep South sensibility running through many of the images that sometimes reminds me of Keith Carter (without the selective focus), but Caffery often casts a more direct eye on her portrait subjects.
Debbie Fleming Caffery image, from Polly series
* Speaking of fine photodocumentary, the Howard Greenberg Gallery is currently running an exhibition on Walker Evans and His Early Circle (click on "exhibits", and then "current"), which includes well known (and lesser known colleagues) such as Helen Levitt, Berenice Abbott, Peter Sekaer, Ben Shahn, and Ralph Steiner. As always, the gallery has one of the better and more generous virtual exhibitions to accompany the real one (68 images presented clearly with a simple, attractive interface), and is must viewing for classic photodocumentary and Evans junkies alike.
Peter Sekaer image
* Finally, I've been remiss in not linking sooner to the latest issue of BlueEyes Magazine, whose ninth issue features three photoessays on politics in honor of the recent divisive elections. You would think we would all have had our fill of this sort of thing, but the reality is that even as the glib news coverage and the superficial angles taken on the candidates and the elections start to fade away, many deeper issues and divisions remain that will stay with the US (and the world) for many years to come, regardless of anyone's political allegiance or indifference to politics.
The many intelligent, funny, and sometimes scary photographs that John Loomis has gathered go beyond the surface issues and illustrate the power of photographs -- even when depicting the most basic conflicts, the most superficial of personalities -- to hint at something deeper, more disturbing, and more truthful than any amount of punditry or high-level speechifying. And sometimes, the photos are just funny *and* scary in depicting the extremes and the craziness, and the best images in this vein manage their own kind of crazed poetry.
Chip Litherland image, from BlueEyes Issue 9
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I saw the photo above, or another similar (the pig woman smothering herself with money) in the new york times? i love it. thanks for the other links too.
Posted by: marlaina at Dec 1, 2004 10:55:17 AM
What a crazy looking girl with the pigs nose!
Posted by: Ashley Bowers at Dec 22, 2005 9:25:29 AM
An informative blog! You would think we would all have had our fill of this sort of thing, but the reality is that even as the glib news coverage and the superficial angles taken on the candidates and the elections start to fade away, many deeper issues and divisions remain that will stay with the US (and the world) for many years to come, regardless of anyone's political allegiance or indifference to politics.
Posted by: Personals in Russia and Ukraine at Jan 3, 2012 10:27:09 AM