Archive for December, 2009

VIOLET ISLE: In the New Yorker

December 29, 2009
This week’s New Yorker includes a review of the Violet Isle show at Ricco Maresca Gallery, whose last day is Saturday, Jan. 2nd.
Violet Isle at Ricco Maresca Gallery
from The New Yorker:

ALEX WEBB AND REBECCA NORRIS WEBB

This married couple shows color photographs from several trips to Cuba that emphasize the easy compatibility of their distinct visual styles. Alex usually takes a broad view of streetscapes complicated by shadows, reflections, and arrested movement; he has a filmmaker’s ability to find the skewed but perfect balance in a scene that threatens to spin out of control. Rebecca tends to focus on details, framing intriguing still-lifes and capturing marvellous shots of birds, including a pigeon that appears to be flying away from a freshly laid egg. Both Webbs use color like the Fauves—in hot, vibrant swatches and pungent accents. The results are the opposite of tourist views: pictures that are generated and animated by their subjects, never imposed on them. Through Jan. 2. (Ricco/Maresca, 529 W. 20th St. 212-627-4819.)

FOUR CONTINENTS: 15 Photographers

December 28, 2009

We invited photographers we’ve met in workshops around the world and through this blog to help us celebrate the new year by posting a photograph and giving us an update about their work. So here are 15 photographs taken on 4 continents by photographers from 10 countries around the world.  “Happy New Year” to all of you. –– Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

David Belay, Hessen Germany, 2009

I started shooting a circus two years ago as I was looking for something to photograph in my otherwise gray city that would be suitable for color photography. I liked it and it evolved into a long-term project about circuses, and more specifically about the backstage of circuses, a territory I see as a border between the world of the show and the “real world.” ––David Belay

Dimitri Mellos, Athens, Greece, Christmas 2009

Dimitri Mellos is working on a long-term project in his native country of Greece, as well as continuing to photograph the streets of New York where he now lives.  Dimitri’s website: www.dimitrimellos.com.

Chantal Heijnen, Bronx, New York, 2009

The Dutch photographer Chantal Heijnen is working on a long-term project in the Bronx. To learn more about Chantal and her work visit www.chantalheijnen.com

Andreas Kalmes, Seattle, 2007

I recently launched a new website: www.andreaskalmes.com

I also had an exhibition at an “Art Walk” event in September in the Seattle International District. In addition, I’ve been back to Japan to continue my project on the Tsukji fish market, expanding it somewhat to include smaller fishing towns and markets that are part of Tsukiji’s supply chain.––Andreas Kalmes

Prantik Mazumder, Calcutta, 2008

This photograph (above) was taken in Calcutta. I was sitting in the back of a taxi, and we were stuck for about an hour behind a tram in one of those miserble traffic jams of Calcutta. Boredom inspired a decent shot.–– Prantik Mazumder

For more about Indian photographer Prantik Mazumder: http://www.photoholik.com/projectsListe.aspx?photographer=prantik

Matthew Goddard-Jones, Chicago, 2009

The Australian photographer Matthew Goddard-Jones took this photograph on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  He is currently working on a long-term project in Perth, Australia.  To see more of his work: www.goddard-jones.com

Francois Dagenais, Smokey Mountain, Philippines, 2008

François has worked as a cinematographer on both feature and documentary films. The films he has photographed have been shown at festivals such as Sundance, Havana, and Toronto. They have also been showcased at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London,  the Boston Museum of Arts, and the Brooklyn Museum.

After moving to Toronto in 2005, François re-discovered his passion for still photography.  He participated in various group shows in Ontario, and was awarded a development Chalmers Professional Development grant from the Ontario Arts Council for a mentorship with Magnum photographer Alex Webb. The grant included a workshop in Cusco, Peru with Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb. He subsequently won first place at the Insight Juried Art Show presented at the Wellington County Museum  in Fergus Ontario. Dagenais is currently working on a series entitled Smokey Mountain, which documents one of the most densely populated areas on earth.

To see more work from Francois’s Smokey Mountain series: http://www.photoshelter.com/gallery/smokey-mountain/G0000eOmoIFH2hG0/

There will be a screening in New York at the Center for Architecture on February 26  and 27, 2010, of the documentary, “Malls R Us.”

http://icarusfilms.com/new2009/mall.html

German Romero Martinez, Mexico

German Romero Martinez, Piedra Labrada, Mexico, 2004

Here’s a link to Mexican photographer’s German Romero Martinez’s blog: http://imagoscapes.blogspot.com/

Rajiv Kapoor, Bethlehem checkpoint

I have a show opening on the sixth of January at the Vera Art Gallery in Seattle (Warren Ave N and Republican St.). The show is titled “Landscapes of My Land” with images from Palestine and Old City of Jerusalem. I have included one of my favorite images (above), which is from a checkpoint in Palestine for people to get into Israel. The images from the show are on www.rajivkapoorphoto.com/land . –– Rajiv Kapoor

Uwe Schober


I have started a project about homeless people who have been put up in caravans by a charity in Frankfurt/Germany… The aim is to give these people some personal space to enable them to get back on their feet. What strikes me most is the slippery path from a well-established, secure life to that of a roaming, aimless, homeless person… Listening to their biographies, you realize that sometimes simply one wrong turn at a critical time of their lives set in motion a chain of events that led to homelessness… One of them lost a daughter to cancer and was thrown off balance, which led to the loss of his job and ultimately of his home… one other had a costly divorce… one other suffered a stroke and ended up on the streets… I am exploring this through the use of diptychs, juxtaposing portraits of the people living in the caravans and how they have personalized their (temporary) space.–– Uwe Schober

website: www.rupertbeagle.com

Cathy Scholl, rodeo, New Mexico

After twelve years of annual visits to India (1995-2006), I took three years off to buy and remodel an old adobe in New Mexico, where I took the above photograph. In January, I am very excited to be returning to India for five weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing with new eyes!––Cathy Scholl

Cathy’s work and bio: http://www.santafe.com/photographers/

Cathy’s website (under construction): http://www.cathyscholl.com

David Bacher, Paris, 2009

The above photo was taken just outside of the Carrousel du Louvre in the Tuileries Garden in Paris. The woman pictured was extremely fond of pigeons. They seemed like her pets as she spoke to them, pet them, and fed them copious amounts of dried corn.

Most recently one of my photos was published on the Verve documentary photography blog http://vervephoto.wordpress.com/, thanks to one of my pictures having been shown on an early post on the Webb’s blog.  I also recently showed one print at The Art of Photography Show in San Diego, California.––David Bacher

David’s website: www.davidbacher.com

Muema, Southport, UK, 2009

The photo was taken at the Southport Weekender music festival in November.

The festival organizers decided to use it for their current press photo: http://www.southportweekender.co.uk/flyer/261109/

I have also just launched a new website (link below). –– Muema

http://www.muemaphoto.com/

Thomas Lindahl Robinson, Cuba

I have a new website, http:www.thomaslindahlrobinson.com, where you can view the latest work from Cuba, titled “New Work,” which was photographed this past summer, and the current project titled, “Dreaming In Cuban.”  Attached, is an image of Cosette, who I have been photographing  for the past two years. This particular image of her was taken six months after her surgery to correct a curvature of her spine. According to the doctors her surgery is considered a success despite pain that she feels on a daily basis. I wil be visiting her on my next trip and photograph her once again.––Thomas Lindahl Robinson

Alejandro Briones, Mexico City

Mexican photogapher Alejandro Briones has launched a new website:

www.alejandrobriones.com

TWO VIEWS: HAPPY HOLIDAYS

December 19, 2009

The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing––it must be something you cannot possibly do! ––Henry Moore, sculptor, at 80, from an interview with poet Donald Hall in his book, Life Work.

Rebecca Norris Webb, Gibara, Cuba, 2008

HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all the photographers from the more than 40 countries around the world whom we’ve met over the past decade in our workshops.  Thanks for sharing your time and your work with us. May 2010 be the start of another decade filled with photography, faith, and beautiful impossibilities. ––Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

Alex Webb, Barrio Chino, Havana, Cuba, 2007

POSTINGS: December 2009

December 14, 2009

This month we’re featuring TWO PUBLICATIONS, one that features a series of Alex’s early black-and-white photography, TWO LINKS, including a video that explores the lives and work of Australian photographers Trent Parke and Narelle Autio, who we featured in last month’s TWO LOOKS column, and, lastly, TWO VIEWS of a creature of the night.––Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

Alex Webb, Mound Bayou, Mississippi, 1976

TWO PUBLICATIONS:  ALEX’S EARLY WORK and NEW MAGAZINE

Since 1979, I have photographed almost entirely in color.  However, prior to that, I was totally committed to working in black-and-white.  This month, a literary journal, the Threepenny Review, has a selection of some of my black-and-white work, ranging from an early series on teenagers in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that I produced in 1972 and 1973, while I was in college, to work from my first trips to Haiti (1975), the Mississippi Delta (1976-77), and the U.S.-Mexico Border (1975 and 1978).  It also happens to be the Threepenny Review’s thirtieth anniversary issue, so congratulations to Wendy Lesser, the review’s founder.

Since a number of our workshop participants are street photographers, we thought we would also mention there’s a new biannual periodical featuring street photography, called Publication, which is published by the In-Public street photographer Nick Turpin and which is now accepting online submissions. –– Alex Webb

TWO LINKS: TRENT AND NARELLE VIDEO; ICP SERIES

Since we featured Trent Parke and Narelle Autio in our last Two Looks posting (November 23, 2009), we thought we’d link you to this video, called Dreamlives 2002, that explores their work –– including both their photojournalism assignments and their more personal projects –– as well as their relationship.

Garry Winogrand, from the book, The Animals

The International Center of Photography also has links to videos of talks by noted photographers, but I was especially intrigued with their audio programs, including the link below to a talk by the late great street photographer Garry Winogrand, author of The Animals,  an inspiration for Rebecca’s first book, The Glass Between Us.––Alex Webb


TWO VIEWS: CREATURE OF THE NIGHT

Rebecca Norris Webb, from the series, On Extended Wings

I’d like to leave you with TWO VIEWS of the owl, a creature long associated with the night and wisdom and death.  Appropriately, I’ve included a poem by the late M. Wyrebek, a poet who spent most of her short life battling cancer, and perhaps because of that struggle, her poetry is unflinching and courageous, open to both suffering and mystery. Her poignant poem, Night Owl, below, from her award-winning book, Be Properly Scared, relates an encounter she had while driving home through the countryside late one night after receiving troubling news about her cancer. “It’s as if a night owl becomes her Virgilian guide into the vast night,” wrote her friend and fellow poet, Edward Hirsch.

I’ve paired Night Owl with a recent unpublished photograph of mine (above), which I took in Morocco in October.  It’s part of my new series, On Extended Wings, inspired in part by this quote by the poet Li-Young Lee: “Only birds can reveal to us dying by flying.”––Rebecca Norris Webb

NIGHT OWL

Driving my bad news the back way home

I know I’m in the land that is life

when I reach my favorite stretch of road –– fields

flat and wide where corn appears soon after

planting the soil tilled, night-soaked

and crumbled into fists.

Ferguson’s barn is somewhere

at the end of this long arm of tar

and as I near it, something grazes the back

passenger-side door, luffs parallel to my car ––

a huge owl on headlight spray floating,

holding night over the hood to see

if this moving think is real, alive,

something to kill –– then gliding in

close as if to taste glass.

The road levitates, buffeted on a surf

of light, the fog-eaten farm disappearing

as I ride into starlessness, cells conspiring

so I am bright-flecked and uplifted –– is this

what it feels like to be chosen –– to be taken

under the wing of something vast

that knows its way blindly?

FOTOFORUM: THE INDELIBLE IMAGE

December 7, 2009

We asked photographers this month to select an indelible image –– one photograph they encountered early on as a photographer that still lingers with them today.  We’re especially pleased to include an indelible image from Darius Himes, one of the country’s foremost experts on the photo book, who is also a photographer, writer, and publisher.  And thanks to everyone who submitted an indelible image. Because we had so many responses to the column, we’ll run THE INDELIBLE IMAGE II next month. –– Alex and Rebecca

DARIUS HIMES ON HARRY CALLAHAN

Harry Callahan, Aix-en-Provence, 1958

One of the first photographers I was introduced to, as a young teenage boy, was Harry Callahan. The introduction came by way of the cover of Henry Horenstein’s Black and White Photography. My father had purchased the book at the suggestion of a colleague, and while the technical language was still far above me, I was deeply impressed by the work chosen. Callahan’s graceful black-and-white image of barren trees in winter not only spoke to me due to the subject matter—I grew up just across the Mississippi River in Iowa, a mere 3 hours from Chicago, where I presume Callahan made this photograph—but also because of the graphic power of the world rendered in shades of black, white, and gray.

But the photograph of Callahan’s that I most responded to, then and now, is his photograph of 1958, Aix-en-Provence, France. Actually, that statement is a bit of a falsehood. There are so many photographs of Callahan’s that I respond to, that to narrow it to one particular image is like asking for a favorite passage from Shakespeare! There are so many that are appropriate for so many situations. But nonetheless, what moves me about this image is the wildness of the underbrush and the seeming impenetrability of the scene. And yet, the more you look, the more things are revealed, by which I mean, the more deeply it impresses itself upon you, untethering your own inner eye along the way. Merely informational facts are not what I’m talking about; what I’m hinting at are the multitude of ways that the outer world has been transformed into a powerful two dimensional, abstracted image. I’m talking about the very transformative power of photography in the hands of an acutely sensitive artist.

There is a concept that is a clarifying one for me that relates to my attraction to this photograph. In both Eastern and Western cosmology is the notion of the mirror-connectedness of the Book of Revelation and the Book of Creation. Here is one exemplary, brief passage that speaks to this subject, from Persian-born Baha’u’llah. “Look at the world and ponder a while upon it. It unveileth the book of its own self before thine eyes and revealeth that which the Pen of thy Lord, the Fashioner, the All-Informed, hath inscribed therein”* John Ruskin, the 19th century British writer and social commentator expressed it this way.

There is religion in everything around us,

a calm and holy religion

in the unbreathing things of nature.

It is a meek and blessed influence,

stealing in as it were unaware upon the heart;

It comes quickly, and without excitement;

It has no terror, no gloom,

It does not rouse up the passions;

It is untrammeled by creeds….

There are a great many photographers and artists who have approached the world around them with awe and wonder. In this image, I see a precursor to photographers like Hiroshi Sugimoto and Thomas Joshua Cooper, as well as echoes of artists as varied as Nio Hokusai, Kandinsky, and the darker aspects of Whistler’s painting oeuvre. What Callahan seems to have mastered, to me at least, was the ability to gaze, with deep intent, at his “immediate” surroundings, without feeling the need to either exoticize nor degrade what he looked at and what he ultimately decided to photograph, allowing “the book of its own self” to reveal itself in all of its own inherent beauty. This is a powerful role that the arts can play in our society and in helping us advance our fledgling, world-embracing civilization.––Darius Himes

* (Baha’u’llah: Tablets of Baha’u’llah, pp. 141-142)

Darius’s websites:

http://www.dariushimes.com

http://www.radiusbooks.org

For more about Harry Callahan:

http://www.stephendaitergallery.com/dynamic/artist.asp?ArtistID=25

To see Hiroshi Sugimoto’s work:

http://www.sugimotohiroshi.com/

To see some of Thomas Joshua Cooper’s work:

http://artnews.org/artist.php?i=735



ALEX WEBB ON HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Valencia, Spain, 1933

My father, when he was struggling with writer’s block––which, unfortunately, was all too often––turned to photography, and as a result had a fine collection of photographic books.  At about the age of fourteen, I started to sift through these books in his study.  As I pored through The Decisive Moment, I remember coming upon this Cartier-Bresson image from Valencia, Spain.  I’d never seen anything quite like it.     As I marveled at the echoing rings of the mismatched spectacle lenses and the half-target on the door, set against––in deep space––that slightly twisted, ambiguous figure in the doors behind, I remember thinking: How can someone see this way?  How can someone find such an enigmatic moment in the world and bring it back as a photograph? I began to sense something about perception, about the moment, about space, and about the unique possibilities of the photograph. I’ve never forgotten this image.––Alex Webb

To see more of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work:

http://www.magnumphotos.com

REBECCA NORRIS WEBB ON WRIGHT MORRIS

Wright Morris, Clothing on Hooks, 1947

Formerly a writer, I was attracted early on as a photographer to two books that combine text and images:  Walker Evans and James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and Wright Morris’s God’s Country and My People. Both bodies of work expanded my way of looking at the photo book, and eventually led to my intermingling the two in my own work.  Yet, there was something about the lesser-known, Nebraskan-born Morris’s photo-text book –– in which he interweaves his writing and his photographs –– that touched something deeper and more inexplicable in me. Morris’s work is aloof yet engaging, bare-bones yet mysterious, spacious yet intimate –– it is work that suggests the many paradoxes that make up the Great Plains itself, where, like Morris, I also grew up,

I’m not sure exactly how his work manages to evoke all of this in me.  Perhaps it’s because Wright Morris’s objects are often photographed so sparely, yet with such intensity, it creates a kind of space around them.   And this space creates a kind of suggestiveness, ripe for poetic reverie in the viewer, not unlike the experience of driving across the Nebraska or South Dakota prairie with few if any trees or houses to fetter the mind, the memory, the imagination.  So, for me, Morris’s spare objects suggest the Great Plains –- like this photograph of the tattered coats and hat –– as well as evoking a different kind of landscape, a kind of private and interior Nebraska, one that suggests what all that emptiness feels like to an insider, someone who grew up on the Great Plains, and the Great Plains “…grew up in you,” to quote Morris.

And, lastly, there are his accompanying texts that somehow speak to –- or perhaps I should say, speak for –– the photos, texts that are as spare and distilled and intense as the photographs themselves.  I find the text pieces as plainspoken and mesmerizing and mysterious as a Weldon Kees poem, a poet who also grew up in Nebraska.  Reading Morris creates a kind of expansiveness in me, a kind of ache and a kind of delight, which is often my response to the Great Plains.  And, I’m not sure why, but as soon as I finish reading one of his more luminous pieces  (like the one I’ve included below), I find myself starting the process all over again –– a sign, they say, of truly poetic writing.––Rebecca Norris Webb

The man who lives his own life, and wears it out, can dispense with the need of taking it with him. He dies his own death or he goes on living, and where the life has worn in the death will come out. Skin and bones, jacket and shoes, tools, sheds and machines wear out; even the land wears out and the seat wears off the cane- bottom chair. The palms wear off the gloves, the cuffs off the sleeves, the nickel off the doorknobs, the plate off the silver, the flowers off the plates, the shine off the stovepipe, the label off the flour sacks, the enamel off the dipper, the varnish off the checkers, and the gold off the Christmas jewelry, but every day the nap wears off the carpet the figure wears in. A pattern for living, the blueprint of it, can be seen in the white stitches of the denim, the timepiece stamped like a medallion in the bib of the overalls. Between wearing something in and wearing it out the line is as vague as the receding horizon, and as hard to account for as the missing hairs of a brush. The figure that began on the front of the carpet has moved around to the back.––Wright Morris

For more about Wright Morris:

http://monet.unk.edu/mona/first/morris/morris.html

For more about Weldon Kees (including my favorite poem of his “1926”):

http://mockingbird.creighton.edu/Ncw/kees.htm

TWO EVENTS: P-town and Santa Fe

December 3, 2009
IN PROVINCETOWN, MASSACHUSETTS:

Alex Webb, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, 1993

For those in the Provincetown area, please come celebrate the opening of the Generations Exhibition on Friday, December 4th, which features work from a number of artistic families from Cape Cod, including the family of Robert Motherwell, Chaim Gross, and Nancy Webb (Alex’s mom, who is a sculptor and a draftsman). Please join Nancy at the opening at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, an event which starts at 6pm.  In the exhibition, there will also be work by Alex (including the photograph above), Rebecca (including the cover of Violet Isle below), Patrick  (Alex’s brother), and Sophie Webb (Alex’s sister).  If you miss the opening, the show runs until February 14, 2010.

For more information: http://www.paam.org/

To see Nancy Webb’s sculptures and drawings:

http://www.nancywebbstudio.com/

To see Patrick Webb’s paintings:

http://www.patrick-webb.com/

To see Sophie’s paintings, sketches, and field guide plates:

http://www.sophiewebb.com/portfolio/

IN SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO:

RADIUS BOOKS hosts it’s 3rd annual anniversary party and all are invited!

What Radius Books annual party and holiday book sale: all titles 30% off!
When Friday, December 4, 2009 5–8 pm
Where 519 Cerrillos (in the old Luna building, across from Hotel Santa Fe), Santa Fe, NM

This event coincides with the release of three new Radius books: a major monograph on Venice-based painter Ed Moses who has been a major influence on the southern California art scene for over 50 years, Bingham Mine / Garfield Stack, by Bay Area-based photographer Michael Light, and the photographic duet Violet Isle, by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb.

Meet the Artists: Joan Watts, Judy Tuwaletstiwa, Johnnie Winona Ross, Michael Light, and John McCracken will all be on hand to sign copies of their books. For more information contact us at 505 983 4068 or info@radiusbook.com

If you can’t make it to Santa Fe tomorrow night, Radius is also offering 30% off on all online orders. Click here to get the super secret discount code and also sign up for the Radius Books newsletter.

Radius Books donates 300 copies of all published titles to libraries and schools in need, around the country. Your support of this event can help broaden our efforts in your region. Radius Books is a 501(c)(3) organization.



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