Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Alien memories

Simone Bergantini, American Standard (Remix), 2010.

"This work was carried out re-elaborating a group of 4x5 inch negatives bought in a second hand shop in Brooklyn. They were taken between the end of the fifties and the beginning of the sixties very probably by the same person within an area which is relatively near New York City.

I lived in the United States for 5 months and I decided to talk about what struck me most about the American people, consumerism and its consequent individualism. Use and throw away, no stratifying, always starting from scratch."

"Well, it was a big country, there was some of it for everyone. There were women, there was land, there was money. But nobody had enough, nobody stopped no matter how much he had, and the fields, even the vineyards, looked like public gardens, fake flower beds like those at railway stations, or else wilderness, burned-over land, mountains of slag. It wasn't a country where you could resign yourself, rest your head and say to others: 'For better or worse, you know me. For better or worse, let me live.' That was the frightening part."

(Cesare Pavese,
The Moon and the Bonfires)

"Questo lavoro è stato realizzato remissando un gruppo di negativi 4x5 (inch) acquistati in un negozio di oggetti usati di Brooklyn, scattati tra la fine degli anni 50 e l’inizio degli anni 60 ed eseguiti con molta probabilità dalla stessa mano in un' area relativamente vicina alla città di New York.

Ho vissuto 5 mesi negli Stati Uniti e ho deciso di raccontare ciò che più mi ha colpito del popolo americano, il consumismo e l'individualismo conseguente. Usare e gettare, non stratificare, ri-azzerare il passato."

"Eppure il paese era grande, ce n’era per tutti. C’erano donne, c’era terra, c’era denari. Ma nessuno ne aveva abbastanza, nessuno per quanto ne avesse si fermava, e le campagne, anche le vigne, sembravano giardini pubblici, aiuole finte come quelle delle stazioni, oppure incolti, terre bruciate, montagne di ferraccio. Non era un paese che uno potesse rassegnarsi, posare la testa e dire agli altri: “Per male che vada mi conoscete. Per male che vada lasciatemi vivere”. Era questo che faceva paura."

(Cesare Pavese, La luna e i falò)

All images © Simone Bergantini


Monday, November 15, 2010

Emotional landscapes

The beach where we spent all our childhood, the valley where we dream to run free, the landscape we wish we could stare, the mountain we maybe hiked years ago, the creek we dream we could paint, the village of many boring summers, the seascape we wish we would have photographed ourselves.

Paolo Bernabini, Cahier de Voyage.

La spiaggia dove abbiamo passato tutta l'infanzia, la vallata dove avremmo potuto correre liberi, il paesaggio che vorremmo guardare, la montagna che forse abbiamo scalato anni fa, il ruscello che vorremmo dipingere, la piazzetta di tante noiose estati, il mare che avremmo voluto fotografare.

Paolo Bernabini, Cahier de Voyage.

All images © Paolo Bernabini


Thursday, November 11, 2010


rough study for a double portrait, 2009

Photography can be considered as the mere surface on which Lucas Blalock finally creates his own images: I would not write more than that to introduce his work, also because his latest book, I Believe You, Liar, is introduced by a letter that is perhaps impossible to match with any other word:

untitled, 2010

"Dear Ms. Patty Pacifica or Current Resident,

I like to think of cooing. it is among the warmer thoughts. especially nice in French which seems a warmer language except when it’s not. Isn’t it funny how cold warm things used badly become. I would accept your TV if you had it, but seem truly and earnestly (to my own embarrassment) more interested in truth than fact and all that uninterrupted information would bring us back to the palimpsest (a screen) and a possible becoming tedious because the volume controls of strangers – even friends and lovers – are always different from the ones internal. It’s probably better if I listen to your speakers instead of getting greedy for headphones, or serialized programming.

As to. . . all of this is more lonely than sad but I am starting to relish this energy of impossible languages and unbridgeable gaps. The failures are all we have and I am no nihilist! I BELIEVE YOU, LIAR!! Light, sad? ‘luc’ is particle and wave both at the same time. I am torn. can you explain?

Thank you kindly,

Lucas Blalock"

untitled (boxes), 2010

All images © Lucas Blalock


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Making a Book - 'Conditions', by Andrés Marroquin Winkelmann

As many of you probably already know, Conditions is the first book by Andrés Marroquin Winkelmann, and it also marks the debut of Meier und Müller (there's only a few copies left of the book, find info here), the publishing house Andrés has recently founded with Jörg M Colberg.

Having in mind to start a blog section devoted to illustrate the art of book-making, a few weeks ago I asked Andrés to write a text about the genesis of Conditions, which is the first of a series of contributions on the process of creating a photobook that will come in the following months.

I could have written myself a review of the book, but I had the feeling that a chronicle of all the thoughts, ideas, intuitions and mistakes it takes to finally bring a photographic volume to light would have been somehow more interesting than my two cents on the project.

Conditions is a special object, a concept trying to change a few things in the way we can interact with a photobook; it is also a delicate story, made of moments and feelings so thin it takes nothing to sweep them away. That's why maybe its fragile images are concealed behind the firm black gate that closes the book in itself. I'll let Andrés himself open it to show us what's inside.

CONDITIONS, by Andrés Marroquin Winkelmann

The first time Conditions was presented as a book to a wider audience was at the Ostkreuz School graduation exhibition in Berlin in late 2008. The design was simple: the images were printed in two sizes and presented in a rather straightforward fashion. For this first version of the book, I primarily focused on the rhythm and sequencing of the images in order to create a consistent personal narrative, which, I felt, worked OK.

In general, finding the suitable presentation of a body of work takes a long time. I always try several variations, with different papers, frames, sizes, to finally decide how to arrange photographs on the wall. With time, I’ve learned how to deal with this as a whole, so that the main idea of the project is reflected in its presentation, be it as book or in a show. I still remember how weeks after my graduate show I was re-designing the book. There was something that simply was not right, yet.

The conjuncture took place about a year ago. My ideas about books were changing, and I realized I had many books which I would only come back to once or maybe twice after buying them. There were only a few books that really drew me in deeply, and they were still exciting every time I looked at them. Even though there are many books with very strong contents, I had the feeling that often the book format wasn’t being used right. The photobook market has grown so rapidly over the past few years that it seems that often, just having a book out seems to be what matters for photographers. The production of a book is nowadays so straightforward that many photographers replace their portfolio with a book. However, I think that the purpose of producing a book should not be convenience. There are actually only very few publishers who really try to work hand in hand with the photographers to produce books that fit the work.

I met Jörg (Colberg) for the first time about five years ago at ICP in New York City. We met almost every time I came back to the States after that, and we slowly we realized we had more in common than just our taste in music. We became friends, and we happened to understand each other not only on a “photography” level but also on a personal one. He has been my “partner in crime” ever since. Our ideas about photobook making are very similar; and after checking whether we really were in the same boat, we decided to found Meier und Müller.

In the beginning, I wasn’t so sure about making Conditions the first book of our publishing project. But Jörg pushed me to redesign the book to reveal the ideas behind the series. Without telling me what to do, he helped me understand the connection between form and contents - all of the sudden, everything was crystal clear.

The earliest designs I tried were very gimmicky. I did not want the book (or the series) being carried by the design, I did not want the design to be just a trick to make the work interesting. After some tests, and after having looked at older dummies I decided to experiment with the parameters of the book format, pushing the boundaries. I started to center on ideas concerning self-determination, the decisions we made, still make, and those we did not dare to make.

Investigating identity is the main idea behind the project. The way Conditions in the end was conceived as a book allows the viewer to question and study her or his own identity in a very natural way. The book itself help the viewer to deal with perceptions, with how we look at people and how we would like to look at them.

After months of intensive (and to be honest, often very painful) work Conditions was born. I went to New York to meet Adam Bartos, who shared with us his experience and vision and who also took care of the editing.

The book has been out for two months now, and the editions are almost sold out. The press has been very positive, and we are very happy about that. Currently, Jörg and myself are working on upcoming projects, and we couldn’t be more motivated to push this venture into the next level. Making photobooks is a lot of work, it’s hard, but when everything finally comes together, it’s just a thrill that’s very hard to describe.

All images © Andrés Marroquin Winkelmann/Meier und Müller


Monday, November 8, 2010


Pardon me for the lack of fantasy, but when I see images of eerie landscapes, scary corners of grim huts, rusty sharp tools and figures standing sinisterly with their faces aginst the wall, I can think of only one expression to sum it all: blair witchy.

Welcome to Grant Willing's world, you might not want to explore it at night, alone.

Perdonatemi la mancanza di fantasia, ma quando vedo paesaggi stregati, angoli bui di strane baracche o personaggi sinistramente rivolti con la faccia al muro, mi viene in mente una sola immagine in grado di descrivere quello che vedo: blair witch.

Benevenuti nel mondo di Grant Willing, fareste bene a starne alla larga quando fa notte, e siete soli.

All images taken from Svart Metall © Grant Willing


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Room for thoughts

To me photo courses have always been parallel worlds where people could reinvent their destiny, their ambitions, their dreams, even if just for a few days or weeks. Nobody can deny the beauty of an industrious bunch of people operating photogear in search of the perfect shot, while some others are scratching their chins with a pensive look in their eyes, striving to find the perfect combination of sense and sensibility. Not to mention the collective protfolio viewings, where each of the photophiles shares the fruit of their labour with the rest of the group, in a solemn atmosphere punctuated by extremely serious and deep comments, pronounced with a delicate voice, like in a ceremony.
The photo course is one of those places where the outside world can disappear, a bubble out of our ordinary time, a reign for the imagination, where creativity feels close and the burden of practical life finally stops haunting us for a day, a week, a year.

With his work The Photo Course, Martin Cregg explores the empty spaces of his classes of History and Theory of Photography, taking photographs of what he calls "post-lecture environments". I love the expression, it makes me wonder if the thoughts expressed can leave traces in the room where they have been pronounced, or if the air can carry signs of the struggle of the students' minds to grasp those floating concepts.

If you wonder why I ask myself this kind of questions, well the answer is mostly

All images © Martin Cregg