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A M A D O R   G A L L E R Y    
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                                                            P R E S S   R O O M e x t   P a g e   P a g e   3    P a g e   4   P a g e   5

 
H O M E
C O N T A C T

A R N O L D   O D E R M A T T   -   O N   D U T Y

THE NEW YORKER    January 10, 2011

This Swiss forensic photographer, discovered after his retirement from a suburban police force in the late eighties, is best known for his pictures of car crashes. Two of them are here, both typically bloodless and detached, as if Odermatt were photographing a site-specific John Chamberlin sculpture. But Odermatt also documented his fellow-officers at work, sometimes with the intent of attracting new recruits, and those pictures are the show’s prime meat. Made in color in the mid-sixties, these staged shots of traffic stops, surveillance work, and fingerprinting look like deliciously deadpan stills from instructional videos or low-budget action films. (Aletti)

C H R I S   K I L L I P   -   4 + 2 0   P H O T G R A P H S

THE NEW YORKER    October 18, 2010

It's hard to believe that this great British photographer is only now having his first solo exhibition in the U.S. Like Bill Brandt and Martin Parr, Killip casts a sharp, unsentimental eye on his fellow citizens and their environment. The photographs here, made mostly in England's bleak northern cities between 1974 and 1988, when more and more people were out of work, are among his toughest and most affecting. Never operatic, Killip is a master of ordinary despair: amid a flurry of windblown trash, a man in an overcoat stands facing a brick wall chalked with a tiny bit of graffiti proclaiming "true love". (Aletti)

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL     October 23 and 24, 2010

The 24 black and white photographs by Chris Killip at Amador were taken in the north of England in the 1970's and 1980's, a time of economic decline when only Margaret Thatcher kept the British from committing economic suicide.

Most of these images are about class and despair.

That describes "Bever's First Day Out, Skinningrove, North Yorkshire, 1982". Bever is leaning on his mate's car. He has a tattoo on his throat, his hair is unkempt and his fly is open. The sky is an undifferentiated grey. Both men look forlorn.

"Man's Torso, Gateshead, Tyneside, 1978" is the visual equivalent of synecdoche, the figure of speech in which the word for part of something is used to mean the whole. There is a man sitting on a brick wall whom we see only from the waist down, but it is enough for us to know him. His hands are wrinkled, so he is old; the pocket of his overcoat is loosely tacked on with heavy black thread, so he is poor; his high-topped shoes are laced only through the bottom two holes, so he can't even afford shoelaces of the proper length; whatever he holds in his right hand is blurred, so he shakes. We sense the tension in his body from his posture. His face would be redundant.

Mr. Killip's pictures repay careful reading. The 11 "Men Leaving Swann Hunter Shipyard, Wallsend, Tyneside, 1977" walk uphill away from us past a partially demolished brick building.

Many of the men wear coveralls. They could all be walking away from the end of the industrial era. (Meyers)

B R U C E   G I L D E N   -   C O N E Y   I S L A N D

THE NEW YORKER     June 29, 2010

Gilden’s photographs of Coney Island, made between 1976 and 1986, are not pretty pictures. Shot in black-and-white, they emphasize the beach and the boardwalk’s carny seediness and casual grotesquerie: bloated bodies, aging flesh, scary tans. Lisette Model’s photographs of this same stretch of sand come to mind, but while her work was generous, Gilden’s can be harsh and his comedy a bit cruel. It’s not hard to laugh at the unattractive woman in the booth labelled “See Her Change from Beauty to Beast,” but this isn’t satire, it’s vaudeville. Through Aug. 20. (Aletti)

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL     June 19, 2010

Bruce Gilden (born 1946) has a taste for the vulgar, grotesque and pathetic—not freaks, but ordinary folks whose flesh has lost its shape and whose skin is splotched by age and the sun. In these images from the 1970s and '80s, Mr. Gilden approaches the crowd at Coney Island with great curiosity. Why does the old woman pose in a bra and slip at the water's edge as if she were an odalisque? Behind her, children play and a buff young man strides through the water—cruel reminders of her distant youth. Two men pose on the boardwalk: We see one from his forehead to his thighs, but all we see of the taller man next to him is his hairy chest and a belly that laps over the top of his trunks. In a different picture, all we see of a woman is her sun-baked breasts bulging out of her bathing suit. In another, a man sleeps on an aluminum beach chair, his mouth open like the entrance to a tunnel. People go to Coney Island to have fun; Mr. Gilden had his with his camera. (Meyers)

 

R Y U J I   M I Y A M O T O   -   K O B E

THE NEW YORKER     April 28, 2010

Miyamoto’s black-and-white photographs of buildings damaged by the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, are almost completely devoid of people, which makes it easier to see the devastation as sculptural—elements in some massive scatter piece. The pictures are understated and unemotional—they might have come from a newspaper’s files—but they also have the uncanny quality of Surrealist documents. Office buildings tilt drunkenly, spilling their guts; views down side streets (otherwise reminiscent of Thomas Struth) end abruptly in collapsed walls and piles of debris. There’s nothing magnificent about these wrecks—they’re almost clownish—but in Miyamoto’s no-nonsense photographs they look like works of art. (Aletti)

 

R O B E R T   V O I T  -  N E W   T R E E S

THE NEW YORKER     February 8, 2010

Yet another graduate of the Düsseldorfer Akademie (fellow-alumni include Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky) carries on the spirit of Bernd and Hilla Becher in witty, deadpan color photographs of what appear to be unusually tall and neatly trimmed trees. They are, in fact, carefully camouflaged supports for cellular antennae, disguised to look like pines, palms, and cacti in South Africa, Italy, Israel, and the U.S., among other locations. Voit places these “new trees” in the center of his frame so that the images have the uniform look of product shots, but they’re far from boring. Monstrous and absurd, the structures may be as out of place in their settings as stage props, but Voit’s pictures lend them a lovable faux magnificence. (Aletti)

APERTURE     Spring, 2010

German photographer Robert Voit has traveled the globe and, with the aid of a GPS, located giant cell-phone towers that are intended to be camouflaged into their surrounding landscapes by their treelike designs. One of the more convincing examples, located in Arizona's desert country, is shaped like a cactus. Another, mimicking California's famous primordial forests, rises like and ur-tree, an archetype of the species, above Mono Lake. However, Voit's trees, because of their outsized proportions and synthetic materials (and occasional exposed seams), are revealed as imposters. They are, of course, not in the service of purifying the air or providing shelter to bugs and birds; rather, these psuedo-trees support growing cellular networks that allow us to be jarred from transcendent contemplation in the remotest environments by a ring-tone.

Trees are at the heart of our continuing struggle to subdue and bend nature to human needs and purposes. Clear-cut forests are an example of our most egregious abuses of the landscape. These fake trees, if clumsily and often comically realized, are at times reminiscent of Pop art (consider Claes Oldenburg's gigantic reproductions of quotidian items). Or they might be considered sleeker, corporatized versions of vernacular roadside architecture.

Voit studied with photographer Thomas Ruff at Dusseldorf's Kunstakademie, and his methodology reflects the aesthetic associated with that school. Like the Akademie's most influential teachers, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Voit is working with typologies. But rather than cataloging vestigal architecture, he hones in on this strange architectural perversion of nature that could only exist today. Chronicling this new species - with a nod to photographer / botanist Karl Blossfeldt - Voit calls attention to our awkward struggle to reconcile the natural world with our ever-increasingly hardwired reality.

THE GUARDIAN (UK)     January 15, 2010

In some areas of Britain, you'll see mobile phone masts in plain view in all their stark, skeletal nakedness. In others, well, you won't see them at all. Why? Because they've been hidden in the clockfaces of town halls (Hungerford, Berkshire), or in street signs (Northumberland Avenue, Westminster), while out of town they are commonly disguised as trees. In talking to and txt msging one another we . . . talk to the trees. For seven years Robert Voit has photographed these bizarre artificial trees - including faux cypress, pine, palm and, in Arizona, cactus. Many, as you can see, are simply funny. Cartoonish. Awkward. Outlandish. Kitsch. They are meant to blend in with their natural surroundings, yet, as Voit's eyecatching photos prove, they rarely do. On the other hand, would you want the world's landscapes pockmarked with mobile phone masts? Jonathan Glancey

 

THE DAILY BEAST     January 7, 2010

The 40-year-old Voit studied at the Dusseldorf Academy in Germany with Thomas Ruff, a disciple of Bernd and Hilla Becher. The Bechers are highly regarded for their strict photographic documentation of industrial structures such as water towers, gas tanks, and blast furnaces. The Becher approach was to photograph the object straight on in conditions of light that were neutral and uniform, and to render each one with a precision of detail that is virtually scientific. Their photographs are presented in grids, each image depicting the object as a specimen, each grouping a typology in a comprehensive, career-long enterprise to catalogue relics of industrial society in the 20th century. Voit has employed a similar method of documentation, a neo-objectivist approach that is both clinical and forensic. His series presents individual specimens of a 21st-century breed of industrial object, although his iteration on the Becher tradition allows for variations in color and light, as well as a broader view of the context in which the object resides. His photographs also straddle an interesting paradox. In the Photoshop era, artists commonly alter images to suit their own intentions, and, often, the manipulation of a photograph presents a subtle discrepancy between appearance and reality. Sometimes it is not even apparent to the naked eye. Voit, however, adheres to the strict orthodoxy of photographic documentation—an 8 x 10 view camera, sheet film, and available light. In his case, the discrepancy between fact and fiction resides not in the photographic image, but in the subject. While the masquerade varies from tree to tree, their covers are blown in the dissociation we experience with the palm tree, say, that is twice the size of those in the same vicinity. Voit documents a perceptual anomaly and allows it to trick us—or not—without any representational manipulation.

If the cellphone tree masquerade were not epidemic, it might actually be pretty funny—perhaps an extrapolation of Las Vegas artifice and obfuscation as ordained and promoted by the visionary architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. But the ubiquity of the practice suggests an industry-wide global policy with intentions beyond beautification—or irony. The effects of cellular transmission in the atmosphere are not yet known; no long-term studies have determined whether radio signals in such high concentration are harmful to biological life. The state of Maine is considering a bill to require warnings on cellphones stating that they may cause cancer, just as the warnings required on cigarette packages. In October, the Daily Telegraph reported that a soon-to-be-released study by the World Health Organization is expected to conclude that people who use cellphones for 10 years or more are at an increased risk of developing cancer. Of course, that isn’t the point of Voit’s pictures. He is not an environmental activist so much as an artist who found a double-edged subject. While his method is bound to the sober legacy of the Dusseldorf school, he chose a potentially menacing subject to document that borders on the burlesque. To his credit, his formally resolved images register a trace of deadpan wit. And, in photographic terms, he has created a body of work that advances the tradition of the Becher school inherited by the reigning generation of German photographers—Andreas Gursky, Candida Hofer, Thomas Ruff, and Thomas Struth—and marked the next generation. (Gefter)

 

K E I Z O   K I T A J I M A  -  T H E   J O Y   O F   P O R T R A I T S

THE NEW YORKER     October 19, 2009

The portraits in this Japanese photographer’s exhibition were made between 1975 and 1991, primarily on the street but also in places ranging from dive bars off the U.S. Army base on Okinawa to New York’s Danceteria. His best work is the earliest, which is dark and a bit disturbing, including shots of off-duty soldiers, working girls, and Tokyo drag queens. Some of these images were rephotographed for maximum grain and distortion, but even without this manipulation much of the later work has a similarly edgy, ominous mood reminiscent of Brassaï, Leon Levinstein, and Kitajima’s teacher, Daido Moriyama. Color portraits taken on New York streets in the eighties swing toward grotesquerie, but that’s why they’re so unforgettable.(Aletti)

 

F L O R I A N   B Ö H M   -  W A I T    F O R    W A L K

THE NEW YORKER     October 20, 2008

This German photographer is working familiar territory—the crowded New York street—in a familiar way. Garry Winogrand, Joel Meyerowitz, and Philip-Lorca diCorcia have been here before, and much more memorably. But sometimes it’s enough for a photograph to act like a one-way mirror and allow us to spy on our fellow-citizens. Bohm’s subjects have all stopped at a corner to wait for the light to change, and most are unaware of his camera. A gaggle of preteen girls, a Scout troop, tourists in shorts, and a host of other melting-pot pedestrians populate a series of unexpectedly fascinating friezes. (Aletti)

 

O R I G I N A L    B O O K S

THE NEW YORK SUN    August 21, 2008

From the Books, On the Walls

Photo books are Paul Amador's first love, so he organized the Cohen Amador Gallery's summertime group show to reflect his enthusiasm. "Original Books" features the prints of five contemporary photographers, taken from recent books of their work. The photographers come from five different countries, and in most cases they took their pictures in what for them were foreign countries. But one thing their books have in common is that all five are currently out of print, a testament to their success.

Morten Andersen was born in Oslo in 1965, but the cities pictured in his book, "Days of Night," are New York (where he studied at ICP) and Tokyo. Actually, the city in the book is more a generic end-of-the-20th-century international urban environment than any one particular place, and it could just as well be a movie set as a real city. There is a distinct film noir cast to the six pictures by Mr. Andersen that are on display at Cohen Amador, and the title of his book alludes to the "day for night" filter used in the early days of filmmaking that made it possible for a nighttime scene to be shot during the day. The pictures, identified by number rather than title, are very stylish, ambiguous, and fraught with foreboding.

Like all the prints in the gallery, Mr. Andersen's "#25" is black-and-white; it is a grainy portrait of a white, mid-'60s Coupe de Ville, which emerges as a sculptural form from a totally black background, as if a Cadillac was all that was necessary to make a world. "#38" was shot in a subway station with the camera close to the ground, so it is sighted along the legs of a man lying on the platform, possibly drunk, possibly dead, or maybe just sleeping. "#40" was shot over the heads of two pigtailed Japanese girls looking down from a high window onto a scene of massed, anonymous, modern office buildings. The girls wear school uniforms with sailor-style collars, and this playful touch of innocence sets up a tension with the banal architecture.

The sites from Gabriele Basilico's book "Porti di mare" (1990) are presented in his six magnificent prints with great specificity. Mr. Basilico (born 1944) trained as an architect, and has an Italian's sense of the relationship between natural and built environments. In 1984-85, he photographed landscapes and cityscapes of the coastal towns of Northern France for the regional planning authority that was investigating geographic identity and change. The studies Mr. Basilico provided them with are not routine documentaries, but beautifully poised works of art.

"Dunkerque" (1984) has the clarity of a painting by Canaletto, although the buildings are typical of the North. The stark, frontally lit brick façades of warehouses, some of them painted white, are seen across a wide expanse of cobbled street. A set of railroad or trolley tracks runs across the bottom of the image, parallel with the frame. No people disturb the aura of quiet, calm, and orderliness. In "Boulogne Sur Mer" (1984), the bathers and surfers on the beach in the foreground are set against the silhouette of an industrial complex on the horizon, and all of it exists under the massive cover of lowering clouds that take up the upper two-thirds of the image. The hull of a ship in a dry dock becomes part of a refined abstract composition in "Le Havre" (1984).

Like Morten Andersen's "Days of Night," Jens Liebchen's "DL 07 Stereotypes of War: A Photographic Investigation" means to subvert the reputation of photographic images for truthfulness. Whereas Mr. Andersen relies on ambiguity and innuendo, Mr. Liebchen resorts to outright falsification. Or, at any rate, he sets up the viewer to misinterpret his images, which was what I did when I first saw them. The pictures appear to be reportage from a war zone — they could easily be passed off as photojournalism from Russia's incursion into Georgia last week — but, in fact, Mr. Liebchen took them in Tirana, the capital of Albania, a city at peace.

Mr. Liebchen was born in Bonn in 1970; that is to say, in a Germany still divided by the dynamic of the Cold War. He must have grown up with the notion that all the world is a field of combat. For instance, the picture that is labeled "002" shows an unremarkable, shabby, two-story concrete building with some construction scraps in back, but the presence of a helicopter hovering in the sky above the building is ominous. If you think the picture was taken by a combat photographer, the supposition is that it is a military helicopter, possibly on the prowl for targets to attack. If you know the picture was taken by a tourist in Tirana, then the chances are that the helicopter is civilian and benign.

There are visual tropes that recur as our contemporary images of war, and Mr. Liebchen skillfully exploits them. Picture "007" incorporates a commonplace cliché; a neighborhood is seen through the shattered windshield of a car. The meaning of the picture depends on how you think the windshield was shattered. There are two teenage boys in "017," one staring angrily at the camera, the other seen only from the neck down holding a machine gun. But look carefully and you notice the gun is a toy, and therefore the boys are not juvenile militiamen. The point of "DL 07 Stereotypes of War" seems to be that war is so ubiquitous, the pictures from one conflict are pretty much interchangeable with those of most others. In some ways, Mr. Liebchen's work is more terrifying than pictures of actual warfare. (Meyers)

 

THE NEW YORKER     August 25, 2008

The booming market for photography books has prompted several shows of late, and this one focusses on five titles by artists who deserve to be better known. All published since 1990 and primarily black-and-white, the books put a smart conceptual twist on traditional photography. Jens Liebchen’s images of Tirana, Albania, would appear to describe a war-torn city, but the conflict has long since abated. Keizo Kitajima’s project “A.D. 1991” took him to a number of European cities, where he photographed the citizens and their environment; only his street portraits are here, and they’re strong enough to recall both Walker Evans and Michael Schmidt. (Aletti)

 

M A S A O   M O C H I Z U K I   -   T E L E V I S I O N  1 9 7 5  1 9 7 6

THE NEW YORKER     July 7 & 14, 2008

The photographs in Mochizuki’s first U.S. gallery show, shot in the mid-seventies, capture news reports and documentary programs on Japanese television. The topics of these broadcasts are varied—a historic baseball game, a profile of Salvador Dali, Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Tokyo—but Mochizuki’s subject is really the screen itself, seen over and over in dense, busy grids that suggest media crazy quilts. Each composite image represents a single program in a sequence full of repetition and interruption—an hour or two compressed into a frantic highlight reel of a picture that sometimes ends in a peaceful, welcome pileup of blank gray screens. (Aletti)

 

J E S S I C A   T O D D   H A R P E R  -  I N T E R I O R   E X P O S U R E

THE NEW YORK SUN    April 16, 2008 

Planning the Perfect Impromptu Picture

There is no such thing as a candid self-portrait. Candid photography, by definition, requires that the subject be unaware that his picture is being taken, and there is no way a person as subject can be unconscious of himself as photographer. In spite of this, five of the 19 apparently impromptu pictures in "Jessica Todd Harper: Interior Exposure" currently at the Cohen Amador Gallery include the term "self-portrait" as the first part of their titles. So these images are only apparently impromptu.

Ms. Harper constructs delicate narratives of domesticity, and photographs them so they look to be candid. Sometimes they include her and are therefore self-portraits, and at other times they are of her friends and family. The title of the show, "Interior Exposure," points to the fact that all but two of the pictures were taken indoors, mostly in elegant homes, and the two outdoor photos are close by in private backyards. More important, the thrust is psychological, trying to tease out the relationships between people who are emotionally and physically close. Ms. Harper means to expose the interiority of her subjects, herself included.

Like all her work, "Self-Portrait with Christopher (Clementines)" (2007) is in color, in this case a digital C print, and in the fairly large size of 33 by 41 inches. Because Ms. Harper herself is seen in profile in the middle of the frame, we know the informal scene of her and her husband standing by the kitchen window is a fiction. The two are handsome young adults, Anglo-Saxon in appearance — blond, blue-eyed, well featured — and slightly heroic, since the camera is at waist level shooting up. The light comes from the window over the sink and produces delicate, veristic modeling on the two figures; it makes a contrast between the deep teal of her dress and the bright orange of the bowl of clementines on the counter, and it causes the wedge of translucent fruit Christopher holds in his hand to look as if it is lit internally.

There is rich sociological data in the picture's details. The chintz valence is not without significance, nor the ceramic cereal bowl shaped like a crown drying upside-down by the sink with "Prince…" written on its side in gold, nor the copper cookware, nor the upscale Wegman's polish. But that is the mise-en-scène; the drama is the ambiguous tension between the two protagonists. Ms. Harper's body is toward Christopher's, but her face is turned slightly away so that she is not looking at him. Her expression is reflective, internal. He stands in his white undershirt with one hand akimbo, the other poised in midair holding the translucent wedge of clementine, and he stares at her intently with his blue eyes. He seems to be contemplating a criticism, and trying to decide whether or not to say it. Or maybe he already has, and is waiting for her rejoinder. At any rate, as the two finish their breakfast, there is something fraught between them.

On the other hand, it is make-believe. We know that the picture and the story it is telling is an act, scripted and posed. But maybe the artist is telling us something she believes to be true about her relationship with this man, or about the relationships of men and women in general. "Self-Portrait with Christopher (Clementines)" is an arresting image; the viewer's willingness to suspend disbelief is a measure of Ms. Harper's success.

T.S. Eliot, among others, understood that an artist who has not mastered the tradition cannot be truly innovative. If an artist is steeped in the tradition, he will have absorbed the techniques of great art, and more important, he will have confronted the issues that make for greatness; work by such an artist resonates in the culture. Before she earned her master of fine arts degree in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2001, Ms. Harper had graduated cum laude in Art History from Bryn Mawr College (1997), and had studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. And way before that, according to her artist's statement, "My mother gave my sister and me first crayons, then charcoal, and finally pastels and watercolors as she plunked us down on the floors of local museums. ... Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent and Renoir were my heroes as a kid. When I went to college I … fell in love with Vermeer, Memling, Pieter de Hooch and other Northern European artists … whose charged, quiet domestic scenes haunted me afterwards." Ms. Harper confidently draws on the past as she explores new technologies, and treats her personal concerns in a markedly different time.

"Judith and Her Children" (2006) owes a lot to her study. The mother and daughter in the background are sitting at a computer, but the feeling of intimacy derives from Mary Cassatt. The wonderful color of the child who is the center of interest in the picture — the pale flesh, the blue eyes, the pink lips — is Renoir's contribution. The older child to the left, whose presence is felt but whose face is lost in shadow, reminds us of Rembrandt's careful use of light and darkness. The three young women trying on white gowns in front of a mirror in "Chloe with Sybil and Becky" (2005) are descended from Sargent's self-assured ladies.

Besides her debt to various painters, there is a tradition of tableaux vivants in photography that Ms. Harper's work recalls, and she joins a growing roster of contemporary photographers whose families are important subjects: Nicholas Nixon, Andrea Stern, Sally Mann, and Tina Barney come quickly to mind. Ms. Harper's work depends on artifice, but her affection for kith and kin seems real. (Meyers)

 

O L A F   O T T O   B E C K E R   -   B R O K E N   L I N E

THE VILLAGE VOICE    January 30, 2008

Best in Show

In these photographs of Greenland, Mother Nature is a brilliant abstract sculptor: The sweeping wedge of an iceberg floats near the rusty triangles and brown bows of the shore; massive cliffs of gray stone open onto huge reaches of silvery sky; towering monoliths of ice trace a gamut of whites across indigo water. Other large-scale color shots include ramshackle houses, their rocky lawns strewn with garish plastic toys, the blunt geometries and unnatural colors adulterating the majestic landscape. (R C Baker)

 

J A C Q U E L I N E   H A S S I N K   -   T H E   P O W E R   S H O W

THE NEW YORK TIMES       November 1, 2007

3 Garments and 1 Photo at a Time

THE fitting room, to those who equate shopping to a religious experience, is a confessional. It is where sins of the flesh are laid bare and penance is made, all too often behind a curtain that doesn’t quite close all the way.

“The fitting room is an emotional experience,” said Jacqueline Hassink, a conceptual artist in New York who, as part of her exploration of public and private spaces, photographs empty fitting rooms. “If you don’t feel good about yourself, you can feel really horrible in those rooms. Or, if you try on something in a room that makes you look good, you can feel like the queen of the world.”

Since 2003, Ms. Hassink has photographed the most intimate aspects of stores in New York, Paris and Tokyo. Her subjects have also included corporate boardrooms, the dining rooms of women in senior corporate positions and “car girls,” the young women who stand in front of Mazdas and Maseratis at auto shows.

A show of her work opened yesterday at the Cohen Amador Gallery, at 41 East 57th Street, and includes several of her fitting rooms, which are eerily empty of people. Those of the couture salons offer a glimpse of spaces accessible to only a few hundred women, and they are indeed grand apartment-size rooms appointed with sofas and walls of mirrors. The couture fitting room at Givenchy is a majestic windowed salon with upholstered screens for privacy.

By contrast, the fitting rooms for ready-to-wear collections — those accessible to the public (well, the wealthy public) — are more demure, like Chanel’s minimalist closet with black leather benches and mirrored walls. You imagine a different customer.

“They are very interesting spaces in that they are about corporate identity, but also about what is private and what is public space,” Ms. Hassink said. “At a store like H&M, you have a private, intimate moment in what is a very public space. As soon as you leave the fitting room, it becomes public domain. Another person goes in.”

One image shows a room that was itself a piece of art: a sculpture by Kenji Yanobe, called “Queen Mamma,” shown in an Issey Miyake store in Tokyo in 2002. A shopper could enter the room, shaped like a throned cartoon monarch, through its bulbous hollow belly, which closed with a zipper.

At least it was the fitting room that looked fat.

 

L A R S   T U N B J Ö R K   -   O F F I C E

THE NEW YORKER     October 8, 2007

With his pictures of anonymous office spaces, this Swedish photographer is working familiar ground—but with such wit and agility that it hardly matters. Although some of the best images here are of empty cubicles and generic workstations—interiors that vary not at all from Tokyo to Stockholm—Tunbjörk is also adept at comic tableaux. In a number of these, workers, stiff and isolated, might as well be mannequins, but in others they’re more like zoo creatures caught in impromptu performances. A group of Japanese salarymen doing stretching exercises at their desks, and an anxious woman crouched under a conference table collating papers, exhibit behavior unique to their habitat. (Aletti)

 

 

S U S A N    M E I S E L A S   -   P A N D O R A ' S   B O X

THE VILLAGE VOICE    August 29, 2007

In 1995, this Magnum photographer—known for documenting human-rights issues in Latin America—switched gears with a series shot at the high-end Manhattan s&m club Pandora's Box, which styled itself the "Disneyland of Domination." Piggybacking on the lighting supplied by a film crew working the same turf, Meiselas took 35mm shots that feel as saturated as movie stills. Men kneel or stand at attention, buckles dangling from their leather corsets; one client wears a black hood studded with a mohawk made of .50-caliber bullets, his mistress lounging in front of an ersatz Titian Venus. A video monitor displays a balding customer being led down an elegant corridor, the head of his high-booted dominatrix obscured by dark-gray scan lines. As the workers take a cigarette break, one gazes desultorily at her reflection in a mirror—everyone here is an object, the bodies on both sides of the transaction as commodified as the slaughtered cattle that supplied all the leather getups. (R C Baker)

 

THE NEW YORKER     August 7, 2007

In the mid-nineties, the Magnum photographer, best known for her work in Nicaragua and Kurdistan, gained access to a pseudo-posh Manhattan S & M club called Pandora’s Box and photographed its crew of leather-corseted dominatrices on the job. The series is neither as gritty nor as intimately engaged as her photographs of carnival strippers from the seventies, but it’s a fascinating view of a hidden and now-vanished world. Seen in lurid color, Mistresses Brigette, Tanya, Delilah, and their co-workers perform theatrical acts of humiliation and punishment in rooms that might have appeared in a perverse version of “The World of Interiors.” For the clients, this is both Heaven and Hell; for viewers, it’s a glimpse of degradation à la mode. (Aletti)

 

 

M I K I K O   H A R A    -  B L I N D   L E T T E R

THE NEW YORKER     July 2, 2007

For her U.S. début, this Japanese photographer shows work made between 1996 and 2001, much of which is not just in color but about color: a sheer gold curtain, a bright-yellow backpack. As with so many contemporary artists, Hara’s content is incidental; it’s her style that counts. Although there are people in many of her pictures, these commuters, pedestrians, shoppers, and beachgoers rarely get more than a passing glance from Hara. Because she’s not making portraits, her photographs look more like film outtakes or snapshots—tossed off and pointedly insignificant. The style works best for chaotic pictures of flowers and foliage, in one of which a white kitten yawns comically wide. (Alletti)

 

THE NEW YORK SUN       June 13 , 2007

Mikiko Hara is a young (born 1967) Japanese photographer currently having her first American exhibition at the Cohen Amador gallery. The exhibition is titled "Blind Letter," the same as the photo book from which the pictures are taken. When I asked Paul Amador what the title referred to, he told me it was a nonce phrase, and that it was not unusual for Japanese photographers to make up such meaningless titles for their work. Absent the clues a more significant title might provide, the viewer approaches her work with caution, scanning the pictures tentatively, hesitating before coming to any fixed conclusions.

Ms. Hara studied philosophy at Keio University before doing graduate studies at the Tokyo College of Photography, and her snapshot aesthetic belies a sophisticated visual sense. The 25 untitled pictures are all 14-inch-by-14-inch C prints, a modest size that draws one in to examine them. Most are candid portraits of one or a few people, although several are not. Picture no. 3 (1996) is a cat, but a very odd, complex image.

No. 3 was shot outdoors with the camera close to the ground and the lens pointed up so that the top half of the frame is filled with blue sky and benign white clouds. Green shrubs with yellow berries in sharp focus make up the midground. In the lower left corner is a gray metal disk or small wheel of some sort, and the white head of the cat is next to that. The head is slightly out of focus, and the bright sunlight causes the white fur to be over-exposed so that the details of the face are blown-out, making it seem that the cat is eyeless. But the exposure lets us see past the two little fang-like teeth deep into the cat's open throat. An ordinary domestic animal suddenly takes on an aspect of the demonic, like one of the dramatically shifting creatures in a Noh play.

No. 23 (2001) is a middle-age woman seated in an antiseptically modern subway or railroad train. Her figure is in the lower righthand corner, and much of the rest of the picture is a window through which we see the blurred image of what is probably another train. But which train is moving, the one the photographer is on or the one outside the window? Can't tell. The woman wears a haute couture tailored pants suit in a rich khaki fabric, and sits with her expensive (and simple) black pocketbook on her crossed legs, her pale hands clasped around the handle. In contrast with the motion visible out the window, she is preternaturally still, her eyes shut, the downcast expression on her intelligent face as set as a Kabuki mask. What she might be thinking is an enigma.

Many of Ms. Hara's photographs work the in same manner; apparent off hand simplicity gives way on reflection to troubling complexity. The bluish overcast in no. 16 (1998) means to tell us something about the anxious schoolgirl, but it is not specified. In no. 10 (2001) Ms. Hara pokes the lens of her venerable Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 521/16 medium-format camera into a field of wildflowers so that the bright orange and yellow blooms seen up close are out of focus, and the stalks further down are sharp. Are we looking for something that fell on the ground? Mikiko Hara's photographs put our eyes to work. (Meyers)

 

 

O S A M U    K A N E M U R A    -  S P I D E R ' S    S T R A T E G Y

THE NEW YORKER     June 4, 2007

"This Tokyo-based photographer takes pictures of Japanese city streets that emphasize their narrowness, density, and jumbled confusion. Printed in inky black-and-white, his work depicts scenes of almost overwhelming visual overload: signs, billboards, awnings, fake foliage, cars, bikes, and, strung just above it all, an insane tangle of wires and cables. Already alarmingly claustrophobic, Kanemura’s images are so strangled by this overhead webbing that the pedestrians seem trapped. Like Lee Friedlander, Kanemura revels in the invigorating chaos of a city choking on its own excess." (Alletti)

 

THE NEW YORK SUN       May 17, 2007

Pedestrians are few and far between in the street photography of Osamu Kanemura, whose first New York exhibition in more than a decade is on view at Cohen Amador Gallery. The artist is more interested in the jostling network of systems and surfaces that constitutes the commercial districts of Tokyo, Osaka, and Yokohama. For him, drama lies in the delirious clash of pattern and line: scaffolding, fences, facades of buildings; zebra-striped crosswalks, mullions, handlebars; and the ubiquitous, criss-crossing tangle of telephone cable.

Mr. Kanemura plunges the viewer into a huge, vertiginous, unfathomably complex machine of innumerable rhythms and functions. Framed to include looming foreground elements beyond which the viewer's attention is guided, some of the pictures make conspicuous their stealthy point of view, lending them a furtive, slightly menacing air. Titled "Spider's Strategy," the show includes work spanning between 1995 and 2002; many of the images are included in the 2001 monograph of the same name published by Osiris.

"All the Needles on Are Red" (1998) recalls the fragmented complexity and linear approach of Lee Friedlander. But Mr. Kanemura typically composes around a central, anchoring pictorial device, such as a rapidly receding street, which provides visual egress from the surrounding clamor. Somewhere in the reeling jumble, a stunted vista promises to open just enough to let off a little pressure, producing a whiff of spatial order, a hint of method to the madness of the metropolis.

Mr. Kanemura works with a medium-format rangefinder, allowing him a photojournalist's detailed depth of field. He prints dark, so his inky blacks and shimmering midtones are punctuated by just a few pearly highlights. All prints are 20 inches by 24 inches; a wall-filling grid of 32 of them, called " Stravinsky Overdrive" (2002), ups the retinal ante. In this dazzling body of work, the din of endlessly proliferating commercial signage renders the care-torn, crassly material realm an uncharted psychic territory. (Maine)

TIME OUT       May 17 - 23, 2007

Osamu Kanemura, a former punk-rock musician and an incessant wearer of sunglasses, also happens to be one of Japan's master photographers, although few have heard of him here in the West. Forty-three years old, he rides a motorbike around Tokyo on his newspaper delivery route (a job he's had for the last ten years), shooting roll after roll of black and white film. Most often he sets his sights overhead, at the tangle of telephone and power lines that cover the city. But the real subject of his prolific vision is density, accompanied by a broading sense of presence in absence in every frame.

His images marvel at the dense forests of noodle shops, signage, streetlights and advertisements that have sprung up around the city's inhabitants. People appear occasionally in his pictures, but it's a portrait of society that Kanemura's after, not individuals, and he depicts it in its vestiges; a fishmonger's stand on a rainy street; a row of restaurants with no diners in sight; racks of clothes; a long stretch of apartment balconies. In the rare images in which power lines aren't visible, tree branches and shadows do their linear duty. And you almost don't notice the switch. It's all a giant web, with every strand in focus.

Kudos to Kanemura for his masterful depth of field, as well as for hanging 32 of the 60 images here in a tight, sixteen-by-seven foot grid, the better to get a feel for his oeuvre. In his case, overload works. (Schmerler)

 

 

J O S E P H   M I L L S   -   I N N E R   C I T Y

THE NEW YORKER      March 12, 2007

Already the focus of cultlike interest, Mills fills his first New York solo show with street-scene photographs made in Washington D.C., in the late nineteen-eighties, and a group of more recent photocollages.  Partly because both bodies of work are coated with a layer of varnish, they have the look of yellowing artifacts and feel oddly unmoored in time.  That's especially true of the collages --Dadaist collisions of vintage Life Magazine images, often with a disturbingly visceral edge --but the D.C. work is also timeless and even more haunting.  Like Robert Frank and Leon Levinstein, Mills conjures a rough and very personal sort of poetry from people living at society's dead end.  (Aletti)

 

 

A M Y   A R B U S   -   O N   T H E   S T R E E T   :  1 9 8 0 - 1 9 9 0

THE NEW YORKER      October 16, 2006

Arbus, the younger daughter of the legendary Diane, also took black-and-white photographs of singular New Yorkers on the street. The prints here first appeared in the style section of The Village Voice between 1980 and 1990, and they’re fashion photos of the most valuable sort: pictures of genuinely original, outrageously stylish people. (Including, notably, Madonna, poised for fame in a stained and rumpled thrift-store overcoat.) Arbus worked fast, but her images never feel rushed, mixing spontaneity and formality with an assurance that was deceptively effortless or, perhaps, innate. (Aletti)

 

THE NEW YORK TIMES     September 17, 2006

Annals of Self-Invention


A new book, “On the Street, 1980-1990” (Welcome Books), assembles 70 images from the more than 500 Ms. Arbus made over 10 years for The Village Voice. Her photographs capture the fun — as well as the posturing — in a straightforward documentary style.“The idea from The Village Voice was for me to go out and find people wearing something that turned my head,” Ms. Arbus said by phone from the Cohen Amador Gallery in Manhattan, where an exhibition of 25 of the photographs is on view through Oct. 14. “I found the subjects by just wandering around my neighborhood.”“Michiyo Saito, East Seventh Street, 1989,” was taken in front of a shop that sold clothes imported from Japan. Ms. Arbus had walked by one day and looked inside. Everyone who worked there wore clothes from the shop. She photographed each of them outside in the street.Ms. Arbus said some subjects she stopped in the street to photograph would mention having seen her pictures of their friends in her Voice column. “I wasn’t trying to document a particular group of people,” she noted, “but I eventually realized it was a scene, an extended community.”The picture of Madonna was taken before her meteoric rise. “I stopped her on the street because I recognized her from the gym,” Ms. Arbus said. “She was the one sitting around naked in the locker room the longest. I remember looking at her and thinking that with a body like that, I would too. In the picture she looks as if she knew what was about to happen to her.”Inevitably Ms. Arbus’s work will be compared to that of her mother, Diane. “I’m flattered if people see some correlation,” Ms. Arbus said. “But my work is much more intentionally and less technically sophisticated. My work is less confrontational. It was clear to my subjects that I adored how they looked. I tried to make them feel like they were getting an award for their creativity.”   (Gefter)

 

T A I J I   M A T S U E   :   L A N D S C A P E

THE NEW YORK TIMES     August 11, 2006

"The photographer Taiji Matsue takes aerial shots of cities with a scientific precision that gives his pictures a diverting presence and analytic crispness.  But there is little emotional engagement.  He is too far away for that: he lugs his large-format camera up to elevated vantage points from which he can point it back down on the world below.  New York is photographed from the Empire State Building, Chicago from the Sears Tower, Paris from the Eiffel Tower, and so on.  Perhaps it is relevant that at college in Tokyo he majored in geography, for his images, void of horizons and printed in uniform gray tones, have a compactness and tactility reminiscent of topographical studies.  He also dabbles in darkroom cuisine, cooking up his negatives with an enlarger designed for an electron microscope to achieve a degree of image sharpness and contrast impossible to get with traditional photographic equipment.  This technique suits some cities better than others; the lack of shadows and flatness and the uniformity of light might seem right for a dense, oppressive low-rise city like Athens, where one building looks much like the next.  But when applied to more vertical cities, like New York, Chicago and Sydney, the images homogenize differences and thus seem artificial.   It's a paradox, but too much realism somehow makes these photographs look unreal."  (Genocchio)

THE NEW YORKER      July 24 , 2006

"There are no horizons in Matsue's aerial photographs of Munich, Osake, New York, Kuala Lumpur, and Paris, only a sense of oppressive density and emptiness.  People don't seem to have any place among these intricately arranged buildings; even the parks look deserted.  But, if there is something alarming aboout Matsue's vision of the modern city, his images can be surprisingly seductive.  The cool, unnatural uniformity of the light in his pictures - even more evident in aerial views of deserts and forests - gives the landscapes a distinctly artificial quality.  In the end, Matsue takes realism to such an extreme that it's no longer believable." (Aletti)

 

T H O M A S   K E L L N E R   :   T A N G O   M E T R O P O L I S

ABOUT Photography       April 10, 2006

German photographer Thomas Kellner was born in Bonn in 1966 and studied at the University of Siegen from 1989-1966. In 1997 he gained a Kodak Award for Young Professionals. He lives in Siegen in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, but his pictures show famous sites from around the world in a very different way.
Many of us may have photographed London's Tower Bridge, but Kellner shows it in a completely different fashion, one that both makes us laugh and also makes us look at this structure in a new way. His version of this - and other famous constructions including Stonehenge, the Capitol and Guggenheims (New York and Bilbao), Brooklyn and Golden Gate Bridges, the British Museum and the Lower Manhattan skyline - are presented as giant contact sheets made up of many exposures. For Tower Bridge he took 12 strips of 12 exposures on 35mm film, using a long lens and carefully working across the scene, but introducing a careful degree of misalignment, resulting in a crazily fractured image when the strips are printed together in which the two towers of the bridge seem engaged in some crazy dance. The gothic of this victorian structure lends itself particularly well to Kellner's approach, as also do the simple forms of Stonehenge, where again he really makes the stones dance. (Peter Marshall)

 

K E I Z O   K I T A J I M A  :  N E W   Y O R K

THE NEW YORKER      April 3, 2006

"These gritty, aggressive photographs, which Kitajima took in New York in the early nineteen-eighties and are only now being exhibited here, will inevitably be compared to the work of his brilliant teacher, Daido Moriyama, as well as to the work of other, earlier denizens of these mean streets. But whether he's shooting in Harlem, on Christopher Street, or at the Mudd Club (isn't that Madonna?) Kitajima holds his own.  His strongest pictures, all in the inkiest black and white, have the sweaty immediacy and uncomfortable intimacy of paparazzii shots - stolen moments in a city that was even more on edge than usual." (Aletti)

THE NEW YORK TIMES     March 24, 2006

"These days, the Japanese photographer Keizo Kitajima, born in 1954, lives in Tokyo and specializes in urban photography.  But in 1981, he spent about six months in New York, hanging out in New Wave clubs or roaming the streets, taking pictures - often by simply pointing and shooting.  More than three dozen of these gritty, black and white images form his robust New York gallery debut.  The lush blacks of Mr. Kitajima's images, which were initially published in a book and only recently printed, bring to mind his friend and mentor Daido Moriyama.  But Mr. Kitajima's aesthetic, at least here, is all about round edges and people who are anything but average.  Some are hard - working immigrants whose faces loomed close to Mr. Kitajima's lens as they hurried along the street.  Others are celebrities (Mick Jagger) or soon-to-be celebrities (the young Madonna, when her face still had pores), drag queens or denizens of the Mudd Club or CBGB's.  Some are simply people waiting for something to happen, like the rogues' gallery of five men behind a police barrier on Fifth Avenue.   These photographs belong to a long tradition of urban street photography and may not be particularly original.  Still, they have a subtle, seeping power.  Nearly every one of them catches on the fly some element of the personall tensions, yearnings and thrills that make city living what it is." (Smith)                   

THE VILLAGE VOICE     March 8-14, 2006

"This Japanese photographer was drawn to New York after seeing Taxi Driver, so it's no surprise that his early - 80's street shots and portraits have the dark charm of Lou Reed's lyrics.  Flash-blasted and often askew, these black and white compositions of statuesque drag queens and Danceteria revelers with spray-sculpted hairdos and Weimar pallors, plus faces in ecstasy or extremis, replay the jagged contrasts of the Reagan years." (Baker)

NEXT     February 17, 2006

"Although his photos were taken in New York, Japanese photographer Keizo Kitajima's work has never been shown here - until now.  Revel in his keen cultural eye and the incisive social surveys Kitajima made in early-80's New York, including some revealing pieces from Christopher Street gay life.  A near-national treasure in Japan, his award-winning work will be on display in Manhattan through April 1".  (Ocean)

 

E D M U N D   T E S K E  :  I N T I M A T E   V I S I O N S

THE NEW YORKER     January 23 & 30, 2006

"Although Teske (1911 - 1996) has been the subject of recent retrospectives at both the Getty and the Art Institute of Chicago, this is the photographer's first New York gallery show, and it will come as a surprise to many.  Working primarily in Chicago and Los Angeles, Teske developed an idiosyncratic, experimental style involving double exposure, solarization and coppery toning.  His results, combining nudes and the landscape, could be self-consciously rty in the Clarence John Laughlin mode, both this exhibition is careful to balance melodramitic excess with incisive, sometimes hauntingly erotic observation, some of it focused on Kenneth Anger, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Geraldine Page, and a beatific Jim Morrison." (Aletti)

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

K E I Z O   K I T A J I M A  -  T H E   J O Y   O F   P O R T R A I T S

THE NEW YORKER     October 19, 2009

The portraits in this Japanese photographer’s exhibition were made between 1975 and 1991, primarily on the street but also in places ranging from dive bars off the U.S. Army base on Okinawa to New York’s Danceteria. His best work is the earliest, which is dark and a bit disturbing, including shots of off-duty soldiers, working girls, and Tokyo drag queens. Some of these images were rephotographed for maximum grain and distortion, but even without this manipulation much of the later work has a similarly edgy, ominous mood reminiscent of Brassaï, Leon Levinstein, and Kitajima’s teacher, Daido Moriyama. Color portraits taken on New York streets in the eighties swing toward grotesquerie, but that’s why they’re so unforgettable.(Aletti)