Martin Amis, This Land, Review by Brad Feuerhelm

Martin Amis, from This Land

Martin Amis, from This Land

… as part of my program of disengaging from Feedly (a google product) i have been migrating feeds to Feedbin… this morning i migrated news and photography feeds and i am catching up on what has happened recently (forget about what i missed, it was too much to catch up on!)…

… Brad Feuerhelm is another of my favorite photography book reviewers… in contrast with Jonathan Blaustein’s down to earth conversational style, BF is more considered, thoughtful in his reviews… there is a touch of the serious poet in his approach to writing about the books he reviews… an attempt to render in a literary way what he has experienced visually in the book at hand… an example:

When we think of this land, by birthright or other nomadic means, we are reminded of our traipsing, our travels, our genesis, and our need for home, however temporary. This land is glacial. This land defines us. It places us on the long contiguous cartography of being human. It moves ever so slightly to overgrow the previous year’s warrens and dens, to combat the desire paths we form as necessary shortcuts over 1000s of years, these paths befit of the constraints of time between points of fixity allying A and B. This land slumbers and turns slowly, gravity is its only force majeure. This land is how we define our position. It is the rotating compass beneath our feet.1

… this morning’s book review was on work that reminds me somewhat of my own… it’s all in black and white… it’s all landscapes… no people in any of the photos shared in the article…


  1. Feuerhelm, Brad, Martin Amis, This Land: martin-amis-this-land.html [return]

Guido Guidi

another article by Brad Feuerhelm for ASX… this one on Guido Guidi’s Cinque Viaggi 1990-1998… another photographer who photographs the evidence of people much more than people themselves… just look at this landscape…

Guido Guidi, from Cinque Viaggi 1990-1998

… mentioned also in this article is Gerry Johansson, another of my photographer heroes… another who focuses much more on the evidence of people than the people themselves… i get my courage to move forward from these photographers… i understand them and it starts to occur to me… a hypothesis if you will… is the depiction of people much more prevalent in photography by women than in photography by men?… i am thinking i need to review more carefully the photography i love, and see what binds it together…

The Evidence of People, Not the People

… all of the photography work i am viewing this morning is of people… extremely heavy emphasis on people… i don’t photograph people and don’t seem to be in the mood to look at photographs of people… i much prefer the absence of people, in life, in the photographs i make… i do photograph the evidence of people, all the time… the evidence is more interesting to me than the people themselves, or at least, the evidence does not protest when i make a picture, does not present itself as a being that will get angry with me for intruding… and then this article on the work of Mark Templeton in ASX, by Brad Feuerhelm… and this image…

Mark Templeton from Ocean Front Property

Mark Templeton has taken notice. Though the refutation of another place is not the aim of this work, what Templeton suggests, by acknowledging the infernal desire to leave as quickly as possible and as far away as possible, is that what we are seeking is not the place itself, but rather the journey away from ourselves, and he is rightly critical of that practice. He has noted that we never seem happy enough with where we are. We have been produced and educated with this in mind. We litter our surfaces with the promise of water, and, without remorse or candor, we embark recklessly towards entropy inasmuch as we refuse to stop expanding our movements. All heat cools. All light fades. And yet it would be a shame, in this broad and beautiful geography, if we could not take time to measure ourselves against what is most precious: the home, the family, and the will to accept that our lives are fleeting no matter where our feet finally place themselves.1

… the emphasis i have placed on the one sentence above is because it so aligns with my experience of those close to me… what is is never good enough, and lives slip away, beautiful present moment by beautiful present moment, unnoticed because we are continually dreaming of some better, happier life down the road…

Mark Templeton from Ocean Front Property

… i love the above photograph… and would you believe that i prefer the decrepit urban landscape to the hot tub bliss depicted on the billboard?… i know, i’m weird… H will confirm that to you… she understands my preference, but has long wanted a hot tub…

… if my funds were limitless, or even less bounded than they are, i would buy this book… it looks very good and BF’s essay about it is good too…

03 On Photography, Max Sher:

Max Sher, from Palimpsests, published by Ad Marginem

… i love photography books… i have a small collection and love looking through them… i have long wanted to center my own photography practice around the making of books by hand, the artist object… this seems to make the most sense as a way to deal with the thousands of images i collect each year…

… because i love photography books there are a number of reviewers that i follow religiously… Brad Feuerhelm is one of them…

… this morning he reviews Palimpsests, a book by Max Sher, an emergent Russian photographic artist…

… the images are de-populated urban scapes in the tradition of Stephen Shore and New Topographics… they focus on places where the new is overlaying the old… it is highly recommended by BF… i wish i had an endless pot of money for photo book purchase and to build a library to house my thus ever growing collection…

04 Jenna Westra, Afternoons

Jena Westra, from Afternoons

… Brad Feuerhelm gives this book a highest recommendation, stating that it is as near perfect a photobook as could be… i recognize the name of the artist which makes it likely i’ve run across the work before…

In the case Jenna Westra’s Afternoons (Hassla, 2020), several factors within the book suggest a return to the body as an act less of political dialogue, but more as an act of balance. Westra employs gesture and a number of interesting sculptural tactics to create a world where the feminine is embraced without men involved at all and unlike Girl Pictures, the emphasis is not on fantasy, but on reality, collaboration, and intimacy.1

… the book is about the shape and form of women… young women… it feeds my rabbit hole… i ordered it…

08 Keld Helmer-Petersen

Brad Feuerhelm tells us he is a pioneer in the use of color photography, not completely groundbreaking, but with significant accomplishments…

Being first or the most original is not everything. I can say with 100% conviction that though Helmer-Petersen may not have been the first artist to invoke a particular affinity to konkrete Photographie, Deformations (After Penn) geometric abstraction, or silhouetting as found in many of his sub-interests, I can say that his execution of these subjects was masterful.1

… this need to break new ground, to be masterfully breaking new ground, what is it?… isn’t it enough to be a master of the ground you stand on?…

… these sentences catch my attention…

Largely due to the lack of economy afforded to artists working in photography at the time, unpaid work could largely be de-manacled from its relationship to the market. As the market would not develop in American until the late 1970s, this allowed artist working with the medium in the first half of the twentieth century a freedom to create bodies of work which existed independently from one another. The artists were not expected to form a career from highly stylized and easily recognizable features thus making experimentation a pursuit that would be rewarded with approval from one’s colleagues over the pressures of the gallery to perform sequential hits. The downside of course is that one’s life in photography may continue on forever unobserved outside of intimate circles.2