7/31/08

Mask/Fort


I'm still working furiously on updating my website so my posts will be lacking for a while longer. I have a bunch of ideas floating around that I just am not capable of organizing currently. In the meantime I leave you with this link to a wonderful blog called happinest by mother and all-around creative type Sheri Reed, which I discovered when she was kind enough to link to my work. I'm addicted.

7/29/08

WIPNYC features Lisa Kereszi

The latest online exhibit from WIP featuring Lisa Kereszi went up today, see it here.

7/27/08

Fresh eyes

Paper airplanes, 2007

In redoing my website I've been going back through all of my image files from the last few years to see if there's any work that might strike me in a new way. I was surprised that I never used the photograph above for my Visiting series and will most likely add it to the online gallery, stay tuned.

7/26/08

Subject as enemy revisited

Looking at my last two posts perhaps "children lying down" is another case of subject as enemy...This theme was originally written about over on subjectify which I linked to previously; see it again here

7/25/08

One year


My nephew Luca in our summer rental house in 2007, top, and almost exactly a year later in 2008, bottom. It shows me just how long I've been deeply involved in this project. And how much I love him.

7/23/08

Devotion


New images from "Life is series of small moments," shot over the past couple of days.

I can't do it all

It's true, folks--I can't do it all. Yes, I completely missed the deadline for Blurb's Photography Book Now contest. I prepped most of my images, but when it came down to it I realized that in order to really give my edit and layout the consideration they deserved there was no way I could get it in by the due date. Around the same time I had to head down to Philly for the funeral of a good family friend, so giving my sadness some time to sink in, and being gone for a couple of days also put quite a few things on the back burner, or made me miss the latest round of submissions altogether. In all honesty, I haven't even had a chance to look at the books that have hit the Blurb site. And I think I may avoid checking them out until I've put my own together (which I'm still planning on doing at some point) so that I won't be overly influenced or fall into the subconscious imitation trap. I'm trying to give myself a break and recognize that just because the Blurb buzz is all over the blogosphere doesn't mean that there won't be buzz about the next big thing, and that next big thing may be more do-able for me when life is a little less hectic. In the meantime, Shane Lavalette has created a list of his PBN favorites here, so even though I may not peruse them just yet, that shouldn't stop you from taking a look.

On a related note, I appreciated reading this post over on Burns Auto Parts blog. Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua writes: "The most important take-away for us, I think, is that you can’t do it all and you really shouldn’t anyway. Pick which tools will help and devote some effort to them, and let the others fall...Remember that no matter what you do, you won’t ever reach every potential target and/or get every opportunity that might be a potential project for you. There is just no way to cover all the bases–even with a team of geeks working every system out there. Choose what you will do, put in good effort there, and stop regretting what you choose not to do." Good advice, that.

7/18/08

青年视觉

I just finished answering VISION magazine's eleven questions (most of them two and three-parts no less) via email and I'm thoroughly exhausted. Figuring out how to tackle "When were you first aware of the fleeting nature of time and life? Was there anything special that happened at that time?" and "How would you describe your life now? What is your attitude towards life?" was not easy. Luckily my babysitter was available for some extra hours this afternoon.

At some point I'll probably post the entire interview, particularly since it will appear in Chinese in the magazine and I don't think an English translation will be offered, but right now I need to step back, sleep on the whole thing, and make sure I'm happy with my responses. I think knowing it will be translated made me not obsess over sentence structure and word choice as much as I normally would, which is why I'm slightly hesitant to put it up for all to see...Ironically (or not) much of my response to the interview was about my perfectionistic tendencies and my struggle to accept things as they are. I'm not sure I've yet accepted my answers completely, as much as I put my heart and soul into the whole thing.

By the way, I'm excited to see that the June issue features KayLynn Deveney's "The Day-To-Day Life of Albert Hastings" which I love--see the entire series on her website here.

P.S. The subject line is "Vision" in Chinese.

7/13/08

New artist statement

I'm constantly tweaking and rewriting my artist statement for "Life is..." and have a new version that I'll link to through my website soon (I may still change a word here or there). I find that as I continue to shoot for the series and rearrange the order of my images the concepts behind the work shift and grow, and my focus will be drawn to one aspect more than another at any given time. So here's the latest:

"Life is a series of small moments" is an ongoing body of work about intimacy and disclosure, vulnerability and awe, and the bittersweet knowledge that everything is impermanent. In photographing my daily life I'm attempting to suspend time: to document and truly notice my everyday existence and the rituals of my family, with the specter of mortality often hovering in the margins. There is a certain heartbreak in the recognition that time is fleeting, and an ache in me as I watch my daughters growing bigger so quickly, and so beyond my control. Children show us the transience of life in a very real way that can be simultaneously terrifying and beautiful, and my images are a response to this duality. For me taking pictures is a way to become more aware, to see the details, to not let it all get away from me, and to confront through my camera my adoration and sadness, the tenderness and exasperation I feel about balancing motherhood with my individual desires. I strive to authentically represent the experience of being a parent in all of its messy splendor and complexity.

Additionally, this idea of suspension, of time slowing, leads to greater musings on the notion of “being”—on those uncanny instants when we’re struck by a lifting of the veil, as it were, and we connect to an almost preternatural, theatrical ordering of pose or object. This sense of tension between mystery and revelation is an important part of my work, a place where I move beyond simply examining the ordinary and allow my photographs to explore concepts both symbolic and ritualistic.

Wassenaar Magazine







After a truly lovely afternoon spent at my house with Melanie Flood on Wednesday I was feeling depressed about not being selected for Hey, Hot Shot. As all of us putting our work out there know rejection is never easy. But I woke up the next morning to an email from Noel Rodo-Vankeulen of We Can't Paint letting me know that one of my images was selected for his soon-to-be-launched Wassenaar Magazine (part of the We Can't Paint Network), which made my day. Such an up-and-down roller coaster this whole submission process can be.

We Can't Paint is one of my current favorite blogs, so I'm honored to be included (although I'm wondering if I need to start a "shameless self promotion" label...) All joking aside, I do feel the word "honored" is an apt one. I'm always thankful that there are those out there who make the effort to promote and discuss emerging photography, especially when they're working photographers, including Noel himself. That artists take the time--on top of making their own images and tackling submissions--to curate shows and promote others is no small feat. I hope I can do my own part by writing about photographers whose work I find impressive and inspiring. Speaking of which, check out the great interview with Carmen Winant over on subjectify. Not only are her photographs amazing, but the way she's able to articulate her process and her concepts just blows me away.

7/8/08

Colin Pantall



© Colin Pantall

I promised to write about Colin Pantall's work, and I have to say I'm drawn to so many of his images that it was difficult to choose which to include as examples in this post. I decided to go for one from each of his series: Flora, Life on Mars, and Sofa Portraits. If you haven't already, I hope you'll visit his website and spend time with his photographs; additionally his statements for each series are wonderfully well-written and add even more to his work.

I've enjoyed seeing his recent images from Life on Mars, and feel that his bodies of work inform each other and bring out new ways of interpreting each. Throughout all of them what strikes me is his daughter Isabel's expression, which moves between being strong and ethereal--in some images she seems wise beyond her years, in others she's more vulnerable and innocent. As Pantall writes: "Isabel is conscious and unconscious, here but not here." Further, the interaction between Isabel and the spaces she inhabits--be they interiors or the world at large--feels both timeless and contemporary, and I think all of his photographs come across as being deeply allegorical.

What I also find powerful about the Sofa Portraits in particular is that the camera isn't fixed: Pantall moves around the space, sometimes going in for a more intimate look, sometimes pulling back as an observer. What I find so compelling is the play between this subtle movement within the room (in a few of the images the couch is in a different place, perhaps even another house), along with Isabel's movement as she stands, sits, and lies on the sofa. Then there is a shifting in the background of the everyday objects behind the couch--we become privy to the quotidian beauty of the messes, and Isabel herself represents this too, with her typical childhood scrapes and stained clothing. The sofa itself is also well-worn and becomes a character in its own right.

Overall the quiet complexity of Pantall's images is remarkable. I find myself returning to his site often, and each time I discover new layers. This is what the best photography provides: multiple readings and a depth in things that at first can appear to be as simple as a young girl on a sofa. He also maintains a great blog that you can see here.

7/7/08

Sexism is alive and well

© Rachel Whiteread

Cara Phillips brings our attention today to the disturbing point of view of the ever-controversial British art critic Brian Sewell on her blog, see here. She cites Sewell and his sadly discriminatory remarks toward women as a means of explaining why she and Amy Elkins started Women in Photography. An article in the Independent yesterday quotes Sewell as saying: "The art market is not sexist...The likes of Bridget Riley and Louise Bourgeois are of the second and third rank. There has never been a first-rank woman artist. Only men are capable of aesthetic greatness."

In a separate article published in 2005 in The Guardian he stated: "Women are no good at squeezing cars through spaces. If you have someone who is unable to relate space to volume, they won't make a good artist. Look at Barbara Hepworth--a one-trick pony. Look at that pile of rubbish in the Tate by Rachel Whiteread."

Sheesh...

The temptation is to get into a lengthy discussion about the multitude of first-rank female artists who are out there, past and present, and to begin a debate on the small-mindedness of implying that one of the reasons that only men are capable of aesthetic greatness is because, in Sewell's opinion, women can't drive. But his view is so full of his own term "rubbish" that I don't believe it even merits a full discourse.

What I will do is move on to another quote in the Independent article in which the author writes: "Pilar Ordovas, the head of contemporary art at Christie's, also rejected claims the market is sexist. 'There are many male artists who sell for the same as women...It is too simplistic to suggest that gender or age determines price.'" But is it?

In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell writes extensively on gender bias in relation to hiring practices among orchestras. On Slate he summarizes:
"Prior to the 1980s, auditions for top orchestras were open—that is, the auditioning committee sat and watched one musician after another come in and play in front of the judges. Under this system, the overwhelming number of musicians hired by top orchestras were men—but no one thought much of this. It was simply assumed that men were better musicians. After all, what could be fairer than an open audition? And weren't the members of audition committees, "experts" in their field, capable of discerning good musicians from bad musicians?

But then, for a number of reasons, orchestras in the 1980s started putting up screens in audition rooms, so that the committee could no longer see the person auditioning. And immediately—immediately!—orchestras started hiring women left and right. In fact, since the advent of screens, women have won the majority of auditions for top orchestras, meaning that now, if anything, the auditioning process supports the conclusion that women are better classical musicians than men. Clearly what was happening before was that, in ways no one quite realized, the act of seeing a given musician play was impairing the listener's ability to actually hear what a musician was playing. People's feelings about women, as a group, were interfering with their ability to evaluate music."
So here we have concrete evidence of gender bias in a creative field. This is not to say that those who did the hiring were overtly sexist or even aware of the preference, but the preference existed nonetheless. On a basic level gender bias is deeply pervasive in Western culture, and I believe it's so ingrained that even those of us who consider ourselves enlightened can fall prey. I remember instances in my (luckily) more distant past when I would be reading an article in a newspaper or journal, would think it was brilliant, and then on discovering the author was a woman feel my esteem go down a notch. I was always taken aback by this shift in my perspective, and it was only in challenging myself and even actively seeking out powerful artistic female role models that I now no longer have such a change of heart based on gender. Still--if I as a creative woman could fall prey to such bias against my own sex, what about those who never question their assumptions? Or those who wholeheartedly embrace their misogynistic attitudes?

It makes me wonder: what if Brian Sewell had to judge a large group of individual works of art, receiving no information about the artist's gender--would he still conclude the female artists to be second and third-rank? As far as Christie's and the work of men selling for so much more than women, unfortunately there's no way for auction houses to put up screens, as it were, because the pieces are being sold for so much money largely due to the clout and reputation of the artists who created the work. But it does get one to thinking about the various shows and rounds of jurying that occur on a continual basis--would anything change if no name were included with submissions by emerging artists? Don't get me wrong, I think things are improving--at least where I've been paying attention, which is within the photography world--and as more female innovators like Jen Bekman rise to the top I can only hope that the playing field will level out--that the best, regardless of gender, will receive the accolades they deserve.

7/5/08

Sofa as subject (with compliments to Colin Pantall)






So I put this post together before thinking about the fact that Colin Pantall has done two entire (wonderful, might I add) series entitled Sofa Portraits--which means I must be extremely sleep-deprived as I'm a great admirer of his work, and had even been planning to write an entry on him soon. The original impetus for my desire to compile photographs containing the sofa was that I've started redoing my website, and in the process was noticing the repetition within my images of certain objects, rooms, et cetera, with our family couch being the most recurrent icon. As a result I've started to become self-conscious about continuing to take pictures in the living room with the couch(es) in the frame due to this discovery, and put together a compilation of what I think are the strongest sofa photos to see if they're diverse enough to consider spreading throughout my "Life is..." series.

Organizing the images also got me to thinking about a particular post over on subjectify that I read a few weeks ago concerning "subject as enemy," see here. I hadn't looked at the entry in a while and decided to check it out again before publishing my own "sofa as subject" post, when I clicked on the comments for the first time. Well, lo and behold, Colin had written in--which is when it hit me that the impulse to organize my sofa images was perhaps a case of subconscious appropriation. And I thought I was being so clever...Is inadvertent imitation still the sincerest form of flattery? (My one saving grace is that all of the images above were shot before I knew of Colin's work--apparently the zoned-out-while-watching-TV expression is quite universal, even when a child is upside down. And yes, Edie is wearing an infant cloth diaper; she wanted to pretend she was a baby on that particular afternoon.)

Because I'd already done all the work of retouching and uploading my photos to blogger I decided to go forth and publish, with my regards to Colin. I promise to write an entry on his photographs asap (he has a great new series up on his website called Life on Mars, check it out here).

7/2/08

Melanie Flood Projects

© Melanie Flood

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Melanie Flood asking if I'd be interested in showing some work as part of an artist's project space that she's opening up in her home in Brooklyn, à la Grant Willing and Alana Celii's Rotating Gallery. I jumped at the chance as I'm always game for meeting more people within the art community (Melanie herself is also a photographer) and I like the idea of intimate spaces filled with art where you actually get to really see the work and talk to the curator(s) and artists. I got the sense from her initial email that she was passionate about the project, which made me want to be involved, and she was kind enough to recently link to Tethered on her blog. I find her site to be very honest and kind of quirky (I mean that as a compliment), which is right up my alley. I tried to be the first to get the print above (see her offer here), but alas Jason Polan beat me to it. I'm also excited because Melanie is venturing out to Jersey this coming Wednesday so we can meet in person and I can show her more of my work. Should be fun.

The first Melanie Flood Projects group show will be in September, I'll be sure to post updates when I have them.

Flak photo and more

I've been a fan of Flak Photo for a while now and subscribe to their daily email updates. I love getting a new image from the site in my inbox every day. Founder/producer extraordinaire Andy Adams recently teamed up with Center to showcase 55 of the photographers who were selected to take part in Review Santa Fe. The feature will run for 11 weeks total, ending on August 29th (which happens to be my lovely June's second birthday). If you're not familiar with Flak it's a "photography blogzine featuring distinctive work from an international community of contributors that promotes interesting visual approaches to seeing the world and celebrates the art of exhibiting quality photography online" as they state on their website. Andy does a great job of selecting unique and compelling imagery, and I think the layout is fantastic.

In regard to Review Santa Fe however, I have to agree with Sarah Sudhoff's assessment that overall the work seems to be, as she puts it, "Super Safe" (read her post on that here). I didn't apply this year so I can comfortably say it's not an issue of show-envy, and as Sarah is included in the review she too is coming at it from an unbiased position. Well, maybe I'm not being entirely honest...Let me elaborate:

There was the desire to apply to the Review, but I'm not at a point yet in my role as a mother where I feel comfortable getting on a plane and leaving Edie and June. It's not that I can't ever be apart from them--a night here or there to get some alone time with James is, trust me, fantastic. I'm just not ready for that physical distance, not yet. And I admit that it's intimidating to think about the amount of time and effort that would be involved in printing out large amounts of work. My focus is still on creating, and on not losing the passion for shooting and editing to the process of submitting.

But here's where I worry that I'm limiting myself, or that things are passing me by: I have yet to apply to or attend any portfolio reviews because of this fear of putting the work together in a tangible physical sense. This is not to say I haven't already printed many of the images, and know that they translate cohesively into a palpable photographic form, it's more the entire chain of editing, arranging, final printing and end presentation makes me freeze up. I do carry a fair amount of anxiety wondering whether I'm getting myself out there enough, and trying to find where the balance lies, as always, between motherhood and my photography. It really can be a struggle to keep on top of the multitude of submissions, and lately I've been giving myself a bit of a break by not applying to much. In general I've found that online venues are the most comfortable place for me currently because of their immediacy; if a show requires a CD to be mailed in I'm much less likely to get around to sending the work.

On this note I just learned of Blurb's Photography Book Now contest, and it sounds pretty incredible. The catch is I haven't created a photography book, one of the contest's requirements for entry. I've actually been thinking about making one for a good long while, but again (excuses, excuses) life has gotten in the way. Maybe this is the kick in the pants I need to put something together by the July 17th deadline. I've always been one of those people who gets fired up by the burst of energy that comes from putting things off until the last minute so perhaps this is my chance to hunker down and get rolling (though it's probably impossible to make the deadline given printing times, getting a hard copy in my hands, etc). Even if there's no way to finish the book before the 17th I'd like to make one anyhow--it may be time to at least try to take my work to the next level and put my fears about how I'm going to do it all aside by simply focusing on the task at hand.

7/1/08

Free stuff

© Justin Visnesky

I forgot to mention a while back that Justin Visnesky was kind enough to send me a free print of his image Bent pines as a thank you for my posts about his work on Tethered and for ordering a copy of sometimes you just know. (At only $8.00 it's a steal, buy your own copy here). I finally made my way over to our local frame shop today and can't wait to hang this amazing photograph on one of our walls. Thanks, Justin!