Thursday, November 26, 2009

Firewalls on the horizon?

Sitting in my Hong Kong hotel room a few days away from a departure for Lishui, China, I read with trepidation the post in Jeff Ladd's 5b4 blog about his own Chinese experience:

Hello all. I am currently in China press checking the next Errata Editions books. Like last year I intended to post a daily report about the making of each book but this year it looks like the Great Firewall of China is raining on my parade. Blogger has been blocked. So I will save all my reports and post them the week of my return. My apologies...

Now I'm curious what blog-blocks I might encounter. It has been my intention to write a diary style account of my week at the festival. If you don't see any posts, draw your own conclusions and be confident that I will be following Mr. Ladd's lead by saving my reports and posting when home. I'm keeping fingers crossed that I'll be able to post as usual. We'll see......

Monday, November 23, 2009

Camera Club of New York benefit auction

A Silent Photo Auction to Benefit
The Camera Club of New York
Wednesday, December 2, 6 – 8pm
Calumet Photographic, 22 West 22nd Street
(between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)

Please join us for our annual silent auction, featuring work of choice emerging photographers, vintage photographs, and exciting works by established photographers.

Participating artists:
Arturo Acosta, Cara Alhadeff Judea, Erica Allen , Mariette Pathy Allen, Merry Alpern, Steve Arnold, Peter Baker, Brett Bell, Leslie Bellsey, Anita Blank, Sam Branman, Timothy Briner, David Brommer, Hunter Brown, Susan Burnstine, Christine Callahan, Eric William Carroll, Sean Carroll, Lindsey Castillo, Jesse Cesario, Jesse Chan, Megan Cump, Pradeep Dalal, Kia Davis, Emile Dubuisson, Rian Dundon, Max Dworkin, David Ebeltoft, Robert Edelman, Amy Elkins, Sean Ellingson, Smith Elliot, Lisa Elmaleh, Jon Feinstein, Hugo Fernandes, Mark Fernandes, Larry Fink, Ryan Foerster, Martine Fougeron, Allen Frame, Anders Goldfarb, Samuel Gottscho, Lorraine Gracey, Robin Graubard, Jasmine Gregory, Lori Grinker, Leonora Hamill, Marissa Herrmann, Henry Horenstein, Meng Ling Hsieh, Joelle Jensen, Charles Johnstone, Jessica M. Kaufman, Salma T. Khalil, Michelle Kloehn, Anne Lai, Erika Larsen, Leigh Ledare, Ed Lee, Sebastian Lemm, Nataly Levich, David Levinthal, Sam Levinthal, Wayne Liu, Colleen Longo, Joseph Maida, Jerome Mallman, Rochelle Marmorek, John Meyers, Dana Miller, Azikiwe Mohammed, Carolyn Monastra, Alex Morel, Santiago Mostyn, Walter Naegle, Kae Newcomb, Lori Nix, Leah Oates, Nadhar Omar, Stuart O'Sullivan, Susan Paulsen, Carissa Pelleteri, Alexander Perrelli, Michael Rauner, Saul Robbins, Francesca Romeo, Caren Rosenblatt, Lynn Saville, Robert A. Schaefer, Abigail Simon, Aaron Siskind, John Stanley, Tema Stauffer, Will Steacy, Amy Stein, Harvey Stein, Joni Sternbach, Patricia Sullivan, Arne Svenson, Diana Teeter, Lucas Thorpe, Christina Thurston, Hugo Tillman, Sally Tosti, Maki Ueno, Wilhelm Von Gloeden, Ellen Wallenstein, Eric Weeks, William Wegman, Susan Wides, Emma Wilcox, Amy Williams, Bernard Yenelouis, Shigeki Yoshida

Benefit Committee:
Mariette Pathy Allen, Paul Amador, Brian Clamp, Daniel Cooney, Michael Foley, Martine Fougeron, Tom Gitterman, Howard Greenberg, Peter Hay Halpert, Henry Horenstein, Michael Mazzeo, Jessica Robinson, Lynn Saville, Spencer Throckmorton

$10 admission. All proceeds go to The Camera Club of New York (CCNY), a non-profit 501(c)3 arts organization that has been nurturing talented photographers since 1884.

Preview works at:

For further inquires, contact CCNY at or by phone: 212-260-9927

Please visit us at

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Après Vue Paris Photo

Paris Photo ended its 5 day run yesterday closing on what organizers could only call a success. The halls of the Carousel du Louvre were jammed day in and day out and notable crowds gathered for the evenings of the vernissage and the finissage in which any unobstructed movement was nearly impossible. But a success for fair organizers and a successful fair for a gallery are two different things. I received diverse reports, perhaps as one might expect since not every gallery had the same caliber of work or could appeal to every sort of client. A few galleries complained of slow or indifferent sales while others claimed to have record-breaking years. Of course, neither complaint nor boast are verifiable so I will confine my thoughts to more subjective matters.

The theme this year was the Arab World and Iranian photography. In theory, I am all for this. I suspect I'm not alone in being rather under-informed when it comes to photography from this part of the world, so any effort on the part of a major art institution like Paris Photo to promote awareness and to foster dialogue is very welcome.

However the reality is, as reality always is, a little more complex. First off, the definition of what is meant by "the Arab world" is unclear at best. Certainly a culture as important and old as this has spread its influence to every corner of the earth. And in our global, "flat" world, what does geography mean to artistic output? Is Hiroshi Sugimoto a Japanese artist? Is Mona Hatoum a Lebanese artist? British? German? Palestinian? None of the above? I found taxonomic questions like these rather unaddressed by the galleries involved. Secondly, given that the definition for what what the "Arab" world describes remains hazy, I was unconvinced that there is enough distinctive work around which to build a thematic foundation. Perhaps there are, but I wasn't moved by the totality with which I was presented here.

But there were notable exceptions. Motive Gallery from the Netherlands had examples from Martine Stig's "Sisters" series. I had admired this work 3 years ago when I saw it for the first time during the FIAC show, and I continue to respect the combination of the political and the graphic in her high contrast shots of covered women. Hamburg/Beirut gallery Sfeir-Semmler had a great example of Walid Raad from his work "I Might Die Before I Get A Rifle". Hans Kraus, as one would expect, brought superb examples of 19th century work featuring Arab sitters and portraits.

I also found some unexpected pleasures in work outside of the theme category. Serge Plantureux was showcasing the work of Rossella Bellusci. I am always intrigued by work at the limits of visibility, so Ms Bellusci's explorations of blown out portraits, objects, and self-portraits caught my eye. I'll be looking to learn more about her work. Galerie Vu had some fine work focusing on the Mexican-American border by under appreciated artist Jeffrey Silverthorne. Too many have only known him for his early morgue-based work neglecting his later output. Take a look. Vu also had a fine self-portrait by Christer Strömholm. I'm pretty familiar with this artist's work, and I've never seen a self-portrait like this. Pretty great. I was completely blown away by some exquisite vintage Raoul Ubac prints at Galerie Thessa Herold. This gallery is new on my radar; I've never seen them at a fair nor heard of them. I found the contemporary work at the booth to be a mixed lot, but the Ubacs were superior in every way. I'll be curious to see more of what this gallery is about.

As I have mentioned in the past, European fairs just seem to draw bigger crowds than North American ones. I don't think this is represented in sales figures, but it I do think it represents a difference in the way culture is consumed in the two locations. Families and couples out for a weekend diversion spend hours at these fairs (FIAC, Art Paris, Paris Photo, etc.) in a way that is simply not found even in New York City. While it makes for uncomfortably packed conditions for the serious collector, I can only see it as a positive thing when looking the society as a whole. Perhaps responding to this, Reed Expositions, the organizer of Paris Photo, inaugurated a VIP morning time on every day of the fair. Instead of the usual practice of having one VIP preview a few hours earlier than the scheduled general opening, Paris Photo had a VIP-only morning period every day from 10:00-11:30. Any collector who needed some quiet face time with a gallery would find the fair at a civilized density each morning. I cannot applaud this innovation loudly enough, and I hope it was enough of a success that it will be copied by every fair on earth.

Outside of the fair, there was an exceptional surrealism show at the Pompidou Center, La Subversion des Images. If you going to Paris anytime before January 11, 2010, just plain don't miss it. I spent hours on 2 visits as did everyone I spoke to about it. It's an exciting, scholarly show that also rewards even a casual visitor. If you're not heading to Paris, the catalog has its own pleasures. It's only in French, but is still worth the $60 tariff. sometimes says it's out of print. Don't believe it. Pompidou bookstores had copies piled to the ceiling. There's also a soft cover bi-lingual "album" that is worth it especially if you don't speak French. has plenty of copies though the album seems a little harder to find outside of the Pompidou bookstore.

An invitation and a pat on the back

I got an email a few days ago from the noted curator and writer, Marvin Heiferman. He invited me to take a look at a few new projects he's undertaken at the Smithsonian. Here's what he sent me:


click! photography changes everything ( is a provocative rethinking of photography's cultural impact that encourages site visitors to explore the ways photographic images enable us to visualize, comprehend, and interact with the world we live in.

click! features readable and informative short texts commissioned from experts, writers, inventors, public figures, and selected visitors to the website. Each text is illustrated with images chosen by project contributors and selected from the Smithsonian's vast collection of over 13 million images. Stories explore the many ways photography changes who we are, what we do, what we see, where we go, what we want, and what we remember. As digital technology is altering the form, content and transmission of camera imagery. click! photography changes everything provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the history, practice, and power of photography in the past, present, and future.


The second project, THE BIGGER PICTURE (, is a blog about photography and the Smithsonian. It features photographs from the Smithsonian Institution's archives, news about visual culture, and posts about photography in the digital age.

I took a look and I think it's a broad, inclusive program that deserves a look. I'll add the blog to my blog roll so you can click on the link anytime. The link for "Photography Changes Everything" is above.

On a personal note, I had a sweet little encounter this morning. I was visiting the Paris Photovintage hotel table fair looking for the odd vernacular treasure. I gave my card to the folks at AnamorFose Photo Gallery from Izegem, Belgium. Xavier, the owner, said, "I know you!". "Really? How?", I asked.
"I read your blog", was the reply. I can't tell you how much this warms my heart. My stat counter tell me that tens of people read my blog every day. To know that it is reaching a photo dealer I've never met in a Belgian town I've never heard of just makes me smile and smile. Thank you dear readers.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lishui Photo Festival

I've been invited to participate as a nominating curator for a new photo festival in China. It starts at the end of this month in the Southern city of Lishui. I'll be spending a week there promoting the two artists I've nominated, Christian Erroi and Cornelia Hediger, and looking at the work of almost 100 other artists. The work will be a mix of Western artists brought by Western nominators and Chinese work by Chinese nominators. The website (almost entirely in Chinese) is here: Take a look. I'll file a report as soon as I'm back in mid-December.