Benjamin Rasmussen is a Denver based photographer who spent his childhood with an indigenous group on an island in the southern Philippines, his university years with evangelicals in northern Arkansas, and a year with the descendants of Vikings in the Faroe Islands, a nation of 45,000 residents in the middle of the North Atlantic. This complex background has led him to explore questions of identity, belonging and home. His photography orbits round the idea of place and its importance to the community and the individual. Rasmussen’s work has been selected for the American Photography 26 and 28 Annuals and awarded in 2010 Pictures of the Year International. He has been chosen one of Photolucida’s 2010 Critical Mass Top 50 and included in Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Emerging Photographers 2011 and 2012 lists.
Hélène Amouzou was born in Togo in 1969, but currently lives in Brussels, Belgium, where she is completing her studies at the Academy of Drawing and Visual Arts of Molenbeek-St-Jean.
Hélène self portraits have been exhibited in Belgium and France. Last year, she presented her work at the photography festival Photoquai 2011, in Paris.
Her book, Entre le papier peint et le mur, is published by Husson Editeur, Belgium.
Jacqueline Roberts writes: Looking at Hélène’s self-portraits I cannot help but wonder whether her evanescent body emerges from the wall or fades into it… torn between two identities, rootless and in transit. “I always have the impression to be traveling” she says. “I am not Togolese, nor Belgian”. In her quest for identity, Hélène puts down her empty suitcase in an equally empty attic… her no man’s land…
When asked about the European photography scene, Hélène says she finds inspiration in and sees American photography as a reference for European photographers. Since the financial crisis, investment in art has dramatically dropped in Europe. Galleries and art collectors are overly cautious nowadays. There is nevertheless great work coming from Europe and if the work is good, there is a way to find some support, even if such support may no longer be financial.
“The Denver Magazine” and has also been a Photo Editor at National
Geographic Adventure, Men’s Journal, Best Life, and SKI magazines.
LaVigne holds an MFA in Photography from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn,
New York, where she began her career in picture making and editing. Her
photo editing work has been recognized by the American Photography
Association and the Society of Publication Designers. Sarah also
curates photography shows locally and does portfolio reviews across the
What is your background?
I began photographing at a young age, it was the
first art form that I ever used and also had a passion for magazine making. My
first publication was called Pens & Pencils where I sold subscriptions for $1 for a
series of stories and poems that I wrote. I was six years old. After performing
music in high school and college and a short career as an environmental
activist I began study at the Pratt Institute where I received an MFA in
Photography. My career started as a photography intern at National Geographic
Adventure Magazine in New York City. My first edit was a shoot from South Africa
from the late Bobby Model. I was hooked. Sabine Meyer, the Director of
Photography at NGA was been a mentor ever since. I continued on to picture edit
for Men’s Journal, Best Life, SKI and now 5280: Denver Magazine. Continuing
my link with fine art world and felt a need in Denver for a photography exhibit of
contemporary narrative work and so I curate a show titled Things As They Are at
Space Gallery in 2007.
How did Picture Society come about?
At the time of my curatorial debut I
wanted to focus heavily on the personal work of editorial photographers. I knew
that the photographers I was working with at the magazine had personal work
that should be seen. I knew that there were financial and some logistical limits to
putting up a show every few months so I thought of a way that would be less
expensive and different for photographers and viewers. I have a background in
music and some performance and respond to soundtracks in film and wanted to
have an event that incorporated photography and music. I was doing portfolio
reviews at the Telluride Photo Festival and got inspiration after reviewing to do
another show in Denver but something that was different than anything that was
being done. Not only did I continue with this venture to bring award winning
photography three years ago working with Laura Pressley.
What are you goals for the organization?
My hope is to continue to curate and
put on shows throwout the state and strat doing shows in LA, and other cities. I
want to continue to show work to audiences where I know there is a need.
Education is a large component which is touch upon with the audio interviews.
My goal is to continue to grow and be a part of school curriculums in Fine art
How do you find the photographers?
Some photographers are people that I
have assigned for magazines I’ve work for and other I meet at portfolio reviews,
Review Santa Fe most recently. Julia Vandenoever who co curates has similar
editorial experience and an eye for great work.
What has been the reaction from audiences from this approach to
presenting photography? People love it. I get many comments about the audio
portion, hearing from the photographers. It is different and people really enjoy
hearing the artists speak. They love the work we’ve shown so far and I get
compliments on my music picks.
Who is your audience?
Collectors, photographers, and some people that are
not familiar at all with photography.
Jonathan Saruk is a freelance
photographer based between Kabul, Afghanistan and Malmö, Sweden. His days in Kabul show bring a humanity and a face to a culture that is doing it’s best to be part of the contemporary world. I’m featuring two projects, Movie Theaters and Driving School, both are amazing windows into daily life in Afghanistan.
Jonathan’s work has been published in The New
Yorker, Neon Magazine, IO Donna, The Sunday Times Magazine, and his photographs
from Afghanistan were recently selected for the 2012 PDN Photo Annual and
American Photography 28. Jonathan is a
Featured Photographer with Reportage by Getty Images.
attack, political wrangling or military success, Afghans in the city of Kabul
go about their business going to work, studying, hoping for a better life, and,
among other things, going to the movies and learning how to drive.
After having spent considerable time covering what is now the longest
military engagement in U.S. history and the plight of a population that has
lived through over 30 years of near constant conflict, I felt that there was a
significant disconnect between the reality of how many live in Kabul and how it
is perceived in the countries sending thousands of troops. Over
my last several trips to Afghanistan I
have sought out features that can hopefully connect western audiences
with aspects of Afghan society may not have been previously contemplated.
past summer at Pamir Cinema in the Old City of Kabul, the busiest day of the
week, a standing room only crowd of several hundred young men in a smoke-filled
room cheer on the hero of a Pakistani film as he seeks revenge against the
villain. Match-heads flicker constantly, throwing flashes of light across the
darkened theater as the men chain-smoke throughout the film. Cellphones ring,
and men occasionally yell across the crowded room to locate friends. On stage a
young boy dances with his hands raised in the air, illuminated by the
projector, as his friends in the front of the audience cheer him on.
squeeze closer together, drivers honking and yelling at one another, as they
attempt to merge into one lane through a broken traffic light. Dust and exhaust fill the air and
potholes crumble ever wider. A
traffic cop waves a small stop sign in vain as he tries to make order out of
chaotic scene, but no one seems pays attention; its just another evening rush
hour in Kabul.
Peter Baker was born in the seventies in a town called Blissfield, and counts himself lucky he made it through childhood before cell phones and the internet ruined everything. He attended the University of Michigan, moved around the country during his twenties, and currently lives near Detroit in cozy Ann Arbor. He works in both photography and design, running the design studio Elevated Works since 2004, and the letterpress print shop Elevated Press since 2008 with his wife Michelle. His work has been exhibited internationally, in print in Humble Arts' Collector's Guide to Emerging Art Photography, American Photography 26, and through commercial clients including Herman Miller, Popular Mechanics, Tesla Motors, Clif Bar and others.
Boxer’s Hands, 1933 © Willard Van Dyke
Exhibition on view:
June 16–September 30, 2012
Monterey Museum of Art
559 Pacific Street
Group f/64 was a pioneer photography crew of seven residing in northern California. They abandoned the soft-focus, pictorial style of photography popularized in the early twentieth century and instead promoted “straight” photography, communicating by means of realism, high contrast, and extreme detail. Monterey Museum of Art presents In Sharp Focus: The Legacy of Monterey Photography, which examines Group f/64 and their successors. Legendary artists Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Alma Lavenson, Willard Van Dyke, and Edward Weston are included in the exhibition. These photographers transformed American photography by relinquishing interpretive manipulation by progressing towards pure, sharp images with a maximum depth of field. Joining these legendary artists will be works by: Henry Gilpin, Rod Dresser, John Sexton, and Michael Kenna.
One of the founding members of Aperture and Group f/64 Ansel Adams is featured in Aperture issues 169 and 168. Cunningham’s work can be seen in the Aperture published, The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the Unconscious. Weston is featured in Aperture issues 188 and 140, appears in Aperture published The Edge of Vision as well as Edward Weston: Nudes.
Rory Peck Awards 2012 : June 11
IdeasTap Photographic Award : for photographers aged 23 to 30 : June 15
Class of 2012 : June 20
The Ian Parry Scholarship : June 30
Prix Virginia : July 2
Pride Photo Award : July 7
The Firecracker Photographic Grant : July 22
CDS/Honickman First Book Prize : September 15
Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award : September 30
BOP Winners (NPPA)
BOP winners (NYT Lens)
Open Photo Winner: Ilan Godfrey (OPENPhoto)
Jon Rafman is a Canadian artist and filmmaker based in Montreal. He recently gave a talk about his work entitled “In Search of the Virtual Sublime” at the Gaité Lyrique, a new space devoted to digital culture in Paris. I met up with Jon in a café near the Jardin du Luxembourg to discuss Google Street View, street photography, the cyberflâneur and what the future looks like.
How did you start working in the digital space?
After I graduated I discovered a community of artists on the social bookmarking site del.icio.us. It really felt that an incredible artistic dialogue was taking place informally: a new vernacular was being formed online. There was so much energy to it. The dialogue was so exciting, mixing humour and irony, critique and celebration. Del.icio.us was the platform on which I really started working with the Internet. At this point Facebook and Tumblr have pretty much replaced it.
I had known about early net art but I was never attracted to its glitchy aesthetic. So when I discovered this community I felt like I had found what I had been searching for all through art school. Del.icio.us led me to various different collectives like Paintfx. That is the period when I started my Google Street View project.
The project started out as PDF books. And then I started to print out the images just like photographs. I experimented with the printing for a while and eventually decided to print the images as large format C-prints. In 2009 the art blog Art Fag City asked me to write an essay, and that was when the project really took off, but I already had a huge archive of material by that stage. The 9-eyes tumblr blog came directly out of that. I had already been working with Google Street View (GSV) for one or two years when I created 9-eyes.
What was your process to find the locations and images that you used?
At first it was just long, arduous surf sessions. I went to places I wanted to visit, mainly in America (GSV had not been launched in many countries at the time), but not in a systematic way. As the project grew, I learned certain tricks. For example the best place to go for images is to check where the Google cars are and to follow those. Otherwise, Google may have removed any ‘anomalies’, which often make the most interesting images.
Once the project went viral I started getting tons of submissions from people. Some of these I used directly and some would act as a departure point to search for images.
What were you looking for specifically?
I was working a bit like a street photographer: keeping an open mind and responding to my intuition. The process was really about editing down. The entire project is a process of subtraction: since everything has already been captured on GSV, it is about editing down until you find the core, essential moments. I think it could be considered as a major editing project.
Are there any online GSV communities or forums that you use to find images?
There is a forum for pretty much anything you can think of. There is a forum where people only collect images of prostitutes, some of which I used in 9-eyes. I don’t like fetishizing labour. I don’t want to play up the amount of time I spend finding these images. This can become a kind of artistic crutch. The greatest works of art for me can be a single gesture that took very little time at all.
Even though this project is inherently time consuming, I don’t want that to be its central focus. It could easily have become an endurance piece, a kind of artistic marathon. If I had an algorithm to find all these amazing images, I think I would be equally as happy.
Take Duchamp’s ready-mades: they changed art. If everything can be art, then what is art? I see that as the healthiest state for art to be in: questioning its very nature.
How conscious were you of specific street photographers’ styles when taking these images?
I was very aware of photographic history when working on this project. I really believe that photography was the medium of the twentieth century, because of the ambiguity surrounding the question of whether it was or was not art, due to photography’s mechanical nature. I saw GSV in some way as the ultimate conclusion of the medium of photography: the world being constantly photographed from every perspective all the time. As if photography had become an indifferent, neutral god observing the world.
The perception of reality associated with photography is very modern. In the past, representations in the form of images were always imbued with a certain magical quality. The photograph shows a world that is empty of that. It is just a reflection of the surface of things. In that way the photograph is the perfect embodiment of our perception of the modern world. More than specific photographic history, I was thinking of photography from a philosophical point of view.
Most of your work deals with digital media of some kind. Do you consider yourself to be a digital artist?
For a while the term “Internet-aware” was used in relation to artists working with the Internet. Nobody was happy with the term, or with “net artists” which felt too ghettoising. In the same way, many people do not feel comfortable with the term “new media artist”, because it implies a kind of fetishisation of new technology.
I would prefer to be recognised simply as an artist. Unless you are very specific to a medium, which I’m not, I don’t think it is necessary to add these labels. I’m fine with championing net art, but I don’t want to be wedded to it forever.
Take Elad Lassry for example. He is one of the most successful young photographers that I know, and in some way I think that is because he doesn’t position his work as photography but as art. I have a lot of respect for those ‘purists’ that are attached to the formal qualities of their medium, but I don’t want to be associated too closely with a particular medium as I’m interested in exploring many different approaches.
There are other artists, including Michael Wolf and Doug Rickard, who have worked with Google Street View. Do you see GSV as a territory where there is only room for one or do you see it as a vast territory that more and more artists are likely to explore?
GSV is in the zeitgeist and it is a vast territory to explore. In a way I’m surprised that there haven’t been more artists working with it. We all have different methods of working. For example, Michael Wolf photographs the screen to make his images, whereas I think that Doug Rickard removes all traces of Google from the images: the symbols, the Google copyright. My process is more akin to the ready-made.
You have also referred to the flâneur in relation to your work. How does this term that is generally associated with nineteenth century art in Paris relate to your practice?
I’m very interested in the notion of the flâneur. The lack of history in this new post-internet age is making it harder to have a sense of self. The Internet has already become so ubiquitous, that it is now a banal part of our reality.
In Internet years things are forgotten so quickly. The importance of history in building a sense of self is one of the main themes running through my work. Many of my projects focus on very marginal sub-cultures such as gaming (ed. Codes of Honor, for example). They feel the lack of a sense of self acutely because their culture can die out any day. The game is everything to them but from one the day to the next the culture of that game becomes obsolete.
The reason I tie in the flâneur is because I want to find the connection between the cyberflâneur and the flâneur of the Parisian arcades of the late nineteenth century. On one level the comparison is absurd, but on another level it is very apt. In the same way that Internet cultures die off, so did the arcades of Paris.
People talk about how the Internet age is so new, and the idea that technology has changed everything. I think it is very important to see that many of these things existed in different forms in the past. For instance, the information overload that is thought of as defining the Internet era dates back to early modern times and the emergence of the modern city.
The NYTimes recently published an article by Evgeny Morosov about the death of the cyberflâneur. Morosov makes the point that in the age of social media, web surfing is essentially over, that the information we get from the Internet is essentially pre-digested. Do you agree with that view?
People often ask me what the future is going to look like… I’m not really sure why… maybe simply because I work with new technologies.
In the past we relied on dystopian and utopian views of the future. The future was thought of as fundamentally different from the present. Today, there is a sense that the future is going to be a lot more banal, that we are already living in the future (like with the phone that you are recording this conversation with), that the future is going to be more of the same… more apps and technologies that are designed to mediate and ‘improve’ our experience of reality. It is essentially a more Facebook-like future. This is very different from the early Internet, which was more like an exploration of a vast unknown territory.
Note: Jon Rafman’s latest exhibition, MMXII BNPJ, opens at American Medium in New York on May 5.