Jean Rouch - Moi, un noir

Whose voice? Who's Film?: Jean Rouch, Oumarou Ganda and Moi, un noir

Becoming another?

Can one put the West to flight?  Can one flee oneself?  In Cinema 2: The Time-Image (1985), Gilles Delueze describes the problems faced by the filmmaker in Africa among peoples colonised by those who impose their stories from  elsewhere and appropriate local myths to their own ends.  In answer to this question, Deleuze cites the trance sequences in Jean Rouch's film, Les Maitres fous (1955), in which characters on screen become others by storytelling, while the filmmaker becomes another by fashioning characters drawn from real life.  He conceptualizes this reciprocal interaction as a double-becoming and concludes: 'It may be objected that Jean Rouch can only with difficulty be considered a third world author, but no one has done so much to put the West to flight, to flee himself, to break with a cinema of ethnology and say Moi, un noir [1958]' (1985: 223). 

“Point and Shoot: How the Abu Ghraib Images Redefine Photography”

“Point and Shoot: How the Abu Ghraib Images Redefine Photography” (2005)

abu Point and Shoot: How the Abu Ghraib Images Redefine Photography (2005)

Point and Shoot: How the Abu Ghraib Images Redefine Photography (2005)
By: Andy Grundberg, American Scholar, January 1, 2005
In spring of 2004, the International Center of Photography in New York presented an exhibition called “War in Iraq: The Coordinates of Conflict”, featuring the work of James Nachtwey, Christopher Morris, Ron Haviv, and other veteran photojournalists. Apparently timed to mark the first anniversary of the Iraq conflict (the American invasion began March 19, 2003; President Bush triumphantly announced its end a month and a half later, on May 1), the show included most of the usual tropes of combat photography, from portraits of weary but determined foot soldiers to bloody corpses of the enemy. What was different about the pictures compared with traditional war photographs was that all had been shot with digital cameras.
The curators, Peter Howe and Edward Earle, spoke to this difference in the exhibition brochure:
This is an unprecedented moment in the history
of photojournalism, and in our understanding
of its role in the media. The war in
Iraq demonstrates a dramatic change in the way
news is gathered: the development of laptop
computers, digital cameras, satellite phones,
and micro recording devices has enabled the
photographer to give viewers immediate, live
access to the battlefield.

“Don’t Smile – You Look Stupid” - Bill Brandt

BILL BRANDT: “Don’t Smile – You Look Stupid” (2004)

focus1lg Custom BILL BRANDT: Dont Smile   You Look Stupid (2004)
Dylan Thomas, 1941
Taking celebrity portraits involves making a crucial decision. You can embrace the celebrity machine, relishing your own role in the business of image-creation; this was the approach of Cecil Beaton and he handled the task more deftly than almost anyone, as the crowds at the National Portrait Gallery for the current Beaton exhibition (2004) know.
Alternatively, you can try to prick the celebrity bubble. This might mean taking the warts-and-all route – revelling in the reality behind the glitz of fame. Or it might mean adopting a more artful attitude, one that embraces ambiguity and suggests certain truths that may or may not be specific to the celebrity in question.
This last was the way Bill Brandt tackled the job of photographing the famous. And though portraiture was never his first love (Brandt’s most striking achievements came in the form of nudes, landscapes, and social documentary-style photographs), his idiosyncratic approach could be just as memorable as Beaton’s.
Both men were born in 1904. Brandt’s birthplace was Hamburg but, as Paul Delany reveals in his new biography, Bill Brandt: a Life, he went to great lengths throughout his life to conceal his German origins. Through a mixture of talent and good fortune, he quickly carved out a career in photography, and eventually became one of the form’s most important practitioners. To mark the 100th anniversary of his birth, Brandt is the subject of a major exhibition at the V&A Museum. And, to complement this show, 40 of his portraits are going on display at the National Portrait Gallery.

“An Interview with Walker Evans” Pt. 1 (1971)

INTERVIEW: “An Interview with Walker Evans” Pt. 1 (1971)

8a19571a 1300 Custom INTERVIEW: An Interview with Walker Evans Pt. 1 (1971)
Interview Excerpt from, Leslie Katz with Walker Evans, 1971.
Leslie Katz: You took photographs of whatever interested you?
Walker Evans: Oh yes. I was a passionate photographer, and for a while somewhat guiltily. I thought it was a substitute for something else – well, for writing, for one thing. I wanted to write. But I became very engaged with all things there were to be had out of a camera, and became compulsive about it. It was a real drive. Particularly when the lighting was right, you couldn’t keep me in. I was a little shame-faced about it, because most photography had about it a ludicrous, almost comic side, I thought. A “photographer” was a figure held in great disdain. Later I used that defiantly. But then, I suppose, I thought photographing was a minor thing to be doing. And I guess I thought I ought to be writing. In Paris, I had been trying to write. But in writing I felt blocked – mostly by high standards. Writing’s a very daring thing to do. I’d done a lot of reading, and I knew what writing was. But shy young men are seldom daring.
L.K.: Who were your favorite authors? Did they influence your photography?
W.E.: Flaubert, I suppose, mostly by method. And Baudelaire in spirit. Yes, they certainly did influence me, in every way.

Prémio Google +

Enrique Metinides


In light of the triumph of the digital photograph as the basic semantic unit of New Media, this paper investigates the response of photographic education to the culture of ubiquitous mobile and networked photography. It argues that photographic education fails to address such contemporary conditions as the crisis of the visual, the demise of the still photograph and the redundancy of the notion of authorship because it perceives the digital turn in technological terms. This paper suggests that if the digital moment in photography will be approached conceptually rather than technologically, it will present photography educators with a unique opportunity to place the study of the digital photograph at the centre of a culture which is based on reproduction, multiplication and copying.


The tasks that photography education is committed to, those of teaching how to make photographs and how to interpret them, never seemed more redundant and obsolete than in the present moment. The resignation of photography education in the face of digital culture crippled it and proved its irrelevance to everyone beside itself. Photography education knows of no method with which to approach New Media image culture; instead, it attempts in vain to prolong its survival by clinging to the historical moment of photography, not realizing that this moment has passed and that it has nothing to offer to the present besides obsolete judgments and inadequate interpretations.

At the heart of photography education there is a contradiction verging on a paradox. As Susan Sontag observes: cameras define reality in the two ways essential to the working of an advanced industrial society: as a spectacle (for masses) and as an object of surveillance (for rulers). (Sontag 366)

Quotes via A Photo Student

“I don’t care so much anymore about ‘good photography’, I am gathering evidence for history.” – Gilles Peress
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” – Dorothea Lange
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt
“I have never taken a picture for any other reason than that at that moment it made me happy to do so.” – Jacques-Henri Lartigue
“I photograph only something that has to do with me, and I never did anything that I did not want to do. I do not do editorial and I never do advertising. No, my freedom is something I do not give away easily.” – Josef Koudelka
“Finding a photograph is often like picking up a piece from a jigsaw-puzzle box with the cover missing. There’s no sense of the whole. Each image is a mysterious part of something not yet revealed.” – Susan Meiselas
“I’m very much against photographs being framed and treated with reverence and signed and sold as works of art. They aren’t. They should be seen in a magazine or a book and then be used to wrap up the fish and chucked away.” – Lord Snowdon
“Sometimes I have taken photographs and just felt so excited that I could barely hold the camera steady, and the photo was boring.” – Robert Rauschenberg

Who Cares About Books? DARIUS HIMES

Who Cares About Books?
All the glory of the world would be buried in oblivion unless God had provided mortals with the remedy of books. —Bishop Richard de Bury, chancellor of England, 14th century
Photography books have never commanded greater interest than they do today. Each year they are published by the hundreds worldwide, collected and hunted down by the obsessed (this writer included), and sold at triple and quadruple their retail value. They provide an artist with a passport to the international photography scene and create occasions for exhibitions, talks, gallery walks, and reviews. Both the supply and the demand seem to be increasing unabated.
The bald statement “I want a book of my photographs” is on the lips of nearly every photographer I speak with, but few have more than a tentative grasp of the component parts of a book or an understanding
of what they want to express in book form—of why this body of work needs to be seen in book form as opposed to on the gallery wall or in a magazine.
In our personal lives, both photography and books are often burdened with sentimental value, becoming loaded symbols of our private histories and complex social relationships.1 My intent in this essay is to take a close look at the significance of books, how photography and books are intertwined, and what that relationship means for contemporary photography. I will also address the newly laid foundation for the study of the history of photography books, surveying the criteria offered for determining what makes a great photography book. Lastly, I will examine two particular titles that serve as examples of a happy marriage between photography and books.


The titles of Lynne Cohen’s photographs tell us very little about what the pictures show us. They in fact point to each photograph’s belonging to a type of space that fits into one or another of the series making up the work No Man's Land—a spa, a laboratory, a classroom, among others. While each of these names denotes the function of the photographed site, it tells us nothing else—nothing about the country or the city it is located in, nothing about the date the photograph was taken, and nothing about any specific feature of the site.
This paucity of information in the titles confers de facto another function upon them, inciting the observer (in the Duchampian sense of the participant-spectator) to question the relevance of the titles; that is, the relationships between what is shown in the photograph and what is signified in the title. In other words, what we see may correspond to the idea of have of such-and-such a type of place, with the titles acting as a simple filing system; but if we look at the pictures without paying attention to the titles and then try to find out to which series such-and-such a photograph belongs, we begin to realize that the spaces we are shown have a great many features in common and that they are all somewhat alike. What emerges is a world of formal resemblances, reflecting one another in a sort of infinite play of echoes.

Vivian Maier

An incredible story. Vivian Maier was a nanny who lived in Chicago for most of her life and passed away in 2009 at the age of 83. Little more is known about her, except that she was an avid street photographer. Her work was discovered at an auction in 2007, more than 100,000 negatives and undeveloped rolls of film, sold by a storage facility who were cleaning out her locker for delinquent rent.

Government offices around the world

Jan Banning was able to capture government officials in the wild, taking pictures in 8 vastly different countries. All of these people may have desks to sit at, but the offices range from plush to just a table outside.

“Bureaucratics is a project consisting of a book and exhibition containing 50 photographs, the product of an anarchist’s heart, a historian’s mind and an artist’s eye. It is a comparative photographic study of the culture, rituals and symbols of state civil administrations and its servants in eight countries on five continents, selected on the basis of polical, historical and cultural considerations: Bolivia, China, France, India, Liberia, Russia, the United States, and Yemen.” – Jan Banning

Somewhere To Disappear - A film with Alec Soth

Teaser - Somewhere To Dissapear from Arnaud Uyttenhove on Vimeo.

Somewhere To Disappear - A film with Alec Soth

  • Posted 5 hours ago by Jack Lowe · film · news
  • "Somewhere To Disappear" is a new documentary by Laure Flammarion and Arnaud Uyttenhove which explores the desire to run away. For two years Flammarion and Uyttenhove followed world-renowned photographer Alec Soth on his journey across America - documenting people who have retreated from society for his series "Broken Manual". These modern-day hermits and monks live in caves, mountain cabins and deserts, which Soth feels is "in the culture right now" and is, in some ways, "preparation for the decline of the American empire."
    "This film is about men, America, Alec Soth and the dream to disappear."
    If you want to see this and you live in either Minneapolis, Toronto or New York - you're in luck! Screening dates are below:
    Minneapolis: 2 May, 7pm at the St. Paul Film Festival.
    5 May at 7pm and 7 May at 1:15pm at the HotDocs Festival.
    New York:
    9 May, 8pm at The New School.

PIETER HUGO: "The Dog's Master" (2007)

Alhaji Hassan with Ajasco, Ogere-Remo, Nigeria 2007

The Dog's Master

By Pieter Hugo

These photographs came about after a friend emailed me an image taken on a cellphone through a car window in Lagos, Nigeria, which depicted a group of men walking down the street with a hyena in chains. A few days later I saw the image reproduced in a South African newspaper with the caption 'The Streets of Lagos'. Nigerian newspapers reported that these men were bank robbers, bodyguards, drug dealers, debt collectors. Myths surrounded them. The image captivated me.

Through a journalist friend I eventually tracked down a Nigerian reporter, Adetokunbo Abiola, who said that he knew the 'Gadawan Kura' as they are known in Hausa (a rough translation: 'hyena handlers/guides').

A few weeks later I was on a plane to Lagos. Abiola met me at the airport and together we took a bus to Benin City where the 'hyena men' had agreed to meet us. However, when we got there they had already departed for Abuja.

PAUL GRAHAM: "The Unreasonable Apple" (2010)

From A1 - The Great North Road, 1981-1982

By Paul Graham

This month I read a review in a leading US Art Magazine of a Jeff Wall survey book, praising how he had distinguished himself from previous art photography by:

“Carefully constructing his pictures as provocative often open ended vignettes, instead of just snapping his surroundings”

Anyone who cares about photography‘s unique and astonishing qualities as a medium should be insulted by such remarks, especially here, now, in 2010, in this country, in this city, which has embraced photography like no other.

Now this is maybe just an unthinking review, but what it does illustrate is how there remains a sizeable part of the art world that simply does not get photography. They get artists who use photography to illustrate their ideas, installations, performances and concepts, who deploy the medium as one of a range of artistic strategies to complete their work. But photography for and of itself -photographs taken from the world as it is– are misunderstood as a collection of random observations and lucky moments, or muddled up with photojournalism, or tarred with a semi-derogatory ‘documentary’ tag.

This is tremendously sad, for if we look back, the simple truth is that the majority of the great photographic works of art of the 20th century operate in precisely this territory: from Walker Evans to Robert Frank, Diane Arbus to Garry Winogrand, from Stephen Shore traveling across America in Uncommon Places; Robert Adams navigating the freshly minted suburbs of Denver in The New West, or William Eggleston spiraling towards Jimmy Carter’s hometown in Election Eve, who would seriously propose that these sincere photographic artists were merely “snapping their surroundings”?

JH Engstrom Interview - HUH Magazine

  • JH Engstrom
  • JH Engström started photographing the woods when he was 15, to express how beautiful he found them. Then, in his early 20s, he landed a job as Mario Testino's assistant in Paris and, upon moving back to Sweden, Anders Petersen (who in turn was mentored by Christer Strömholm) took him under his wing. Talk about photographic legacy, eh? JH is one of the rare photographers to actually spend years on his projects and putting his soul into each and every one of his award-winning, collectible books. His eye for detail, ability to capture a moment's emotions and eclectic use of photographic styles makes him responsible for some of the most interesting photography to ever come out of Sweden. PS. He has two new books coming out this fall.
Hello JH, how are you?
Good. I'm in Paris. 

On vacation?
No, I have access to a studio here. I've been travelling back and forth between here and Varmland, the region in Sweden where I grew up, basically all my life. My dad got a job here when I was 10, so the whole family moved to Paris for three years. 


Charlotte Cotton @ Foam What's Next

Fred Ritchin @ Foam What's Next

A few thoughts on Cariou vs. Prince

A few days ago, US District Judge Deborah A. Batts ruled that Richard Prince had violated Patrick Cariou’s copyright when using some of the images from the Yes Rasta book to produce Canal Zone. Much has since been written about this ruling, here are a few of the reactions/takes: Rob Haggart/A Photo Editor, Ed Winkleman, Donn Zaretsky, Paddy Johnson. In a nutshell, photographers for the most parts are giddy that Prince lost, whereas the non-photo art world is appalled by the ruling. (more)

INTERVIEW: "Gil Blank with Thomas Ruff" (2004)

Porträt (P. Stadtbaeumer), 1988

Gil Blank with Thomas Ruff, Originally published in Influence Magazine, Issue 2, 2004

Gil Blank: Many of the portraits you’ve made are of people whom you know personally, but whom most viewers would not. You have a relationship to the subjects, but it would seem those relationships are totally neutralized in the photographs, by their uniform structure and plain, premeditated approach. Was the relative anonymity of the subjects a central part of the process? Did the individual relationships, as manifestations of your own individual knowledge of each person, ever enter into the process? Were the relationships totally incidental, or was the fact that you knew each person a specifically complicating fact that you wanted to see if you could address, avoid, or get around in the series?

Thomas Ruff: When I started with the portraits, it was with an awareness that we were living at the end of the twentieth century, in an industrialized Western country. We weren’t living by candlelight in caves anymore. We were in surroundings where everything was brightly illuminated—even our parking garages. Surveillance cameras were everywhere, and you were being watched all the time. When I started making the portraits in 1981, my friends and I were very curious about what might happen in 1984, Orwell’s year. Would his ideas come to fruition?

They already partly had, because in Germany there were the events surrounding the Red Army Faction, a terrorist group founded by Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, and others. They plotted—and in some cases carried out—the assassinations of politicians and industry leaders, were captured, and then died under suspicious circumstances while in government custody. So the police were very nervous; there were a lot of controls placed on daily life, and we were often required to produce our passports for inspection.

My idea for the portraits was to use a very even light in combination with a large-format camera, so that you could see everything about the sitter’s face. I didn’t want to hide anything. Yet I also didn’t want the people I portrayed to show any emotion. I told them to look into the camera with self-confidence, but likewise, that they should be conscious of the fact that they were being photographed, that they were looking into a camera.

I wanted to do a kind of official portrait of my generation. I wanted the photographs to look like those in passports, but without any other information, such as the subject’s address, religion, profession, or prior convictions. I didn’t want the police/viewer to get any information about us. They shouldn’t be able to know what we felt at that moment, whether we were happy or sad.

Walid Ra'ad - Interview

Dr. Fadl Fakhouri/The Atlas Group, Notebook Volume 38, plate 60, Already Been in a Lake of Fire, 1975–2002. All photos: The Atlas Group/Ra’ad, 2002. 

Even though—or perhaps because—it’s such a small country, Lebanon has been swept up in a number of major geopolitical encounters over the past 200 years. From its seeds in the Ottoman Empire, its brief tenure under a French mandate and, more recently, 15 years of civil war among various Lebanese political parties and their militias (Lebanese Forces, Mourabitoun, Amal, Hezbollah, Communist Party, and Progressive Socialist Party, among others), armies (Lebanese, American, French and Israeli, among others) and additional Arab militias, armies and parties (Palestinian, Syrian, Iranian, Libyan, Iraqi, and Saudi, among others), Lebanon has witnessed sophisticated cosmopolitanism and horrific carnage, and now tenuous rebuilding.
If that last sentence seems somewhat dizzying, it only hints at the tangled historical knot that is the Lebanese Civil Wars of 1975-91. The many factions and their various backers, as well as the reasons and motivations for their decade and a half of internecine combat, may never become clear. Walid Ra’ad’s work is an attempt to write this obscure history in images and text. But these images and texts are themselves made opaque in the process, for as much as his project is a kind of historical documentation, it’s also an attempt to investigate how history gets imaged and written, thereby questioning the very idea of a definitive history. In this dual approach, Ra’ad’s work makes use of certain Conceptual art strategies as well as various experimental documentary modes, both of which are shared interests we’ve had many conversations about during the past few years.
Ra’ad had to leave Beirut in 1983 as the fighting between rival factions became increasingly intense. He studied in the United States, at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester, and by fortuitous coincidence now lives a few blocks from me near a desolate stretch along the northernmost tip of Brooklyn’s East River waterfront—that is, when he’s not in Beirut during his summer and winter breaks from teaching. The following interview took place between Beirut and Brooklyn via email this past July.

What makes a great portrait?

What makes a great portrait?

© Graham Nash (self-portrait)
What makes a great portrait? What are the elements that make a portrait really special?
Few weeks ago, a reader initiated a conversation about these interesting questions with Jörg Colberg [from Conscientious] and myself. Our discussion about the features that define a good portrait lead to the inevitable realization that any interpretation is subjective and that emotional reactions to the image are often summarized with unclear statements like:
Great pictures have “it”!
But what is “it”?
Even when we acknowledge that this is a subjective topic, we thought that it would be very interesting to explore it with other people whose opinion could provide informative perspectives.
This post, that is published in conjunction with Conscientious, illustrates the opinions of a number of great photographers, editors, curators and bloggers when they try to define “what is it” that makes a great portrait. All of them were extremely generous to take some time to share with us their views on the following questions:
  • What makes a good portrait?
  • Could you provide us an example of a portrait that you really like and explain why the portrait works so well for you?
What follows is a very interesting and charming article that combines their opinions. Before you read it, I like to express my sincere appreciation to each contributor, to Frank Gross whose questions triggered our interest to pursue this project and to Jörg Colberg for his cordial collaboration.

Boulevard: An interview with Katy Grannan

Boulevard: An interview with Katy Grannan

Roaming the streets of a metropolitan area, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the scale of urban architecture and the number of individuals that occupying the space. So often, the individual gets lost in the equation; attention is turned to the sum over the parts. For the past three years, San Francisco-based photographer Katy Grannan has walked the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco observing what many choose to overlook — subjects for whom life has been hard and despair has been plenty. Working within the grand tradition of portraiture, Grannan has selected a wide range of subjects for her recent body of work, Boulevard, which is currently on view at Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. Grannan turns the city into her studio, shooting each subject on a variety of white surfaces found on location. Relying only on the strong California light and a stark white backdrop, the physicality of her chosen subjects open a myriad of narrative possibilities that simultaneously evoke hardship and optimism. I recently spoke with the artist about the series, Boulevard, her upcoming film project, The Believers, and the shared history between the viewer and her subjects.

Katy Grannan. Anonymous, LA, 2009. Courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery

Cindy Sherman: Me, myself and I

Cindy Sherman: Me, myself and I

She is the star of her own photographs but claims they aren't autobiographical. Cindy Sherman talks to Simon Hattenstone about family, break-ups, $1m pictures… and why she can't keep herself out of her art.

    Cindy Sherman
    Untitled Film Still #3 (1977). Photograph: Courtesy Sprüth Magers Berlin London and Metro Pictures. © Cindy Sherman 
    I give Cindy Sherman the once-over. Then the twice- and thrice-over. I know I'm staring more than is right but I can't help myself. I'm looking for clues. Sherman is one of the world's leading artists – for 30 years, she has starred in all her photographs – and yet the more we see of her, the less recognisable she is. She's a Hitchcock heroine, a busty Monroe, an abuse victim, a terrified centrefold, a corpse, a Caravaggio, a Botticelli, a mutilated hermaphrodite sex doll, a man in a balaclava, a surgically-enhanced Hamptons type, a cowgirl, a desperate clown, and we've barely started. In front of me is an elegant woman with long, blond hair and soft features.  She's stylish – black jodhpurs, thick, white sweater, Chanel boots horizontally zipped at the top to make pockets, and a furry handbag that doubles as a great golden bear. She looks much kinder than in many of her photographs. She also looks petite – until you notice the big, strong arms: she used to box. She will be 57 next week.  

Top 10 Photography Lots at Auction in 2010

Top 10 Photography Lots at Auction in 2010

According to our statistics on 71 different auctions around the world in 2010 (covering both focused Photography sales and the photography buried in Contemporary Art and other compilation sales), these were the top 10 photography lots in terms of overall selling price this year. Unlike last year, when no works crossed the $1 million dollar mark in public secondary market transactions, 8 out of the top 10 lots this year broke that threshold (3 actually crossed $2 million dollars). Our top lot last year (Gilbert & George, The Moon, 1978), would have been good for a tie for 10th place this year (last year's list can be found here).
While some might persuasively argue that certain artists do not fall under the label of "photography", all of the works that have been included in this list are made up of photographic prints. Prices all include the buyer's premium and have been converted to dollars/rounded to the nearest dollar where appropriate (1 Euro = 1.31 Dollars; 1 Pound = 1.55 Dollars, both exchange rates slightly lower than last year; varying quality reproductions via the respective houses).
1.) $2770500: Lot 14, Cindy Sherman, Untitled #153, 1985, at Phillips de Pury & Company, Carte Blanche, November 8th