THREE VIEWS: The Suffering of Light

Alex Webb, Tenosique, Mexico, 2007, from "The Suffering of Light"

from THE NEW YORKER, January 9, 2012


A survey of Webb’s color photographs from the past thirty years shows him to be remarkably consistent but never formulaic. His subjects—found throughout the Caribbean, Central America, Africa, and elsewhere—are landscapes with people scattered across the frame in arrangements so arresting and invigorating it’s hard to believe that Webb didn’t stage them. As with Cartier-Bresson, Webb’s decisive moment is often a surprising one, typically a frieze of figures in a setting divided by areas of color, pattern, shadow, and brilliant sunlight. A few pictures are brief narratives (in one, an arc of mourners shelter a dead man in Mexico), but many more are free-form poems. Through Jan. 19. (Aperture, 547 W. 27th St. 212-505-5555.)



Webb believes in the inherent visual intelligence of the viewer. His images are stunningly complicated, using not just color but depth to give us more than a flat photograph ; they are three-dimensional landscapes. His frames are rarely static, often zig-zagging from left to right and back again, from person to object to animal.–Damaso Reyes


from photographer TIM CONNOR’S blog:

These may be the most compositionally complex photographs around that don’t depend on photoshop for their effects. In a way, looking at Webb’s pictures is like watching an old-fashioned magic show. What transforms sleight-of-hand into magic is the ineluctable reality of the hands, sleeves and coins that we try to follow. Here it’s the un-fakeable reality of children, women and men – shown in ensemble – as they spin from exuberance to despair in the kaleidoscopes of poverty and upheaval. If we saw these people conventionally isolated, picked out and framed to receive our pity or our anger, the impact would not be the same.

Alex Webb, Bombardopolis, Haiti, 1986, from "The Suffering of Light"


–THE STREETS OF HAVANA, Sunday, Jan. 22 thru Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012.  There are only a few places left in this upcoming workshop sponsored by Norway’s Nordic Light.  For more information follow this link.

— PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERCLASS @ THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SINGAPORE, Friday evening, March 9, 2012, thru Saturday, March 11, 2012.  An intensive weekend workshop with the Webbs and Radius Books creative director and noted book designer, David Chickey, with an emphasis on the process of intuitive editing and bookmaking, following the process of how long-term projects can develop into books and exhibitions . APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN. TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS WORKSHOP, VISIT THE MAGNUM WEBSITE.  The National Museum of Singapore is a venue partner of the Photography Masterclass.

–WEEKEND WORKSHOP @ APERTURE, NY, Friday evening, March 23, thru Sat., March 25, 2012. Do you know where you’re going next with your photography –– or where it’s taking you?   An intensive weekend workshop with Alex and Rebecca. APPLICATIONS WILL OPEN BEGINNING FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2012.  Check the Aperture website then for details.

–FINDING YOUR VISION WORKSHOP @ CAPTION GALLERY, BROOKLYN, NY.  Sunday May 20 thru Friday May 25, 2012.* A week-long photographing and editing workshop where each photographers begins to explore his or her own way of photographing and how to edit intuitively.  Will include exercises, light room tutorials, and a presentation by a noted book editor. APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN.  Early acceptance notification will start on February 9, 2012.  Check the workshop page of the webbnorriswebb website for fees, application process and further details.

*If there is enough interest, we will explore offering a second session of the Finding Your Vision Workshop @ Caption Gallery the week before —  Sunday May 13 thru Friday May 18, 2012.

The National Museum of Singapore is a venue partner of the Photography Masterclass in Singapore in March 2012

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