What i read…

Exclusive: Nadia Lee Cohen’s Powerful Portraits of Strong Femininity, Ted Stansfield, AnOther Magazine… Nadia Lee Cohen turns the idea of Male/Female gaze into something quite different…

Power is the key word here – these images vibrate with the stuff. They confront you. Command you. Compel you. Meet your gaze head on. And they are full of contradictions, too: simultaneously retro and modern, they draw on a legacy of British and American cinema, but feel new and current. Likewise they are staged and stylised, but at the same time real and irrefutably raw. Meanwhile, the women themselves display both a vulnerability and a strength, presenting a fictional character and also their true self, or at least a version of it. It’s hard to look away and even harder not to feel something.

… i read that this project took six years to accomplish… i admire the discipline of a woman in her 20’s… i imagine they have fierce ambition and incredible focus…

Inside Nadia Lee Cohen’s New Book of Chameleonic Self-Portraits, Ted Stansfield, AnOther Magazine… not a unique idea, but a unique execution of the idea…

Place: Ikea Parking Lot, Anelise Chen, Believer Magazine… i plunge in to reading the article and immediately like it… as i am reading, i get the strong impression that i am inhabiting the thoughts of a woman… i knew, without having seen who the author was, that it was a woman…

For me, extended time in parking lots has always signified an emergency, precise moments of narrative dissolution: one version of the good life has come apart irretrievably, and you must, humbly, construct another. Outside hospitals and motels, breakups and breakdowns. I paced because pacing feels like the good, primal thing to do when a body is penned in. It’s what lions and tigers do in their zoo enclosures. Back and forth, up and around, prowl, prowl, repeat. I organized my movements by row: up and down the parking rows toward the now-dim signs for exchanges, returns, exit, enter. The circularity of the movements, plus the weird, abstract commands, felt cosmic. I was in an undetermined space of pure matter, performing a ritual of eternal reincarnation, living many lives.

… didn’t love the way this piece ended, but i love the idea of pacing in super large parking lots to clear one’s head, and then, beginning to pay attention to what is in that lot, which is way more than one would think…

Stuff I’ve Been Reading: Rickie Lee Jones, Emma Dabiri, and More, Nick Hornby, Believer Magazine… a set of well written and compelling impressions of the books in question… impressions seems the right word, because i don’t read these as critical reviews, just an accounting of a book enjoyed thoroughly… also, in the course of reading these impressions i encounter the author referring to themselves as ‘he’ again… it happened in the article above, which led me to search for information on the author and confirm that they present as female and refer to themselves as ‘she’… so now i am wondering what is going on… is being gender confusing a thing and i am out of the loop? Hmmm…

… and now i discover that Summer Thomad is not the author of the articles i am reading, but for some reason comes up with the byline when the articles feed through to Feedbin… i circle back and follow the links through to the Believer Mag website and find the actual authors and switch credit accordingly and the pronoun mystery continues because it turns out i am right about the parking lot article, written by a (Asian) woman… her bio on Wikipedia refers to them as ‘her’ and ‘she’ while she self-refers as male in the body of the article… hmmm some more…

… by the way, i really like The Believer Magazine

Nietzsche on Walking and Creativity, Maria Popova, The Marginalian… i am a walker… i walk every day… my daily goal is at least 10K steps… right now, my weekly average is close to 15K steps… i walk, i think, i make pictures… this has gotten me through the pandemic in good shape… it turns out that Maria Popova is a walker too…

Almost everything I write, I “write” in the notebook of the mind, with the foot in motion — what happens at the keyboard upon returning from the long daily walks that sustain me is mostly the work of transcription.

Maria Popova’s recommendations on reading are always compelling… i have found so much of what i read through her…

Senator Blumenthal Delivered Speech at Communist Party Awards, Brittany Bernstein, National Review… red bating is a time honored tradition of conservatives… this reads like a political hit job… is there something wrong with what Blumenthal did?… why should his wealth-by-wife be any more of an issue than Mitch McConnel’s?… i am fine with socialist policies… not so much with communism… i also believe in freedom of association and speech…

Gone Too Far, Brendan Dougherty, The National Review… refreshing for this substantially right of center magazine to publish an article stating that:

But the riot at the Capitol happened because President Donald Trump simply lied, and lied, and lied. On that very day he lied about what the vice president’s powers were. “All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president, and you are the happiest people,” he told the crowd.

What I Read Today…

  • Letters from an American, December 02, 2021: the government got funded last night and Heather Cox Richardson explains why that strengthens our hand on the international stage…
  • Ridley Scott’s Dyspeptic Disposition: a review of Ridley Scott’s film making career… a promise that Raised by Wolves will be released winter 2022…
  • my journal entries from weeks 5 & 6 of 2021… i am trying to review my journal for the year… two weeks a day should get me through the entire 2021 journal by Christmas… certainly before the new year… i am making sure everything is tagged so that i can filter content into significant people, reading and thought trends… in weeks 5 and 6 i continue to make my way through Simone de Beauvoir’s _The Second Sex_…
  • Dinaya Waeyaert Come Closer: i read the review, written by Brad Feuerhelm and glean that it is a photobook about two women who love each other… one is the photographer… it is a book about intimacy which BF’s hyper-intellectual style barely is able to crack into… i go to the photographer’s website which has a full presentation of the project, opening with a short film… it is a beautiful testament of one young human being’s love of (obsession with?) another young human being, with it’s all enveloping sexual attraction, action and reaction bubble… how well i remember those days in my own relationship with H… this appears to be a beautifully done project… i put it on my to get list…
  • A Conversation With 10x10 Photobooks: in which i am reminded of a book i would like to own, What They Saw: Historical Photobooks by Women, which Colberg points out was in part put together to address the dearth of women in The Photobook: A History, volumes 1 and 2, which i own copies of… what they saw is also on my to get list…

Eikoh Hosoe

Photograph by Eikoh Hose

Guts and Ghosts: The Radical Legacy of Japanese Photographer Eikoh Hose

… there are so many Japanese photographers I love… Eikoh Hosoe is another one… this book from MACK is on my list if i get a windfall…

Photobooks by Women

… one of my great interests, women and photography… women as subject(object?), women as photographers, women as critics of photography, women as curators of photography, and on and on…

this article in AnOther is a long list of women who have made important photobooks… well worth a gander if at all interested in photography and women photographers who have blazed trails…

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]

Stacy Arezou Mehrfar: The Moon Belongs to Everyone

… as i look through the review, not really sure i can call it that as the reviewer doesn’t take a position on the book that I can see, if don’t find an image that is compelling in and of itself… i get many of the images, but don’t love any of the images, and have a sense that the photographs are gathered to become something more than they are individually… this image is an example:

… an image that most any photographer with a bit of a poetic spirit might make…

The Moon Belongs to Everyone by Stacy Mehrfar, is a response to the contemporary experience of migration – of shifting continents and mindsets. A multi-layered visual narrative set in a non-locatable landscape, the book reflects upon the loss of roots, and search for belonging in the wake of immigration.1

… it might sound like i am panning the book, i am not… i don’t have it in my possession, so can’t take it in entirely… i have only the images shared in this review and the artists statement about the work to go by… i am attracted by the idea of it and its alignment with a spirit within photography which doesn’t view each individual image as precious, but rather places the emphasis on the story they collectively tell…

Bruce Haley, Home Fires. Vol.I: The Past

reviewed by Jonathan Blaustein… based on the review, i would buy the book if i had much disposable cash… it’s about ecological disaster… maybe i need something more uplifting…

Soft Copy Hard Copy, Stephan Keppel

… a book review by Jörg Colberg and GPT-3…

… Colberg experiments with an AI writing partner… to be honest, i don’t like the results very much… i laud the attempt but think it does a disservice to book and author, as the language is a bit clumsy, somewhat repetitive and all the while, one wonders, what is human reaction to the book and what is AI reaction to the human reaction?… it obscures an honest review and appreciation (or not) of the book, though your mileage may vary…

… there are two reasons this article caught my attention… Colberg wrote it and i have high regard for his reviewer perceptions and knowledge of photography, and his AI co-author had come to my attention in an article i read the other day in which a woman author was telling the story of something significant and sad that had happened to her (her sister dying of cancer when she was a teenager)… she would start a paragraph and let the AI complete it, experimenting with getting more and more honest with her own thoughts and memories in her prompts along the way to see how the AI writer responded… her result was more coherent and satisfying, but also suspect, because as humans, we want to read what other humans think and feel, not what an AI partner intuits that we think or feel…

… the gorilla in the room, however, is, will there be a moment when we won’t know if we are reading words assembled by a human or AI (a variation on the Turing test) if we are not told? (as i was in both articles i have read with AI co-authorship)… and what are the implications of that?… or, more scary, have i already read an article either co-authored or solo authored by AI without knowing it?… hmmm…

… there is a wider conversation to have about AI in general… I shared a micro poem about that yesterday… but that is for another time…

James Whiting, Roaming Near the Fireplace

… this photobook intrigues me… it is about people, civilization if you will, without many images of people… my kind of book, since i am somewhat averse to photographing people myself…

… it is available in an edition of 100 for $65 dollars, and i would buy it, but money is tight right now…

… this is not the sort of book that is popular in the United States, given its oblique approach to generating meaning… i am reminded that i was once told to pedal my work in Europe where there might be a more receptive audience… this kind of work is like that, more suited to a European audience… but hay, it’s the same with Jazz, isn’t it?…

AnOther promises: The Best Art and Photography Books to Buy This Summer

… human centric… as in all humans all the time… not that there aren’t good works in the lot… it’s just that, maybe, if humanity spent less time on its selfies and more time on appreciating anything other than self, perhaps the planet wouldn’t be the mess that it is…

Catherine Opie

a retrospective volume of her photographs… the review talks about her prolific production, that it is normally organized chronologically, that in this volume, it is organized thematically… i am not sure i am as interested in the photographs as i am the words, prolific, chronological and thematic, all three of which apply to my work…

 Jörg Colberg, On Art and Neo Liberal Society

From The Merge by Sara Brincher Galbiati, Peter Helles Eriksen, and Tobias Selnaes Markussen

… watch this video demonstrating the current capabilities of robots created by Boston Dynamics…

https://youtu.be/fn3KWM1kuAw

… then read this

… and if you need more encouragement, this…

 But when the sum of it all — the (art) community — largely fails to respond to all the various challenges to our societies, democracies, and well being, then I’m left to wonder where it all went wrong.

Maybe it’s simply the fact that the world of art has become too enmeshed with the very people who are responsible for the challenges I just mentioned. Why or how? Simply follow the money.1

… the article is significant to me less for the book it reviews, which it pans, than for the conversation it starts, which to me is, wtf are we doing?…


  1. Jorg Colberg, Into the Technological Sublime [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…

Seabound by Elina Brotherus

Elina Brotherus’ new photobook, Seabound, is visually arresting…

…she photographs herself in varying landscapes by the Norwegian coast line, which the review of the book points out is the second longest in the world due to all the nooks and crannies… stretched out in a straight line it would wrap around the earth two and one half times…

… i am struck by the very painterly nature of the images… landscapes with her singular figure in the midst… i am struck by the carefully thought out wardrobe, clothing always chosen to match or contrast colors in the photograph… each photograph is meticulously framed, i am guessing she works with a large format camera?…

Like many of Brotherus’ past works, Seabound holds strong links to wider visual contexts, especially those found in art history. When she first arrived in Kristiansand in the winter of 2018, Brotherus visited the Sørlandets Kunstmuseum (the Southern Norway Art Museum), searching for historical depictions of the area. In the museum’s 19th-century landscape paintings, she found dramatic, romantic, and intense reflections of the coastline, a style that is echoed throughout Seabound. In doing so, Brotherus ties herself, and her images, into the wider context of Norwegian art history.1

04 If I Had $85

… i might get this book… it promises an interesting portrait of China… from the sales page of the book…

History of Life is a collection of 415 restored photographs chronicling the history of modern China, from 1910s to the late 1990s. Compiled from over 600,000 negatives, Cai Dongdong curated the book using salvaged negatives from ordinary Chinese citizens and public records which he developed, scanned and selected. Adding a few of his own pictures into the story, the artist crafted his interpretation of the birth and growth of modern China over 3 of the country’s most formative eras: the founding of the Republic, the cultural revolution, and the post-Mao era.1

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…