Tag Archives: Ashtrays

Roe Ethridge

Whilst researching for our latest issue “Thereness”, we came across a selection of videos on featured artist Roe Ethridge. In this particular interview with MoMa’s Curator of Photography, Roxana Marcoci, Ethridge discusses his experience of working in commercial photography and its influence on his personal projects, and in the process gives us an interesting insight into his unique approach to making fugues that are achieved through what he refers to as “amnesic states of wondering”.

Here is an extract from Maggie Gray’s article in issue 12 of 1000 Words:

“Roe Ethridge studied at Atlanta College of Art, after which he found work as a catalogue photographer to make ends meet, so the theme of day to day luxury and branding is one he knows well. On top of influencing his subject choices, Ethridge’s commercial experience informs the eclecticism of his style. Working to other people’s briefs throws up a host of visual and thematic scenarios. As Ethridge put it in this interview, he can photograph “a golden retriever one day and an underwear model the next.” He brings the same incongruous variety to Le Luxe: a turn of the page leads the viewer straight from bikini-clad women to a thoughtful shot of an empty maple syrup jar. Unlikely reverberations and echoes emerge throughout the book. One photograph depicts men breaking up stone slabs for the Goldman Sachs construction. In three others, similar slabs feature as impromptu ashtrays. Are they from the same source? Does it matter if they’re not, if the associations still resound? Other themes, such as Ethridge’s fascination with textural surfaces, are woven more intrinsically into the whole. His free and associative combinations deliberately reflect the heterogeneity of a photographic career – the juggling of projects, the frequent unsolicited finds and the constant casting about for inspiration. Nothing in his work happens in isolation as he draws, untethered, from his entire visual practice.

That Ethridge is prepared to include images from all areas of his work, and beyond (he regularly borrows from public sources such as newspapers and online media) is a powerful thing in itself. Some of the pictures he employs are pixelated and blurred, brazenly failing the standard tests of ‘good’ photography. But contemporary life sees a constant bombardment of images, good and poor, particularly online where they are circulated, replicated, cropped and corrupted with ease. Ethridge is one of several artists who have taken the plunge, raiding this plethora of modern photographs to create work that – to quote video artist Hito Steyerl – offers a “defence of the poor image” instead of bemoaning it. This practice of grabbing, scanning and pasting from other sources raises thorny questions of ownership and originality which Ethridge confronts with humorous candour.”

Also worth flagging up is this short interview and slideshow of Ethridge’s work created by The Photographers’ Gallery as part of the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2011 and, finally, here is an installation video of Ethridge’s exhibition Le Luxe II BHGG at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills that took place June 9 – July 21, 2011.

A Photographer On the Creatures That Saw Him Coming

Animals That Saw Me, 2011

Ed Panar hardly ever photographs people. Most of his work throughout his 16-year career is of objects—tree roots, construction cones, clothing lines and ashtrays—the things he found while wandering through the streets of Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and elsewhere. From time to time on these lonely walks, Panar came face to nose with an animal. Without knowing why he was doing it, he began photographing them. “I came up with a policy,” he says. “If a dog was going to bark at me, I was going to take its picture. If you can bark at me, I can take your picture. You know?”

Three years ago, when Panar was looking through his body of work and thinking about what could be his next project he noticed a trend: he had countless photos of animals looking straight at him. “Sometimes I wasn’t even aware,” Panar says. “I felt I was alone, but all these creatures were observing me.” Animals That Saw Me is a photo book collection of the interactions Panar experienced with animals throughout the years.

Panar says his photos capture the fleeting moment of acknowledgment between species. “That’s what makes these photos interesting to me,” Panar says. “We don’t really know what they’re thinking—and that’s part of the point. We don’t know what we look like to them or what the world is like for them.”

His work was not always without hazard. Panar recalls one occasion when he was walking along a bike path in Pittsburgh, on his way to a freelance job. He decided to stop and take a photo of a goose. “The next thing I knew, I felt his feathered wings smacking me in the side of the head,” he says, recalling the goose attack. “The goose won the battle for the bike path so I decided to go a different way.”

Panar never had any pets as a kid, which might be why he pays so much attention to the animals many of us might hurriedly pass by. He just got his first pet, a cat named Mo that he cares for with his girlfriend. “It’s been a revolutionary experience to see an animal in my space every day,” he says. Fittingly, the book is dedicated to Mo.

Animals That Saw Me will be published November 15th by The Ice Plant

Kayla Webley is a Writer-Reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kaylawebley or on Facebook

michael christopher brown – libya

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls

Michael Christopher Brown


play this essay

Since arriving ten days ago, I have tried to understand the situation here in Libya. People swap facts, predictions and rumors, the news feeds me information, but the complexity of the conflict makes it impossible to fully comprehend. Once a picture is taken or a word is written it is already old news. There seems to be no way to catch up, as the database of history is filed before it is processed. And as a result I have become more confused. But I can attest to one reality, shown in these photographs. They form a loose record of my experience during the war in Libya.

Around midnight we piled into a tiny car and drove for 7 hours, from Cairo to the eastern border of Libya. A wide eyed nicely dressed Egyptian city man, our driver with slick black greasy hair, persuaded military officer after officer standing beside tanks that he had foreigners and therefore special privilege to pierce the curfew barriers and drive west, as if in a high-speed chase on empty highways, past the beautiful night city of Cairo and into a deep desert countryside as cigarette smoke escaped out the window. Somewhere sometime we passed the pyramids, not too longer after a pit stop with a McDonald’s and a shopkeeper selling ‘StarFuck’ ashtrays shaped as green coffee cups. The jetlagged dreams of 3 packed in a backseat took us elsewhere as the sun rose over the Mediterranean just beyond the sand dunes. The barren desert, looking left to nowhere looking right to the sea. The towns were simple shacks and here and there and rare were men in long robes without faces standing still. Wearing white robes and black robes, with camels near the sandy highway.

Would Libya be different? Would it be a different world? Something told us so. Something would be there for us. Danger, excitement, importance, freedom, death. Perhaps all. Smoking cigarettes. We arrived beyond Salloum where lines of trucks and cars waited for those leaving Libya. Arms in the air, Egyptians and Chinese and Indonesians crossing to somewhere safe. We moving in the opposite direction, elated. Then more journalists, then some we knew. On the other side more people piled up. A hall full of Indonesians, laying about as if dead so I exchanged my Egyptian money with their Libyan, using a rate in their favor and losing $100 in the process. Something to do. Then we walked the 1000 yards or so to the Libyan gate, guarded by men in plainclothes and rebels.

A man in dark sunglasses glanced suspiciously at us. They inspected our passports, we filled out a quick form and walked to Libya, to a road bordered on both sides by tall cement walls. Two Libyans of about 25 offered to take us to their hometown of Benghazi. We jumped into the van, looking a lot like my Jinbei in China. The concrete walls, looking like blast walls, surrounded trucks and cars wedged together in a narrow dusty strip with men wrapped in scarves holding automatics and eying the interior of our ride suspiciously. They were young men, these rebels, with old men in the background watching. No uniforms, like bandits, they were among the opposition who had recently wrested eastern Libya from Gaddafi. They nodded heads with our driver, who sped up, then sped up again, passing cars and whizzing past a littered landscape of wrecked automobiles and buildings and into an emptier desert than Egypt’s.

Faster faster our driver outsped his buddies in the other van, and his eyes faster than anything existing in the desert that day or anytime before. His eyes beyond the horizon, beyond what was happening in the country. All the fighting could not reach the (what was it in his eyes?) it in his eyes. A few windy turns but not many, the highway whisked through abandoned (after coming from china everything looked abandoned) tiny sand towns with few buildings, all small and plain and square or rectangular against the pastel landscape. But mostly phone lines, empty phone lines carrying messages to the west and we were messengers to the west. Driving faster now our drivers eyes not leaving the road. Faulty communication. I know little Arabic and him the word ‘smoking.’ One stop at a road café we ate tuna sandwiches and photographed a man and his gun. Our drivers buddies caught up and we raced each other down the road, the landscape turning from sand to rock then greenery. It began to rain. We made Benghazi by nightfall and arrived at the African hotel. The first night spent in a real bed in Africa, with dirty sheets and one cockroach.


Raised in Washington State, Michael moved to New York and began working as a freelance photographer in 2006. His clients include GEO, Time, National Geographic Magazine, Smithsonian, Fortune, The Atlantic and ESPN The Magazine, among others.

Related links

Michael Christopher Brown