Between 1930 and 1964, Liberty Theater was the name of a non-whites only cinema owned by Rosalind Fox Solomon’s family in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “There was an irony in the name. I chose Liberty Theater as the title of this book because of its multiple meanings,” she says. “In a broader context, the title relates to performance and pretence in the theatre of life.”
The photographs Liberty Theater collects together were taken through the 1970s to 90s in the southern United States, and have never before been published as a group. From Georgia to South California, through Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana, Solomon captured the complexity of race, class, and gender divisions.
“I had no idea that photography would change my life,” says Solomon, who began photographing when she was 48, after graduating from college, getting married and raising two children. In 1977 she moved to Washington DC, where her husband worked for the General Services Administration, and visited New York City to study privately with Lisette Model.
“You’re always looking for that time where everybody forgets you’re there and becomes themselves. Surprisingly, they do, sometimes to the detriment of what you knew about them,” says Eugene Richards, who has devoted his career to documenting social injustice in America, and injecting himself into intensely personal situations.
Richards’ style is up-close and unflinching, “ironically it’s the process of becoming as not there as you possibly can, if you hang around long enough people don’t care”, he says. Though his photography has been described as poetic and lyrical, he has never thought of himself as an artist. “I went in with some knowledge of photography, but mostly with the idea of providing information,” he says.
“You should get into the habit of looking above eye-level while walking,” says American photographer Brian Kanagaki. “It’s much more beautiful than looking down at the dirty street and trash.” Golden Persimmons, shot over a period of six years, captures geometric subjects in ambiguous environments; spanning over eight countries (though predominantly New York), the brutally black and white images take inspiration from the graphic, organic shapes found in cities globally.
The project began when the design director got lost while taking a shortcut in his hometown, San Francisco. “It was funny to get lost in a city that I thought I knew so well,” he says. “I ended up driving around and finding so many new things that got my mind working.” One of which was decorative trees in people’s front gardens, the original basis for the series. But after moving to New York and spending time travelling, the idea quickly evolved to focus on tying the world together by capturing its mundane similarities.
“I’m one of those people who enjoy feeling like they have control over their life,” writes Mitch Epstein in Rocks and Clouds. “My house is spare and neat, my photographic expeditions are well-planned. Here’s the thing about clouds: they don’t give a damn if you planned well or not.”
Despite having spent years confronting the FBI as he shot power plants throughout America, and photographing his father as he faced the failure of his business, clouds ended up being one of Epstein’s trickier subjects. “I’m really just at the mercy of the unexpected and nature itself,” he says, adding that shooting clouds requires malleability and intuition – both of which are central to his practice.
When she was a teenager, Ohio-based artist Carmen Winant discovered a collection of photo albums filled with pictures of her mother giving birth to her three children. “It was an amazing and slightly terrifying feeling to witness myself being born [in 1983],” she recalls. In 2016, Winant became a mother herself, and noticing a lack of visual work about the experience of giving birth, was moved to produce her own series. “Though it is so common, there is nothing normal about birth,” she says. “I wanted to create a visual, pictorial language that might contribute towards a greater, and more nuanced, understanding.” The resulting installation at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) and the coinciding book, My Birth, incorporate her mother’s photographs of herself giving birth and found imagery of anonymous women undergoing the same experience, as well as a written piece by Winant exploring the shared yet solitary ownership of the experience of birth. Presented chronologically, the images trace the process of labour and birth from the earliest contractions to the breastfeeding of …
Situated on the harbour in the Stadsgårdskajen district of Stockholm is the privately-owned and commercially-run photography centre Fotografiska. A self-styled museum housed in an impressive and beautifully-renovated former customs house, built in 1906 in the Art Nouveau style, Fotografiska opened in 2010, and has since exhibited the work of renowned photographers such as Annie Leibovitz, Joel-Peter Witkin, Anders Petersen, Sarah Moon and Christer Strömholm, to name but a few. Two of the most recent solo exhibitions were of the photojournalist Paul Hansen and the fashion and art photographer Viviane Sassen. Such is the success of Fotografiska that the museum is now set to open two new galleries, with others planned for the future. New York will be first, then London – and the plans for London would make the world’s largest photography gallery.
There is something frantic about David Brandon Geeting’s photography. In his latest collection, Amusement Park, the Greenpoint, Brooklyn-based artist creates a mood that is exhilarating and vibrant, but also verging on collapse, as though its tether could snap at any moment. Where his 2015 book, Infinite Power, was energetic and kinetic, with Amusement Park he’s aiming for “information overload”. “I’m not afraid of making people confused or dizzy,” he says. “I wanted it to be an onslaught of colours and forms and things that don’t make sense.”
Robin de Puy’s new series, Randy, started on a 2015 road trip across the US, after she spotted him by chance in Ely, Nevada, and she asked if she could take his photograph. Back in The Netherlands she found he stuck in her mind, and returned to see him at the end of 2016, in February 2017, and in May 2017, taking “hundreds” of portraits. An exhibition of this work, which includes photographs and videos, is on show at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht from 26 January-13 May; Hannibal also recently published the series as a photobook.
London’s Hayward Gallery is reopening with a huge Andreas Gursky retrospective on 25 January, celebrating its 50th anniversary and its return after a comprehensive two-year refurbishment. The first major retrospective of the acclaimed German photographer in the UK, Andreas Gursky will include around 60 of images from the 1980s to the present day. Focusing on man-made structures and large gatherings of people. Gursky’s images draw attention to our changing relationship with the natural world, and chronicle the effects of globalisation on daily life; his subjects range from a crowded techno music festival in Germany (May Day IV, 2000/2014), to an underground water tank in the Kamioka Nucleon Decay Experiment in Japan (Kamiokande, 2007), in which a boat glides amid a gold-studded interior. “I only pursue one goal,” he has said, “the encyclopedia of life”.
For Susannah Ray to get into the centre of New York city, she must first travel over a series of bridges and waterways. Whether driving across Jamaica Bay or taking the subway from her home in Rockaway Beach, Queens to Brooklyn or Manhattan, she repeatedly finds herself captivated by the sights she encounters – the sky changing colour above the water; the birdwatchers on the shores; men fishing near a scrap metal yard, up to their waists in waders. She sees groups of people performing religious rituals, gatherings and prayers on the banks of the river. She sees more simply being. Ray’s image of New York is utterly coloured by its relationship with the water. So when she decided to create a portrait on the city, she decided to use those urban waterways to weave it all together. “The water serves so many different purposes for so many different people,” she says. “It acted as a focal point. The communal draw symbolises that idea of coexistence.”