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
Beyond the Reach of Rivers Fishing Quarter Gallery, Brighton Wednesday 1 May – Monday 6 May 2019 Open daily 11am – 5pm
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.
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.
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/
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.
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)
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 was the first year Wobneb Magazine hosted an online exhibtion, Sense of Place. We featured the work of over 50 contributing photographers from around the world, and the exhibit drew tens of thousands of viewers. Next year will bring our second online exhibition for photographers completing a BFA/MFA or equivalent degree program. The exhibition will be juried by photographer Mark Sawrie. We are really looking forward to this opportunity to present work from photographers who’ve worked intensely on a unified body of work, and are on the verge of the next big ‘something’ in their life and career as a photographer.
There have been so many great photo books this past year, and I had the opportunity to review a number of them through writing for F-Stop Magazine. And increasingly photographers are contacting me directly to review their work and published books. I couldn’t be more honored to help spread the word about great work here via Wobneb Magazine, as well as a couple other publications where I contribute as a writer.
Please check out the website for a list of books and featured photographers who I’ve had the great fortune to work with this past year. Hopefully 2019 will bring much more of the same!
A taradiddle by definition is a petty lie, a little falsehood or trifling told often to amuse or embellish a story. But the Oxford English Dictionary also offers a second meaning: Pretentious or empty talk; senseless, unproductive activity; nonsense. Ironically, it’s a self deprecating term for such meaningful work. But then, that’s part of the fun.
So many of the images created by Traub involve witty visual interplay, tongue-in-cheek sight gags that beg the viewer to look again. But that summary sells them short. There’s much more going on here, there is wit and a sophisticated way of seeing what is in front of the camera. Traub’s work in Taradiddle is a collection of discoveries built around the idea of seeing — not just looking. He is a photographer’s photographer; demonstrating mastery of the medium without hubris or egotism. There is keen observation without embellishment in Taub’s oeuvre. As David Campany writes in this introduction to the book, the unifying element to Traub’s work is that “they are all in one way or another about photography. They may even amount to a commentary upon photography as a phenomenon of daily life. Photography as something we do daily, and photographs as things we encounter daily, often by chance. To this extent at least, these are meta-photographs.” Photos about photography.
An assistant to Traub suggested the term ‘taradiddle’ during the process of curating the images that would ultimately comprise the book. It stuck. An influence and friend early in Traub’s photo career was fellow Kentuckian Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Meatyard kept a collection of names he found funny and/or interesting. One could easily imagine the list might include a Miss Tara Diddle, of Lexington. In that spirit, Traub’s images ask the viewer to see and absorb an inside joke: the landscape painting of Death Valley on the side of a building located in front of the actual mountain range of Death Valley. A large red rock with hand-painted white letters in Monte Vista, Colorado prompting the visitor to bring the camera. He did. Ironic tongue-in-cheek humor with signage and whimsy like the Estate of Confusion building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Or the compositional use of a natural frame-within-a-frame in a street scene in New Orleans to highlight we are viewing a selective representation of the three-dimensional world — an image akin to the work of Luigi Ghirri, one of the most influential conceptual photographers of the 20th century.
Over the span of the book we see the Michelangelo fresco painting of the Creation of Adam in several iterations. We see it in a hardware store, a poster reproduction poorly framed within a larger gold frame mounted to a wall, or in a faded wallpaper pattern behind a framed photo of a wedding portrait with bride and groom in a similar pose, touching hands, creating a future together. Traub captures an image of faux wooden boards with painted shadows on a flat metal door, mimicry of floral patterns on upholstery and carpet placed in front of a nature scene right outside the window. These witty visual interplays beg the viewer to think about visual reproduction, visual representation, and realistically… it can be humorous how people often choose to replicate a natural environment in such unnatural ways.
It is always a joy to pour over artwork in a book where the next image can’t come quickly enough, or there can’t be too many of; like a child who eagerly begs their parent to repeat a joke or trick they adore — again…do it again. Taradiddle is one of those books where I found myself soaking in the images, laughing to myself or making a interjection of appreciation, then quickly turning the page to see the next one, and the next, then the final one, only to work my way back toward the front of the book again. I have seen Traub’s work before the opportunity came to review this project, but critically thinking about it prompted the realization that I hadn’t fully recognized how much his photography was interconnected to other masters of photography who inform my comprehensive view of photography.
Are you completing a photo degree program? What comes afterward? Career, continued education, gallery or museum work, or ???
In a few months, Wobneb Magazine will host a free juried exhibition for photographers who’ve reached the final stage of their current studies. This will be an exhibition for a photographer’s portfolio of work. Full details to follow – please share this opportunity!
The inaugural exhibition hosted by Wobneb Magazine - with essay by Rob Hudson
Wobneb Magazine wants to provide opportunities for photographers to exhibit in group online exhibitions with no entry fee. This series of exhibitions is open to any amateur or professional photographer around the globe — with the goal of providing the chance for many different people to contribute to the theme. The inaugural theme for 2018 is Sense of Place.
On some level, each photographer tries to convey an observable sense of a place within a slice of a second; hopefully transcending mere documentation of physical appearance to impart a feeling of their experience or emotions. This exhibition is fortunate to have a range of styles and methods used to address the theme. Photojournalist Louise Wateridge’s image of a Syrian refugee child playing with a pigeon is reflective of her sense of place as an observer; capturing a moment of joy within a life of hardship, and creating a strong image without being overly invasive. The work of photographer J.M. Golding is connected to specific locations and presents a spiritual and philosophical connection to the world around her. She observes and transforms the views into what exists internally as well. The landscape by Ellen Jantzen takes a step further into how an artist can capture an image or images of a place, and create new realities in her process of looking beyond surface and trying to reveal something emotional through her manipulations.
Rob Hudson is a special contributor to this exhibition. In his essay, Hudson addresses the idea of place and how photographers try ultimately to show the uniqueness and insight each person brings to the table. In addition, Hudson and photographer Al Brydon contribute images from their respective regions of Wales and England to share their sense of place with respect to their own relationship with the land.
For this exhibition, we asked photographers to consider the following: What is the social or physical landscape where you live? How do you define your sense of place in the world? A sympathetic understanding is the goal of any photographer. Each one asks the viewer to look at what they’ve captured with their camera, recall their own personal experiences, and draw meaning from the connections. We asked contributors to show how they document or interpret the world around them, and convey a sense of place using their unique visual voice. This exhibition is an exploration of that idea, our surroundings, as well as ourselves.
A Sense of Place by Rob Hudson
I’ve just returned from spending a few days in somewhere that, to me at least, has a strong sense of place — the St. David’s peninsula in the far southwest of Wales. It was one of the places in Britain where the first Christians arrived from Ireland, now memorialized in both the place’s name, and the cathedral tucked into a little valley to hide it from Viking marauders. There’s a sense of human history here that is so close to the surface and obvious in such a sparsely populated area. It seems to shine forth in a way I don’t recognize or feel about in the city I live within.
The tilted rock strata produces a long line of low hills that seem to rise up from the surrounding plane with the character of mountains. They look like leaning triangles, and that feature is carried all the way to the sea cliffs and the outlying islands. If you imagine that line of hills to be the dorsal fins of a giant subterranean whale, several miles long, then the cliffs and jutting rocks are its teeth having taken giant bites out of the coastline.
I could tell you these things, and create the idea of a sense of place in your mind to illustrate how the uniqueness of a place makes it stand out. Is it uniqueness, or because I’ve been visiting here since I was a boy, and have a strong emotional connection to this place? Perhaps it is because there’s a commonality of features which we recognize as having a sense of place. I can also tell you that six different people from varying ages, genders or cultures have independently described this place as having something ‘magical’ about it (and it’s a term I’d happily subscribe to myself); but this brings us no closer to explaining or identifying any features that give a sense of place.
The poet Edward Thomas wrote the phrase, ‘Within the spaces between’, which simply sums up the connection we make to the often unappreciated places we visit — especially when we engage with making an artistic response to them. A sense of place isn’t a simple concept to understand. We all recognize it when we feel that connection, but like many emotional responses it is more difficult to explain in words. Perhaps this is because a sense of place isn’t an inherent aspect of a place’s identity at all, but something we project onto it. In short, it is a social and cultural construct. This isn’t to suggest that a sense of place is lesser because of its human roots; landscape itself is an idea, and it doesn’t exist outside the human realm. Both terms express the power place can hold over us, the depth of our emotional connection.
Equally important is to consider what the opposite of a sense of place might entail — what is ‘placenessness’? Placeless spaces are just as valuable in artistic expression as those that have a sense of place. A few years ago my good friend and fellow founder member of the Inside the Outside collective made a series of photographs he termed ‘None Places’. Like others engaged with a radical interpretation of landscape, Al Brydon’s ‘None Places’ are sites of freedom, which allowing for a more anarchic expression. It is arguable that after we put a frame around a photograph of a place, it ceases to be placeless because we’ve begun the process of myth making and story telling, which contribute to the creation of a sense of place. This doesn’t mean they are invalidated, they are worthy of our exploration and expression, but we should also be aware of our own contradictions. As Gertrude Stein said, “There is no there there”.
The truth is, we make or find a sense of place if we look long and hard enough. After all, that is the job of the artist or photographer — to show others our insights. In essence we’re trying to understand and express ourselves through the medium of our relationship to place. But, and this is an important ‘but’, we don’t all share the same experiences of place. Our world is so full of imagery; only an individual’s unique response to place will stand out. That’s easier than it sounds. We have to do the legwork. It’s taken me approximately 40 years to visually consummate my love for St. David’s peninsula; I hope you’ll achieve success somewhat faster.
Rob Hudson is one of the co-founders of Inside the Outside, a collective of landscape photographers based in the UK. He has contributed to a number of books and projects on landscape photography, and his photographs have been shown in a number of prominent exhibitions throughout the UK. www.robhudsonlandscape.net
This exhibition is also published at on Medium.com. All images are used with permission. I want to sincerely thank all the contributors and artists for sharing their work. —Cary Benbow, Publisher, Wobneb Magazine
Wobneb Magazine will provide opportunities for photographers to exhibit in group online exhibitions. The exhibition is open to any amateur or professional photographer around the globe – with the goal of providing the chance for many different people to contribute to the theme. All entries will be exhibited.
Final deadline is 11:59pm September 30, 2018 (GMT-4:00). The exhibition will be posted online starting October 5 – October 31, 2018.
The theme for our first online exhibition is Sense of Place. What is the social or physical landscape where you live? How do you define your sense of place in the world? This does not need to be a literal translation of the term – send your images that convey a sense of place using your unique visual voice.
Photographers will be allowed ONE maximum entry per exhibition. Please do not send images that are unrelated to the theme. We reserve the right to exclude submissions if they do not fit the theme. Images can be made with any camera you choose, (large format, medium format, digital, lomo, camera phone, etc) and in any style.
Image Guidelines Size: 72dpi, sRGB, 1000px wide Save as .jpg Submit Via Email
Submissions It is FREE to enter. Send only ONE image to: firstname.lastname@example.org In the subject of your e-mail, type the name of the exhibition (example: SENSE OF PLACE)