In this issue, we touch on moments of personal and collective history, revolution and evolution. The name William Christenberry may conjure up images of Alabama, but not usually of Memphis—which we often associate with his contemporary William Eggleston.
SUSAN BRIGHT is an independent curator, writer, and lecturer based in London. Her book Art Photography Now was published by Aperture last year. FRANÇOIS BRUNET teaches American art and literature at University Paris 7–Denis Diderot.
As the old saying goes: I came to mock and stayed to pray. The selections of Peter Hujar's work I had seen before the recent P.S.1 exhibition did not support the claims that were being made for him. The nudes and portraits struck me as an insider thing, and the work exhibited under the rubric "Night" seemed to me to be an attenuated version of Brassaï, only without Paris.
THE BODY AT RISK: PHOTOGRAPHY OF DISORDER, ILLNESS, AND HEALING
Some fifteen years ago, I curated an exhibition of the work of photographer Sebastião Salgado called "An Uncertain Grace," with many graphic photographs of people stricken and dying because of famine and related health problems in Africa's Sahel region.
Nicholas Nixon's well-known pictures of his wife and her three sisters have most often been compared to the tradition of family snapshots, since the Brown sisters are gathered together on family occasions (graduations, vacations, holidays) that put them on beaches and in backyards.
Tom Hunter's Woman Reading a Possession Order was made in 1998, when Hunter was still completing his M.A. in photography at the Royal College of Art. This image struck a chord and was widely exhibited, talked about, written about, and collected.
Though William Klein has long been known as an American in Paris, the exhibition on view at the Centre Georges Pompidou must be recognized as the first true retrospective the photographer-directorpainter has received in France, and certainly one of his most important shows to date.
Anne Zahalka's Sunbather #1 (1989) will hold you for hours, and keep you coming back for more. This large work (29 by 29 inches) renders the modern bathing beauty: a reclining, ginger-haired woman wearing a black bikini and reading a tattered copy of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past.
CHAOS: HOW HAS PHOTOGRAPHY CHANGED OUR WAY OF LOOKING AT THINGS?
Rashomon got it right. Akira Kurosawa's landmark film set down the relativist/postmodern mantra that truth has many faces, and facts may have identities as multiple and malleable as individuals' perceptions, hopes, and defenses. Events contribute to this unsettled and unsettling state of affairs, and so do time and culture, all of them altering accounts of national and international history as relentlessly as experience, denial, and psychological stresses alter personal memories.
In the spring of 1962, after a year of living in New York— where I didn't produce any art but managed to switch jobs eight times—I received a letter from a friend who was teaching in the art department of Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis).
I am Jessie Mann, daughter of Sally Mann. I have been interviewed for this magazine before, so you may know me (I am often greeted by my mother's fans with: "You don't know me, but I know you," and that is something I have to believe is true). I have been the subject of my mother's photography my whole life.
Pictures and Ephemera in the Twentieth-Century Scrapbook
On Saturday May 25, 1918, Minnie Hazel Reed started a scrapbook. In it, she put anything that meant something to her: dance cards, a pressed flower, ticket stubs and party invitations, postcards, calling cards—and lots and lots of photographs.
The common perception is that the rewriting of history takes place on the page, but all around us history is being rewritten by changes made to the built environment. The photographs in this series trace the diverse ways in which history is manifested, destroyed, created, and revised in China's built environment.
On May 17, 1980, the day before Peru's presidential elections, a group of armed men charged into the small town of Chuschi, in Ayacucho, and burned the ballot boxes that were to be used by voters the following day. No one could have imagined that this apparently isolated incident was the start of a reign of terror, during which death would become a daily event in the lives of Peruvians.
BRUCE CONNER at the Mabuhay Gardens, San Francisco 1978
at the Mabuhay Gardens, San Francisco 1978
Bruce Conner was born in McPherson, Kansas, in 1933, and grew up in Wichita; working from San Francisco from 1957 on, he soon had many simultaneous careers in motion: painter, sculptor, assemblage artist (with an emphasis on nylon stockings), photo-collagist, experimental filmmaker.
Harri Kallio begins his epic photographic recreation of the long-extinct dodo bird with a modest quote from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland: "'Why,' said the Dodo, 'the best way to explain it is to do it.'" Indeed, for all the research and writing on the dodo (surely, volumes more than any other extinct animal), the actuality of this enigmatic cultural symbol adds up to no more than a skeleton of facts, a litany of not-so-scientific anecdotal entries, and a kind of magical mythology that keeps cropping up in popular culture.
Who would think that so much cultural, socioeconomic, and psychological information could be packed into—and extracted from—the letters of the alphabet? Wendy Ewald did, apparently, in collaboration with four groups of students with whom she produced her thought-provoking and visually satisfying book American Alphabets (Scalo, 2006).
LEWIS BALTZ: THE TRACT HOUSES/THE PROTOTYPE WORKS/ THE NEW INDUSTRIAL PARKS NEAR IRVINE, CALIFORNIA
THE TRACT HOUSES/THE PROTOTYPE WORKS/ THE NEW INDUSTRIAL PARKS NEAR IRVINE, CALIFORNIA
Garry Winogrand once remarked that, despite its many successes, Robert Frank's 'The Americans' overlooked one crucial element of postwar America: the suburbs. Each generation of photographers since has attempted to claim this territory, but few have been more influential than those associated with the 1975 exhibition "New Topographies: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape."
Photography's lens-driven capacity for pitiless realism has come to mean indisputable evidence, the exclusive and privileged state of being-there. It is practically a truism that to appreciate most photographs is to realize that they may contain more than the human eye can see; a split-second can seem to entrap an entire universe.
When you come to think of it, we have lived through an extraordinary period. When I was a young boy at school in Rome, I was a Fascist, just like everybody else. I remember a competition promising that, as a prize, "the two best students in the class will stand on guard at Palazzo Venezia and be received by the Duce."
A significant part of Goldblatt's more recent oeuvre emerges in the country's provinces. Although landscape photographs as such are nothing new for him, they have begun to form a second emphasis in his work. Johannesburg Intersections has expanded to become South African Intersections.
As a writer, Geoff Dyer loves to play games as he scrambles literary genres. In a series of books variously tagged as criticism, reportage, essays, and fiction, Dyer confounds expectations with a rich vocabulary of conceits: contradictory ideas, literary references, plotless narratives, and circling conclusions.