Tidbits 11/08

I can’t wait to see Ballast, and hope I haven’t missed it, like I missed Trouble the Water. The director, Lance Hammer, namechecks Eggleston and Hido on KCRW’s The Treatment, all while sounding like my kind of filmmaker, one who isn’t scared of stillness, silence, or not using the latest digital camera. When was the last time you saw Tarr’s Werckmeister Harmonies, or that weird Affleck/Van Sant experiment Gerry ? (Everyone hates that film but me.)

Some of the best photography I’ve seen in the last three months has been in cinema, specifically Robert Gardner’s Forest of Bliss which is one of the most artfully-filmed verite documentaries I’ve ever seen. Some of the shots in that film are so damn simple and expressive, I keep seeing them when I close my eyes. It’s also the world’s best brochure for a trip to Varanasi, in that it shows how beauty and horror can co-exist all twisted-up like two trees with a shared trunk.

I saw three films from Nathaniel Dorsky, one of which answered this 2-year old 2point8 question about the motion-picture equivalent of street photography. Dorsky’s candid cinema from the streets of San Francisco is a marvel. Seek out his films if you can.

A friend told me about Masao Yamamoto, and how he makes small pictures, carries them around in his pocket, treats them with tea, and stashes them in boxes.

Saul Leiter’s “Early Color” at Jackson Fine Art looks like the DNA for color street photography. It’s solid and deceptively simple, a template for shooting abstractly, while incorporating just enough human detail to ground the scene, and in doing so, make it come startlingly alive. That, and it’s amazing to see the color of NYC slush that’s over 60 years old.

A few years ago I was in a film frenzy; the best cinema being a blissful merge of literature and cinemaphotography. Films as photographic fiction. I couldn’t get enough Malick, Marker, or Gordon Green. The other day I found “Rosy-Fingered Dawn” a documentary on Malick which I never knew existed. I wonder what happened to Aronofsky‘s creative mojo (Robo-what?) — how he could make films as innovative “Pi” and “Requiem for a Dream” with so little since, and why I’ve seen so few films (recently) by young American directors that approach the innovations of each.

I still can’t tell Ellen Barkin and Ellen Burstyn apart.

Eager to see “Slum Dog Millionaire” (I think) and “Gomorrah“.

I’m unsubscribing from a lot of rss feeds these days. Replaced by Twitter.

The shows I had this fall taught me more about art, community, and what it means to engage the world in an upright, responsive (and responsible) way than I’ve learned from photography itself. I’m exaggerating, but still.

After hearing music photographer Danny Clinch talk about how much he relies on his Leica and Tri-x rated at 800, I miss my Canadian-made M4P more than ever. Danny also has a great suitcase full of Neil Young stories.

I don’t recall seeing the work of Sergio Larrain before.

Thanks for your emails about “So Help Me” which came off without a hitch. If you’re eager to get work into a gallery, it might be worthwhile to consider how you can e x t e n d your mission -> how your photographs can be than just “pictures on a wall”. In building So Help Me into an Election Night party, with videos & speeches and everything else (the ballots didn’t really come together after all) it felt great to make a space where people could gather, watch the returns roll in, and generally live through the experience, in real time, and feel the end of this ridiculous electoral calendar, culminating in Barack’s win at 11pm w/ cheers and champagne. I had the chance for a gig at Ebenezer Baptist that night, and although turning down the shoot was tough, I’m glad I was able to experience such an evening with a smaller crowd, in a space we created, on an evening that spiraled into celebrations in the streets.

In thinking about public art that works, Zoe Strauss‘ extra-efforts under that Philly freeway have been on my mind. The mission to get photography in the hands of those who want it most, democratically, regardless of whether or not editioned prints are affordable. (Riding that public art idea into the marketplace is 20×200, of course.) The whole put work in front of everyone, everywhere, whenever possible thing. It flies in the face of “how things are done” and god bless it for that and for so much more.

Speaking of public art, if you have a perfect lens-based public art idea, Atlanta Celebrates Photography is looking for you, and has an Open Call for Proposals. Deadline is January 5th! (No fee.)

If you buy airfare to the inauguration months before the election, you might want to book a hotel room before the hotels raise their rates 500% after the country’s favorite candidate mops-up nearly 370 electoral college votes.

There’s more, but there’s always more, whether I’m updating this site or not, so that’s that.

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