It is interesting to look through the nearly sixty years' worth of Aperture issues and to consider how the medium of photography has evolved in that relatively short period. It's also fairly astonishing to consider what the journal has survived in that same very long period.
HOLLY BRUBACH has written extensively on dance, design, fashion, sports, and food for the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Gourmet, and other publications. Among her books is the collection of essays A Dedicated Follower of Fashion (Phaidon, 1999).
In the fashion world, strong was for a time the adjective that people in the business used to describe a good photograph. As in: "Your shoot in W this month is really strong." Strong was aggressive, grabbing the viewer by the lapels, and far superior to beautiful, which sometimes has the ring of a backhanded compliment.
Until recently, the work of Neapolitan Aniello Barone—as a photographer and as an anthropologist and sociologist—has focused on the presence of immigrants in Naples, on the outskirts of the city and along the coasts. He has also documented the neighborhood where he was born and still lives, San Giovanni a Teduccio, a peripheral zone, once working-class, now deteriorated through a mix of modern poverty and Camorra-related wealth.
On January 2, 1999, Florian Slotawa booked himself into Room 307 of the Città di Parenzo hotel in Trieste where he proceeded to construct, using only the furniture available to him in his room, a bolt-hole of sorts to sleep in. This makeshift structure-within-a-room has both an endearing and an anxiety-inducing quality to it, appearing as it does to be the product of a meticulous if slightly hyperactive child or, more troublingly, an over-anxious parent who has fashioned an impromptu fallout shelter.
Thomas Ruff and the curator of his retrospective at the Castello di Rivoli, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, have spent much time and energy searching for the right formula for a suitably articulate survey of the German artist’s work. Ruff, who turned fifty last year, is a very good subject for mainstream retrospectives (as seen at the Kunsthalle in Baden-Baden in 2001) and group shows (such as 2008’s Objectivité[s] at Paris’s Musée d’Art Moderne).
When a talented young man from the streets of New York finds himself, camera in hand, with time to himself and a great city to explore, there may be nothing more in the world that he could desire. This must be how William Klein felt when, in 1956, he landed in Rome.
I wouldn't want to meet Gerald Slota in a dark alley—probably not even a well-lit one, for that matter. Not that he's some big, scary guy (he may be, actually—I don't know as we've never met) but the shit that's swirling around in his head is enough to worry anybody.
It has long been the custom of humans to mine the earth for durable substances with which to erect structures that reach toward the ethereal. Much of what we can decipher of past cultures relies on these stone documents—fallen idols, pockmarked columns, pyramids that direct eyes and souls toward the heavens.
Fueled by vast energy resources, Russia's economy generated incredible wealth during the years of Vladimir Putin's strong-armed leadership. In January 2008, the Russian business magazine Finans reported that the country was home to 101 billionaires.
I chose this title fully aware that, strictly speaking, the word "folk" refers to traditions that are transmitted orally. Can the term be applied to photography at all? The idea adheres to these works—"real-photo" postcards (so called because they were printed in the darkroom rather than on a litho press) made between roughly 1905 and 1920—by just a few strands: they are primarily rural; their makers were self-taught or came up as apprentices; the works follow formal patterns spread by example and word of mouth.
William Eggleston is sinuously draped on the steps in the afternoon sun when I pull up to the Eggleston Trust, the photographer’s workplace in Memphis. Elegant in a black suit with a green bowtie, he graciously greets me with a soft-spoken, drawn-out “I’ve been waiting for you” and proceeds to light up a cigarette—the unwieldy lighter bearing a strong resemblance to Claes Oldenburg’s infamous Lipstick (minus the tank).
From the early 1980s, when her work first started to be shown, Sally Gall has provoked, teased, and gone against the grain of approved taste by making photographs that are lushly beautiful. She is well aware that in today’s aesthetic climate, there is something suspect about beauty unalloyed: many find it too easy, preferring more upfront intellectual rigor, conceptual heft, or at least a smattering of ugliness to give it that transgressive, jolielaide edge.
Debbie Fleming Caffery grew up in southern Louisiana, on the Bayou Teche, in sugarcane country. Since the eighteenth century, slaves and their descendants worked these plantations and sugar mills in the damp cold winters and the sweltering summers, planting and cutting cane, grinding, boiling, and separating the cane into molasses and sugar.
Riley Sharbonno was an army nurse stationed at Abu Ghraib prison in 2004-05. Monica Haller has recently collaborated with Sharbonno to produce the publication project Riley and his story/Me and my outrage/You and us (forthcoming from onestar press/Fälth & Hässler; for more information, please visit www. rileyandhisstory.com).
I cannot say that these images tell me what Cuba looks like. They may be what Cuba is, but they are not what I could see in any way except through Ernesto Bazan's eyes. His knowledge of the island is as profound as a native's, his emotional connection as strong as a lover's and his vision a camera vision, which is not at all the same as the unaided human eye's.
The Korean focus on identity as the conceptual basis for photographic inquiry is astonishingly recent, particularly in terms of individual expression. Photographers there began to search for and rediscover their Korean identity after decades of brutal Japanese occupation, which began in 1910 and ended in 1945.
Deborah Willis POSING BEAUTY: AFRICAN AMERICAN IMAGES FROM THE 1890S TO THE PRESENT
My aim is to consider the idea of black beauty in photography— how it is posed, constructed, imagined, reviewed, critiqued, and contested in art, the media, and everyday culture. It is also my response to [Ben] Arogundade's unanswered question, Did we forget about beauty?
In The Civil Contract of Photography (Zone Books, 2008), Israeli cultural critic Ariella Azoulay avoids telling her readers what photography represents; instead, she offers a grammar for understanding what photography does. She describes the "civil contract" of photography—that is, its role as a means through which citizenship can be viewed, conceptualized, and established—from the medium's birth in the mid-nineteenth century up through contemporary times.
My father, Robert Rauschenberg, died last year after just about as magnificent a life in the arts as one can imagine. He came at artmaking with a voracious curiosity and unbridled exuberance. He made painting, sculpture, photographs, prints, dance, film, music, and everything in between (everything in between was, in fact, his specialty).
GRAHAM NASH ON DIANE ARBUS'S CHILD WITH A TOY HAND GRENADE IN CENTRAL PARK, N.Y.C., 1962
In the waning days of 1968 I had just finished writing a new song called "Teach Your Children," and I immediately recognized that this song would touch a nerve. (I continue to believe that touching nerves is a part of my job as a songwriter.) Sadly, these were some of my last days with my old band, The Hollies, because I had recently sung with David Crosby and Stephen Stills and knew that the three of us had created a vocal sound like no other.