Tag Archives: Person Exhibition

Matt Austin

Chicago photographer/artist, Matt Austin, has created a body of work, WAKE, that is a narrative about tragic moments in his family’s life.  This project is about to become part of an experiment in the sharing of work.
Matt received the Illinois Artist Council Grant to produce an edition of 10 of the WAKE books. Each copy of WAKE is made up of a handmade clamshell box that houses four hardcover books and a ledger. On October 27, the edition will be distributed to ten people familiar to Matt, but don’t personally know one other. Their responsibility will be to read the book, sign the ledger like a library card, and register their book number location by zip code on a corresponding website.The reader will then decide who receives their copy of the book next, pass it on to the next person, and so on. The website will provide a visual for where each of the 10 books are in the world as well as a waiting list platform for requesting a book to be sent to you.

Matt received his BFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago  and is teaching for the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Matt is the co-founder of the open digital lab LATITUDE (be sure to explore this amazing site), staff member of ACRE Artist Residency, co-founder of the art installation project known as TAIST, and a member of the pedagogical experiment The Mountain was a Gift. His photographs have been exhibited widely, including exhibitions at the John Michael Kohler Art Center, Catherine Edelman Gallery, NEXT: Invitational Exhibition of Emerging Art, the MDW Art Fair, including solo exhibitions at Johalla Projects and the University of Notre Dame. Soon, he will be re-releasing the second edition of “/” with EJ Hill for their two-person exhibition SLOW DANCE at RAID Projects in L.A. this November.

WAKE is currently on exhibition at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, WI in the show The Kids Are All Right.  The exhibition runs through January where it will then travel to the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC and the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, MA throughout 2013.

WAKE is a photographic and literary narrative that presents my account of several tragic moments regarding my family over the past 4 years. The story begins with e-mails between my dad and I exchanged over the days that followed a violent eviction from his apartment and my simultaneous arrival in Ireland to study abroad. 

In the following chapters, WAKE gives an account of three family deaths over a short few months, drawing comparisons between economic failure and physical mortality. While providing one of many stories of a family’s experience with economic devastation, the book poses an optimistic perspective of learned appreciation through difficulty.

Boys Don’t Cry: Joseph Cultice

My friends at Baang + Burne Contemporary in New York are opening a new exhibition, Boy’s Don’t Cry, on October 4th. This three person exhibition features the work of Rich Tu, Joseph Cultice, and Chris Jehly. Joseph Cultice, the only photographer in the exhibition. brings his series, The Garden, to the B+B walls.

Joseph comes to fine art photography with a long career as a celebrity and fashion photographer, with a love for shooting musicians.  He is also a well know video director, including his feature, Dead to the World, a documentary about Marilyn Manson’s tour. More importantly, he has gotten stoned with Mick Jagger, been hit on by Freddy Mercury, and joined a prayer circle with the Jonas Brothers. He has been told he looks like Bono, Mel Gibson and Johnny Cash, but only by people with glaucoma.

The Garden is drawn from his personal experience of building a family and the contradictions that come from being a parent, homeowner, good citizen, yet the pull to keep a little bit of debauchery in one’s life is ever present.

Camille Seaman, On The Run

Camille Seaman, On The Run

Camille Seaman

On The Run,
Nebraska, 2008
Website – CamilleSeaman.com

Camille Seaman was born in 1969 to a Native American (Shinnecock tribe) father and African American mother. She graduated in 1992 from the State University of New York at Purchase, where she studied photography with Jan Groover and has since taken master workshops with Steve McCurry, Sebastiao Salgado, and Paul Fusco. Her photographs have been published in National Geographic Magazine, Italian Geo, German GEO, TIME, The New York Times Sunday magazine, Newsweek, Outside, Zeit Wissen, Men's Journal, Seed, Camera Arts, Issues, PDN, and American Photo among many others, She frequently leads photographic and self-publishing workshops. Her photographs have received many awards including: a National Geographic Award, 2006; and the Critical Mass Top Monograph Award, 2007. In 2008 she was honored with a one-person exhibition, The Last Iceberg at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC. Seaman lives in Emeryville, California, and takes photographs all over the world using digital and film cameras in multiple formats. She works in a documentary/fine art tradition and since 2003 has concentrated on the fragile environment of the Polar Regions.



Photographs by Jen Davis, Essay by Hannah Frieser

Flak Photo is proud to feature this gallery in support of Light Work's Looking and Looking, a two-person exhibition featuring photographs from Amy Elkins and Jen Davis. That project explored the dialogue between these artists regarding identity, body image, and the male and female gaze. The following essay accompanies Davis' photos in Contact Sheet 165, a catalog produced for the exhibition. For more information and to order a copy for your personal collection, visit LightWork.org.


It is not unusual for artists, including photographers, to turn to self-portraits occasionally. Photographers such as Cindy Sherman have built their career on the practice. When Jen Davis started her photographic series Self-Portraits ten years ago, the images struck a public nerve. The photographs were immediately memorable for their sophisticated style as well as for their distinct subject matter, as Davis bared her struggles with the emotional and physical impact of her weight. Her unusual honesty and vulnerability combined with her understanding for careful composition and delicate lighting invited the viewer into her life beyond normal boundaries of privacy.

One of the most iconic images of her early work is the frequently published photograph Pressure Point, which depicts Davis at the beach looking a little lost in a sea of slimmer bodies. As is common in her images, this photograph communicates a real emotion connected to a place or an action, making it easy to sympathize with her situation. From image to image we see Davis in different scenarios engaging in a world that sets her apart from others.

The title of the series makes it clear that Davis is photographing herself, but the viewer has to discern for themselves the authenticity of the images. These are not documentary images photographed at the actual time a situation originally occurred, but each photograph borrows heavily from real moments and showcases very real feelings. Her earlier images are closer to real moments in their depiction of the awkwardness, shyness, or frustration of a woman with a plus-sized body. They show situations that especially women can easily relate to as universal struggles with body image. Her identity struggles are not so different from many young women who find themselves judged by a male gaze as their bodies blossom into maturity. Yet rather than push back against this gaze, Davis turns to quiet self-examination.

The fact that these images are self-portraits alters the way they should be understood. Davis is not being watched and judged by these images, and instead is shaping each scenario both as the author and the subject. While she has little control on how society sees her in daily life, she has unlimited control of how she decides to photograph and present herself. It is her active choice to use a frank and self-inquisitive style in photography to examine concepts of beauty, desire, and body image. “Photography is the medium that I use to tell my story through life,” Davis writes in her artist statement. It is “an outlet for revealing my thoughts and opinions about the society in which we live. A society that dictates beauty based on one’s physical appearance.”

The level of creative freedom that Davis allows herself has gradually expanded over the years. She began the series trying out familiar scenarios in front of the camera until she could better understand her feelings about them. Since then, self-examination has shifted to self-assertion and finally to self-expression. She is no longer that young student searching to find her place and define her identity, but a woman who claims her right to be included in our understanding of beauty.

In a pivotal moment in 2004, she started manufacturing scenarios for the camera based on situations she could potentially find herself in. This lead to the photograph Fantasy No. 1, and later to other constructed realities, such as Steve and I. From there she has started to work desire and sensuality into more images, leading also to the separate photographic series Webcam and I Ask in Exchange.

Davis still uses the camera as a tool to help her understand the world around her. A decade into this project, she finds that her body is changing. As in the past, she continues to photograph through every new circumstance and allows the camera to make sense of it all.

Q+A: Lucas Blalock vs. Ruth van Beek

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

Ruth van Beek is a Dutch artist who works mainly with an archive of found photographs that she manipulates and re-contextualizes in ever changing relationships. The disjunctions in her collage works are often redoubled by the feeling that each piece is somehow part of a greater network. Ruth’s work has been exhibited widely in Europe and the United States and she recently had a solo exhibition, The Great Blue Mountain Range, at Okay Mountain in Austin, TX. I caught up with her on occasion of a two person exhibition (with Philip Miner) currently up at SEASON (a residential gallery opened by Robert Yoder) in Seattle.

Untitled, 2010

LB: I feel in your work a kind of insistence on the subject of the photographs that is often absent from collage / bricolage work. For me, the psychic drama of the work is in trying to reconstitute the object (as in the one above [will be the one attached]) where in most collage the attention is in constructing a picture plane. Is this an attitude that is important to you in making the pieces?

R: Yes, for me it is not so much the technique of collage that interests me, but its the ability to transform existing photographs into the images of my imagination. By cutting and folding,  the work not only represents an object, but also becomes an object itself.

Untitled, (orange), 2009

LB: There seems to be some consistency to the content of the photographs you use. Rocks, animals, and furniture come to mind. Do you see this content as particularly important?

R: When I collect these pictures I think a lot about the way the subjects are photographed. This is more important than the subject itself, since I can easily change or cover up the original subject of the photograph. So in this way the content doesn’t really matter.

But then again, I intentionally go for these kinda nondescript, “useful” photographs.  It is not as if it is just any image that I can get my hands on.  Most of them come from books published to teach people about how to make things: how to decorate your house, how to take care of your plants, how to recognize gemstones, all about hobbies, cats or rabbits and so on. How to do things the right way. So the content of the single image does’t matter to me, but the origins of the photo are important.

Untitled, 2010

LB: For me there is a kind of intimacy in your obscuring. As if by removing or folding together the “faces” of these objects we are left to explore the pictures for other clues. This leads to a kind of weighing and measuring in an attempt to come into terms with the image. Or in other words, it is as if by obscuring the face you have come to reveal the body. Tthis sense of physicality is really pervasive. Does this relate to your idea of an object? And do you see this objectness (the one w/in the photograph) as dependent on the second objectness of the physical thing itself?

R: I like your comparison to the face and the body. I actually try to animate the objects.  The work is much about actions related to the object: obscuring, collecting, transforming, but also the guessing or longing brought out by these interventions.  They come alive once separated from their original function. When I cover up the object, it is to make the viewer curious about what is behind, but I also give the viewer a clear shape in return.  The original object is never to be seen, only to guessed at.  This makes the viewer long for what he can’t see, which in these works becomes an impossibility.

Untitled, 2006

LB: It is a strategy that is really successful in the work! When I have seen your work in the past I feel like the obscured content in the photographs has often been similar — leading to feelings of a group or collection, also a museum display. The works in the SEASON exhibition feel more disparate, which makes you focus on them more as a group of pictorial interventions. Is this something you were thinking about?

R: I guess like the collections I have brought together in the past, the images I selected for the SEASON exhibition also try to tell a story. Either case begs a reconstruction of something by its traces. In this case, I do not only hide and transform furniture and objects, but the people in a number of the pictures also become hidden in their homes. The exhibition is actually in a house. I wanted to play with this.

Untitled, 2009

*All images copyright Ruth van Beek