Tuesday, September 30, 2008

nothing happens in june

i just saw Whitney Hubbs' project "nothing happens in june" for the first time and really liked the two images above. (is the subject in the bottom photograph on a cell phone? that's great.)

Hubbs is in UCLA's MFA program, and is one of the organizers of the ubiquitous Art for Obama auction.

Monday, September 29, 2008

'cuz you got a crush...

okay, i've been out of the blogosphere for a while (traveling through North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio -- in other words actual non-Brooklyn America) so i at first missed the email that cool photographer Ahndraya Parlato sent me about a new venture that begins on October 1st.

what do Susan Meiselas, Catherine Opie, Todd Hido, Katy Grannan, Uta Barth, and Abelardo Morell have in common? they are totally kick ass, and they are all totally participating in the Art for Obama auction. as if you hadn't heard. more scoop and more awesome photogs at http://www.artforobama.net

rich, ultra-conservative contemporary photography fans are just watching this auction, with twitchy wanna-biddy fingers, crying. if they exist. the rest of you can bid away. for America. i've been there, it's pretty.

the yummy photo above is "New Orleans (after Bellocq)" by Laurel Nakadate. i could have posted one of the Obama portraits in the auction, but somehow i don't think that's why you read Subjectify. :-)

Conscientious has an update on this project.  the money raised is now going to MoveOn.org.  yeah, i did wonder how they would sell $5,000 prints and not run amok of campaign finance rules and maximum donation limits...  more here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

on vacation

please excuse the lack of posting y'all—i'm going to Dollywood!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


yay for the photobooth blog.

p.s. it's got one of my favorite local photobooths indexed on it, too.

Monday, September 15, 2008

guns, girls, and keds

can i just say how much i love Amy Stein's idea for customized Keds?

her image above, from the "Women and Guns" series.

Friday, September 12, 2008

alessandra sanguinetti: the life that came

i was excited to see Alessandra Sanguinetti's "The Life that Came," since it is a continuation of her wonderful project "The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams," about two cousins growing up together on their family's farm in Argentina.

i expected to love the new work, and, although the images are lovely, i didn't really love them. i think maybe this is purely an emotional response--and that the new photographs made me sad. maybe in my mind i let Guille and Belinda stay as floating symbols, with the freedom of dress up, smell the flowers, gender play, swim all day, and generally run around in their underwear. it's nice to see their closeness continue. but it was harder than i expected to see them grow up.

i'd be curious if anyone else had a similar reaction.

you can check out "The Life That Came" on Women in Photography and in real life at Yossi Milo Gallery. the artist's reception is tonight, from 6:00 - 8:00 pm.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


i enjoyed these photographs by Jill Frank, from her upcoming show Psychodrama, opening September 12th at Golden Gallery in Chicago.

Frank says that the show "expands on the form of psychotherapy by asking her subjects to sit before the camera to record & memorialize some of their most traumatic, awkward, and embarrassing moments. The creation of these missing pictures negates the generally accepted custom of employing photography to anchor memories of happy times & celebration."

Monday, September 8, 2008


i recently saw a self-portrait by Amy Montali in PDN's gallery announcements--it captured my imagination especially because i immediately fancied it a queer image, despite the fact that it only showed a figure's white back in a darkened room.  but tantalizingly enough, i can't find the image online, and Amy does not have a website or a lot of web presence (which is kind of refreshing!).

so, instead, please enjoy the above images by Amy.  i really like the work of hers that i've seen so far.  the third photograph, above, is called "september," and i enjoy the naughty puzzle of its composition. and after spending yesterday afternoon in my Brooklyn garden, the september leaves and drooping flowers feel just right to me.

if you are in Boston, check out Amy Montali's work at Gallery Kayafas, september 5 - october 11.  there is also some more info about her work here.  

and, of course, this is my favorite part of her artist's statement: 
"Left unchecked I fall in love with the images of my subjects. I stare at people and consume them by photographing. Maybe this is problematic, but I grew up molested by movies and TV. The media reached into my visual panties long before I was old enough to make informed decisions. Now I too prowl around in the dark."
Amy, you can reach into my visual panties any day.  so feel free to send more work this way!

Friday, September 5, 2008

the windowpane and the landscape

earlier this week, i posted Wolfgang Tillmans' quote that "a photograph is always seen through its content," and was reminded of one of my favorite passages from the bible (er, i mean, Roland Barthes' book Camera Lucida):
"A specific photograph, in effect, is never distinguished from its referent (from what it represents), or at least it is not immediately or generally distinguished from its referent... It is as if the Photograph always carries its referent with itself, both affected by the same amorous or funereal immobility, at the very heart of the moving world: they are glued together, limb by limb, like the condemned man and the corpse in certain tortures; or even like those pairs of fish...which navigate in convoy, as though united by an eternal coitus.

The Photograph belongs to that class of laminated objects whose two leaves cannot be separated without destroying them both: the windowpane and the landscape, and why not: Good and Evil, desire and its object: dualities we can conceive but not perceive."

honestly, that's why i am interested in photography, and really, in portraiture.

i would like to look at photographs that capture the awesomeness of both the prose and the sentiment here—photographs that make me feel the amorous and funereal immobility at the heart of the moving world, that show me the condemned man and the corpse, the windowpane and the landscape, desire and its object—and yes, fish coitus too. and photos that do so while making me grapple with the special trouble of separating the object from the thing it depicts.

and, as always, if you see any like that, let me know.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

photographic and literal mysticisms

last week, i touched on the topic of the 'new mysticism' in contemporary photography in a discussion of the Young Curators, New Ideas show. one of the artists in the show (and also alleged as a new mysticist), Noel Rodo-Vankeulen, emailed me a thoughtful response on photographic mysticism and his own work.

"Great Grandfather with Freemasons," above, is one of my favorite photos of his. i love the way it mixes family history, portrait-as-document, analog vs. digital, and pokes at the mystery and ritual of freemasonry with some freaky, postmodern special effects. it's from his series Nocturne.

Noel says:

"I can’t speak for the other photographers in the show but for me this tendency, to highlight and/or deconstruct the medium’s properties (photographic mysticism which we can be critical of, and photographic mysticism that is attached to all photography whether we like it or not), is heavily rooted within my upbringing. This is to say that, unlike previous generations who used photography as a crucial way to understand, confront and engage with social issues, political unrest, and war, my relationship to photography is related to my upbringing by the intrusive and numbing hand of media (news, movies, TV, computers, etc).

I know war and heroism through highly graphic movies, vehicles of unrealistic archetypes. The ways of the universe (both spiritually and spatially) have been prodded into my consciousness by robots streaming data back from the very edges of the solar system. God is no longer a viable entity and the psychotropic drugs don’t get her/it/him to speak - realistic computer generated pixies and dragons are far more telling.

With all of this in mind I refuse to buy into the medium’s influential ability to mean significantly (its importance as a vehicle for substantial change in an all but uninterested world), however, this doesn’t mean that photography being produced today is uninspired or vacant, it's just aware of its relative unimportance. So this may explain why there is an inherent “prettiness” in so much photography as well. I take this notion and make banal beauty to subvert the notion of having to live up to the medium’s past and present quality control. My photos are small, often single editions of minimal captured prints. I want people to consider how digital and analogue image-making co-exist now and forever, how our thirst for better, faster, stronger, shapes our understanding of value in a medium tied to craftsmanship.

A quote by Wolfgang Tillmans on The Sonic Blog sums our present relationship with photography perfectly:
“The initial question everybody asks when confronted with a photograph is, who is it? Where is it? When was it made? How it was taken? A photograph is always seen through its content and rarely through its presence as an object in itself.”
I take a photograph to show you an object, loving its business both in thought, tangibility and commerce."

thanks so much, Noel, for your thoughts—and for letting me post them. (and i think there are several topics here that are worth discussing in more depth, too, especially questions of beauty and questioning the photograph's referent.)