January 27, 2005
Better Late Than Never in 2005
Well, it's taken me a while to get back to blogging in 2005, given many other things that have taken priority or just flat out distracted me at the start of this year.
A very belated happy New Year to everyone, especially those who managed to make my first year of blogging so enjoyable and instructive. Thanks to everyone who sent me a note (and my apologies if I wasn't able to get back to you sooner...I'm still catching up with email well into the start of 2005). Joerg at Conscientious, Stan at Reciprocity Failure, John at Orbit 1 (who's always run one of the most thoughtful of "photo-a-day" photoblogs)...before I even started a blog, I could tell that he was someone who liked to think about photographs, and not just dump one a day out there), Luis and Antonio at flux+mutability and defocused respectively, Kevin at Photorant and photopermit.org, Todd at Gallery Hopper, Stacy at the space in between...
...well, the list is getting long, isn't it, and I haven't even covered the half of it with thoughtful bloggers (not just photobloggers) out there who have managed to make me see and think in different ways, as well as the hundreds of talented photographers and other visual artists who continue to serve as inspiration. It was tough keeping up with all the photoblogs, though I did what I could with visits to the ones I listed on my sidebar. Probably my favorite photoblog apart from John's was Gayla's Making Happy, which I never get tired of visiting. Both John and Gayla use multiple cameras to explore, to engage in inquiry, to have fun with old quirky cameras, to just enjoy the process of taking pictures. There's a lot to be said for that.
I wrote about a lot of magazines in 2004, some dedicated to photography, others with photography as a primary element, and some thrived, while others died. Goodbye to Pictured, Nest, Issue, and In. Thanks to SHOTS, Aperture, Next Level (when I can find it in a U.S. bookstore) and PDN for going stronger than ever, along with more specialized publications like B&W, Camera Arts, and View Camera. Thanks also to art magazines like Modern Painters and Art Review for providing thoughtful coverage of photography in the context of the modern art scene, rather than treating it as a stepchild.
Online magazines like ak47.tv and BlueEyes Magazine, along with the more established ZoneZero, may be the most vital (and cost-effective) showcases for contemporary photography outside the hot names of the gallery circuit, and I hope they keep thriving and growing. Influence was probably my single favorite art-photography magazine in 2004, but they could only get one amazing issue out...with the second one scheduled for publication in the first quarter of 2005. I can't wait.
"His home office, for instance, is lined with books, all of them pertaining to photography, some of them, unbelievably, costing more than a vintage print by the photographer in question. Or, to put it another way, Martin Parr lives in a house of books, and their collective value outstrips the price of the house itself. 'I'm not sure I could, or even should, give you a precise figure,' he says, sounding suddenly defensive when I ask him how much his set of photographic books is worth on the market, 'but maybe somewhere in the region of a million and a half.'"
* Other books I've been meaning to mention that I've also enjoyed, in addition to the ones I mentioned in my post about 2004 photobooks: Helen Van Meene's Portraits, Larry Sultan's the Valley, Mona Kuhn's Photographs (artful nudes in various tableaux, sometimes too pretty, but compelling for the many "real-looking" friends and colleagues included), Jock Sturges' Notes, and Massimo Vitali's Landscape with Figures.
My only mild complaint about Van Meene's wonderful book of portraits is that I wish it had been bigger, given the larger and more lavish photographs published in Aperture just months before...but the compact book is well priced as a result and one of the better values for new photography books out there. I just hope Aperture's upcoming monograph for David Hilliard is larger, because having seen him speak last fall, and marveling at his large multi-panel panoramic (and autobiographical) mini-dramas, it's hard to imagine them being squeezed in to the same compact format as Van Meene's work.
* Vince Aletti gets caught up with his Top 25 list of photobooks, and an article on the best magazine photography of the last year. This speaks well to the fact that when people ask me what magazines to check out and subscribe to, there are obvious names that are very specific to the art of photography... but there are also many other sources for interesting photography that are ostensibly more glossy and ephermeral. I know some folks out there want to keep church and state separate and will never allow fashion and lifestyle photography to enter their universe, but photography is just as alive to me coming from the pages of large glossies like Paris Vogue and W and Exit as well as niche (and often short-lived) magazines like Dwell, Anthem and Fugue, even if you have to often forage through some fluff to get to the good stuff.
I may not collect the magazines or even buy them much of the time, but I'm certainly going through them on the newstands constantly and taking mental notes.
* Portfolios I've enjoyed recently: Sharon Core's iconic photographs of food (part of Aperture's Director's Cut feature; more Core here), and Juli Leonard's portfolio in the latest issue of Blueeyes magazine.
Sharon Core image
* I visited the AIPAD show last year in New York, an annual showcase for a great deal of traditional photography, mostly black and white. The Yossi Milo gallery made a pretty good showing by bucking the trend and showcasing leading lights like Alec Soth and Loretta Lux in all their contemporary color glory. To start off 2005, the gallery is featuring two Irish photographers: the quietly compelling "is it fact or fiction" work of Trish Morrissey (gallery here, write-up here), followed by Martina Mullaney's curiously neat, curiously squalid bedroom interiors, "Turn In", presented in square format.
Trish Morrissey image
* Finally, photo essays about America have never gone far out of fashion, but there's no shortage of them these days. Two worth taking a look at that pose interesting contrasts in style and mood: Phil Bergerson's Shards of America, and David Carol's 40 Miles of Bad Road. Bergerson has a nice interview with Making Room magazine, one of Davin Risk's many amazing online projects, and an online magazine to watch.
Phil Bergerson image, from Shards of America