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‘Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel’: Collaborative Semantics

Years ago, the photographers Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel decided to put together a book about the work on which they had collaborated, decades worth of significant art made between the 1970s and 1990s. Each had been working on his own solo projects and Mandel had left California, where the two grew up and met and studied together, so the book was always meant to be a look back, a visitation from a place of finality. But then Larry Sultan got sick. Sultan succumbed to cancer in December of 2009 at the age of 63.

We thought it would be great to take some of the work that people hadnt seen a lot of or hadnt seen anything about and bring that to light, and we just thought now would be a great opportunity to do that, now that we were kind of moving into a different part of our lives, Mandel says. We didnt realize Larry was moving into leaving this place.

The book project was dormant for a while after Sultans death, but his wife, assistant and galleristwho continued to be involved throughout the projecthelped Mandel get the idea going again. Because the book had always been about a collaboration that had ended, the form and structure imagined by Mandel and Sultan could still be implemented. linkwheel . The resulting book, Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel, will be released by Distributed Art Publishers in September.

The artists, who met as graduate students at the San Francisco Art Institute, shared an openness to conceptual and experimental photography. We were lucky to be young and freshly in that world when so much was changing, says Mandel. The medium was expandingalthough Sultan later became known as a photographer, the work the two did together is photography mainly in a conceptual senseand the community was small enough that the two had access to influential teachers and artists even outside their school environment.

Courtesy Mike Mandel

Larry Sultan (R) and Mike Mandel, circa 1997

Their collaboration began in 1973 with public art displayed on billboards, work that both interrogated the tropes of advertising and challenged art by placing it in a commercial context. They continued to make billboards for many years. They also worked together on books, including How to Read Music in One Evening, which re-appropriated advertising imagery, and the seminal Evidence, their best known work, which took documentary and archival photos out of their contexts. Later, the two turned their attention to the news media, applying their signature critical mindfulness to the subject. Alongside photographic highlights of their art career together, Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel features analytical essays and a metaphorical commentary by author Jonathan Lethem.

Mandel says that this new book was an opportunity to revisit some of their projects that had not been previously examined. As time went on I think we recognized that a lot of the work we had decided at the time we didnt need to talk about really ought to be talked about, for different reasons, he says. We did re-frame what we chose to put in the book based on this idea of looking back and being a little bit more generous toward ourselves.

But even though the photographers had discussed the content of the book prior to Sultans illness, Mandel was left to make many decisions alone. He says that there were moments when he knew that there would have been a disagreement if Sultan had been there; the weight of sole responsibility was a heavy one. And they hadnt yet decided how to end the book. Mandel chose the project Newsroom, a 1983 exhibit in which they used news tickers to edit their own versions of the days events, as the book’s stopping place. He says he felt that to stop there was to present the most coherent set of ideas, and it was also a chance to step back and look at a project that the artists had been such part of that they never got to see it from a distance. If Larry had been with me it would have been really great to have done that together, Mandel says.

In an essay that accompanied Evidence, Robert F. Forth, the dean of the California College of Arts and Crafts, examined the meanings of evidence, surprise and context. He wrote about the yin/yang balance between the circumstantial and the evident, the way that the two compliment each other to make one whole thought. If one has any defect, its relationship to the other can fill that whole. Likewise, says Mandel, his own introverted working process and Sultans gregarious quick thinking co-existed without one drowning out the other.

We just had a very different way of being but we both trusted each other a lot and we both gave each other as much room to argue and promote our ideas as much as we could. Thats what the Socratic attitude was about. It was about testing these ideas, says Mandel. We collaborated as equals all the way through our relationship.

Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel, will be released in September byDistributed Art Publishers.

Jen Davis featured in Abe’s Penny August 2012 Edition


“…Abe’s Penny is a lit mag paired down to the most essential elements: image and text. Each issue consists of one story divided into four parts and printed on postcards. ‘They are not photographs and they are not texts,’ The New Yorker says of Abe’s Penny‘s unique publishing style, ‘but a combination of both, tangible objects with a heft and significance of their own.’”

Abe’s Penny’s August 2012 edition features images from Jen Davis, whose decade spanning “Self Portraits” series was featured in reGeneration 2: Tomorrow’s Photographers Today, the second book in the esteemed series shining a spotlight on the next generation’s rising stars.

›› Shop Jen Davis’s limited-edition print Untitled No. 32, from the “Self Portraits” series
›› Buy reGeneration 2: Tomorrow’s Photographers Today

 

“Equivalents” Competition Exhibition at Photo Center NW

Scratched Print Skylight Hallway © Mary Ellen Bartley

While working on a series of cloud photographs in 1925, Alfred Stieglitz coined the title ”Equivalents” for his work, with the idea that the photographs could correspond to both the reality in front of the camera’s lens and the internal being of whoever was looking at them. Photographs could be representational and abstract, so even a photograph of a mundane subject could provoke a strong emotional response.

W. M. Hunt, the juror of the 17th Annual Photo Competition at Photo Center NW, chose this idea as the open theme for this year’s contest. So, the winning images are eclectic, but all meet Hunt’s criterion for what makes great photographs: their ability “to evoke a sensation that resonates through my being,” regardless of subject matter or technical process. See if the work resonates through your being too at Photo Center NW’s Seattle gallery, or check them out online. And for more of Hunt’s curatorial vision, check out The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the Unconscious, 35% off as part of Aperture’s summer sale, which ends this Friday, August 10.

Aperture Anthology Bluelines Arrive!

Aperture Anthology In-A-Bag


The bluelines for our upcoming Aperture Magazine Anthology: The Minor White Years, 19521976 have just been delivered to editorial, expertly packaged and fully portable!

This long-awaited volumepublished on the occasion of Aperture Magazine’s sixtieth anniversarywill provide a selection of the best critical writing from the first twenty-five years of the magazinethe period spanning the tenure of cofounder and editor Minor White.

The texts and visuals in this anthology were selected by Peter C. Bunnell, Whites protg and an early member of the Aperture staff, who went on to become a major force in photography as an influential writer, curator, and professor. linkwheel creation . Several documents from Apertures founders and individual articles are reproduced in facsimile, and the book is enlivened by other distinctive elements, including a portfolio of each cover, and a selection of epigrams and editorials that appeared at the front of each issue. An extensive index of every contributor to the first twenty-five years of the magazine makes this an indispensible resource. Stay tuned for its Fall 2012 release…

The World in London

This summer, the world descends on London for the Olympic Games.  A photo project commissioned by the Photographer’s Gallery, however, shows us that the world is already there.  “The World in London” is a collection of 204 portraits of 204 Londoners, each of whom hail from one of the 204 countries competing in this year’s Games. Since each portrait was carried out by a different photographer, the style of the work is as diverse as its subjects: formal studio portraits, Skype screengrabs, and casual snapshots, by established artists and emerging talents, all make their way into the collection.  The resulting work is a portrait of both human and artistic diversity, showcasing one of the world’s most international cities through the lenses of some of its most creative photographers.  See photographs by Martin Parr, Stephen Shore, Rinko Kawauchi, Penelope Umbrico and 200 others at The World in London.

apertureWEEK: Photography Reading Shortlist

© International Center of Photography, 2012. Photograph by John Berens.

›› Throw out your SLR? App-maker Hipstamatic announced its plans to launch the Hipstamatic Foundation for Photojournalism to educate and support ”the next generation of photographic storytellers using smartphones with Hipstamatic.” Photojournalist Brad Mangin posted “How I Made Instagram Images That Were Good Enough for Sports Illustrated,” an essay about how he got a portfolio of iPhone Instagrams published, and how you can too. Traditional photojournalists everywhere are groaning, but check out Benjamin Lowy’s blog featuring his reports from Libya via Instagram (supported in part by a Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund grant) and judge for yourself.

›› The Associated Press has announced that it will be using robotic cameras (in addition to its team of photographers) to photograph the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. These cameras, which have been mounted on ceilings and the bottom of pools, will provide an otherwise impossible perspective on the games. On the heels of the highly controversial Olympics Portraits that made the rounds on the web earlier this month, LightBox tells the story of The Best Magazine Assignment Ever, photographer’s Neil Leifer’s 1984 “Olympic Odyssey Around the World” during which he traveled to 13 different countries to create a collection of images that would appear in TIME’s preview of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

›› The New York Times Lens Blog published a collection of color slides taken by groundbreaking American photographer, musician, writer and film director Gordon Parks in 1956, images from his “Segregation Series” that had been thought lost until they were found at the bottom of a box this spring. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture opened Gordon Parks: 100 Moments, a retrospective focusing on the photographer’s work in Harlem and Washington D.C. in the 1940s. The International Center of Photography opened an exhibition of Parks’ photographs in May, and they’ll be on view until January 2013. Parks, who died in 2006, would have been 100 this year.

›› What does the future hold for photography publishing? The British Journal of Photography reported on the growing body of work being printed on newsprint, profiling publications by Jason Larkin, Guy Martin, Alec Soth, and Rob Hornstra, who are enthusiastic about the medium’s affordability and impermanence. Joerg Colberg discussed how serious photography might best use the internet as a means of dissemination.

›› The Guardian’s Geoff Dyer profiles StreetViewer photographer Michael Wolf, as well as Doug Rickard whose forthcoming monograph A New American Picture sparked lively debate on our Facebook page last week, some condemning his practice as lazy appropriation, and others praising its conceptual ingenuity. In discussing Rickard, Dyer links “this new way of working” to the candid photography traditions of Paul Strand, Robert Frank, and Walker Evans: “The shifting spirit of Robert Frank seems also to be lurking, as if the Google vehicle were an updated incarnation of the car in which he made his famous mid-50s road trip to produce his photographic series, The Americans.” In other virtual reality news, StreetView now includes images from the Antarctic huts of explorers Shackleton and Scott, providing yet more digital space for such artists to explore.

Call For Entries | The Paris Photo – Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards

Paris Photo and Aperture Foundation have joined forces to launch two new photobook awards in 2012, celebrating the book’s contribution to the evolving narrative of photography. Entries will be accepted from July 15 through September 10, 2012. A pre-selected shortlist of thirty titles will be profiled in The PhotoBook Review; exhibited at Paris Photo at the Grand Palais and at Aperture Gallery in New York; and tour to other venues, to be determined. Winners will be revealed on November 14, 2012, Paris Photo opening day.

FEATURING TWO PRIZE CATEGORIES


First PhotoBook
A $10,000 prize will be awarded to the photographer/artist whose first photobook is deemed by an independent jury to be best of the year.

PhotoBook of the Year
PhotoBook of the Year will be awarded to the photographer/artist, and publisher responsible, whose book is deemed by an independent jury to be the best of the year.


THE JURY


The awards will be judged in two stages. An initial jury will meet in New York to select the shortlisted entries in both categories. Jurors will include Phillip BlockJulien FrydmanChris BootLesley A. Martin, and James Wellford. The final winners will be decided by a separate jury that will meet in Paris before Paris Photo begins, including Els BarentsRoxana MarcociEdward Robinson, and Thomas Seelig.

The preselection of thirty books will be announced mid-September and showcased on both the Paris Photo and Aperture Foundation websites.

THE AWARDS CEREMONY AT PARIS PHOTO: NOVEMBER 14, 2012

The top award-winners in each category will be selected in Paris by a jury at the beginning of the fair. The winners will be announced during the opening day, on November 14, 2012. The winning photographer for the First PhotoBook category will receive a $10,000 prize.

THE PHOTOBOOK REVIEW

The third issue of The PhotoBook Review, published by Aperture, will be launched at Paris Photo, and will present the thirty preselected books.

EXHIBITION OF THE PHOTOBOOKS

The thirty shortlisted books will be displayed during Paris Photo at the Grand Palais in the publishers’ dedicated space. After Paris Photo, the exhibition will travel to Aperture Gallery in New York, and to other venues to be determined.

ENTER HERE

Trevor Paglen and The Last Pictures

© Trevor Paglen

Over the course of photographing for what would become his 2010 monograph Invisible: Covert Operations and Classified Landscapes, Trevor Paglen spent years tracking the orbit of American military spacecraft and documenting their ghostly trails across the night sky. The resulting images (which also appeared in Aperture # 191) were as much about photography itself—exploring the power and the limits of photographic knowledge—as they were meditations on the relationship between humankind and the infinite. In a fascinating evolution of this work, Paglen is now behind The Last Pictures, a project that will attach a record of human photographic images onto a satellite that will be sent into orbit in September 2012. Paglen spent five years interviewing scientists, artists, anthropologists, and philosophers to decide what images should compose this photo-historical record, and then worked with materials scientists at MIT to inscribe the 100 images he chose onto an “ultra-archival” silicon disc (not unlike the Pioneer Plaques and the Voyager Golden Record) that will be attached to EchoStar XVI. This satellite will function as a regular television satellite for the next fifteen years before powering down, entering a “graveyard orbit,” and remaining for billions of years as a photographic relic of modern human civilization for future civilizations and lifeforms to discover. And perhaps it will even show up in one of Paglen’s future photographs.

Here on earth in the year 2012, you can catch Paglen’s lecture tour (beginning September in New York) featuring philosophers and scientists discussing the project. Later this year, Creative Time will publish a book of the images, accompanied by short texts by those who contributed to the project. For more on Paglen and his work, visit his website.