Tag Archives: Journeys

Review: Andres Gonzalez, Somewhere

Andres Gonzalez, Somewhere

Andres Gonzalez’s book Somewhere is a deliberately slippery beast. As its title implies it is not about a specific place, but more about the idea of place itself. It begins and ends in an airplane, as if to make the point that it will be taking us on a series of journeys. These photographs were taken all over the world (Mexico, China, Namibia, Ukraine…) over the course of a decade, but Somewhere is clearly not a travelogue. There are no images of the Great Wall of China or of the Namibian desert, but rather of the late afternoon light pouring into a bedroom or of an anonymous shopping mall parking lot. The book doesn’t follow a narrative or focus on a single subject, but instead it seems to have been structured to mimic the way we remember, where one memory will lead to the recollection of another from an entirely different time and place. The design by Dutch graphic designer extraordinaire, Sybren Kuiper, emphasizes the overlap between these moments even further by interweaving sections with different sized pages to create a subtle flow of images that slowly appear and disappear.

Andres Gonzalez, Somewhere

Like the subconscious, Somewhere does not neatly catalogue memories of different times and places, but instead allows them to shuffle together into a more complicated and confused whole. Much of what we see is revealed through a window or behind curtains and the reflective matte paper stock itself contributes to this impression of distance from the subject. While it deals with many of photography’s major themes—place, time, memory, dreams and reality—it isn’t interested in making any grandiose statements. It is a quiet and modest book (it fits nicely in the palm of your hand), a book of emotions and atmosphere rather than of concept or ideas. It successfully conjures up the world of dreams and of memory, but without offering any particular resolution: Gonzalez’s images obstruct as much as they reveal, and the impression that the book leaves is elusive and even a little frustrating… an intense dream that you cannot quite remember.

Andres Gonzalez, Somewhere

Andres Gonzalez, Somewhere

Andres Gonzalez, Somewhere, (Self-published, 84 pages, hard cover, 2012, edition of 700)

Rating: Recommended

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Root of the Nation: Zhang Kechun Photographs China’s Yellow River

As a boy, he read about the mythic river. As a man, he went to find its source. Chengdu-based photographer Zhang Kechun has spent much of the last two years on the banks the Yellow River, the waterway considered both the cradle of Chinese civilization and, when it breaks its banks, its curse. “I wanted to photograph the river respectfully,” said Zhang. “It represents the root of the nation.”

Zhang’s project has the feel of a pilgrimage. He travels on a fold-up bicycle, following the river’s silted water from the coastal flats of Shandong, west, to the mountains of Qinghai. He journeys for a month at a time, lugging a large format Linhof camera, a tripod and just enough film. Sometimes, he says, he went a week without taking a picture. “I wanted to take my time,” he said,  ”to slow down and experience every second of the moment.”

His patient labor paid off. The work is intimate and expansive, capturing quiet moments under vast, gray skies. People swim. Buildings rise. Life plays out against a dateless haze. “I choose cloudy, gloomy days to photograph and I overexpose my photos,” Zhang explained. This, he said, “adds a soft and gentle touch,” giving each frame an otherworldly feel. This ethereal stillness quiets the quotidian realities of the river: movement, pollution, noise.

Zhang says he did not set out to document environmental destruction — others have done that. But China’s headlong rush to develop has scarred the country’s land, air and water, and the mighty Yellow River is no exception. ”I started off wanting to photograph my ideal of the river, but I kept running into pollution,” he said. “I realized that I couldn’t run away from it, and that I didn’t need to run away from it.”

Though the lunar tones and low horizons feel foreboding, Zhang insists the project carries a message of hope. There is a reason all the people in his pictures look tiny: ”The power of humans is nothing compared to the power of nature, even when we try to change it.” Century upon century, the river runs.


Zhang Kechun is a Chengdu-based photographer with the MoST agency. 

Emily Rauhala is an Associate Editor at TIMEAdditional reporting and translation from Regina Wang.

The Halls of Democracy: Places of Civic Responsibility

American citizensand those applying for the titlelearn early that they have two primary civic responsibilities: voting and jury duty. As voting booths are installed in our common areas across the nationin schools, gyms, firehouses, grocery stores and municipal buildingswe realize the true weight of our duties as citizens.

Michael Mergen, an assistant professor of photography at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., became particularly interested in votersand voting locationswhile working as a photojournalist during the 2004 presidential election. When he walked into a barbershop-turned-polling center in west Philadelphia, Mergen thought to himself, This has to be preserved.

In the years since, Mergen has photographed countless voting booths, jury rooms and naturalization facilities in his quest to document what he considers essential parts of being an American. After combing through thousands of polling sites on Excel spreadsheets, the photographer then chose stations located in private homes or unusual businesses; his journeys have taken him to pizza parlors, living rooms, garages, funeral homes and other eccentric spots scattered across Philadelphia. His eight years of work have yielded three revealing yet non-partisan series aptly titled, Vote,DeliberateandNaturalization, which collectively seek to underscore the importance of citizen-driven governance.

There are few instances in our lives where as an American you can say, I was a citizen today, Mergen says. calohealth.com . We are citizens everyday going about our business, but its rare when that becomes an actual tangible event.Its kind of amazing that casting a vote at Buds Tire in Murfreesboro, Tenn. actually [contributes to] President Obama or Governor Romney winning.

Michael Mergenis a Virginia-based photographer.

Land of Stories and Myths: Yaakov Israel Photographs His Homeland

The land upon which the nation of Israel sits is steeped in stories and myths. It’s ancient, holy; all three major faiths that took root here see salvation in its domes, its olive groves, its cracked earth. It’s a land where people still seek the messiah. In one Orthodox Jewish messianic tradition, He will return riding a white donkey. On a blistering summer’s day in 2006, Yaakov Israel peered through the heat waves and saw, emerging in the distance, a man atop a white donkey. “He materialized,” says Israel, a photographer based in Jerusalem, “like a fata morgana,” a mirage.

Israel’s book The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey will be released in the U.S. this fall.

This man on a donkey was no illusion — nor, most would contest, was he the messiah. Instead, his arrival from the desert and into Israel’s lens gave the photographer a guide for a photo project he has worked on for the past decade, crystallized in a new book, The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey. Israel’s pictures are the product of years of wanderings in Israel, in the Occupied Territories and in the spaces in-between, seeking to document a vision of its people and landscapes away from the noise of an intractable political conflict and the rumbling news media that watches it.

In the spirit of U.S. photographers who chronicled their journeys through the American vastness, Israel would wake up early in the morning and head off in a direction, photographing what he saw and whom he encountered along the way. Of course, unlike in the U.S., Israel, traveling in the country that bears his name, would invariably run into one or two political borders by nightfall. And so his gaze dwells on the quiet of certain moments — “the small clues for me that exist in each image,” as he puts it — that tell a story of daily life in a land whose deep history and uncertain future are woven through with gestures that are at once religious, political and inescapably human.

A girl wades into the Sea of Galilee, her arms held wide as if choosing between crucifixion and baptism. Spools of barbed wire are followed in the book by tangles of thorns and a sea of dandelions; men with guns look on, at times curious, at times detached. A backpacker sleeps. The hills glow and soak in sunlight.

Israel emphasizes the everyday nature of his subjects — “these are people I’m just bumping into every time I go out.” Often, they would go out of their way to accommodate Israel, posing patiently, introducing him to family and friends, pointing to new vistas for his camera. In one scene, a pair of Arab workers who had intended to go to work choose instead to hang out with Israel and share their breakfast with him. “These episodes of human courtesy happened again and again,” says Israel. “For me, these small things tell another kind of political story.”

The man on the white donkey, a Palestinian farmer, was no different. In 45 degrees Celsius heat, he agreed without hesitation to participate in Israel’s project, desperately trying to keep his steed still until an image became clear.

Yaakov Israel is a Jerusalem-based photographer. See more of his work here.

The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey will be available in the U.S. this fall. The project recently won the PhotoEspaña Descubrimientos (PHE12 Discoveries) 2012 Award.

Liz Huston

Photographer and Artist, Liz Huston may live in Venice, California, a place known for interesting characters, but it’s in Liz’s imagination that the truly unique characters exist. Her work has evolved from a  traditional film background into digital assemblage and photomontage, allowing her rich imagination to flourish. Liz continually explores new ways of expressing her  dreams and inner landscapes, and it was through this process that she discovered a deep sense
of artistic purpose. 
Liz works as a commercial and fine art photographer, has exhibited nationally, and has published three books
of her photography, with a fourth currently in the works. Her work will be featured in the exhibition, LA Mixtape at LeBasse Projects Chinatown in Los Angeles opening Friday, August 4th.

Tales of Love and LongingI am fascinated with the way memory
influences how stories change and evolve over time. This happens not
because the facts change, but because the inner orientation of the
storyteller has. Their perspective grows, expanding and contracting with
experience. The storyteller journeys us deep into the timeless aspects
of the human experience; the kingdoms of love and loss, through a myriad
of emotions. Through grief, resolve, growth and into the balance of
purpose. 
Images from Tales of Love and Longing
…And the Truth Shall Set You Free, 2011

 The human form, quite often a female form, is the storyteller within my art. She comes to us in the nude, like a baby, with nothing to hide: her full power and breadth still intact. We see her as metaphor, as paradox embodied. She has the power of flight, yet chooses to walk. She has the ability to swim in great depths, yet allows herself to be captured and tamed.  She teaches us, she moves through us, and yet, she does not belong to us. She is composed of images from the past and the present, and thus inhabits multiple worlds at once. This time traveler, this storyteller, unites the treads of time– leading us home, bringing us back into ourselves. 

 Do As I Say (Not As I Do), 2011

Do You Love Me? (Nick Cave Tribute), 2012

 So Long As You Wish It, 2010

 Creative Isolation and the Map of Authenticity, 2011

 Goodnight, My Love, 2010

 Lullabies in Glass, 2012

 When I Found You, I Thought There Was Nothing Left, 2009

 Persistent Dream in a Broken Reality, 2010
 If There is a Prison in Your Mind, May the Bars be the Same Color As the Sky, 2012

 Self Help as a Competitive Sport, 2011

 The Slumber of Ondine, 2011

 The World Is As You Are, 2011

Walking the Spaces Between Where You End and I Begin, 2010

‘Home Works’ by Joakim Eskildsen

Joakim Eskildsen’s new body of work, Home Works, explores the poetry of place through the five different homes to which he has moved his family over the past six years. His pictures are painter-like, discovering different moods and seasons, a quiet thoughtfulness, an overwhelming beauty and a love of landscape. His family’s final move to a new home in Germany, just this month, will dictate the last pictures in the project.

The series began in 2005, just before his son Seraphin was born. Two years later, his daughter Rubina was born. “The whole process of having children is such an interesting thing,” he says. “They have been very inspiring to follow, and to discover the world and landscapes together with.” The landscapes are often empty but sometimes dotted with a child. In the early pictures, the children are small elements in the larger frame and as the work moves forward through time, the children take precedence over their surroundings.

One of the most exciting aspects of Eskildsen’s process is the influence that bookmaking has had on his direction. Since the beginning of his career he has integrated the bookmaking form directly into his photography process.

As an MA student in Finland, he studied with Finnish masters, Pentti Sammallahti and Jyrki Parantainen. Under their mentorship he was amazed to discover the idea that the photographer could be in charge of the whole process of making the book: from layout to typography to binding to offset printing: “The main idea was that the book itself is the art object, and not a catalog for the exhibition prints.“

Over the next four years as an MA student, Eskildsen made his first two books by hand: Nordic Signs and Bluetide. After school he published iChickenMoon with an edition of 1,800. Most recently, The Roma Journeys—his brilliant book about the European ethnic groups known as Gypsies—was published by Steidl in 2007. “The book is a very flexible format. You can work on only one book or you can print it in an edition of 11,000. Both can be equally inspiring,” he says. “There is something in this whole process which is so magical and keeps challenging me.”

Those formative years in Finland inspired a slow and thoughtful approach to his work. “I like to allow myself to work over a span of years to have a kind of relationship with the work,” he says. “I feel almost that if it is too fast, you might not get to know the pictures before it’s over.” In Home Works in particular, Eskildsen is working very closely in tandem between making the pictures and then taking time to work on layouts and juxtapositions, and to re-edit and refine and then to continue shooting. He plans to give himself two more years to capture his newest home. In this process, he says, “the vision becomes clearer”: “One of the main things I learned is that the work is only half done when you have a lot of good pictures,” he says. “One has to spend a lot of time with these images, too, and work a lot with them.”

Eskildsen’s diligence is being recognized. Steidl plans to publish Home Works in 2015, along with American Realities—about poverty in America (a project originally commissioned for this magazine)—and a third edition of Roma Journeys, both planned for 2013, as well as a re-print of Nordic Signs for 2015.

Joakim Eskildsen is a Danish photographer based in Berlin. He is best known for his book The Roma Journeys (Steidl, 2007). More of his work can be seen here.

Photographer #429: Christoph Bangert

Christoph Bangert, 1978, Germany, is a photojournalist based in Switzerland who studied photography at the Fachhochschule in Dortmund and at the International Center of Photography in New York. He has traveled extensively to countries as Japan, Chad, Lebanon, Nigeria and Palestine for his photography. In Pakistan he covered the story of the cold winter after the earthquake hit in 2005. In 2007 he released two monographs. Travel Notes contains images from a 22,000 mile car trip he made from Argentina to New York in 2002. IRAQ: The Space Between shows the work he did in 2005 and 2006 in Iraq on assignment for the New York Times. In the same year he was also chosen for the Joop Swart Masterclass. His images have appeared in numerous publications as Stern, Time, Newsweek and GEO. Currently Christoph is working on a book that will show the images of a 14 month trip in 2007 and 2008 through 36 African countries with a Land Rover. He was exhausted from all the things he in the years before and needed a break to become “a human being again.” The following images come from journeys to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Website: www.christophbangert.com

A Portrait of the New Hampshire Primary: Photos by Christopher Morris

Mitt Romney made history Tuesday night as the first Republican to win both the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary since 1976. Ron Paul came in second and Jon Huntsman finished third, while Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry trailed in their wake. Photojournalist Christopher Morris’ latest collection for TIME explores the journey behind this historic primary and the strange mix of enthusiasm, fear and anticipation that accompanied it.

In 2006, the Morris released his first monograph, My America, which began on assignment for TIME during the George W. Bush administration. Now he journeys into Republican America again for TIME in this collection.

Morris trains his lens on those to whom the political grasp for power is most dear—not solely the candidates, but perhaps more poignantly, the voters. Complex and diverse faces drew Morris’ attention in New Hampshire. “A true visual palette awaits any photographer who ventures up here to experience the very American process called a primary,” says Morris. “Not only was I captivated by the looks of the New Hampshire voters, but equally interesting were the campaign staff, the journalists and the odd-man-out characters on the campaign trail.”

Morris’ ability to capture the tension that connects the inner human spirit with outward communal realities is unparalleled. He describes his anthropological style as “straight and modern.” To that, we would add distinct and cinematic.

His insight into America’s young faces—the children whose future many of the candidates claim they are running to save—conveys a fresh look into the candidates’ audiences. His images here of blue sequined boots and twisted American flags provoke deeper wonderment at both the American social realities and political processes. Then there is his soon-to-be priceless snapshot of Ron Paul—in all his White House runs, we’ve never seen Paul look quite like this. Enjoy a moment to soak in these pictures before the race sprints onward to the Palmetto State.

Christopher Morris is a contract photographer for TIME and represented by VII. See more of his work here.

Elizabeth Dias is a reporter in TIME’s Washington bureau. Find her on Twitter @elizabethjdias.