Friday, October 29, 2010

Informal Arrangements.

Informal Arrangements. Photographs by Peter Bialobrzeski. Text by Indra Wussow. Hatje Cantz, 2010. 96 pp., 77 colour illustrations, 9½x8¼". Images from photo-eye.

Peter Bialobrzeski is a German photographer with a background in sociology and politics.

His latest project 'Informal Arrangements' "opens a window onto the interiors of a South African slum.

In 2009, Bialobrzeski shot in Kliptown, a poverty-stricken suburb of Soweto less than ten miles away from a glistening new soccer stadium built for the 2010 World Cup.

The area's resonance as a symbol of the vast discrepancies of wealth and status that persist in present-day South Africa-representing, as the South African newspaper The Citizen put it, 'the dashed hopes and broken dreams of so many' - is unmistakable, and Kliptown has a larger historical significance: it was here, in 1955, that members of the anti-apartheid movement drew up the Freedom Charter, a guiding document for the ANC that today forms a foundation of the South African constitution.

The lives of the inhabitants of these informal settlements have scarcely improved in the past 50 years, yet the Kliptownians arrange their homes as comfortably as they can, given what is available to them.

With 70 color prints, this book cements Bialobrzeski's reputation as a social documentarian of the highest order. 'For me, the individual picture is not too important,' he has said. 'I am advocating photography as a cultural practice.' "

Quote from

Thursday, October 28, 2010

a photo a day - month ten

a photo a day (set). Month ten (28 Sep-27 Oct).

I've now come to the end of month ten of my photo project/diary 'a photo a day' (month ten is above, you can see the first month here, the second month here, the third month here, the fourth month here, the fifth month here, the sixth month here, the seventh month here, the eight month here and the ninth month here).

'a photo a day' is an incidental look at what I see out the window or on my way to places everyday. Even if I live in a city environment most of the time I'm primarily focusing on landscape or the sky, as I find the intense impact nature has on us even in a city-setting very interesting indeed (spending time mainly in Stockholm with its' clearly defined seasons and high impact of the weather, this is even more poignant, and thus interesting to document).

It will hopefully be an interesting capture of the seasons changing, random captures of immediate or unexpected loveliness, as well as some beautiful photographs.

You can see the result so far above, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here (full set here) or view the individual images, today's photograph and continue to follow the project going forward by clicking here or here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sleeping by the Mississippi.

Sleeping by the Mississippi. Photographs by Alec Soth. Text by Anne Wilkes Tucker and Patricia Hampl. Steidl, Gottingen, 2004. 120 pp., 46 colour illustrations, 11½x11".

Alec Soth is a well-known American photographer and 'Sleeping by the Mississippi' was his first monograph (published by Steidl in 2004). Its "series of color prints explores one of the underlying geographic and identity assumptions that has shaped the American experience.

[Soth] does so in a manner that projects a confidence and restraint. The result is a body of work that is both compelling and conceptually relevant."

"The title, 'Sleeping by the Mississippi', alludes to the recurrence of beds, a symbol found throughout Soth's work.

As he makes his way South along the Mississippi River, Soth show us the bed used by a young Charles Lindberg, photographed at his childhood home in Little Falls, Minnesota. We see the Reverend and Margaret's bedroom, plastered with snapshots, in Vicksburg, and Sunshine, a smug grin on her face, leaning back on what appears to be a hotel bed in Memphis.

If anything at all, this is a group of images about place and their inhabitants. There is no story, per se, but rather a series of unconnected dots, placed before the viewer humbly and unapologetically.

Soth's working method is meticulous and methodical, as dictated by the 8x10" view camera he uses, and this reflects an inner methodology based in quiet, steady human relationships, abundantly evident here."

I've also previously written about Alec Soth's work in book-form here and here.

First quote from here ; second quote from here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Emmett. Photographs by Ron Jude. The Ice Plant, 2010. 80 pp., 40 colour and 9 black & white illustrations, 6¾x9½".

The book 'Emmet', with work by American photographer Ron Jude, "brings new life to a selection of his own early photographs, made in the early 1980s in central Idaho.

Enhanced by special-effects filters and cheap telephoto lenses, the pictures include hazy scenes of a summertime drag race, a forest across changing seasons, midnight horror films on TV and a Nordic-looking teenager who appears as a specter from the artist's past.

Edited here nearly 30 years after its making, this experimental body of work acquires unexpected nuance and humor, and has the serendipitous qualities of a dream-memories reorganized into a fictionalized narrative, imagery suffused with both an unsettling melancholy and the glow of youthful reverie.

Related conceptually to and residing thematically between his two previous books - 'Alpine Star' and 'Other Nature' - 'Emmett' achieves an aesthetic inspired by equal parts Motörhead and Jean-Paul Sartre."

Quote from publisher's description.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Rubbish. Photographs by Jake Chessum. Auditorium Editions, 2008. 56 pp., numerous colour illustrations.

'Rubbish' a book featuring work by photographer Jake Chessum is a "collection of photographs of discarded items of urban environments.

The images were created over the last ten years in various cities around the world. They depict an environment where human presence is limited to that which is left behind.

Part of a series of three books depicting starkly minimal subject matter to launch Auditorium Editions by founders, Jake Chessum, Christopher Griffith and Chistian Weber. Chessum's 'Rubbish' lovingly documents in vibrant color refuse on city streets around the globe."

Quote from publisher's description.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Working the Line.

Working the Line. Photographs by David Taylor. Essays by Hannah Frieser and Luis Alberto Urrea. Radius Books, 2010. 148 pp., 120 colour illustrations, 48 page accordion fold, 11x10½".

"In 2008, David Taylor received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his ongoing examination of the U.S.-Mexico border. His investigation is organized around the documentation of a series of 276 obelisks that mark the international boundary as it extends from El Paso/Juarez to San Diego/Tijuana.

These monuments - striking objects situated in impossibly gorgeous and difficult terrain - were installed between the years of 1892 and 1895.

In the process of work, Taylor earned remarkable access to U.S. Border Patrol facilities, agents and routine operations. Patrol agents often refer to their job in the field as 'line work' which is an apt description of Taylor's own time as he documented the obelisks.

Being on the 'line' has given Taylor a unique view into overlapping issues of border security, human and drug smuggling, the continuing construction of the border fence and its impact on the land.

This book captures the complexity of the terrain, the politics, and the human dynamics involved. While the images are documentary in nature, they are so formally and visually compelling that the work ultimately transcends genre."

Read more about this book here or here for example. See more of David Taylor's work here.

Quote from publisher's description.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Patti Smith

Clip from Patti Smith interview, from the literature program Babel.

Just a short clip today - from an interview with the wonderful singer and poet Patti Smith.

The interview was part of the literature program Babel where she spoke of her book Just kids (read more about that excellent book here or here for example).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Test Site - American desert culture

Clip from Test Site - American desert culture, part of the K-special culture program. View the entire documentary here (in English with Swedish subtitles).

'Test Site - American desert culture' is a documentary exploring the American desert, its culture, history and the people inhabiting it.

Directed by Swede Jesper Wachtmeister it takes us to an isolated, desolate, vast place once known as a nuclear testing site, where we meet artists, poets, singers, musicians and others who have moved there in order to experiment creatively and live free from the constraint of civilisation and society.

Monday, October 18, 2010

John Gutmann. The Photographer at Work.

John Gutmann. The Photographer at Work. By Sally Stein, with an introduction by Douglas R. Nickel, contribution by Amy Rule. Yale University Press, New Haven, 2008. 176 pp., 150 duotone illustrations., 9¼x11¾". Images from photo-eye.

John Gutmann was a German-born American photographer and painter, who after fleeing Nazi-Germany settled in the US working as a photo-reporter and photographer. He's known for his distinctive use of a worm's-eye view camera angle in shooting his photographs.

Gutmann especially took an interest in American way of life and "captured images of American culture, celebrating signs of a vibrant democracy, however imperfect. His own status as an outsider - a Jew in Germany, a naturalized citizen in the United States - informed his focus on individuals from the Asian-American, African-American, and gay communities, as well as his photography in India, Burma, and China during World War II.

This handsome book acknowledges Gutmann’s place in the history of photography. Drawing on his archive of photographs and papers at the Center for Creative Photography, it presents both unfamiliar works and little-known contexts for his imagery, linking his photography to his passionate interest in painting and filmmaking, his collections of non-Western art and artifacts, and his pedagogy.

In addition to a major essay by Sally Stein, the volume includes an introduction by Douglas R. Nickel, and an overview of the Gutmann archive by Amy Rule."

Quote from publisher's description.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Useful Dream: African Photography 1960-2010.

A Useful Dream: African Photography 1960-2010. Edited and with an introduction by Simon Njami. Text by Frank Vanhaecke. Silvana Editoriale, 2010. 192 pp., 250 colour illustrations, 9½x11¼".

'A Useful Dream: African Photography 1960-2010' was published to coincide with the exhibition of the same name. Description:

"Photography has proved a particularly essential art in the African continent's postcolonial era, both for recording the numerous seismic moments in its recent history, and for reclaiming the imagery of Africa from its colonial portrayers.

As Africa has begun to step beyond its colonial subjugation, photography has also assumed a leading role in providing African countries with individual identities.

Tracking the blossoming of postcolonial photography in Africa from 1960 to the present, and accompanying an exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, 'A Useful Dream: African Photography 1960-2010' celebrates 50 years of African photography.

Among the 34 photographers gathered in its pages are Rui Assubuji, Nabil Boutros, Loulou Cherinet, James Depara, Samuel Fosso, David Goldblatt, Bob Gosani, Pierrot Men, Zwelethu Mtethwa, Eileen Perrier, Ricardo Rangel, Malick Sidibé and Patrice-Félix Tchikaya."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Weegee's New York. Photographs 1935-1960.

Weegee's New York. Photographs 1935-1960. Photographs and text by Weegee. Essay by John Coplans. Schirmer/Mosel, Munich, 2006. 388 pp., 335 duotone illustrations, 9x11½".

Weegee was an American photographer and photojournalist, who worked as a press photographer in the Lower East Side, New York during the 1930's and 40's.

He's known for his stark black and white street photography, a style he developed following and documenting the activity of the city's police and emergency services. Much of his work "depicted unflinchingly realistic scenes of urban life, crime, injury and death".

"Weegee’s legendary camera recorded an unmatched pictorial chronicle of a legendary time. 'Weegee’s New York' is the New York of the thirties and forties, a city marked by the Great Depression, by unemployment and poverty, by mob violence and prostitution.

He was the first news photographer allowed a police radio in his car. Racing through Manhattan’s streets after midnight, he often beat the cops to the scene of the crime to shoot the pictures which would scream from the pages of the Daily News and the Daily Mirror next morning. They still jump from the page with a restless immediacy and intense nervousness that has never been surpassed.

The 335 photographs collected in this new softcover reprint tell the astonishing story of New York during one of its most violent and exciting periods. The introductory essay is by the former editor of Art Forum, John Coplans."

First quote from here ; second quote from here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Mongolia. Land of the Deer Stone. Photographs by Elaine Ling. Foreword by Alison Devine. Lodima Press, Ottsville, 2009. 180 pp., 148 illustrations, 13x11½".

"During the thirteenth century, Mongol warriors under their legendary leader Chinggis Khan established a vast Eurasian empire through great wars of conquest. Some seven hundred years later their descendents still inhabit the high plains, deserts, and mountains that make up the Alaska-sized country that is contemporary Mongolia.

While almost a million people live in the capital Ulaanbaatar, many other Mongolians choose to maintain the ancient nomadic traditions of their ancestors. For them, home is a felt tent, and the most treasured possession is a really good horse.

From 2002 through 2008, the exuberant desert traveler and photographer Elaine Ling made five trips to Mongolia’s Gobi Desert to find and photograph the Deer Stones, Turkic Stones, and the shamanistic stone markers called ovoos, that are scattered across Mongolia’s desert vastness.

Her photographs and writing about the land and the nomads who live there tell the story of a desert world where shamans still converse with spirits and where ancient forms of Buddhism are enjoying a resurgence after years of Soviet suppression. Mongolia is truly a land of mystery and magic.

Accompanying Elaine Ling’s superb photographs and engaging essays are a Foreword by Dr. Alison Devine Nordstrom, George Eastman House Curator of Photographs, scholarly essays about the Mongolian nomads and about the Deer Stones by Dr. William W. Fitzhugh, Director of the Arctic Study Center, Smithsonian Institution, and an essay on the history and revival of Buddhism in Mongolia by Thubten Konchog Norbu, Director of the Kunzang Palyal Choling Temple’s Mongolian Buddhist Revival Project."

There is also a limited edition of 'Mongolia' available, which includes a print and comes in a French-fold dust jacket. The photographs, "made from 4x5-inch Polaroid negatives are printed in Belgium by Salto on heavy cover stock in 600-line screen quadtone with exceptional fidelity to the original prints."

Quotes from publisher's description.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Praha, Paris, Barcelona. Photographic Modernity 1918-1948.

Praha, Paris, Barcelona. Photographic Modernity 1918-1948. Edited by David Balsells. La Fábrica/MNAC Museu Nacional d'A, 2010. 250 pp., illustrations throughout, 9x10¾".

The book 'Praha, Paris, Barcelona. Photographic Modernity 1918-1948' was published to accompany the exhibition of the same name that's just finished at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.

It examines the "revolution in photography that took place across Europe between 1918 and 1945" with the focus on the three cities of Paris, Prague and Barcelona "each of which served as a nexus for major developments in the medium".

"Until the First World War, photography had largely followed the aesthetics of painting; during and after the war, such movements as Constructivism, Moholy-Nagy's New Vision and Surrealism led photography to new frontiers, developing techniques and styles that took the medium strictly on its own terms. Demonstrating the interconnectedness of these tendencies, this volume assesses the contributions of each of these cities.

Photographers based in Paris during these years include Man Ray, Brassai, Emmanuel Sougez, Hans Bellmer, Jacques-André Boiffard, Germaine Krull, André Kertész, François Collar, Claude Cahun, Florence Henri, Andreas Feininger, Eli Lotar, Dora Maar, Roger Parry and Raul Ubac; in Prague, Josef Sudek, Frantisek Drtikol, Jaroslav Rössler, Eugen Wiskovsk, Jaromír Funke, Karel Teige, Ladislav Berka, Jan Lauschmann, Josef Bartuska, Jindrich Styrsky and Karel Kasparik; and in Barcelona, Pere Català Pic, Josep Masana, Josep Sala, Josep Lladó, Emili Godes, Antoni Arissa, Gabriel Casas, Salvador Dalí and Joaquim Gomis.

Text by Maite Ocaña, Oliva María Rubio, David Balsells, Jan Mlcoch, Quentin Bajac, Juan Naranjo, Salvador Dalí."

Quotes from publisher's description.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


Borderlands. Photographs by Eirik Johnson, text by Philip Levine and Rod Slemmons. Twin Palms Publishers, Santa Fe, 2005. 80 pp., 34 four-colour plates, 12x8". Images from photo-eye and Eirik Johnsson.

Eirik Johnson is an American photographer. His work has been exhibited extensively and is part of several permanent collections.

The book 'Borderlands' was his first monograph (published in 2005), of which he says:

“My photographs depict strange and momentary scenes within overlooked landscapes that exist along the fraying edges of the contemporary environment. I search the boundaries between public and private land, where the framework of urban order begins to breaks down.

It is in these non-spaces that temporary relationships occur as forces of nature - flooding, brush fires, tidal change - come into contact with the physical presence of the urban environment.

The photographs portray in detail the quietly unfolding dramas and uneasy beauty of these encounters.”

Continue to read the artist statement and see more images from inside 'Borderlands' here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Sanctum. Photographs by Robert Stivers. Twin Palms Publishers, Santa Fe, 2006. 88 pp., 41 four-colour plates, 11x14".

The book 'Sanctum' is a "collection of visionary photography by artist Robert Stivers, often given a unique twist through differing applications of focus.

Featuring forty-one four-color plates and a thoughtful essay by Eugenia Parry, Sanctum explores topics ranging from the human figure to a conglomeration of bees to stark landscape in its search to express the unending themes of human emotion driving the endless cycle of death and rebirth."

Eugenia Parry says:

"Stivers takes us into alcoholic twilight. Shuddering exiles in watery purgatory, the human figures as well as forests, clouds, plants, works of art and even architecture seem never actually to have existed. . . . Each photograph visualizes the anguished lament of the current that runs through him. . . . All of this mirrors his dream books and journals, where the trials of actual experience and his mind’s nocturnal dream machinery are indistinguishable. Stivers’ pictures are figments of his material philosophy of escape. "

First quote from here ; second quote from here.

Monday, October 04, 2010

El Baño De Frida.

El Baño De Frida. Photographs by Graciela Iturbide. punctum, Rome, 2008. 48 pp., 12 tritone illustrations, 8x8¾".

Graciela Iturbide is a Mexican photographer, who's work has "become synonymous with Mexican culture in all its diversity".

In 2005, when Frida Kahlo’s home was opened to the public for the first time since her death, Graciela Iturbide "embarked on a voyage of discovery of the Mexican artist’s private life, documenting the fundamental 'witnesses' of her human and artistic career during this week-long 'journey': medical supplies, artificial limbs, corsets, hospital gowns and stuffed animals, a portrait of Stalin and her hot-water bottle.

Often paint-soiled, these objects testify to Frida’s inability to separate her private and artistic lives and to extricate her physical pain from her creative solace.

The fusion of these elements is symbolised by her bathroom, a central place in her life, where she started each day and to which she often returned, using it as the setting for several of her works (including her famous self-portrait in the bath).

The first part of Graciela Iturbide’s project – a colour version with a more documentary slant – has been displayed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. The photographs published in this book are the result of a second 'dialogue' between the two Mexican women, which took place in 2006.

In this encounter, the photographer sought to establish intimate contact with the artist, coming face to face with her legend and her identity, which she has documented in 12 black-and-white photographs, ending with a self-portrait in a pose adopted by Frida in one of her famous works."

Also have a look at this wonderful book by Graciela Iturbide that I've previously featured.

First quote from here ; second quote from here.