Tag Archives: Critical Mass

Benjamin Rasmussen, Kusasi’s grandsons

Benjamin Rasmussen, Kusasi’s grandsons

Benjamin Rasmussen

Kusasi’s grandsons,
The village of Bual, Balabac Island, Philippines, 2012
From the Home series
Website – BenjaminRasmussenphoto.com

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.

Ashley Kauschinger, Bitter Hair

Ashley Kauschinger, Bitter Hair

Ashley Kauschinger

Bitter Hair,
Atlanta, Georgia, 2012
From the Avondale series
Website – AshleyKauschinger.com

Ashley Kauschinger is a narrative photographer who explores identity, memory, and family. She received her BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and is currently in pursuit of an MFA from Texas Woman's University in Denton, Texas. Her photographs have been exhibited nationally in venues such as Rayko Gallery and Mpls Photo Center. She has recently been published in the PDN Photo Annual and is a 2012 Critical Mass Finalist. Ashley also features and interviews photographers for her blogzine, Light Leaked

Caleb Cole

One of my favorite people and photographers is Caleb Cole.  His work touches on themes of identity, of not fitting in, of the search for self–and much of this exploration is done with humor and an off-filter sensibility. This quote from his bio will give you a idea: “Born in Indianapolis, Caleb is a former altar server, scout, and 4-H Grand Champion in Gift Wrapping. His mother instilled in him a love of garage sales and thrift stores, where he developed a fascination with the junk that people leave behind.”  My kind of guy, indeed.

I am featuring work from two of his new series, Odd One Out and Dolls, recently exhibited at Gallery Kayafas in Boston. Cole is a 2011 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award winner, 2011 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship Finalist, 2011 Somerville Arts Council Fellowship awardee, 2010 Magenta Foundation Flash Forward Winner, 2009 Artadia Award winner, and a 2009 Photolucida Critical Mass finalist. He regularly exhibits nationally and was featured in Boston Magazine (HOME) as an emerging photographer who is “shaking up New England’s visual arts scene.”

The images in Odd One Out began as found photographs, purchased in antique stores and estate sales, of groups of people during special events, reunions, and family gatherings. The photographs are the spoils of a hunt, the proceeds of afternoons spent looking into the eyes of people I do not know and who may no longer be living. I select images of people who, unlike the rest of the smiling faces in the frame, bear looks of loneliness and longing that stop me in my tracks.

Removed from their original context and meanings, I then digitally alter these photographs to segregate the one from the many, isolating the person from their surroundings by a field of white. The shape of the crowd is maintained, hinting at details of the group of which the person is a part, but with which they do not feel at home. The negation of the group serves to emphasize the presence of the one, to make visible the person who feels invisible. In constructing these images, I tell the story of the outsider, the odd one, those who are alone in a crowd.

Often thought of as toys for children, dolls are models of not only who those children are expected to become as future parents, but also of where they came from, of who they used to be as infants.  Children’s selection o certain dolls is about personal identification, a blank canvas onto which they can project their desires, and caring for the dolls becomes a process of understanding themselves–how is this doll like me or unlike me?  who am I and who will I become?

This is how I approach the selection and alteration of vintage and antique dolls. Through the use of paint, clay, thread, and hair, I remake the dolls in my image, distilling my likeness down to the secondary sex characteristics of a balding head and sideburns, leaving the bodies of the dolls naked and ambiguously gendered.  The process of transformation is a meditation on my body as it once was and will be, my gender and sexuality, how I relate to myself as I age, gain weight, and how I make sense of my mortality.  The dolls serve as external reference points for my own understanding of how my body fits in, how similar or dissimilar it is to those around me, as well as that which makes me recognizable as myself.

Latin America Week: Alejandro Medina

This week, Argentinian photographer Eleonora Ronconi is taking over as guest curator, featuring work created by Latin American photographers…
Les presento a Alejandro Medina, fotógrafo Guatemalteco, que es mi cuarta selección. 
When I saw Alejandro’s Oceanus for the first time, in this year’s Critical Mass Top 200, I was amazed at how mature it was, considering that he is only 17 years old. I loved its stillness and quiet beauty. Alejandro was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala. His first show was in the summer of 2010, at GuateFoto, making him one of the youngest artists ever to exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in Guatemala. His photographs have been curated into Photoville in New York and several shows in his native country. Alejandro has been published in Prensa Libre, El Periódico, Siglo 21 and Le Journal de la Photographie, among others. 
Image from Oceanus
does your Latin heritage bring to your work?

think that my Latin heritage has had a profound influence on my work.
It is not only visible in the way I perceive the world, which is
directly reflected on my images, but also on what I decide to

have a tendency to include landscapes of where I live in my photos,
either as the main subject or in a more subtle way. This adds a very
strong cultural feeling to my projects.

you see a difference between work created in Latin America and work
created in the States?

are several geographical and cultural differences. But I think that
many of the subjects photographers capture in both regions are
similar. There are certain themes that are popular in photographers
of my generation, which are documented throughout the continent. What
is interesting to me is that even though some projects share the same
subject, the essence and origin of the photographers always come out
in the work made.

is the state of photography in your country–is it well supported,
are galleries selling, do you have any venues where to show work?

problem with several Latin American countries is that there is a lack
of appreciation for the art. This makes it extremely difficult for
artists to find their place in society, where their work can be
appreciated. I am not saying our people do not value art, because
many do, but the problem is that this enjoyment is something
individuals can acquire on their own, and not as a part of the
general culture. However, in the last few years I have seen a growth
in the art industry here in Guatemala. There is an art presence that
is slowly manifesting itself and expanding, and therefore, accepted
by the people. It used to be impossible for a Latin artist to gain
international exposure, but it has become easier as there are more
platforms where emerging artists can be launched into the world. This
has been facilitated by a new center for contemporary photography, La
Fototeca, which has promoted photography in the area and it has
motivated many artists to continue with their work. There are also
several galleries that are opening their doors, and more importantly,
some well established galleries that have started displaying
contemporary photography. 


Amongst the fondest memories of my childhood, lies the ocean. Every time I was able to experience it, I was enthralled with its beauty. In this project I try to convey this beauty and mysteriousness to the best of my abilities by photographing objects found at the shore. 

Also using these photographs to parallel how I have experienced changes in my life. Like the ocean currents have transformed these objects into what we see them now, experiences in our lives also change us into the individuals that we become. The title of the project, Oceanus, comes from the latin word for “World’s Ocean” which attempts to describe all of the world’s bodies of water as one. In a similar attempt, I try to depict a characteristic shared by all individuals in this project, the fact that everybody is molded by his or her experiences.

Maxine Helfman

The Flash Forward Festival in Boston this spring was a wonderful experience, and one of the best parts of it for me personally, was meeting photographer Maxine Helfman.  We had solo exhibits that flanked each others and found ourselves together at numerous times over the course of the event.  We discovered that we had a lot in common and visited a lot of the same themes and ideas in our work. We both loved taxidermy and children and conceptual approaches.  Plus I was blown away by her work. I’m showing work from 4 series, to give an idea of her approach to photography.

Several weeks after the event, Maxine asked me for my address and said she had a little box to send me.  A week later, a box the size of Texas, where she lives, appeared on my doorstep. I hadn’t ordered a new dishwasher, and certainly never expected what was sitting outside my door to be the little box she had mentioned.  Inside was a cornucopia of objects, things she had collected and knew that I too would be drawn to–masks, toys, scraps of wall paper. Her generosity was remarkable.

Maxine is a self-taught late bloomer. After years of working as a stylist and art director, photography brought her vision full circle.
She works as a commercial photographer for a range of advertising and editorial clients, but  devotes a portion of her time
to pursue her personal work. Her photographs has been recognized by Flash Forward Boston, Px3 – 2012, IPA – 2012, Critical mass,
Santa Barbara Museum of Fine Art & Museum of Fine Art Houston. Here work is currently on display in the Santa Barbara Art Museum’s exhibition, Portrayal Betrayal. One of her Boys in Dresses images is featured in the exhibition.

 My work begins with a thought or idea, and becomes an “invented reality” through a photograph. inspired by
flemish painting, i like to maintain a strong simplicity in tone and composition. i prefer to pose questions with my work, rather than provide answers.

Review Santa Fe: Alejandro Cartagena

Over the next month, I will be sharing the work of photographers who attended Review Santa Fe in June.  Review Santa Fe is the only juried review in the United States and invites 100 photographers to Santa Fe for a long weekend of reviews, insights, and connections.  

Alejandro Cartagena‘s name may sound familiar as his work has been well recognized over the past several years. He lives and works in Monterrey, Mexico and Alejandro’s photographic focus has been examining the social, urban, and environmental landscape of a contemporary Mexico.  His work has been exhibited internationally and is in the collections of several museums including the SFMoMA, MoCP, and the Portland Museum of Art. Cartagena has received the Photolucida Critical Mass Book Award, the Lente Latino Award, and the Premio IILA-FotoGrafia 2012 Award in Rome. He was named a FOAM TALENT in 2012 and a PDN 30 in 2010. His work has been published in Newsweek, Nowness, Domus, the Financial Times, Le Monde, Stern, The New Yorker, and Wallpaper among others.
His new work, Car Poolers, examines the phenomenon of transportation of workers in Mexico.

CAR POOLERS: These images are a rare view into how Car Pooling is practiced by workers in Mexico, their working condition and suburban sprawls consequences upon these workers everyday life. Even though the workers are not conscious of the ecological impact they may have by traveling this way, they are a silent contributor to the preservation of our city and planet.

Kirk Crippens

It is rare to gain access to a world behind bars, but photographer Kirk Crippens achieved that task in 2008, and since then, he has been granted one hour with the prisoners on an annual basis.  That access has resulted in the project, Hidden Population, a series of portraits on San Quentin inmates.
Kirk is one of the most prolific photographers making work today, and one of the most generous.  Much of his work explores The Great Recession, with projects that look at foreclosure, job loss, and the collapse of auto dealerships. Kirk had an early start with photography, inspired by
his grandfather who kept a darkroom in his closet. In college, he
ventured into photojournalism, interning at prestigious newspapers around the
US. Based in San Francisco since 2000 he focused his efforts on personal
projects. He has exhibited widely in solo and group shows,  he was  named Top 50 Photographer in Photolucida’s Critical Mass in 2010 and 2011, nominated for the 2011–2013 Eureka Fellowship Program, nominated for Photolucida’s book prize, and exhibited in the
International Photography Festival in Lishui, China. He is currently the artist
in residence at RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco and 2013 he will be the Artist in Residence at Newspace
Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon.
Images from Hidden Population

I was in the midst of a long process of photographing portraits inside San Quentin in May 2011 when the Supreme Court declared the overcrowding in California’s prison system unconstitutional and ordered the population lowered by 133,000 to achieve 137.5% capacity. My project began in 2008, when I petitioned the prison to allow me inside with my cameras. A year and a half later I was granted limited access and began a series of brief one-hour visits with the men. I was allowed inside once a year between 2009-12.

When I first arrived at San Quentin with my cameras, the prisoners were seated facing one another in a circle of metal chairs arranged for a gardening class. Fluorescent lights reflected off the tile floor onto their faces. The warden was present and guards were scattered throughout the room. I was given 45 minutes. Rushed and constricted, I struggled to find resonance. A man with a hand-sewn cap caught my attention, and I isolated him in my viewfinder. As I took in the scene, it occurred to me that I could capture individual qualities of the men from behind while they were participating in the class. By approaching it this way, I could also reference the hidden aspect of the lives they lead, locked up inside the prison.

When invited back in January 2012, I decided to try a different approach that included bringing a tripod and directly asking the men to pose for me. I set up my tripod in front of a cinder block wall in the San Quentin cafeteria and began asking the men if I could take their portrait. Most seemed honored; a few declined. It wasn’t how the guards or warden expected me to work, and I could feel the tension. The guards whispered and huddled together in the corner. Less than an hour later they asked me to leave and ushered me out. Although the series I’m submitting feels complete, I continue to be interested in prison culture and the political issues affecting it. I hope to visit again.

Andy Freeberg, Spinello, New York Pulse 2010, Artist: Zachari Logan

Andy Freeberg, Spinello, New York Pulse 2010, Artist: Zachari Logan

Andy Freeberg

Spinello, New York Pulse 2010, Artist: Zachari Logan,
New York, 2010
From the Art Fare series
Website – AndyFreeberg.com

Andy Freeberg was born in New York City where he learned at an early age to be a critical observer of the world and the people in it. He studied at the University of Michigan, began his career as a photojournalist and now concentrates primarily on fine art projects. Freeberg has recently emerged on the contemporary art scene as a wry commentator on the art industry itself. Long fascinated with the gallery and museum worlds, he often turns his camera on the dealers, gallery patrons, artists, museum guards, and their interplay with the works of art on view. His project Guardians, about the women that guard the art in Russian museums, won Photolucida’s Critical Mass book award and was published in 2010. The Guardians will be on view at the Cantor Museum at Stanford University through January 2013. His series, Art Fare, documenting another side of the art world, will open at Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles in September 2012. Freeberg’s work is in many public and private collections including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Portland Art Museum, the George Eastman House, and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.