And this is why…



Claudia Perez and her daughter.
Claudia is Tenant Association President
@ George Washington Carver Houses in East Harlem


Last Saturday, I joined Dr. Lenora Fulani, the Committee for Independent Community Action and John Adams Houses Tenant President Ronald Topping at a march in the Bronx against the privatization of NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority).  NYC has the largest public housing program left in the country, home to over 500,000 New Yorkers.  The projects are in terrible condition, deteriorating because of the lack of funding and the political will to do something about it. Now NYC’s Mayor is overseeing a multi year plan that slowly sells off NYCHA’s apartments and assets (playgrounds and vacant land). Two weeks ago the federal government took control away from the City government to address the dangerous conditions (mold, lead paint, failed heating systems). Privatization continues to move forward.

Proud to march with Claudia and her daughter.



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.

The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams

While walking through a Short History of Photography at ICP, my attention was drawn to a photographer I had never seen before—Alessandra Sanguinetti.  The image was The Necklace from her amazing series, The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams.  

Alessandra Sanguinetti The Necklace

Alessandra has been shooting with Guille and Belinda since 1999 in the Argentia countryside.  The girls are cousins and the project started when they were 9 and 10 years old.   Whitehot magazine did an interview with her in 2008 that gives a sense of the photographer, her influences and process.  Alessandra speaks of playing with Guille and Belinda in a collaborative process of suggesting a scene or situation to them and then they take the scene to new places.  In describing the work in an interview with The New Yorker, Sanguinetti says, “It was the best time of my life, spending time with them.”

Alessandra Sanguinetti

I love the series, the playfulness,  the intimacy and the boldness of Guille and Belinda.  The series explores the rich terrain of play, reality, dreams,  and growing up.

Sanguinetti’s  book is available at the ICP Store and Alessandra has continued to shoot the girls.  She is represented by the Yossi Milo Gallery.

I’ll end with a couple of quotes from Sanguinetti.

“It’s disheartening when you find yourself just taking good pictures–pictures that don’t have heart.  Great pictures surprise me, they have depth and mystery.”

“I take photographs for the same reasons other people work with photography; it is a way of telling a story based on something real, and it stops time.  I am interested in building something based on something else which already exists; in libing it, recreating it, and narrating it in my own way.  I want to visually translate my ideas of what life is.  I am very much interested in the idea of questioning photography as a medium; questioning the veracity and the ambiguity that images are endowed with.  I am puzzled by the “faithfulness” or unquestionability attributed to the written word as opposed to the constant questioning of the image, by the rigor with which photography is treated in the media, while the weight of words is not questioned in equal measure.  A single word can completely alter the meaning of a text, or a piece of news.”

Les Amies de Place Blanche

On Friday, as part of my class, Photography as Practice: The Daily Blog, we went to see the Christer Stromholm exhibit at the ICP Museum.  It is breathtakingly beautiful, evocative and intimate.  Christer Stockholm created this body of work in Paris in the late 1960’s.  Les Amies de Place Blanche is a portrait of the transexual “ladies of the night”, who came to Paris in pursuit of sex change operations.  In writing about this work,  Christer Sotckholm said, “It was then–and still is–about obtaining the freedom to choose one’s own life and identity.”

TIME Lightbox has a wonderful slide show of some of the images.