Tag Archives: Anna Carnick

SNAPSHOT: Shen Wei

Self Portrait, © Shen Wei

By Anna Carnick

For this week’s SNAPSHOT, we spoke with New York-based artist Shen Wei. Born and raised in Shanghai, Wei’s photographs-primarily still lifes and nude portraits-offer the viewer a glimpse into very private, still moments, which seem to stand in direct contrast to the larger, ever-changing exterior world. Wei was named one of the fifteen “new generation of photo pioneers” by American Photo in 2007, and was also part of PDN’s annual “30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch” list in 2008.

Wei’s first monograph, the dreamlike Chinese Sentiment, was published by Charles Lane Press earlier this year. The collection is an intimate exploration of the human impact of China’s arrival as a superpower, and features an introduction by Peter Hessler, staff writer and former Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker. It was guest-edited by Aperture book publisher Lesley A. Martin.

This summer, Wei is included in the Museum of the City of New York’s Moveable Feast: Fresh Produce and the NYC Green Carts Program. This group exhibition on view through September 5 is co-curated by Aperture editor Denise Wolff and documents the ongoing Green Cart Initiative, which placed 1000 mobile food carts offering fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the five boroughs. The exhibition was presented by Aperture and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.

Wei spoke with Aperture’s web-editor, Anna Carnick.

AC: What is your idea of happiness?
SW: To have the freedom to do what I want.

How do you define beauty?
The smell of home and my dog.

What do you see as your greatest achievement as an artist so far?
My latest self-portrait project, I Miss You Already.  It took me so many years of struggle to finally breakthrough my shell to be completely free and open and willing.

Your greatest personal achievement?
Convincing my strict Chinese parents on numerous difficult issues throughout my life.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

Probably something musical, a violinist or a dancer.

Your favorite artist, of any genre?
Where should I start?  I have so many.  Recently I have been fascinated by the work of French filmmaker Jacques Tati.

Your favorite photograph?
It has to be Diane Arbus’s Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962.  I had known nothing about photography before I moved to U.S.  The first photo book I ever owned was Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph.  I absolutely love that photo when I see it.  It kind of reminds me of myself as a boy in a way.

Your favorite emerging photographer?
I have been a follower of another Shanghai-born photographer, Yijun Liao.  Her current work is a series of self-portraits with her Japanese lover, which is very mysterious, seductive, and intriguing.

Your current soundtrack?
I love French Chanson, Serge Gainsbourg, Patrick Bruel, Bénabar, Marc Lavoine. . .

The last book (photo or other) you really enjoyed?
The Revenge of Thomas Eakins by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick.

Name a person – living or dead – you’d really like to meet.
A Chinese poet from the Dang Dynasty, Li Bai.

What qualities do you appreciate most in friends?
Honesty.

Your favorite motto?
From caring comes courage. – Lao Tzu

SNAPSHOT: Gary Schneider

By Anna Carnick

Mask Self-portrait by Gary Schneider, 1999

Picture 1 of 5

For our latest SNAPSHOT installment, we sat down with South African-born, New York-based photographer Gary Schneider. For the past two decades, Schneider’s dramatic work has examined the concept of identity through studio portraits, fragmented face portraits, and handprint photograms, earning him a reputation as both an artist and a master of chemical darkroom printing.

Last year, Handbook, Schneider’s stunning, print-on-demand artist book, earned a Kassel Photo Book Award. This limited-edition book is the culmination of seventeen years of Schneider’s commitment to making portraits of hands without the use of a camera. Describing the work, Schneider says, “I have made handprint-portraits since 1993. I consider them to be as expressive as any portrait of a face, more private, and possibly more revealing.” Handbook represents one of the first collaborations between Aperture, a photographer, and a print-on-demand press (Blurb). The book is available now through Aperture.

 

AC: What do you believe is your greatest achievement as an artist so far?
GS: Exploring the intimate portrait.

What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced as an artist to date?
Remaining focused on my desire to understand the portrait.

What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned?
Affirmation comes from a private place.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
I’m not certain I am a photographer.

Who is your favorite artist, of any genre?
Leonardo Da Vinci.

What is your favorite photograph?
Mask Self-Portrait. It is all of my desire for my work.

What was the last book (photo or other) you really enjoyed?
Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight.

Name a person—living or dead—you’d really like to meet.
Leonardo da Vinci.

Do you have a mentor?
Had. Peter Hujar then Helen Gee, now Peter Hujar again (printing his work).

The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with?
Quiet brain.

What qualities do you appreciate most in friends?
Ethics.

SNAPSHOT: Tod Papageorge

By Anna Carnick

Portrait of Tod Papageorge by Deborah Flomenhaft,courtesy of Tod Papageorge

Picture 1 of 6

For this week’s SNAPSHOT, we spoke with respected photographer, teacher, and author Tod Papageorge. Papageorge’s much-anticipated new book, Core Curriculum: Writings on Photography—a series of essays, lectures, reviews, and interviews—offers critical insight into the role of artists like Atget, Brassaï, Robert Frank (with Walker Evans), Robert Adams, Josef Koudelka, and his close friend, Garry Winogrand. It also delves into photography’s relationship to poetry, and how the evolution of the medium’s early technologies led to the twentieth-century creation of the self-conscious photographer/artist. The book is available for pre-order now here.

One of the most influential voices in photography today, Papageorge has been the Walker Evans Professor of Photography at the Yale University School of Art since 1979.

He will be in conversation tomorrow with photographer John Pilson at the Aperture Gallery. More details here.

Papageorge took a few moments to speak with us on the eve of his book release.

 

AC: How do you describe your personality?
TP: Attic.

What is your definition of happiness?
Birdsong. Or Louis Armstrong’s fanfare and solo in “West End Blues.”

Name your greatest hero.
Mozart, for writing The Requiem, The Magic Flute, and his clarinet concerto in the last year of his short life.

Your greatest achievement as an artist so far?
To remain an artist so far.

The greatest challenge you’ve faced as an artist?
To call myself an artist (as I did in the previous response) and not a photographer.

Your greatest personal achievement?
Being Theo’s father.

The biggest life lesson you’ve learned so far?
That life is the thing in front of you, there, immensely larger than the lesson it might seem to promise but, in my experience, withholds.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
The timpanist for a small-city orchestra who, in his off-hours, writes poetry in strict rhyme.

Your favorite photograph?
Read Core Curriculum.

Your favorite new (or emerging) artist?
Roberto Bolaño. A Chilean writer, actually. And dead since 2003. But the most exciting artist I’ve encountered in the past five-ten years.

Your favorite photography exhibit of all time?
The one I most learned from was the 1968 Brassaï exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. I just “got” it, at a particularly crucial moment in my development as a photographer, although I couldn’t have said then what it was that I got. Equally remarkable to me, though, in this new century, were the ICP exhibitions of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “Scrapbook” [Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Scrapbook: Photographs, 1932–1946] and Garry Winogrand’s “1964” [Winogrand 1964].

Your favorite photo book ever?
The Decisive Moment, which I initially saw in 1962, a few months after I began to photograph, and, on the heels of that, The Americans, which I discovered in San Francisco shortly before I heard Robert Frank give his first public lecture at the museum there.

Name a person—living or dead—you’d really like to meet.
Shakespeare, preferably after he’d given up writing for the stage. Among other things, I’d ask him why he stopped; how he filled his time and (great) mind; and who he’d name as a person—living or dead—he’d really like to meet.

Do you have a mentor?
Garry Winogrand was a mentor of mine, although what he taught me had as much to do with how to think and live (in the moment) as it did with making photographs.

The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with?
Organization.

For what fault do you have the most tolerance?
Disorganization.

Your favorite quality in a man?
The willingness to acknowledge pain.

What qualities do you appreciate most in friends?
Humor and a ready hand when the waiter brings the bill.

Your favorite motto?
“The best way out is always through.” —Robert Frost


SNAPSHOT: Paolo Ventura

By Anna Carnick

Paolo Ventura, self-portrait

Picture 1 of 11

Aperture is pleased to present the second installment of “SNAPSHOT,” a new series of interviews with photography’s luminaries inspired by the Proust Questionnaire.  This week, we spoke with one of our favorite artists, Paolo Ventura.

The Italian-born, Brooklyn-based photographer builds intricate, miniature sets from found objects (often flea market finds) and shoots them to appear life-size, creating haunting, narrative series. “Venice 1943,” an excerpt from his new series L’Automa, is featured in the latest issue of Aperture magazine. Ventura is also included in the new Aperture-Library of Congress co-publication, Photographic Memory: The Album in the Age of Photography, which is the subject of tomorrow’s panel discussion at the Aperture Gallery.

Ventura’s work is presently on display in the Italian national pavilion at the Arsenale at the Venice Biennale. He is also part of Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities, on view now through September at the Museum of Art and Design, NYC.

AC: What is your present state of mind?
PV: Very content. I’m under a pergola of grapes that are just starting to emerge.

How do you describe your personality?
Shy.

What do you think is your greatest strength?
My imagination.

What is your definition of beauty?
A farmhouse in Tuscany during the twenties or thirties.

Name your greatest hero or heroine.
When I was little, Tin Tin. When I was a teenager, the Corto Maltese.  And now I’m too cynical to have a hero.

What do you believe is your greatest achievement as an artist so far?
My most recent show [L’Automa] at the Museo Fortuny in Venice. It has always been one of my favorite museums.

What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced as an artist?
Dealing with gallerists.

Your greatest personal achievement?
Becoming a father.

What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned so far?
I’ve always been against school. “life lesson” sounds too scholastic for me. I’m not sure life teaches you lessons.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
A police detective.

Who is your favorite artist, of any genre?
Piero della Francesca. I just saw the Madonna del Parto in Monterchi and it was stunning.

What is your favorite photograph?
A photograph by Ernst Haas. It’s an image of the return of the German veterans from a Russian gulag in the early fifties, and among the crowd there is a woman showing a photograph of her son to these returning veterans. It is communicative, direct, deep, strong. It challenges you—makes you think. It’s what photography can be when it’s really good. It’s also aesthetically nice to look at.

Name a person—living or dead—you’d really like to meet.
Lee Miller.

Do you have a mentor?
My wife, Kim.

The natural talent you wish you’d been born with?
To play music.

For what fault do you have the most tolerance?
I have a twin: I spent nine months sharing a tiny space, so I’m very tolerant of other people.

Your favorite motto?
Ite missa est. (Go—the mass is over.)

 

 

 

Illumination: An Interview with Rinko Kawauchi

By Anna Carnick

Illuminance by Rinko Kawauchi

Picture 1 of 10

Rinko Kawauchi’s photographs celebrate the tiny gestures and unexpected patterns of everyday life. Known for her dreamlike yet unflinching aesthetic, the Tokyo-based artist explores the extraordinary in the mundane, championing the translucent beauty of life’s fleeting moments.

This past month, Kawauchi debuted Illuminance, her twelfth book and her first to be published outside of Japan, as well as an exhibition by the same name at the Gallery at Hermès. Drawn from fifteen years of work, this collection of previously unpublished images continues Kawauchi’s exploration of the fundamental life cycles and the world’s often overlooked wonders.

Amid all the excitement, Ms. Kawauchi sat down to answer a few of our questions.

AC: What first drew you to photography, and what about the medium keeps you engaged?
RK: I just like to think about our life and world through photography. It is the best method for me.

What type of camera(s) do you use?
Rolleiflex and Canon 5D. I just feel a good match with them. Also, they’re not too heavy.

Your work is so ethereal, connected by threads of seemingly random yet repetitive patterns. When you step out into the world to shoot, what are you looking for?
I’m looking for something to touch our subconscious.

What motivates you thematically as an artist?
My works are always meant to reveal evidence of life—such as the cycles, for example. This is what I need to live, so I would say that is my theme.

You have an extensive list of book titles under your belt now. Is there something specific you love about the book format, as opposed to other mediums?
I’ve just really loved the book format more than [any] others since I was small.

Lyrical, visual associations often structure your books. In Illuminance, for example, a circular child’s toy lies opposite a wall of spiraling graffiti, and an elongated spider stands opposite a lacy canopy of trees. How would you describe your process of image selection and composition?
It is really hard to explain it. I just follow my instincts—for shooting as well. I just would like to see something in the middle.

When determining a book’s composition, how do you maintain an emotional or narrative flow without becoming overly stiff or structured?
One image can be independently successful, but I believe that another, new perspective can be borne by connecting images to images, making a sequence of images.

Illuminance: how would you describe the series in your own words?
My obsession itself.

How was the title chosen?
As a metaphor for our life, in which we have different point of views. There are many ways to see our world.

Your exhibition opened recently at the Gallery at Hermès as well. Can you speak to the differences for an artist between book and exhibition presentation?
Making a book is more personal. Having an exhibition is a collaboration with a place, a space (Hermès, in this case).

For you, what is the biggest difference between Illuminance and your earlier books or series?
Time. It has been ten years since I published my first books.

How do you see yourself evolving as an artist?
I just would like to progress as an artist, as a human being with my work.

Thank you!

 

Illuminance is available now through Aperture.

The Illuminance exhibition is at the Gallery at Hermès now through July 16th.
691 Madison Avenue, Fourth Floor, New York, NY, (212) 751-3181
Gallery open Monday–Saturday, 10:00 am–6:00 pm.

Artist profile:
Rinko Kawauchi (born in Shiga, Japan, 1972) studied graphic design and photography at Seian Junior College of Art and Design. Among her awards and accolades are the 1997 Grand Prix Prize at the Guardian Garden’s 9th Hitotsubo Exhibition, the 27th Ihei Kimura Photography Award in 2002, and the 2009 International Center of Photography Infinity Award in Art. She has had solo exhibitions at Fondation Cartier, Paris; Photographers’ Gallery, London; Galleria Carla Sozzani, Milan; Hasselblad Center, Göteborg, Sweden; and Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo, among other international venues. Kawauchi lives and works in Tokyo.

 

 

SNAPSHOT: Alex Webb

Interview by Anna Carnick

Alex Webb, self portrait in Hong Kong while on press for The Suffering of Light.

Picture 1 of 12


Aperture is pleased to introduce “SNAPSHOT,” a new series of interviews with photography’s luminaries, inspired by the Proust Questionnaire. For our series debut, we spoke with the always thoughtful, ever-surprising Alex Webb.

Webb’s latest photography collection, The Suffering of Light: Thirty Years of Photographs by Alex Webb, is available now through Aperture.

AC: How do you describe your personality?
AW:
Obsessive, persistent––maybe even Sisyphean––but with a sense of humor.

What is your idea of happiness?
I suspect pure happiness is only attainable for brief periods.  Creative fulfillment, however, seems like a more sustainable goal––taking the work one believes in to its ultimate end.

What do you believe is your greatest achievement as an artist so far?
If I’ve made some sort of contribution to photography––and that’s not for me to say––I think it’s about having discovered a way of working in intense color in the tropics with an eye towards the enigmatic, the unexpected, and the sometimes paradoxical.

I also think that Rebecca Norris Webb and I have made a small but unique contribution to the history of photographic collaborations with the Violet Isle project, a project which created a more complicated portrait of the island––and its people and animals––than either of our individual visions could have done alone.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
Perhaps a novelist, though I am quite sure that I would have failed miserably at it.  I think I need the immediacy of the experience of the world for inspiration.  I think I do much better walking the streets and responding with a camera than staring at a blank sheet of paper in a room.

Who is your favorite artist, of any genre?
Blues is my favorite kind of music, and I love Buddy Guy’s music––though I think Stevie Ray Vaughn’s version of Little Wing is pretty special . . .

What is your favorite photograph?
I have a lot of favorite photographs, but I’ll mention one that has lingered in my mind for many years: Robert Frank’s picture of the back of a hearse-like vehicle in London.  I love the open-ended questions that Frank’s photograph poses:  Is that a hearse? Where exactly is that child in the fog running––and why?

The last book you really enjoyed?
I recently read Vargas Llosa’s The Way to Paradise, a novel that interweaves the lives of Flora Tristan, a nineteenth century social activist, and her grandson, the painter Paul Gauguin.  The depiction of the latter is particularly compelling.

Name a person—living or dead—you’d really like to meet.
I wouldn’t even know where to begin. . . . I suppose, if I spoke Russian, I would have liked to have met Tolstoy–especially on his estate.

What qualities do you appreciate most in friends?
I think probably a good-natured sense of humor, especially the ability to laugh at yourself.

Your favorite motto?
I love the following from the sculptor Henry Moore, from late in his life:

The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for the rest of your life. And the most important thing is, it must be something you cannot possibly do.

 

Anna Carnick is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Previously the editor of both Graphis Inc. and Clear Magazine, she has been an Aperture editor since 2010. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Style Magazine (The Moment), Photo District News (PDN), PopPhoto.com, Dazed & Confused, Casa Vogue, Dwell.com, Coolhunting.com, and others.