devil in the detail

Henri Cartier-Bresson  "Behind the Gare St. Lazare,"

Henri Cartier-Bresson “Behind the Gare St. Lazare,”

The first photograph I am discussing is entitled, “Behind the Gare St. Lazare,” and was taken in 1932, at one of the large railroad stations in Paris. I’m going to speak about it in relation to the beginning opposites Aesthetic Realism shows every person is trying to put together: Self and World—for it surely is about those very opposites. We see in the foreground the silhouette of one man in the midst of a leap. He is one particular individual in a bowler hat, taking a chance, and yet how richly and subtly Cartier-Bresson makes us see the relation of this man to the world around him. As I’ve studied it, I’ve come to feel that it is one of the great photographs of the world because of the way it shows, through lines, shapes, forms and through light and dark, that the self is in an unlimited relation to reality, and it is that relation which gives the self meaning and grandeur.

Julius Schulman "Stahlhouse"

Julius Schulman “Stahlhouse”

Mr. Shulman photographed buildings by some of the era’s best-known architects, including Richard NeutraFrank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray EamesMies van der Rohe and Oscar Niemeyer. But he also photographed less exalted examples of American buildings, like gas stations, apartment buildings and shopping malls. One of Mr. Shulman’s most widely reproduced images, a 1960 view of Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House No. 22, shows two well-dressed women in seemingly casual conversation in a living room that appears to float precariously above the Los Angeles basin. The vertiginous point of view contrasts sharply with the relaxed atmosphere of the house’s interior, testifying to the ability of the Modernist architect to transcend the limits of the natural world.

Julie Blackmon "Homegrown"

Julie Blackmon “Homegrown”

Julie Blackmon’s photographs don’t look particularly real – they’re too staged and manipulated for that – but she is a kind of realist nonetheless. Instead of depicting domestic life in extremes, either as some soft-focussed bower of bliss or alternatively a living hell, Blackmon goes for something in between. Her family scenes supposedly represent the more ordinary experience, and yet Blackmon freely admits that her own extraordinary upbringing as one of nine children has inevitably filtered through – hence the comedic, joyous, rowdy chaos that defines each one, illustrating family life as both a blessing and a bane.

from paris to london with jeff brouws

Jeff Brouws

My choice of photgrapher was very simple as soon as I get to Paris Photo. I knew it will be Jeff Brouws. Born in San francisco in 1955, is a self-taught artist, landscape photographer and geographer. Pursuing photography since age 13, where he roamed the railroad and industrial corridors of the South Bay Peninsula in California State. What is most important for me in his work , is that he shows rural, urban and suburban landscapes from cultural point of view. Using single photographs he tries, or rather is showing character of nation, enviroment where they live and how they live. Huge influence on his work caused “New Topographic Movement” by artist Ed Ruscha as well as the writtings of cultural geographers like J.B Jackson, Dolores Hayden and John Stilgoe. He might be best known for exploring vast teritory of United States and indexing character of his country. His last project which was very interesting for me was named “The Coaling Towers” which I was able to see in Paris Photo. Very simple shots of industrial architecture, but very striking in it’s simplicity. Work of Brouws is very close to my preferences which is travelling and discovering architectual sculpture. Photographer saying that his work refer to as “visual anthropology”. This kind of work from my point of view is extremley important. Jeff recording shape of his national landscape making some kind of chronicle of places which disappear under influence of developers wanting to win the priceless piecies of land.

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations by Jeff Brouws (published in 1992) is an exact replica of Ed Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations, first published in 1962. Mimicking Ruscha’s format, design and type treatment, the 5½” x 7” book contains 26 black and white shots of abandoned gas stations. While the images selected bear no geographic relation to Ruscha’s original photos (it is not a re-photographic project), they do share an aesthetic sensibility in the way both artists employ a deadpan, neutral gaze.

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #1, San Miguel, California 1990

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #1, San Miguel, California 1990

When Brouws began his project in the early 1990s many stations were being abandoned due to the implementation of new, tougher EPA requirements mandating that aging underground tanks had to be replaced, which required a huge capital outlay. Independents gas station owners were unable to bear this cost, while larger, better-funded multi-national corporations like Chevron and Shell could afford to meet these stricter regulations. Investigative reporting in the Los Angeles Times at the time suggested that major petroleum companies conspired with the EPA to drive competition out of business with these tactics.

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #15, Johnson Corners, California 1984

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #15, Johnson Corners, California 1984

Brouws’ series—initially begun as a simple riff on Ruscha’s original idea and a play on words—tangentially evolved into a documentary typology reflecting this changing aspect of the commercial landscape. The two books, done thirty years apart, make visual commentary on the historical ascendancy and demise of an important element of American car culture.

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #3. Edison, California 1980

Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations #3. Edison, California 1980

Approaching Nowhere is a moving meditation on the loss of place and texture in the contemporary American landscape.

Jeff Brouws 'Approaching Nowhere'

Jeff Brouws ‘Approaching Nowhere’

Brouws’ luminous images elegantly capture the complex, surprising beauty and desolation of visual life in our time, as seen from the American road.

Jeff Brouws 'Approaching Nowhere'

Jeff Brouws ‘Approaching Nowhere’

The potency of the work reflects both Brouws’ perceptive vision of the country’s changing face and his concern for the shifting shape of its soul.

Jeff Brouws 'Approaching Nowhere'

Jeff Brouws ‘Approaching Nowhere’

Inside The Live Reptile Tent captures the half-experienced, half-remembered landscape of the American carnival midway in eighty color photographs.

Jeff Brouws, Tickets, Ventura, California Inside the Live Reptile Tent (1987)

Jeff Brouws, Tickets, Ventura, California
Inside the Live Reptile Tent (1987)

Temporary architecture, gravity defying amusement rides, brightly colored booths, the beseeching barkers – all are preserved by Brouws’ lens in the perpetual twilight of the midway. Cultural historian Bruce Caron provides a lively text to accompany the photographs.

Jeff Brouws, Skydiver, Ventura, California Inside the Live Reptile Tent (1988)

Jeff Brouws, Skydiver, Ventura, California
Inside the Live Reptile Tent (1988)

“Initially what I examined were the older elements of roadside culture,” says Brouws.  “What Walker Evans called the ‘historical contemporary.’ I was on a road trip – this was purely visual engagement: I saw something that attracted me and made a photograph.”

Jeff Brouws, Live Reptile Tent, Ventura, California Inside the Live Reptile Tent (1987)

Jeff Brouws, Live Reptile Tent, Ventura, California
Inside the Live Reptile Tent (1987)

photographer’s gallery

Photographer’s Gallery 

After visit to exhibition in photographer’s gallery I was amazed by work of Lorenzo Vitturi. Vitturi’s work, in this series, documents the changing landscape of Dalston. Lorenzo’s “Dalston Anatomy” was on show in the John Lyon gallery, exemplifies this capacity Vitturi is a Venice born artist formally cinema set painter, who currently resides in Dalston, East London. As an artist he uses photography in order to cross boundries and re-shape and interact with the world around him. Dalston area is changing very dynamically, landsape is rapidly undergoing a process genitrification. This series is the end point of a seven year documentation process in which Vitturi witnessed his local neighborhood transforming at an accelerated speed. The artist’s interestslie in documenting this process of decay. Such interestsare highly visible here in the gallery. In past exhibitions I didn’t see this kind of work. I remember the moment in which doors from the lift on the top floor have opened up and I saw the first picture of Lorenzo. It was a photo of rotten bananas . They were completely black, totally rotten, cover in white mould. Composition of the fruits, the way in which bananas were laid was very impressive. Apart from bananas I can see composition which gives me feeling that bananas are in move. I’m thinking here about African savannah, where terirfied antilopes runnig away in chaos, escaping from inevitable death pictured in big, hungry lions. The question is what Lorenzo want to say trough these fruits? I know situation of Dalston and I feel really happy with my interpretation. There is danger waitting everywhere around looking for weak and vulnerable units. Lions are always hungry, even if they are not – they are haunting.

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Lorenzo Vitturi ‘Dalston Anatomy’

On photograph above the image of corn, where the purpule tissues and background juxtapose the yellow of the corn was one of my favourite. Beautiful combination of colours showing knob of corn. This plant is very common on our planet, and especially on markets. Colours gives me some idea. Seconds after I spotted this picture I was thinking about deadly poisonus tiny frogs from tropical forests taking the bright colours to inform enemy how dangerous they are, or I was thinking about Paramecium Caudatum is a spiece of unicellular organism. This organism leave in every eco system on our planet. I would say when some social groups are united, they have strong bonds and ideas , they can win with opponent couple of times bigger and more dangerous.

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Lorenzo Vitturi ‘Dalston Anatomy’

Julie Blackmon (b. 1966, USA) is an award-winning photographer who has amassed several honours since beginning her career just a few years ago. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Kemper Museum of Art in Kansas City, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Portland Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, among others. Her photographs were featured in such publications as New York, TIME, VOGUE Italia, New York Times and The New Yorker. You can gauge from the comments that Blackmon creates powerfully mythic work on familiar family spaces – the domestic hallucinations of a woman juggling work and family, the cultural baggage of motherhood and the reality of a working life, and the personal, social, and emotional expectations surrounding it. Somehow Blackmon extracts from this chaos a very singular vision. It’s where the cinematic meets the suburban, the epic meets the domestic, the authoritative parental eye folds into the vision of the child. The current show ”Homegrown” in on show downstairs in the Print Room at the Photographer’s Gallery. It is the perfect space for what Blackmon is doing, a little bit emotionally confined, claustrophobic a photographic vision seeking to escape through a playfulness that sits on the threshold between pure creative freedom and the day in the life of a Mum. Blackmon writes on her website of being a mother, “We live in a culture where we are both ‘child centered’ and ‘self-obsessed.’ The struggle between living in the moment versus escaping to another reality is intense since these two opposites strive to dominate… Caught in the swirl of soccer practices, play dates, work, and trying to find our way in our ‘make-over’ culture, we must still create the space to find ourselves. The expectations of family life have never been more at odds with each other…”

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Julie Blackmon ‘Homegrown’

Probably the image “Take-Off”, the skewed perspective, the scrawny pilot, the spectators on the window sill, the sharp-intake of breath, the photograph visibly  inhales just before the astronaut in underpants gets ready to launch. Heroic and mock-heroic, triumphant and comical, heaven and hell, in each of Blackmon’s photographs, her eye maps the dynamic emotional vectors of family life.

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Julie Blackmon ‘Homegrown’

In “S a golden-tressed toddler lies smiling on the floor after taking a black marker to a tufted Victorian sofa. A nearby chair is overturned, and various objects — a pillow, shoe, doll, and spilled Tic Tacs — litter the floor. harpie,”