Posts by: Miss Rosen

A Portrait of Love Among the Ruins of Post-Industrial America

October 23, 2010 birthdays

Tony in the dark bedroom, looking out the window

Dana nursing KyLanne the day before she took her baby home

In the dystopian mythos that fuels the American Dream, poverty is a mark of character upon which outrageous projections are made. Many, clinging to the illusions of living in a meritocracy, where everyone starts on a level playing field, prefer the ignorance of ideology above all, villainizing the victims of a system designed to create a permanent underclass upon which America’s Next Top Billionaire will assuredly feast.

Poverty, as it is presented to us, is a choice — the wrong one, the experts suggest. “If only these people would X, Y, or Z,” the armchair analyst adds without the slightest shame, from the comforts of their breakfast nook while scrolling the latest headlines on their news feed.

“X, Y, or Z” could be any number of conservative talking points that focus the minutiae of personal accountability while turning a blind eye to the crushing weight of living hand to mouth in country that has designed systems to profit off your demise.

Artist Brenda Ann Kenneally knows how the game is played better than most, and uses her knowledge and wisdom expose the truth — rather than perpetuate the lies told and sold. In 2002, she and author Adrian Nicole LeBlanc began collaborating on a magazine assignment in Troy, New York, a once-thriving city whose fortunes have gone dark.

Revealing the Fascinating World Beyond the Gender Binary



Beyond the rigid, often inflexible, ideas that we are taught lies a realm of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom that awaits us. The complexity of existence can be attributed to the fact that until we adapt our paradigms to reflect reality, we will remain trapped within a false construction masquerading as truth, one that may be used to exploit, oppress, or otherwise marginalize the most vulnerable among us.

To paraphrase Rumi, we can become the change we wish to see in the world — by forgoing the need to rush to opinion as a way to avoid the discomfort of doing the actual work. In giving people the space and freedom to share their truth, we confront our own ignorance and bigotry, while simultaneously learning from those whose lived experience bears witness to realities that may be far beyond our immediate comprehension.

When American photographer Chloe Aftel first heard the term “genderfluid” in 2012, she became curious and began to explore a world she did not know; a space where the gender binary does not operate accordingly to the principles set forth by the heternormative community.

With equal parts respect and curiosity. Aftel set forth to document the lives of gender non-binary people from all walks of life across America. What she came to understand was simple enough: the paradigms that we currently use to describe gender are limiting constructs that fail to recognize its extraordinarily complex expression.

“Most people are not simply one thing,” Aftel observes. “They do not see themselves in a singular, stagnant way but rather enjoy exploring who they are in a deep, sometimes complicated and possibly contradicting ways via gender exploration of paradigms, stereotypes and generalities.”

In honor of those who share their stories and their lives, Aftel has created the phenomenal new book, Outside & In Between: Self Beyond the Gender Binary, released on January 27 in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

A Portrait of Brooklyn Before it Was Gentrified

John and Michael, 16th Street, 1980

John’s Caddy, 6th Avenue, 1975

Back in the 1950s and ‘60s, a movement was afoot. The media called it “white flight” and sang it from the rooftops. The cities were being abandoned as white families ran for the hills of suburban towns just as Black and Latinx populations were finding a foothold in northern climates following the Great Migration, Operation Bootstrap, and Operation Peter Pan.

By the 1970s, a new era had begun — one of fueled by urban decay that left only the most strident New Yorkers in place. It was a city of true grit, where only the strongest survive, a city filled with idiosyncratic characters that were simultaneously celebrated and vilified. It was, simply put, a new York in every sense of the word.

Brooklyn native Larry Racioppo headed west for two years before returning to his hometown in December 1970. He took a job at the phone company and a class at SVA, which inspired him to start photographing the world in which he lived. Then little by little, everything began to change.

A Portrait of New York City, in Photo Books

Invisible City: Photographs by Ken Schles (1988)

In My Taxi: New York After Hours by Ryan Weideman (1991)

Life is Good & Good For You in New York by William Klein (1956)

There are eight million stories in the naked city — at any given time. As the years slip away, one fact remains: the only constant is change. “New” is the truth. Nothing ever stays the same, except the photographs. This, my friend, is the only time you can and will ever go home again.

At a certain point, even if you weren’t there, you know the photograph. It’s become a memory of another time and place that has now become a part of a history that ceaselessly fascinates. The city has a curious ability to romanticize the dog-eat-dog Darwinian principles that made Frank Sinatra proudly proclaim, “If I can make it there I can make it anywhere.”

Its vast, self-aggrandizing sensibilities spring up from the bedrock upon which the city is laid, its towering testaments to capitalism lining the island of Manhattan like so many rows of jagged teeth, while the outer lying boroughs nestle around like kin, creating a sprawling mass of magnificent encounters that can only happen in a place like this.

New York is not just photogenic, it’s the very landscape where genres flourish and styles abound — advancing the medium as only a true muse can. In New York in Photo Books (RM/Cento José Guerrero), editor Horacio Fernández takes us on a spellbinding tour of the city that never sleeps in ink on paper.

Celebrating the Powerful Legacy of Black-Owned Publishing

Photo: Isaac Sutton, 1969.
Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Exhibition view of “The Black Image Corporation” A project by Theaster Gates
Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti Courtesy Fondazione Prada.

Photo: Moneta Sleet Jr, 1969
Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

“Buy Black” is a powerful sentiment, one that underscores the radical racial disparity in business ownership throughout American history. Political capital has long been gained by catering to the economic interests of various groups, except Black communities — which have been historically met with violence.

“I do not expect the white media to create positive Black male images,” Huey Newton sagely observed, witnessing the impact of centuries of image making on the minds of the populace, whether wholly erasing histories, or revising them resale so that nothing in the new version resembled the truth.

“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one,” journalist A.J. Liebling wrote in The New Yorker in 1960, acknowledging a lifetime’s wisdom in a dozen words. Representation and visibility or only half the story being told: it’s not just the who, what, and where that matter but the how and the why that tell you everything you need to know.

Defamed by fake news long before the term became popular, Black America always finds a way to transcend the limitations constantly imposed. In 1942, businessman John J. Johnson founded the Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago, premiering its flagship publication, Ebony, three years later. In 1951, Jet, a weekly digest, debuted. Together, Ebony and Jet, creating the defining image of Black America during the tumultuous years of the twentieth-century, creating a space wholly for itself that drew a loyal audience excited to catch the latest in the glossies. In 2016, Johnson sold both magazine, marking the end of an era.

From Paris to New York: The Story of Eugène Atget & Berenice Abbott

Eugene Atget (French, 1857–1927), Boulevard de Strasbourg, Corsets, 1912.
Gelatin silver chloride print. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art:
Gift of Carl Zigrosser, 1953, 1953–64–40

Eugene Atget (French, 1857–1927), Rue Asselin, 1921.
Gelatin silver chloride print. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art:
Gift of Carl Zigrosser, 1953, 1953–64–29

At a time when most photographers embraced the romantic tropes of photography, the luminous, ethereal mists that lent a painterly air to the scene, Eugène Atget (1857–1927) was decidedly modernist. He took to the streets and systematically documented the vernacular truths of his native Paris.

Faithfully recording the architecture, shop fronts, parks, and sculptural embellishments, he produced a body of work he regularly sold to artists, architects, stage designers, and libraries. His studio was just a few doors down from that of Man Ray, who had brought on an assistant, the American photographer Berenice Abbott (1898–1991), in 1923.

Abbott was energized by everything she saw, and when Atget died in 1927, she purchased half his archive. She described Atget as “an urbanist historian…a lover of Paris, a Balzac of the camera,” a perspective she understood — for when she returned to New York in 1929, she was determined, “to do for New York what Atget did for Paris.”

And indeed, she did — making a name for herself as New York’s foremost architecture and urban design photographer during the 1930s. Now, author Kevin Moore explores the dynamic that fueled Abbott’s vision in Old Paris and Changing New York: Photographs by Eugène Atget and Berenice Abbott (Yale University Press), and the accompanying exhibition recently on view Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dawoud Bey’s Black-on-Black Masterpieces of American History

Untitled #14 (Site of John Brown’s Tannery), 2017.

Untitled #1 (Picket Fence and Farmhouse), 2017

In 1926, poet Langston Hughes (1901-1967) published “Dream Variations,” a poem that imagines a time and place where African-Americans could finally be free. For Hughes, this could come when the sun had finally set, when “the white day is done,” when the cover of darkness illuminated by the twinkling of distant stars, gave him a feeling of ecstatic peace made possible by “Night coming tenderly / Black like me.”

These words spoke to African-American photographer Dawoud Bey, the recent recipient of a MacArthur genius grant. As Bey approached his 60th birthday, he decided to make a fundamental change in his work. Moving away from the urban scenes of and people that had documented for over four decades, as magnificently catalogued in the new monograph, Seeing Deeply (University of Texas Press), Bey began a new series of work that offered the artist a new way of exploring Black history through the photograph.

In Night Coming Tenderly, Black, now on view at the Art Institute of Chicago through April 14, 2019, Bey imagines what American landscape looked like under the cover of night to those who followed the Underground Railroad to freedom in a series of 25 prints. His photographs, a lush symphony of blacks on blacks, pay homage to the work of Roy DeCarava (1919–2009), whose mastery of dark tones illustrates the exquisite sensitivity to his subjects, who have largely gone unseen or overlooked.

In reimagining how the American landscape looked to those fleeing slavery, Bey invites us to consider the story of this nation from the perspective of those who built it. Here, Bey shares his journey.

Rolling Deep with the Black Cowboys of the Mississippi Delta

You wouldn’t know it from the films or the television shows, but the Lone Ranger was a Black man by the name of Bass Reeves. Born into slavery in Crawford County, Arkansas in 1838, Bass won his freedom during the Civil War by beating up Colonel George R. Reeves, a member of the slaveholding family.

Bass fled north, living among the Cherokee, Seminole, and Creek Indians until 1865. His knowledge of Native languages made him highly desirable to the U.S. marshals who were expanding west, and in 1875, Reeves became the first Black deputy U.S Marshal west of the Mississippi. Over a period of 32 years, Reeves nabbed 3,000 felons, and is said to have killed 14 outlaws in self-defense. By the time he died at 71 in 1910, Reeves was a legend — though his legacy was whitewashed and stolen.

Reeves is one of countless great Americans whose contributions have been rewritten, revised, or erased to fed the voracious appetite of those who craft self-aggrandizing tales to cover up their darkest sins. Yet, the beauty of history is that the truth will always out, and those who have inherited the great traditions of the past continue to practice and elevate the culture to this very day.

Hailing from Maine, photographer Rory Doyle headed South and set up shop, working as a freelance editorial and commercial photographer in Cleveland, Mississippi, the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Here he began a series of work titled Delta Hill Riders, a portrait of Black cowboys today. Here, Doyle shares his experiences creating these photographs, portraits of a way of life whose history is still being told.

Photographic Stories of Love and Loss, As Performed by Hollywood Stars

Jennifer Jason Leigh

Noomi Rapace

Julianne Moore

It has been said that if you want your story to have a happy ending, you have to know exactly where to stop. Except, life is not a novel or a film — nothing quite so neat. Even the best of endings can be a source of grief.

The end of a love affair is a heady subject, one that has long been exalted as subject for exploration in the arts, as well as an experience the informs and transforms countless lives: each story a tapestry of details that are uniquely fascinating for the complexities they reveal about the human condition.

Photographer Caitlin Cronenberg and art director Jessica Ennis decided to explore the subject in their new book, The EndingsL Photographic Stories of Love, Loss, Heartbreak, and Beginning Again (Chronicle). Here, the true stories of the final moments of a relationship are recast featuring some of Hollywood stars including Julianne Moore, Tessa Thompson, Kiera Knightley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Danielle Brooks, Paz de la Huera, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

Here, in each photographic vignette, we are drawn into the raw, vulnerable moment of transformation. These tender moments of awareness allow for the profound shift from the past to the present through the actualization of the present moment. It is, as Mary Queen of Scots had embroidered on the cloth of her estate while imprisoned by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, awaiting her death: “In the end is my beginning.”

Here, Cronenberg and Ennis share their journey creating this evocative and enigmatic body of work.

Moments of Splendor and Repose in Evelyn Hofer’s New York

Three boys at the front door, 1975

Arteries, 1964

There are moments when you find yourself gazing upon a photograph feeling as though you were there. In the silence of the still image, you can feel the breeze caress your hair as the steady of flow of traffic hums along. The sun warms your back as you take it all in. It’s like you are there; of course, you are not, but the image gets transferred into your memory anyway. You now have a memory of witnessing something someone else saw, and all of the attendant emotions it caused. Can you be nostalgic about someone else’s life? It’s the question that comes up time and again in Evelyn Hofer: New York (Steidl).

The monograph itself, begins with a reference to an older time, drawing inspiration from the classic 1965 book New York Proclaimed, which features an in-depth essay by V. S. Pritchett and photos by Hofer before moving on to include a selection of previously unpublished photos made during early ‘70s throughout. Evelyn Hofer’s New York is the city of one who knows it well, who traverses its streets, parks, and bridges. It is the landscape of a True Yorker who loves it all: the glass and steel, the flesh and bone, the lives to be found everywhere you look.

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