Tag Archives: Collaboration

Santa 24/7: Portrait of a Year-Round Father Christmas

For most of us, he’s that cheerful, rotund guy who drops by for a quick visit on the same night every December. For others, though, he’s a year-round presence. Or so Touko Hujanen found out in the summer of 2011, while working as a photojournalist for a Finnish newspaper. On assignment in Helsinki and looking for quirky stories, he came across a fully-costumed professional Santa named Timo Pakkanen sitting in a park, waiting patiently for tourist cruise ships to dock.

“It’s 140 days to Christmas!” Pakkanen exclaimed as Hujanen approached. Hujanen photographed the red-coated, bearded Pakkanen for his newspaper. The two hit it off pretty quickly, and so began a seven-month documentary relationship between Santa and photographer.

Hujanen hitched a ride as Pakkanen toured Japan, a country where he is popular, and also hung out with him in Finland. The resulting work he calls, simply, Joulupukki — Finnish for “Santa Claus.”

The portraits that came out of the collaboration are as playful as they are unexpected. After all, we’re not used to seeing Santa powdering his eyebrows, taking a dip or enjoying a cigar. This is Christmas at its most elemental, without the tinsel.

That said, Pakkanen is no novelty act: 68 years old, he has been playing the part since 1961 and has an office in downtown Helsinki. What started as a small gig for local Finnish families eventually saw him become the de facto national Father Christmas — a significant honor in a country that, by some accounts, is St Nick’s home.

“My job for me is bigger than life,” Pakkanen told TIME, speaking on the phone from Japan. “It’s much, much more than work.”

Touko Hujanen

Touko Hujanen

Pakkanen in the Saitama prefecture of Japan. In 2011 he met with children evacuated from Fukushima.

In some ways it was an obvious career, he adds. His mother, Kaija Pakkanen, was a prolific children’s author who told him stories as a child; his sister, Outi, is a writer, as well.

“I lived all my childhood in a fairytale world, and that is very good grounds to be a Santa,” he says, laughing.

Pakkanen often works 12-hour days during the holiday season, and for many years has spent Christmas Eve in a Tokyo hotel room, tired but fulfilled after weeks of hearing Christmas lists and visiting kindergartens. He likes to celebrate with a can of Yebisu beer and a cup of warm sake.

The best thing about his job? It allows him to not only see joy on people’s faces, but to experience it himself. He may seem old, but he claims he feels like a kid.

“First we are children, then we get older, and we return to our childhood,” he says. “That’s the circle of life.”


Touko Hujanen is a co-founder of Finland-based collective Yksitoista. Joulupukki is part of the Suomi/Finland exhibition and runs until Feb., 1o, 2013 in Tampere and May, 5, 2013 in Helsinki

Santa and Timo Pakkanen can be found year-round at santaclausforever.com



George Holroyd, Untitled

George Holroyd, Untitled

George Holroyd

Untitled,
Milan, Italy, 2012
Website – GeorgeHolroyd.com

George Holroyd was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. When he was a child, George's family relocated often, transporting him to a variety of cities and towns throughout the eastern half of the United States. From an early age, he developed a sense of being a visitor to these new places, rather than a resident. That feeling of transience stayed with him and he has traveled extensively throughout his adult life, including to Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He now lives in Paris with his wife, Sarah. His current project, And I, presents a diaristic set of images, made in collaboration with the artist's most faithful companion, a progressive neurological disorder known as Essential Tremor.

Gayle Stevens and Judy Sherrod: Nocturnes

Photo NOLA is about to gear up for an amazing week of all things photography, and one of those events is the exhibition, CURRENTS 2012: NOPA Members Showcase,  at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, featuring work by sixteen members of the New Orleans Photo Alliance:
Thom Bennett, J.T. Blatty, Lee Deigaard, Nell Dickerson, E2 (Elizabeth
Kleiveld & Eric Julien), Frank Hamrick, Christopher Harris, Vivian
Keulards, Eleanor Owen Kerr, Maria Levitsky, Colleen Mullins, Donna
Pinkley, Rylan Steele, and S. Gayle Stevens/Judy Sherrod.

Today, I am sharing the work of two of those sixteen,  S. Gayle Stevens and Judy SherrodJudy is the box-making partner in the Nocturnes project. She  designs and makes all the cameras used in her collaboration with Gayle, ranging from two and one-half inches square to forty by forty inches. She drives from  Wichita Falls,Texas to wherever making photographs and schlepping equipment and chemicals with her constant companion, a very funny dog named B. 

The cameras in action….

Gayle Stevens has worked in antiquarian photographic processes for over fifteen years. Her chosen medium is wet plate collodion and she exhibits extensively across the United States, in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Gayle received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was the artist in residence at the Serenbe Institute in Georgia in August 2012. Named one of the Critical Mass Top Fifty Photographers for 2010, and a finalist in 2011 and 2012, her work has been featured in numerous publications and held in significant collections. Northlight Press is publishing a book of Stevens’ work in their 11 + 1 Signature series in 2012. Christopher James will feature her work in the third edition of The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes. She is also a member of the When Pigs Fly photo collective and divides her time shooting in Pass Christian, Mississippi and Downers Grove, Illinois, where she resides. 


Nocturnes 
Nocturnes 8



Our Nocturnes series began as an experiment, an adventure, a collaboration. A pinhole camera-maker and a wet-plate collodion artist collaborated to produce mammoth plate tintypes, echoing the work and process of the early survey photographers. Carleton Watkins, William Henry Jackson, and Timothy O’Sullivan, surveying the expansive landscape of the western US, found themselves at the mercy of nature. James McNeill Whistler, inspired by the visual melody he found in dark skies and seas, titled many of his paintings nocturnes. In turn, these paintings provided inspiration for the orchestral nocturnes written by Debussy, musical impressions which ebb and flow.

 Nocturnes 9



Inspired by these artists and the waters of the gulf in Pass Christian Mississippi we too found ourselves at the mercy of the tides, our images determined by the capriciousness of the water before us.
Because of its infinite depth of field, the pinhole camera conveys the vast expanse of the sea while the collodion-silver emulsion flows across the plate like the waves across the sand.
The plates delivered an unexpected serendipity –a daytime nighttime, a sunny moonscape. There is ebb and flow between night and day, dark and light, as silent sentinels watch waves writing verse in the sand. This push and pull of tides, this melody of the waves, this lyric creates a visual dialogue that is the inspiration for Nocturnes, a little night music.
 –Judy Sherrod and S. Gayle Stevens

Nocturnes 1
Nocturnes 16

Nocturnes 17

Nocturnes 18
Nocturnes 19

Nocturnes 2

Nocturnes 3

Nocturnes 4

Nocturnes 6

Nocturnes 7

‘Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel’: Collaborative Semantics

Years ago, the photographers Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel decided to put together a book about the work on which they had collaborated, decades worth of significant art made between the 1970s and 1990s. Each had been working on his own solo projects and Mandel had left California, where the two grew up and met and studied together, so the book was always meant to be a look back, a visitation from a place of finality. But then Larry Sultan got sick. Sultan succumbed to cancer in December of 2009 at the age of 63.

We thought it would be great to take some of the work that people hadnt seen a lot of or hadnt seen anything about and bring that to light, and we just thought now would be a great opportunity to do that, now that we were kind of moving into a different part of our lives, Mandel says. We didnt realize Larry was moving into leaving this place.

The book project was dormant for a while after Sultans death, but his wife, assistant and galleristwho continued to be involved throughout the projecthelped Mandel get the idea going again. Because the book had always been about a collaboration that had ended, the form and structure imagined by Mandel and Sultan could still be implemented. linkwheel . The resulting book, Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel, will be released by Distributed Art Publishers in September.

The artists, who met as graduate students at the San Francisco Art Institute, shared an openness to conceptual and experimental photography. We were lucky to be young and freshly in that world when so much was changing, says Mandel. The medium was expandingalthough Sultan later became known as a photographer, the work the two did together is photography mainly in a conceptual senseand the community was small enough that the two had access to influential teachers and artists even outside their school environment.

Courtesy Mike Mandel

Larry Sultan (R) and Mike Mandel, circa 1997

Their collaboration began in 1973 with public art displayed on billboards, work that both interrogated the tropes of advertising and challenged art by placing it in a commercial context. They continued to make billboards for many years. They also worked together on books, including How to Read Music in One Evening, which re-appropriated advertising imagery, and the seminal Evidence, their best known work, which took documentary and archival photos out of their contexts. Later, the two turned their attention to the news media, applying their signature critical mindfulness to the subject. Alongside photographic highlights of their art career together, Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel features analytical essays and a metaphorical commentary by author Jonathan Lethem.

Mandel says that this new book was an opportunity to revisit some of their projects that had not been previously examined. As time went on I think we recognized that a lot of the work we had decided at the time we didnt need to talk about really ought to be talked about, for different reasons, he says. We did re-frame what we chose to put in the book based on this idea of looking back and being a little bit more generous toward ourselves.

But even though the photographers had discussed the content of the book prior to Sultans illness, Mandel was left to make many decisions alone. He says that there were moments when he knew that there would have been a disagreement if Sultan had been there; the weight of sole responsibility was a heavy one. And they hadnt yet decided how to end the book. Mandel chose the project Newsroom, a 1983 exhibit in which they used news tickers to edit their own versions of the days events, as the book’s stopping place. He says he felt that to stop there was to present the most coherent set of ideas, and it was also a chance to step back and look at a project that the artists had been such part of that they never got to see it from a distance. If Larry had been with me it would have been really great to have done that together, Mandel says.

In an essay that accompanied Evidence, Robert F. Forth, the dean of the California College of Arts and Crafts, examined the meanings of evidence, surprise and context. He wrote about the yin/yang balance between the circumstantial and the evident, the way that the two compliment each other to make one whole thought. If one has any defect, its relationship to the other can fill that whole. Likewise, says Mandel, his own introverted working process and Sultans gregarious quick thinking co-existed without one drowning out the other.

We just had a very different way of being but we both trusted each other a lot and we both gave each other as much room to argue and promote our ideas as much as we could. Thats what the Socratic attitude was about. It was about testing these ideas, says Mandel. We collaborated as equals all the way through our relationship.

Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel, will be released in September byDistributed Art Publishers.

The Shape of Brazil: Oscar Niemeyer & Vicente De Paulo

Friend of TPP, Ashley Simpson, recently skyped with photographer Vicente De Paulo on the eve of his commissioned project for Visionaire and Paddle8.

Picture 43

Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC), Niteroi, 1991

He was the one to shape the original Brazil, says Brazilian photographer Vicente De Paulo of 104 year-old architect and Rio native Oscar Niemeyer. The architect, renowned for his curvaceous, concrete Modernist designs, is the focus of a special commissioned project by Visionaire and Paddle8, which debuts on the art retail site this week and will come to life in Visionaires RIO issue, out this September. The collaboration features ten 3D photographs of several of Niemeyer’s most iconic citesincluding exterior views of the sensuous Gustavo Campana Palace and images the citys famous hyperboloid Cathedral, all shot by De Paulo. Because Brazilia is my hometown and I had never done a project about the city, I was very excited to be able to go there and shoot those buildings, explains the 46-year-old photographer. Niemeyer brings to Rio this whole glamour because he was based here and did so much. The whole world paid attention. KidsKlout Program . He gave us not just an identity, but the icon of what the symbol of what the Brazilian lifestyle means.

Picture 40

Cathedral of Brasilia, Brasilia, 1958

Picture 41

Cathedral of Brasilia, Brasilia, 1958

Picture 44

Itamaraty Palace (Ministry of External Relations), Brasilia, 1962

Photography Courtesy Vicente de Paulo

Valentina Canseco & Daniel Carvalho – Medellin al sol y al agua

Valentina Canseco is a French artist who draws. (What’s the word for that? drawer? illustrator? draughtswoman?). Anyway, she has a great show up currently in Medellin called Medellin al sol y al agua done in collaboration with Colombian urbanist Daniel Carvalho.  Canseco is showing a number of prints based on simple line-ink drawings of houses and simple street scenes in different neighborhoods around the city, covering all social classes and “stratuses” as they say here. She’s drawn to simple but idiosyncratic details of modern vernacular architecture and details of the cityscape. These are things that interest me greatly for my photography, so it’s really interesting to see how the artist evokes these elements with ink and pen.

Valentina Canseco at Centro Columbo Americano in Medellin

Valentina Canseco at Centro Columbo Americano in Medellin

Valentina Canseco at Centro Columbo Americano in Medellin

Valentina Canseco at Centro Columbo Americano in Medellin

The show is currently at the Centro Columbo Americano in downtown Medellin. They’ve also put together a great group on facebook, where they post news and invite users to submit photos of their neighborhoods. They’ve even got coffee mugs.

Maggie Steber’s ‘Rite of Passage’ and the Gift of Memory

It was almost a decade ago that photographer Maggie Steber realized that her mother, Madje Steber, was not going to get better. Although her mother had always lived independently, her dementia had gotten to the point where that would no longer be possible.

“I started photographing my mother as soon as I realized I was going to have to move her out of her home in Austin,” says Steber. “She would never let me photograph her before. When her defenses were down—and I’m sure some people will say that’s not right—I started photographing her.”

The project was originally intended as purely personal, a way for Steber to cope during her mother’s illness and a way for her to remember her mother in later days. There was also video, filmed as Madje Steber’s condition deteriorated, which would allow the photographer to remember how her mother moved and sounded. But along the way, says Steber, she realized that the project could be more than something she would dust off and look at when she wanted to remember. After a shorter project created for AARP and then a period of time away from the work after her mother’s death in 2009, Maggie Steber (in collaboration with MediaStorm) made a film, Rite of Passage, which will premiere June 11 at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Steber’s film involves photos and video taken at difficult moments and at beautiful ones—moments when Steber says her mother came out of herself and lost her shyness. Her mother’s reluctance to be photographed was, she thinks, a result of her youth and beauty passing; “it was so lovely to have these pictures where she was happy and beautiful again,” she says. The photographer hopes that those transcendent moments will teach viewers that illness comes in waves, that stages will pass and—perhaps most of all—that if you are willing to be a “warrior” on behalf of your loved one, they can have a positive end-of-life experience. Nobody told her how to navigate doctors and medications, and part of her goal is to help others with the research that accompanies a loved one’s death. “If you can stick with it,” she says, “there’s this rather remarkable gift at the end.”

Maggie Steber

Madje Steber naps with her favorite toy, a stuffed kitty, in her room at Midtown Manor, an assisted living facility, in Hollywood, FL. in 2007.

Part of that gift is knowing that you’ve done what you could. Steber says that she was aware from a young age that her mother, the single mother of a single child, would die one day and that she had a responsibility to be there for it. And she was: “I was able to hold my mother while she took her last breath,” she says.

The other part is meeting your parent all over again, with all the barriers down. Steber says that, as her mother lost touch with the past, they lost touch with the mother-daughter relationship. “They don’t recognize you anymore. They fall in love with somebody else. They think the caregiver is their daughter,” she explains. “That’s a little startling, it hurts a little bit, but I started to see her as Madje.” It’s difficult for children to see their parents as individuals separate from themselves, but Madje became a whole woman to Maggie, someone who told marvelous stories, someone who had been a scientist and would have wanted her last days to help ease medical confusion, someone who could have become a friend if they had started out as strangers. “I just fell in love with her,” says Steber. “I know I would have just really enjoyed knowing this woman.”

Steber’s photographs and videos were made in order to preserve just one woman’s memory of a mother, but she says she hopes that her decision to share will help other people decide to look for those gifts of memory. “It doesn’t come easily, but it’s worth it,” she says. “You have to live with that for the rest of your life and I just think if you can live with the happier memories, the discovery and seeing somebody blossom even as they’re disappearing right in front of you, you have that to hold onto. And maybe it is the best thing you’ll ever do.”

Maggie Steber’s Rite of Passage premieres June 11 at Galapagos Art Space, along with Phillip Toledano’s A Shadow Passes, another film from MediaStorm about the loss of a loved one. More information about the event is available here.

Flash Forward Festival Boston 2012 Livestream

Flash Forward Festival Boston 2012 Livestream

Flash Forward Festival 2012

A collaboration with The Magenta Foundation

Hi All,

Touching base with a short dispatch from Flak Photo HQ…

Like a lot of you, I'm watching more photography-related videos online. (If you're interested, you can check out some of my recent favorites here on Vimeo.) I've also benefited from those forward-thinking organizations that have invested the time and resources to share their programs with the world using streaming video technology.

Photo education plays a key role in many of my projects so I was excited when The Magenta Foundation founder Maryann Camilleri asked me to join this year's Flash Forward Festival Programming Committee. That group is a passionate one and it was lots of fun working with them to bring this festival to life. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to broadcast this year's program online and now it's time — the festivities kick off Thursday, June 7 at 10 A.M. EDT.

Watch Flash Foward Festival Boston 2012 on the Flak Photo Stream »

I'm looking forward to sharing these programs with the online community and hope to produce more educational projects like this. If you are a photo/arts event coordinator interested in sharing your organization's video programming with a wider audience I'd love to here from you. Please feel free to contact me by email or Facebook at any time. Thank you!

Best,

Andy Adams
Editor • Producer • Publisher
FlakPhoto.com