Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jitka Hanzlová

The Forest, a body of work by the Czech-born photographer Jitka Hanzlová, depicts the forest around the village where the artist lived as a child. Though beautiful, the images are also dark and vaguely disturbing. They remind me of Brothers Grimm fairytales, in which the world is unpredictable, dangerous, and fascinating. Hanzlová's work is engaging without resorting to sentimentality and suggests to me that there is plenty of room in this academicized photography world for imagination and wonder.  The images above have influenced my work and how I think about the possibilities of photographing landscape.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Kohei Yoshiyuki

In the 1970s, a Japanese photographer, Kohei Yoshiyuki, produced an astonishing body of work, titled The Park, documenting young couples having sex in Tokyo parks and the peeping toms who watched. To capture these scenes, he designed an infrared flash for his camera, which was barely visible and allowed him to photograph without being noticed. 

These bold images position the viewer in the place of the peeping toms and bring photography's inherent voyeurism to the forefront. When he first exhibited these photos, Yoshiyuki printed them life size and displayed them in a darkened gallery. Visitors were each given flashlights and allowed to find the photos, implicating them in the chain of voyeurism. Unable to condemn the peeping toms for their taboo behavior, they instead were forced to recognize and confront their own interest in and perhaps titillation at the pictures.

Although I was unaware of Yoshiyuki's work when I first began my current project, it has profoundly influenced my thinking about my own work.
While our work revolves around similar subject matter, sex in public parks, our images are very different and engage with slightly different sets of issues.  I hope, though, that my images have the same room for complexity as Yoshiyuki's, that they can seduce and repel concurrently.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

new work

In the last two months, I've re-started an older project, Sex Litter, with a new set of ideas and photographic tools. The project explores the remnants of sexual encounters in Chicago parks, evidence of anonymous trysts often facilitated by online communities.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Chicago Art Open

I've started this blog as a place to post new work before it makes it onto the website proper, to keep people updated on what I'm working on, and as a forum to discuss the things that come across my radar.

I'll start with some self-promotion: I have a piece in the Chicago Art Open, which opens Friday, October 3 and runs until October 19. The show, curated by Catherine Edelman, Candida Alvarez, and Kimberly Pinder, is on the 8th floor of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, and features work by nearly 300 artists. My piece selected by the curators, Mattress and pillow, was chosen for a Curator's Choice award. A number of Columbia students' work is in the show, including that of my fellow grad students, Lisa Lindvay, Brooke Berger, Allison Grant, and Mike Reinders. For more details go to chicagoartopen.org.