Wednesday, October 29, 2008


though British photographer Alys Tomlinson is mainly commercial photog, i like her personal work. continuing on my recent interest in utopian themes, this project is called "Communities."

Tomlinson says:

"This is an ongoing series documenting intentional, alternative communities in the UK, with a particular emphasis on youth. The images attached were taken at a Quaker community in Derbyshire and an eco-community in Sussex. These communities are often quite hidden, but after spending several days with each community, I began to unearth and understand the social, political or spiritual vision that drives them."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

lay flat (and think of utopia)

i just made a donation to issue 1 of new photography journal Lay Flat for one reason:

it's going to have a feature called Castaways vs. Utopians!! 
some of you know that the utopalypse (and post-apocalyptic visions in photography) is a theme near and dear to my heart.  (also, Lay Flat will be printed on paper, and paper will be hip again after the apocalypse.)

okay, maybe there are a few other reaons.  get more info from creator Shane Lavalette here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


i was looking through Jody Rogac's portfolio and was arrested by this one image, "Ben."  very striking stuff.  i think it would be cool to see a whole project of similar portraits.

Rogac also does a lot of editorial work.  on her site, the portrait of Ben was paired with one of Miki, which i also enjoyed, but felt that it's prettiness was just sort of too pretty.  what do you think?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

subject echo: in inky dark water

today i was struck by the subject echoes in some of Esther Teichmann's and Yann Orhan's work:

two images by Teichmann, from her project "Viscosity:"

and two from Orhan's project "Nos Vies Invisibles:"

Monday, October 20, 2008

like every day

i was looking at some work by contemporary Iranian photographers and came across the project "Like Every Day," by Shadi Ghadirian. i really love these photographs. i think they balance political commentary with visual interest well, with a dash of surrealism and without being cloying. tall order.

and as a bonus, i really enjoy the reflection of Ghadirian in the top image's teapot as an additional mirror on muslim women and the subject in photography.

i also find her project statements refreshing. she says of her work:
"I am a woman and I live in Iran. I am a photographer and this is the only thing I know how to do. It does not make a difference to me what place the Iranian woman has in the world because I am sure no one knows much about it...

It was very natural that after marriage, vacuum cleaners and pots and pans find their way into my photographs; a woman with a different look, a woman who no matter in what part of the world she is living, still has these kinds of apprehensions. "
you can see more work by Shadi Ghadirian and other artists on the website of Houston's DeSantos Gallery.

Friday, October 17, 2008

meat after meat joy

since i am a fan of Pinar Yolacan's meat portraits, i am hoping to check out the show "Meat After Meat Joy" at Daneyal Mahmood Gallery.

i like this quotation from the gallery's statement:
"If the flesh disturbs you, then the reality behind the issue would disturb you far more if we opened our eyes long enough to see it. We live in a culture disconnected from what it is doing to itself and others, we choose to ignore rather than deal with the reality we have created for ourselves."  –  Adam Brandejs

a bit more abstractly, curator Heide Harty adds:
"The distorted, damaged, deformed body as depicted in modern and contemporary art is an obvious metaphor for the deformation of the soul, if you will, of the fact that we are all born human and that few of us die terribly human, a sort of Rousseauian perspective.  Reducing the body to meat or having humans interact with meat or even avowing the meat-substrate of the living body is a way of addressing the typical deformation of people through any number of social and political processes, not to mention the simpler ones of family, love, rivalry, hatred, etc."

(what was the original "Meat Joy"? more info here.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

grey vegas

a reader pointed me toward the group photo site Grey Vegas.  it hasn't been updated in a while, but i thought it had some fun, fresh stuff on it.

am i finally falling for the hipster snapshot aesthetic?  lord help me.  

my (portraity) picks from Grey Vegas below, by Joseph Addison, Will Ward, and Rory McCartney.

(Joseph Addison)

(Will Ward)

(Rory McCartney)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

desire despair

thanks Rachel Hulin for posting these Marni Horwitz photographs!  

these two images, from the series Desire Despair: Pictures from the Czech Republic, are especially great.  i had never seen Horwitz's work before.

take care of yourself / prenez soin de vous

i was looking again at Sophie Calle's entry in last year's Venice Biennale (Take Care of Yourself, in which she records different women reading the break-up email her ex sent her). and i realized that i really like the project as a collection of photographs as well as a conceptual installation. it works on both levels.

more on the project at etapes, the space in between, and design boom. installation view below.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


i just saw this quote on Exposure Project.

"I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum." 
—Claes Oldenburg, 1961

love it.  i want to see a contemporary photograph that is full on political-erotical-mystical.  (all three.  not just two!)  

what have you got for me, internets?

here are just a few that i think nail two, but not all three categories:


(Miranda Lehman)
(Hanna Liden)


(David Wojnarowicz, from Rimbaud in New York: not a fresh, contemporary image, but still so amazing.)

(Jen Smith, quoting Catherine Opie.  Opie's work would fall into this category for me as well.  actually, a lot of work falls into the category of 'political-erotical,' but not all of it moves me especially...)


(can mystical and political co-exist?  they often repel each other.  but i think this one fits the bill, by Guillaume Herbaut, from the Asgarda series.)

please send thoughts my way!  you get to define the terms however you wish.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

critical discourse

i've been interested to see the beginning of a discussion about criticism in art photo blogging.  Joerg at Conscientious wrote about it (asking why there isn't more constructive criticism of photographic work instead of the current state of bloggy cheerleading), and Noel at We Can't Paint took another lens to the same question (blogs with a strong curatorial eye, even if they only imply positive comments, are critical in themselves).

i've thought a lot about this question, since my mode of address on Subjectify is fairly personal--dare i say subjective--and i use a lot of "i statements."  i'm not really that interested in telling the internet all about myself (i don't post up my own work, for instance), but it's more wouldn't really know how else to share thoughts (and not feel like an ass).  i have a lot of photographers emailing me their portfolios and i usually respond fairly frankly and yes, critically--i don't post that stuff up on the blog--and i'm always surprised when people thank me to say they have never/rarely received constructive negative feedback in crits before.  of course some don't reply at all. (um, special this week: send me work that you want me to rip to shreds?)

i'm not really carving out a visual aesthetic with a sharp eye here, the way iheartphotographabsolutely is.  just commenting on things i see in portraiture that engage me and make me want to pontificate about them.  usually because i like them--they move me.  sometimes because i didn't like something that everybody is talking about, or felt uncomfortable about something.  still, sometimes i've felt like i offer slightly more negative commentary than others, and then i feel mixed about it.  and Joerg says he thinks that people are worried about their "careers," but i sort of doubt that that's it.

what do you think?  any great examples of "critical" discussion out there in the "blogosphere" that have particularly stood out for you?  do you even want to see more of this?  is a strong curatorial hand more engaging?

some other bloggers' responses are here, here, and here at re: Photo.

p.s.  i am so totally loving ahndraya parlato's rainbow-hand image above!!  (no, seriously, prism rainbows ftw.)

Friday, October 3, 2008


i am always interested in how photographers perceive their subjects, so i enjoyed checking out not just the photos but the accompanying essays on the website for the gallery show "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" at Michael Mazzeo Gallery.

here are some of photographer Josh Quigley's thoughts on his subject, Bruce (above).

"Bruce is a nudist and I thank him for it. Bruce provided me with an opportunity to capture so much of what I have been trying to convey in my work in one image. I cannot tell you in words my revelation because you need to discover it for yourself. Try being naked for a day, take a walk in the woods, and ask yourself, “Where do I belong in this world?” Bruce knows."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

subject echo: evaporating sentiments

i couldn't resist this non-portraiture subject echo:

both Augusta Wood's "making way for the next thing to touch the ground near you" and Kotama Bouabane's "I'm Not Mad" feature dissipating messages written (on wood) in liquid or ice. also, houseplants! also also, they are both totally awesome and thought-provoking.

two prints from Kotama Bouabane's series "Melting Words" are up for sale at Jen Bekman's 20x200 right now.

i first saw Augusta Wood's work on iheartphotograph. i really like her snow photo, called "it turns into nothing on his tongue."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

aperture spotlight: women, in the photography

last night i went to the "Women in Photography" talk in Aperture's new Spotlight lecture series, hosted by the super Laurel Ptak. the talk was packed to the gills! i'd visited the Women in Photography website several times, so it was interesting to hear the perspective of the founders, Cara Phillips and Amy Elkins.

i knew the site was aimed at increasing visibility for female photographers working in the contemporary fine art mode, which is a lovely thing, especially if that's your passion. but i hadn't realized, until (the very well-prepared and well-spoken) Cara pulled out a powerpoint of statistics, how much the site's mission came out of a direct desire to remedy the fact that women face inequality as an identity category in the commercial art world--an inequality that they measured in major institutional credibility as well as dollars and cents. the discussion reminded me of many i've had among my white, middle class peers in, say, Women's Studies classes in college. especially when Cara offered the perspective that it was important for women to "learn to be powerful" and that if one believes in good things like equal pay, then it makes sense to identify as a feminist.  but, you know, i think these things just feel more complicated for some people.

i think i am in a privileged position to not want to measure success by the number of solo shows women have had at MoMA last year (1 out of 18) or the number of women among the top grossing artists. i do not dispute that these facts are real and that they really affect people. however, i'm mainly interested in work that is successfully provocative and discourse-inducing. even if it is less popular, more difficult to track down, or made by people without genders. but hey, if i were out there trying to pitch myself to Gagosian right now, i might be feeling a lot more like Cara and Amy.

Amy quoted Imogen Cunningham, who, when asked how being a woman had affected her life as a photographer, replied "I'm a photographer, not a woman." i couldn't tell Amy's intention in conveying the quote, or whether she felt critically that it reflected a sad necessity of Cunningham's era. (interestingly, Diane Arbus had a similar, but maybe less revolutionary, twist on this: "Look, I'm a photographer, not a woman photographer.") personally, i find Cunningham's remarks fascinating at face value--but don't feel a stake in prioritizing or analyzing her identifications. but i imagine that for many of the photographers featured on Women in Photography, being a woman is primary among their personal identity politics.

the discussion also reminded me that i should push harder in my own quest to seek out interesting, diverse work to think about and talk about, and not just pick through the obvious links. (once again, these events make me feel like the internet can sometimes make itself a small place.) it also made me realize that focusing on portraits on Subjectify has seemed to mean that i single out female-identified photographers more often than not. i definitely wonder why that is--and whether my eye, my identity, or an affinity for portraiture might be a cause.

overall, i was very happy to hear personal stories from panel photographers Elinor Carucci and Robin Schwartz, and to see previews of more of their new work. (i had seen Carucci's work a lot and had questions about how female beauty, nudity, and confessionalism factored in. so it meant a lot to hear about the work from her perspective--and i especially enjoyed her thoughts on the erotic tension of family relationships. one of her photos, "My Mother and I, 2000," is featured above.)

i deeply appreciate all of the panelists for their honesty, humor, and willingness to share.

(and tonight Justine Kurland was presenting at Aperture but i got sick and couldn't make it. YouTube, anyone?)