In this issue of Aperture, there is a constant play between motion and pause—from the birds perched in the garden of photographer Neeta Madahar to the gravity-defying leaps of Merce Cunningham, photographed in mid-phrase by Hazel Larsen at Black Mountain College, from the gravity-succumbing falls of Kerry Skarbakka (accompanied by Wayne Koestenbaum's staccato musings) to silent, empty beds in homeless shelters—still revealing the impressions of their recent occupants—as observed by Martina Mullaney, and considered by Charlotte Cotton of London's Photographers' Gallery.
Guangzhou, the bustling Chinese metropolis once known as Canton, lies just inland from Hong Kong on the Pearl River. It has lately seen its skyline soar and its fortunes rise in unison with the continuing boom in the nearby "special economic zones" of the Pearl River Delta.
AMERICAN HORIZONS: THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF ART SINSABAUGH
Casual visitors to the Midwest sometimes believe it has no landscape at all. The unrelieved flatness of much of the middle of America can make it seem a kind of inland sea with almost excruciating horizontal rhythms, a lack of visual diversity ideal for crops but bankrupt for stimulating the eye.
In one Rineke Dijkstra portrait, a trio of young mothers pose, clutching their newborn infants to their chests. The image might seem banal, except that Dijkstra includes the kind of difficult details that may cause some viewers to want to avert their eyes.
Early in the twentieth century, we knew that photography was art when it did not look like a photograph. In the 1930s, Europeans knew that photography was art when it was highly experimental or imitated a contemporary art movement; in America, superlative technique was the primary marker.
What we see are those glimpses of life that are relegated, by nature itself, to the peripheral gaze, those episodic encounters with the quotidian. Neeta Madahar's stunning fifteen-image series "Sustenance" frames such casual sightings as a bird in a backyard as precious, defining moments.
MOTION STUDIES: HAZEL LARSEN ARCHER AT BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE
The importance of Black Mountain College, the progressive liberal-arts school in North Carolina, in the history of the arts in America in the twentieth century is out of all proportion to the length of its existence. Opening as a pioneering experiment in education in the fall of 1933, the college soon became a hotbed of avant-garde activity in all the fine and performing arts.
Jason Oddy finds his way to some very odd places, but the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, may be the oddest. "Gitmo," as the American denizens call it, has many of the comforts of home. There's a McDonald's, a Subway, a KFC, lots of billboards and patriotic slogans, a massive and growing security presence.
Martina Mullaney's "Turn In" series abstracts roomscapes of worn-out beds in bleak temporary accommodations into faded bands of color. We see signs of anonymous and absent sleepers in the stains, dents, and creases that mark these degraded spaces.
The reflection in the windshield offered a less conventional image than the one often shown by the media. The glass twisted and distorted the buildings, smeared the flags that flickered over the misshapen seat of government, and disfigured those assigned to its protection.
WITH THE AID OF ROPES AND RIGGING NORMALLY USED FOR ROCK-CLIMBING, PHOTOGRAPHER KERRY SKARBAKKA HAS PRODUCED A COMPELLING SERIES OF PHOTOGRAPHS TITLED "THE STRUGGLE TO RIGHT ONE SELF." IN VARIOUS LOCATIONS, FROM DOMESTIC SETTINGS TO A HALF-COLLAPSED BUILDING IN SARAJEVO, SKARBAKKA APPEARS, LEAPING FROM STAGGERING HEIGHTS, LEVITATING ABOVE A BED, OR BALANCED PRECARIOUSLY ON THE EDGE OF NO RETURN.
The first volume of Martin Parr and Gerry Badger's The Photobook (Phaidon) was released last fall to critical acclaim; Volume 2 is forthcoming later this year. Mark Haworth-Booth, formerly Curator of Photographs and now Honorary Research Fellow at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, speaks with Parr at the photographer's home, about collecting, propaganda, and picture editors, as well as photography books and the "secret history" of their influence on the medium.
Henri Cartier-Bresson died August 3, 2004, at the age of ninety-five. Many paeans to his work and life have been written in the subsequent months, many tributes, many overviews, many obituaries. Aperture's homage to our friend Henri takes a somewhat different form: we asked four of his close friends, Eve Arnold, John Berger, Matthieu Ricard, and Ferdinando Scianna, to conjure a brief picture of him, an intimate recollection.
Irving Penn's most recent book, A Notebook at Random (Bulfinch, 2004), takes us on a totally engaging journey through his life as an artist, and reveals his extraordinary range of creativity and talent. A Notebook at Random is very much about Penn's process of creation; the book itself, which is brilliantly designed and produced, is a reflection of his understanding of perfection, as it is an extension of his work.
Recently there have been times when I've asked myself, What exactly does this series, Memories of a Dog, mean to me? And then my thoughts just keep going from there. Why did I get on this "streetcar named Memory"? Why am I so compelled to travel through those days of mine that have long passed?
Photography for Orozco is, above all, a way of pointing to things. The manifest message of nearly all his pictures is the simple imperative: "Look at this." The things he points to are part of the ubiquitous scenery of everyday life: puddles, clotheslines, cars and bicycles, empty chairs and tables, containers and vessels, dogs, kites, trees, fruit, shoes, stray trash, and marbles.
Not far from Paris Le Corbusier built the Villa Savoye. Tom took me there first on a wet afternoon and I remember thinking, out there in that large open patio—rain on my face—that it looked like a spaceship dropped into a French forest. The house is empty inside, except for some chairs and a table.
HAZEL LARSEN ARCHER'S photographs were featured in the 2003 exhibition "Trimming of These Photos Is Forbidden" at the Jan van der Donk Gallery in New York. EVE ARNOLD has been a member of Magnum since 1955. In 1995, she was made a Fellow of Britain's Royal Photographic Society and was elected "Master Photographer" by New York's International Center of Photography.
Aperture (ISSN 0003-6420) is published quarterly, in spring, summer, fall, and winter, at 547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor, New York, New York, 10001. A one-year subscription (four issues) is $40 and a two-year subscription (eight issues) is $66.