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Posts by: Miss Rosen

Malick Sidibé’s Mesmerizing Portrait of Post-Colonial Mali

Malick Sidibé. Un jeune gentleman, 1978.

Malick Sidibé. Nuit de Noel, 1963.

Malick Sidibé. Mon chapeau et pattes d’eléphant, 1974.

Malick Sidibé (1935–2016) was a master of the form, a singular visionary whose photographs tell the story of the liberation, self-determination, beauty, dignity, and pride of his native Mali in the heart of West Africa.

Born in the village of Soloba when Mali was still a colony of France, Sidibé hailed from a family of herders who worked the land. His natural propensity for art made him the first member of his family to attend school: the Institut National des Arts de Bamako, in the nation’s capital in 1952.

In 1955, be began an apprenticeship with photographer Gérard Guillat-Guignard; he opened Studio Malick in 1958. His timing could not have been more fortuitous for Sidibé and Mali were coming into their very own at the same time. As a member of the Mali Federation, which included Sengal and the French Sudan, the nations achieved independence from France on June 20, 1060, after a period of negotiations. On September 22, Mali left the Federation and was on its own.

The spirit of freedom is evident throughout Sidibé’s work. Honing in on the youth culture of the times, he captured the joyous energy of the first generation of liberated Malians on the beach, in the clubs, at sporting events, and in his studio. In every photograph he created he found the heart and the soul of his people and the result was nothing short of beautiful.

The Photo Exhibition Holding Things Together in “This Synthetic Moment”

JAMES BARNOR. NIFA NIFA, 1974.
Lambda print, 27 3/5 x 27 3/5 in 70 x 70 cm.
Courtesy the artist and October Gallery, London.

LIZ JOHNSON ARTUR. Untitled, 2016.
Printed 2018, adhesive vinyl. © Liz Johnson Artur.
Courtesy the artist and David Nolan Gallery, New York.

KWAME BRATHWAITE. Untitled (Photo shoot at a school for one of the many
modeling groups who had begun to embrace natural hairstyles in the 1960s) c. 1966.
Printed 2017, archival pigment print 15 x 15 in 38.1 x 38.1 cm.
Courtesy the artist and Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles

Though we may obsess about the past or the future, alternately consumed by all that is not, the primacy of the present forever asserts itself. We almost always believe that the times in which we live are the precipice to a cataclysmic fall, a tipping point to some greater tragedy, a moment when all can slip away and be lost. Ours is, as photographer David Hartt observed, “A crisis of borders, a fold in time, a rupture in space.”

With this in mind, Hartt sets out to curate a photography exhibition that speaks to our times. This Synthetic Moment at David Nolan, New York, brought together the works of Liz Johnson Artur, James Barnor, Kwame Brathwaite, David Hartt, Zoe Leonard, and Christopher Williams to explore, in Hartt’s words, “pictures of power and pride and grief and desire and confusion and community and celebration and abandonment.”

Each of the artists featured sharesd their own vision of the world, one that speaks to the others included in the exhibition in a dialogue that made us aware of the ways in which photography can shape the discourse without ever saying a word.

Patrick Willocq’s “Song of the Walés” Celebrates the Rite of Motherhood

WALE BAKUKU, GENEROUS LIKE PALM NUTS.
Bakuku — the queen. From the village of Bokondobuna. Boonde clan.

WALE BONTONGU’S POND.
Bontongu — the young. From the village of Ikoko. Itele clan.

The Bantu (Pygmy) tribes of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are among the oldest peoples living on earth. Believed to be the direct descendants of Late Stone Age hunter-gatherers of the central African rainforest, they have maintained traditions and rituals that date back thousands of years.

When women of the Ekonda pygmy tribe become first-time mothers, they become Walés (“nursing mothers”), living in seclusion with their children. Here they are tended to by other women who teach them about their health and that of their children, who regardless of gender are the heir of the family and sometimes the entire clan.

Here, the Walés are given the respect and care otherwise reserved for the king, devoting their energies exclusively to themselves and their children. Adopting elaborate grooming rituals including coating themselves in ngola, a red powder from a tree of the same name that is believed to chase evil spirits away, and donning heavy brass bracelets known as kongas that restrict their movements along with nkumu, the skins of carnivorous animals, the Walés are follow strict rules in seclusion until the time arrives for liberation.

Nan Goldin: The Beautiful Smile

Bruce in the smoke, Pozzuoli, Italy 1995.

Nan one month after being battered, 1984.

Nan Goldin’s photographs are filled with spirits and ghosts, becoming vestiges of lives lived, loved, and lost. They are evidence of we who once were and no longer are, here today, gone tomorrow ­– were it not for her art.

Over the past five decades, Goldin has created a body of work so iconoclastic and powerful that she has spawned generations of artists who follow in her footsteps, from Juergen Teller to Wolfgang Tillmans and Corinne Day. Goldin first picked up the camera in 1968 at the age of 15, using photography as a means to deal with life following her older sister Barbara’s suicide just four years earlier.

By 1973, she had her first solo exhibition in Boston, wherein she showed the world her travels through the city’s gay and transsexual communities in a series of black and white photographs that are stunningly timeless – yet prescient, as Goldin always is.

South Beach, 1974-1990: Photographs of a Jewish Community

Gay Block

Gay Block

Gay Block

Long before South Beach in Miami became a destination among the jet set, it was a thriving retirement community for Jewish Americans, who made their fortunes up north before cashing their chips in and heading to Florida to spend their final years in the sun.

During the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, when they came en masse, they decamped in the Art Deco wonder palaces that had been the perfect getaway for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe. Once they arrived, they brought their culture with them, a singular mixture of Yiddish Americana that exalts the gestalt of mid-twentieth century “Lawn Guyland.”

In celebration, HistoryMiami Museum presented South Beach, 1974-1990: Photographs of a Jewish Community, a group exhibition featuring more than 120 works by Gay Block, Gary Monroe, Richard Nagler, David Scheinbaum, and Andy Sweet.

“She Could Have Been a Cowboy” Exposes the Fine Line Between Reality and Illusion

Anja Niemi. The Imaginary Cowboy, 2016.
Chromogenic print, 44h x 59w in.

Anja Niemi. She Could Have Been a Cowboy, 2016.
Chromogenic print, 44h x 59w in.

Anja Niemi. The Girl of Constant Sorrow, 2016.
Chromogenic print, 44h x 59w in.

Have you ever dreamed of being someone you are not: a person from another place and time that has taken on mythical status in your consciousness? It is within the sanctity of your imagination that the character takes shape and form, becoming a part of your identity that is as private as it is powerful.

Perhaps you share this idea with others and they look askance. They don’t relate or don’t understand or simply don’t care. Or perhaps you tell them and they become overjoyed, delighted to have access to your fantasy world. It is one thing to speak of that which lives in silence and wholly another to breathe life into your dream so that in becomes physically realized.

Norwegian photographer Anja Niemi (b. 1976) understands this profound desire to escape, to transform and become somebody else. She quotes Virginia Woolf, writing in Orlando: “I am sick to death of this particular self, I want another,” at the outset of her new body of work, She Could Have Been A Cowboy, a monograph from Jane & Jeremy that launches with an exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery, New York (March 1 – April 14, 2018).

Joel Meyerowitz’s Magnum Opus “Where I Find Myself” is a Six-Decade Tour de Force

Bay/Sky, Provincetown, Massachusetts, 1987.

New York City, 1975.

Joel Meyerowitz: Where I Find Myself (Laurence King) is a pièce de résistance, a masterful feat of publishing that sets the bar as high as it can possibly reach. The photographer’s magnum opus opens in the present day, with his most recent body of work and unfolds in reverse chronological order, leading us through a spellbinding life in photography that is simply unparalleled.

“How did I get here? Living on a farm in Tuscany. Nearly eighty years old, and once again the force of photography provokes me to think about something I’ve never considered as being of interest to me,” Joel Meyerowitz writes in the first chapter, which introduces the still lifes he has been creating between 2012 and 2017, documenting the objects of painters Paul Cézanne and Giorgio Morandi.

“I’ve always been a street photographer, first and foremost, and though I’ve danced to tunes other than the jazzy tempo of the street, it’s where my native instincts for seeing first developed,” the East Bronx native writes. “Half a century ago, I was part of a duo that walked the streets of New York City almost every day, Garry Winogrand and me. We loved it out on the streets, loved the surprise of the unexpected events, and our shared appreciation of them after they happened, and how it charged our conversations with new ideas.”

A Journey Through ‘The Windows of My Studio’

3:57pm November 27, 2011 – Port of Spain, Trinidad

2:20pm October 9, 2011 – Jacmel, Haiti

1:50pm November 26, 2011 – Port of Spain, Trinidad

“Wherever you go, there you are,” Confucius observed, explaining one of the inherent paradoxes of life. The nature of the human mind is one of an eternal quest, a seeking for answers – or maybe even the questions themselves.

We come to this earth without words, able to communicate through gesture, facial expression, guttural sounds and tones. It is enough to keep up going during our earliest, most vulnerable period of life but soon we are compelled to go beyond this visceral state. We are given words, words, and more words and shown how and when to use them: how to ask, how to answer – and, ultimately, how to think.

Life then becomes a process of accumulation until it reaches the tipping point and we discover that we are trapped inside losing paradigms made by lesser minds. It is then that our search takes a powerful turn, as we are forced to unwire our programming in the search for truth, undergoing the pain of stripping away lies that have shaped our identity in the most intimate and profound of ways.

Portraits Recall Harlem in the 1980’s

In 2018, you might find your mind casting back, reminiscing on the way things were when Harlem was black – long before the cultural imperialists crossed the Hudson River and took to these shores, bringing with them a culture that systematically displaced natives and erased their legacy in its promotion of all things beige.

You might find yourself thinking of Harlem of yore, when it was abandoned and left for dead under the systemic plagues of “benign neglect,” crack, and AIDS: when the landscape was littered with the rubble of decimated buildings and abandoned lots, when buildings were taken over by drug dealers as crackhouses, when every day was “Night of the Living Dead.”

When the murder rate reached an all time high and suddenly the violence of the 1970s seemed eerily innocent.

Discreet Portraits of People on The New York City Subway in the 70’s

Helen Levitt was an extremely private person and preferred to let her photographs speak for her – and if you listen very carefully, you might just hear the Bensonhurst accent coming through. “Dawling,” a photograph might intone with intimate familiarity, suggesting we come closer to get the gossip or a bite to eat. “Fuhgeddaboudit,” another might insist, making it clear the window for opportunity is firmly shut.

The Brooklyn soul of Levitt is firmly entrenched in her perfectly composed portraits of daily life in New York. Once upon a time before gentrification took hold, New Yorkers were everything America aspired to be. They came from all walks of life, frequently crossing paths, having the good sense not to gawk or to stare because that would be gauche. They came to expect the unexpected and took it in stride, spouting Cindy Adams catchphrase, “Only in New York, kids,” with pride.

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