Tag Archives: Pastime

Afghanistan Now, Photographs by Yuri Kozyrev

Afghanistan’s presidential palace is a bucolic refuge protected from the chaos of war by thick walls and layers of security—security so stringent that photographer Yuri Kozyrev and I were prevented from bringing in pens, and in my case, even lipstick. A decade’s worth of bombings, assassination attempts, terror attacks and riots have kept President Hamid Karzai a virtual prisoner. Last week, Yuri and I were invited to spend a day with Karzai in his palace. He keeps an exhausting schedule, zipping between meetings in different buildings with a ground-eating stride that forces his aids into an uneasy trot alongside, as they try to brief him on the latest news. When we arrived, Karzai had just learned of the assassination of one of the members of his High Peace Council, the group assigned to conduct peace negotiations with the Taliban. It was a terrible blow. Still, he kept to his schedule: presiding over his security council update, hosting a lunch for visiting tribal elders from the north, and meeting with a U.S. Congressional delegation led by Nancy Pelosi. He even squeezed in a moment to share his grief with other members of the Peace Council. The only time he paused for a break was when he went to the palace’s small mosque to pray.

The world outside the palace is equally frenetic. Kabul has been shaped by war; its monuments bombed, its green spaces littered with the detritus of battle and its citizens maimed by mines. Even though fear is rife that war will return, Kabulis are busy. The university is in full swing, and local factories now provide the Afghan Army with boots and uniforms. Cafes and shisha bars have sprung up, and, somewhat improbably, a 12-lane bowling alley has become the most popular pastime for the young middle class. It’s a Kabul that Karzai has never seen. The last time he walked through his capital, he tells us, was seven years ago. In two years Karzai will step down. Maybe then he will be able to take another walk.

Read more about Hamid Karzai in this week’s issue of TIME.

Aryn Baker is the Middle East Bureau Chief for TIME.

Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME and was named the 2011 Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International competition.

Penelope Umbrico and Brian Ulrich in Conversation

Penelope Umbrico on her piece For Sale/TVs From Craigslist at Aperture (May, 2009).

Consumer culture can be an ugly reality to face. Despite what might seem to be an oxymoronic concept, the contemporary sense of self is increasingly predicated on possessive individualism, a self-definition by way of consumption, or more simply put, the thought: ‘I am what I buy.’ Not only has shopping long become a pastime, so too has the proclamation of these purchases across social media.

This consumer culture is what we the audience are confronted with in the work of Penelope Umbrico and Brian Ulrich. On Tuesday, April 17, 2012, two of the most exciting photographers working today, come together for a conversation about how their use of images address this facet of our society. The event will take place at Julie Saul Gallery, where Ulrich currently has his exhibition Is This Place Great or What: Artifacts and Photographs on view through May 5, 2012.

Umbrico’s work over the past few decades offers a radical doubletake on the consumer and vernacular images with which we are bombarded. She aggregates photographs that follow a kind of “script,” compiling thousands of somehow related images found on social media websites like Craigslist and Flickr. Some are selling used products, others are sharing personal but generic vacation moments. All, however, have hints of privacy or intimacy in them. As she explains in the clip above, the used TVs people sell on Craigslist often bear reflections of themselves or their apartments. Her most recognized work Suns From Flickr, which made the cover of her conceptual first monograph from Aperture in Fall, 2011 Penelope Umbrico (photographs), is made up of thousands of found snapshots, generic vacation photos tagged with term “sunset,” cropped down to sun alone, sometimes 5% of the original photograph, and installed on a mural-sized grid.  The monumental result is meant to explore ”what [these images] can tell us about our relationship to photography, technology and each other.”

Ulrich’s work on view at Julie Saul is part of a decade-long exploration of the American consumer landscape for a series called Copia. The project, he explains for Time’s Lightbox, is something he embarked on as a response to the president’s call for the nation to bolster the economy in the wake of the 9/11 attacks by way of shopping. The series, comprised in three parts tracking the degradation of this consumer cycle–”Retail,” “Thrift,” and “Dark Stores,”–was also published by Aperture in Fall, 2011 as Ulrich’s first monograph, Is This Place Great or What.

Gurnee, IL (2003); from the series Retail (c) Brian Ulrich/Aperture Foundation

Retail” features often vibrant candy-colored, mostly medium-format images taken in big box stores. He captured candid moments with the help of a waist-high viewfinder. The nameless shoppers within his frame carry hollow expressions that convey a kind of alienated stupor during the precise moment, Ulrich says, “the Germans call Konsumieren Rausch or Consumer Intoxication.” “Thrift” features more cluttered images of consignment stores and second-hand shops where the original goods are discarded, while “Dark Stores,” features images of derelict, hollowed out, abandoned malls and shopping centers across the country that have shut their doors.

Belz Factory Outlets (2009), from the series Dark Stores (c) Brian Ulrich/Aperture Foundation

Penelope Umbrico and Brian Ulrich In Conversation
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Julie Saul Gallery
535 West 22nd Street, #6F
New York, New York
(212) 627-2410

Surface to space. Maths, computers and the internet bring new life to the art of origami

Most of us are familiar with the art of paper folding, perhaps as an amusing pastime with brightly coloured paper, writes Marian Bantjes, a kind of parlour trick or children’s game. To those a bit more aware, origami has intersected with graphic design mostly as a form of three-dimensional illustration – which is one of the ways that paper folders are able to make a living. But a little investigation into the process of construction, and the developments that have occurred over the past quarter-century promise something more intriguing than a delightful puzzle. As with graphic design there is beauty in simplicity, as well as surprising complexity below the surface.


What most properly defines origami is the linear fold – a complex mental exercise in compaction and extrusion.


The most whimsical forms reveal gridwork similar to architecture or engineering design, restraints that give origami its allure.


This is an extract from Marian Bantjes’ ‘Surface to Space’ in Eye 67 (Spring 2008). Read the full text of the article here.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. For a visual sample, see Eye before you buy on Issuu.