CARHENGE – celebrating myth in NEBRASKA

 

Carhenge, along Country Road 59 near the city of Alliance, Nebraska, is a replica of Stonehenge, England. Built by Jim Reinders as a memorial to his father, is formed by American cars all painted in gray spray paint; it was dedicated at the June 1987 Summer solstice.

Frequently used in popular culture, it has made appearances in movies, Omaha by Dan Mirvish, on books covers, Velocity by Nancy Krygowski, and mentioned in travel books, 1,000 Places to See in the USA & Canada Before You Die.

FANTASTIC VOYAGE – a photo book by ARTHUR TRESS

FANTASTIC VOYAGE

Arthur Tress, Photographs 1956 – 2000

 

“I always tried to organize the immense quantity of images and inputs that reached my mind and invade my senses through my camera”. There’s in fact a continuum in Arthur Tress’ works, absolutely one of the most prolific and diversified American contemporary photographers, apparently very different but all tied by dreams and imagination.

“A lot of kids take snap shots, but I grew up in Brooklyn in the 40s and 50s, when being gay and full of ideas didn’t help to make friends. So I was taking pictures that would talk on my behalf”. Young Arthur was hiding away in the “wonders stuffed attic” of the Egyptian Collection at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, or in the nearby dream-like Japanese Garden at the Botanical Garden. With such a background it isn’t surprising that the work that gave Tress notoriety, and is still considered his most representative work, is Dream Collector, developed in the 70s and partly inspired to the Italian Surrealism. “For the making of Dream Collector I wanted to reproduce emotions, fears and expectations. I tried to remember the dreams I had in my childhood and I asked friends and kids in the streets ”.

Tress has never considered image manipulation nor digital photography as an option, he puts big emphasis in the image composition but never used models: “models are boring and unnatural, I prefer ordinary street goers, friends and kids”.

Arthur Tress has never shot fashion or celebrities to make more money. Even in commercial photography he’s always looking for the fantastic as well as seeking a strong tie with his senses. He used to take portraits for Esquire Magazine and now produces many mystery book covers that draw inspiration from the Shadow series. “Back in the 70s anthropologists were talking about shaman’s powers, mental perceptions, nighttime mental journeys and psychologic journeys. I created a mythological figure, a Dancing Shadow, that would have told one of these journeys to the outside world”. Shadow, the photographer’s self shadow, appears in many sequences composed of single images: The Prisoner, The Search, The Journey, The Town, The Labyrinth, The Valley of Marvels, The Ancestors, Initiations, The Pilgrim, Call and Messages, The Magic Flight, Transformations and The Illumination. “Somebody once told me I could have done short movies out of the sequences, but I think there’s enough meaning in every single image: every shot can absolutely stand on its own”.

As a matter of fact there’s no documentary side in Tress’ images, and once organized in a chronological order it’s clear how they reflect the changes in Arthur Tress himself. “I started from a witness-like photography to end up with an image that tells about my magical side. My image has evolved”. This is the main reason why Tress considers contemporary photography trivial: “there’s a big deal regarding snap shots, museums all over the country make huge prints out of an image of people sunbathing on a beach. It might be that photographers, fearing the digital challenge, have gone back to the origin of photography. My work is much more personal and sophisticated”.

Forty-five years of absolutely high quality work, always changing and evolving, gave Arthur Tress the honor of a vast retrospective exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC in summer 2001. “When they told me they wanted to make a retrospective I turned sad and told myself: How can it be? I’m not at the end of my career. And then they also showed my very last works, the ones made with the aid of a crystal paper weight. So, I told myself again: This might be the bridge toward the future: the 3D images I’m working at present time, cutting and pasting to produce something like those pop-ups in kids’ books”.

Maybe this is the secret of Tress’ art: let the day tell us what to do, play with what’s around us, look at the world through a child’s eye.

Michele Molinari

all images © Arthur Tress

 

Fantastic Voyage: 55 color plates, 180 duotone plates, 39 B&W plates.

Male of the Species: The naked man, fetish and dream.

Theater of Mind: A small paper Opera theatre and mind’s games.

Fish Tank Sonata: A fish tank full of weird object and dolls, and the beachm the pond, the ocean as background.

 


THE SKY BOOK – a photo book by RICHARD MISRACH

THE SKY BOOK

“There’s a series of skies where I’ll pick a place on a map, like a Rand McNally map, and go to that place and photograph the sky. What’s in the photograph is not clouds, there’s no horizon line. There’s nothing in there. It’s really atmosphere, light. My idea was that the photographs become a Rorschachs. What gives it its conceptual meaning is the name of the place. Each of the places is keyed by where I took it.”

Richard Misrach

“Not since Alfred Stieglitz photographed clouds in the 1920s has a photographer made so much of the earth’s atmosphere and precious little else …. the results are as emotionally evocative as Stieglitz wanted his cloud “Equivalents” to be, and as purified of quotidian reality as any painting by Mark Rothko or Robert Motherwell.

NYT Book Review

Skies wider than imagination and colors that defy man’s memories: Misrach’s images are broadening the perception of the sky and giving it an identity. It’s the methaphor of a travel toward the quiet meditation, the impulse to fall in a Real image.

Michele Molinari

all images © Richard Misrach

buy The Sky Book

ALL AMERICAN – a photo book by BARBARA DIJKHUIS and AUKE VLEER

ALL AMERICAN

Barbara Dijkhuis & Auke Vleer

 

– The wonder of America is its National Parks and cities’ majestic buildings.

– [Yawn] We’ve heard this so many times. Tell me more, what else?

– People, faces, horizons.

– Hum, yeah, it could be, you’re getting closer.

– I’ve got an idea, let’s ask somebody that doesn’t live here, a couple of foreigners that come virgin-eyed and travel the States West-to-East.

– Hey, good idea, that’s just what Dutch designer Barbara Dijkhuis and photographer Auke Vleer did.

all american is the visual photo diary of a 5,000 mile journey from LA to NY, illustrated by 750 photos chosen from a few thousand originals, which give us a perception many American eyes can no longer.

all american is not concerned with canyons, arches or spires, however impressive they may be. It’s not about old quarters, mile-long bridges or sleepless cities. Rather it’s about the people that live amongst these wonders, passing their days inside X-mas lit American houses, driving on American cars toward serene American sunsets and flashing around huge American smiles. It’s a visual reality we often miss because we see it everyday. But it’s anything but ordinary. Dijkhuis and Vleer reveal the core of American life and landscape in its subtle and beautiful simplicity.

Double page photos of La’s swamps, NM vast desert, NC foggy valleys alternate with pages of Very Large Array, Ca and Nv residents, kids’ smiles and WV beer drinkers. Then come the breath-taking beautiful twenty-pictures-page series: the motel room decoration is style un-inspiring; the landscape sooths the spirit; the driver is exhilarating and the rear mirror is genius.

The book opens with a 3,000-word Tyler Whisnand sentence that is one of the most original declarations of love to his own country: America.

Michele Molinari

all images © Barbara Dijkhuis & Auke Vleer

The book opens into a map: the route from Los Angeles to New York, mainly driven on backroads.

Miliage numbers on the map correspond with the miliage numbers in the book images.

Buy all american.

 

DEATH ROW – Angola, Louisiana State PENITENTIARY

The world continued to move toward abolition in 2009. The number of countries that have removed capital punishment entirely from their laws rose to 95 as Burundi and Togo abolished the death penalty for all crimes. While 58 countries retained the death penalty, most did not use it. Eighteen countries were known to have carried out executions, killing a total of 714 people. The United States came fourth in rank, after China, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, with 52 executions.

However, this figure does not include the thousands of executions that were likely to have taken place in China, which again refused to divulge figures on its use of the death penalty. In fact, since the outcries of the international community has become more fervent, certain countries still mantain the executions secret. This mostly happens were the press is muted.

Many humanitarian associations fight daily to abolish a nation’s right to decide the life, and the death, of their citizens. Among the most important are Amnesty International and Hands Off Cain. To help make change is easy, sometimes it’s enough to spread the word to open the eyes of those whom do not want to see.

More information about humanitarian organizations: The Moratorium CampaignDerechos.

Many more links: 1000+ Death Penalty Links.

Some reading suggestions:

– The Green Mile, a novel by Stephen King

– Dead Man Walking, a novel by Sister Helen Prejean

– Condemned: Inside the Sing Sing Death House, by Scott Christianson, Director of New York Death Penalty Documentation Project

– Against the Death Penalty: Christian and Secular Arguments Against Capital Punishment , by Gardner C. Hanks

– Cell 2455, Death Row, by Caril Chessman inmate; an insider view.

FLOPHOUSE – a photo book by HARWEY WANG

FLOPHOUSE

Life on the Bowery

photography by Harvey Wang, text by David Isay and Stacy Abramson

“This book takes you places you don’t want to enter, to people you don’t want to meet, to lives you think you don’t want to live – and makes you rethink all your assumptions. It reveals the tremendous strenght and humanity ot those who are usually ignored. And as you pay attention, your own humanity expands.”

Susan Stamberg, special correspondent, NPR

Flophouse is not a place where you want to live. You might get a Manhattan address for something like 10-15 bucks per night, but it’s not glamorous at all. You’ll be on the Bowery, with no A/C, with bedbugs, with a cubicle as a bedroom and chicken wire up above your head to give you privacy. But you’ll still hear farts, burps and nightmare’s screams from your fellows: the flop mates.

So, why do you want to live in a Flophouse? I don’t really want to go there, but, was it that your lady kicked you out of the shack ‘cause you were drunk all the time, or you couldn’t stand the Midwest any longer and then found that New York fucking City is too much for you, or you want to feel totally free since nobody gives you a damn on the Bowery.

Come, come on here, come to rest on the warm and soft belly of the City, come to where you’ll be yourself, time stands still and life get suspended.

And be nice, pose for the photographer. He’s shooting faces, places. He’s shooting souls throught the eyes, he’s telling your life in a pic, he’s making it rich and interesting. Because, you know, you might be a flop, but you have full hands of humanity to give.

Michele Molinari

all images © Harvey Wang

Buy Flophouse.

AMERICAN NIGHT – a photography book by PAUL GRAHAM

American Night is not about the glamorous gloom of the after hours nor the exhilarating Bright Lights Big City atmosphere. There are no lights involved, but rather a subtle therefore powerful depiction of American society as seen through the eyes of an English-born photographer now living in New York City.

Graham has wandered downtowns and residential areas alike, juxtaposing the sprawling immaculate suburbs of the American West and the rundown rat-infested neighborhoods, transmiting the disparity between social classes, the differences in their quality of life expectations for the future. Instead of focusing on the blatant differences, he develops an elegant idea that goes far beyond the perfectly balanced composition and pinpoint lighting: the selection of less-obvious images that we all encounter daily, almost subconsciously, but that few of us take notice of.

The obvious is a big house with a nice spotless car parked in front, printed in full color like a birthday party picture.

The less obvious is a solitary figure walking along a highway, looking for scraps in a garbage bin or passing by a line of car for sale that he’d never be able to afford to buy, printed like it has been washed, as if to obliterate it from sight.

The only time when solitaries figures are printed in full color, they are is in sharp crude-as-life light situation.

A powerful collection of images that brings together dreams and reality, people with a future and those with only a present.

Michele Molinari

all images @ Paul Graham

 

Buy American Night

Paul Graham has been the recipient of many awards including a Eugene Smith Memorial Followship. His work has been exhibited extensively, including at the MoMA, NY, and the Tate Gallery, London. Previously published books include Troubled Land, New EuropeEmpty Heaven and End of an Age.

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