Cola and cigarette advertisements, a man scaling San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the fuzzy bright lights of Broadway. This is some of the iconography that makes up Werner Bischof’s collection of colour photographs from early 1950s America. Alongside them are images of everyday life; the shadow of a tree on a brick building, a car in snowfall, and workmen constructing a highway bridge in California. The work is going on show for the first time, in an exhibition devoted to his USA series at David Hill Gallery. Bischof was the first non-founding member to be welcomed into the then-fledgling Magnum collective, in 1949 joining Robert Capa, David Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson and George Rodger. He had already become recognised for his pioneering use of colour photography, and was one of the first documentary photographers to take the format seriously. At the time of joining Magnum, most of Bischof’s contemporaries still predominantly worked in monochrome, a trend that continued well into the 1960s. USA is a series of work that brings early 1950s America vividly to life, …
Publications we loved, and the big news stories from the last month in photobooks – including the nominees from the 2019 Mack First Book Award and an interview with photobook collector extraordinaire Manfred Heiting
“If we don’t look at them, or if we try to sanitise it, then it’s not honest to this brutal experience of being homeless,” says Danish photographer Thilde Jensen, who is currently raising funds to publish an impressive four year project on homelessness in America, The Unwanted. Shot over four years in four American cities – Syracuse, Gallup, Las Vegas, and New Orleans, Jensen is currently raising funds on kickstarter to publish the project as a book, which will include 120 colour images, as well as a poem by Gregory George – a homeless man she met in New Orleans – and an essay by Gerry Badger.
“I got into photography because I’m a little restless, and I liked that it was fast,” says Brazilian photographer Mona Kuhn, who has just published her sixth book with Steidl, She Disappeared Into Complete Silence. Even so, the speed of photography haunted her, as Kuhn feared that her photographs would be consumed then discarded – like so many of the magazines she read and tossed away. “I wanted to stop time with photography,” she says. “That’s another reason I got into nudes, for the timeless aspect.”
She Disappeared Into Complete Silence is an experimental project shot in Acido Dorado, a reflective house in the middle of the Californian desert designed by American architect Robert Stone. Inside it are mirrored ceilings and walls, which refract sheets of golden desert light that flood the house. Here, Kuhn presents a solitary nude on the edge of the desert, removed from any symbols of time, creating “an abstraction of being,” and “a space where our mind resides”.
Photographed in the forests and mountains of the Ozarks, Matthew Genitempo’s first book, Jasper, published by Twin Palms, is a poetic exploration of the American landscape and the people who seek peace within its grasp, filled with an emotional range that is hard to pin down. Completed as his graduate thesis for an MFA at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, it’s the first major project he’s fully completed, and a gear shift towards leading from his gut.
“I was making photographs of the American Southwest, and Jasper [named after the town in Arkansas where many of the pictures were made] began when I abandoned all that work,” he says from his home in the west Texas town of Marfa. “I had been making photographs that were preconceived, but I wanted to make pictures that were leading with my eyes and my instincts.
In the early 1900s, Paul Thulin’s great-grandfather settled on the coast of Maine, reminded of his homeland of Sweden. Thulin’s family has returned to Gray’s Point each summer ever since, and Thulin has been working on a project there, called Pine Tree Ballads, for over a decade. Initially inspired by his grandfather’s photographs, he hopes it has “a subtext of struggle and hope that mirrors my narrative sense of self and heritage”.
BJP: How did you first get into photography?
PT: My journey into photography started as a way to rebel against my growing contempt and frustration with the limits of language to effectively communicate. In 1996, I returned from a stressful year of studying Philosophy in a Master’s program at Syracuse University and I remember wanting to escape into the mountains to possibly join a Zen monastery. I wanted to meditate and remain silent in an effort to really just experience the world.
This desire led me to discover the writings and images of photographers Minor White, Frederick Sommer, and Emmet Gowin, as their mystical and spiritual use of photography intrigued me. Before I knew it, I borrowed a 35mm camera to try to make meaningful images of my own and I was hooked.
Dawoud Bey, Jess T. Dugan, Rosalind Fox Solomon, Shahidul Alam, and Zadie Smith have been announced as the honourees of this year’s Infinity Awards, organised by The International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York.
American photographer Dawoud Bey will be presented with the Art award, Jess T. Dugan with Emerging Photographer, and Zadie Smith with Critical Writing and Research, for her piece in the New Yorker titled Deana Lawson’s Kingdom of Restored Glory. This year’s jury was composed of: Erin Barnett, director of exhibitions and collections, ICP; David Gonzalez, co-editor, Lens Blog; Kristen Joy Watts, editor of @design, Instagram; and Rhea L. Combs, curator of film and photography, National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“The Pink and Blue Projects were initiated by my five-year-old daughter, who loved the colour pink so much that she wanted to wear only pink clothes and play with only pink toys and objects,” writes JeongMee Yoon. “I discovered that my daughter’s case was not unusual.
“In the United States, South Korea and elsewhere, most young girls love pink clothing, accessories and toys. This phenomenon is widespread among children of various ethnic groups regardless of their cultural backgrounds. Perhaps it is the influence of pervasive commercial advertisements aimed at little girls and their parents, such as the universally popular Barbie and Hello Kitty merchandise that has developed into a modern trend. Girls train subconsciously and unconsciously to wear the colour pink in order to look feminine.”
When Kanghee Kim started making photographs, it was out of frustration. Due to visa complications, Kim hasn’t been able to leave the US for 10 years, even to visit her relatives back home in Korea, because her entry back into the states isn’t guaranteed. Now 27, Kim moved to New York with her family when she was 14. Getting a green card should have been simple – at the time there was a need for more nurses in the states, and her mother was helping to fill that gap – but their lawyer missed a deadline, and Kim was never able to secure a citizenship. Eventually, she was protected under the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) policy, but her status has made leaving the country too much of a risk. “I really miss Korea, especially over the last few years,” she says. “Korea is the motherland. Whenever I see photos or hear about it I feel a bit torn.” Kim didn’t get into photography until her final year of studying painting at Maryland Institute College …
“I was quite scared to begin with,” says Ingvar Kenne, who has now been to ten Bachelor and Spinster (B&S) Balls, all in different regions of the Australian outback. “It’s by far one of the most intense things I’ve ever experienced. It’s full on, and non-stop.”
B&S Balls are notoriously drunken and raucous. They were originally set up to give young people in rural Australia the rare opportunity to meet a potential life partner. Nowadays they are mostly an excuse to party and let loose, but many of the old traditions have stuck, and hundreds of people still drive from all over the country to take part.