Tag Archives: photography
Taryn Simon’s Complex exhibit entitled A Living Man Proclaimed Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII made its way to the Corcoran Gallery of Art here in DC, after spending some time at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I had the opportunity to see it a couple of weeks ago.
The exhibit is technically categorized as as photography, but it is definitely much more than just a simple photography exhibition. In a way each piece is a mini-exhibit in itself, comprised of portraiture, narrative, and objects that are carefully curated. Woven together, they explore stories that are all at once historical, contemporary, significant, and controversial.
Simon’s artist statement identifies the exhibit as being an exploration of “bloodlines and their related stories,” but each piece has much more depth than the explanation suggests. Needless to say, to explain in intricate detail how and what each “chapter” tells its particular story would certainly be a lengthy task.
Each piece comprises of three parts.
First, one or more large frames on the left of each grouping shows a series of portraits of each bloodline the artist photographed over a period of four years, in almost every continent. Below is a family from China.
The second component in her pieces is a text panel that identifies each subject photographed. From time to time there are blank frames or obscured subjects – all of which add intrigue to the story.
Below the names is a narrative of the bloodline, and then below that, descriptions of the objects depicted in the succeeding large frame.The artist certainly did not limit herself to the traditional notion of the bloodline – and included groupings of animals as well as children in orphanages.
The one grouping that was interesting to me culturally and socially as well, was one showing the bloodline of a Filipino man from the Igorot communitiy, who was brought over to the US for the St. Louis World’s Fair. The “chapter” was dense with issues that deal with history, cultural identity, xenocentrism, and could possibly also relate to more contemporary topics like immigration.
Artists like Simon certainly steer contemporary art in new directions, with her work becoming not just aesthetic compositions but also vehicles of discourse for relevant contemporary social issues. Her medium and methods might not be as spectacular as some other artists working today, but the stories and messages so deeply embedded in her work give them their own unique sense of brevity. You will definitely leave this exhibit curious, questioning, and wanting to know more.
The exhibition is on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC until February 24th.
See more about the exhibition:
It’s Foodie Tuesday!
What is it with food and Instagram? I’ve come across a considerable number of jokes and memes that poked fun at people’s penchant for taking photos of their food, that it made me realize the enormity of this social media phenomenon, and its implications on mores and culture.
It must have started back in the early days of Facebook when people felt compelled to fill that empty status box. It led to (over)sharing the most trivial details of their day with friends, family, and anyone else who would care, or not care, to know. And when the time came when said updates could be accompanied with photographs, which could be taken using internet-ready phones and gadgets, really started heating up! Food makes for an infinitely more pleasing photography subject than one’s workstation or the traffic situation on the way to school. Enter Instagram with its retro filters and its promise of visual feasts and we’ve got a full-blown food photography mania.
I admit, I’m about as guilty of as anyone. I went through phases of sending out too much information too. Good thing that privacy issues and creepy cyberstalking stories led to more prudent social media sharing habits. Although when it comes to food, I usually get too excited that all thought of documenting the foodie moment flies right out the window the moment whatever steaming plate of something lands in front of me. I just forget myself and only remember my camera when I’m well past sated. I make up for this lack by following a lot of foodies on Instagram and liking all the awesome food shots I encounter.
But is it starting to get out of hand? This article from Petapixel talks about people standing up on their chairs to shoot their meals, and camera flashes bothering other diners, generally behaving in such a way that seems to push the boundaries of courtesy. It has gotten to the point that certain restaurants have had to come up with restrictions on food photography.
Are we getting obsessed with the shoot-and-share habit? Has it become a hindrance to real-life, face-to-face sharing and real-time, real-world experience?
This calls to mind one of my favorite John Mayer songs, 3×5, which I have sung to myself pretty often in the past several months, when my digital camera was out of commission, and whenever I forgot to bring any type of camera, or forget to charge my smartphone.
Didn’t have a camera by my side this time
Hoping I would see the world through both my eyes
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we all need to be reminded that inasmuch as we love taking glorious pictures — of food and everything else, sharing them, and appreciate other people’s pictures too, we shouldn’t forget to step out from behind the lens, “see the world with [our] own eyes,” and just enjoy the moment. Because otherwise, what’s the point?
The Feast of All Saints is celebrated in many cultures all over the world celebrate this feast by remembering, honoring, and praying for the beloved dead. On All Saints’ Day, cemeteries become places of light and color, as relatives light candles and decorate loved ones’ tombs with flowers.
Today, we shift attention from the costumes, pumpkins, and ghouls of Halloween, towards the time of remembrance that is All Saints Day. Halloween, after all, is a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening, the night that points to the next day, All Hallow’s Day, or All Saints’ Day. This is the time of year when graveyards aren’t so somber, the one occasion wherein a blog post on tombs and cemeteries isn’t so morbid.
Cemeteries in Poland are a-glitter with a sea of candles in multicolored glass lamps come when night falls on All Saints’ Day, so that it looks a lot Christmas.
In the Philippines too, people flock to the cemeteries with their candles and flowers. They typically do some cleanup and beautification on their relatives’ graves (if they haven’t availed of maintenance service), and then they set up for a picnic or even an overnight stay. They lay mats or erect tents, and unpack the food, playing cards or game boards, and yes, prayer books.
Some folks forego the generic tombstones and epitaphs and choose to create something that may be more representative of the person underneath it. These ones are pretty amazing, ranging from breathtakingly beautiful to really gutsy choices.
This sculpture in itself is jawdroppingly stunning. It is marks the grave of a Laurence Matheson and was commissioned by his widow from Aussie sculptor Peter Schipperheyn.
No abstract drizzles in Pollock’s grave, just a carved boulder for this painter’s rock-solid artistic legacy.
Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini’s grave is a ginormous gravity-defying sculpture. It’s awesome!
These last two are such unusual (geeky) choices and they lend a certain levity to the cemeteries that they are in.
My DSLR failed me last weekend — on my birthday get together, no less! It had something to do with memory card slot, that wouldn’t read any of the cards I put in. Grr! It was so frustrating not to have that instant documentation and instant gratification that I have gotten used to. And I felt awful because I’ve had that camera for six years now, and I was feeling betrayed.
All was not lost, however. Although there was a point-and-shoot present, and smartphones galore, I had a backup camera of the old school variety — my Diana F+ clone — Mr. Pinky (isn’t it cute) which had some film loaded in it. I haven’t been using it for long, though, and not regularly at that, and I was spoiled by my DSLR that did all the thinking on apertures, shutter speed, and focusing for me. Little wonder then that it must have been only 10 shots later that I realized that the aperture was wrong. Sigh. So we’ll see how that turns out.
So I hereby resolve to use my film cameras more. Not that I have much of a choice, since my ultra efficient Nikon D70 is now officially out of commission. I’m looking forward to it though, and I’m quite excited to reconnect too with this old baby. It’s 15 years old, has a number of scratches, its nice leather casing has been chewed to bits by our dog years ago, and the light meter is busted, but it still takes good pictures — I just have to work harder for them. I have to learn to be not so hasty with the shutter finger (film is expensive), and go through the discipline of checking my settings and my composition before I shoot. I also need to relearn patience, as I need to finish the roll and send it out for processing before I can see my photos.
Wish me luck on this endeavor! Tell you all about the results when the films get processed. Meanwhile lets look at some fun and funky lomo cameras from Lomography.com.
Now let’s drool over these true blue vintage cameras from Camera Museum Shoppe.
Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas’ series of animal portraits is on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art as part of its Now exhibition series. The Now series showcases the work of living, emerging or mid-career artists, who are invited to create new work for installation in the gallery’s rotunda.
For this installation, Dumas captured portraits of burial horses in Arlington Cemetery, who carry the bodies of fallen soldiers to their final resting place. For most of her work, Dumas usually creates animal portraits, attempting to provide intimate glimpses of the animals’ lives.
The horses at Arlington Cemetery have very noble and important work; they are responsible in giving fallen servicemen and women their final honors in military burials. Dumas photographed the horses in their stables at night, between their waking and sleeping hours.
Courtesy Charlotte Dumas via the Corcoran Gallery of Art
Dumas claims her inspiration from the portrait painting of Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. This influence is clearly shown in the way she composes her photographs. Shadows and light surround her subjects, giving a soft, illuminated atmosphere to the photographs that create a sense of intimacy. The warm colors in the portraits welcome the viewer into these intimate moments with the horses. Dumas invites us to consider our relationship to animals and their roles in our lives beyond the tasks they perform or the places they inhabit.
Apart from the horse portraits, the exhibition also shows some of Dumas’ previous work, which include portraits of dogs and wolves. The exhibition is her first solo show in a US museum.
Portraiture is an intimate art form that creates a bond between the artist and the subject, allowing the subject’s inner personality and essence to come forth in the representation. While her medium is classical, Dumas’ methods and her choice of subject give her work relevance and brevity. Through her photographs we see the raw, majestic beauty of the animals she photographs. We see them at the same perspective as we see ourselves, as living creatures that inhabit the world and give the earth is soul.
Learn more about the exhibition and hear Dumas speak about her work in this video:
Anima is on View at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC until October 2012.