ok. you guys all know I’m from Germany. We don’t have cowboys there (or at least I don’t know of any). Having lived here for quite some time, I’ve become accustomed to this facet of American culture. BUT! This is new to me—as seen on Oyster—Gay Rodeo. Photographer Mike Piscitelli offers up this photo essay. I love this so much.
Brian Ulrich has spent ten years documenting the many layers of infinite commercialism to be found in our country. The series touches on the economic implications of over-consumption, highlights the particularities of not being able to consider anything due to too much being available and makes a full circle when some of the stores first visited end up dark and empty as the economy plummeted. Ulrich set this all up in three chapters—RETAIL, THRIFT, and DARK STORES.
An incredible insight. Spend some time looking and absorbing.
I always admire other people’s style. I love to dream about being that inventive and that coordinated and that bold and bright and RAD. Which brings me to my latest tumblr obsession. The Daily Ray. A blog about Aaron—his fashion, accessories and brilliant quotes—and some guest characters… Where can I sign up for fashion class? (PS: The above fabulorious necklace is a “success-ory”)
This sunday will mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11. On Wednesday, NYC mayor Bloomberg and almost everyone else working on the new World Trade Center site held a press conference to give yet another thin update on building progress. I feel like the process has been long and empty – but I was thrilled to see Silverstein properties come out with a moving video to re-stimulate my interest and connection to the site.
The video (more like a short film, really) mixes live action, tilt shift and impressive CGI effects to tell the story of a new World Trade Center. Surprisingly, (though it’s been a big piece of the winners and losers bidding to build) there are green spaces and water features. It’s calm and thriving and new and somehow, even with it’s soaring heights, modest. After all NYC and the rest of the country have been through, it seems like a high point. Finally, after all this time.
Also, here is a link to an incredible article that my good friend sent me on grief and western culture’s abandonment of grieving rituals. It just makes me think about all those times when I felt a splinter of anger rise up in me when someone very, very far removed from the tragedy of 9/11 somehow makes a distant connection to the death and destruction via the friend of a 3rd cousing or something. I used to think that they had no right to feel the same way I felt about 9/11 – I was there, they were in Wisconsin or something. I’m rethinking that now. In a situation this big and sad, I guess we all need to grieve.
This Sunday, I’ll take a moment to remember that day back in 2001 and thank all the men and women involved in responding, recovering and rebuilding. I hope you do too.
Ziemowat Maj emailed us recently to share a new series of his called ‘The Unpowerful.‘ The severity & loneliness of the compositions was appealing to me right away, but I was intrigued when he described the series as a depiction of ‘the current political scene’ in London. I didn’t pick up on that from the images, so I asked him to elaborate. This was his response -
” I try to depict the tensions I see in the British society as I see them daily on the street – to touch on the issues of class, gender, race (most visibly in the shot with the painting, but that theme in present constantly, I find it absurd in England), current financial downhill and the way unprivileged classes here deal with it daily – and still I try to bypass the journalist tradition, as I’m not interested in working that way. I hope I can create more iconic and timeless images, that derive from current situations, but will be interesting after this conditions change as well. A lot of my work is instinct based, those major topics are in the back of my head, but I don’t shoot to ‘illustrate an idea’, I shoot when I ‘see a good image’ in front of me.”
I think this a great example of an artist forced into explaining one of the most fundamental aspects of their art and art in general. Tension. So often artists are forced to explain the subject matter of their work in literal contexts so that those interested can understand the message or statement they were trying to make. This can be a really difficult thing to do. That’s why you’ll often here artists begin an explanation of a work with what the piece is literally ‘about’ only for them to deflate the explanation later with ‘but it’s not really about that.’ This is because they are trying to communicate or capture elemental emotions or ideas that transcend the literal context in which they are represented. And so very often – this idea is tension or conflict.
If any of that can be deemed as reasonable, then the thing I often wonder about is whether the literal, contextual explanation is necessary for the piece to be deemed ‘good’ art. Does the piece need to tell a story or send a clear message, or can it just evoke an idea or a feeling in the viewer for them to interpret as they will? I go back and forth over whether the info cards at galleries are at all necessary because of this question. Do they add anything to the viewers experience? I would argue that on some occasions, they detract from work itself because it forces viewers down a certain channel of thinking and can completely alter how they interpret the piece. Which, in my opinion, negates the whole point of art.
Instagram doesn’t need any introduction. What I like even more than this wildly popular app though is when awesome people make something out of it, or use it to create new stories. Like Callie Peck, NYC based all-around talent—on Instagram as Cest Quoi—interviewing people with amazing diptych portraits to go with the words (click on comments).
I can’t remember how I found Araminta’s work exactly but I can remember that my first thought was it’s the places you’re willing to go to, the people you’re willing to talk to that make you a great photographer. Photography is kind of common, amateur these days and by these days I guess you could argue that means all the days after Kodak began weeding out professional equipment and replacing it with point and shoot snapshot toys even a child can use. Not that I don’t use them myself on the daily. Not that amatuers aren’t snapping beautiful, captivating pictures.
So if it’s not the equipment that separates the pros from the bros, then I think maybe it has to do more with courage, adventure and plain old, undying curiosity about people and places all over the world, no?