Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

That was a camera shutter…

May 27, 2009

Watch as this bird mimics the sound of a car alarm, a camera shutter, a camera with a motor drive and even a chainsaw.

Looking for Mushrooms in Berlin

May 10, 2009

133380Carsten Höller, Mushroom, 2004

I’ve been in Berlin for the past week and have taken in quite a bit of serious walking, eating beyond delicious Wiener Schnitzel and viewing art all over this great city.

Remarkably, some of the most memorable work I have seen here is anything but straight photography.

Here are some of the highlights:

robert-bechtle1975Robert Bechtle, Foster’s Freeze, Escalon, 1975

I caught the small but wonderful exhibition Picturing America: Photorealism in the 1970’s at the Deutsche Guggenheim. The exhibition had three amazing and classic Robert Bechtle paintings which were the definite stand out. There is something very of the moment about what he depicts, as if he has really frozen an awkward moment in time.

Of course Chuck Close is there with two great large and very detailed portraits but I also gained further appreciation for Richard Estes and re-discovered the British painter Malcolm Morley, who’s paintings in the exhibit all seemed to anticipate the large format photographic style of printing images with a thick white border.

edgar_leciejewski_06Edgar Leciejewski, Portrait V, 2008

Moving on from photo-realism, although somehow related, I found the above photograph by Edgar Leciejewski at a small exhibition of his work at Parrotta Contemporary Art.

The image online doesn’t do the large format photograph any justice. The portrait taped to the wall in the photograph is a highly pixelated digital printout that you can’t see unless you are standing right in front of it, (think of a Thomas Ruff Jpeg). Something about the pixelization of the image within the photograph but not the entire photograph itself is quite a mind bending experience, almost like being on mushrooms. It’s a subtle but memorable image for me. The work overall is reflexive of the artistic process with most of the photographs depicting blank studio walls with the marks, objects and images that adorn them.

tb_sblueten05_600pixThorsten Brinkmann, 2009

At Kunstagenten, situated on the lovely gallery filled street of Linienstrasse, I caught my second dose of Thorsten Brinkmann’s colorful and performative work. I wrote about his work in 2007 after having seen a great installation of his at Art Basel Miami.

The new work on view in Berlin is really an extension or a continuation of the older work but with a further emphasis on Morandi-like still life photographs, found and dada-esque sculptural readymades, as a well some more abstract photographic portraits. There is also a great and funny video on view in the cavernous basement gallery which is very much worth sitting through.

Overall I like the development and the direction Brinkmann is moving in. The attention to scale, surface, texture and light is engaging and the combination of objects is unusually surprising. I still had some questions and doubts about the overly large print sizes and the lack of image quality but this time those issues seemed to fall to the side and I could just appreciate his wacky creations for what they really are. This isn’t really about photography per say but a about a playful way of seeing the world and the possibilities that objects and costumes can create in a performative sort of anthropomorphism.

Last year, Hatje Cantz published an extensive catalogue of his work and that was nice to see as well.

mushrooms_groupCarsten Höller, Mushrooms, 2004

Carsten Höller appears to have a bit of an obsession with mushrooms. By chance I encountered some of his tripped out Mushroom photographs at Niels Borch Jensen Galerie. The gallery specializes in limited edition prints by well known artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Tacida Dean and Thomas Demand among many others. The Mushroom series of prints by Höller were on a wall in a back gallery and they drew my attention for whatever reason, most probably their reddish hues of color. They are delicately beautiful and hallucinatory images.

By the look of the photograph posted below, I wish I could have seen the installation he presented at the Fondazione Prada in Italy
where he hung giant spinning mushrooms from the ceiling.

mushrooms_milanCarsten Höller, Upside Down Mushroom Room, 2000

Lastly, my friend and wonderful host, Markus Esser, took me to visit Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s elegantly masterful Neue Nationalgalerie situated near the Potsdamer Platz.


Luckily there was no exhibition currently on view and we got to experience the enormous gallery completely empty. It was quite a treat.

newton_nova_1971Helmut Newton, Nova 1971

I guess one last thing worth mentioning is that I visited the Helmut Newton Foundation as well and was really just curious to see what an entire museum devoted to one photographer would be like. Although the museum does exhibit work by other artists, it currently has an exhibition devoted to the work Newton made after he was fired from French Vogue in 1964. Newton isn’t my favorite fashion photographer but I left the museum with a new found appreciation for him as well as his wife June.

getimageRogier van der Weyden, Bildnis einer jungen Frau

The only exhibit that I didn’t get to see but really wished I had was The Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden at the Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz.

That would have been the icing on the cake.

Albert Kahn's Archives Of The Planet

November 30, 2008

Salonika, Greece, May 24, 1913 by Auguste Léon

Reading BookForum this afternoon, I came across a small write up of a new book called The Dawn of the Color Photograph: Albert Kahn’s Archives of the Planet .

Roscoff, France, April 6, 1920 by George Chevalier

Beginning in 1910 and continuing thru 1931, Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker, commissioned photographers and filmmakers to travel the world to record and document human life on earth using the recently invented Autochrome process.

In total, the image makers brought back about 72,000 images and 140,000 metres of exposed film.

Eiffel Tower, Paris France

Learn more about the archive at Princeton University Press, BBC, and see some more photographs here and here.

Also watch a BBC produced documentary on the archive:

Paris: Photography and Other Digressions…

November 24, 2008

This morning I traded in my almost daily croissant intake of the past three weeks for an old fashioned plain donut from my local street vendor.

I’m back from a three week journey to France where I did some traveling and shooting, hitting both the German border on the east (Freiburg was a total treat) and two lovely smaller French towns on the west coast, La Rochelle and Pornic. I also spent a wonderful week in Paris where I checked out Paris Photo and many other exhibitions around town.

I had a few photographs up at Paris Photo and it was nice to be there amongst so many other photographers. If I had to take home one idea about this year’s fair in Paris it would definitely be the theme of books.

Books were everywhere to be found with new releases, special editions and book signings around every corner. A special Japanese exhibition with a focus on books was set in the center of the main entrance hall and that was just the beginning. The “celebs” were there with lines and chaos to be had all around. In just the first day you had Stephen Shore, Martin Parr, Alec Soth, William Klein, Elliot Erwitt and Masao Yamamoto (he gets the award for most intense book signing practice I’ve ever seen that included two different Japanese style pens/brushes and a stamp!) all signing books within quick walking distance. Unfortunately I didn’t buy any books or have anything signed as the idea of carrying anymore stuff back home would have been too difficult as I was already traveling with too much to begin with.

I did walk around quite a bit and took in the entire exhibition of galleries and in all honesty I wasn’t too impressed with what I found there. I actually found the whole thing quite depressing. Way too many photographs placed in such close proximity had the strange effect of canceling each other out, making it really hard to see or appreciate anything. Seeing so many photographs in one gulp just made photography seem kind of gimmicky, it’s really hard to put a finger on how I felt. In essence though, there really wasn’t much new work to see. No big discoveries or anything really memorable.

The two spaces I recall best at this moment were Martin Parr’s installation at Janet Borden called Parrworld (not sure if I remember that title correctly) and Alec Soth’s The Last Days of W at Weinstein Gallery.

The Parr installation was memorable if only as it served as a reminder of Parr’s great beginnings as a photographer as there was work on display from many periods of his work.

The Soth installation was memorable as it was new work seen for the first time and was obviously thought out almost like a solo show. I don’t love all the photographs in the series but it certainly gave me something to think about, especially having been in France during the election (I did vote though). I can say for certain that the French are as excited (and relieved) about Obama as we are. On the flight over I saw more Obama buttons worn by French natives than I ever saw worn in New York.

Back to Soth, I did actually buy one book at the fair as I picked up a couple of copies of Soth’s self-published newspaper like book The Last Days of W which was too light not to carry home. I like the idea of it conceptually and it only cost 10 Euros. Last thing I’ll say about the new Soth work is that it looks like he is officially done with c-prints and working with large format HP inkjet technology. I totally understand his predicament of living in Minneapolis and not having the access to large format digital c-print technology but I’m still not sure I like the way it looks. When you look real close to see the tiny details you begin to see the actual print dots and I find that a bit bothersome.

I’m being a total c-print snob but listen to what he has to say about it here and you might be convinced.

I’ll follow up with a few more posts in the next couple of days.

Silverman And The Great Schlep

September 26, 2008

The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.

Thrift Find: Still Life with Buddha and Jar

June 20, 2008

Still Life with Buddha and Jar by Grozi

I’ve been looking for some still life paintings to add to my collection of weird stuff and found this wonderful small painting at an antique market in the city of Tours, France. It measures about 10 x 12 inches.

No date is indicated but it looks fairly old. I really love the wallpaper pattern in the background.

Click on the image for a larger version.

Maps Of War

May 12, 2008

Maps of War is an educational website where one can explore the history of the world as it plays out in quick moving presentations of colorful maps and timelines.

I cannot vouch for the site’s accuracy but it is absolutely fascinating to watch the history of wars over long periods of time.

As the creator of the site says:

“Each map is well-researched and based in fact, and none of the work is meant to be biased or political. No spin or opinion, just fact-based conclusions about the history of war.”

“It’s all about the ‘Big Picture’ of history, not measured in years, but in centuries.”

The presentation about religion is quite amazing, but they are all worth checking out.

See 5,000 years of religion in 90 seconds.

See 5,000 years of Middle East history in 90 seconds.

See 4,000 years of democracy in 90 seconds.

(Thanks Billie)

Be Warned

March 11, 2008

If you are flying Jetblue over the next couple of days, you will probably encounter a short supply of refreshing Coca-Cola and Terra Blue Potato Chips.

Earlier today I was sitting next to a middle aged guy who was probably flying for the first time in his life. It was most certainly his first time flying Jetblue. He didn’t seem to speak English very well but smiled enthusiastically when I explained that the snacks and soft drinks were free. I think the actual line I used was “yes, it’s all free and you can have as many as you want.” He obviously took me very seriously because he proceeded to consume one can of coke and a bag of chips every twenty minutes for the entire duration of the 3 and a half hour flight to Houston, Texas.

I tell you the guy must have been in heaven except that he had a nervous leg twitch and shake that kept me pulsating and moving during the whole flight. At times I felt like I was in a vibrating chair. I don’t think that the caffeine had a positive effect on the experience as the shaking got worse as the flight wore on.

So yes, I’m in Houston for the 2008 Fotofest and Meeting Place Portfolio Reviews.

More about that later….

Tourism Is A Privilege Not An Entitlement

November 29, 2007


According to the MTA, it is their primary focus to:

“…decrease the hazardous behaviors of tourists and to mitigate the inherent dangers that stem from the tourism trade. Enforcement of the plan will be increased in midtown Manhattan and in other key areas of the city. All tourists, visitors and gypsies are urged to follow the foregoing cooperation initiatives (collectively, the “Tourist Cooperation Initiatives”) wherever and whenever possible.”

Cruise Ship Sinks In The Antarctic

November 24, 2007

From the New York Times and Chilean Air Force, Via European Pressphoto Agency
via NY Times, Chilean Air Force, via European Pressphoto Agency

My mind is blown when I wake up to a news photograph like the one on The New York Times front page today.

It also made me wonder what it would feel like if some of Florian Maier-Aichen’s mysterious photographs came true.

Florian Maier-Aichen, Untitled, 2007
Florian Maier-Aichen, Untitled, 2007