All posts by Cary Benbow

Cary Benbow is a photographer, writer and contributor to a number of photography magazines. See his work at www.carybenbow.com or www.wobnebmagazine.com

Featured photographer Rachael Banks

© Rachael Banks, Grady after Benson, 2016

Rachael Banks is a photographer from Louisville, Kentucky, and is an Assistant Professor of Photography at Northern Kentucky University. In a recent issue of F-Stop Magazine, I was fortunate to interview her and feature her work in the thematic context of animals  – while acknowledging her work focuses primarily on family dynamics, relationships, and nostalgia. She is also especially interested in social subcultures and identity informed by place. Banks’ creates work about her family and the uneasiness of those relationships that are strained but also incredibly involved. The inclusion of numerous pets or animals in her family’s life conveys the importance animals play in our lives as she explores feelings of loss, identity, and meaning in the context of family, love and acceptance. It is immediately apparent that she cares deeply for her family – a tough subject to be subjective with, and also intimately close to. 

 

I am the oldest of three, but more like a mother than a sister.

I constructed a family of siblings, both real and assumed.
‘Between Home and Here’ addresses deeply internalized
guilt and the essence of loved ones.

There is a history of pain and an apparent inwardness in my family.

My brother has a rage inside of him that I know others can see. 

But, I can’t help noticing the way he delicately handles a small rabbit in his arms, gently stroking its ears and shielding its eyes from the fear of the unfamiliar.

I am a witness to their sensitivity and empathy in how they revere animal life, despite human failure.

This is a story about hating and loving where you are from.
It comes from doing anything to go back to a place that you left.

I left my heart in Kentucky and came back to find it.
The photographs are artifacts from my search.

Rachael Banks – ‘Between Home and Here’

Cary Benbow (CB): Your project Between Home and Here explores very powerful tropes of Family and inclusion. Let’s talk about the level of trust and intimacy in your work, and I’d like to ask about the project in terms of portraiture versus straight documentary style photography.

Rachael Banks (RB): While I am extroverted at work (I have to be), I am actually pretty shy and slow in how I go about making work, so it isn’t always as viable for me to photograph strangers. There is definitely a level of intimacy I have to achieve with a person to make work about them extensively. I really like to invest in whoever I am making work about. I go back and forth about my work being more portraiture based vs. documentary. In the beginning, I was interested in the concept of aesthetic beauty and portraiture allowed me to explore that. However, as the work has continued, I’ve thought more about my relationships with people and the place I feel I have in the world. I never considered myself a documentary photographer because I wasn’t sure if photographing my family fit within the scope but as the work expands, I definitely feel like the work is more heavily influenced by documentary photography. Portraiture is something I naturally gravitate towards in respect to my working methodology but my intent goes beyond the mode in which I present my images.

CB: Let’s discuss the role animals play in your work; how much of a role do they play in the lives of your subjects, or in your own life?

RB: I’m not sure if this is a regional or family influence (maybe a little bit of both) but I grew up surrounded by animals. My family members have always had a wide array of pets and my dad lives on a farm. I was definitely raised in an environment that placed a heavy emphasis on respect for animals and to treat pets as family. Because my work is so centrally focused on my relationships with immediate family, it is inevitable that animals become a part of that. Additionally, I see that animals often serve as an extension of the subject I am photographing and that they can help inform the viewer with more insight into the personality traits of the individual. On a personal note, I spend a lot of time driving to make work and I bring my dog Ghost with me as much as possible. If there isn’t an animal in the photograph I’m making, there is most likely one sitting next to me while I’m shooting.

CB: With regard to your earlier statement about your portraits documenting your family, what do you feel are the “obligations” of a photographer, or what obligation do you have to the people, your family, in your photos?

RB: I think it is important to have the ability to stand behind every image that you make. I understand that anything I put out into the world for others to see is coming from my own specific gaze and that I am actively selecting how the subject is framed and presented. I feel that I have a responsibility to myself and others to be able to understand that not everyone will see my images the same way that I do and that I have the ability to contribute (both negatively and positively) to how an individual/region/situation is represented. There is always the possibility that something I make can be misunderstood or that I can even cause harm, so with that in mind, I try to make sure that I don’t share anything that I can’t live with later on in life.

CB: What compels you to make the images you create? Why do you photograph?

RB: My mom photographed my entire childhood – and I mean she photographed everything constantly. While she has never identified as being creative/artistic, I feel that her compulsions have influenced me greatly and my need to document as much of my life/surroundings as possible. I have a lot of anxiety about forgetting defining moments or losing sight of what informs my identity. Photography has always provided a way for me to stay connected to who I am and what matters to me.

CB: Who are your photography inspirations or how to they influence your work?

RB: This is a question where I can go overboard so I will attempt to be as concise as possible. I really love Doug Dubois and the way he documents youth in addition to integrating a graphic novel in his series My Last Day at Seventeen. When I think about the muse in the photograph, I always look at Emmet Gowin; because who wouldn’t want to be loved the way that Edith is? I’m really inspired by Nathan Pearce and the way he photographs his life in the Midwest – he also has an incredible work ethic that always pushes me to be better. Jake Reinhart is another big inspiration for me because of his extensive approach to research and his ability to articulate his work in such a thoughtful way. I am also currently excited about Amy Powell, Caiti Borruso, Susan Worsham, and Dylan Hausthor.

CB: Do you feel there is a significant difference between “documentary” style photography versus “portrait” photography as a label? Or are those labels significant as a category to your work?

RB: I think that there is crossover between portraiture and documentary in my work. In terms of there being a difference, I believe the intent of the photographer is significant in making distinctions between the two. I’ve seen documentary work that is mainly consistent of portraiture so there isn’t much a difference between the two in that situation but I have also seen a lot of portraiture work that is more about visual aesthetics than it is about being documentary. I feel that my work falls in both categories in that I work primarily in portraiture but I am approaching my subject matter as a documentarian. Portraiture is a natural habit for me but I am more interested in the research and document component of making work. I don’t want to be the person that says I don’t fall into a category because I definitely fall into a few! If I had to describe my work in one sentence to a stranger I would summarize it as a documentary approach to family (assumed and biological) portraiture.

CB: Please talk about the role of a photographer as “publisher” and what you think about the recent increased push for photographers to publish photo books and/or zines. I know you are a strong advocate for publishing work.

RB: I am 100% supportive of photographers working in self-publishing and its one of my favorite components of photography. I think there is a lot that self-publishing/zines allow for a photographer in regard to the opportunity for exposure that it provides. While I feel it is still important to show work in galleries, a zine allows a photographer to share work without being weighed down by so many financial burdens. Accessible art is really important to me and I feel that self-publishing allows for photography to be more readily distributed and shared which fosters such a dynamic community that I value being a part of. On another note, I think that there is an over saturation of photobooks in the world right now, but I’m not terribly upset about having more books to collect. If there is a project that isn’t ready to be presented to the work as a traveling solo exhibition or a monograph, it can still be shared/distributed as a zine. Publishing also allows for photographers/viewers to see work as a physical object as opposed to looking at everything through a screen. I definitely appreciate the photograph more as a physical object and publishing encourages this.

 

© Rachael Banks, Ghost in the Snow, 2017
© Rachael Banks, The See Him in You, 2018
© Rachael Banks, Dad Holding Mabel, 2017
© Rachael Banks, In the Garden, 2015
© Rachael Banks, from Between Home and Here
© Rachael Banks, Ghost, 2017
© Rachael Banks, My Dream of a White Horse, 2018
© Rachael Banks, Basil, 2015
© Rachael Banks, from Between Home and Here
© Rachael Banks, from Between Home and Here
© Rachael Banks, Bo Jackson, 2015
© Rachael Banks, from Between Home and Here
© Rachael Banks, from Between Home and Here
© Rachael Banks, from Between Home and Here
© Rachael Banks, from Between Home and Here
© Rachael Banks, from Between Home and Here

Rachael Banks (b. Louisville, KY) is an Assistant Professor of Photography at Northern Kentucky University and is based in Covington, KY. She received an MFA in photography from Texas Woman’s University (Denton, TX). Banks is an avid supporter of self-publishing, accessible art, zines, and collecting. Her work has been shown at The Center for Fine Art Photography, The Kinsey Institute, Black Box Gallery, Darkroom Gallery, and several other institutions. She has also been featured in a number of online photography publications and frequently participates in panel discussions and invited speaker presentations.

To see more work by Rachael Banks, please visit her website at www.rachaelbanksphoto.com


An edited version of this article was first published in F-Stop Magazine in April 2019.

Arthur Fields – Seen and Heard: Evidence of a unique personal experience

Grid of images from ‘Seen and Heard’ © Arthur Fields

Arthur Fields is a photographer from Texas, currently living in Vincennes, Indiana where he is an Assistant Professor of Art at Vincennes University.  He currently teaches courses in traditional analog photography as well as digital imaging.  He also serves as the director of VU’s Shircliff Gallery of Art.

Fields’ latest artistic research is based on his love of landscape and self-representation. By compiling imagery from online web searches and social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, both virtual and tangible, his work consists of imagery collected through the process of data compiling using hashtags (identity markers). Acting as both curator as well as image-maker he is concerned with choosing, organizing, editing, and remixing, to better understand the collective cultural experience that is mediated through digital processes.

Much of Fields’ recent work involving images and hashtags used on social media platforms (especially Instagram) explore themes of place, sense of self, and inclusion/exclusion; especially in the context of class, race, and culture. His exhibition From Academic to Instagram complied collections of images based around a core group of hashtags. The resulting grid of multiple images from his collection is a manner of both curation and image-making. In his statement for the exhibition, Fields says, “I am concerned with choosing, organizing, editing, and remixing, to better understand the collective cultural experience that is mediated through digital processes. By considering the photograph as data to be sorted, I engage in systems for which modern culture stores and presents images that reflect the pictorial and social relationships connecting the camera, the photographer, and the spectator.”  Fields includes more context for the work by addressing the collective social experience people have by being both producers and consumers of visual media. Fields continues in his statement, “As John Berger writes in his seminal book, Ways of Seeing, ‘Oil painting, before it was anything else, was a celebration of private property. As an art-form it derived from the principle that you are what you have.’ These sets of images, placed in the IG grid format, represent my view of the genre or a hashtag as it relates to my personal online experience. The amount of feedback or likes I get from IG followers. Why are these images created? Are they actually memories of daily life or is this just the modern way of displaying wealth, class or culture?”

In a collection of related images and posts on Fields’ Instagram feed (@artfields), he uses the hashtag ‘overheard’ to explore themes of inclusion and exclusion, as well as identity and a sense of place and self. The images are part of a larger project, Seen and Heard. When I asked Fields about these images and the themes within, he said the feeling of being an outsider was especially noticeable soon after relocating from his home in Texas. That feeling has subsided with time, but the series of ‘overheard’ tagged images definitely builds off the feeling of being ‘on the outside’ of a conversation, culture or class.

In his project statement for Seen and Heard, Fields states that the project is ultimately “an exploration of a way that memory is influenced in the digital age. Using the senses of sight and sound, I share my daily walk through the world. These routine and sometimes mundane activities such as driving to work, celebrating birthdays and watching nature are activities that represent my life. Through the use of the social network Instagram, these mundane scenes are revisited and carefully edited to portray my public-self. Upon seeing an image, the brain informs us that we have seen or had that experience. By choosing to print specific imagery, I transform it from experience to object which in turn enhances the ability to recall the experience. This work promotes the intuitive recognition of shared experiences. Like the careful construction of the vanishing ‘scrapbook’, I am selecting and constructing the memories for myself and the viewer. Created to trigger both visual and auditory memories, this selection of images and text are randomly chosen to represent my life.”

“Each image is labeled with its associated information, such as location and hashtag,” Fields explains. “The images are also given the bonus of a quote. The added quote represents an overheard comment or audio blurb, heard by the artist within 48 hours of taking the image. By choosing a particular quote with an unrelated image, a connection between the two leads to the generation of a personal narrative. While this work does mirror that deluge of images and audio prevalent in a digital society, it is curated; filtered to make a particular story that serves as evidence of a unique personal experience.” Fields’ work explores his own personal interactions; yet there is a strong supporting level of universal experience through social contexts, identity and memory. 

The collection of images from the Seen and Heard project can be views at Fields’ Instagram feed: @artfields. In connection with this published feature, beginning April 23rd, Fields will be posting work from his project on the Instagram feed for Wobneb Magazine. To see images from this project, please click on the link, and follow @WobnebMag on Instagram to view his work.

From ‘Seen and Heard’ © Arthur Fields
From ‘Seen and Heard’ © Arthur Fields
From ‘Seen and Heard’ © Arthur Fields
From ‘Seen and Heard’ © Arthur Fields
From ‘Seen and Heard’ © Arthur Fields
From ‘Seen and Heard’ © Arthur Fields
From ‘Seen and Heard’ © Arthur Fields
From ‘Seen and Heard’ © Arthur Fields
From ‘Seen and Heard’ © Arthur Fields
From ‘Seen and Heard’ © Arthur Fields
From ‘Seen and Heard’ © Arthur Fields
From ‘Seen and Heard’ © Arthur Fields
From ‘Seen and Heard’ © Arthur Fields

Arthur Fields completed a MFA in Photography at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, and earned a BFA in Digital Imaging and Photography at Washington University in St. Louis.  His prior studies included printmaking and photography at Brookhaven College.  He also is a board member of several photographic arts organizations: Ticka-Arts, The Texas Photographic Society, and the editorial board of YIELD Magazine. He also is an active member of the Society for Photographic Education, where he serves as Student Volunteer Coordinator of the SPE National Conference.

For more information about Arthur Fields, and to see more of his work, please visit his website at http://www.arthurfields.net.

Carrie Mae Weems Headlines CONTACT Photography Festival

Solo exhibition in five parts throughout Toronto, Canada

Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY.

Carrie Mae Weems
Opening May 3–4, 2019 with artist in attendance
Public lecture May 4, 4:00 pm
CONTACT Gallery and Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto
80 Spadina Avenue, Suite 205 and 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto

The Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival is thrilled to announce that renowned American artist Carrie Mae Weems will headline the twenty third edition of the citywide event, spanning the month of May 2019.

Weems’ exhibition in five parts represents the artist’s first solo exhibition in Canada. Her work will be presented in two gallery exhibitions at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery and CONTACT Gallery, and in three major public art installations in downtown Toronto. Weems will be present for her exhibition receptions at the CONTACT Gallery (May 3, 6:00–9:00 pm) and at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (May 4, 6:00–8:00 pm).

The Festival’s spotlight on Weems situates her work at five distinct locations across Toronto, representing the artist’s first solo presentation in Canada. These gallery exhibitions and public installations combine pivotal streams of Weems’ practice: her sustained focus on women, which confronts issues of both repression and empowerment; and her ongoing investigation into the devastating effects of violence, especially against Black men. Weems’ exhibition at CONTACT Gallery, Blending the Blues, features photographic works spanning three decades that draw together these parallel themes.

MORE DETAILS

CONTACT is a not-for-profit dedicated to celebrating and fostering the art and profession of photography with an annual Festival in May and year-round programming in the CONTACT Gallery. CONTACT embraces an inclusive, accessible approach to the medium, and cultivates collaborations with and among artists, curators, institutions, and organizations.

Exhibition Information provided by Aperture Foundation

Aperture Foundation
547 West 27th Street, 4th floor
New York, N.Y. 10001
212.505.5555
aperture.org

 

Seeing Deeply – A Retrospective by Dawoud Bey

The Woman in the Light, Harlem, New York City, 1980. © Dawoud Bey

Dawoud Bey: Seeing Deeply offers a forty-year retrospective of the celebrated photographer’s work, from his early street photography in Harlem to his current images of Harlem gentrification. Photographs from all of Bey’s major projects are presented in chronological sequence, allowing viewers to see how the collective body of portraits and recent landscapes create an unparalleled historical representation of various communities in the United States. Prodigious is an apt descriptor for ‘Seeing Deeply’.

After taking in the span of images within the book, an analogy came to mind. You can draw a line from the beginning of his work and see it all the way through to his current projects. Like a carpenter lifting a board to look down the length of its edge, one can see straight from one end to the other and know that it is true. The sturdy grain of the wood may flow slightly from side to side, but  its core is unwavering and reliable.

Throughout his career, Bey made images in communities he felt had been under-represented by other photographers. He shot photos in Harlem, Birmingham, Syracuse, Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, and many other cities. Whether the work was made in small or medium format cameras, black & white or color, and even large format Polaroid portraits, the feel of Bey’s work gives a nod to some of his influencers; photographers such as as Roy DeCarava, Walker Evans, Gordon Parks, and James Van Der Zee.

Bey’s photo of a young woman waiting for a bus in Syracuse in 1985 could have easily been taken in 1965. The timeless quality of this portrait demonstrates sensitivity to the person, and showing them in a certain state of mind, rather than a time and place, and allows the viewer to make an intimate connection. The way she regards the camera/viewer, leaning against a counter in a bus terminal directly under a sign telling patrons to wait outside for busses, evokes a feeling of dignified protest, or respectful righteousness.

The list of Dawoud Bey’s accomplishments, awards, grants, and museums that collect his work is staggering. Bey was also a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant”, yet when I viewed a TEDx talk he gave in 2015 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, I was struck by his humility and sense of inspiration and drive to explore ideas and themes through his genuine love for the medium of photography.

Bey was drawn to visit the Met in 1969 by news of demonstrations by people who were called to action by the idea of who was being allowed to author the experience of the African-American community. He viewed the exhibition on the day he went to the museum, and decided to start making photographs in his own community of Harlem. His photographs from Harlem over a five year span resulted in an exhibition in 1975. The project was an effort to convey the humanity of the men, women and children in that community. In Bey’s words, many African-American communities up until that time had been predominantly been shown through a lens of pathology. His sense of duty to depict African-Americans and their lives has been an underlying theme throughout his career. I was drawn to a certain quote by Hilton Als in Sarah Lewis’ introduction to ‘Seeing Deeply’. Als comments that Bey creates “works of art made out of real lives as opposed to real lives being used to reflect the artist’s idea of it.” Amen.

A Young Woman Waiting for the Bus, Syracuse, 1985. © Dawoud Bey
Alva, New York, NY, 1992. © Dawoud Bey
Mark and Eric, Chicago, IL, 1994. © Dawoud Bey
Four Children at Lenox Avenue, Harlem, New York City, 1977. © Dawoud Bey
Mary Parker and Caela Cowan, Birmingham, AL, 2012. © Dawoud Bey
Men From the 369th Regiment Marching Band, Harlem, New York City, 1977. © Dawoud Bey
Three Men and the Lenox Lounge, Harlem, New York City, 2014. © Dawoud Bey
A Girl with a Knife Nosepin, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1990. © Dawoud Bey
A Boy in Front of Loew’s 125th Street Movie Theater, Harlem, NY, 1976. © Dawoud Bey

Dawoud Bey: Seeing Deeply by Dawoud Bey
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: University of Texas Press; First Edition
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781477317198


Dawoud Bey’s work is held by major collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Portrait Gallery, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. In addition to the MacArthur fellowship, Bey’s honors include the United States Artists Guthman Fellowship, 2015; the Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography, 2002; and the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, 1991. He is Professor of Art and a former Distinguished College Artist at Columbia College Chicago.

To view more images or purchase ‘Seeing Deeply’ by Dawoud Bey, please visit the University of Texas Press website. All images represented are included with recognition to Dawoud Bey/University of Texas Press.

{First published in F-Stop Magazine in January 2019}

Solargraphs by Al Brydon – A conversation with the Sun

Solargraphs by Al Brydon © JW Editions

A new book, Solargraphs by Al Brydon is available from JW Editions. Brydon’s understated approach to making engaging images is disarming. There is a beautiful serendipity that comes out of his seemingly casual method for making work. He makes it look easy, but make no mistake Brydon has been steadfast for decades in making photographic work of and about his surroundings. He is continually trying techniques old and new to strive for a meaningful conversation with the land. Solargraphs is definitely one of those engaging conversations.

“Solargraphs are pinhole cameras with exposure times measured in months rather than fractions of a second. This slowing down of time produces the arcs of the sun as it traces its way across the sky. The ‘how’ isn’t anywhere near as important as the ‘why’, but it gives you an idea of what’s involved in making the work.

The length of time involved raises certain questions. Is it a different me collecting the solargraph than the person who left it? Maybe a window into what the landscape looks like when I’m not there to experience it?

What’s implied in the image is as important as what you can see. Anything moving quickly isn’t pictured but is in there. Solargraphs see everything (metaphorically) like photographic black holes. Every moment of joy and sadness you have experienced while each exposure was made is in there somewhere. A newborns first breath and another person’s last. The chaos of the universe condensed into photographic form. More than a moment. A tumbling cascade of moments set within the confines of a 5×7 piece of darkroom paper. With Solargraphs we are able to experience time almost in a geological sense and gain a glimpse into a differing reality than our own. A looped reminder how wonderfully fleeting our lives are.”

– Al Brydon

 

Solargraphs by Al Brydon © JW Editions
Solargraphs by Al Brydon © JW Editions


Solargraphs by Al Brydon

210 mm x 295 mm, hardback
96 pages, thread sewn
Introduction by contemporary photographer Rob Hudson

A Limited Edition is also available:
Signed copy of the book
Signed and numbered print – ‘Death of a Wood’
Print is exclusive to this book edition (Digital print on fine art photo paper)
Limited to 50 copies only

Published by JW Editions – an independent publisher of photobooks, producing affordable fine quality short run commercially produced edition-based releases, and handmade artist limited editions.

To order a copy of Solargraphs, visit their website: www.jweditions.co.uk


Al Brydon is a photographer based in the North of the UK. He has been exhibited and published both in the UK and internationally, and has just completed his five-year series ‘Solargraphs’ which have just been exhibited at the ‘Inside the Outside’ collective group show ‘Out of the woods of thought’. He is prone to working on various long-term bodies of work. See more of his work at his website: www.al-brydon.com


All images used with permission. Photographs © Al Brydon, and the printed book © JW Editions.

Exhibition: Robert Kananaj Gallery – Emmanuel Monzon

Robert Kananaj Gallery is honoured to bring to the Toronto public an opportunity to experience the photographs of Emmanuel Monzon. When so much is invested in what is loud and in your face, Monzon’s “Urban Sprawl” series finds an opposing refuge in emptiness and silence. The artist invites one’s experience, conversing in a no-man’s land bordering the collision of cultures.

Urban Sprawl:  Emptiness
Emmanuel Monzon
Photographs
16 March – 4 May, 2019
Reception: Saturday 16 March 2 – 5 p.m.

Emmanuel Monzon at Robert Kananaj Gallery
Exhibition Essay by Cary Benbow

The work of Emmanuel Monzon embodies an approach of capturing the aesthetic of the banal, and grasping the everyday scene in such a way as to render it both an image and a screen for the projection of wishes and fantasies in the intermediate zone between urban and rural America. The uneasy emptiness found there results in an independent identity.

Monzon’s work falls into a space bordered traditionally and contemporarily by Giorgio de Chirico, Edward Hopper, Richard Misrach, and Michael Kenna. Formal aspects of Monzon’s images echo aspects of rendering the inanimate and the animate in a play of light and shadow, forms and patterns. Monzon’s animate elements are blatantly absent, but nonetheless, this deliberate strategy is hauntingly reminiscent of their cropping, use of foreground and concentration on visual elements which Monzon uses to make a comment on urban sprawl, and the twenty-first century tension experienced between occupied and unoccupied spaces. Kenna and Misrach both deal with the subject of landscape and explore the effects of human interaction and isolation. Their visions are achieved through long exposures, or expansive vistas, but Monzon chooses to take the baton of simplicity and clarity, and drive away with it. His automotive wanderings spur meaningful photographs in his response to the land. His quiet studies of shape, form, pattern, signage and landscape are a respite amidst the uneasy ‘non-places’, which he associates to the expansion of the urban or industrial landscape in the American natural landscape.

Monzon chose to photograph the in-between state found in the American landscape. He captures places of transition. A visual segue which gives the traveller an enigma. The limbo caught by his lens holds the viewer in check, and begs the question: am I leaving someplace or entering another? The disconcerting environment inspires him. The emptiness in both the urban landscape, and in the great American spaces. He mixes two approaches: The codes of the new topographics and the concept of ‘in-between two states’ as inspired by the anthropologist Marc Auge. These transitional non-places are like intersections or passages from one world to another, such as going from a residential area to an industrial area. Monzon includes views of tourist locations which are altered by human influence. We often find a feeling of emptiness, of visual paradox when encountering these spaces when traveling throughout the United States. By displaying structures humans built to serve their own needs, but in a rare state of absolute idleness, he creates a disconcerting environment. The visual irony of the significant impact of people upon their surrounding environment, and their notable absence in his images results in an eerie, surreal tension that stops viewers in their tracks.


Robert Kananaj Gallery
172 St Helens Avenue, Toronto ON, M6H 4A1 | 416 289-8855 | Tues-Sat 11AM-6PM

The Robert Kananaj Gallery was established in 2011 to promote and exhibit Canadian and international contemporary art. The gallery’s scope includes installation and photo-based work, as well as a strong commitment to painting and sculpture.
Director Robert Kananaj
Co-Director Roberta Laking Kananaj

For more information see RKG website at robertkananajgallery.com/

Beyond the Reach of Rivers – photography by Mandy Williams

Beyond the Reach of Rivers
Fishing Quarter Gallery, Brighton
Wednesday 1 May – Monday 6 May 2019 Open daily 11am – 5pm

Beyond Land 10_Mandy Williams
Beyond Land #10 © Mandy Williams


Beyond the Reach of Rivers is a photography exhibition by Mandy Williams that brings together work from two photographic series about the sea to the beachfront in Brighton.

Sea Level is shot in the Sussex town where she lived as a teenager and focuses on the beach shelters that line the promenade – a place to congregate and watch the sea. The photographs are taken at high tide, when the shelters are empty. Their windows are weathered and dusty and scratched by the wind. Absent of people, their presence lingers through traces of graffiti, dirt and other debris. The view of the sea through this prism produces images that are often quite abstract – the sea and the markings on the glass have equal importance in the finished photograph. Dust and neglect becomes part of the image, reinforcing the sense of melancholy which runs through many seaside towns.

In Beyond Land the photographs take place at the street, a causeway that reveals itself at low tide, stretching out towards the horizon like an umbilical cord connecting us to the sea. Started a month after the referendum result with its emphasis on Britain as an island nation, geographically and psychologically separate from Europe, the photographs show a collective march to the water’s edge. The line of people following disappearing paths out to sea not only documents our innate connection to water but can also be seen as a metaphor for the times.

Sea Level 09_Mandy Williams
Sea Level 09 © Mandy Williams

Mandy Williams is a photographer and artist who works on long-form landscape series concerned with the psychology of place and how the marks of time and human presence affect the environment. Often her photographs show a place that has been compromised – either by environmental factors or by its connection to a specific narrative.

Beyond the Reach of Rivers is her 3rd solo exhibition in the UK. Recent group exhibitions include the 209 Women exhibition at the Houses of Parliament (2018) and Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool (2019), and The Family of No Man, Cosmos, Arles (2018). She received the Photography prize at the Royal West of England Academy in 2014, 3rd place in the International Photographer of the Year Award 2017 in Landscapes: Seascapes, and work from Sea Level was shortlisted for the 2018 Hariban Award, and was an Awardee in the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards 2018.

*The title of the exhibition is taken from Loren Eiseley, an anthropologist and natural science writer whose writings frequently reference our evolutionary connection to the sea.


Contact information: Mandy Williams info@mandywilliams.com / 07817 397 747 / https://mandywilliams.com
Fishing Quarter Gallery, 201 Kings Road Arches, Brighton BN1 1NB
info@quartergallery.co.uk / 01273 723064

Rust Belt Biennial – Exhibition Call for Entries

RUST BELT BIENNIAL

Wobneb Magazine is a proud supporting sponsor of the 2019 Rust Belt Biennial. An open call for entries has been announced, and full details can be found at https://www.rustbeltbiennial.com/

ABOUT

We are thrilled to introduce the first RUST BELT BIENNIAL, a celebration of photography with work realized throughout the Rust Belt Region in all its manifestations.

This land, its people, the pride and the struggles, the patina of the past and above all, the histories and memories ingrained in the soil across the region. It is time to make new memories and new histories, while revisiting and reevaluating old ones; It is time to start a new dialogue about the state of photography and it’s social, cultural and political effects in our society; it is time to give back to the photographic community but also the region; it is time for you to join us!

For our an inaugural Biennial we are grateful to have Andrew L. Moore as competition juror.

We are honored to collaborate with the Sordoni Gallery at Wilkes University, in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., where the Biennial will be held from August 27th to October 5th of 2019. Additional information regarding dates of the main exhibition with lectures and presentations will be published in the Spring.

The Rust Belt Biennial juried competition is hosted in an agreement between LensCulture and Rust Belt Biennial. By entering this contest you acknowledge you have read the terms and conditions. Once you click the “enter” button, you will be redirected to the LensCulture website so that you can sign up for an account and submit your entry through the online entry portal.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

We are looking for photographic bodies of works that explore the social and cultural realities that represent or make a commentary of this very important region within the American landscape.

Additionally we are looking for both in progress or fully realized photographic work in printed form.

Who is eligible?

Anyone and everyone are welcome to submit work that was created within the Rust Belt Region (New York, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin)

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Click here for a list of FAQs – or visit the website for the exhibition at www.rustbeltbiennial.com

Taking Sides: Berlin and the Wall, 1974 – by Sven Martson

Taking Sides: Berlin and the Wall, 1974 contains many serendipitous images and glimpses of what life was like in Berlin in 1974. Martson’s black and white photographs of Berlin and its residents are an artful and skillful documentation of people living their lives on both sides of the Berlin Wall. He also presents an important historic document and intimate view of people living in a politically, and physically, segregated city. We see images of everyday life; children playing, street scenes in a large modern city, people shopping, work, play, boredom, and glimpses of the political elephant in the room – the Wall.

Martson’s images are even more poignant when viewed in the context of how a political viewpoint can divide rather than unify. A collective population of people who are more alike than different can become two polarized populations cast in opposition to the other; groups of people who are separated by imaginary lines drawn with a socio-political pen. In the author’s notes, Martson comments that the wall gave a particularly ugly form to the binary oppositions in human experience. Abstract economic and political ideologies were made real in the form of armed guard towers, land mines, razor-wire fences and an impregnable concrete barrier which divided a city, a country, and perhaps the perceptions of the world.

Martson’s parents were directly impacted by the Soviet occupied Estonia and Germany. “The radically redrawn borders of Germany and much of Europe after World War II forced my parents to flee their Soviet occupied homelands to seek freedom and opportunity in West Germany, and later in the United States,” Martson says. “Although my family has no direct connection to Berlin, I saw its stark division as a reminder and a concentrated symbol of the forces that drove my parents west to become American citizens.”

“In September of 1974, I traveled to West Berlin. It was a bright island of liberty surrounded by a dull gray wall, built not for its protection but to ensure its isolation. Fascinated by such an untenable design, I sought to record in photographs what I might find on either side of that historic divide. I spent a month walking the streets of Berlin taking pictures on either side of the Wall. I was not unbiased in my feelings toward Communist East Germany, yet I tried to avoid making political statements in favor of maintaining a documentary style.”

While I was only four years old in 1974, I can remember with clarity when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. I watched live news coverage of joyous East and West Berlin citizens mingling atop the Wall, or taking turns smashing holes in the wall with sledgehammers. And later, heavy construction equipment pulled sections of the wall apart amidst a barrage of blinding light from thousands of cameras documenting the event. I knew I was watching one of the pivotal points in 20th century history.

We find ourselves at a point in history where leaders are again speaking of walls, which makes Martson’s book even more important. Now photographers have the opportunity to record, document and comment on history potentially repeating itself, in some sense, along the border of Mexico and the United States. Martson comments about current Berlin on his website, and this prompted questions in my mind of how we will look back at the result of a proposed U.S-Mexico border wall. On his site, Martson says, “After more than two decades of German reunification, the almost complete disappearance of the Wall has produced an entirely different Berlin. These photographs are now a historical record: a visual account of opposing ideologies in precarious accommodation.”

Precarious indeed.


Taking Sides: Berlin and the Wall, 1974 by Sven Martson
Hardcover
Published by Lecturis
Language: English/German
ISBN-10: 9462262616


Sven Martson was born in Germany and raised in the United States. He received his BA from Syracuse University in 1970, and subsequent studies led to an interest in documentary style photography. In 1972 he met Walker Evans and worked under his direction, making prints from Evans’ negatives. After Evans’ death, Martson continued to print for the Evans estate.

Martson is an established editorial photographer, and he serves a wide range of independent educational institutions throughout the United States. Over the past thirty years he has traveled extensively, and exhibited in the United States and Europe. He is currently represented by the Kehler Liddell Gallery in New Haven, CT.

To view more work by Sven Martson, please visit his website at http://svenmartson.com/. To purchase a copy of Taking Sides: Berlin and the Wall, 1974, see the book listing here.

This review was originally published in F-Stop Magazine, January 2019.

America in a Trance — Photographs by Niko J. Kallianiotis


America in a Trance – by Niko J. Kallianiotis

Combining punches of color, intense natural light and ironic visuals, this photographer commentates on the gloom of dying industries in the wake of political promise.

Niko J. Kallianiotis’ first monograph, America in a Trance, dives into the heart and soul of Pennsylvania’s industrial regions, a place where small town values still exist, and where sustainable local businesses once thrived under the sheltered wings of American Industry. In his explorations, he offers a quiet assessment of the cultural and economic state of the nation, as seen through a number of cities and towns in Pennsylvania. The approach to this book shares some stylistic similarities with some of the great documentary works that precede it, like Joel Sternfeld’s witty insight, Robert Frank’s ‘outsider’ observations of America, the use of color and light in the street photography of Saul Leiter, and Walker Evans’ landscapes and portraits of the same region. While the work of Kallianiotis is an homage to these influences, it is also a departure from them.

There is far more to Kallianiotis’ images than an expected patina of fading industry, waning prosperity, and portraits of the people who call this place home. He uses evocative color and an artful use of light to convey the dynamics of the scenes he encounters. Flat light from an overcast afternoon helps bring out the texture of American flag-like awnings, which partially obscure the alleyway side of an apartment building’s back porch.

Braddock I © Niko J. Kallianiotis

He captures signage and language on buildings and advertisements with visually ironic placement — both physically, and in respect to this point in history. Political references are not avoided. In the case of political campaigning by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, Kallianiotis visually pits them against each other in a two-page spread. But the end result of the book is not overtly slanted to one side or the other. Optimism for a better future and pessimistic views of the current landscape balance the scales.

Trump v Clinton, spread from “America in a Trance” © Niko J. Kallianiotis

Kallianiotis is Greek by birth, but is also an American citizen, and has lived in the country for 20 years, so his commentary on the current political climate is influenced by strikingly different factors than the average Pennsylvanian. In a 2017 interview with PBS, Elizabeth Flock asked Kallianiotis about the meaning behind the title for his project. He replied, “The meaning is the way the country is right now. I’m sensing that after the election, people walking in these towns are disoriented and alienated…including me. I’m in every picture, too, in terms of the loneliness and trying to assimilate. I’m trying to blend with the culture, since I have two countries. I’m a U.S. citizen and I’m Greek, and I love both. This hybrid situation is complicated. The trance is: you’re aware, you’re listening, but you can’t really respond. I think that’s where we are right now.”

Braddock II © Niko J. Kallianiotis

That place in the middle is bitter-sweet. His decades spent in America have taught Kallianiotis how beliefs from both sides of the fence in the current political climate have a direct effect on these towns. And yet, he achieves a certain level of neutrality within the work. Whether it is the hard Pennsylvania coal towns to the East, the shadows of looming steel stacks to the West, or every faded American Dream in between, Kallianiotis explores an illumination of hope through his own relationship with the land. Within America in a Trance, there is the silhouette of what once was: streets and storefronts thriving, and the reflections of that time coming back to us through his mindful eye.

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Coal Lights © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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El Camino © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Capitol © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Helfers © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Home Turf © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Falcon Pride © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Jessup RR © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Leaned © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Lady in Green © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Lost Love © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Melodrama © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Lady in Red © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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No Worries © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Rain Drop © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Disconnected © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Supply © Niko J. Kallianiotis


America in a Trance by Niko J Kallianiotis
Publisher: Damiani
ISBN: 9788862085953

To find out more about America in a Trance or to see more work by Niko J. Kallianiotis, please visit his website: www.nikokallianiotis.com.

This book is available for purchase at www.nikokallianiotis.com/book or at the publisher’s website: https://www.damianieditore.com/en-US/product/669


This is an edited version of the article originally published at http://www.lensculture.com 
Photographs by Niko J. Kallianiotis
Book Review by Cary Benbow