At the beach

I spent a week on the Cape this month.  I lived on the Cape for many years as a child and have much family still there.

It is a magical place of light and water in late summer.

We stayed with my Dad in No. Eastham where the land is just a mile and a half wide, with ocean on one side and cape cod bay on the other.

This series is of my two favorite beaches on the lower cape–First Encounter and Marconi.

First Encounter Beach

Low Tide at First Encounter Beach

First Encounter Beach

cloudy day on the flats at First Encounter Beach

First Encounter Beach

low tide walkers

the catchers

marconi beach

Marconi beach

the architect

marconi beach

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Paul Graham on Photography

For my current class at ICP (Photography as Practise: The Daily Blog), Lauren Silberman asked us to read two essays by Paul Graham.  Graham is a British photographer whose work explores “… the fertile territory where the descriptive and artistic aspects of photography coalesce, often tackling difficult subject matter for a medium that engages with the observable world.” (Gallery Press Release, 2008).

We read The Unreasonable Apple from February 2010 and Photography is Easy, Photography is Difficult, his Yale MFA Photography Graduation speech from February 2009.

Here are several quotes that are thought provoking, inspiring and challenging…interspersed with several of Graham’s images from different projects.

“…there remains a sizeable part of the art world that simply does not get photography.  They get artists who use photography to illustrate their ideas, installations, performances and concepts, who ‘deploy’ the medium as one of a range of artistic strategies to complete their work.  But photography for and of itself–photographs taken from the world as it is–are misunderstood as a collection of random observations and lucky moments, or muddled up with photojournalism, or tarred with a semi-derogatory ‘documentary’ tag.”  (The Unreasonable Apple)

“…how do you explain what Garry Winogrand did on a real New York street when he ‘just’ took the picture?  Or for that matter what Stephen Shore created with his deadpan image of a crossroads in El Paso?  Anyone with an ounce of sensitivity knows they did something there, and something utterly remarkable at that, but…what?  How do we articulate this uniquely photographic creative act, and express what it amounts to….?” (The Unreasonable Apple)

Television Portraits, Paul Graham

on the nature of photography of a certain kind:

“…the nature of the creative act when you dance with life itself–when you form the meaningless world into photographs, then form those photographs into a meaningful world.” (The Unreasonable Apple)

Paul Graham

From Empty Heaven, Paul Graham, 1989-1995

“…artists strive to pierce the opaque thershold of the now, to express something of the thus and so of life at the point they recognised it.  They struggle through photography to to define these moments and bring them forward in time to us, to the here and now, so that with the clarity of hindsight, we may glimpse something of what it was they perceived.  Perhaps here we have stumbled upon a partial, but nonetheless astonishing description of the creative act at the heart of serious photography: nothing less than the measuring and folding of the cloth of time itself.”

From Toubled Land by Paul Graham, 1984-86

In an interview with Graham in June of 2007, Richard Woodward asked him about the appeal of photography books.  As someone who LOVES and spends way too much money on photography books, I just had to share Graham’s response.

“John Gossage made a great comment that his books are the original work. It’s the summation of one’s endeavors—the book is the work. Now, a painter or a sculptor can have a catalogue of their work but… it’s completely different in photography. It is the exact thing—maybe a little smaller scale—but with a one-on-one dialogue when you read it. Looking at a Nan Goldin book is quite different from viewing her photographs on the wall with other people around you. The book is personal and direct, from the artist to you, complete and faithful.”

Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective

The Guggenheim has an extensive exhibit of  Rineke Dijkstra’s photographs and video work.  I love her work, the subtleness, the painterly quality, intimacy, dignity and details of the images.  She has several series of images shot of the same people over many years or through major life transitions, like entering the Foreign Legion, being a refugee, or doing your service in the Israeli army.

Here is a highlight from the Guggenhiem’s press release about the exhibit:

“Since the early 1990s, Rineke Dijkstra has produced a complex body of photographic and video work that offers a contemporary take on the genre of portraiture. Her large-scale color photographs of young, typically adolescent subjects recall 17th-century Dutch painting in their scale and visual acuity. The minimal contextual details present in her photographs and videos encourage us to focus on the exchange between photographer and subject and the relationship between viewer and viewed.

Dijkstra works in series, creating groups of photographs and videos around a specific typology or theme. In 1992, she started making portraits of adolescents posed on beaches from Hilton Head, South Carolina, to Poland and Ukraine. Shot from a low perspective, the subjects of the Beach Portraits(1992–2002), poised on the brink of adulthood, take on a monumental presence. In contemporaneous works, including portraits of new mothers after giving birth and photographs of bullfighters immediately after leaving the ring, Dijkstra sought subjects whose physical exhaustion diminished the likelihood of an artificial pose.”

This is a stunning exhibit of Rineke Dijkstra’s work, with over 70 photographs and five video installations  spread out over multiple floors.    It is an exhibit to be savored.

Rineke Dijkstra

Beach Portraits

Beach Portraits

“What I like about photography is that it is always a direct response to reality.  I like to photograph people: the camera is a way to connect with people and to find out who they are and how I relate to them.  In the end it’s all about recognition and reflection.”  Rineke Dijkstra in the exhibition catalog.

Rineke Dijkstra

Self Portrait, Marnixbad, Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 19, 1991

In an interview with Kyle Chayka from Blouin Artinfo, Rineke talked about her self portrait:

“I was working for magazines and newspapers, and at a certain point I felt that I was an artist… I felt more like an art photographer. I thought maybe I should take a couple months off to think about a project for myself. The last day of the two months that I gave myself to think about everything, I broke my hip in a bike accident. So then I had a lot of time to think [laughs].

And I think that that moment I realized how vulnerable you could be, that something can just happen. My whole perspective changed. I had to recover, and I was really afraid… The doctor said, “well, maybe your hip is going to die, and you’ll need a hip replacement.” I didn’t want that to happen. And they told me the only thing I can do is swim every day. Exercise, exercise, exercise! So that’s why I started to swim every day. And then one day I came out of the swimming pool and looked in the mirror and I took my goggles off, and it looked like I was crying. I thought, maybe I should make a self-portrait. I wanted to capture a moment you don’t normally think about.”

Vondelpark, Amsterdam, June 19, 2005

The exhibit runs through October 8th.