Words on Photographs (working title)
About the author, Stephen Black:
WORDS ON PHOTOGRAPHS (working title)
My favourite thing is to go where I've never been. - Diane Arbus
This is the start of a text/internet project about a photography show that opened in Singapore on October 23, 2013. Have no idea what the final form will be, despite the fact that it has been toyed with very few days since early October, 2013.
The press release for the show can be found here:
The exhibition includes works by:
Diane Arbus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Arbus
Hai Bo http://www.haiboyu.com/
Harry Callahan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Callahan_(photographer)
William Christenberry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Christenberry
Chuck Close http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Close
William Eggleston http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Eggleston
Robert Frank http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Frank
Lee Friedlander http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Friedlander
Richard Misrach http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Misrach
Irving Penn http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irving_Penn
Robert Rauschenberg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Rauschenberg
Lucas Samaras http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucas_Samaras
Hiroshi Sugimoto http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroshi_Sugimoto
Joann Verburg http://joannverburg.com/
William Wegman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wegman_(photographer)
WARNING: This is raw, unfinished writing and/or notes. You are seeing a story being built and it may not all make sense..... Aiming to have this done by early December. Total word count not yet known.
A full day at the library was inspiring. I took notes, photocopied, got lost in and rolled my eyes at these books:
(Skim through to the comments section. Online, there is also this http://www.newrepublic.com/article/books-and-arts/the-restless-medium)
Partial collection of notes from the opening
Exhibition catalogue PDF http://ikkan-art.com/pdf/E-Catalogue_1023.pdf
Air conditioned air, the small sounds of people walking and talking in other parts
of this white space. The lights are focused upon images, large images. From the entrance one confronts/is confronted by an image on
the other side of the space, a photograph of a Caucasian man’s face, three meters across by five meters high.
I should respect these images. They reflect society and society says that this image is worth ??? thousand dollars. This image, existing in a network that will (with more money,time and verbiage) proclaim that its value has increased.
Economists enjoy contemplating things like this. Air and water, for example are the most valuable and necessary things on earth. They are free. No one needs this photograph in order to exist. Or do they?
If possessions determine identity and identity is necessary for mental well-being and survival and owning this image defines the owner, then the value becomes a quicksilvery object of great value.
- Masterpieces found in flea markets, the value of a Damien Hirst decreasing by
Time era age shutter speed decisive moment
The danger of including my own experiences. Accusations of arrogance, If I do, I do so with reluctance and in a spirit of efficiency;self as recorder. I have a degree in photographic Fine Art and worked as a photographer before I could drive. I have been an observer, if not a participant in the the photographic art worlds of Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris and New York. A tiny fish,--no plankton ,in a very big pond…
Cameras:X-15, Canon Ftb, Canon F1, Polaroid Sx 70, disposable cameras of all kinds, Fuji instant camera, Ebony 4 x5 , Hasselblad, phone cameras and digital cameras of all kinds...Normally this type of talk annoys me, but here it provides historical context. Cameras as a metaphor; literary devices. Film and what it mean to develop film and make a print. Man Ray’s
quote about Art is not photography. http://www.anothermag.com/current/view/2556/Man_Ray_Top_5_Quotes
There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making love. There are simply different ways of doing it.
Throughout time painting has alternately been put to the service of the Church, the State, arms, individual patronage, scientific phenomena, anecdote and decoration … all the marvelous works that have been painted, whatever the sources of inspiration, still live for us because of absolute qualities they possess in common. The creative force and the expressiveness of painting reside materially in the colour and texture of pigments, in the possibilities of form invention and organisation, and in the flat plane on which these elements are brought into play.
As quoted in "American Modernists in Painting take the Public into their Confidence" in Current Opinion Vol LX, No. 5 (May 1916), p. 351
a personal essay about a life being influenced by the writing and work of Man Ray
A creator needs only one enthusiast to justify him.
Paul Graham street scene New York centric
No theme. Ikkan blurs the boundary between gallery and museum. Defining what this space is . A store, a wine cellar, an investment house where emotions, intimacies and philosophies are commodities.
Speculators taste. Educational intent
Sugimoto..so far cannot find images he was making around 1989. I THINK there were some of his images at Min Tanaka’s Body Farm art event in Hakushu. The images were stapled to fences along a dusty road. Black and white shorescapes in which there were many lights, possibly candles. The effect was something like connect-the-dots but the dots were white small suns hovering over rocks and sand….
Maybe talk about Japanese photography and contrast Araki, Sugimoto, Daido Moriyama and Morimura….Hosoe...Hosoe RIT story, snippet of imagery...
The installation was more complicated than usual as the Singapore Biennale had swept up all of the art movers and installers, more had to be brought in from Indonesia and China. Biennale advertising. Halutrans
Chuck Close portraits of Rauschenberg and Lichtenstien http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Lichtenstein; his signature so big. Ego
or compositional device; Polaroid’s white space can make the most luscious graceful
composition seem top heavy.The surprise of the show is by CC..in a corner,on a table is
a black rectangular box. Inside, like a daguerrotype is the the image of a lily... Calia lily.
Calia from the Greek word for beauty, a ghost flower, airy. Silvery. Haunting.
The opening was like any opening. Aperture. A destination for those interested in viewing,
discussing and investing in fine art photography. Waiters carrying trays of things like
chicken teriyake and bartenders pouring glasses of red and white wine. The usual.
Aboriginal art http://www.redotgallery.com/
Galerie Steph http://galeriesteph.com/
Richard Koh http://www.rkfineart.com/contact.html
Rauschenberg’s works beautiful but normal, with two exception
Arbus; sword swallower, X mas tree black structure as symbol of depression?
Stars: Callahan Eleanor Kyannon, Venus
Eleanor in the water
Callahan. Was at the beach with my girlfriend. The sun went down spectacularly, but it was the afterglow that interested me the most. The horizon. I photographed the horizon, attracted to the line between the two dark blues of sea and sky.Then Sugimoto tapped me on the shoulder.
I photographed my girlfriend in the water and then Callahan tapped me on the shoulder.
Penn’s portrait of Francis Bacon BECAUSE OF THE CRUMPLED PAPER ON THE
WALL BEHIND HIM
Robert Frank. Images from the Americans.
New Order music video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRDk8p0N__k
Film Stars as a title? Film Stars and xxxxxxxxxx more rhythm and info?
Written during the installation
About photography, about a photography show, about a moment.I saw about 80% of the show, during its installation. Beautiful and thought-provoking works, of course. Again, the question of a theme. Works resting on cushions ob the floor, waiting to be hung. I savour the fleeting moment, the unusual angle. Everyone will see these fastened to the wall.
Eyes. I jotted down some notes and the ‘eyes’ in the show attracted my interest. The tolerant, slightly amused eyes of Wegman’s dogs, the closed eyes of Callahan’s wife, the no-nonsense black stare of Picasso…
This I found very interesting: http://www.scribd.com/doc/6409017/Describing-Pictures-and-People
Again, the importance of context. Again, relevancy to audience. Over 200,000 readers have seen this. It would seem to have value.
Except for the number of readers, the above statements are also true for this:
From Scribd I was led to the website of photographer/writer Alexis Clements and this essay https://fotopersona.squarespace.com/the-tourist/
More food for thought.
Introduction to SB
Introduction to Show
-Ikkan (background; Tokyo, Paris, NYC, Singapore)
Must be careful as it is easy to be labeled as being self-promotional and/or advertorial. At the same time background information adds credence and depth to the text.
Fine Art Photography in Singapore current and past situation
-Pieces...which one first? The show may not have a theme, but the writing must.The catalogue starts with Diane Arbus.
I always thought of photography as a naughty thing to do -- that was one of my favorite things about it, and when I first did it, I felt very perverse. - Diane Arbus, On Photography by Susan Sontag , ISBN: 0385267061
PERHAPS one part of the essay contrasts film-based vs. digital. Avoid cliches and sounding like a lecturing old man. The facts are interesting and speak for themselves. A related blog post: http://philosophersplayground.blogspot.com/2012/08/has-digital-photography-removed-art.html
As the darkroom was to silver, so is software to digital? Most current example being the Lytro nonfocus camera, which allows the image to be refocused after the exposure has been made. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lytro
What moves me about...what's called technique...is that it comes from some mysterious deep place. I mean it can have something to do with the paper and the developer and all that stuff, but it comes mostly from some very deep choices somebody has made that take a long time and keep haunting them. - Diane Arbus
For me the subject of a picture is always more important than the picture. And more complicated. - Diane Arbus -
"Diane Arbus" New York: Don Arbus and the Estate of Diane Arbus and Aperture Foundation, Inc., 1972, page 15
The show has no theme. Perhaps a starting point is to look at the ages of the artists, their ages when the image was created.
Personal interaction: Rauschenberg story, Robert Frank at YFVA, Callahan Tokyo earthquake,
THREE COATS I like this as a title. For now, anyway. The large, all-white gallery is being painted with dark green and dark red bands so that the photos will
not be lost against the large walls. It will take three coats of paint. Three coats reminds me of the idea of someone who wears more than one hat, that is
someone who can do two or three things....In this project I am writing as an artist, as a historian of sorts and as a person who has interacted with some of
the pieces and/or photographers.
Susan Sontag. Now seems to be the time to sit down with On Photography...
and On the Pain of Others
http://www.joelyuen.com/?page_id=283 perhaps he could be interviewed?
Interview people from around the world. Have them look at the show with skype….
Owl Creek Incident, On Kawahara, On Photography
The show at Ikkan gallery will include some photographs taken by Robert Rauschenberg... Maybe I will include the following. Maybe not.
BLACK ALL STARS/NICE ITALIAN JOBS
The late Eighties, New York City, a warm autumn Sunday afternoon. I'm walking in front of of the Tower Records on Lafayette. A large black car, like a limousine,
at the curb with a U-haul trailer behind it. I walk by. The door opens and Mike Wallace gets out, very tan and with a paper cup in hand. Smiling, like the skipper of a yacht.
I pass by and then suddenly realize I need to get some blank video tapes at Tower. I spin around to see Mike doing a kind of awkward jig; stretching his legs, rolling his shoulders
and swiveling his arms. Except it isn't Mike Wallace-it's Robert Rauschenberg, now almost directly in front of me.
" Hello Mr. Rauschenberg". He smiles and says 'hello' right back. A conversation starts, the highlight of which involves a terrible pun about "popping over to Japan".
I am soon on my way, with an opening party invite in hand.
Quite late, I went to the opening, someplace uptown. The place was empty but for Rauschenberg and the woman who seemed to run the gallery. They spoke in quiet
businesslike voices. I circled a few of the brightly painted crushed wire sculptures, left before I was noticed.
W Wegman SPP Polaroid William Wegman has had a strong influence upon me. His work is Pop, it is personal and it is usually bursting with idea. is just as more of a Pop artist than Warhol, yet William Wegman”s work is personal. Performance art with pets. The first time I was really hit over the head with by a piece of contemporary art was in a little bookstore in the basement of the Ikebukuro subway station. A small paperback book contained a collection of photographs of Wegman”s work.
One showed a simple and small collection of kitchen utensils, One or two were obviously spoons and one or two were clearly forks. The functional part of the other utensils was not included in the composition. The piece was entitled something like ‘Two or Three Forks and Three or Four Spoons’. Something like that. What struck me was that relationship to the title and the piece itself: conceptual art first and photographic art second.
The other image in the book which struck me was a self-portrait of Wegman holding two books. Simple and striking, one eye was clearly focused on one book and the other eye was intent upon the other. This was well before Photoshop, of course. The simplicity of the black and white photograph made the image powerful, made it True.
I’ve met William Wegman, met him on the street in Manhattan. Probably a few dozen other people can say that as his dogs need to go outside every now and then and he is approachable. What is unique about our meeting was that he kindly invited me to witness a shoot going on in his loft, a shoot going on with Polaroid camera that produced images that were 20 x 24 inches long. Was the camera impressive? Certainly. So was the fact that there was a TV crew from Japan there who was documenting the production of a book that retold the story of Cinderella- but with costumed Weimaraner dogs portraying the characters.
The feeling was 10% Andy Warhol’s factory, 80% canine Holiday on Ice, 10% friend’s living room. But the camera was what commanded my attention.
I was living in Tokyo at the time, and ran into WW during a stay in NYC. Earlier that year I had held an exhibition at the Polaroid Gallery in Tokyo. It had gone reasonably well. Just before I left Tokyo I had begun an investigation into the possibility of using the 20 x 24 inch Polaroid camera. About a week later I received a reply. There were only three of the cameras in the world. One was in Osaka and that one was being overhauled. Another was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the home of Polaroid. The other one was being used somewhere was all my contact could tell me.
I’ll bet that the portraits that Chuck Close took of Rauschenberg and Lichtenstein were also created with that camera…
relationship between gallery showrooms and ivory towers….
art, like war, can function as entertainment
eye, lens aperture, doorway. The room as something like a piece of film, recording impressions. Perhaps not Ikkan’s but a museum….
Purity, Irritation Money