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October 29, 2004

Fall Reading Online: On Photographs, Memories, Love, and Robert Frank

While I haven't had much time to reflect on recent discoveries or exhibits I've attended, I've managed to steal some time for reading and viewing online, and it's worth sharing quickly some of the highlights:

* Stacy Oborn's "The Space In Between" has provided some of the most stimulating and rewarding reflections on photography of any website in its limited time online, and her recent post, "the art of losing love, pt.1 : words on masahisa fukase", was widely linked for good reason. Now she weighs in with part 2, "the art of losing love, pt.2: seiichi furuya and christine gössler", and it is every bit as moving in the questions it raises and the thoughts it provokes as Part 1.

The work of the Japanese photographers she discusses, masahisa fukuse and seiichi furuya, is of course worth looking at, but her thoughts take our appreciation of these artists to another level. Absolutely essential reading.


Seiichi Furuya image

* More eloquent discussion, specifically the story of a photograph, in the wake of unbelievable horror: The Falling Man. From Esquire Magazine's recent photo issue, and a long and very worthwhile read. (courtesy of consumptive.org)

* The first issue of a new online magazine, BZK Mag, is now up, "by photography lovers for photography lovers"; it is spearheaded by the intelligent and talented BZK Group (António Lucas Soares, António Vieira, Bruno Espadana, Luís Farrolas and Mário Filipe Pires), and also includes contributions from Joerg Colberg and Don Brice. A good selection of Alec Soth's large format explorations of the Mississippi and Tolo Llabres' lomo photography from Africa are only the beginning of the highlights of this well put-together combination of essays and photography. Check it out.

* The fifth issue of ak47.tv is out, and it is another outstanding collection of photographic portfolios presented intelligently and with high quality. Just about everything is good in the latest issue, though I'm especially partial to Finn Manford's architectural shots and R. Jerome Ferraro's portfolio of portraits, 52.


Finn Manford image

* The Guardian continues its roll in producing insightful pieces on photographers with a series of pieces on Robert Frank, given the opening of a Frank exhibition, Storylines, at the Tate Modern. Geoff Dyer weighs in with an extended profile, Adrian Searle talks more specifically about Frank's work in the context of the exhibition, and best of all, Sean O'Hagan gets a rare interview with Frank, in which he reflects on a productive, strange and unfortunately tragic life (including the death of two children):

"I ask him, finally, if he is happy with his place in the scheme of things. 'Happy is a big word. My wife says, "Robert, you are never satisfied." I guess I got where I wanted to get, but it didn't turn out to be the place I hoped it would be. I'm an outsider, still. How does that song by Johnny Cash go? "I'm a pilgrim and a stranger." I like that. That's how it is with me, and it's too late to change now.' "

The Tate website has six reflections of its own on Robert Frank from Ed Ruscha, Lou Reed, Liz Jobey, Mary Ellen Mark, Mark Haworth-Booth, and Frank himself (discussing My Father's Coat).


* If you run to your local newstand this weekend, you can still pick up the latest New Yorker, which has 50 portraits from an unfinished portfolio by Richard Avedon, Democracy 2004, which attempts to get a sense of the United States in the midst of a crucial and divisive Presidential campaign. Many of the portraits are entertaining and some are especially penetrating, but as a whole the work is difficult to make sense of given the freshness of the subject matter, and the fact that many of the figures and types depicted are overexposed in the current moment.

Perhaps in a few years, these portraits will yield more secrets, but at present, as good as some of them are, they only add noise, and the worst of them seem as inconsistent and superficial as Avedon's celebrity work in recent years for the New Yorker.

For photography fans, the magazine is still worth picking up, given the generous selection of images, and for Avedon fans it's a must.

UPDATE: You can now view all the images by clicking on the "Democracy 2004" link and then clicking on the slide show sidebar on the right. Interestingly, the images seem more compelling and digestible *as photographs* viewed one at a time in a more modest web format (as opposed to side by side in a brighter and larger two page glossy magazine layout)...but perhaps, the cacophonous clash of so many strong personalities and types side by side was truer to Avedon's intent. All speculation, because the portfolio was never completed...and the emotions and repercussions of the recent election are of course going to remain for quite a while as well, making the impact of these portraits on us years from now unclear.

09:31 PM | Permalink


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Robert -thanks for introducing me to Finn Manford's work! It's vaguely remiscent... (heh heh).

Posted by: Andrew Miller at Nov 4, 2004 8:35:34 AM

Great blog- lot's of good work to explore.

Posted by: steve at Feb 20, 2005 9:04:21 PM

This blog is almost too good! I just hope you will update...(hope you`re allright...!)

Posted by: alfred at Sep 12, 2005 2:16:04 PM

Brilliant site, I found you by researching Robert Franks. Thanks for the great links and photos!

Posted by: Lisa at Mar 25, 2008 5:41:41 AM

Hello, I love reading through your blog, I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wishing you the best of luck for all your blogging efforts.

Posted by: gre delhi at Sep 23, 2011 6:49:05 AM