If we were to give a name to this issue of Aperture, we might take our cue (with a bit of leeway) from the great mystic G. I. Gurdjieff, and call it “Meetings with Remarkable Men (and a Few Women).” The encounters and discussions in the following pages are catalytic in the truest sense: each of them brings something new and unexpected to light.
SCOTT ANDERSON has reported on conflict zones over the past twenty years. He is currently working on a book about the wartime exploits of T. E. Lawrence. Photographer and critic GERRY BADGER IS at work on a collection of essays titled The Pleasures of Good Photographs for Aperture.
Although The Pictures Generation, 1974-1984, curated by Douglas Eklund of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, took a now-famous 1977 exhibition as its departure point, Douglas Crimp’s essay “Pictures,” published in October two years later, had a far greater influence on this show’s contents.
WAYS OF SEEING: THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF ISHIMOTO YASUHIRO
Last year, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, acquired a comprehensive collection of photographs by Ishimoto Yasuhiro, which spans most of the photographer's long and varied career, from 1949 to 2005. Yasuhiro’s personal and professional histories are complex.
Many variables structure the exchange between cameras and dancers, including whether the lens captures a still image or motion, whether the camera itself is static or moving, whether the performers acknowledge the camera's presence, and whether the camera aims for a synoptic overview or fragmented details.
I drove to Rochester to see the new New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape, a restaging and reconsideration of the seminal 1975 exhibition that so thoroughly changed how we understand the American landscape. I followed the Erie Canal through Amsterdam, Rome, Verona, Lyons, Liverpool, Palmyra, and dozens of other European-named but irrevocably American towns; places whose most visible quality seemed a lack of visibility, a sense of unattendedness, of life that has escaped being chronicled—of spaces waiting to be photographed.
This large retrospective of the work of Barbara Crane was exhausting—but in a good way. The show, curated by Kenneth C. Burkhart, was enormous. The sheer number of photographs— some three hundred—displayed by this eighty-one-year-old veteran of the great age of Chicago photography was daunting in itself, augmented by the fact that so many of the works are comprised of multiple images (an extreme example, Visions of Enarch III, 1991, contains 150 individual pictures), meaning that around a thousand images were on view here.
Accompanying the many photographs of violence in Darkside II: Photographic Power and Violence, Disease and Death, on view last fall at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, was a wall text quoting Sigmund Freud: “The element of truth behind all this, which people are so ready to disavow, is that men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved, and who at the most can defend themselves if they are attached; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness.” As far as I can tell, the Darkside II exhibition and accompanying symposium were organized to make this case.
The Ponticelli neighborhood is located on the ravaged outskirts of Naples. There, in May 2008, not far from the headquarters of ARIN (Azienda Risorse Idriche Napoli: the Agency for Water Resources of Naples), another ARIN (Azienda dell'lra di Napoli, or Agency for the Wrath of Naples) chose to enact a time-honored gesture: destroy, tear down, humiliate.
HEAD TO HEAD: A CONVERSATION WITH MARC RIBOUD & ELLIOTT ERWITT
ARRIVING AT PHOTOGRAPHY
LOOKING AT ONE ANOTHER’S WORK
ON THE MEDIUM
Elliott Erwitt, known for his mordant wit and unfailing eye for the absurd, has been characterized as the consummate master of the “indecisive moment.” Marc Riboud has roamed the globe and trained his lens on everything from wartime Vietnam to life in Iran under the Ayatollah Khomeini, and has famously documented China’s evolution over the course of five decades.
FEMME FATALE ZOE CROSHER'S RECONSIDERED ARCHIVE OF Michelle du Bois
Over the course of a number of years, the artist Zoe Crosher acquired the entire pictorial output of an amateur photographer by the name of Michelle duBois. On the question of provenance, little else is revealed than this: the archive was given from one woman to another, duBois having adopted Crosher as a “spiritual mother.” That the two of them happen to have a faint physical resemblance suggests that there is more to this tale than meets the eye, as always.
One of Sweden's most influential photographers, Anders Petersen has been producing bold and intimate black-and-white photographs since the late 1960s. His seminal book Café Lehmitz was published in 1978 and remains in print today.
German photographer Robert Voit has traveled the globe and, with the aid of a GPS, located giant cell-phone towers that are intended to be camouflaged into their surrounding landscapes by their treelike designs. One of the more convincing examples, located in Arizona's desert country, is shaped like a cactus.
Holiday magazine was launched in 1946 and appeared monthly until 1977. It was the first postwar project of Curtis Publications, publisher of the Saturday Evening Post and Ladies' Home Journal, and corporate rival of Time/Life. Holiday preserves a clear document of the growth of the American photojournalism in an era of flux.
John Gossage is known for moody, black-and-white photographs with sly political undercurrents—images that subtly explore the sociopolitical skull beneath the skin of external appearance and cunningly allude to the forces that shape the world we humans create for ourselves.
In November 1991, Robert Frank was one of six internationally acclaimed photographers who spent more than a week taking pictures of downtown Beirut in the aftermath of the Lebanese civil war. Like much else pertaining to that conflict, its origins and endings are ambiguous, but it is generally agreed that the war began in 1975 and ceased in late 1990 or early 1991.
Among the myriad disasters visited on Iraq since the U.S. invasion of 2003, one of the least discussed has been the mass exodus of Iraqis from their homeland. That is somewhat ironic, since it is this disaster that is likely to spawn the most dire long-term consequences—and not just for Iraq, but for the entire world.
Photographer James Balog has spent nearly three decades advocating for the endangered life forms of our planet. In 2006 Balog and a team of scientists initiated the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS): a comprehensive study of the Earth’s disappearing glaciers, using time-lapse photography, conventional photography, and video.
The history of [garden] allotments is entwined with that of modern Britain. It tracks many of the major social and political changes in British life: the move away from open field agriculture; the radicalism of the Levellers and the Diggers of the English Civil War; the struggle for land that accompanied the Enclosure Acts of the 18th and 19th centuries; the population shift from countryside to town brought about by the Industrial Revolution....
DISSECTION: PHOTOGRAPHS OF A RITE OF PASSAGE IN AMERICAN MEDICINE, 1880-1930
John Harley Warner
The rise of a new genre in photography, typically depicting a small group of students posted in the dissection room with a single cadaver, reflected the importance students attached to the shared group experience of anatomical study.
11 SEPTEMBER 2001, YZYL, SIBERIA Glued to the television set, as I imagine millions are throughout the world, I am fascinated by what is happening in New York City ... 13 time zones away. I watch the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center collapse, live, after being hit by two commercial airliners.
Beaumont Newhall was the first curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, head of the George Eastman House for many years, author in 1948 of the seminal History of Photography, and one of the founders of Aperture magazine. A new limited-edition hardcover, Beaumont’s Kitchen: Lessons on Food, Life, and Photography with Beaumont Newhall (Radius Books, 2009), reveals that this preeminent figure in twentieth-century photography was also a member of the Shallot-of-the-Month Club, a consumer of Jack Daniels on the rocks, and known among his set—which included Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, and Margaret Bourke-White— as a showman in the kitchen on a par with Julia Child.
PHOTOGRAPHY DEGREE ZERO: REFLECTIONS ON ROLAND BARTHES'S CAMERA LUCIDA
Rarely has a critical work of such modest dimensions cast such a deep shadow over subsequent scholarship as Roland Barthes’s final book, Camera Lucida—a svelte “Note sur la photographie” according to the original subtitle (fattened to “Reflections on Photography” in Richard Howard’s translation).
DAVID COLE ON THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD AT GUANTÁNAMO BAY
Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, is a long way from Washington, D.C., where Barack Obama took the oath of office on January 20, 2009. But as this photograph shows, the changing of the guard that day took place simultaneously in some of the farthest reaches of the world, as Obama succeeded George W. Bush as the Commander in Chief of the United States.