Monday, May 30, 2011

Inside a camera

It appears that Abelardo Morell does not have the right to the exclusive use of camerae obscurae in photography anymore, as after the recent discovery of Asier Gogortza's military bunkers (also here), I just found out that Peruvian artist Pablo Hare made some beautiful photographs of the landscape of Lima, projected on the walls of empty rooms.

"Everything has been done before, the trick is in doing it better."

I like the idea of artists sharing a technique that leads to such dangerously similar results, also considering the recurrent thoughts about plagiarism in photography. Should somebody give up because there has been already another one who darkened a room and let the light come in through a tiny hole to project the outside world on the walls inside? Should deadpan portraiture be limited to a small number of photograhers? And what about tall buildings in fast-rising Asian cities?

The camera obscura fascinates me because it always brings us back to the magic of the creation of an image, it is the closest thing to watching the latent image appear on a sheet of paper bathing in a darkroom tray. Rather than deciding if more than one person is entitled to make art with it, I would go the opposite way, recreating the whole history of photography through it, projecting all kinds of images on those walls: places, people, abstractions. Since digital photography (I know, I repeat myself) made us lose a bit of the feeling of the physical presence of an image, then showing the inside of a camera could be a good antidote - the closest thing to actually watching photography happen.

All images © Pablo Hare


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"It started with a ride to the fields, a long ride."

"Sometimes I wondered how we looked from a distance; a group of haggard looking men in worn boots, haphazardly marching from one side of the field to the other. Unclear for who or where to, never asking why, always trying to do as we were told."

"Whenever I pass by these fields again, I am always briefly surprised that there are no groups of men, marching. That nobody sits where the field meets the road, happily drinking their beer. That the only thing left is the field itself, the sun, some traces of us here and there. An empty pack of cigarettes. A button. A shell casing. A memory."

Some stories are hard to be discovered, hidden in places, reluctant to be told. Then, when you find them, you can hardly stop chasing them, running after the countless traces they leave on the ground.

Michael de Kooter lost himself in the Yucca Valley, a journey between truth and fiction that has just started, a chain of deceiving memories where men wander through a land they don't recognize anymore, fighting an invisible enemy who is far more dangerous than the outlaws they used to meet along their way.

The journey will continue, and what is only a short preview hidden behind some scratch-off silver ink will grow, unfold and reveal the story of people and places now covered by the dust of time.

"...the only thing left is the field itself, the sun, some traces of us here and there".

An old collapsed building, an abandoned church, a dry and empty land. Are they from the same place? What did they use to be like, what are they now?

There is plenty to find inside the Yucca Valley, stay tuned for more over the following months.


Lazlo Magazine #0

Out now, and it really looks great:

"Lazlo Magazine is a place of investigation through expression, a platform for debate and creativity; bold ideas in fresh forms. A half-yearly independent magazine drawing inspiration and content from (and aiming to reach) the academic chair and the club dance floor, the artist’s atelier and the scientist`s laboratory, the catwalk and the sidewalk. We interview, overview and review. Take pictures, draw illustrations and play music. We write narrative and poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Deconstruct and demystify. Reconstruct and link."

Lazlo Magazine
Issue #0 - Spring 2010
19,9 x 26,7 cm
148 pages
Edit by Lazlo Moulton
Photo Editors and Distribution 3/3


Monday, May 23, 2011


Susanne Brügger, Augentrost. Vororte im Visier #1, 2006-2008

Susanne Brügger's art probably represents the very first time that I found the use of tondo applied to photography, and thus creating a fascinating set of contrasts. Her suburban images have that feeling of stolen glances and subtle awkwardness that remind of Michael Wolf's Google View series, and although they are much more composed and rich in details than those screen grabs, you still wonder at times if those images do have an author or are just another product of some technological invisible eye. Then there's the round edge of the images, enclosing all the straight lines of the street views and bringing us back to the miniature paintings or the art from the XVI century.

Susanne Brügger, Augentrost. Vororte im Visier #13, 2006-2008

Susanne Brügger, Augentrost. Vororte im Visier #10, 2006-2008

Lack of informations in languages other than German leaves me guessing about the initial idea behind the project and the meaning of Augentrost. Vororte im Visier, which seems to be the title.

Sandro Botticelli, Madonna del Melograno, c. 1487

The tondos were soft borders sealing with their shape the importance of what they were showing, Brügger's suburban circles on the contrary seem to enhance the feeling of shapelessness of our cities, a sea of edges and corners where curved lines seem to have no place to be.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Tondo Doni, 1506-1507

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Le Bain turc, c. 1862

(thanks again to Joscha)


Friday, May 20, 2011


Students year-end projects at art schools or universities can be really interesting objects, full of enthusiasm, diverse, even careless. They come at the stage of someone's career where coherence can be less important than variety, when often there is less concern for tradition than lust for exploring all the different options, dismantling conventions and not worrying too much about the viewer's needs to be entertained.

Joscha Bruckert's portfolio Nicht Eins ('Not One') from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Dortmund, Germany is the perfect example of all this, with its elusive subject matter, strong images and mixed media - as his artist statement can also confirm:

"The author wishes to remark that an accompanying text to his work would imply that the knowledge of its intention would be of use for a potential viewer and that there would be a specific meaning, which could only be revealed through external information. On the contrary, it shall be understood that the author, at the time of completing his work, turned into the viewer himself and that the accrued objects are no more than what they are. They attain distinction due to the mere fact that one sees them. In addition to this it is to be mentioned that there is only one topic, not only in this, but in every case: a principle which pervades the tangible and intangible world, eluding representation and remaining the essential element within all creative work. The author therefore would like to point out that these remarks are not text accompanying his work."

I would be more than happy to receive and feature more submissions about students' projects from all kinds of photography insitutions, should you be interested you can contact me at the usual e-mail address

All images © Joscha Bruckert


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

More shelters

Thanks to J. Wesley Brown I discovered one more 'shelter photographer', Andrew Bush. It is interesting how different authors can go towards the same thing and with a similar attitude, same kind of spirit. Discreetness, simplicity, cooperation/interaction with who you photograph, all things that I like in photography.

Maybe shelters strike a chord in photographers, something about the fact that they call for the need of something else, something that can be used to evoke a bigger story, a struggle for life, a struggle for safety, or who knows what else. Symbols and metaphors are always a curse and a blessing for photography, and can be easily abused. What I like about all these shelter works is that their style is peaceful enough to let me imagine my own story, without any imposed morale pretending to guide me.
But Andrew Bush is not only about that, his work is made of many different series where he acts like a collector of pieces of daily life, little typologies of the all the everyday things we always look at, but rarely see.

Jacques Derrida's room of his published books in his home in Ris Orange, France, 2001

All images © Andrew Bush


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Street photographer

I never heard of Anthony Hernandez before seeeing the Anonymes exhibition at Le Bal last November, and I was struck by his extraordinary black and white views of Los Angeles in the 70's (read a text by Doug Rickard and also an interesting review of the work by Jeff Ladd), images so rich that it feels like they condense many photographs and many photographic genres in themselves. In each of those photos I thoguht that I could see some of the best that urban landscape, street and portrait photography could offer at the same time, as if I could create my own personal photographs by moving my eyes across the space of Hernandez plates, framing and reframing their surface inside my mind.

Later I discovered more of his work, and while he also made some more traditional b&w street photography in the style of Garry Winogrand and many others, what I found excellent was his series of passers-by in Beverly Hills, where a sense of immediacy and of fakery collide in the soft colours of life in the Platinum Triangle.

Through the years is work took further new directions, like the colour series Landscape for the Homeless, which adds a new chapter to our photographic journey through nomadic life, shelters and temporary houses.

All images © Anthony Hernandez


Friday, May 6, 2011

Making a Book - Judith van IJken

The new installment of the 'Making a Book' series features a text by Dutch artist Judith van IJken, who kindly agreed to share her thoughts about books and photography starting from the innovative concept of her latest project Mimicry. In her text she also recalls a few early projects she made in China, where several themes like storytelling, the sequencing of the photographs or the process of shaping the physical object of a book started to arise and prepared the road for what she created in the following years.

Enjoy the read.

- Making a book, by Judith van IJken

When looking at photo books I think it’s interesting to divide them into two categories. The first category consists of the books that I consider work more or less like a museum. The most important purpose of the book and the design are to underline and show the photographs in the best way possible. The second category consists of the photo books that can be considered to be a work in itself. In these books the design and the characteristics of a book plays an important role in the book as a whole. The three elements; photographs, design and characteristics of the book as a medium need to work closely together.

Mimicry is the title of the book that I made last year. The book consists of portraits of people aged approximately thirty years old wearing a piece of clothing that one of their parents used to wear when they had the same age, together with a old photograph of their parents wearing the specific item. When working on the project I had difficulty figuring out how to present these photographs together. When the old and the new photograph would be presented on a spread next to each other I felt the emphasis would lie to much upon the new photograph being a reaction on the old photograph. My aim was for the photographs to have more of a relation together. I wanted them to work together to emphasize the relationship between the two generations. Then somebody told me to talk to graphic designer SYB.

SYB is a very good graphic designer who’s designs very much use the characteristics of the book as a medium. This collaboration led to the specific design of
Mimicry. The book now has short pages and fold-over pages. When opening a spread at first the short page or the fold-over page partly covers the other photograph and visually a relationship appears between the two photos. This was exactly what I was looking for.

I asked the philosopher Bas Haring if he wanted to write a text about the subject of
Mimicry. It was important for me that the text wouldn’t be about the book but that it would be a text about the subject. When looking at the book now I am very happy to see how these three elements, the photographs, the design and the text all seem to have their own position and that they all seem to work together.

In den vreemde

A couple of years ago I made two little books. They are called In den vreemde and Verloren Ruimte. I made these two books when I lived in China for a period of time. I lived in a gated community in Xiamen and the gated community was a new phenomenon for me to experience. I was surprised to notice how predictable days inside a gated community were. In this same period I found a couple of very old little Chinese photo books in a little shop. These books would show a whole movie but in still photographs. I decided to take these little books as a starting point for a ‘moviebook’ of my own gated community. It would be a walk through the area and the photographs in the little book would take the viewer along. For me it was more about the way the photographs would follow each other than about the single photographs and how the predictability would come across.

Writing this text about
Mimicry and photobooks I realize that when making In den vreemde I was in a way also thinking about a way how the characteristics of the book (the following pages) and the photographs could work together.

'There was a fly in my camera. It must have crawled in when I changed the film. I opened the camera to get it out. When I looked through the viewfinder it was still there. Clever place, I remember thinking. I didn't see him again. Not even in the photographs.'

- Judith van IJken

All images © Judith van IJken