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October 10th, 2013

Part Art and Book Fair, Part Photo Fest, Unseen Delivers Energy, Mixed Reviews From Sellers in Second Year

© Amber Terranova

© Thijs Boontjes

In its second year, Unseen Art Fair drew an international audience to Amsterdam to view previously un-exhibited work from established artists and emerging talents. Set against the industrial backdrop of a repurposed nineteenth century coal gas power plant, the “art fair with a festival flair,” as organizers dubbed it, featured plenty of energy and excitement, but drew mixed reactions from gallerists, with some noting that combining an art fair, book fair and photo festival, with artist talks and other programming, distracted from the business of print sales. (more…)

April 17th, 2012

Fotofest Standouts

This year I attended the third of four, four-day portfolio review sessions at Fotofest’s Fourteenth International Biennial of Photography. Fotofest, organized by Fred Baldwin and Wendy Watriss, is the largest international portfolio review in the Untied States. Fotofest reviewers see 14 or more photographers per day, which makes it challenging for photographers to stand out.

I asked some of my fellow reviewers to share their thoughts on memorable work they saw. Here’s what they wrote:

Frazier King, ChairHouston Center for Photography

I would like to highlight the new work that is being done by Laurie Lambrecht.  Laurie’s new work is comprised of outtakes of the Chinese landscape—a kind of micro mundi. It is as if she was guided by ancient silk weavers to their points of inspiration. Each of the images compresses the landscape, sometimes in a trompe l’oeil fashion, so that the print looks like a silk weaving. Each image is not only beautiful but also very visually mysterious and intriguing.

Chantel Paul, Curatorial Assistant, Museum of Photographic Arts (San Diego)

On Thursday, the final day of reviews, I met with Mariela Sancari. Her series “El caballo de dos cabezas,” depicting the process of grieving and reconciliation Mariela and her identical twin sister experienced after their father committed suicide when the girls were 14 brought a well of emotional response for me. I am still thinking about the moment of clarity when I read her images and wonder if the intense emotion it brought stemmed from my own close relationship with my younger sister. Whatever the reason, these images touched me in a way that was incredible and not easily forgotten.

Hava Gurevich, Director, Art 2 Art

Lucia Herrero
Project: Tribes

I liked [Herrero’s] “anthropological” take on a typical family activity. The work has an immediate visual strength to it, but also a good conceptual base that resonates with me: she is looking at her own culture, and a very mundane activity, and very average people. But the images reveal something very profound to me, about our material culture, about subtle differences between generations, and ethnic groups… She uses the tools she has (lighting, lenses, direction) with great technical skill—which gives the images a heightened drama.

Artist: Paul Lange
Project: Fowl Portraits

The idea of implementing traditional portraiture standards to these birds is whimsical, theatrical, and majestic. These portraits really need to be seen printed large because the detail is gorgeous, and the character revealed in these beautiful birds is undeniable. The response to these images is direct and immediate… you either connect with them, or not.  I don’t think there is a big underlying concept, other than respect and awe for these creatures.

Artist: Lais Pontes
Project: Born Nowhere

Lais takes self-portraits that she skillfully manipulates digitally and then releases on a social media site for people to interact with. The project is collaborative and evolves over time, with input from friends and strangers…each girl’s background, personality and story is a collaborative collage of comments people leave on the posting. This project taps into issues of stereotypes, culture, class, race, age etc..  I think it is a smart use of social media. I also like the tension between the very controlled portraits and the unpredictable outcome of each piece.

Artist(s): Hillerbrand+Magsamen
Project: House/ Hold

There is so much humor, honesty, humanity, humility, playfulness, neurosis, and family dynamics in this work, taking the quirkiness that makes a family unique and turning up the dial to “11.”

Paula Tognarelli, Executive Director, Griffin Museum of Photography (Massachusetts)

Ellen O’Connell is a photographer I met at Fotofest this year from Zurich, Switzerland. She received her MFA from NYU. She turns her camera on her children. In a series called “Triptychs” she assembles a three-part image of her subject. For this purpose I have chosen to deconstruct her triptychs to focus on 3 portrait shots of her son; the clown, the lion tamer and the muscle man. Her prints utilize a carbon ink method that adds a richness that invokes a timeless quality. Her studies are cropped faceless, making the subject anonymous. The effect creates tension yet the images are very lighthearted.


Manfred Zollner, Editor, Fotomagazin (Hamburg, Germany)

In her project “Wait Watchers,“ American photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero is using photography for some kind of a social experiment that is mixing the conceptual approach of staged photography with social documentary photography. She is selecting public spaces to pose publicly in front of her camera. The chance encounters and reactions of those people passing her while the camera’s timer is exposing this situation, make her series special. Morris-Cafiero is a young woman, whose “overweight” body may not exactly fit the common ideas of beauty. Her posing is subtle, showing the casual behaviour of someone, who just happens to be at the place. The glances and reactions of those people passing by are telling, however. Aggressive staring, unrestrained mocking, subtle looks, belly-holding: as a result of her long random sessions in several cities and countries, Morris-Cafiero´s images reveal prejudices and a society´s tendency to outcast people for their appearance. This project is still in its early stages and in my eyes has a lot of potential for further development. Those images I’ve seen so far, certainly stick with me.


Clint Wilour, Curator, Galveston Arts Center

Of all the resources at my disposal for the discovery of new photography, I would have to say it has been for the last 28 years (including this one) Houston FotoFest. During those four weeks I reviewed 145 portfolios and visited over 70 exhibitions. Some of the most memorable discoveries this year were David Robinson’s sliced mushroom narratives, Judy Haberl‘s luminescent ink jet mural, Jamey Stilling‘s new project The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar, Jeff Deemie‘s West Texas photographs and Nicolas Fedak‘s new take on alternative processes.

August 8th, 2011

Frans Lanting and Art Wolfe: Using Photography’s Power for Planet Earth

In a special presentation before a packed room at PDN’s Outdoor Photo Expo in Salt Lake City on Friday, photographers Frans Lanting and Art Wolfe talked about their careers as nature photographers who have focused on conservation. Photographer Patrick Donehue moderated the presentation. Both Lanting and Wolfe are self-taught photographers, and each is extremely committed to preserving the beauty and disappearing elements of the natural world. During the presentation they spoke of their shared belief that one person can make a difference.

What follows are highlights and images from Lanting and Wolfe’s presentation.

In his early career, Frans Lanting discovered “pure magic” in the work of nature illustrators, Dutch wildlife photographers and landscape photographer Ernst Haas, and set out to develop his own esthetic point of view.

A well-known image Lanting recently made in Namibia caused people to wonder whether it was a painting or not, he recalled. He explained that it’s actually simple to make a painterly image if you can anticipate the pattern. “To me photography is about recognizing patterns, it’s subliminal,” he said.

This is evident in his Horseshoe crab image, pictured here. Lanting realized that he could apply this way of seeing to different habitats all over the world, and through this engage viewers with the content of the photographs. “If you want to get ideas of the natural world across, you better have a very graphic style that will attract a lot of eyeballs,” Lanting told the audience. (more…)

March 23rd, 2011

Oslo Photo Festival: On Photojournalism and Survival

The 5th annual Oslo Photo Festival, which took place from March 16 to 20 in Norway’s capital, hosted talks by photojournalists and documentary photographers Carolyn Drake, Stephanie Sinclair, Pieter Ten Hoopen, Thomas Lekfeldt, Andrea Star Reese, Justyna Mielnikiewicz and Eugene Richards. Speakers offered insights into how they win the trust of subjects, what it takes to develop a strong personal project, and advice on surviving under difficult conditions and in an increasingly demanding profession.

Many photographers and photo students who attended sought advice on what it takes to be a successful photojournalist. Others, like festival attendee Chris Harrison, came to meet colleagues from the Norwegian photo community. “We all live in our own little worlds most of the time so it’s good to get out socially and chew the fat,” Harrison said. “All in all it’s kind of like getting a vitamin shot—going to these things you realize you aren’t alone and in some ways you’re quite privileged and its good to be reminded how fantastic photography is.”

Here are notes from some of the Festival’s presentations.