Tag Archives: Collages

Walter Plotnick

I always think we can trace our influences and what we are drawn to as artists to the visual stew that makes up our childhood.  Walter Plotnick is no exception.  He had a father who shared his love for photography and the darkroom with Walter at an early age and an artistic mother who painted mannequin faces for a living. Today these influences, combined his interest in photographic collage and surrealism, result in very unique imagery.

Walter is a photo-based artist who lives and works in the Philadelphia area. He received his MFA from University of the Arts and BFA from Tyler School of Art. Currently, he is an instructor in the Fine Arts Department at Penn State Abington, as well as Montgomery County Community College. He recently completed a film, featuring a Fine Art Department colleague and a classroom of art students engaged in an end-of-year assignment that Walter wanted to document in a creative way. It’s a testament to the power of collaborative artistic expression and how art inspires.

Walter’s interest in photogram collages permeates much of his work. I am sharing photographs from two of his projects, Circus Work, and1939 Worlds Fair.

Images from Circus Work

My current work is a hybrid of wet photography and digital process. I am influenced by the work of Bauhaus, Constructivist and Surrealist Photographers from the 1920s through the 1930s.

I make photographs and photograms by constructing temporary still lifes, using vintage found objects and images on top of photographic paper in the darkroom. By manipulating a variety of light sources, then digitally combining, repeating or adding images, I am able to visually explore an abstract environment with objects and light, creating movement, form and tension.

Photography is a form of communication with the power to move, inspire, and motivate people. Two areas of inquiry have fascinated me with their graphic possibilities – the “World of Tomorrow” themed 1939 New York World’s Fair, and vintage images depicting feats of daring as performed by 1930s circus performers.

On the surface, these are two disparate themes. But for me, the  commonality is humanity striving to reach its potential. The 1939 New York World’s Fair presented this on a grand stage, showing what was possible in technology with the right vision and will, engaging science, commerce, and government in an inspiring display of imagination. The circus performers, with little or no technology, took us to the outer limits of skill and performance using only the human body. Together, they offer us a thrilling picture of what we can do when we have the faith to leap forward to the next level.

Faith, inspiration, and achievement are the hallmarks of human accomplishment. I feel that through creating images that celebrate these themes, my images will resonate with viewers, and hopefully awaken in them an appreciation for their potential and expand a sense of what is possible in their own lives.

Blending darkroom practices with digital technology adds a layer of complexity to the photographic process of making images. These works are limited edition archival pigment prints on smooth photo rag paper.

Images from 1939 World’s Fair

Yaakov Israel: The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey

I am always thrilled for photographers whose work I feature and then write back a year or two later that their project has been realized in book form. Yaakov Israel is one of those fortunate photographers. I featured his work almost two years ago and I am happy to share that Schilt Publishing has just released his monograph, The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey. The book is currently available in Europe and will be release in the US and Canada in September/October 2012. It can be purchased directly from Schlit if desired.

Yaakov Israel lives in Jerusalem, Israel and that fact informs much of the work he creates. Yaakov received a B.F.A in photography, from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and his work has been shown in solo exhibitions in Israel at the Tel-Hai Museum of Photography and the Haifa Museum of Art. He has participated in a variety of group show and is currently a teacher of photography at leading photography collages and institutions in Israel.

Congratulations Yaakov! How did the book come about?

I started the Q.M.W.D in 2002, from the beginning I knew I wanted to build this body of work in a different way from the other bodies of work I was working on. The other projects were based on the idea of accumulating images that were done in the same visual language and thus defined the idea, content and story. The narrative in the Quest evolved around the idea of connecting images that were about an idea, images that were done in a verity of visual languages. In a way I was learning to use the photographic medium in a different way. I hoped that the images would connect around the context of the story. After a few years of work I reached the understanding that the kind of narrative I was pursuing would convey itself best in book form, so I started editing my images with this thought in mind. Then I started to look for a publisher that would be interested in the work and was extremely lucky that Maarten Schilt took an interest in it.

What have you learned from seeing “the Past, Present, and Future” all at once?

This is a sentence from my statement about the work. I wrote it after a specific experience. While viewing a scene I was about to shoot I observed visible fragments from the past, the present and in a way the future that may emerge (at least in my imagination). I can’t really say that I learned anything; I don’t photograph with an objective to learn. In a way photography is an excuse to stop and look at the world. I photograph what I find interesting and try to convey the experience in the image.

What has informed you most about Israel? Do you see it differently after this project?

I wasn’t informed by anything but my personal history, experience and understanding of my country. I can say that in the last 10 years I bumped into many extremely nice and helpful people from all origins, nationalities and political backgrounds, these encounters with people and places are very much at the core of this project.

Describe a typical shooting day–are you hiking, sitting and waiting, exploring?

Usually my shooting day starts at about 04:00 in the morning. I head out in my car in a direction I had decided on beforehand and I just stop when I get a hunch, or if something caches my eye. Usually I walk a lot but I wouldn’t call this hiking, my cameras are very heavy, so I try to avoid lugging them for too long or too far. Occasionally I do climb up or down a hill to get to the spot that I think is interesting to me. I rarely reach my original destination; too many interesting things stop me on the way. Sometimes I try to start again from where I stopped before, in these cases I usually drift off in a new direction. For me the journey is the important aspect not getting to a specific destination. I find that once I know what I am looking for it presents itself everywhere.

What camera do you shoot with?

Most of my work is done with an old 8×10 inch camera and sometimes with a 4×5. I like working with a big camera as it slows me down, so I make less mistakes not to mention the fact that people are more willing to stop and participate when they see the big camera (they understand the importance to me so a lot of the time they will let me make a portrait even if it is time consuming). I also carry with me a 6×17 that a friend was kind enough to lend me and I enjoy using when it suits my vision.

What’s next?

I’ve got a few ideas I’m thinking of, but simultaneously I’m going to finish up my other two projects that I’ve been working on in the last decade. I assume this will take a few more years…

What took your career to the next level?

I find it difficult to answer this question. I guess I just really believed in what I was doing and kept working hard and never compromising.

What advice can you give for emerging photographers?

I would advise any emerging photographer to simply find a theme that is of real interest to him, and stick to it no matter what the trends of the day happen to be. I find that photography I’m interested in always reflects how fascinated the photographer was in its making.

And finally, what would be your perfect day?

There are many options to answer this Q as I enjoy and cherish many things, but I will share with you a day I experienced mid winter 2011.

It was a very rainy day and I was driving Emanuel, my 6 year old son to kindergarten when the mobile rang. A friend was on the phone telling me that the weather was getting better and urging me to take the day off and go walkabout. Emanuel caught on to this and immediately said:”I’m coming with you”. After a second’s thought I said ‘why not?’ so I turned the car around headed home, collected the camera and some food and we headed out. I can’t say I made as many exposures as I usually do per day, but we had a tremendous time arriving home late at night muddy and happy.

Standing on an abandoned bunker top, on the Jordanian border, completely covered in mud and nibbling a piece of bread Emanuel quoted a cartoon he loves: “we went till infinity and beyond!”

Works on Paper by Ina Jang

During her last year of college at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, photographer Ina Jang began weaving paper cutouts into her images as a way of problem solving. “I started it because I was struggling to make images at the time,” the Brooklyn-based photographer says. “I was forcing myself to like everything—from the people I was working with to locations where I was shooting, so I started getting rid of the elements I didn’t like in the picture.”

Among her inspirations is Martin Margiela, a notoriously private fashion designer who avoids being photographed. “I admire how he visually deconstructed the language of fashion,” says Jang, who wanted to create her own language through the series featured here. “I liked the idea of using optical illusion and the two-dimensional quality of photography. I always go back and forth in experimenting with the combination of analog and digital manipulation in photographs. While working on the series, I enjoyed making images that allowed me to explore both approaches to photography. Additionally, having an anonymous character in the images have given me more freedom to relate myself to them. I wanted the images to effortlessly create its own language.”

From portraits to still-lifes, Jang covered up faces, shapes and spaces that she didn’t like and used paper to make new images. “I started with white space and filled it with stuff I like, such as painting or illustration,” she says. Jang graduated in 2010 with a B.F.A in photography, and though she’s no longer working on this particular series, Jang says she’ll continue incorporating layers into her photographs. Some of her new work is included in the gallery above, and her more recent work with paper cut-outs will be exhibited at the Hyères Festival of Fashion & Photography beginning April 27 in Hyères, France. “I’m still really into shapes and cutouts and collages,” she says. “So I think you’ll always see part of that in my work.”

Ina Jang is a Brooklyn-based photographer. Read more about her here. Her work will be exhibited at Christophe Guye Galerie in Zurich March 29 through June 2 and at the Hyères Festival beginning April 27.

Jeff Cowen: Photographic Works exhibition in Cologne

Jeff Cowen, Nature Mort 1, 2010, Silver Print, 60 x 80 cm, Edition of 6.jpg

Jeff Cowen, Nature Mort 1, 2010, Silver Print, 60 x 80 cm, Edition of 6.

For the first time, the highly-regarded Michael Werner art gallery in Cologne (with other galleries in Germany and New York), will be presenting photography-based artworks.

From the gallery statement:

Michael Werner Kunsthandel, Cologne presents an exhibition by Jeff Cowen titled “Photographic Works beginning on January 28th. The artist tests the boundaries between photography, painting, drawing and sculpture. Comcast Cable California . Cowen works on a thick silver based paper, which he cuts, collages and attacks with various chemicals and specialized darkroom techniques. The evolution from the photographic image to the unique and painterly final print may take the artist months or even years. This process is consciously controlled only to some extent, but not entirely predetermined. Cowen is on a quest for something he rationally does not understand, but senses and knows exists. His photographic images transcend time and space. He writes: “Making a photograph for me is a paradox, a sacred and violent act. You kill a moment and eternalize it. seo hosting . There is a mysterious metamorphosis that transpires of which I am continuously surprised and in awe of. Its a transformative process for the observer and the observed.

Jeff Cowen was born in 1966 in New York City. In 1988 he graduated in Oriental Studies as a University Honors Scholar from New York University and Waseda University in Tokyo. Upon graduation, he continued photographing intensively on the streets of New York and worked as an assistant to Larry Clark. In the course of the 1990s his artistic approach was influenced and altered by his study of drawing and painting. This further informed the artists search for the relation between the photographic picture and abstraction. Cowen has been based in Paris and now Berlin since 2001. The Cologne exhibition reveals works of these past ten years including still life, landscape, figure, and abstraction. In many of the works, one senses Cowens interest with what he calls the non-moment, i.e. the point in time just before or after something has happened. Cable Internet Packages . Like silence, my images can best be described by what they are not.

Jeff Cowen, Nature Morte 9, 2010, Silver Print, 81 x 61 cm, Edition of 1.jpg

Jeff Cowen, Nature Morte 9, 2010, Silver Print, 81 x 61 cm, Edition of 1.

Jeff Cowen, Sienna, 2002, Silver Print, 127 x 170 cm, Edition of 6.jpg

Jeff Cowen, Sienna, 2002, Silver Print, 127 x 170 cm, Edition of 6.

Jeff Cowen, Alice, 2001, Silver Print, 188 x 127 cm, Edition of 8.jpg

Jeff Cowen, Alice, 2001, Silver Print, 188 x 127 cm, Edition of 8.

Jeff Cowen: Photographic Works
January 28 – March 24, 2012
Michael Werner Kunsthandel Gallery
Gertrudenstrae 24-28
50667 Cologne

Photographer #316: Kathryn Parker Almanas

Kathryn Parker Almanas, 1981, USA, is a conceptual fine art photographer who also focuses on making collages. She received a BFA at the Massachusetts College of Art and an MFA at Yale University School of Art. Inspired by a personal experience with bodily illness, her work deals with the universal themes of corporeal existence, anxieties and phobias connected to the world of medicine. In her series Pre-Existing Condition she uses food as a stand-in for the body and its organs. Pastry, jellies and fruit juices become flesh and blood, creating abstract images of “the parts of ourselves both essential to our survival and responsible for our death.” In her earlier series Pastry Anatomy she “treated” various pastries as a surgeon or lab would. Her work has been exhibited throughout the USA. The following images come from the series Pre-Existing Condition, Spellato and Medical Interior.

Website: www.kathrynparkeralmanas.com

Aman Mojadidi

We are all at conflict. Whether with others or ourselves, with our own ideas, thoughts, desires, history, present, future. We are all at conflict as we try and navigate ourselves through a life we understand only through our experiences, through our confrontation both internal and external with social, political, cultural, and personal strife. My visual arts work in multi-media assemblages, sculptures, 3-D collages, mise en scene photography, and installations, are always inspired by a negotiation through these conflicts, a negotiation between worlds and the multiple experiential landscapes that shape them. My recent work in particular is based largely on the dialogue between the external, contemporary experiences of conflict and the internal – mental, spiritual, and emotional – responses to it that continue to shape the understanding of my own identity and the world I live in. Through and across the different works, one can find threads of cultural tradition (be it real, imagined, invented), identity, politics, diasporas, war, and reconstruction weaving reflections, often contradictory, of humanity; a humanity which finds itself in a post-modern world that is simultaneously globalizing and fracturing, forcing us to confront each other and ourselves in ways we have yet to learn or understand. Complementing this work are my anthropological studies (B.A., M.A.) which provide a strong grounding in the debates around conflict, cultural change, post/colonialism, third-world development, and the representation of culture; while my continuing experience working and creating in Afghanistan provides the contextual richness that leads me down the path of trying to identify and understand not ways for resolving conflict, but rather ways in which we accept conflict as a life-long experience. Creating art as an aspect of, rather than response to, conflict is ultimately an exercise in dissecting the human condition in order to expose the sometimes fragile, sometimes durable, but always shifting relationships we have with each other, with ourselves, and with the conflicts we must endure throughout our lives. In order to do this, it will be necessary to see that condition as a place where external conflicts tied to global processes and internal battles tied to our own experiences are blurring into each other, becoming confused, indistinguishable, and equally personal.

Growing up in a war, where the bombs were 12,377 kilometers or 7,691 miles (or 6,683 nautical miles though Afghanistan is land-locked so perhaps not as relevant) away.  An Afghan-American suburban dream punctuated by weekend sleepovers, Saturday soccer games, fist-fights with racist children of the Confederate South, and religio-nationalist driven demonstrations chanting “Down with Brezhnev!”, “Long live Islam!”, “Down with Communism!”, and “Long Live Afghanistan!” before I even knew what that meant.  It is what I was fed growing up, in between southern-fried chicken and garlic mashed potatoes, cumin-scented meat and basmati rice…

In his work, Aman often uses contemporary, post-modern ideas of conflict and globalization combined with traditional narratives rooted in culture, belonging, and identity. He collects the materials and inspiration for his work from his internal and external landscapes, including growing up Afghan in the Confederate South of the United States and spending the better part of the last decade living and working in Afghanistan.

He has exhibited his work in galleries, independent spaces, and cultural centers in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore, Cairo, Hong Kong, and Kabul.

Aman currently lives, works, and creates in Kabul, Afghanistan.

A Day in the Life of a Jihadi Gangster:

Out of the Conflict Bling installation emerged the character in these images, the Jihadi Gangster, as I continue to explore the idea of globalized gangster styles and iconography while exploring my own dual cultural heritage as an American-born Afghan with strong familial ties to politics in Afghanistan, including jihad.

After a Long Day's Work (A Day in the Life of a Jihadi Gangster Foto Series) edition of 5 c-print on dibond 75 x 78 cm



Inspired by real events which led to the death and disappearance of 183 family members in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion.

183 glass bottle, plastic, anti-aircraft shell casings, 183 self-portraits 30 x 24 x 8 cm

183 glass bottle, plastic, anti-aircraft shell casings, 183 self-portraits 30 x 24 x 8 cm



The first in a line of mobile furniture for conflict environments developed by Emeric Lhuisset and Aman Mojadidi, with support from designer Pierre-Francois Dubois.

Kandahar (nomadic furniture line for belligerents) fabric, wood, steel, paper (assembly instructions) 60 x 100 x 60 cm (assembled), 70 x 10 cm (packed)


Jihad Gangster Afghan Parliamentary Campaign:

The final culmination of the Jihadi Gangster, a faux run for Parliament in Afghanistan.

Jihad Gangster Afghan Parliamentary Campaign Poster c-print on dibond 59 x 84 cm

SLOGAN – “Vote for Me! I did Jihad and I’m Rich”
FACE – “Your favorite Jihadi Face Here”

Jihadi Gangster Afghan Parliamentary Campaign Street Installation:

Parliamentary Campaign 6 c-print edition of 10 28.5 x 42 cm

Be sure to check out Aman’s site HERE or click on any of the photos above to see more from the series.


Spring Issue Now Available

Cover Issue 202: Spring 2011

Issue 202 features:

Vince Aletti on Collier Schorr’s Evocative Collages (cover image)

Geraldo De Barros‘ Abstract Fotoformas

Greil Marcus on Surveillance Cinema

Luisa Lambri’s Architectural Interiors

Mary Panzer Considers Photographic Archives

Yann Gross’s Dynamite-Triggered Avalanches

Sara VanDerBeek’s Resonant Compositions

Ulrich Baer Re-Examines Seminal Civil-Rights Images….and much more

Subscribe to Aperture magazine now and receive a FREE book!

Mark Bradford

Wow, I recently went to the ICA in Boston and was blown away by Bradford’s work. His large-scale abstract paintings and collages are truly amazing to see in-person. Bradford uses a wide range of materials to construct his cartographic-like collages and installations. If you live in the Boston area… SEE THE SHOW!!

You can see more about Bradford and his work at PBS Art21

He is represented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co. in NY