Tag Archives: Everyday Life

Carrie Mae Weems: A Look Back on Three Decades

The cover image of Carrie Mae Weems’s engaging book finds the artist and photographer wearing a long black dress as she stands at the shoreline with her back to the camera, looking at the ocean. It looks as if she is contemplating the morning. We, the “reader” or “viewer,” wait in anticipation to open the book and look into her world. The cover image is our invitation! The photograph is from Weems’s Roaming series from 2006. She becomes our narrator to history. She states: “This woman can stand in for me and for you; she leads you into history. She’s a witness and a guide.”

Weems is an art-photographer, performance artist, activist and videographer—well known for her photographic series and multi-screen projections relating to themes focusing on family, beauty and memory. For the last 25 years, she has relied on stories from the ‘kitchen table’ and of life in the low country of South Carolina, antebellum New Orleans, cities in Senegal, Cuba, Ghana and Italy to create a body of work that engages in history. An artist concerned with iconography, she has constructed a series of works questioning black women’s presence in popular and material culture as well as art history. Throughout her 30-odd year career, Weems has re-staged historical moments and created images that re-imagined everyday life from family stories to political history. Weems focused her camera on her own body to create multiple conversations. She interrogates and assembles old stereotypes and disassembles them.

In 1992, she refused to accept the scientific racism that prevailed in the 19th century circulating about black Americans. In re-imagining the photographed experiences of some of the blacks enslaved on a South Carolina plantation photographed by J. T. Zealy, a daguerreotypist commissioned by zoologist Louis Agassiz, Weems used the narrative of slavery and re-purposed the images. The title of her series From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried is a text and image installation of large scale framed images printed with a red tint, possibly to signify the life’s blood still flowing through the memory of their enslaved experience.

Born in Portland, Oregon, and now living in Syracuse, N.Y., photo-artist Weems interweaves a narrative of black female subjectivity, black beauty and the gaze in her work on beauty. Weems’s photographs are ‘performing beauty’ through lighting, posing, acting and fashion. Weems confronts historical depictions and restages them with ‘what if…’ questions. In her series, Not Manet’s Type, Weems critiques the white male art “masters,” and how beauty is defined through their paintings. The ironic series of five self-reflexive photographs with text, questions not only Manet but also Picasso, DeKooning and Duchamp.

Weems is the ideal model and she is well informed about the history of art, using her own partially dressed and nude body. The posing reveals her formal training as a photographer, and her choice of props is influenced by her sharp observation as a builder of ideas. The series’ power lies in her narrative voice and her ability to create a scene. At first glance, it looks as if the photographs are all the same because of the square format and the centered art deco-style vanity dresser. The setting is the bedroom, a private but inviting space. We, the viewer, peer through the square mat into the round mirror that frames her body, which lends an effect of peeping at a private moment. Her sensitivity to the historical gaze is quite evident, the time of day, the lace on the brass bed, the large white vase holding dried flowers, and the art work framed on the wall offer a sense of reality, as the bright sun bleaches the lower half of her body and the bed. Weems stands with her back to the viewer; the bold red text reads:

“It was clear, I was not Manet’s type… Picasso—who had a way with women only used me & Duchamp never even considered me.”

The series’ text clearly shows her vulnerability as she attempts to empower her image. The next images states: “Standing on shakey [sic] ground I posed myself for critical study but was no longer certain of the questions to ask.”

Women artists like Weems, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Renee Cox and Carla Williams challenge ideas of beauty and desire, which are both critical components in Weems’s work. All of these artists dare her viewer to rethink their understanding and the positioning of contemporary art practices. Mirrors are often found in Weems’s self-portraits; she’s gazes at her statuesque frame which is reflected in the mirrored image. Gates states, “An artist does not make a work called Not Manet’s Type (1997) without a keen sense of her own authority, a respect—not reverence—for those artists who came before her, and an ability to laugh in the midst of serious thinking.”

Deborah Willis is a photographer, photo historian and professor at New York University. Her recent work includes a book and exhibition of the same title Posing Beauty in African American Culture on exhibit at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa.

Willis’s writing is featured in Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, which will be released by Yale University Press in October.
A retrospective exhibition of the same name is also on view at the Frist Center in Nashville from Sept. 21, 2012 to Jan. 13, 2013.

It will then travel to the following locations:
Portland Art Museum:  Feb. 2–May 19, 2013
Cleveland Museum of Art:  June 30–Sept. 29, 2013
Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University: Oct. 16, 2013–Jan. 5, 2014
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York: Jan. 24–April 23, 2014

Alessandra Tecla Gerevini

Some photographers create ways of making work outside of the typical arenas, ways of keeping them motivated and stimulated.  Milanese photographer Alessandra Tecla Gerevini has created a lovely project titled 365 Mattine (mornings), simply taking a look at where life starts for her at the beginning of each day, and the result is a wonderful visual diary.

Even if I’m a photographer, I spend a lot of time thinking what to shoot, why, to say what, to show who.



One
year ago I’ve decided to DO something lasting and continuous, something
to think about everyday, even when I wasn’t in the mood for taking
pictures. 

I decided to shoot in the morning because I think it’s the best part of the day, when you wake up, the light is amazing, it plays with shadows creating new landscapes, and you have all the day ahead:
it’s the time of good projects, positive thoughts, smiles and changing.
I love mornings.

This year is gone now, my project (called “365 mattine” that means “365 mornings”, even if there were 366 days this year, so I’ve taken a “hidden track picture” for the 2nd of August) is finished. I‘ve pointed my camera at the little things of everyday life, my loved ones, myself, my inner self, trying to create a map of my emotions, trying to show them and make them universal. Sometimes just trying to be at home.

It has been tough, every time it has been introspective, a way to remember  a whole year of events and feelings and places and friends. Unfortunately also moments I’d like to forget. But that’s it, that’s the meaning and the purpose.

State of America: Photographing Joe Klein’s Road Trip

“The campaign is in a lull. The wars overseas are winding down. Washington is paralyzed. I’ve loaded up my iPod with some new songs. There’s nothing to do but….hit the road!”

With that, veteran TIME political columnist Joe Klein began his three-week, eight-state road trip, which ended last Friday. Klein has made this sampling of the country’s political climate a yearly tradition. This time around, TIME sent three of the magazine’s contributors to accompany Klein for different legs of the journey. Here, LightBox presents a selection of their work as well as their thoughts from across America.


What was the single most memorable experience you had on the trip?

Andrew HinderakerIn Richmond, Virginia, at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in a Drug Rehabilitation Center, we met a woman who’d struggled with addiction since age nine. She was a convicted felon, and now, in her 40’s, was 21 months clean. She’d recently convinced a friend to allow her to farm a piece of land. For someone like her, whose addiction left her reliant on medical care most of her life, President Obama’s healthcare legislation meant for her a fresh start. With affordable healthcare, she could be a small business owner, a farmer, an active, contributing citizen; without it, she’s just a recovering addict. We learned her story because another man at the meeting expressed his disdain at the Healthcare Reform Act. We got to watch their argument, and this woman’s story change a man’s mind. It certainly proved Joe’s point about getting to know one another; perhaps the government should sponsor free coffee and organize meetings once a week with a group of local strangers.

What was the economic and political mood of the parts of the country you visited?

Katy Steinmetz: People seemed disappointed and exhausted by the political and economic state of things in America. Many were hopeful, but more were resigned—past anger and yearning for a little compromise.

What was the #1 problem facing the people you met?

Pete Pin: This was dependent on class. For a group of upper middle class voters in Charleston, West Virginia, they were most concerned with the visceral partisanship of the country and the future of the health care law. For rural voters in Jackson and Newcomerstown, Ohio, they were most concerned with jobs and social ills.

What was their #1 reason for hope?

Pete: Community at the local level. I learned that in spite of the partisanship and bickering in Washington, people genuinely believed that things can and will get better, not because of intervention by the federal government, but rather because of the community coming together at the local level.

Andrew Hinderaker for TIME

Leslie Marchut and Briggs Wesche eat breakfast with Joe Klein in Chapel Hill, N.C.

What is the national character? Are there uniquely American traits?

Pete: The singular thread I found was an overwhelming sense of self-reliance. Liberalism in the classical sense, John Stuart Mill.

AndrewEveryone likes barbeque.

Did you return from the trip more or less optimistic about the future of the country?

Andrew: Certainly more optimistic. One of the things that struck me most about the places that we visited was all the conversation. In all these pockets of America, folks more than willing, eager even, to talk and debate reach new conclusions. I don’t think it’s the impression you’d get of our citizens from watching the nightly news, but it’s something I observed in every niche.

Andrew Hinderaker is a former TIME photo intern and a photojournalist whose work has appeared in TIME, The Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine.

Pete Pin is currently the international photo intern at TIME and a photographer whose work has also appeared in The New York Times and Forbes.

Katy Steinmetz is a reporter in TIME’s Washington bureau.

Boston Week: Asia Kepka

While I am enjoying the Focus Awards hosted by the Griffin Museum and the Flash Forward Festival hosted by the Magenta Foundation in Boston this week, I featuring Boston photographers, today with Asia Kepka.  


I love Asia Kepka’s work, but also her person. David Hilliard took this amazing photograph of her:

In Asia’s words: 

The day I was born my grandmother cried.
The tears were not tears of joy, she cried because she had never seen such an ugly baby.
Many years later, I became a model and a whole new world opened up to me. It was fun, but even more fun awaited me when I landed in NYC 20 years ago. I arrived with $100 in my pocket but my boundless enthusiasm was priceless. My friend greeted me at the airport and gave me my first point and shoot camera. Things were never the same.
I felt like a dog hanging its head out of the window of a fast moving car. With camera in hand and very little English, I embarked on a career as a photographer. I was lucky to start with the best clients imaginable: Wired, Time, Fortune, and the NY Times.

Her work has pathos and humor and I am sharing her series, Bridget and I.


Bridget and I: In 2004 I found Bridget on Craigslist . I was  intrigued and decided to spend $100 not knowing really what will I do with her.

One day I took her out of my basement, dressed her up and started to set up a portrait. She looked bit stiff and the photo needed something.. never before I was a fan of doing self portraits but I decided  to jump in. Suddenly  I found myself in the midst of my most exciting project-don’t get me wrong- taking photos always brought me incredible rush and joy. 

Working as a photographer I feel like a dog with it’s head out of the window of a car on the way to the park. This project is even more exciting. It became my visual diary- place where I record  my dreams, my past, my everyday life .

My hope was to create a fairy tale that is timeless, independent of place, hermetically sealed from the outside world. This cathartic process has allowed me to explore issues of my identity as a woman and as an immigrant. Quite often images of me are reflection of my Mother and Grandmother back in Poland.

 “I feel like i’m watching Fellini’s movie” -said an onlooker  at the site of  Bridget and I in a hotel pool in Arizona. At times dragging mannequin in public places draws quite an attention and “being in a moment” is a challenge but seeing reactions of bystanders is always positive and at times priceless.

 All images are self portraits taken with 4×5 camera. The only exception are water shots. 


 This adventure can be physically challenging  – Bridget is heavy and rigid , she endured being shipped via Fedex and  immersed in many bodies of water.She got slammed by the wind in a sand storm ,which caused her big cracks on her head and she is missing a toe.   I hope she lasts few more years as I plan on continuing this project for a avery long time. 




Goseong Choi

Goseong Choi submitted this powerful image to the Mother’s Day post and I wanted to know more:

Goseong looks at intimate domestic situations that focus on subtleties hidden in the daily routines of life. He seeks the emotion of everyday life, and “sometimes the appearance of simplicity in truth hides enormous depths”.  Being a participant observer, Goseong is able to access the relationship between things in space.  His series, Umma, looks at the sense of loss that his mother felt when her mother passed away.

Born in Sungnam, South Korea, Goseong recieved his MFA from Pratt Institute.  He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. He has two upcoming exhibitions: one opening in September at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin, and another opening in December at the Korean Cultural Service in New York.


Umma, Korean for “Mom: is a recent series of photographs witnessing a dramatic family event, my grandmother’s passing.  When I was in Korea photographing in January 2011, I was taking intimate domestic pictures of my family in their daily lives.  Then I went to a small village where my father was from and was photographing the rural life there when I got world that my grandmother had had a stroke.

She was in a coma for three weeks, and at the end of the third week, she died. She is my mother’s mother, and during the funeral and its anticipation and aftermath, I was particularly aware of my mother’s grief and emotion. I felt her deep sorrow and fear. And I photographed the sense of loss. The work that I had already been doing about her daily routine prepared us both for my role as a photographer during this momentous time.

Neighborhood Blues: Kensington, Philadelphia

Philadelphia is well known as a city of neighborhoods. Walk a half-mile down the block and everything changes; the faces, the shops, the streets themselves are different. Photographer Jeffrey Stockbridge, who lives in the city, says that there is one neighborhood of which many Philadelphians are only vaguely aware: Kensington, in the city’s northeast, an area with high poverty and crime rates. Stockbridge has been photographing the denizens of Kensington and recording their stories since the winter of 2008, as part of a long-term project that he hopes to conclude this summer.

Stockbridge had been working on a project documenting the interiors of abandoned houses in Philadelphia when he first met the people who would become the subjects of the current project, the people who spend their days hanging out on Kensington Avenue. “I met some very interesting individuals that I had originally shied away from,” he says. “I just began going to the Avenue with my camera and photographs from my previous projects and introducing myself to people and talking to them about the avenue, and that’s when I started to get a sense of the environment.”

With both portraits and environmental photography, Stockbridge aims to capture the sense that a neighborhood like Kensington unites people, for better or worse, through the harsh realities of everyday life.

And Stockbridge says he has found that the people of Kensington are eager to share their stories. “The people I photograph are not trying to hide anything,” he says. “They know that everyone looking at them knows what they’re doing, whether they’re working as a prostitute or they’re selling drugs or they’re an addict.” And in the years he has been photographing them, Stockbridge has become much more comfortable on the Avenue—and the Avenue has become comfortable with him. People approach him when he shows up with a camera. “They usually ask me if I can take their picture too,” he says, “and say, ‘well, I got a story too.’”

One of the stories that “hits the nail on the head,” in Stockbridge’s words, is that of the two sisters “Tic-Tac and Tootsie,” pictured in the gallery above. The photographer says that the similarities and differences between the twins—the echoed hunches of their shoulders, the slight smile on only one face—highlight the contrasts inherent in life on the Avenue. The people in his photographs struggle and survive.

The project is the photographer’s first experience with pairing audio and visual recordings—both of which can be seen on the blog he maintains for the project—and he has also begun asking his subjects to write in a journal that he hopes to display alongside their photographs. He says that the collective history, as written and told by the residents of Kensington, is a necessary counterpart to his desire to use available light and chance meetings to communicate something about the human condition. Although the project now feels almost finished to Stockbridge, he says that it’s a topic that one could photograph forever—and that he may return, in a decade or so to see what has or hasn’t changed. “Every week there’s new people on the avenue,” he says.

And those people will, undoubtedly, have their own stories to tell, in their own voices. “I’m really just trying to show,” says Stockbridge. “I’m not trying to define. I’m just trying to say: ‘look.’”

Jeffrey Stockbridge is a Philadelphia-based photographer. See more of his work here.

Robin Maddock @ TJ Boulting, London

“Maddock’s views and snatches of life are both surreal and individual. He has the enviable ability to turn nothing much into something quite profound.” – Martin Parr
Opening tonight at TJ Boulting, is Robin Maddock’s God Forgotten Face, an exhibition in conjunction with the book of the same name, published by Trolley, which examines aspects of the everyday life in Plymouth, a port town still bearing the scars of the Blitz.
The exhibition showcases both key images from the book as well as new additions, taken more recently. In the words of gallery director, Hannah Watson, these have the effect of “introducing a slight shift to a lighter and more lyrical interpretation of the city.”
In her press release for the show she goes on to say: “After two years spent living in the town, where he has had family all his life, Maddock achieves a familiar interaction with his subjects, visible through his portraits in night clubs and pubs, and in the witnessing of the various goings on down at the sea front or in the local rec. In the misty early morning a nun stops to call her dog, whilst later a police forecourt is bathed in light and transported to a sunny LA; Maddock’s insight into the city is at once affectionate and optimistic in outlook, but stamped with his own aesthetic and curiosity.
In the book Owen Hatherley writes with a similar affection In Praise of Blitzed Cities, citing that the negative and concrete environs that come into most people’s minds when they think of Plymouth are in fact overlooking its “shabby, ad hoc vitality that most heritage cities would die for.” As a town, Plymouth’s past has been one of ongoing economic and cultural isolation since the shrinking of the Navy. Now it reflects more a broader England in decline, whilst all the post-modern ironic contradictions of the evolving new economies are present; ‘Francis Drake’ is a shopping mall, and what was the ‘Royal Sovereign’ pub is now a ‘Firkin Doghouse’. 
His childhood memories of the place are also challenged by more adult quotidian realities of Maddock’s time there, and his own preconceptions; the journey’s question shifting from, ‘What am I doing here?’ to the more telling, ‘What am I, here?’ The ‘God Forgotten Face’ of the title, originally derived from the 1945 Philip Larkin poem Plymouth, and the words “Last kingdom of a gold forgotten face…”, perhaps coming to represent his own personal account as a photographer finding himself changed in the face of the subject he had returned to find.” 
The exhibition runs until 2 June 2012.

Trevor Powers, Untitled

Trevor Powers, Untitled

Trevor Powers

Untitled,
Boston, 2011
From the Sleep the Clock Around series
Website – CargoCollective.com/TrevorPowers

Trevor Powers (b. 1985) is a photographer and curator based in Boston, Massachusetts. He studied photography at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where he graduated in 2008. His work is primarily based around travel and the relationships, connections, and routines of everyday life. He is interested in exploring America, collaboration, zines, and creating community and sharing work through events and shows he curates. Most recently, he launched the All Visual Boston Slideshow, a series of one-night only, digitally projected group shows featuring the recent work of local and international artists.