Tag Archives: Twenty Five Years

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…

Elizabeth Siegfried

I can’t imagine how rewarding it must have been for Elizabeth Siegfried when she stumbled upon a forgotten box of 16mm film at her family’s  summer home. She immediately knew she had unearthed something truly special. The discovery allowed her a window into her own past and family history, witnessing relatives in summer pursuits, animated and moving.  Elizabeth has created a project about those films, Termina, where in the last grid, she includes herself, bringing the family tree full circle.  Elizabeth rececently opened an exhibition of Termina at The Art Space Gallery in Huntsville, Ontario that runs through July 29th. I am also featuring work from her Off-Season project.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Elizabeth lives and works in Toronto, Ontario. Known for her work in self portraiture and photographic narrative,
Elizabeth has worked with the historical process of platinum for
twenty-five years and has exhibited her images in Canada, the US, Italy,
Germany, Japan and Mexico. In recent years, she has expanded her mode
of presentation to include iris and other archival digital prints.  Her work has been published widely and is held in many significant collections.

Termina consists of four grids devoted to the leading women of each generation in Siegfried’s family. The first three grids of historical imagery present her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother. The fourth grid consists of the artist taken between 1987 and 1992 and includes three recent self-portraits.

Still from Termina
The films shot by her family between 1922 and 1945 were in remarkably sound condition. She transferred them to digital video, downloaded them to her computer and created Termina, a photographic installation that tells the story of her diminishing family tree and contemplates the ending of one branch of Siegfried’s family lineage: her own.

Still from Termina

Termina addresses a reality that resonates with many people today. It asks questions and provokes dialogue about the choice to bear and raise children, the future of family in both personal and universal contexts and the emotional implications of these realities.

Stills from Termina
Off Season explores
usually active locations during times of dormancy. 
In these technology
driven, overcrowded, chaotic times, the images offer us quiet spaces to
breathe, observe and contemplate—to bring us back to ourselves. 

Each image suggests that
ambiguous state of mind in which one is not certain whether something has ended
or something is about to begin. In that captured moment there is no certainty,
only the timeless hovering of possibility that reflects on the past while at
the same time suggesting the future.

Images from Off Season

Troy Paiva

Night photography and Light painting have been growing in popularity, but for photographer Troy Paiva, it’s just been a regular day at the office, and has been for over twenty five years.  Troy’s website receives millions of hits by fans that are drawn to his varied projects and technical skills. His work makes us see ordinary objects in a new way, bringing beauty to the discarded, to the broken and forgotten. 
Troy is gearing up for workshops this fall with night photographer and Lightroom guru Joe Reifer in
a high desert junkyard north of Los Angeles. “It’s filled with movie
prop vehicles, derelict garages and a full blown recycling facility. I
rent the place for 3 nights and we really crank out the work. With the
classroom stuff during the day and shooting until 2 each night, it’s
very immersive. Hardcore.
” For more info, go here

Troy has has also created the books, Light Painted Night Photography: The “Lost American” Technique and “Night Vision: The Art of Urban Exploration” in 2008 (Chronicle Books). Troy’s work has appeared in museums and galleries in New York, Los
Angeles, Sweden and San Francisco.  In 2010 and 2011 he appeared as a
guest judge on the Singapore reality TV show The Big Shot. He is widely published and interviewed.
 The Mojave Airport Boneyard
Driving across California’s high desert, the airliner boneyard at Mojave
airport is visible from miles away.  The long rows of faded tails seem
to stretch to the horizon.  Many of the planes are parked in long-term
storage, reminders of economic downturns and now defunct airlines, but
many more of the worn out, partially cannibalized and obsolete planes
will never fly again.  Over the past 30 years, Mojave Airport has become
the final resting place for over a thousand of the world’s aircraft.
When airliners reach the end of their operational lifetimes (usually
about 20 to 25 years) they make their last flight to places like Mojave
(or Kingman, Tucson and Marana, Arizona) to be stored and stripped of
their parts, keeping more recently manufactured versions of that plane
flying.  As entire series of planes are retired, these storage
facilities become junkyards.  Scrap companies buy the superseded old
airframes and drag them to a remote corner of the airport to chop them
up, and melt them down.
The images in this set were all shot on film
in 1990 and a second trip in 2003.  Back in ’90, access was as simple
as tracking down the owner’s name and making a request by phone call.
 In 2003, after 911, access was considerably more difficult.  Lucky for
me, I had made a good contact in 1990 who grudgingly allowed me in one
more time.  Today, Mojave Air and Space Port is home to several secretive aerospace R&D facilities and there is no photography allowed anywhere on the flightline side of the airport.  I consider myself very lucky to have been able to shoot this boneyard.  Twice.

The ghostly atmosphere in this graveyard is palpable–the banging and
scraping of doors and control surfaces in the slightest breeze,
constant.  These old planes seem to be sighing and groaning as they
settle onto their tire rims at the end of the runway, standing as
sentinels under the slowly circling stars.  Massive and gleaming in the
moonlight, they’re much more imposing when standing on the ground next
to them.  The tattered hulks bleeding hydraulic fluid into the sand is a
sad sight indeed.
In their day, these planes represented the most sophisticated technology
the world had to offer.  They were the shining glory of many nations.
Just 100 years ago, they could only have been perceived as pure science
fiction.  The thought of casual tourists, sipping champagne as they flew
from New York to Los Angeles in a few hours was unimaginable.  Today,
these vehicles are garbage.  What will the garbage look like 100 years
from now?

A Night on Highway 58
A single night of shooting along California Highway 58 in November
2010. Starting in Barstow and heading west into Hinkley, Harper Dry Lake
and North Edwards, I was dodging storm clouds all night.

When I passed through Barstow in the early evening, I’d planned on
grabbing a quick meal and getting to work, but the city’s water had been
contaminated that afternoon by perchlorate from one of the nearby
military installations.  Perchlorates are used to make rocket fuel and
explosives. Residents were told not to drink the water, from every media
outlet, over and over again. Every restaurant was closed and stores
were running out of bottled water as frantic citizens stocked up. It was
a weird, edgy scene, so I skipped dinner and beelined it for the quiet
part of town and started shooting. Almost every business on Old 58,
along Barstow’s northwestern approach, is closed now, bypassed by a
freeway for over 20 years.  Once bustling, it’s now a dark and desolate
stretch of road.

West of Barstow is Hinkley, which has its own long history of water
contamination made famous by the movie “Erin Brockovich.” Shooting my
way west through town, I slipped through the fence of a huge metal
recycling facility.  After getting a few shots off, the owner came home,
so I slipped back out through the fence and hit the road again.  The
sky was getting too dense to work by moonlight anyway.

At Harper Dry Lake I wandered 10 miles off the highway and found a
couple of abandoned homestead ranches and got shooting, but the sky was
closing up on me fast.  I was soon rolling west again, thinking the rest
of the night would be scrubbed.

Surprisingly, the sky opened up thirty miles later. I had popped into a
circular gap in the clouds–the eye of the storm. I knew I had
to shoot something, and quickly.  It was obvious I only had a short
time before it closed in again from the west.  Remembering the North
Edwards exit had an abandoned gas station and a few other derelict
buildings, I impulsively hopped off the freeway there, set up in the
howling wind and got to work.

Methodically, I pounded out a series of short exposures as the arms of the storm enfolded themselves around me. In less than 30 minutes the circle of clouds closed over me and the moon flickered out.  The sky went dark, like flipping a light switch.  It was time to jump in the car for the 6 hour cruise home, in a driving rainstorm. I pulled into the driveway at 5:30 AM and had a glass of cool, clean water before I fell asleep.

Vacationland: Rural Maine Chronicled in the Photography of Steven Rubin

Twenty-five years old with a single camera body and lens in hand, Steven Rubin hitched a ride in 1982 to rural Somerset County in northwestern Maine and embarked on a project that would continue for more than 30 years.

Now a selection of the images Rubin captured during his decades-long project in this little-visited region of the U.S. will soon get a rare showing in Los Angeles. “Vacationland” goes up at the drkrm gallery from April 28 through May 26.

A graduate from Reed College with a degree in sociology, Rubin had originally come out to the East Coast from Oregon to enroll at the then Maine Photographic Workshops (now the Maine Media Workshops) in Rockport. After documenting the effects of the early 1980s recession on families nearby, he wanted to see how the economic downturn was being handled by locals far from the highways, historic lighthouses and second homes of the Maine coast. On a tip from a friend, Rubin headed inland and settled upon an abandoned shack as his home base and a schedule of hitching four to eight hours between the countryside to take pictures and Rockport to develop them.

Taking prints back to his subjects as a thank-you for their time and trust, Rubin was eventually let into the lives of local families—as well as some of their homes to crash on floors and couches—as he continued his work throughout Central Maine.

What he has witnessed is a part of the country largely unbuffeted by the usual economic ups and downs seen elsewhere. For many in the area times are always tough. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, per capita income has been increasing in Somerset County but has ranked at or near the bottom among Maine’s 16 counties throughout the many years of Rubin’s project. Residents get by through resourcefully cobbling together seasonal and part-time jobs, hunting, fix-it know-how and the support of their communities.

“When I met some of these families, I was completely in awe of them in many ways,” said Rubin, now an assistant professor of art in the Photography Program at Penn State University. “I think as an outsider and someone who didn’t have the background that they did, I was really quite taken by how they survived, by their strength, by their resourcefulness.”

Rubin sought to avoid the stereotypes of people broken by their struggles or heroically pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Influenced not only by legendary photographer Dorothea Lange but also anthropologist Clifford Geertz, Rubin aimed at creating a body of work that functioned as a “thick description,” a finely detailed document for understanding the context of human actions. Achieving that goal required time.

Since 1982, Rubin has returned to this project 10 times to capture daily rhythms and rituals and how the people he’d come to know changed, grew up, forged intense family bonds and frequently returned home despite finding good jobs elsewhere.

“I think so many of us—who move around different parts of the country, different parts of the world—we spend a lot of our lives looking for that sense of community. And these people have it,” Rubin said.

He’s planning to return again this summer to Maine, this time possibly shooting digitally rather than on his trusty Kodak Tri-X.

Steven Rubin’s photography has appeared in magazines including National Geographic, The New York Times, Stern and TIME. The series is on display at drkrm in Los Angeles, April 28 – May 26.

Didier Massard

As I continue to feature photographers that work in miniature or constructed realities, I would be remiss if I didn’t include French photographer, Didier Massard, who is also included in the Otherworldly exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City. Didier works slowly, completing only two or three images a year.

Born and raised in Paris, Didier received his Baccalaureate degree in art and archaeology from the University of Paris in 1975. “For twenty-five years he executed commercial work as a still photographer for clients in the world of fashion and cosmetics, photographing for labels including Chanel, Hermes, and many others. He launched his artistic career with the completion of his series Imaginary Journeys, a project that took him over ten years to complete. Now working exclusively on personal projects, he conceives of his works from the recesses of his imagination while drawing from our collective romantic and touristic notions of nationality and place.

He has created many exotic locales within his studio, evoking the lands of Ireland, China, India, Holland, and the cliffs of Normandy. Massard works for long periods on each of these tableaux, and ruminates that “each image is the completion of an inner imaginary journey.” Roberta Smith wrote of his work in The New York Times, stating “color and space combine with fastidious detail to create a sense of illusion and artifice that is more usual to painting, Magic Realist painting in particular…one’s willingness to suspend disbelief is a measure of Massard’s skill.”

The work below comes from three bodies of work, Territories 2003-2011, Artificial Paradise 1999-2003, and Imaginary Journeys 1993-1999.

April Garden, 2009

The Gate, 1997

Spring Tree, 2002

Waterfall, 2001

Underwater Garden, 2005

November, 2007

Rhinoceros, 2004

Caravan, 1996

Mangrove, 2003

Glacier, 2005

The Marsh, 2006

Massard rose to success and notoriety in the world of Photography, as far back as 1975. Starting out as an assistant to Henri Langlois, he gained a most impressive commercial clientele, including Chanel, Vogue, Elle, Cartier, and many more. But Massard wanted something else, so he turned the page on his commercial career.
Around 10 years ago, Massard began working on his own dreamy projects. He wanted to travel the world and photograph the landscapes he dreamed of in far off places. He came to realize that these places did not look as he had imagined them. He decided to build these visions in models he would carefully craft in excruciating detail, and photograph them.

Jeff Mermelstein

© Jeff Mermelstein

“From Helen Levitt to Garry Winogrand to Philip-Lorca diCorcia, the tradition of New York street photography has attracted the medium’s best and brightest. It takes nerve to join their ranks these days, and Mermelstein has plenty of it. Working in color, he’s made some of the slyest, funniest street pictures of the past twenty-five years….” —Vince Aletti, The New Yorker

To do street photography photographers fall in two camps. Some photographers are actually shy of people – curiously – and so they photograph by keeping the distance, by becoming unobtrusive, by blending with the street scape and taking the photographs fast without being noticed. Others, and many who master the craft fall in this camp, are bold and in your face so they point the camera without hesitation to be obtrusive and blunt. The image is taken then rapidly so it doesn””t become staged, but certainly the subjects are often well aware of shot, even when they don””t have time to respond to the situation and so they are framed without the possibility to affect the picture.

Jeff Mermelstein belongs to this second kind of street photographers, and his work is remarkable and exceptional, painting the humor the happenings and vibrancy of street life in New York City (see other videos here and here). Twirl/Run is his most recent book, by PowerHouse.