a dark family narrative. After a
yearlong hiatus from my hometown, I returned to reexamine my relationship with
immediate family. I use the camera to describe the powerful personalities of my
parents, and the complexities of their relationship. I photograph the children
in my family to revisit my own childhood, which exists only as a set of
fleeting, enigmatic images in my aging memory.
Next of Kin records the interaction of a working-class family living in Middle America, and the anxiety that occurs within the confines of suburban dystopia. The viewer is encouraged to contemplate the complexities of these relationships in dialogue with their own family experience. How the imagery functions in conversation with the viewers personal family narrative becomes paramount and its value is ultimately determined by its transformative potential.
While I am enjoying the Focus Awards hosted by the Griffin Museum and the Flash Forward Festival hosted by the Magenta Foundation in Boston this week, I featuring Boston photographers, today with Asia Kepka.
I love Asia Kepka’s work, but also her person. David Hilliard took this amazing photograph of her:
In Asia’s words:
Working as a photographer I feel like a dog with it’s head out of the window of a car on the way to the park. This project is even more exciting. It became my visual diary- place where I record my dreams, my past, my everyday life .
My hope was to create a fairy tale that is timeless, independent of place, hermetically sealed from the outside world. This cathartic process has allowed me to explore issues of my identity as a woman and as an immigrant. Quite often images of me are reflection of my Mother and Grandmother back in Poland.
“I feel like i’m watching Fellini’s movie” -said an onlooker at the site of Bridget and I in a hotel pool in Arizona. At times dragging mannequin in public places draws quite an attention and “being in a moment” is a challenge but seeing reactions of bystanders is always positive and at times priceless.
All images are self portraits taken with 4×5 camera. The only exception are water shots.
When photographer Matthew Brandt started studying for his MFA, he began with the earliest forms of photography, immersing himself in the history of the process. Studying at UCLA also allowed him to return to his hometown and catch up with friends and family members; it was only a matter of time before the photography and friendship collided in a series of portraits.
And then the collision furthered: one day, a friend who Brandt was photographing started to cry. Brandt asked for her tears. “I know it seems a little mean but at the time it seemed to make sense,” he says. He had been studying salted paper prints, a very early form of 19th-century photography that requires just salt solution and silver nitrate to add light sensitivity to a piece of paper. The sight of that naturally occurring salt water triggered an idea. He used the tears to create a portrait of his crying friend. “It was like this ‘eureka’ process in the dark room,” Brandt says. “I was like, ‘oh my God, this actually worked.’”
Brandt, whose work will be featured starting May 24 in an exhibition at Yossi Milo Gallery in New York City, finished his degree in 2008 but has continued to make photographs using the physical matter of the subject in the development process. The upcoming exhibition Lakes, Trees and Honeybees will include work from three series. For Lakes and Reservoirs, Brandt soaked photographs of lakes in water collected from the subjects, creating unpredictable colorscapes. In Trees, photographs of the title vegetation are printed on paper and with ink made from branches fallen from those very trees. The Honeybees photos are pictures of bees printed with a gum-bichromate process that required using a solution of the bees themselves in the developing process.
These photographs, of their subjects in both senses of the word, also share a certain degree of pathos and a somber tone, says Brandt. Each of the three series is imbued with its own particular sense of loss, a feeling that something is changing, maybe for the worse. The moment captured is one of crisis.
Lakes, for example, while also addressing the more obvious meanings of wetness, highlights the obsolescence of wet photography; color negative paper was becoming hard to get. The Trees series was made right around the time that Brandt graduated from UCLA and George W. Bush left office. The trees photographed are in George Bush Park in Houston; Brandt says he didn’t want to make an overtly political statement but rather to capture a sense of ambivalence about what the future could hold, an uncertainty that he felt in himself and observed on a national level. And Honeybees was made when Colony Collapse Disorder was making news, prompting the photographer to think of the bees as a clue that something was going wrong in the world.
But not everything is changing. The old-fashioned photography processes Brandt uses—not to mention the work involved in making his own paper and ink—are extremely labor-intensive, but Brandt has no plans to take it easy. The photographer, who cites classic American landscape photography as an influence, still sometimes goes hiking with a large-format camera, frequently returning to Yosemite with Ansel Adams in mind. “The guys who would travel with their wagons through these crazy hills—if they put that much work into making a picture, I should do the same,” he says.
school classmates was nicknamed “The Cow.” When she entered a room, the
room burst into moo’s. Every day for five years, maybe longer, this poor
girl was profoundly set apart, taunted, tormented… And she stoically endured
it all and simply said “kids can be cruel sometimes” when I asked her how she
survived inside. I tried my best to
fight for her then, and in some strange
way I have been fighting for her ever since.
multiculturalism, it was all so well meaning, but I’ll never forget the school
assembly where we were told not to wear baseball caps because baseball caps were
for uneducated men named Billy Bob. As
soon as we could drive, my brother and I hit the road. We went looking
for Billy Bob. Billy Bob driving down the turnpike as fast as his
battered car would take him, feeling for a brief moment as though he could fly,
the weight of constant struggle and crushed dreams and hard living miles
below… Hi ho silvero, deliver me from nowhere… Years later I still
hadn’t picked up a camera. I was sitting in an interview for the sort of
dirty, thankless, hopelessly underpaid job that, when you’re lucky, leaves you
with just enough left over at the end of the month for a few hours of reckless
driving with the radio cranked all the way. The manager asked me what I
wanted to do with my life. I don’t know where the answer came from, but I told him I wanted to be the Bruce Springsteen of photography.
I went back to school. I started to take photographs, photos of people,
photos steeped in the mythology of Billy Bob and “The Cow,” photos of
strangers, photos of so many people who would become close friends… I am
always drawn to the moments where people are able to escape their realities,
where there is space to transform oneself, a space to dream… Of all the
things I am grateful for, I am most grateful for the many chances I’ve had to
step into other people’s worlds. I shoot democratically- I light everyone.
I try to find the light that shines in everyone I meet. Most of the time
I succeed. I still live in my head. I don’t imagine I’m making
objective documents. I know that every portrait is, to a degree, a
self-portrait. I don’t fight it. I need to believe that deep down,
we are all the same.
long and sweltering August when I was down and out in New York City. Coney Island saved my spirit. I wandered up
and down the beach every weekend sheepishly asking strangers if I could take
their picture, and I soon found myself fully immersed in the lives of new
friends, immersed in their sorrows and joys instead of my own.
Andi Schreiber is what one might coin as a domestic Martin Parr. She turns her camera on her life, her children, family and friends with a glaring lens that is full of color, reality, and the details of our humanness. There is humor and pathos in her seeing, and her skills as a photojournalist bring domestic life into sharp focus.
WonderLust is a visceral response to my immediate surroundings – a world where I’m at home yet hovering on the periphery, an insider and outsider at once. Through these images I find my place within my family’s framework and that of a larger existence.
Christopher Plummer discusses relaxing in front of a camera and his own lack of pathos.
2011 Performances: Beginners, Barrymore, Priest
Nominated: Best Supporting Actor for Beginners
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