Sunday, March 20, 2011
Featured: Three Photography Books
Taryn Simon, An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar
"In An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, Taryn Simon documents spaces that are integral to America’s foundation, mythology and daily functioning, but remain inaccessible or unknown to a public audience. She has photographed rarely seen sites from domains including: science, government, medicine, entertainment, nature, security and religion. This index examines subjects that, while provocative or controversial, are currently legal. The work responds to a desire to discover unknown territories, to see everything.
Simon makes use of the annotated-photograph’s capacity to engage and inform the public. Transforming that which is off-limits or under-the-radar into a visible and intelligible form, she confronts the divide between the privileged access of the few and the limited access of the public. Photographed with a large format view camera (except when prohibited), Simon’s 70 color plates form a seductive collection that reflects and reveals a national identity."
"Genius of the large-format camera, the long exposure and the silverprint, New York-based photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto has made pictures that seem to contain whole aeons of time within themselves, and suggest an infinite palette of tonal wealth in blacks, grays and whites. Many of these images have now become a part of art culture's popular image bank (as U2's use of Sugimoto's "Boden Sea" for the cover of their 2009 album, No Line on the Horizon, demonstrated), while simultaneously evoking photography's earliest days: "I probably call myself a postmodern-experienced pre-postmodern modernist," he once joked to an interviewer. This absolutely exquisite retrospective is an expanded edition of Hatje Cantz's 2005 volume. It is the first to feature works from all of Sugimoto's series to date: his celebrated portraits of wax figures, his incredible seascapes that seem to suggest a person's first conscious view of the ocean, the extremely long exposures of theaters which elevate the white, luminescent cinema screen and transform it into a magical image of an altar and the fascinating dioramas of scientific display cases, which invite us to travel far into the past. Additions to the original edition are two new groups of works, "Lightning Fields" (2006) and "Photogenic Drawings" (2007)."
Bernd & Hilla Becher, Pennsylvania Coal Mine Tipples
"Vernacular industrialized architecture has been the sole subject of Bernd and Hilla Becher's work for some forty years. Their vast photographic inventory now ranges geographically from western Europe through North America and taxonomically across an enormous array of heterogeneous building types, many verging on obsolescence—mine shafts, lime kilns, silos, cooling towers, blast furnaces, tipples, gasometers—all classified by reference to function. The initial impetus that led the young Bernd Becher to begin photographing such subjects in the late 1950s was purely practical: he wanted to use his recordings as raw material for the paintings he was then making in a Neue Sachlichkeit style. In those same years Hilla Becher, née Wobeser, apprenticed and briefly worked in a professional advertising studio, where she developed a passion for photographing technical and mechanistic subjects. Once husband and wife started working together, in 1957, they assumed identical roles: tasks are not separately assigned to one or the other; both are involved in scouting sites, negotiating with the owners and other authorities, setting up the cameras, and printing. The art they have produced does not fall within conventional categories of documentary photography, though it has many affiliations with that long-standing tradition. The disciplined ethic with which this dedicated German couple defined, then refined, their project of recording for posterity the increasingly neglected relics of the industrial era, with its domestic offshoots, has yielded not just an aesthetic but a vision." -Dia
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