Thursday, 2 July 2009


From Lux et Nox

In a photograph, we have simultaneously an absolute presence in the evidential authority of the medium and an entirely impossible dreamscape.

What draws you in is what slips away.

And yet, this longing persists - this lack of connection to someone or something.

The sweet expression of a face, eyes cast down, thoughts turned inward...Such things send us back into a different space, but remarkably it's always our own.

Now as the light form a row of TV screens blends with the last rays of the sun, both play over a face staring into a shop window, and as the sound of the mall dies away, imagine as that face curves off into shadow.

Turn ever so slightly, a single camera movement brings the distant lights of a freeway into view, blinking through the darkening forest.

And the sun goes down behind the mountains.

- Bill Henson

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


Untitled (From the Four Days in LA series - The Versace Pictures)

Steven Meisel exhibited a number of large-format photographs that form the core of the acclaimed advertising campaign he shot for Versace. At a time when the teenager continues to be the cultural staple catered for in both the fashion and music world with Teen Vogue, boy bands and singers like Britney Spears, Meisel's Versace Pictures reintroduce the notion of the grown-up woman.

The pictures, shot in just four days in palatial Los Angeles residences, feature leading fashion supermodels Amber Valetta and Georgina Grenville as virtually identical women with their elegant frocks, dressed platinum hairstyles, full make-up, and huge rock-like jewels. Posing demurely in their anonymous interior-decorated homes, like their pampered pets, they appear perfectly tamed, preened and manicured.

If the images present a kind of over-the-top extravagance, it is a frozen opulence, languorous and rarefied - a throw-back to the fifties, a pre-teen era, evoking the styles and subjects of Pasolini and Fellini by way of Beverly Hills. These women, like their interiors, are perfectly arranged, tranquillised and in control. Often placed high in the picture plane they recall the Mannerist portraits of Bronzino and Pontormo, where the sumptuously adorned female subjects are both hieratic and untouchable. Now, as then, it is wealth that signifies. Bruce Hainley suggests that what Meisel is doing with these images is giving us an 'opulent fantasy structure' about the power of the female adult 'at a time when what many desire is forgoing adult responsibility (a Californian stereotype)’. We want to be told what to do and these women know how to tell us.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009



“We know that people are formed by the light and air, by their inherited traits, and their actions. We can tell from appearance the work someone does or does not do; we can read in his face whether he is happy or troubled,” — August Sander from “Man of the Twentieth Century”

My pictures over recent years engage traditions of landscape, seascape, and architectural photography. Working with a large-format camera and historic process (wet-plate collodion, also known as tintype photography), I have concentrated on locations that are close to or directly on the water. At this juncture between land and sea, I explore subject matter in a constant state of transition. .

For the last year I have been drawn to the people present at these locations, specifically the surfers in Montauk's Ditch Plains, at the eastern end of Long Island. Their avocation is on the water; they are persistent elements in a shifting scene. We overlap on the periphery of two powerful elements; the land and the sea. The singular, primitive act of surfing on the water is eclipsed by the social and negotiated state of human interaction on the shore. The surfers act as a bridge between the sea as an unbridled force of nature and the shore line, a place of leisure and cultural phenomena.

Working with a "wet" instantaneous process that must be prepared and developed on location serves me well. It draws spectators as well as entices new subjects. Using collodion compels me to compose carefully before sensitizing the plate, yet its very nature is spontaneous and unknowable. The raw quality of the process suits the subject matter, and the distinctive appearance of the finished works echoes nineteenth-century traditions of anthropological photography. - Joni Sternbach