I've been here before. Certain images strike a chord, something deeply visceral in the viewer, although it is impossible to say exactly how it happens. The sense is as ineffable as the concepts of home or loss or tenderness: profoundly subjective experiences unique to each person— and yet they are live wires that can be set off universally by the right stimuli.
Aperture's new director stated in her letter that Aperture magazine was launched to provide a means for fine art photographers in the United States to communicate with each other. Your section "Images from No Man's Land" certainly did not meet that objective.
UNDEREXPOSED: "PICTURES CAN LIE AND LIARS USE PICTURES"
Since the advent of digital-imaging technology, debate has abounded as to what the implications of this new technology might be: Will photographs still serve as objective signposts of fact? Can we still trust them? Underexposed: "Pictures Can Lie and Liars Use Pictures" (London: Vision On, 2002) renders much of this debate moot, demonstrating that the assumption of photographic "truth" has been precarious and problematic since the start of the medium, as visual information has been consistently mediated by tactical hands.
Inasmuch as the home, for most of us, exists as a physical fact, it also occupies a psychological space in our imaginations. And by the same emotional construction, we regard all that is not the home as another kind of domain within our minds.
I've never been, or wanted to be, a truck driver. Yet there I was, weaving frantically down the Avenida la Marina in a borrowed truck, playing chicken with tiny Tico taxis and suicidal minibuses in the chaotic free-for-all that passes for traffic in Arequipa, Peru's second-largest city.
Once, in conversation with a veteran newsroom colleague, I argued a case for using the picture at right solely on its visual merits: it is droll, well-composed, and speaks volumes about the class divide. "Just look at the gulf between the dowager and the waiter constructed by the stone walk," I said.
Imagine photography as a memory of something not remembered, something suddenly recovered and brought into the light of day, and this day is a place called the darkroom. Imagine photography being suddenly grabbed by the throat and for the first time seen— and only seen because it was all witnessed before.
You have to stretch some to find division between John Dugdale and John Kelly—they are blessedly close friends—but the impulse comes easily: Dugdale is the studio photographer, an artist of twilights and blues, of still lifes, portraits, and pictures of meditative intimacy; Kelly is the downtown club star, singer, stage chameleon, drag sage, and maker of avantgarde musicals.
Organizing an international photography festival of more than twenty exhibitions, film screenings, workshops, and lectures in Bangladesh, a country known more for its poverty and devastating floods than for visual arts—during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, no less—might strike some as insanity.
Architecture marks a formal breakthrough for Sugimoto. He has jettisoned hyperrealism in favor of a distinctly blurred image, which shifts his subjects into dreamlike stillness and transforms them into an interplay of light and shadow.
Deirdre O'Callaghan HIDE THAT CAN: A PHOTOGRAPHIC DIARY, THE MEN OF ARLINGTON HOUSE
I suppose it began a quarter of a century ago, when I was deep in the darkness of a long night of the soul. My despair and isolation were very big and I was very small, and for the life of me, I did not know how to do my life. I could not do me. I felt beaten, terrified, and bewildered, and all alone in a city too big for my County Antrim farming feet.
We all know a classic Lorna Simpson photograph when we see one: those elegant black female figures, their backs to us, rejecting any familiarity yet communicating with us feverishly in accompanying written messages located just beyond the borders of the image.
CHARLES BOWDEN lives in Tucson. His most recent book is Down By the River: Drugs, Money, Murder, and Family (Simon & Schuster, 2002). His work appears regularly in GQ, Mother Jones, and other national publications. MICHAEL FAMIGHETTI is Assistant Editor at the Aperture Foundation.
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