Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Untitled (Witches) © Amy Stein

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Skin Trade Opens Thursday

Skin Trade opens this Thursday at the Chashama ABC space on the Lower East Side. The show was curated by my dear friend by Dan Halm and features work by Elaine Bradford, Simen Johan, Eric Lendl, Christian Siekmeier, Amy Stein, and Kimberly Witham. All of the work centers on animals as decorative trophies.

I am excited for the exhibition because I will be showing two pieces that have never before seen the light of day. These are sort of photographic sketches I made before I started my Domesticated series. When I shot these I had a good idea of what I wanted to say about man's relationship to nature, but I had yet to figure out the visual narrative that would eventually define the series. I love these images because they provide an early window into the evolution of the series I have worked on for the last two years.

Deer © Amy Stein

Boar © Amy Stein
Here are the details:
Skin Trade
Chashama ABC
October 30 - November 22
169 Avenue C (between 10th and 11th Streets)
New York, NY
Opening Reception: Thursday, October 30, 6-9pm
Yesterday, I dropped off my prints at the gallery space and was amazed by the diversity and quality of the work in the show. Dan has really done a great job putting this together.

Mus Mus on Election Day

I have been recruited by Mus Mus to take a photo on November 4. I'm still not sure who they are or what this all about, but apparently a bunch of photographers will be taking a picture at exactly the same time on Election Day. Maybe this is like Hands Across America, but without the touching.

In addition to the invited photographers they are also issuing an "open call" to select 25 additional photographers to include in the project. If you are interested, you can submit work here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Inaugural MPS Digital Photography Thesis Show

Tonight is the opening reception of Seamless, the inaugural thesis show of the MPS Digital Photography program at the School of Visual Arts.

In one year, department chair Katrin Eismann has made this program one of the best digital photography programs in the country. For evidence of Katrin's wisdom, you need look no further than her sage decisions to hire me as a teacher in the program and let the fabulously talented Dan Halm curate the thesis show.

Here are the details:
Visual Arts Gallery
October 23 - November 15, 2008
601 West 26 Street, 15th floor
New York, NY
Opening Reception: Tuesday, October 28, 6-8pm
Stop by and check out the thesis work of these very talented grads. You can also buy an exhibition catalogue for the show at Blurb.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jackson Heights is the Center of the Photographic Universe

Kabab King, Jackson Heights © Jeff Liao
The other day I was walking to the farmers market down the street and I suddenly I saw Jeff Liao sitting on a couch next to an apartment building. Jeff and I have been good friends for a while, but I was shocked to see him just sitting there. On a couch. On the street. In Jackson Heights.

We talked for a few minutes and caught up on our latest shows. Finally, I asked what he was doing and he said he was moving in to the neighborhood. At that moment it became official. Jackson Heights is now the center of the photographic universe. In addition to Jeff and I, Lisa Robinson, Accra Shepp, Justine Reyes, Richard Rothman, and Jessica Ingram all live within a couple of blocks of each other in Queens' finest neighborhood. Crazy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Domesticated Book Landing Soon

The cover of Domesticated
My first book, Domesticated, will finally be arriving in a couple of weeks. I've lived with this sucker for a long time now, sequencing and resequencing, editing and reediting, designing and redesigning, and then waiting and waiting while it was being printed in China. During the wait, the book managed to win the Photography Book Award at the New York Photo Festival. And now, it's only a matter of days. Yah!

The book features twenty-six images from my Domesticated series as well an essay by the great Alison Nordström of George Eastman House. You will be able to purchase the book through Amazon, photo-eye, and everywhere fine photography books are sold.

I will also be giving away some signed copies on my blog, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lunch with Amy

Each week I get a ton of emails from photographers searching for advice, looking to connect with a contemporary, or just wanting to shoot the proverbial shit. Sometimes I will meet them for lunch or coffee. So, I'm starting a new feature on the blog called Lunch with Amy wherein I highlight the work of the photographer I've met and give a brief review of the lunch.

Photographer: Adam Golfer
Restaurant: Delhi Palace

Delhi Palace is just around the block from me and also happens to be the best Indian restaurant in Jackson Heights. Forget what you've heard about Jackson Diner, the Delhi Palace is a few door down and worlds better. The lunch buffet is only $8 and features most of the highlights from their regular menu. The Saag Paneer and Chicken Tikka are my favorites.

Here are some standouts from Adam's series Kin:

© Adam Golfer

© Adam Golfer

© Adam Golfer

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Black and White TV Generation Have Monochrome Dreams

TV in Hotel Room - Galax, Virginia © Lee Friedlander
A new study concludes the color of the media you consume between the ages of three and ten plays a crucial role in determining the visual perceptual properties of your dreams.
Only 4.4 per cent of the under-25s' dreams were black and white. The over-55s who had had access to colour TV and film during their childhood also reported a very low proportion of just 7.3 per cent.

But the over-55s who had only had access to black-and-white media reported dreaming in black and white roughly a quarter of the time.

Even though they would have spent only a few hours a day watching TV or films, their attention and emotional engagement would have been heightened during this time, leaving a deeper imprint on their mind.
I wonder if a new generation will be streaming dreams in pop-ups, interstitials, and embeds. Via.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Doug Aitken's "Migration" at 303 Gallery

Scene from Doug Aitken's Migration
For his new installation piece, Migration, at 303 Gallery Doug Aitken projects video onto three massive billboard-like screens. The video features a series of anonymous roadside motel rooms inhabited by North American migratory animals. With this piece Aitken does a wonderful job of drawing the comparison between our own travels and the migration of these animals.

Motel rooms are the cold and functional way stations of our journeys. They are stocked with the bare essentials necessary for us to rest and push forward on our journey. We are lonely and restless in these spaces just like the animals he uses as stand-ins for our experience. The individual scenes play out with a Jarmusch-like stillness as each animal interacts with specific mundane objects in the motel room. The results are a hypnotic and often moving comment about uncertainty and isolation. Aitken's statement and execution are flawless.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Patron Saint of Photographers

Saint Veronica by Hans Memling
The legend goes that Veronica lined the route to Golgotha to watch Jesus carry his cross. She offered him her veil to wipe his brow and when she got it back it had a impression of his face.

How do you get a messiah face stain out of a veil? I don't know, but apparently Veronica did because she is the patron saint of laundry workers.

For her mad image capturing and printing skills, she is also the patron saint of photographers.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

American Photo's Top Emerging Photographers for 2008

© Eric Percher
Each year American Photo magazine publishes their list of the top emerging photographers in the world. Last year I was very honored to be named to the list. I've worn my 2007 sash proudly and now gladly pass it on to a new crop of talented photographers.

I can't begin to tell you how happy I am to see my very dear friend, Eric Percher, included. Eric and I met at a Maine Photography Workshop back in 2002 when we both were beginning to explore the idea of becoming serious photographers. I'm so thrilled his work is getting the recognition it deserves.

Also notable among the list are Alejandra Laviada, Sarah Small, Julie Blackmon and Kelli Connell.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Politics of the Retouched Headshot

Un-retouched photo of Sarah Palin on the cover of Newsweek
The Atlantic has an interesting post by Virginia Postrel on the politics of portraiture:
As Hillary Clinton can attest, a good portrait is not a random selection of what the camera sees, with no subjective input from human observers. A good portrait offers not mechanical objectivity but what the historians of science Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison in their 2007 book Objectivity call “truth to nature,” the standard Enlightenment naturalists used in their scientific atlases. “They conceived of fidelity,” write Daston and Galison, “in terms of the exercise of informed judgment in the selection of ‘typical,’ ‘characteristic,’ ‘ideal,’ or ‘average’ images: all these were varieties of the reasoned image.”

Torturing Democracy

I have no doubt that when historians weigh in on the last eight years they will cast it as one of the darkest periods in our nation's history. What we do know about the Bush administration is troubling enough, but what we don't know is the stuff of nightmares.

Beyond the obvious need to change our domestic policy agenda and repair our tattered reputation in the world, an Obama presidency and a Democratic Congress are necessary if we want to expose and dismantle the "dark side" of the Bush/Cheney years. Some Democrats say we have to turn the page and not look back, but that's bullshit. These punks hijacked our country, ripped up the Constitution, and did unspeakable things in our name. We need a full-on exorcism of the last eight years. We need a full accounting of their crimes. We need to bring it all to the light of day. And they need to serve time.

I urge you to watch Torturing Democracy when it plays on your local PBS station. If it has already played or if your PBS station is refusing to run it (some are), you can watch the whole documentary here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The End of the Stranded Midwest Tour 2008

Ghetto school in East St. Louis © Jacob Holdt
Yesterday was brutal. We drove from St Louis to Chicago (298 miles) and found only one situation to shoot. Definitely not the best way to end a 1,500 mile search for stranded motorists. Normally I would be completely frustrated, but this project is all about the collapse of certainty in America during the second term of the Bush administration, so coming up short seems symbolically appropriate.

When I do these trips I often speed from city to city, rarely stopping to visit the bounty of attractions America has to offer. For the final leg of this trip we slowed it down a bit and took in some of the sights.

First stop was a pilgrimage to Miles Davis' boyhood home in East St Louis. East St Louis looks exactly like New Orleans did after Katrina, only the devastation in this city was caused by the gradual decay of America's industrial economy. More than ninety percent of downtown East St Louis appears to be boarded up or falling down and there didn't appear to be but a few liquor stores providing the basics for people. No place to buy milk or gas or diapers or work. It's really tragic that the richest country in the world allows this kind of poverty smack dab in its heart.

Cahokia Mounds
A short ride from East St. Louis we stopped to see the Cahokia Mounds. Cahokia is the ruins of a massive ancient city inhabited by Native Americans between 650-1400 CE. There are over a hundred mounds that still remain on the site including Monk's Mound, the largest man-made earthen mound in North America.

Mathew Brady
Much further down the road in Springfield, IL we visited the tomb of Abraham Lincoln. The tomb was closed, but we had a good time watching as an endless parade of minivans pulled up and unloaded pods of dirty faced sausage children to pay their respects to the Great Emancipator.

When we got to Chicago we realized too late the city was running the marathon and hosting an outdoor country music festival on the same day. Several tense hours in traffic later we made it the Gitelson's for a delicious dinner and proper introductions to the new Git on the block, Archie.

After dinner we drove to Milwaukee (92 miles) and caught a few hours of sleep before our early morning flight back to New York.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Meet Me in St Louis

208 High Street, Boonville, Missouri, 2007 © Timothy Briner
We started the day in Kansas City and after a brief encounter with a weirdo at a Radio Shack in Kansas we hit up Brian Ulrich's show at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, Kansas. What an impressive space and what an impressive showing for Brian. He had twenty-one beautifully massive prints covering several rooms of the museum.

After the show we started out on the long journey east on I-70 towards St Louis. I-70 between Kansas City and St Louis (249 miles) is straight and long and has a billboard every ten feet. You can tell a lot about a state by reading all the signs that line the highway. It would seem the good people of Missouri love John McCain, hate baby-killers, and have a voracious appetite for porn. There were more adult superstores than there were Dairy Queens. Along the way we stopped in Boonville, MO for lunch (hello, Tim!).

Today was a great day for stranded motorists. I shot five encounters which definitely made up for the first two days. Just outside of St Louis I was lucky to photograph Orlando who was broken down on the west bound shoulder of I-70. Orlando had the most impressive gold grill I've ever seen and was a real sweetheart.

Once the sun started to set we headed over to the Arch. I have been to St Louis before but never really paid attention the city's most famous landmark. It really is a beautiful piece of art. When we were in Minneapolis we saw the Eero Saarinen exhibit as the Walker Arts Center and seeing the Saarinen-designed arch in person was the perfect compliment to our journey.

Tomorrow we are off to Chicago (298 miles) where we are hoping to see the Gitelson clan...

Greetings From Kansas City

B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ, Kansas City, MO
We've spent the past three days on the road working on my Stranded project. On Wednesday we flew into Milwaukee, rented a car, and where off on big loop of the Midwest. From Milwaukee we drove straight to Minneapolis then to Des Moines and then to Kansas City.

Up until today the trip has been a bit of stranded motorist bust. From Milwaukee to Minneapolis (336 miles) we only encountered a single situation to shoot, but as I approached the car I realized the couple were smoking a joint and were not too interested in having their picture taken.

From Minneapolis to Des Moines (244 miles) we found one stranded motorist on I-35 just outside of Dow, Iowa. Her name was Milta and she was a Christian missionary on her way to visit her daughter in Des Moines when her car broke down.

Des Moines to Kansas City (194 miles) proved fruitless. We saw a number of people broken down in the opposite direction, but by the time we found an offramp and raced back, they were long gone. I've never traveled this far and found so few motorists to shoot. Luckily, when we got to Kansas City I hit the jackpot and shot four situations today.

Kansas City is a pretty happening town. We visited the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in the 18th and Vine historic district and then we took in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The Nelson-Atkins has an impressive permanent collection with a great selection of photography. Definitely a must see if you are ever in Kansas City.

We couldn't come to Kansas City without eating some barbeque. So, after the museum we headed to a B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ for a rib dinner and live blues. The ribs were the best I've ever tasted and the band, Trampled Under Foot, was h-o-t. This place felt like the real deal.

Tomorrow we are off to St Louis (249 miles)...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Who Does She Think She Is?

I'm usually unmoved by movie trailers, but this past Saturday I saw one that really piqued my attention. The trailer was for a new documentary called Who Does She Think She Is? that brings us into the lives of five women as they struggle with the inherent conflicts of trying to be a successful artist and mother.

I have been interested in this subject ever since the the panel I moderated at 3rd Ward back in March. For that panel I presented a ton of statistics about the dramatic drop off of female representation in the art world post grad school.

What happens to these artists in the years after they leave school? Do they get rejected by a male dominated art world or do they gradually get pulled in new directions by the demands of family?

These questions are very important to me and many of my friends as we find ourselves on the precipice of this reality. I'm very interested to see what this film has to say on the matter.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

My Paparazzo

Julia Roberts and Jason Patric in the back of a taxi © Ron Galella
I just read this Wired article wherein the author hires her own paparazzo at $500/hr to stalk her throughout the day. The goal is to take "artful images that look unstaged and off-the-cuff."

First, the images do not look like paparazzi images so much as the photos they find taped all over the bedroom walls of the quiet neighbor who just stalked you for three years before murdering you in the elevator.

Second, this is further evidence that our cultural engine is running on fumes. I have not put the numbers into the computer yet, but I have a theory that our culture is about to become so self-referential that it collapses under it's own weight of ironic self-awareness and forms a giant black hole of metaness.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Battle Photo: Black Eye!

© Nan Goldin

Tim (Black Eye) © Ryan McGinley
Inspired by the very insightful Mia Fineman.

Art Fair 21 in Cologne This Weekend

If you are in or around Cologne, Germany this weekend and you have any interest in seeing (or buying!) my work, stop by the Pool Gallery booth at Art Fair 21. You can get the all the details on the fair here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Laser Portraits

This year I am teaching a portraiture class at Parsons and one of my first assignments was sending students to Kmart to have their portrait taken by a photographer at the Olin Mills Portrait Studios. The point of the exercise was to have them reengage with one of the many ways we encounter portraiture over the course of our lifetime. The results were cheeseball awesome.

I mention this because sometimes the world is generously serendipitous. With my mind locked into all things portraiture, someone goes out and creates the single most amazing portraiture site ever. We Have Lasers!!!!!!!!!! is a tribute to the greatest school photo backdrop there ever was.

UPDATE: Staying on the class portrait theme, Patti Hallock points to the Indianapolis Museum of Art's Flickr pool called Class Picture Day.

But The Good News Is...

Cheerleaders, New Orleans © Will Steacy
If you are gay, the GOP is not your friend.

But the good news is...

The Art for Obama auction is now open for business. Bid early and bid often. If you are priced out of the art, you can always give a couple of nickles to the man himself.

Tonight, Aperture and Parsons The New School For Design are sponsoring an artist's talk with Justine Kurland. Get the details here. I will be there and so should you.

Finally, photographer and all around great guy, Will Steacy, is having a limited edition print sale for a very good cause. Will is being forced out of his apartment by his landlord after a $600 rent hike. He can't afford the new rent and he doesn't have enough funds on hand to get a new place. He needs your help. Will is selling five images in an edition of 15 at the the very affordable price of $150. Buy one or eight now!

UPDATE: Art for Obama has been postponed until October 3 at 5pm. So, buy one Will's prints instead.
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