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December 13, 2004

Sarah Moon's Circus, and Other Recent Highlights


* Sarah Moon has always been one of my favorite photographers, but she hasn't been terribly well represented on the web to date, apart from a few gallery images scattered here and there.  This despite the fact that her moody, abstract style is almost tailor-made for the lively subculture of photographers obsessed with dream-like images achieved through motion blur, alternative processes, creative digital manipulations, and the hazy lenses of toy cameras.

From a technical standpoint, Moon achieves most of her monochrome magic with a Polaroid pack camera, 665 film, and various creative effects (distressed negatives, solarization), working with a rather dark and subdued sepia palette (which she's referred to as the "tone of memory").  But she transcends the efforts of so many others who go down this road with a vibrantly quirky, dreamy sensibility that seems to draw equivalent amounts of playfulness and darkness from old fairy tales (some of Moon's best images from earlier in her career came with photographs used with a dark version of Little Red Riding Hood, which was recently reissued).  Moon is also the rare photographer who has produced artful fashion imagery that manages to bypass prevailing notions of glamor, and works consistently with the rest of her fine art work.

Moon has a new exhibition at the Howard Greenberg Gallery (click on current exhibitions) to showcase her latest portfolio of 35 prints and commemorate the release of her short film, Circus, based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl".  (According to the press release, some of Moon's color fashion work will be shown as well).  As usual, the gallery has an outstanding Flash slide show of 34 of the images from the show, and it maintains the whimsical, elliptical mood of her previous images, though the captions in the slide show imply that there may be a slightly more explicit narrative that anchors the images.


Sarah Moon image, from Circus series

More images from "Circus" and more about Sarah Moon (including an earlier exhibition) can be seen at the Kyoto Museum of Contemporary Art website.  Four more images at this French site, and earlier sepia fashion work at Staley Wise.

* The fatal flaw with a few contemporary fashion photographers I've encountered recently is a derivative and uninspired decadence with the fashion work, and an equally uninspired sentimentality with the fine art work, which is frequently (and alarmingly) photojournalistic work done in trendy regions like New Delhi, Kabul and St. Petersburg...as if time in such regions would wash away the sins of the fashion work.  Long time fashion and documentary French photographer Francoise Huguier achieves a much healthier balance, and while the fashion work on her website is hit and miss, the documentary work is artful, whether it's in black and white or color.  The abstract and moody portraits from Africa are masterful, and while there's been plenty of grimy and memorable work from St. Petersburg, Huguier's work in that region stands quite well alongside other photographers' work (though the images are small). She also has a very unique and worthwhile take on nudes, as well.


Francoise Huguier image

* It's always a pleasure when a photographer looks interesting in a short glimpse, as Colby Katz did when I first encountered a small set of images in In Magazine (which seems to have gone under, like so many other interesting independent magazines)...and then rewards that early interest with a more extensive portfolio.  I posted about Katz and a few other photographers earlier this year, and just recently came across her website, which features her unsettling and interestingly stylized color documentary photography.  Some of it (without any text or context) is almost too in-your-face, and I tend to be partial to the slightly quieter (but no less unsettling) projects, like "Rabbit Hunting" and "Seniors".


Colby Katz image, from Seniors series

* I've been meaning to plug File Magazine for a while, a fresh online magazine featuring interesting series and projects from a variety of photographers outside the commercial and even mainstream fine art axis.  Lots of good stuff to check out, and even better, fellow photoblogger Joerg Colberg's Screen Series (always a favorite of mine among his work) and Stan Banos' witty and observant Pet Cemetery series have been featured recently. (Another favorite, from someone I encountered early in online photography forums: Jeff Alu's rich digital black and white work).

* Finally, the latest issue of one of my favorite magazines, SHOTS, is out, and the theme is "Children".  Russell Joslin has put together another outstanding compilation of many photographers' submissions, and in the shameless self-promotion category, I'm happy and very flattered to have gotten one of my own photographs published (go to the third page of images) in Issue 86.

There is a very good interview with Joslin, discussing the evolution of his own work and his role in editing SHOTS that is worth reading -- check it out here.

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» SHOTS magazine from gallery hopper
After seeing Robert's recommendation on Coincidences, I just subscribed to SHOTS, a quarterly photography magazine. Based on the sample images on their Web site, I think it'll be a good $20 investment, certainly a better value than Aperture (which has... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 14, 2004 2:32:23 PM

» Sarah Moon from Retorta
L' effraie © Sarah Moon, 2003 "Very often I say to myself: I would like to make a photo where nothing happens. But in order to eliminate, there has to be something to begin with. For nothing to happen,... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 9, 2005 7:41:37 AM


Congratulations for your photo in Shots. Very good photo in a very good magazine. (btw: I also tried to have my work there...but I was not accepted)

Posted by: António at Dec 13, 2004 5:58:00 AM

Thank you for your kind words aout my work and also congratulations! It's good to see some of your work!

Posted by: Joerg at Dec 13, 2004 4:44:03 PM

Congrats on the Shots Mag publication Robert! I saw that and your name, and your last name didn't click. That's a wonderful photo...

Posted by: John at Dec 15, 2004 12:33:01 PM

Good work... so good I could only look at about half a dozen of your portraits before clicking off and taking a look at something else (that sounds a little strange but it's meant to be a compliment).

Posted by: ed buziak at Apr 30, 2005 1:16:42 AM

Sarah Moon is the first and so far the only photographer who charms me with her images. There is some kind of possessed feeling in her work which quite fits the discription in Nabokov's works. So smooth and so beyond our touch.

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