We open this August issue at the beach, with an early, never-before-seen project by Joel Sternfeld, which preceded his seminal "American Prospects" series. In perfect counterpoint with these images is Allan Gurganus's delightful account of a childhood trip to this same beach, at Nags Head, North Carolina.
"First Seen: Photographs of the World's Peoples, 1840-1880," 250 photographs from the Wilson Centre for Photography in London, is a rich and many-layered photographic feast, with history and food for thought in every course. Curated by Karen Sinsheimer, Curator of Photography, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and Kathleen Stewart Howe, Director, Pomona College Museum of Art (who wrote the text for the fine catalog), this enormous show of seldom-seen images holds visual information, knowledge, and provocation in suspension, to be teased out by time and patience.
Imagine doing a Shakespeare season while the Bard was still around. Will graciously agrees to a retrospective of his plays, but he just wants to make one point about how it's to be done. He's thought for a long time now that the tragedies have been overrated, so much so that he doesn't want them included.
NAGS HEAD, NORTH CAROLINA, JUNE 1ST, 1956, 73 DEGREES
Once upon a time gray-green and oceanic, brochures found nothing better to call such look-out land than "beachfront property, real real desirable." Is this the best we humans can do! But Father was content, leasing one such seaside place for two whole weeks per year, 1950-69.
If we could remember back to that revolutionary moment when cinema was born, we might still think of its primal mandate: moving pictures. As they evolved, motion pictures became increasingly driven by narrative, with all other more innovative and less "linear" work relegated to the ghetto of experimental art films.
If, as Diane Arbus said, a photograph is a mystery about a mystery, Paolo Ventura's haunting and beautiful work makes the mysteries seem to multiply exponentially, like reflections captured in the infinite progression of a hall of mirrors.
Huntington Hartford, grandson and namesake of the founder of A&P, and heir to his family's considerable fortune, had established himself as an eccentric, opinionated, even crusading cultural reactionary long before he started Show, "The Magazine of the Performing Arts," in 1961.
I first became familiar with Lise Sarfati's work through her series of stunning photographs made in Russian cities, including Moscow, Norilsk and Vorkuta, in the 1990s. A fluent Russian speaker, Sarfati focused in this body of work on a kind of brutal "bohemia," and the intensity of life in the midst of post-Soviet decay.
More than 90 percent of the original forest in the American Northwest has been clearcut at least once. The large stumps in these pictures are remnants of an ancient woods where trees commonly grew to be five hundred or more years old. The small stumps are what is left of a recently "harvested" monoculture, an industrial forest sustained by artificial fertilizers and selective herbicides and cut in its infancy.
In any discussion of Bill Henson's work, the same adjectives inevitably emerge: emotive, evocative, melancholic, haunting, theatrical. It is the verbs, however, that better describe the experience of his work, because these are images to be felt rather than analyzed.
Kim Zorn Caputo, the founder, publisher, editor, designer, literary contributor, and overall visionary behind Blind Spot magazine, editions, and books, died on December 11, 2004. She had battled breast cancer for almost three years and passed away at what might have been the height of her career.
Even in its decline, the Lower East Side attracted large numbers of artists, musicians, and intellectuals looking for low rents and neighborhoods where they could live free from mainstream expectations and constraints. The number of artists continued to increase, and in the early 1980s art galleries, restaurants, and clubs opened, turning the Lower East Side into an arena of social and cultural experimentation dubbed "Alphabet City."
Evelyn Hofer's photographs span fifty years, and traverse a wide range of imagery from black and white to color, from architectural subjects to portraiture, and from commercial to personal. Yet there is an underlying balance in her work, whether the photograph depicts a wall in Florence at the beginning of her career, a hotel maid in Dublin, or most recently, a luminous color still-life of fruit in her studio.
ANNE WILKES TUCKER: But I think that these photos are the antithesis of Henri Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment." Your pictures are the moment before or after the decisive moment. His moment is like a traditional play's climax, but with your pictures we can't know what is decisive because the narrative is not clear.
In spring 2005, ROBERT ADAMS published a book of his clearcutting work titled Turning Back: A Photographic Journal of Re-Exploration (Fraenkel Gallery/ Matthew Marks Gallery). An exhibition of the work will open this October at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
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.