Tag Archives: Scars

Tearsheet of The Day | 17 June 2012

Craig F. Walker’s 2012 Pulitzer prize in Feature Photography winning series ‘Welcome Home – The Story of Scott Ostrom’ featured today in The Sunday Times Magazine’s Spectrum section.

The Sunday Times Magazine, 17 June 2012. Photos © Craig F. Walker

Text on the spread: The Aftermath. Since he was discharged from the US Marines five years ago, suffering severe post-traumatic stress disorder, Brian Scott Ostrom has been unable to hold down a job or maintain healthy relationships at home in Boulder, Colorado. These pictures are part of a Pulitzer prize-winning study by the photographer Craig F. Walker. Ostrom is seen arguing with his girlfriend (bottom centre right) and alone afterwards (bottom centre left and top right). He  has attempted suicide – below he examines the scars.

The project in its entirety can be viewed on the Denver Post’s website here.

You can also see  a video of Walker speaking about the work right after the Pulitzer prize was announced.

Robin Maddock @ TJ Boulting, London

“Maddock’s views and snatches of life are both surreal and individual. He has the enviable ability to turn nothing much into something quite profound.” – Martin Parr
Opening tonight at TJ Boulting, is Robin Maddock’s God Forgotten Face, an exhibition in conjunction with the book of the same name, published by Trolley, which examines aspects of the everyday life in Plymouth, a port town still bearing the scars of the Blitz.
The exhibition showcases both key images from the book as well as new additions, taken more recently. In the words of gallery director, Hannah Watson, these have the effect of “introducing a slight shift to a lighter and more lyrical interpretation of the city.”
In her press release for the show she goes on to say: “After two years spent living in the town, where he has had family all his life, Maddock achieves a familiar interaction with his subjects, visible through his portraits in night clubs and pubs, and in the witnessing of the various goings on down at the sea front or in the local rec. In the misty early morning a nun stops to call her dog, whilst later a police forecourt is bathed in light and transported to a sunny LA; Maddock’s insight into the city is at once affectionate and optimistic in outlook, but stamped with his own aesthetic and curiosity.
In the book Owen Hatherley writes with a similar affection In Praise of Blitzed Cities, citing that the negative and concrete environs that come into most people’s minds when they think of Plymouth are in fact overlooking its “shabby, ad hoc vitality that most heritage cities would die for.” As a town, Plymouth’s past has been one of ongoing economic and cultural isolation since the shrinking of the Navy. Now it reflects more a broader England in decline, whilst all the post-modern ironic contradictions of the evolving new economies are present; ‘Francis Drake’ is a shopping mall, and what was the ‘Royal Sovereign’ pub is now a ‘Firkin Doghouse’. 
His childhood memories of the place are also challenged by more adult quotidian realities of Maddock’s time there, and his own preconceptions; the journey’s question shifting from, ‘What am I doing here?’ to the more telling, ‘What am I, here?’ The ‘God Forgotten Face’ of the title, originally derived from the 1945 Philip Larkin poem Plymouth, and the words “Last kingdom of a gold forgotten face…”, perhaps coming to represent his own personal account as a photographer finding himself changed in the face of the subject he had returned to find.” 
The exhibition runs until 2 June 2012.

Review: Cary Markerink, Memory Traces

I should start by saying that this review is long overdue. This is partly due to the fact that my blogging activity has ground to a halt of late, but also because of Memory Traces itself. The book is an intimidating object consisting of one oversized (30.5 x 41 cm) volume weighing in at a hefty 202 pages accompanied by two smaller books, ‘Höffding Step’ and ‘Dark Star’, inset into a custom cardboard case. Memory Traces is not only intimidating but unwieldy. This is not a book that can be casually flicked through: it requires space (if only to support its weight and size) and time to get through its complex layout made up of gatefolds and double-gatefolds of different sizes. Its three-book structure is also complex and of course there is no easy instruction manual provided to tell you how to get started. However, while these first observations may come across as criticisms, it is precisely because Memory Traces is such a difficult book that it is so unique.

Sarajevo, Hrasno 1997

The central book in the trilogy consists of a series of large format landscape photographs that were made in Sarajevo; Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Berlin, Bitterfeld-Wolfen and Ronneburg; Bikini Island and Nam Island; Chernobyl; Khe San and My Lai. These images all depict places that have been deeply affected by recent man-made conflicts or disasters. However, Markerink’s images are far removed from the inflated drama of what has become known as ‘ruin porn’. His photographs of Sarajevo, My Lai or Chernobyl reveal places that seem to be defined by the scars of their past. As the Japanese photographer Shomei Tomatsu said of Nagasaki, these are places where it seems as if “time has stopped”. Memory Traces also depicts landscapes, such as those of Hiroshima or Berlin, that show few visible signs of past traumatic events. Although these cities are still defined in many ways by their history, their landscapes are in the process of being radically transformed by the objectives of economic growth.

You could say that Memory Traces deals with the different ways that history manifests itself within the landscape. However, it is as concerned with the present and the future as with the past. One of the most remarkable things about the imagery in this book is its treatment of time: the locations that Markerink has photographed all have troubling pasts, but these images do not give the sense of looking back. Instead they raise questions of how the past is carried forward and transformed as time passes. Although it is made up entirely of landscape photographs, this is fundamentally a book of big ideas. Markerink is not interested in the formal aspects of landscape, but rather in how landscape acts as a mirror for culture, for society in general. In ‘Höffding Step’, a book of text combining travel diaries, reflections on contemporary culture with Markerink’s views on the changing nature of photography, Memory Traces reveals itself to have even greater and broader aspirations.

'Moonset over Ground Zero Able & Baker A-bomb test shots (Bikini Island) and Bravo H-bomb test shot (Nam Island), Bikini Atoll – 1999'

With Memory Traces, Markerink has created an object that is designed to create the space for us to stop and think, a space that is essential when dealing with such ambitious subjects. Everything about the way it is made — the book’s huge size, its use of gatefolds, etc. — seems to be designed to slow down the reading process as much as possible. This is a book that also made me think about the way that we read photobooks. To use Markerink’s own description, Memory Traces is an “experience” with many entry and exit points rather than a book that can simply be read from start to finish.

If all of this sounds a little lofty, that is because it is: I doubt that you will ever come across a more ambitious photobook. It is a project that Markerink worked on for over 10 years, one which he describes as a gift he decided to make to himself for his 50th birthday “as a means to come to terms with (his) culture and (his) position within it.” It is a book that swims directly against the current of these times in which images are made, distributed and consumed and discarded in a matter of seconds. It will most likely bewilder you, frustrate you, confuse you and probably keep you coming back for more. Like Terence Malick’s Tree of Life, it is not without its flaws, but it is rare to come across projects that are this outrageously ambitious and for that alone Memory Traces is worth seeking out.

Ronneburg, Uran Tagebau Restloch, 2001

Cary Markerink, Memory Traces. Ideas on Paper (self-pub., clothbound hardcover, 30.5 x 41 cm, 202 pages together with two small booklets, ‘Höffding Step’ and ‘Dark Star’ 12 x 16 cm in a printed box, 2009).

Rating: Highly Recommended


Related posts:

  1. Interview: Joan Fontcuberta, Landscapes without memory
  2. Review: Mariken Wessels, Queen Ann. P.S. Belly Cut Off
  3. Review: Stefan Heyne, The Noise

Photographer #290: Diego Levy

Diego Levy, 1973, Argentina, is a documentary photographer. In his series Choques, he photographed crashed cars. His intention was not to sensationalize the crash itself, but to show the violence and intensity of these impacts caused by negligence, lack of driver skills and the lack of respect for life of themselves and others. The cars that become broken sculptures in Buenos Aires function as a metaphor of the widespread violence. The images in his series Sangres, taken in Argentine, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico show gritty scenes of violence. The photographs of injuries and deaths show the reality of what has become almost a daily scenario for the inhabitants of these cities. Sangres was released as a book in 2006. Golpes is a series of portraits accompanied by a video production of old boxers that have given their lives to the sport. The faces show the scars from the beatings, referring to their dark past and the sacrifices they have made. The following images come from the series Choques, Sangres and Golpes.

Website: www.diegolevy.com