Tag Archives: Michelle Dubois

MoMA’s New Photography 2012

Since it was established in 1985, the annual New Photography exhibition at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art has sought to showcase emerging photographers who are experimenting with techniques, subject matter and presentation that challenge the very definition of the medium itself. That goal has only gotten more difficult each year, as advances in technology and social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram have bombarded viewers with a proliferation of images; the New York Times predicts that more than 380 billion photographs were taken in 2011 alone. That saturated environment serves as the backdrop of this year’s show, which opens Oct. 3 and runs through Feb. 4. And while it’s a reoccurring theme among this year’s five featured photographers (Michele Abeles, Shirana Shahbazi, Zoe Crosher, Anne Collier and the collective Birdhead, composed of Shanghai natives Ji Weiyu and Song Tao), the artists’ different approach to image saturation nods to the wide breath of work that New Photography hopes to survey each year.

“We often think about variety and diversity, so that each artistwhatever ideas they’re exploringwill stand apart from one another,” says associate curator Eva Respini. “It’s in the mix of the artists that you can get a sense of the diversity of what’s happening in contemporary photography today.” Among this year’s mix: Abeles (American, b. 1977), whose collage-like work juxtaposes male nudes against common objects like wine bottles; Shahbazi (German, b. Iran 1974), who disseminates her images in various creative ways, such as a photo rug with help from weavers in her native Tehran; Crosher (American, b. 1975), who re-purposes and re-photographs Michelle Dubois’s existing archive of self portraits; Collier (American, b. 1970), who combines found objects in her reflection of mass media and pop culture; and Birdhead, (Ji Weiyu, Chinese, b. 1980, and Song Tao, Chinese, b. directory submission . 1979), whose black-and-white snapshots of daily Shanghai life are installed in grid format, without ever identifying the author of an individual image. “The fact that they don’t really distinguish who takes what pictures speaks to what their work is about,” says Respini. “It’s a reflection of a Facebook generationa generation that’s used to thinking about multiple images and an accumulation of images instead of discrete images that are elevated to a fine art status.” Four of the five artists are women, a trend Respini says would be “great to continue.”

Even the installation of the show itself reflects photography’s changing nature. Visitors will see traditional modes of presentationsuch as framed photographs on a wallbut also more sculptural elements, such as lithographic wallpaper fromShahbazi and a site-specific configuration from Birdhead. This, combined with the diverse output from the photographers themselves, willas MoMa surely hopes, anywayelevate New Photography 2012 from the mass of photography exhibitions.

New Photography opens October 3, and runs through February 4, 2013. Learn more about the show here.

Aperture @ First Annual PGH Photo Fair

Emerald Garden Laundromat, 2008, Mark Lyon

You don’t have to travel to Miami or New York to start collecting. This month, photography enthusiasts in Western Pennsylvania will have access to the PGH Photo Fair, the first annual art fair in Pittsburgh promoting the discussion of photography within the contemporary and fine art market, Saturday, April 21–Sunday, April 22, 2012.

Organized by photography collector Evan Mirapaul, the PGH Photo Fair will play host to selection of internationally known dealers, showcasing museum-quality prints and photo-based art spanning the history of the medium, from 20th Century vintage prints to contemporary photography and photographic book art. Visitors will have the unique opportunity to browse and learn about photography from some of the world’s most knowledgeable experts, while shopping works that range from affordable delights to unique rarities.

“I invited the highest quality dealers I knew,” Mirapaul says. “That was the primary criterion … I wanted to invite dealers that could bring a lot of knowledge and expertise to any conversation with a new audience, but without any high-art attitude.”

Aperture is among the six internationally known dealers that the PGH Photography fair will host throughout the weekend. Join us at the former YMCA building in East Liberty to browse and buy limited-edition prints from Graham Nash, Michelle DuBois, Alfred Steichen, Mark Lyon, 2011 portfolio prize winner Sarah Palmer, and Sophie T. Lvoff, among other notable photographers from the Aperture stable.

Aperture at PGH Photo Fair
Saturday, April 21–Sunday, April 22, 2012
Saturday, April 21: 12:00 – 6:00 pm
Sunday, April 22: 11:00 am– 5:00 p


Former YMCA building in East Liberty
120 South Whitfield Street
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The New York Art Book Fair 2011

Join Aperture this weekend at the New York Art Book Fair, Printed Matter‘s annual fair of contemporary art books, catalogs, artists’ books, periodicals, and ‘zines offered for sale by over 200 international publishers, booksellers, antiquarian dealers, and independent artist/publishers representing the best in contemporary art publications. Philip Aarons, Chair of the Board for Printed Matter, Inc., says: “The NY Art Book Fair remains the premier venue to find what’s new in art publishing. This year’s focus on artists’ photography books, and the addition of more than 60 zinesters in an outdoor tent, will make this year’s edition of the Fair the best so far.”

Visit our booth featuring books such as Penelope Umbrico (photographs)Handbook by Gary Schneider, and The Reconsidered Archive of Michelle duBois by Zoe Crosher and also now available is our new Aperture Tote!

Preview: Thursday, September 29, 2011
6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Friday, September 30, 2011–Sunday, October 2, 2011
11:00 am–7:00 pm

This event is free and open to the public.

2225 Jackson Ave
Long Island City, New York

Zoe Crosher Named LACMA Art Here and Now Artist

Since 1963, LACMA has supported local emerging artists, first with the Young Talent Award, then in 1986 with the Art Here and Now (AHAN) program. This year, one of the two recipients of the prestigious award is Aperture-featured photographer Zoe Crosher. Carefully selected by LACMA’s Modern and Contemporary Art Council (MCAC) as well as the museum’s Modern and Contemporary Art curators, nine unique images from Crosher’s The Reconsidered Archive of Michelle duBois have now been acquired for LACMA’s permanent collection.


Zoe Crosher is an artist living in Los Angeles. Her work has been exhibited in Vancouver, Rotterdam, Los Angeles, and New York City, including a billboard project with LAXART (2010) and inclusion in the 2010 California Biennial. She has been working on Los Angeles-inspired, site-specific photographic projects since 2001. Her monograph Out the Window (LAX) examines space and transience around the Los Angeles airport, and a series of four monographs on her newest project, The Reconsidered Archive of Michelle duBois, are forthcoming from Aperture Ideas. Crosher has just been announced as a 2011 recipient of LACMA’s prestigious Art Here and Now: Studio Forum (AHAN) program to support acquisitions by emerging Los Angeles-area artists. She holds a B.A. in Art & Politics from UC Santa Cruz, and an M.F.A. in Photography & Integrated Media from CalArts.


The project  The Reconsidered Archive of Michelle duBois is also a print-on-demand limited-edition artist book. It is the first in a four-volume set by the artist, and part of Aperture Ideas: Writers and Artists on Photography, a series devoted to the finest critical and creative minds exploring key concepts in photography, including new technologies of production and dissemination.


Identical in structure, each volume offers an alternate perspective on the archive of Michelle duBois, an enigmatic collection of images bequeathed to the artist by the subject and compiler. In each subsequent volume, Crosher configures a new set of identities and meanings for this ephemeral archive of photographic detritus through a selection of unique sets of images, reinterpretations of photos seen in previous volumes, as well as new texts.


Zoe Crosher’s The Unraveling of Michelle duBois is a reconsidered archive culled from crates, boxes and albums consisting of endless flirtatious smiles, tourist shots, cheesecake mementos and suggestive poses in every film type and size. This limited-edition artist book includes a unique to the volume 8 x 10-inch signed and numbered print. The Reconsidered Archive of Michelle duBois was featured in Aperture magazine, issue 198.



Q+A: Lucas Blalock vs. Zoe Crosher (Part 1)

This is the fifth installment in a conversation series initiated by Lucas Blalock with contemporary artists concerning materiality in regards to current photographic practice.

Zoe Crosher is an artist who lives and works in Los Angeles. Her current undertaking is The Michelle duBois Project; a series of investigations into the personal photographic archive of Michelle duBois, a call girl and aspiring flight attendant who worked the Pacific Rim during the 1970’s and ’80’s. The range and depth of the archive is tremendous, owing greatly to the fact that the subject was enthralled by her own portraiture. Crosher has approached this archive in ever evolving iterations that highlight the strategies and structures of fantasy as much as they expose anything concrete about Ms. duBois herself. Two independent iterations of the archive can currently be seen in Los Angeles; one as part of the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, and the other, For Ur Eyes Only: The Unveiling of Michelle duBois, at the Charlie James Gallery with related events at Dan Graham, Royal Pagoda, and EGHQ. This final iteration (the tenth), curated by Emma Gray, will be the last before Crosher commits it to a monograph to be published by a new arm of Aperture Books next year. Work from other of the artist’s projects are also currently on view in The City Proper (curated by James Welling) at Margo Leavin, also in LA.

LB: Can you talk a little about how photographs “act” as material in The Reconsidered Archive of Michelle du Bois? They seem to be considered as both images of someones life, but also as objects or keepsakes from that  life. For me this doubles the notion of archive in that it is both an ‘archive of her’ as well as ‘her archive’. Is this something you were thinking about?

ZC: Yes it is absolutely something I am thinking about! Not only is this an  ‘archive of her’ as well as ‘her archive’, but with all these different iterations/shows accumulating over the course of the project and everything gradually collapsing together, it also becomes an archive of my ever-shifting relationship to the work. This cumulative collapse will ultimately play out in the upcoming book to be published by Aperture in the Spring of 2011, where images from previous versions of the book, install shots, various reviews, the recent mock-mock up in the CA Biennial, possibly even this interview will end up as part of the larger archive. This cumulative layering of material and history, playing out through the “Kodak Promise” of every single film type, size and print, add to the impossibility of seeing the archive as a totality of ‘her’, or whatever various fantasies there are of ‘who she is.’ The fiction of the totality of ‘her’ mirrors the fiction of totality that the actuality of the archive can never achieve.

It is here that the materiality of the archive gets sussed out through the photographs themselves. Their (the photographs’) object-ness and material-ness become paramount in the connection between the archive’s own materiality and the concept of the archive specific to this historical moment of the end of the analog. There is a parallel between the unraveling of her narrative and the unraveling of the material of the narrative, of the end of the analog…Somewhat secondary to this you also have my exploring the physicality of the archive through its materials (through the backs of photographs and the fronts of albums), and furthermore, there is an interest in anything inside the image frame that references things ‘kodak’. I am interested in the vernacular tropes of the amateur photographer that become the invisible layer through which you view the images themselves. Neither the ‘images’ nor the ‘photographs’ are neutral. Both get read (reconsidered, unraveled, unveiled)  simultaneously against the backdrop of this perfect example of an amateur photographer known as Michelle duBois.

LB: I want to continue down this idea of the archive-at-the-end-of-the-analog and it’s relationship to narrative.  Do you see the digital as the end of a certain kind of narrativity? Said that way it reminds me a bit of Christopher Williams’s “period piece” For Example: Dix-Huits Leçons sur La Société Industrielle which also comes into itself through a collection of iterations, except that where he is focused on a broad material (Marxist) history your work seems to focus on the problematics of a personal history. Maybe you could even say a personal history as it could be told/collected in the brief ‘age’ of analog photography?

ZC: I do want to make clear that this idea I’m working with of archive-at-the-end-of-the-analog and it’s relationship to narrative was initially rooted in the impossibility of totality concerning a persons’ persona (or history) in photographs. This fiction (of possible totality) as regards the archive is in fact nearly inverse in that in fact accumulation does not equal clarity but in fact compromises it. Starting off with my LAX work that played with the fiction of the ‘documentary’ in relation to the mapping of Los Angeles via LAX, I next wanted to extend this notion of documentary failure to a question of numbers; amounts of images and what that means. The problems I am interested in; the archive and mapping, became intertwined in this project with the problematics of the “amateur photographic history” that the duBois’ archive encapsulates. All of which now seems clearly specific to a historical, pre-digital, Kodak moment.

I don’t think the digital is the end of a certain kind of narrativity, but I do see it as the end of a certain physicality of the narrative. Information is always embodied, it is just that there is now distance from this type of analog embodiment that is particularly physical and messy; in this case, as messy as the content of her life and fanatical self-documentation, or what I called Autoportraiture. Not only are you dealing with the collapse of her pose over time, of the ‘quality’ of her image, but you are dealing with a physicalized collapse of the photograph (or film, or polaroid or print.) In the analog the way that time takes a physical toll (in all senses) is so vastly different from the digital and its comparatively immaterial relationship to history; where information be so easily deleted on the spot or forgotten on some hard drive somewhere. The problematics of the narrative and the archive are of course still present with the digital, but in such a vastly different realm.

It’s also interesting that you bring up Christopher Williams as he was quite influential when I began to think about photographing the language of photography and the schism between image and objectness (Anne Collier was also very inspiring in this way). He is actually so inspirational that there are a couple of pieces from the duBois project dedicated specifically to him, Like Mika Smiling for Christopher Williams and Like Mika Almost Laughing for Christopher Williams. There was such an amazingly innocent readymade reference to Williams’ faux commercial images of the ladies with the towels on their heads that I ended up extending the reference by mimicking his exact print size, mat size, frame size & type and edition size, which is always the same. This was part of an early investigation into mining the (unintentional) art historical references that duBois had (see also the Cindy-Shermanesque cluster.)

I’ll have to think more about the comparison to Williams in regards to the problematics of history, but yes, I am clearly working within that realm, specifically from a feminist vantage point…

LB:  That the material (c-print) mirrors the dissolution of a lifetime in the analog is a really resonant notion, and inherently gets to the sense of their being no achievable totality either in identity or in history. I feel to treat the information physically (bringing it’s decaying substrate into focus) really does make for a strikingly corporeal photography which for me opens easily to certain traditions in feminism. I am interested in the way that the contemporary explorations of the analogue and it’s properties really deconstruct a great deal of the popular mythology about the medium. Popularly, the photograph has often been considered in spite of it’s materiality in notions of permanence and objectivity, yet from here (on the digital horizon) it seems we are all-of-the-sudden often relating to pictures through their ‘bodies’ as it were. I am interested in the way duBois’ “amateur-ness” defines this relationship in your work. You said earlier that she was a sort of “perfect amateur photographer” and to me her relationship to the photographs production is the initial point of capture. (Who is this woman? What was she seeking by making these? etc.) I feel like amateur here comes with a fully articulated set of conventions as if it were a genre all its own (even the notes on the back feel like a convention)? Do you see this acting out as implicit in the “Kodak promise”? that she was performing not only a set of fantasy roles in her life but ones that come to necessitate photography? is this a stretch?

ZC: The wonderful thing about the word amateur is that it is based in the root word amour, meaning love. There has historically been a distinction made between the “amateur” and the “professional” in regards to art-making, with Professionalism as a concept going through an interesting bout of self-definition in the last forty years. Howard Singerman speaks a lot about this, a huge shift towards MFAs, formalizing art production, the system of a monied art world dictating terms of production on all levels. This simple and very misleading dichotomy, to make something out of ”love” or to make a “living” is also encapsulated in the Postmodern discussion of High/Low art and the questioning (and resulting collapsing of) that so-90s question of selling out. It begs the larger question, how is art judged?  In the amateur world, there is no assumption of judgment, or at least no perception of one, and this supposed liberation is key to reading the duBois work.

Her amateur ‘liberation’ is indeed conventional, all amateur things are, because one lets go any assumption of criticality and can therefore be “free” to do whatever it is they want, from stamp collecting to pole dancing to photographing oneself in many Mae-West like poses all over Asia in the 70s and 80s. This fantasy duBois has of herself, the “freedom”, is seen in the quality and, most importantly, the numbers of her photographs. And I agree with your “stretch” – there is no question her fantasy relationship to herself is inextricably caught up with assumptions of the photographic (and the cinematic), especially in relationship to feminism and to how women have been photographed/objectified/posed/etc.

The project swings back around when duBois’ agency gets complicated by her relationship to her means of production – she was completely in charge of every aspect of the image, from the materials to the pose to the keeping of the photographic stuffness that begs this embodied question of the digital horizon.The crazy part about the whole thing is that the viewer isn’t sure whether the/her/my intent is cynical or not, and that confusion is especially profound. She has all the hallmarks of “art” yet her “work” was made without any self-reflexive relationship to that. Perhaps self-reflexivity is a key to that amateur/professional distinction.
LB: I thought we might leave off this installment w/ an extended quote from Claude Levi-Strauss that I came across in Ann Reynolds book on Robert Smithson. I feel like it has a lot of relevance here. She quotes:

“The virtue of archives is to put us in contact with pure historicity. As I have already said about myths concerning the origin of totemic appellations, their value does not lie in the intrinsic significance of the events evoked: these can be insignificant or even entirely absent, if what is in question is a few lines of autograph or a signature out of context. But think of the value of Johann Sebastian Bach’s signature to one who cannot hear a bar of his music without a quickening of his pulse. As for events themselves, I have pointed out that they are attested otherwise than by the authentic documents, and generally better. Archives thus provide something else: on the one hand they constitute events in their radical contingence (since only interpretation, which forms no part of them, can ground them in reason), and, on the other, they give a physical existence to history, for in them alone is the contradiction of a completed past and a present in which it survives, surmounted…”

* all images copyright Zoe Crosher