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Posts by: Miss Rosen

A Portrait of Vintage New York City Through Found Photographs

Rocco’s Barber Shop c.1989 from 6×7 negative

Frank Sinatra c.1955 from original 2.25 negative

Back in the day, New York City was a collector’s paradise. Every weekend, empty parking lots would be transformed into bustling flea markets filled with vintage goods, from brocade covered antique chairs and velvet opera cloaks to crates of vinyl record albums and boxes of old photographs.

Through the 1970s and ‘80s, Williamsburg native Ray Simone would make his way around town, hitting up flea markets, street fairs, stoop sales and estate sales in search of old camera negatives documenting scenes of daily life in New York City. A professional photographer by trade, Simone had the eye and the ability to spot a classic scene of city life.

Toru Kasaya Photographs Hidden Beauty Near the Shore

Date:2016/11/6. Shooting place: Osezaki Shizuoka.
Scientific name: Lubricogobius exiguus. English name: Golden goby.

Date:2013/5/9. Shooting place: Hakodate Usujiri Hokkaido.
Scientific name: Sargassum horneri (Turner) C. Agard Hypoptychus dybows.
English name: Eggs of Naked sand lance with Sargassum.

Date:2015/12/1. Shooting place:Hakodate Usujiri Hokkaido.
Scientific name:Enteroctopus dofleini. English name:Giant pacific octopus.

The ocean is a place of magic and mystery, perhaps the one last frontier left on earth. Its depths have never been plumbed or mapped; the marvels they contain are rarely revealed to those who walk the land.

Japanese photographer Toru Kasaya understands this well: we need not go far off shore before we encounter the mesmerizing and beautiful. “I take my photos near populous coasts. Not many residents are aware of the bountiful life under their noses,” Kasaya reveals in his artist statement.

“Even fishermen, who make a living from the sea, are surprised when they look at my photos, saying that they had no idea marine creatures were living this way as they only see them out of the ocean.”

A Spiritual Journey Exploring the Magnificence of Trees

Lake Tree, Beihai Park, Beijing, China, 2008

Bamboo and Tree, Qingkou Village, Yunnan, China, 2013

Huangshan Mountains, Study 13, Anhui, China, 2008

As a young boy growing up in the town of Widnes in northwest England, photographer Michael Kenna discovered a tree at the edge of a field in Victoria Park and made it his own. He and his brothers staked out their respective arboreal homes, hidden from the world, they could escape into the limitless expanses of their imaginations. Those trees became sanctuaries from all that civilization demanded of them, allowing them a space to commune with nature, free and unfettered.

Over the past 35 years, Kenna has dedicated himself to photographing trees all around the globe. Using a Hasselblad to create exquisite black and white silver gelatin prints, Kenna’s portraits of trees are like Zen koans: tranquil and enchanting, minimal and moody, and powerfully evocative of life’s deepest mysteries.

A selection of these works is on view in Philosopher’s Tree’ by Michael Kenna at Blue Lotus Gallery, Hong Kong, from June 15 through July 1, 2018. The works take us around the world, into different realms where trees have their own unique relationship with the landscape and the environment. Whether in China or Italy, Norway or Brazil, Kenna’s relationship to the trees is an unwavering act of devotion.

Joseph Rodriguez: Spanish Harlem: El Barrio in the ‘80s

Skeely Street Game, Spanish Harlem, New York, 1987.
Courtesy Galerie Bene Taschen.

Saturday Night Cards, Rodriguez Family Spanish Harlem, New York, 1987.

In the wake of World War I, Puerto Rican and Latin American immigrants first began arriving in New York, settling in a little corner of upper Manhattan around 110th Street and Lexington Avenue, which is now known as Spanish Harlem. With a foothold firmly established in El Barrio, the neighborhood blossomed after World War II, when a new wave of immigration transformed the face of the city.

By 1960, some 63,000 Puerto Ricans called Spanish Harlem home, bringing the culture of the Caribbean to the northern climes. With bodegas and botánicas catering to the culinary and spiritual needs of the people, Spanish Harlem became an enclave unto itself.

But the land of the free was hardly this to the immigrants who faced a system of exclusion that kept them in a state of poverty. By 1970, Nixon aide Daniel Patrick Moynihan established a policy of “benign neglect” that deprived Latinx and African-American communities nationwide of basic government systems. Add to this a drug war started by the Nixon White House to flood these neighborhoods with heroin in order to destabilize and criminalize the population, and the results were devastating.

Sally Mann Looks Back on Life in the American South

Sally Mann. Bean’s Bottom, 1991.
Silver dye bleach print, 49.5 × 49.5 cm (19 1/2 × 19 1/2 in.)
Private collection. © Sally Mann

Sally Mann. Was Ever Love, 2009>
Gelatin silver print, 38.1 × 34.3 cm (15 × 13 1/2 in.).
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by the
S.I. Morris Photography Endowment, 2010.163. Image © Sally Mann

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” William Faulkner wrote in the 1951 novel Requiem for a Nun. He understood the ways in which history is ever present to the point in which it casts a long shadow over our daily lives. It lingers and mingles until it dyes the color of our thoughts, camouflaging itself by hiding in plain sight.

Faulkner understood the nature of the American South, a land shrouded in myth and mystique, nestled in layers of illusion and untold histories. For the novelist, the South was not so much a place as it was an “emotional idea,” one that could be mined endlessly for stories that evoke the truth about who we were – and who we are.

American photographer Sally Mann shares this knowledge of the South. A native Virginia born in a hospital that had once been Stonewall Jackson’s home, Mann’s work is infused with mix of romantic and Gothic sensibilities that underscore her southern roots. In every image there is a sense of a past so profound that it pulls the present backwards until the very sense of when these images were made melts away.

Then They Came For Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II

Dorothea Lange, Oakland, California, March 13, 1942.
Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.

Dorothea Lange, Centerville, California, May 9, 1942.
Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.

Dorothea Lange, San Francisco, California, April 11, 1942.
Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.

It has been said that history repeats itself – and if this is true it is because the majority of people are pragmatists. For them, life occurs through a lens of cognitive dissonance framed by confirmation bias. They seek reinforcement of opinion in place of truth, relying on other people to tell them what and how to think. They prefer the appearance of goodness over goodness itself, forgoing sacrifices that would require they take radical responsibility in the name of self reliance.

As a result, mythological narratives become objects of faith and become rooted in identity, where integrity should be. Invariably, when push comes to shove, they shrug. It’s not their problem – until it is. And by then, they’ve passed the tipping point and it’s much too late.

A Look Inside Claire Rosen’s Spellbinding “Imaginarium”

Claire Rosen. Imperial Moth Caterpillar with Imperial Blue No. 5043, 2017.

Claire Rosen. The Budgie Feast, 2014.

Claire Rosen. Still Life Study in Lismore Gold.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge,” no less than Albert Einstein observed. “For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, and giving birth to evolution.”

Imagination holds the key to possibility, the very impetus that has made humankind a miraculous species. Within the infinite expanses of the mind exists anything we can dream up at any time. It is here, in this netherworld that we take flight, creating something out of nothing, and potentially bringing it to life.

In her exhibition, Imaginarium, at United Photo Industries, Brooklyn, earlier this year, American photographer Claire Rosen reminded us of just how vast our ingenious flights of fancy can be. Combining a selection of images and installations from the series Fantastical Feasts, Birds of Feather, Nostalgia: A Study in Color, The Traveling Mouse, and Persephone’s Feast, Rosen took us into a storybook world that we won’t soon forget.

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.

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