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Unsettling photo series of animals in their pointedly artificial zoo habitats
11.03.2014
05:43 am

Topics:
Animals
Art

Tags:
photography
capitivity
zoo


 
Zoos are a sort of moral conundrum in the animal rights debates. Some zoos rehabilitate or rescue animals unable to survive in the wild, and nearly any larger zoo is active in conservation efforts. At the same time, there are some sad zoos out there, where whatever pleasure you might derive from the observation of a wild and beautiful beast is mitigated by the distinct impression that this animal looks… depressed?

For his series, In Situ, the Latin for “in its original place,” Parisian photographer Eric Pillot shoots animals in the bleakest of zoo habitats; the effect is incredibly disquieting. From his website, a (rough) translation:

The animals placed in these indoor runs seem to represent something of the “animal in us,” in all their diversity: ones we can cuddle, pamper, fear… those from tales and myths. Colorful, geometric or “pictorial,” it finally seemed that the facilities that I have endeavored to represent, that have been carefully designed to allow us to see the animals they house, could be a reflection of man himself.

The series is certainly unnerving—isolated creatures in poor facsimiles of their native lands—but without expertise on the animals themselves, we’re left in the dark, wondering how happy or sad they really are in such a subective context.
 

 

 

 

 
After the jump, more of these powerful images….

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Dead Creepy: Family portraits with deceased relatives

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Whenever a relative died when I was a child, we would gather around their body, sometimes laid out on a table, a coffin or slowly cooling under the bed sheets, and say five decades of the rosary for the repose of their soul. I attended at least half a dozen funerals before I was twelve: my father’s side of the family were descended from fertile Irish-Scottish Catholics. The dead always looked more peaceful before they were wheeled off to a funeral home, where make-up was applied, cheeks rouged and lipstick smoothed around mouth. These applications usually gave the deceased the appearance of an eerie ventriloquist’s doll, waiting to yap their mouths and roll their eyes. Death was just a common part of life. But now the relationship between the living and the dying and the dead has become once removed, with the undertakers and funeral homes taking control of those once natural rituals that connected us all together.

In Victorian times, it was common for grieving families to be photographed with the deceased. It was a way of commemorating the dead loved one. With high child mortality rates, most of these portraits were of parents and children. The images are often moving, even heartbreaking, and there are some that may seem bizarre to modern tastes.
 
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More portraits of the living and the dead, after the jump….
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Russian Revolution in color
10.27.2014
10:47 am

Topics:
History
Politics

Tags:
photography
Lenin
Russian Revolution

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Lenin was a headbanger, quite literally. As a baby he would bang his head repeatedly on the floor. His parents thought little Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov might injure himself or that his actions suggested something wrong. According to his biographer Robert Service, Lenin was a troublesome child—needy, demanding attention and resentful of his family and other children. He always wanted to be the center of attention and this he later achieved on a grand scale when he turned the events of the Russian Revolution to his advantage, and became head of government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Lenin had campaigned and encouraged the revolution from afar, from his base in Switzerland, where he spent his days writing manifestoes and political pamphlets and his evenings watching DADAist performances offending the audience at the club Cabaret Voltaire, which left Lenin pondering who was the more revolutionary DADA or himself? The events of 1917 were to answer that.

These color images were uncovered by Russian-born photographer Anton Orlov when he was asked to clear out storage crates in the basement of a home in California. In amongst the personal items and assorted junk were hundreds of hand-colored glass slides taken by an American pastor named John Wells Rahill during the Russian Revolution of 1917.
 
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Pastor John Wells Rahill with three young boys at a Russian village.
 
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Members of the YMCA entertain a crowd at a train station.
 
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Soldiers at Omsk train station.
 
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Damaged buildings in the center of Moscow.
 
More color photos plus ‘The Russian Revolution in Color’ documentary, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Cathy’: Kate Bush as a young girl
10.27.2014
10:32 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
photography
Kate Bush
John Carder Bush

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A rare book of photographs of Kate Bush as a young girl entitled Cathy is to be re-published next month. The book contains an incredible selection of beautiful black & white images of Kate taken by her brother the poet and photographer John Carder Bush.

Cathy was first published in a limited edition of 500 copies in 1986 and is now to be re-published with new previously unpublished photographs and additional text. Copies of Cathy can be ordered here.

The following images come from the original 1986 publication of Cathy via the site Cat Party.
 
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More pics of young Kate, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
American Grotesque: William Mortensen, Photographer as ‘Antichrist’


 
This is a guest post from Feral House publisher Adam Parfrey regarding two fascinating new books related to photographer William Mortensen.

Now that smartphones have become the camera of choice, it seems strange that photographers once belonged to divergent schools that battled one another, and sometimes quite viciously at that. The style that integrated painterly techniques with film technology was called Pictorialism. The “modernists” who dismissed complex photo techniques called themselves Group f/64 before they enlarged their influence, ultimately becoming known as “Purists.” For the Purists, sharp focus was the only natural way to photograph an image, and nature itself was the preferred subject.

Purists like Ansel Adams and Edward Weston did brilliant work in their careers, but it seemed important to them to remove Pictorialism from textbooks, galleries and museums. Their bête noire was none other than William Mortensen, who had for decades published many instructional manuals and reproduced his work in major photo magazines of the time, most notably Camera Craft. Mortensen specialized in a style that emphasized a grotesque look, which tended to feature many nudes. Compared to the trees and mountainsides that Ansel Adams shot, Mortensen’s work was accused of being exploitative and distasteful.

Purist hate was so intense that Adams even referred to Mortensen as “the antichrist.”

I had first heard of Mortensen from Anton LaVey, who had a photograph called “Fear” hanging in his Black House kitchen. In this photo a distressed woman is enveloped by a black-cloaked demonic entity. Anton acknowledged that Mortensen’s book The Command to Look: A Master Photographer’s Method for Controlling the Human Gaze changed his life, teaching him the basics of what he called “Lesser Magic.” LaVey also co-dedicated The Satanic Bible to Mortensen.

When Photoshop techniques and manipulated digital photography took hold in recent decades, the Pictorialist style once again became quite prominent though by then the Purists had long ago successfully bounced Mortensen out of public recognition. This was the reason I found it important to publish both Mortensen’s The Command To Look, which also includes Michael Moynihan’s article on Mortensen’s influence on occult researcher Manly Palmer Hall and Anton LaVey. We have also published a Mortensen monograph called American Grotesque: The Life and Art of William Mortensen, that includes an illuminating biography by Larry Lytle, a great deal of heretofore unpublished images and Mortensen’s textual battles with Purists from photo magazines. We hope that this evidence of William Mortensen’s brilliance once again revives his reputation and cements his rightful place in the history of the Photographic Arts.

—Adam Parfrey.

Here are some examples of William Mortensen’s work from American Grotesque
 

“Fear” aka “Obsession”
 

“A Family Xmas, 1914” 1932
 

“The Strapado”
 

“Belphagor”
 
More Mortensen after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Can you spot all of the Star Wars icons discreetly tucked away in these photographs?
10.21.2014
07:38 am

Topics:
Art
Movies

Tags:
Star Wars
photography


 
Photographer Thomas Dagg created his “Star Wars” series as a sort of homage to his childhood, a time when the films pervaded his imagination on a daily basis. As a kid, he would draw space ships onto magazine photography; this work is merely a more sophisticated version of that same sort of superimposition. It’s the subtlety of the shots that really make the pictures interesting, as if the characters and vehicles are unremarkable details in a mundane setting. Some of them you have to strain to find.

Most of the scenes feature Dagg’s own childhood toys and action figures, only two use shots from the movies. (Careful buddy, that’s the kind of thing that will get you sued!) Honestly, even before noticing the ewoks and AT-ATs, the pictures themselves are beautiful, with a use of light and contrast that creates a quiet intimacy.
 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Artist paints generic ghosts over found photographs to haunting and nostalgic effect
10.13.2014
06:38 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
photography
ghosts


Spin Me Round
 
Artist Angela Deane’s ghost photography complicates nostalgia with a very simple technique: she drapes the subjects of found snapshots in a “sheet” of white paint, dotting on two little eyes where appropriate. My first impulse was to see if Deane actually takes commissions (you know, for when you want the memory of the company, but not to gaze on your own misguided hairstyle or horrifying fashion sense), and it appears she does, counting Amy Sedaris among her clients. The motivation behind Deane’s work however, is one of anonymity as much as it is of recognition and belonging. Deane says:

These ghosts are the ghosts of moments, of days, of experiences.  With the specifics of identity obscured by paint I like to imagine it’s as if you and I can partake in the memory, share in the experience, allow the snapshot to seem familiar. Let’s share some memories, shall we?

Deane’s ghosts are actually quite cute—reminiscent of a classic Halloween from yesteryear, but there is also a haunting quality to her work (pun only half-intended). Humans are no longer the primary indicator of the time period, so we scan the film quality and details from the setting or landscape to tell when the picture was taken; viewers wander the space of the picture, regardless of its inhabitants’ identity, as if the present is now haunting the past. Nonetheless, the ghostly figures feel familiar, as if scratching off the paint would reveal a favorite uncle, your mother’s best friend from high school, or even your own younger face.
 

Beneath the Palms
 

Untitled
 

All For You
 

Reach for Me Across the Flowers
 

Together For Soup
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Check out these marbles: Photographer captures the sculptured testicles of antiquity
10.09.2014
07:48 am

Topics:
Art
History

Tags:
photography
sculpture
Greek
testicles


 
Gaze upon the balls of the ancients! Observe their delicate rend’ring from such an indelicate medium! Note the attention to detail! The texture! The asymmetry! The… weightiness?

These photos are from Ingrid Berthon-Moine’s cleverly titled series, “Marbles,” which compiles shots of testicles from classical Greek sculpture—only marble marbles will do. Berthon-Moine did a lot of research on Greek sexuality for the project, and actually answered one of my long-standing questions on ancient art—were the models for these sculptures… really cold? Oddly enough, some counterintuitive idealization of the human form may be the culprit.  Berthon-Moine says:

This interest in ancient classical Greek statuary was prompted by the accuracy of its anatomy, the realism of its stance and the influence it still has on the shape of the male body.

Ancient Greece was a highly masculinist culture. They favoured ‘small and taut’ genitals, as opposed to big sex organs, to show male self-control in matters of sexuality. Today, the modern users as in commerce, cinema, and advertising converted it into a mass commodity telling us about domination and desirability, size matters and the bigger, the better.

Small junk was “in”—how about that? You’ll notice no real shaft in any of the pictures (a few you can even see were even broken off), but you’d like to err on the side of NSFW (or if testes make you testy), I respect that—but if you’re working at a place that would punish you for looking at crops of ancient Greek statues, I suggest you do your damndest to make a career change—someplace that won’t bust your balls, you know?
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Via Hyperallergic

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Flaming Creatures: Icon of perversion Jack Smith’s fabulous photographs
09.26.2014
10:53 am

Topics:
Art
Sex

Tags:
photography
Jack Smith

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Jack Smith was a visionary performance artist and underground filmmaker who produced and directed a series of no-budget films during the 1950s and 1960s, the most famous being Flaming Creatures and Normal Love both from 1963. Smith peopled his camp B-movie melodramas with friends, and often shot them on out-of-date film stock. As a filmmaker he seemed often careless about the fate of his movies, but their success and influence was far greater than the size of the audience that saw them. John Waters hailed Smith as “the only true underground filmmaker.” Susan Sontag described the controversial and allegedly pornographic Flaming Creatures as “a rare modern work of art; about joy and innocence.” While Andy Warhol said Smith was the only filmmaker he would steal from.

Smith was also a photographer whose beautiful prints have rarely been seen outside of a gallery exhibition. Many of his images capture moments from his films, or portraits of the cast and friends.  They vary from the haunting and dreamlike to the comically irreverent—yet all are fabulously beautiful.
 
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Three self-portraits:
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It used to be that screenings of Jack Smith’s films were raided by New York’s vice squad and they were all but impossible to see for many years. Not anymore. To demonstrate just how far the culture war goalposts have moved since the early 1960s, what was once considered utterly depraved is now on YouTube getting piped right into your home or handset.

Below, the longer edit of Smith’s Normal Love:
 

 
H/T The Heavy Mental and Photo 2a.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Miniature marvels: Welcome to the fabulous world of Subatomic Tourism

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Entourage.
 
Subatomic Tourism is the fantastic miniature world created by “bequiffed” Edinburgh-based visual art Mirren Audax. As he describes it on his site:

Subatomic Tourism is an ongoing project to big up the small with a hint of Irwin Allen and Richard Feynman, along with a touch of Marcel Duchamp and Ray Harryhausen; to bring by way of Joseph Cornell and Gerry Anderson a celebration of the wonderful world-sized diorama we find ourselves living in.

Audax photographs scenes created with toy figures placed in urban settings that resemble stills from classic TV series, science fiction films, pop culture and surreal portraiture. With references to Doctor Who, Star Trek, H. P. Lovecraft and American road movies, Audux’ fabulous images allow the viewer to invent their own narrative for each image.

See more Lilliputian worlds here, and you can follow the Museum of Subatomic Tourism on Facebook and Twitter.
 
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Migration Tracking.
 
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Lost In The Supermarket.
 
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Silver Foil Nemesis.
 
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The Saucer.
 
More miniature marvels after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Germaine Greer vs. Diane Arbus: ‘If she had been a man, I’d have kicked her in the balls’

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Though Diane Arbus was famed for her photographs of “deviant and marginal” people “whose normality seems ugly or surreal,” she did not want to be thought solely as a photographer of freaks. This in part may explain why Arbus accepted a commission to take a portrait photograph of Germaine Greer for the publication New Woman. Unless, of course, the magazine’s editors thought there was something freakish about the Antipodean academic, journalist and feminist?

On a hot summer’s day in 1971, Arbus arrived to photograph Greer at the Chelsea Hotel. Greer was on tour with her book The Female Eunuch and had most recently taken part in an infamous head-to-head with Norman Mailer at New York City’s Town Hall. Seeing the diminutive photographer was overly laden with equipment, Greer helped Arbus up to her hotel suite.

Greer may have been showing consideration to the photographer, but the session soon turned into a battle of wills as Arbus ordered the Greer around the room, telling her to lie on the bed, and then straddling her as she snapped away. Greer later related meeting with Arbus to the photographer’s biographer Patricia Bosworth:

It developed into a sort of duel between us, because I resisted being photographed like that—close up with all my pores and lines showing!! She kept asking me all sorts of personal questions, and I became aware that she would only shoot when my face was showing tension or concern or boredom or annoyance (and there was plenty of that, let me tell you), but because she was a woman I didn’t tell her to fuck off. If she had been a man, I’d have kicked her in the balls.

Unable to deliver a telling kick, Greer opted not to co-operate.

‘I decided “Damn it, you’re not going to do this to me, lady. I’m not going to be photographed like one of your grotesque freaks!”  So I stiffened my face like a mask.

Greer would later claim the duel with Arbus as a draw, but as Howard Sounes noted in his superlative cultural biography of the Seventies:

The editors at New Woman evidently thought Greer vs. Arbus had resulted in defeat for the photographer, for her pictures were never used in the magazine. In a letter to [her husband] Allan, Diane discussed her attitude to the shoot, perhaps revealing her approach to her subjects generally. She wrote that she had liked Germaine Greer personally, considering her to be ‘fun and terrific looking…’ Nevertheless she went out of her way to depict her in an unflattering light. As she said, ‘I managed to managed to make otherwise.’

The picture from the session, printed posthumously as ‘Feminist in her hotel room, NYC, 1971’, is in fact fascinating, not least because in close-up, Greer’s neatly plucked and re-applied eyebrows more than a passing resemblance to the transvestite in curlers Arbus photographed back in 1966.

Arbus was not best suited to working as a freelance photographer—the hours spent pitching ideas that often came to nothing, or struggling to earn agreed fees from indifferent publishing houses to maintain her independence, caused her deep depression. Taking fashionable portraits of celebrity figures was hardly the work for an artist photographer who believed:

A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.

 
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Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Cholafied: Celebrities as female Mexican gang members
08.26.2014
08:40 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Fashion

Tags:
photography
gangs
Cholafied


Cholafied Jay-Z.
 
Cholafied comes from the mind of Michael Jason Enriques, an LA kid who grew up in the 1990s.

It’s a throwback to the Chola gangster style: “Sharpied” eyebrows, dark lipliner, and the fumes from a can of Aqua Net.

It’s a product of LA where subculture, celebrity obsession, street art, and stupidity are rolled up together like one of those bacon wraped hot dogs sold on Hollywood Blvd.

See more of Michael’s “Cholafied” celebrities here.
 

‘Do you feel lucky, Chola?’: Clint Eastwood.
 

The Royal Chola Queen Elizabeth dos.
 

Chola Wonder Woman
 

Chola Mark Zuckerberg
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Humans shellacked in junk food for monstrously sloppy portrait series
08.11.2014
05:37 am

Topics:
Art
Food

Tags:
photography
James Ostrer
junk food


 
James Ostrer’s “Wotsit All About” makes use of junk food in the most revolting of ways (even worse than actually eating it!) Models are adorned in hamburgers, cheese puffs, whipped cream and all manner of processed goodies, creating a sort of anthropological fashion spread of the crap we consume. There are full-body photographs of his tribesman, but it’s the faces that stand out, reminiscent of religious or ceremonial masks belonging to some long lost sugar clan.

Ostrer avoids what could have very well been a preachy lesson in healthy eating and instead approaches the modern world’s victual vices with a bit of humor. Like many of us, he dreams of a day when junk food is deemed subversive, saying, “Eventually I could see refined sugar being viewed in the same way as smoking is. The only difference is no one in fashion or film ever regarded being fat as cool.”

Some images may be NSFW, if your work holds an objection to breasts, which may or may not be unadorned in meringue.
 

 

 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Ghosts’ photobomb portraits of their loved ones

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Con-man and so-called pioneer of “spirit photography” William Hope made a tidy sum with his corny pictures of ghosts photo-bombing loved ones’ portraits.

Hope started his career in England as a carpenter, but in 1905 he quickly wised up to the potential fame and fortune that could be made from passing off double-exposed pictures as “genuine” images of ghosts. His photos achieved considerable acclaim with some notable fans including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who penned The Case for Spirit Photography in support of Hope’s work. Mind you, the creator of Sherlock Holmes was unfortunately someone who believed in fairies at the bottom of the garden.

Yet, the need of many to be reassured of life after death encouraged Hope to form the Crewe Circle—a group of like-minded spirit photographers, which included Archbishop Thomas Colley—to make money out of bereaved families after the slaughter of World War One.

Thankfully, Hope was eventually exposed as a fraud in 1922 by “psychic investigator” Harry Price, who marked Hope’s photographic plates, which when printed proved Hope was double exposing negatives to achieve his famed spirit portraits. Price wrote in his report:

William Hope has been found guilty of deliberately substituting his own plates for those of a sitter… It implies that the medium brings to the sitting a duplicate slide and faked plates for fraudulent purposes.

It’s easy to think our super-smart minds wouldn’t have been fooled by Hope’s fakes (ahem), but one need only turn on the television to witness a host of TV mediums claiming they can talk to the dead to appreciate we’re just as dumb.

Looking at these photos, it’s not the Scooby-Doo like phantoms that intrigues me, but the faces of the sitters, and their dress—heavy wool and Tweed clothes—which must have made the wearer uncomfortable and no doubt highly odorous.
 
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More ghostly portraits, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Beautiful photographs of the shamans of Lima, Peru
07.03.2014
08:48 am

Topics:
Art
Belief

Tags:
photography
Peru
shamans


 
Photographer Andrea Frazzetta‘s “Urban Shaman” series captures a strange array of commerce, tradition and mysticism. The faces and rituals of the curanderos are documented with an eye for intense beauty, but the photos still manage to feel educational, and not voyeuristic—the series is very intimate. Frazzetta provides a context for the shamans of Peru on his website:

”I MAKE LOVE TIES”

”I PASS THE BLACK CUY”

”REFLOWERING BATHS DONE HERE”

”ORIGINAL CURANDERA OF THE NORTH HEALS ALL ILLS”

Writings such as there are ever present, hanging on the streetlights in Lima. Peru’s capital is full of shamans and ”curanderos” who compete with doctors and psychiatrists. The Peruvian parliament even discussed a controversial law proposal that equates curanderos to doctors.

A large percentage of the Peruvian population habitually visits curanderos and shamans to solve a very wide array of issues: health, work, business, travels, etc. Curanderos, on their part, offer a lot of different healing methods.

In Lima, where more than half of the population is the result of migrations, it’s possible to find any type of curanderos. The chaotic and overpopulated capital of Peru assures shamans a very large quantity of patients.

Many, unfortunately, exploit the people’s trust and it is estimated that about three quarters of those so called ”healing masters” are fakes.

But there are others who have inherited a tradition, and a popular knowledge, passed on from father to son for decades.

It’s strange to think of shamans being divided into frauds versus bona fides, but there’s a distinct sense of training and tradition involved that at the very least suggests some kind of “pedigreed” expertise. From Frazetta’s further exposition, we learn that animals are used to absorb illness (then they are killed and their remains are “read” for health indicators), a doll is the artifact of a love ritual, and that one of the most popular curanderos in Lima has his own daily TV show.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Via Feature Shoot

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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