"Explorations," the first issue of Aperture's fortieth-anniversary year, celebrates tradition by breaking it. In a departure from our usual thematic approach, this issue features ten distinctly individualistic photographic portfolios.
"It’s like I'm floating in space, waiting to get to my final destination, whatever that is." Aperture: Why do you choose to photograph landscapes? Rocky Schenck: Well, it’s almost like therapy for me. It gives me peace of mind. I love going away by myself, just disappearing and being left alone with my thoughts and my camera.
"I think the fact is that once you confront the people in these institutions, you’ll sense that they are in paradise—only in the institutions will they be treated equally." Aperture: Why did you choose photography as a medium of expression?
"White people thought that my work had reached a point where I was trying to make them feel guilty. And black people felt that I was bringing up some notions that should no longer exist in the culture. " Aperture: Has your work always been about racial issues?
Aperture: How do you choose your locations? Mary Kocol: I photograph where I live and in the homes of family and friends. I choose to work primarily at twilight, when the fading sky turns to sapphire and electric lights begin to glow. Vibrant and eerie lights and colors create a provocative scene.
"Because the final result remains a photograph, there is a sense of reality that intensifies the situations depicted, making them more harrowing." Aperture: When did you first pick up a camera? Teun Hocks: When I was about twelve years old I was given a plastic Ilford camera.
"I wanted to photograph towers around the country—in deserts, in the mountains, along the seacoast, in the swamps, and in all the other places that would make for a grand image. " Aperture: Why have you chosen to photograph these objects in the landscape?
"I am always curious as to what gender people assume the protagonist is. Is it male? Is it female? Do the pink Sno-balls mean it's female?" Aperture: There seem to be thematic links to childhood in your photographs. Are they autobiographical?
"All the parts of one’s life, all the secrets, all the hopes, are in one’s clothes.” Aperture: Let’s begin by talking a bit about your divided life as an artist, a collector, and so on. Annette Messager: I give myself many titles. I wanted to be someone important, and the more titles we have, the more important we are.
"I feel the close presence of life and death in fish." Aperture: How did you get involved with photography? Michiko Kon: When I was a student in printmaking school, I thought I would try incorporating photographs into lithographic works. I made images by practically placing the lens next to the objects I was photographing and making collages of the results.
"I needed to understand the relationship between healing and faith." Aperture: How did you begin photographing healing? Dore Gardner: I had been photographing here in Boston in Baptist churches and at "tent revivals," as well as at ceremonies in Georgia and South Carolina, with priestesses and preachers doing mass healings.
On June 2, 1966, the first of NASA’s seven lunar probes, Surveyor 1, came to rest north of the crater Flamsteed in Oceanus Procellarum. Equipped with a television camera that featured a zoom lens, a variable iris, and a rotating mirror assembly, the probe obediently looked every which way, including down at its own titanium feet, and relayed images of the forlorn, pitted landscape to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena.
When we see, the first stage is photographic; an image is focused on the back of the eye and light-sensitive molecules are transformed by the projection. After this, the brain takes over. The visual system is perhaps the beststudied part of the brain, but despite over a century of scientific research, the path from eye to brain to awareness is understood only in outline.
William J. Mitchell, The Reconfigured Eye: Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1992. ($39.95). Are you prepared to take a ride into the "post-photographic" era? William Mitchell is prepared to take you there.
Campagna Romana: The Countryside of Ancient Rome, photographs by Joel Sternfeld, with essays by Richard Brilliant and Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1992 ($60.00). The Roman countryside embraces a robust juxtaposition of historical structures, cultural artifacts, and contemporary construction.
As Brett Weston lay dying in a hospital room in Hawaii, a friend brought in a lush green plant. Brett looked at it appreciatively, and said to his brother Neil: "Get my camera." Shortly afterwards, on January 22, Brett died. And so ended a glorious, exuberant life dedicated for more than six decades to the perfectly envisioned photographic image.
DORE GARDNER is a Boston-based photographer who has photographed healers, prophetesses, Elvis impersonators, and the old Jewish community in South Beach, Miami. The Museum of New Mexico Press published her book Niño Fidendo: A Heart Thrown Open in the fall of 1992.
Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are courtesy of, and copyright by, the artists. Front cover: Photograph by Michiko Kon, Sunflower and Sardines, 1990, from the series "Eat," courtesy of Photo Gallery International, Tokyo; pp.2-3 top row from left: Christian Walker, from the series "Another Country," 1990, courtesy of Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta;