Saturday, March 31, 2007

Emerge away...Northeast Exposure Online

I thought I'd do a little post on one of my favorite PRC programs, NEO. Northeast Exposure Online (NEO) is a web-based showcase of emerging photographic artists in New England (MA, RI, CT, ME, VT, NH) as selected by PRC (i.e., me). Featuring one new artist each month, the online gallery includes 6 to 12 images, a biography, artist and curator statements, artist resume, and a link to the photographer's website. Best of all, past presentations remain archived online. Many check them out online when we send out our monthly free email and even more reference the archive page.

Since we conceived of this program almost 4 years ago, we have showcased over 40 photographers on the PRC website (click on the little square icon on the lower left of the homepage to go to their page). These are some amazing people to watch and many great things have happened to them since showing (a couple have direct ties to NEO). I especially enjoy choosing shy artists or artists that need a deadline to complete a series or their website--basically those who need and deserve a little push into the spotlight. I can also act and show someone much quicker than in the physical gallery as well as display work that might not necessarily fit into something I am working on right now, but still deserves to be out there. It's very rewarding to work with and help these great people. I feel very close to and proud of this group and keep in touch with them. The best way to be considered? Join the PRC and sign up for one of my in-person monthly portfolio reviews for members.

It is my hope that gallerists or curators surf on in and are intrigued enough to contact them. I personally love such projects on other photo websites and frequently troll them. I've gone on to show several of the artists in themed, group exhibitions and others have been tapped for our juried exhibition by our outside guest jurors. The latter especially makes me happy, as it means other people like them too. Jen Bekman selected 3 past and 1 future NEOs for the soon-to-be announced upcoming PRC juried show (sign up today on the bottom of our homepage to get the April 1 email)! I hope you enjoy discovering their work. Catch them while you can!

A partial screenshot of the 2006/2007 NEO season to date. We're currently scheduled through August.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Myself as compositional element

Bruce has his first show at a commercial gallery, which opens next Friday, April 6 at Gallery Kayafas. I am so proud of him. It mainly features his ongoing series "The Fortieth Parallel," but also showcases a few that aren't a part of a series. Funnily enough, the gallerist selected one image that features me. As we often go on trips together, it seems I often pop up in Bruce's panoramas as a compositional element, knowingly or not!

Here I am atop the observatory on the top of Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina--the highest point east of the Mississippi (higher than Mt. Washington! and not as cold). I love the guy on the left, looking not at the vista, but at the map. The other couple is also not looking at the view per se (I can't get over how much this fellow looks like Bill Burke). I am in the shade, looking down, loading film into my Holga. Me aside, I think this is one of Bruce's best pictures. My eye darts around the picture; ironically while "site-seeing," we all have different site lines and are consumed in other activities (me with a picture taking device with an aptly named "viewfinder") or with what we "think" we ought to be looking at or doing. Of couse, the time-honored "view" is behind Bruce and just beyond the railing. Compositionally, it is also just out of reach to the viewer of the photograph.

I have another story about myself as compositional element when I was two years old. Apparently I started young! I will leave that story for my 5 things meme, to be published likely this weekend.

If you ever need to hire a compositional element, contact me!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Photo History is cool...again!?

Several photobloggers as of late have been delving into the annals of photohistory. As an art historian/photohistorian and one who works with and teaches living photographers, I find this very interesting both in terms of their approach and use of photohistory as well as the impact of the internet on the retrieval and dispersal of such information (or, these cases aside, sometimes misinformation). When I switched from art studio to art history in college, I generally left behind drawing, painting, and photo, although I sometimes take Holga and Polaroid pictures. When asked why I don't show these to anyone, I have to underscore that I bring something different to the discussion and that I want photographers to respect my abilities in curating, and not get bogged down in how good (or bad) my photographs are.

Photohistory itself was largely codified initially in and by museums and collectors as well as photographers turned curators. Think Edward Steichen and John Szarkowski. Photohistorians and photocurators did not exist as we know them today until well into the twentieth century (just as MFA programs in photography). We are still reeling from the canons proposed in such tomes as Gernsheim's and Newhall's history of photography--both of which have origins in private collections or museum exhibitions. Always one to provoke a healthy discussion, Douglas Nickel has spoken often on the history of the history of photography and goes into fascinating detail on the history (and impending dearth?) of trained photocurators on the PhotoWings website:

The museum industry needs photo curators and needs them to be well-trained. And they don't want someone who learned photo history from a studio person or from somebody who specializes in abstract expressionism. They want people trained in photo history.

As a fan of historiography (and drama), I highly recommend reading the whole interview (Geoffrey Batchen has also written and spoken about such issues, sometimes with Nickel). Has the pendulum swung the other way for us photohistorians - are we a dying breed? I have always been interested in museums and academia and hope to continue to work in both.

Another interesting development that I would underscore in Nickel's summation is the photographer teaching photohistory, which often happens at art schools. As an art historian, I must admit that this slightly concerns me, both in terms of my own job prospects someday (a masters in art history is not a terminal degree, while a MFA is, and I am years away from mine) as well as how this makes for an entirely different class (and here - I want to underscore that I am saying this is neither good nor bad, just different). I understand what an amazing perspective such a background can bring to the discussion, but are we teaching two different histories? For artists, a photohistorian's class might be better in some ways or more boring and less useful in other ways than one given by an artist colleague...either way they are different and we must consider the differences. Are Ph.D.s to teach only in liberal arts schools? I hope not. I must admit that I am highly generalizing this and there are many amazing doctorates teaching in art schools, but with the rise of adjuncts, it serves to make a point. There are likely fewer photohistorians out there and, if Nickel is right, even fewer to come. We need more photohistorians in museums, but also in colleges - to teach the next generation of scholars and curators as well as photographers.

Is this the beginning of an artist-non-artist split in terms of training? Sadly, at the University of Texas, we didn't hang out enough with the artists even though we had seminars in the same building. Working with practicing photographers (and dating one), I have learned more at my present job about taking and printing photographs than I ever did in graduate school. Such knowledge is somewhat lacking in academia (not all decorative arts and material culture historians, for example, know how to throw a pot) and is equally a cause for concern.

Where are we to go from here to bridge these gaps? A parallel discussion and perhaps model for uniting all of these forces would be the recent dialogue surrounding artists as art critics. Matt Nash has great review and essay on Big, RED and Shiny on the new book, "A Critical Mess," to which Steve Aishman has a humorous but very thoughtful response.

Here are a few words from Matt:

In this way, I think that many artists do not feel that the criticism they receive from a “critic” is any more or less valid than that of a peer, or a teacher, or anyone else who may encounter their work and wish to speak. In a lot of ways, art critics actually diminish their power to influence art-making by pretending to be above the artists they critique; artists respond to peer influences positively while generally rejecting “authority” in any form, even the established critical structure. This is why, I believe, much of art criticism has passed into the hands of artists, and found voice in forums that are immediate, localized and antiauthoritarian. By allowing artists to engage as equals, these new forms reframe critique and the “judgment” inherent within it; rather than waiting for tacit approval or denial from an authority, artists are now much more proactive about adressing the ideas and theories that are most important to them and their community. It is in this way that our expectations of art criticism have shifted from a pat on the head to a round of drinks; that is, from outside and authoritative approval to the welcome support of peers and colleagues.

Whew...apparently I had a lot in me on this topic! Any thoughts? I ought to conclude by pointing out a few photographers who have recently written on topics in the history of photography:

  • Photographer Christian Patterson has posted several items on early color photography. Here is Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3.
  • Photographer and student Shane Lavalette has also posted on panoramic photography and Jacques Henri Lartigue and invited his readers to join him in learning.
  • Photographer Jeremias Paul gives us a great example to follow in his recent musing on the influences in his own pratice here

Photoblogging and blogging has certainly contributed to a renewed interest in photohistory by photographers (well, at least the sharing and talking about it at such an accelerated pace and in such a public forum). Almost every single post by Alec Soth addresses both photo and art history in some way. Recent topics include Portrait Week and his attempt to create a spectrum (Version 1 and version 2) to categorize photographers. I am personally thrilled to see such a community and discussion developing. Although not a photographer, the folks at Art + Commerce have started an interesting discussion forum, Tip of the Tongue, which is currently being led by a great essay by Charlotte Cotton on black and white vs. color. I hope their forums become more active (I wonder if there is any way to have the comments cascade to see them all at once?). I have offered to answer questionnaires and help in any way.

The short and apparently very long of it is: we all have something to learn from each other. One solution could be to team teach or team post on a blog topic - photographer, photohistorian, and critic; this would make for a fascinating class and discussion! Here's to a new sea change!

Christian Patterson's mock photo family tree. Read more about it here:

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sick of being...

Apparently, this winter just wants to keep coming back. With each new temperature swing and snowfall, I get sick. Going to Miami, being on a plane, coming back to a big snowstorm, and burning the candle at both ends likely didn't help either. This couldn't come at a better time - not. Thus, announcing the results of the PRC's juried show has been delayed just a tad (sorry folks) and I go into installation of a pretty cool (but intense) show of interactive, kinetic cinematic work, Picture Show, with what appears to be a sinus infection. It's going to be fine, I keep telling myself, breath in, breath out. In the meantime, read this great preview of Picture Show--the PRC's Boston Cyberarts offering--by Randi Hopkins in the Boston Phoenix.
So, lying here on the couch, I decided to try on some new clothes aka a new blog template. I am getting spring fever and will likely be dabbling in a website and revamping the blog soon. Keep checking back, I might change my stripes. Forecast in Boston for tonight, snow...jeesh.

Erica von Schilgen's Mon Petit Espace, from Picture Show

Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday (late) Show and Tell & The Viewfinder Shift

We made it back from SPE and Miami! Many poor souls are still stuck in airports across the country, but we managed somehow to get out with minimal delays. Quick update: took the PRC student show down in one day (with amazing interns) and after a night of rolling with the punches, Jen Bekman emerged triumphantly with a smashing presentation to a standing-room-only audience! Thanks Jen!
I will have little time to blog in the next few days, but wanted to share this great image with you courtesy of Adam Gooder's mother from a recent trip (can you see the monkeys in the background?). I've always wanted to write an essay or musing on the impact of not looking through a viewfinder anymore (and some digital consumer cameras not even having one) on contemporary photography. This will hopefully get the ideas flowing for you and me. (PS - I haven't forgotten my 5 things meme either Jeremias!) Enjoy the image...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Acronyms gone wild! JB @ PRC, LKB @ SPE

Photographers and photo organizations love acronyms, why is that? Is it the proliferation of terms photo-lovers use...such as f-stop, ISO, ASA, SLR, etc.? Moreover, I think every photo non-profit uses an acronym of some sort (CPW, HCP, CCP, SMP, MOCP, CMP, CEPA, GEH, HRHRC, ICP, VSW, etc.) How many can you list?

On another note - It's spring break and field trip time! We're very excited at the Photographic Resource Center (PRC) to host Jen Bekman (jb) next week for an edifying night of tips on the gallery world and marketing. On her popular blog personism, she invited readers to post questions for her to answer during the seminar. Here's your chance, jump into the dialogue and come out Monday night!

Bruce and I (LKB) are about to fly to the land of spring break, Miami, Florida, for the annual Society for Photographic Education (SPE) conference. I'm very excited. It just gets better and better every year. I'll post an overview once I get back. Sun, here I come.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bending Spoons, Palm Reading, and more...

With great anticipation, I kept checking to see who won this year's 2007 Project Competition at Center (I find myself calling them "The Organization Formerly Known as Santa Fe Center of Photography" to differentiate). I was thrilled to surf in this past week and see that Carol Golemboski won out of an astounding 819 entries. I first met Carol at a SPE conference in 2003 in Austin, TX. I was doing research at the Harry Ransom Center for a PRC show that united spiritualist tendencies in historical photographs with contemporary work. I had an amazing time sifting through the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini archives surrounding the "Margery the Medium" debate going on in Boston in the 1920s. Floating heads, light orbs, and ectoplasm - oh my! So, when I looked at Carol's stunningly beautiful manipulated gelatin silver prints on the topic of Psychometry (or object reading) in the back of Jonathan Singer's booth, I knew right away I was going to show her work. You can check out the online version of the 2004 show, Concerning the Spiritual in Photography, here. Congrats Carol!

As a side note, one of the artists that showed in another PRC group exhibition, Julie Blackmon, went on to win the Center's 2006 Project Competition and was recently chosen as one of PDN's 30 Emerging Photographers for 2007. I am astounded at what has happened to her career since I first came across her work and showed her in the 2005/2006 exhibition, Group Portrait. She now has 3 galleries, a rep, and her prices have doubled. I can't help myself in saying: You go girl!

Selections by Carol Golemboski, as chosen by the 2007 jurors: Charles Guice, Director, Charles Guice Gallery, Berkeley, CA; Deborah Klochko, Director, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA; Kira Pollack, Deputy Photography Editor, New York Times Magazine. You can find Carol's work locally at the Robert Klein Gallery.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Things you don't know about people other than me

I have been tagged! The "Five Things Readers Don't Know about You" meme has been going around and it came to me, courtesy of Jeremias Paul. In case anyone was wondering, the word "meme" was coined by Richard Dawkins to explain a cultural entity or idea that travels from one person to another, similar to a gene. Later Daniel Dennett of our own fair Tufts picked it up and used it in his book on philosophy of mind.

I am still working on my post, it's a long one with pictures and such, but in the meantime, I present a list of other "5 things" you don't know about various people you don't know. Quite fun reading! (Jeremias also has a great list and attempts to trace the meme's history here.) I hope this act of voyeurism provides enough distraction for me to complete my assignment.

Jeremias Paul
Jay Gould
Todd Deutsch
Zoe Strauss

Art Fag City
jen bekman
Brian Ulrich
Paul Schmelzer

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Geek Post

I am excited to debut a new periodic post category, the "Geek Post." Every now and then, I will present something that might not have anything to do with photography and nothing to do with anything but geeking out. I have no idea if anyone else is interested in this or if they will be scared of the crazy things I find interesting, but in honor of conversations this week on the "geek" topic, we all have our geek side or inner geek. (This is also a diversion post as I have been tagged with the "5 things meme" by Jeremias Paul and have a lot of work to do too this weekend, like look at 1500 images to finish jurying Critical Mass.)

So...I was double checking one of my artist's statements this week and she used the term "jury-rigged," which I thought was a typo and supposed to be "jerry-rigged." After poking around online, I found out I was wrong (Update, apparently I am one of the few that thought this. Funny...but we all have these things stuck in our heads that are wrong. Go on, you know it's true!) I found this great site by Paul Brians that explains common errors in English. For those who are chomping at the bit, here is the distinction between "JERRY-BUILT/JURY-RIGGED":
Although their etymologies are obscure and their meanings overlap, these are two distinct expressions. Something poorly built is “jerry-built.” Something rigged up temporarily in a makeshift manner with materials at hand, often in an ingenious manner, is “jury-rigged.” “Jerry-built” always has a negative connotation, whereas one can be impressed by the cleverness of a jury-rigged solution. Many people cross-pollinate these two expressions and mistakenly say “jerry-rigged” or “jury-built.”

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Sleep Stock

What a week! I am exhausted after our weekend in Western Mass. Work proved just as busy with no end in sight until the end of March. This week, among other things, I participated in a curriculum review for the new digital photography program at the New England Institute of Art (bright and early) and the same day we hosted Lauren Greenfield and had a very late dinner. The intense week keeps going...I teach tomorrow and my guests, Christina Micek and Henry Horenstein, will talk about stock, picture research, and publishing. Then, it's off to the gallery openings.

Thus, fondly remembering how fun and quick my "sick stock" post was, I now present "sleep stock." Note that "sleep" and "sleepy" are different as search terms. I can't wait to sleep in on Saturday!