Friday, August 30, 2013

Lewis Baltz archive acquired by Getty Research Institute

Lewis Baltz Unoccupied office, Mitsubishi, Vitre (FR), 1989-91.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Getty Research Institute has announced the acquisition of the archive of Lewis Baltz (American, born 1945). A distinguished photographer and author, Baltz and his wife, artist Slavica Perkovic, have generously donated his entire archive to the Getty Research Institute. “We at the Getty Research Institute are deeply honored to house this archive,” said Thomas W. Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute. “The Lewis Baltz archive will establish the Getty as a center for the study of his work and those movements he helped to pioneer. Having lived in Europe and the US, his fascinating work as a photographer represents a new and original approach in the context of social, political, and environmental changes and challenges in last the decades.” Baltz’s groundbreaking work gained early recognition in 1975 when the artist participated in New Topographics, a landmark exhibition instrumental in creating a paradigm shift in the history of photography. He stands out in his early career for crafting series of exquisite black-and-white prints that provoke thought because of their Minimalist aesthetic combined with a staunch conceptual approach. From 1967 to 1989, he produced 11 series of works, including The Tract Houses (1971) and The New Industrial Parks, Near Irvine, California (1974) that are seminal for bringing attention to the overlooked margins of our consumer economy.

The archive acquired by the GRI documents Baltz’s entire career. It includes a complete set of his negatives and contact prints with meticulous printing notes, numerous proof prints, examples of final prints, videos, hundreds of installation views, rare ephemera, and publications on and by him. “The archive is particularly valuable for the information it holds on Baltz’s ephemeral projects, both public and site-generated, that were not well documented,” said Frances Terpak, curator of photographs at the Getty Research Institute. “This archive offers a comprehensive overview of Baltz’s artistic practice and helps us understand the conceptual underpinnings of an artist who has so significantly shaped the course of photography and photographic media in the late-20th and early-21st century.”

Feeling disgusted with the politics of the Reagan/Bush era, Baltz moved in the late 1980s to Europe, where his artistic style shifted to color photography, often focused on site-generated projects originating from commissions but still centered on current socio-political issues. “My work in the 1980s had an apocalyptic subtext; by 1990 it seemed that the world had, in a sense, already ended, that is, it had withdrawn itself from our apprehension,” Baltz explained. “After 1990, no one had time for documentary images, least of all myself. In 1988 I became fascinated with the twin phenomena of technology and nomadism. They seemed to be related to each other and to the disappearance of the world.” In Sites of Technology (1989-91), Baltz shows the dystopian worlds where technical research takes place at companies such as Toshiba and Mitsubishi by evoking on film the invisible power machines hold over humans. Though his work is often aligned with cinema, this is most evident in the large-scale color installations with soundtracks—Le Ronde de Nuit (1992), Docile Bodies (1995), and The Politics of Bacteria (1995)—where he exposes the fabricated environments of cyberworlds and their impact on ecology and society.

Baltz’s work has been exhibited in over fifty one-person exhibitions at venues including the Leo Castelli Gallery, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Victoria and Albert Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Tokyo Institute of Polytechnics, and the Albertina. His works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Tate Modern, London; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, among others. Baltz has received numerous fellowships including National Endowment for the Arts grants in 1973 and 1976, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1977, and the United States-United Kingdom Bicentennial Fellowship in 1980. The extensive Lewis Baltz Archive will be cataloged at the GRI and made available to researchers in 2014.

Lewis Baltz, National Centre for Meterological Research, Grenoble, 1989-1991

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Harvey Benge - new bookwork: some things you should have told me

My new book work - some things you should have told me - designed by Kummer and Herrman in Utrecht and published by Dewi Lewis Publishing in the UK will be available in October 2013.

With photographs made in Paris, London, New York and Rome, this new intensely personal, some might say autobiographical book, is enigmatically entitled some things you should have told me. It is a remorseless meditation of loss and misadventure, pain and impermanence, the inevitability of change. The reader is invited to ask what should have been told: Who is the You? Who is the Me? Questions are asked; there are no answers.
However you look at them, Harvey Benge’s photographs are mostly urban and generally strange. His work is mysterious; nothing is solid. The pictures capture contrasts and conflicts which leave you wondering what has just happened and what might happen next.
Benge gives voice to the mundane and overlooked. His open-ended photographic sequences record small moments of everyday life that flash past with tension and ambiguity: an urban dream on the edge of reality where figures retreat, seats are empty, phones don’t work. Any and every interpretation is a valid interpretation. What is going on? You decide.

Here are some page spreads:

You can see the complete series by going to my website HERE.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pieter Hugo at Yossi Milo Gallery NYC

Pieter Hugo - from the series Kin, 2008
Opening Friday of next week, September 6, at Yossi Milo Gallery NYC, is Pieter Hugo’s series Kin. This body of work confronts complex issues of colonization, racial diversity and economic disparity in Hugo’s homeland of South Africa. These subjects are common to the photographers past projects in Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Botswana; however, this time, Hugo’s attention is focused on his conflicted relationship with the people and environs closest to home.
Kin is a personal exploration of South Africa through landscapes, portraits and still life photography. Hugo depicts locations and subjects of personal significance, such as cramped townships, contested farmlands, abandoned mining areas and sites of political influence, as well as psychologically charged still lives in people’s homes and portraits of drifters and the homeless. Hugo also presents intimate portraits of his pregnant wife, his daughter moments after her birth and the domestic servant who worked for three generations of Hugo’s family. Alternating between private and public spaces, with a particular emphasis on the growing disparity between rich and poor, Kin is the artist’s effort to locate himself and his young family in a country with a fraught history and an uncertain future.
Hugo describes the Kin project as “an engagement with the failure of the South African colonial experiment and my sense of being ‘colonial driftwood’ ... South Africa is such a fractured, schizophrenic, wounded and problematic place. It is a very violent society and the scars of colonialism and Apartheid run deep. Issues of race and cultural custodianship permeate every aspect of society here and the legacy of Apartheid casts a long shadow ... How does one live in this society? How does one take responsibility for history, and to what extent does one have to? How do you raise a family in such a conflicted society? Before getting married and having children, these questions did not trouble me; now, they are more confusing. This work attempts to address these questions and to reflect on the nature of conflicting personal and collective narratives. I have deeply mixed feelings about being here. I am interested in the places where these narratives collide. Kin is an attempt at evaluating the gap between society’s ideals and its realities.”

Yossi Milo Gallery - 245 Tenth Avenue, (between 24th & 25th St.) New York, NY 10001

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Photographers whose work I like - No22/ Bucky Miller

I came across the work of Bucky Miller on line and liked it immediately. His photographs have a strange WTF quality about them, mysterious, ambiguous and as much about what's not in the frame as what's in. The pictures are spare but loaded. Miller has a quiet sense of humor too. As a preamble to his DESTROYER series he says this - I was interrupted while photographing in a shopping mall parking lot: "You should get permission from security to do that, on account of the heightened awareness levels and all." Heightened awareness levels of what, I asked. "Everything." he said. "of everything."

Miller says this about himself: Bucky Miller was born in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a BFA in photography from Arizona State University. In early 2013 he completed a residency at the grassroots arts institution Tempe Museum of Contemporary Art. He recently returned from the Little Brown Mushroom Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers in St. Paul, Minnesota and is currently probing the country for photographs and other things.

Miller's certainly has heightened awareness. You can see for yourself by checking out his website HERE. And below are some images from his DESTROYER series.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

David Campany - Gasoline

David Campany has a new bookwork, simply called Gasoline. Campany is a London based writer, curator, and artist. He writes about documentary, photojournalism, art, cinema, fashion, archives, and architecture. He has published essays on many artists and photographers including, Paul Graham, Chris Killip, Edgar Martins and John Stezaker. His books include Walker Evans: the magazine work (2013), Art and Photography (2003), Photography and Cinema (2008), and The Open Road: photographic road trips in America (forthcoming in 2014). Campany writes regularly for Aperture, Frieze, TATE, Source, and Photoworks. In 2010 he co-curated Anonymes: Unnamed America in Photography and Film at Le Bal (Paris). In 2012 he won the International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Writing.

Publisher MACK say this about Gasoline:
The gas station is one of the most iconic of twentieth century buildings. Recognised across the world, it is arguably most established on American soil where the notion of the road trip on a full tank of gas is culturally ingrained. Gasoline presents 35 archive press images of gas stations taken between 1944 and 1995. They have been collected by writer David Campany, purchased from the photography archives of several American newspapers which have been discarding their analogue print collections and moving to the now ubiquitous .jpeg or .tif formats. Gasoline can be read as a cautionary tale about the modern dependence on oil, about news photography, about the shift from film to digital imaging, or as a minor history of car design and vernacular architecture. Marked with the grease pen notations of the newspapers’ art directors, the photos tell of oil shortages, road congestion, crimes, accidents and choking cities. Individually the images are single moments in time; collectively they show a growing consciousness about cars, the oil trade and global concern about pollution. 

You can see all of David Campany's bookworks, his own and those involving essays, by going to his website HERE.  And you can pre-order your copy of Gasoline by going to the MACK site HERE.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Four Parts Religion Six Parts Sin - 20 years on...


In 1993 the Auckland based photography collective PhotoForum published my first photobook. I called the book Four Parts Religion Six Parts Sin. The title came from a song played by Texas rocker Jimmy LaFave. I'd heard him perform at Auckland's notorious Glue Pot pub and music venue, long since demolished. Jimmy said this - Let it out baby stir it up and mix it in. Two parts religion and three parts sin. It's the truth or consequences because the new king reigns, and desperate men do desperate things. I can't remember now why I changed the number of parts.

I've just discovered a few remaining copies of the book deep in my archive. To celebrate the passage of twenty years and many photobooks in between, I'm offering 10 copies which I will sign and number. The book has 84 pages with 74 photographs.

Copies can be obtained directly from me at:
Prices are, €50 / £45 / US$65  which includes packing and postage. For payment you can simply log on to my PayPal account using my email address above.

Here are some of the images.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sandra Phillips in Auckland - A Great Pleasure!

Sandra Phillips on Quentin's seat, Devonport
It was a great pleasure to last week share the photography trail with Sandra Phillips; here as guest of the Auckland Art Fair and keynote speaker plus teacher at AUT University's annual Photography Workshop. In both these capacities Sandra acquitted herself with a tremendous generosity of spirit and a ready willingness to share her remarkable knowledge of the photo world accumulated over her many years as chief curator photography at San Francisco MoMA.

Auckland Art Fair - panel discussion
On Thursday of last week Sandra participated in a panel discussion at the Art Fair moderated by senior Auckland Art Gallery curator Ron Brownson together with photographers Marie Shannon, Yvonne Todd and myself. We opened up a conversation, What Photography Sees? - Looking passionately at the world. From my side of the table it seemed to be a lively hour.
On Friday night Sandra delivered her keynote address to the Art Fair, a presentation talking about her landmark 2010 exhibition - EXPOSED, Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera since 1870.

AUT University - Photography Worshop
The weekend was spent at AUT University, presenting in their new Sir Paul Reeves building an intense two days of photography discussion together with portfolio reviews. The thirteen participants received affirmative feedback on their work and ideas for ways forward. Sandra talked about the SFMoMA photography collection and presented her Art Fair keynote address to the workshop.
Sandra Phillips' invitation to Auckland came out of me talking to Lewis Baltz and Henry Wessel in Paris last November. Both Lewis and Hank raved about Sandra and among other things commented on what a charming person she is. They were 100% right.

Sandra Phillips and friend - The Gibbs Farm

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sandra Phillips for Auckland Art Fair and AUT Workshop

Photography curator Sandra Phillips, chief photography curator at San Francisco MoMA,  arrives in Auckland next week. While in Auckland she has a dual role, first as keynote speaker for the Auckland Art Fair and second she will conduct a photography workshop at AUT University, School of Art and Design.

At 2pm on Thursday August 8, at the Art Fair, Sandra Phillips will participate in a panel discussion - What Photography Sees? - chaired by senior Auckland Art Gallery curator Ron Brownson together with photographers Marie Shannon, Yvonne Todd and myself.
Sandra will deliver the Art Fair keynote address at the fair on Friday evening.

The AUT photography workshop will run over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday August 10 and 11 and continues AUT's successful workshop series, now in its seventh year. Previous high profile guests have included photographers - Antoine d'Agata, Lewis Baltz, Slavica Perkovic, John Gossage, Alec Soth, Rineke Dijkstra, Paul Graham, Todd Hido, and Pieter Hugo. Together with MoMA NYC chief photography curator Quentin Bajac.

The workshop with Sandra Phillips is an exciting continuation of the program. Sandra has been photography curator at SFMoMA since 1987 and is one of the most influential curators in the medium working today. She has developed and maintained SFMoMA's position as having one of the most active departments of photography anywhere. Sandra has been responsible for a host of exhibitions including those involving William Klein, Daido Moriyama, Diane Arbus, Larry Sultan, and most recently Rineke Dijkstra and Garry Winogrand.  She is an empowering teacher and an engaging personality.