<p>“The tourist hopes to catch something through his lens, while the traveler seeks to surrender, even to be claimed by a surprise in very real life,” celebrated travel writer Pico Iyer notes in his introduction to a portfolio of Jacob Aue Sobol’s photographs made while riding on the Trans-Siberian Railway.</p>
<p>We have entered an era—let’s call it the post-Occupy era—in which questioning the benefits of capitalist society has become commonplace. Steve Lambert’s installation, which a friend told me about last year, grasps this new political condition by deploying the spectacle of commodity culture, with Times Square billboard lights and a salesman’s enthusiastic exclamation point.</p>
From her intimate portraits of India’s elite to her forensic study of bureaucratic file rooms, Dayanita Singh (b. 1961) has approached photography with the detailed eye of a novelist. Beyond the frame of her austere, atmospheric interiors, landscapes, and character studies, collected since 1986 in twelve monographs, a portal opens onto a narrative at once mysterious and vivid.
In this regular column, Dyer considers how a range of figures have been photographed. Here, he remembers the life and work of French photographer Christophe Agou.
<p>I’m guessing that some readers of this magazine attended an event held at the Aperture Gallery in New York in the fall of 2013 to celebrate the publication of Understanding a Photograph, a collection of essays on photography by John Berger.</p>
<p>In January 1936, Jean Bonthoux, a French pharmacist, began publishing Mieux Vivre (Live better), his second monthly arts revue. It joined Bonthoux’s already successful Ciels & Sourires de France (Skies and smiles of France), which also provided the blueprint: hire a well-respected artist as creative director, insist on high production values, invite the best writers and contemporary photographers to contribute content around everyday themes with a wide appeal, and—you might have guessed— incorporate smart, exclusive advertising for new pharmaceutical products.</p>
In the shopping district a few blocks from Berlin-based artist Tacita Dean’s Los Angeles apartment, concrete compass roses decorate the street corners, and plaques inlaid in the sidewalks read "All Roads Lead to Westwood.” LA imagines itself as the end of the earth.
An escapist from modern life, the famed travel writer Wilfred Thesiger journeyed throughout the Arabian Peninsula’s remote desert regions and Iraq’s salt marshes, recording a region on the brink of change.
As early as 1904, when Henry Adams wrote the preface to his hybrid tour manual of the relics of medieval France, it had already become something of an in-joke that no traveler set forth on a journey without a trusty compact camera at the ready.
Vittorio Sella, born in the foothills of the Italian Alps, combined his passions of photography and mountaineering to capture the elevated beauty of the world’s most inhospitable places.
Mountains are powerful symbols of eternity, of the immensity and grandeur of nature, towering above and indifferent to human civilization and history. Yet our interest in and preoccupation with mountains—climbing, studying, painting, and photographing them—are the products of a very recent history.
Since 2009, a photography collective has embarked on five road trips across West and Central Africa, creating a kaleidoscopic portrait of everyday life. For their latest trek, the group drove from Lagos to Sarajevo, a bold endeavor that would test their resolve.
In early November of 2009, a group of ten Nigerian friends— among them photographers Uche Okpa-Iroha, Amaize Ojeikere, Emeka Okereke, and Ray Daniels Okeugo—piled into a black VW van christened “Black Maria” and headed east out of Lagos on the coastal expressway toward neighboring Benin.
"There are multiple truths attached to every image,” Taryn Simon said in her 2009 TED talk. Known for her obsessive, painstaking research and immersive installations, Simon is concerned with the uneasy pact between photographic evidence and public knowledge.
Close to the port of Ben Guerdane in Tunisia is the site of Choucha Camp, a refugee center operated from 2011 to 2013 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. A few miles from the Libyan border, it was the recipient of thousands fleeing the Libyan crisis, which began in 2011 and has evolved into a protracted civil war.
In 2009, the Swiss artistic duo Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs released their celebrated body of work The Great Unreal, a collaborative project based on several road trips the two had taken throughout the United States over the previous three years.
If you saw Citizenfour, Laura Poitras's Oscar-winning 2014 documentary about National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, you may have noticed Trevor Paglen’s extraordinary cinematography: blurry telephoto shots of NSA headquarters and some of the most secret military installations on the planet.
Fierce eyed in their filmy black dresses and off-the-shoulder numbers, the girls of Ulaanbaatar were strutting down the corridors of the gleaming new Shangri-La Hotel last August as if in Bangkok or Shanghai. Some were carrying bags from the shiny Vuitton outlet down the street; others had no doubt been pastoralists on the grasslands just years before.
Carly Steinbrunn’s The Voyage of Discovery begins with a reproduced reproduction of a photograph that shows two brightly lit rocks propped up against a wall. One is a deep gray tending toward black, the other a light gray tending toward creamy white.
The Pyramids of Giza—vessels of history, myth, and mystery—have been a frequent point of reference in Maha Maamoun’s work, which places a special focus on their persistent use as archetypes and clichés of travel photography. An Egyptian artist and photographer, as well as a founding board member of Cairo’s Contemporary Image Collective, Maamoun is acutely aware of photography’s critical role in representing ideas, forging narratives, and shaping media and society.
Search the words "Sahara desert tour” or "Morocco fossil holiday” on the Internet and find hundreds of results. Companies like Sahara Tours 4x4, Atlas Geo Tours, and GeoWorld Travel, most based in and around Casablanca and Fez, promise the near-unlimited collection of goniatites, graptolites, trilobites, and other materials from Cretaceous sites.
An adventurer turned photographer, Ishikawa Naoki has journeyed from the North Pole to the South Pole using only human-powered vehicles. He is the youngest person ever to have scaled the highest peaks on all seven continents, as well as K2, one of the world’s most hazardous mountains.
The actualities and the myths, the facts and the metaphors. Justine Kurland photographs America’s tangled sense of itself. How do we see when seeing has been so anticipated by images? Through the filter of all that has gone before, can a photographer describe lives and places anew?
“President Roosevelt has expressed his lively interest in the enterprise,” Annie Smith Peck wrote in 1908, soliciting a small donation. Ten cents—“a mite toward the large sum needed for the important expedition to set out June 29”— could buy a set of pictures taken by Peck, then fifty-eight years old, printed in support of her quest to ascend Mount Huascarán in the Peruvian Andes.