Pope John Paul II attemps to talk from his studio window overlooking St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 30, 2005. The pontiff looked out for about four minutes, blessed pilgrims in St. Peter's Square and tried to speak, but the words were not clear. The ailing pontiff raised his hand in blessing and made the sign of the cross as a Vatican official read greetings and prayers. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
Any readers in northern England may want to head to Manchester Metropolitan University on April 8 to catch the first (?) academic conference on The Smiths, "Why Pamper Life's Complexities." "Among the themes addressed at the conference are: gender and sexuality, race and nationality, a sense of place, the imagination of class, aesthetics, fan cultures and musical innovation." Guardian story here.
There are few things I find as conceptually perfect and aesthetically satisfying as rephotography, first practiced to notable effect by the Rephotographic Survey Project -- Mark Klett, Ellen Manchester, JoAnn Verburg, et al. -- beginning in 1977, and published in "Second View," 1990. Klett and company "owned the space" for at least a decade, and have published a followup, the faintly awkward (odd vs. even, I think) but still compelling Third View, and an accompanying full-featured website.
But they don't own the space anymore -- there has been a great flowering of rephotography, in books and on the web. There is, for example, Douglas Revere's New York Changing, a revisiting of Berenice Abbott's Changing New York; and Wisconsin Then and Now, featuring J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, among other photographers. In a stranger way and, now that I look at it slower, a more intense way, Nicholas Nixon's The Brown Sisters is a rephotographic project, too, 25 years on now; though with that logic some other typologies start to get lumped in, but let's just stick with Nixon for now, and don't miss those pictures. There are amateurs and near-amateurs on the hunt, too: "Steve and Carol" in Winston-Salem, and some uncredited folks in Boise.
What got me on this subject was the Atget Rephotographic Project, and the comparison of those (uncredited?) photographs to the work of Klett et al. It is the difference between Paris and the West, between Atget and O'Sullivan (et al.); it is the difference between two ideas of change.
And where it really led me was Rebecca Solnit's short essay on working with Klett et al.; as always, Solnit says it better than almost anyone else, and certainly me. "...the perception that nothing is happening usually means that the observer is moving faster than the observed;... One could think of the mind as akin to photographic paper. It takes time. It takes a long exposure, generally, for something to make an impression, which suggests that we who are so busy go around blank, unimpressed. Painters, photographers, fishers, and birdwatchers, among others, seem to have developed their pursuits in part as sidelong strategies to do nothing, to be in a place long enough to see it. ... as the world comes to resemble a factory more and more, every act of lingering, of deep engagement, of doing nothing, of neither producing nor consuming according to any marketable rate, is a metaphysical work slowdown."
Selected minor league baseball teams of the 20th century, culled from ballparkwatch.
Sheldon-Primghar Hyphens, 1903
Amsterdam-Gloversville-Johnstown Hyphens, 1903-1904
Springfield-Charlestown Hyphens, 1911
Paris Bourbons, 1922-1924
Connellsville Cokers, 1908-1909
Taunton Herrings, 1897-1899
Racine Malted Milks, 1909-1911, 1914
Waterloo Microbes, 1904-1906
Paris Parasites, 1905
Freeport Pretzels, 1905-1909, 1915
Fairmont Fairies, 1912
Lowell Hustlers, 1934
Springfield Reapers, 1908, 1911
Des Moines Midgets, 1902
Des Moines Undertakers, 1903
Des Moines Prohibitionists, 1904
Des Moines Underwriters, 1905
Salt Lake City Skyscrapers, 1911-1914
Canon City Swastikas, 1912
Raton Swastikas, 1912
Ilion Typewriters, 1904
Troy Washerwomen, 1899-1900
Salem Witches, 1888, 1926-1928
New Haven Profs, 1923-1930
Utica Pentups, 1899-1909
Zanesville Flood Sufferers, 1913
My friend Lori wrote a piece in Salon today about her brother and his feeding tube; it is a good story, a brutal story, the same story but different.
RFK was killed on June 4, 1968; four days later, after his body had been flown to New York, a funeral train carried him from NYC to Washington. Paul Fusco, a Look photographer (working through Magnum?) hopped on the train and shot color photographs the whole way down, shooting the million+ people lining the right of way. A book of those pictures, RFK Funeral Train, came out in 2000. I had seen it then and thought it was incredible, was reminded of it last year watching the Reagan lying-in-state, and finally picked up a copy, only fifteen bucks on amazon. It is a document of the rarest of occurences; in Fusco's phrase, an "endless display of loss and love." Words can't really do it justice; each picture, in its ektachrome glory, tears another little bit of your heart.
Justine Cooper was the American Museum of Natural History's first artist in residence. One (the?) result of her time there is a series of photographs of the hidden corners of the museum and its storage spaces, and the collections therein. (Cooper and amnh curator Rob DeSalle speak on Thursday 3/31.) In grad-school speak, the "passage of the scientific object into the canon of western scientific order is presented as an architecture of desire and a measure of cultural, historical and scientific value." Pretty, pretty pictures.
For at least a week, Amazon has been serving up some new features on individual book pages, including "First Sentence," which is fun and someone needs to explore that one more fully, in an API kinda way; and, more interestingly, "Statistically Improbable Phrases" (SIPs). Which lets you find other books with the same SIP (e.g., "aluminum trees"), or just let business-book jargon wash over you. Jargon Watch take note. Spam engines, too. And fans of concrete poetry.
performance oversupply, entrant firms, competing against nonconsumption, disruption diagram, breakup sex, swarm logic, turtle steps, emotional shrapnel, divine decadence, catalytic event, basic frailing, cool old dude, eight primary trigrams, kick out the jams, entertainment cartridges, annular fusion, say her momma, dawn drills, professional conversationalist, feral hamsters, absentminded beggar, matrimonial gift, base barreltone, tooraloom tooraloom tooraloom
I remember a second or third date a while ago, I can't remember how it came up, I said, "Think of a secret," and she did, and I thought of one, too. And I said, will you tell me? She said, no, and I said no, too. It was funny, bringing the secret all the way almost to the surface and then not letting it out.
Thought of that today looking at the PostSecret blog, one of the many, many heirs to the Apology Line fortune. What a fortune it is, it feels like the world's internal pain and pathos and doubt is bursting through its seams.
Aren't all those other kinds of blogs, the livejournal kinds, the blogger kinds, versions of the Apology Line? maybe this one, too, occasionally, through semaphore, misdirection, reading between the lines.
Though PostSecret is head and shoulders above most. A bracing storm of shame.
When K. and I were in Tokyo in 2003, we saw a curious Hiroshi Sugimoto show, L'Histoire de L'Histoire, up in the glass-block aerie of the Maison Hermès. Curious in a few ways, but none more so than the architectural model for a half-buried shrine, its underground window lined up with one of his seascapes. It turns out Sugimoto realized the scheme, a re-vision and reconstruction of an ancient shrine -- see above. Though I can't find the image of the view out to sea.
The town or prefecture or what have you has a nice interview with the artist about the shrine and, later, about his manner of working. One of my favorite parts is a quote from a turn-of-the-millenium poet, on reaching another shrine:
"I do not know what is here, but my tears flow in gratitude."
This is the essence of pilgrimage, I think, and have felt it a couple times; hope to a few more.
Then, at the end, Sugimoto talks about his standards, the extraordinarly high bar that is so palpable in his photographs.
"I began making art in my twenties, and I set a certain standard for myself at that time. I began the Theater and Diorama series at age twenty five, and that was when I set the standard for the rest of my life. I have continued to follow it without deviating ever since. I cannot explain why it happened like that at the time. I have several ideas about what I will do from now on, but until they reach a certain standard they will not become works of art. I do not know myself what will happen."
(is death the only thing I post about these days? death and art, doing their dance.)
What I've learned this month is that the best photographs being made are all hidden in photo agency websites. You wonder where the good pictures are, that's where they are. Like this story about the houses left in Aceh province after the tsunami, shot by Tim Hetherington, for/through Panos.
NY Times: "He readily admits that, as in the case of many artists working today, while his hand is involved in every painting, some of his assistants - most of whom are trained artists - do some of the painting for him. "I have a great team," he said."
Times of London: "The teams of assistants do most of the bread-and-butter copying — "If it was me I'd paint it monochrome and stick a fag packet in the middle" — and Damien patrols the results, jazzing up this and that: a dab here, a daub there. He's just been working on the blood pouring down from a football hooligan's face and takes me over to inspect his handiwork. He's been adding glazes. Making it look more bloody.
Don't the assistants get upset when he dabs about with their paintings? Doesn't he sometimes spoil what's there? All the time, he giggles, proudly, but they are not their paintings, they're his. And to ensure this is clear, he swaps the assistants around from picture to picture so nobody is ever responsible for the whole thing. Smart strategy."
When the Tibor Kalman retrospective was up at the New Museum, back in 2000, a friend gave me a souvenir chocolate bar, which I have treasured and/or displayed ever since. The mouse got to it over the weekend. Chocolate and Tibor now both safely in heaven. May they both rest in peace.
I have always meant to write about Tibor here, as glancing as my meeting with him was, he is an outsize force. What would Tibor do? Well, Peter Hall's book is a good place to start with that one. I went looking for the illustrated "lives" piece Maira K. did after Tibor died, but can't find it online; instead, there's a New Yorker lecture and slide show she gave in 2001, which is about her, not him, but he peeks through and she is plenty interesting.
I also found this set of quotes & links about Tibor, his career, his beliefs, his death. Half of the links are themselves dead, which is perverse and funny. The Web is as fragile as we are.
Overheard in Brooklyn:
Mail carrier, on her cel: "Well what would be better, being divorced?"
If two is a trend, then the trend is the teetering brink of American exceptionalism.
[oh, that sounds weighty and self-important. It is meant only to frighten.]
You may remember the Spring 2002 number of Cabinet, the Property issue; for a penny (I think), you could buy a Cabinet-magazine-page-size piece of land in the desert outside Deming, NM. The magazine held on to other parts of the their ebay-bought parcel ("cabinetlandia") for future projects. One of of those has been realized, the Cabinet Library, by a reader, Matthew Passmore. "The arced wall is approximately 15 feet long on either side of the cabinet. As viewed from the backside, the library appears as a gently-sloping mound rising from the desert floor, and is almost entirely camouflaged from view."
Borges: "My solitude rejoices in this elegant hope."
Cohen: "You’re living for nothing now, I hope you’re keeping some kind of record."
6th & 23rd, woman on cel: "He is so pumped on banking."
26th by the flea market: "Honey, shout if you see any glass animals"
j. crew salesguy, lacing shoes, to me: "Do you go under first?"