Tag Archives: Museum Of Modern Art

Lydia Panas, Maria + Corinne

Lydia Panas, Maria + Corinne

Lydia Panas

Maria + Corinne,
Kutztown, Pennsylvania, 2012
Website – LydiaPanas.com

Lydia Panas is an award-winning photographer whose work has been exhibited widely throughout the United States and abroad, and has won numerous awards. She was one of nine International Discoveries, Houston Fotofest in 2007. Her work is included in numerous collections, including Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Brooklyn Museum, and Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. Lydia has degrees from Boston College, the School of Visual Arts, New York University/International Center of Photography, as well as an Independent Study Fellowship from the Whitney Museum of American Art. Lydia has taught photography at a number of institutions, including The Museum of Modern Art, Lafayette, Muhlenberg and Moravian Colleges, Kutztown University, The Maine Media Workshops, The Vermont College MFA program, and the Baum School of Art/Lehigh Carbon Community College.

Europe Week: Oleg Videnin

Guest editor, Jacqueline Roberts shares a week of European photographers, today with Oleg Videnin. A huge thank you to Jacqueline for her insight and efforts. 
Oleg Videnin was born in Bryansk (Russia) in 1963. Trained as a forestry engineer, he eventually worked in newspapers, radio, and television, becoming a member of the Russian Union of Journalists. His childhood interest in photography grew into a full-fledged passion in the late 1990s, his work has since gained international recognition. Oleg has had solo exhibition in Russia, Serbia, Australia, and the United States, and has been featured in numerous magazines. His photographs are included in the collections of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, as well as in private collections in Russia and abroad.
Oleg lives with his family in Bryansk.
Russians
“I was going round the world searching for an interesting place, when I realized that the place that I was in was already interesting.” Emmet Gowin 

Jacqueline states: When I first saw Oleg’s work I was riveted by the strong connection that exists between him and the people he photographs. Like an August Sander, Oleg has been meticulously photographing his region, his town, his people and his neighbours. Young and old, men and women, jubilant and despondent, communities and outsiders… his work is very much local and documental. Yet it is the universal dimension and the emotional quality of his portraits that keeps me coming back to his images….

Shen Wei, Self-portrait (Juniper)

Shen Wei, Self-portrait (Juniper)

Shen Wei

Self-portrait (Juniper),
, 2012
From the I Miss You Already series
Website – ShenPhoto.com

Born and raised in Shanghai, Shen Wei is a fine art photographer currently based in New York City. His work have been exhibited nationally and internationally, with venues including the Museum of the City of New York, Southeast Museum of Photography, Lincoln Center Avery Fisher Hall, the Harn Museum of Art and the CAFA Art Museum in Beijing. His photographs have been featured in publications such as The New Yorker, Aperture, ARTnews, PDN, American Photo, and Chinese Photography. Shen Wei's work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Philadelphia Museum of Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, Library of Congress, Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Museum of Chinese in America, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Kinsey Institute. He holds an MFA in photography, video, and related media from the School of Visual Arts, New York; a BFA in photography from Minneapolis College of Art and Design; and an AA in decorative arts from Shanghai Light Industry College.

Robert Herman: The New Yorkers

Brooklyn born photographer, Robert Herman began working as an usher at a movie theater owned
by his parents. The exposure to a wide range of films during his formative
years provided him with a unique vision: “Working for my father allowed me to
view the same movie repeatedly,” he recalls, “until the story line began to
recede and the images became independent of the narrative.” 



Robert received a BFA in film making from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and received his Masters in Digital Photography from the School of Visual Arts in NYC.  Later as a production still photographer on
independent feature films, Herman discovered the life at the periphery of film
locations was more compelling than the film sets. His book of his NYC color street photographs, The New Yorkers, to be self-published in the fall of 2013 with help from a successful Kickstarter campaign. His is currently also working with Fractured Atlas to defray additional costs and accepting additional tax deductible donations.
His work is part of the permanent collections of the George
Eastman House and the Telfair Museum in Savannah, GA. His photographs are also
in many private collections and has exhibited across the United States including
the Museum of Modern Art, the galleries of the Savannah College of Art &
Design, The Los Angeles Center for Digital Art and The Henry Gregg Gallery in
DUMBO. This spring, photographs from The
New Yorkers
were included in a traveling exhibition that originated at the
Istanbul Photography Museum, and then moved to Ankara, Turkey with more venues
to be announced in the coming months.

The New Yorkers

New
York City is like a diamond mine. The pressure will turn one into coal dust or
a multi-faceted jewel. To survive with some sort of evolving grace, it is
absolutely essential to cultivate a Zen-like awareness. Consciously choosing to
be in a state of openness is also useful for making photographs. To paraphrase
the art critic John Berger: A photograph that surprises the photographer when
he makes it, in turn surprises the viewer. No matter how hardened and cynical
one becomes, the act of taking a picture, forces one to try to return to an
innocent wonder. Every time I go out to make photographs, I ask myself this
question: Can I see the world with vulnerability and clarity?

The
New Yorkers is a body of work that I began when I was still a student at NYU,
when I was learning to be a photographer. I was living in Little Italy at the
time and everyone around me seemed to be a subject: the man who changed tires,
the superintendent of the building next door.  I discovered Harry Callahan’s magnificent book: Color and
Robert Frank’s The Americans. These images opened my mind to what a strong
photograph could be. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then this
was my starting point. Both of these photographers re-made the mundane, the
ordinary and the everyday and transformed them into small and transcendent
jewels.

Over
the years, I lived in several different apartments and I continued making pictures
in whatever neighborhood I happened to be living in. Becoming comfortable in my
new surroundings would ease the way for me to make the authentic photographs I
was seeking. Key to this body of work was letting the subject matter determine
the outcome. I would make myself available, allowing my intuition to be my guide
and let the content rise to the surface. The true epiphany was not to embellish
or to judge: with the removal of the internal impediment strong subject matter
would speak for itself. Like a man searching for water in the desert with a
dousing rod, I became a vessel and allowed the images to pass through me onto
the film.

As an illustration of this, “Eldorado” was made
on a day when I was sitting around my loft with my girl friend at the time when
suddenly I said, “ I’ll be right back, I have to go out and take some
pictures.” Ann nodded her ascent and with my Nikon F in hand, I walked around
the corner onto Mulberry Street. 
In the bright afternoon sun two luxury cars were parked angling in from
the street towards a large green garage door. I chose my framing just as two
boys walked into the shot and I made my picture.  I was back at home five minutes later and knew I had captured
something truly special. I was at a loss to explain what had just happened. It
was truly a mystery. I realized that if I were wiling to relinquish some
control, I would occasionally be rewarded with strong photographs.
I went out to search for water
in order to survive, and I was led to something shining down from the sky
and bubbling
up from the ground.

There
is synchronicity and coincidence present everywhere. Photographs are a way of
revealing hidden relationships that are only present for a moment in space and
time, seen from a unique vantage point. The New Yorkers is the record of my
self-discovery as a photographer, inside and out, manifested on the streets of
New York City.

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
What
does your Latin heritage bring to your work?

I
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
photograph.

I
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.


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

There
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.


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

The
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. 

Oceanus

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.

Latin America Week: Erika Diettes

This week, Argentinian photographer Eleonora Ronconi is taking over as guest curator, featuring work created by Latin American photographers…

Les presento a mi segunda selección de la semana: Erika Diettes, fotógrafa colombiana.

I found Erika’s work when I was doing some research on Colombian photographers. I was incredibly moved by her portraits of people who had lost family members to the violent wars in her country. Having grown up during a military coup, where thousands of people were kidnapped and killed, these series really struck a cord with me. I am showcasing two series of hers that go hand in hand, Sudarios and Río Abajo.


Erika was born in Cali, Colombia. She has a Masters in Social Anthropology, and BA in Visual Arts and Communications. Her work explores memory, pain, absence and death and it has been exhibited around Latin America, such as at the Museum of Modern Art in Bogotá, Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires and Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago, Chile, among others. Her more recent series, Sudarios, was part of the Fotofest Biennal 2012, and it is on display at the Trinity Epicospal Church in Houston. Erika has also been interviewed by several publications, El Tiempo, Revista Ñ, El Colombiano, and El Espectador to name a few.


Image from Río Abajo

What does your Latin heritage bring to your work?

Our cultural context defines us, it gives us a foundation for our conceptual criteria and stetics. It makes us react to a certain symbolic world that, as years go by, each of us molds based on our experiences.

The Latin American universe is created by catholic religion, the indigineous and African cosmogonies and the problems and strengths of the contemporary history of each nation. That is why us, Latin people, express ourselves with more passion and feelings, I think we let people see our internal universe more easily. We are not afraid of emotions, on the contrary, it is through them that we relate to others. Without trying to generalize or stereotype, of course, we characterize by a more dramatic sensitivity, full of visual richness and excesses, both in our existence and also in our representation.

The way I build images, both behind the camera and in my universe without a camera, what happens within the frame to what the audience eventually sees when images are exhibited, is the result of all my vital experience, and that is definitely built within my latin culture, my Colombian nationality, my socio cultural context and many other characteristics that make up who I am. That is clearly manifested in my work.

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

I think that work created in the United States has a much more technical and academic background. Photography as a college degree in the United States has a longer tradition than in our countries. When I started college 14 years ago, the possibility of getting a career in photography did not exist. Nowadays, more people have access to professional cameras and the internet takes us to an endless number of exhibitions and shows around the world, so, in a way, it makes visual models and techniques more homogeneous and differences are not as big.

Where I think there is a more obvious difference is in some of the subjects. United States, as a nation with a high number of immigrants from various countries, produces many projects about identity, questions about borders, immigration and its policies, among others. As an artist, what makes this work interesting is that despite these subjects being so specific, they have something that can connect to different audiences. This is the challenge, this is what made masters great, that they made a very specific subject become Universal.

What is the state of photography in your country–is it well supported, are galleries selling, do photographers have an outlet to show their work? 

I think that in Colombia, photography has an important place. There are more spaces to exhibit and people are more open to see and buy photography. It is a relatively new market, that will need time to establish itself, but it is clear that we are at a point where it is growing and developing rapidly. There are exhibitions being held all the time, emerging artists, more schools, critics and everything that the medium encompasses. They are very interesting times, in my opinion.

Río Abajo
 Río
Abajo is a series where I focus on the clothes which the families of the
disappeared guard as a relic of their loved ones, I make a representation of
one of the most common forms of committing this atrocious crime and that is
stripping the bodies which are thrown into the rivers.

Also,
in many cases, after the endless tortures to which they are subjected while
still alive, these victims are quartered and disfigured post mortem in such a
way that even if their corpses appear it is practically impossible to identify
them. 

We
thus turn ourselves into a country full of unburied corpses and an
infinite number of mourners afflicted by the horror of not being able
to bury their dead.
 

Image from Río Abajo exhibition

Images from Sudarios

Sudarios (Shrouds) is the
result of multiple theoretical concerns, an infinity of technical
quests and an observation of the world from a certain context. 
The intention of the this series is to enable the spectator to enter into and walk through
these impenetrable and apparently alien worlds, when he observes that
moment in which these women close their eyes because they find no
other way to communicate the true dimension of the horror which they
witnessed and the intensity of the sorrow they were subjected to.
This work tells the stories of
twenty women – victims, grief-stricken human beings who, as part of
their torture, were forced to SEE the violence perpetrated against
their loved ones and were left alive so that they would be witnesses
to such horrors. The stories are
diverse but I am convinced that this series speaks of something which
is timeless, universal and infinite. 
These are portraits of the victims who bare themselves before our eyes, showing the evil which some people are capable of and that wish to transcend that earthly realm in the hope of something better. These women want to relay the moment in which they were condemned to remember, given that the possibility of forgetting even the smallest detail does not exist. And I want to record that moment in order to construct this work, because I have the firm conviction that art not only provides an essential space for the building of a country’s memory but also furnishes a means to ease the suffering of people. \

They are the reflection of my experience of sorrow and the result of my interpretation of the effects of violence. And I also think that they are the mirror, in which you, the spectators of the work, can see the reflection of yourselves as your own sorrow becomes that of others. 

Images from Sudarios exhibition

 I always intended to print these portraits on silk because I wanted to transmit, as they themselves told me more than once, that they are beings who no longer belong to the world, that violence had left them dead in life. That is why my intention was always to attain light, diaphanous, phantasmal images that would capture that sensation and that profound wish for transcendence. The same reason explains the overwhelming sense I have that these images should be kept in sacred places and spaces of reflection, where, regardless of our religion, the journey of the work through the space would help us to be not only spectators but turn us, in one way or another, into pilgrims who will enter into communion with these images on the basis of our beliefs, so that, as Susan Sontag says, we may be able to keep this reality in mind from now onwards.

I invite you to look at the Sudarios by keeping in mind that the history of a country cannot be written in silence and its memory should not be constructed in the dark. For that reason, I believe that to tell, record, display and try to understand our history from all possible points of view is not only a need but an obligation.

The Americans List: A Salute to Robert Frank

Photographers the world over need no introduction to Robert Frank’s seminal 1950s work The Americans, an exploration of the American ideal from his outsider’s perspective as a Swiss émigré. Taken on a series of road trips around the country, the resulting intuitively-sequenced images —produced with funding from a Guggenheim fellowship—reflect both the dark undercurrents and poetic beauty of American culture.

Originally published in Paris in 1958 and the U.S. a year later, the book’s hallowed pages—containing a mere 83 images—have become one of the most referenced and revered photographic works. Many of the individual frames reside firmly in the collective memory of contemporary photographers who consciously and subconsciously reference the images on a daily basis.

Three years ago, an extensive retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art provided a fascinating and exhaustive insight to The Americans. The show, entitled Looking In, also inspired and facilitated photographer Jason Eskenazi’s recently published appreciation, The Americans List.

In 2009, Eskenazi—himself the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship—was working as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Every day for two months, even on Mondays when the exhibition was closed to the public, he stood in close proximity with the work, studying it compulsively, attending special events and asking questions of MET curator Jeff Rosenheim.

While guarding the show, Eskenazi started to ask photographers he knew—famous or not—about their favorite images from the show. Over the next two years, Eskenazi compiled their answers, along with their explanations and thoughts about the work. His compilations eventually evolved into his own book, published this month by Red Hook Editions. In the foreward, Eskenazi writes:

The Americans is probably the one book that connects more photographers than any other, so while guarding the show, I saw many photography colleagues enter. I began asking them what was their knock-out favorite image. Though many said it was too hard to choose and many images were important to them I insisted. I discovered that many of the answers revealed much more about the photographers themselves.”

The Americans List assembles selections by 276 photographers from Joel Meyerowitz (Canal Street – New Orleans. plate #19) and Joseph Koudelka (Covered car – Long Beach, Califonia. plate #34) to Eskenazi’s own personal favorite (Men’s room, railway station – Memphis, Tenn. Plate 52). Eskenazi considers the book a present to the photographic community and a homage to a great living photographer.

Guarding the exhibition also afforded Eskenazi the opportunity to meet the legendary photographer, first at the exhibition opening and then at Frank’s house in New York City, where he asked Frank to confirm the long standing rumor of his own favorite photograph from The Americans (San Francisco. Plate 72).

Eskenazi quit his day job at the end of the Looking In exhibition and has since returned full time to his life as a photographer. “I became very intimate with the work,” Eskenazi says. “It brought me back to life. And Frank was very moved by the book when he was recently given a copy in Nova Scotia.”

Clark Winter

Nova Scotia
September, 2012

Jason Eskenazi is a Istanbul based photographer. See more of his work at JasonEskenazi.com.

The Americans List is published by Red Hook Editions and available through the photo-eye bookstore.

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.