beyond cultural appropriation

it has to happen: the appreciation for an object of art transcends the cultural appropriation that has come before the object is first seen. in this case, a tomb’s artwork for the Famiglia Appiani at Staglieno (in Genova) has become famous through the use of a photograph by French photographer Bernard Pierre Wolff in Joy Division‘s second album Closer. like the point of view expressed in The Vanity of Grief, this particular work, at first glance, has to overcome the Vanity of Grief context, and that of the history for a beloved album. yet, the power of this artwork is that it quickly makes those two contexts vanish: there is so much immersion into this work’s layers, that preconceptions were vanished ever so quickly. apparent on the first visit (in May), and fully obvious on a recent second visit, is the many ways that, despite its testament to a Christian presentation, the work catapults away from this context and works from any point of view. for example, it is simple to ignore the two auras, and consider the four women as the same person in stages of grief: disbelief, acceptance, sorrow, and sufferance— for example. personally, the appreciation of an artwork has to transcend the artist’s (or customer’s) intent, and in this case, beyond the cultural appropriation and/or the modern view of elaborate tombstones. this one, personally, is the magnum opus of such work.

 

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via Instagram: A.Touching.Display

 

links:
B.P. Wolff’s obituary [ NYTimes ]
Vanity of Grief account on Instagram [ A Touching Display ]

(all about) Saul Leiter quotes + photos

Early Color has been a book that has shaken the photography world, as well as the latter years in the life of Saul Leiter. now in its 6th printing, one can hope it remains in-print forever, and perhaps begin to rival Robert Frank‘s The Americans in terms of influential books. after perusing All About Saul Leiter, from the recent Japanese exhibit, there was some hesitation that a “greatest hits” book on Leiter would be a let down (as other books have been). then, it is also paperback. but… but… it works wonderfully. perhaps, I think, it is the book to get initiated with Leiter. in American terms, “a Christmas stocking stuffer”. I think the range and selection are great, but the little detail I truly love to wrap everything nicely? quotes. the quotes do not directly affect the view of the next photo, but it affects how a humble point of view is also revealed in them.

to break with tradition of these posts, there are some selected quotes that are good to places here.

important:

  • « there is a tremendous advantage to being unimportant »
  • « I didn’t walk around feeling that I was important… I had not spent my life feeling important »
  • « the important thing in life is not what you get but what you throw out »
  • « photographs are often treated as important moments but really they are little fragments and souvenirs of an unfinished world »

clichés:

  • « his lab assistant once remarked in boredom: “not umbrellas again!”
    to which Leiter replied, “I love umbrellas!” »
  • « a window covered with raindrops interests me more than a photograph of a famous place »

seeing:

  • « it is not where it is or what it is that matters, but how you see it »
  • « I take photographs in my neighborhood. I think that mysterious things happen in familiar places. we don’t always need to run to the other end of the world. »
  • « I like it when one is not certain of what one sees. when we do not know why we are looking at it, all of the sudden we discover something that we start seeing. I like this confusion. »

 

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NB: yeah, Miles Davis‘s Bitches Brew was a strange pairing, but once absorbed into the NYC state of mind, it works nicely.

at Staglieno

unlike the Vanity of Grief that envelops all of Monumentale in Milano, the vanity at Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno is quite contained. in this sense, Milano‘s Monumentale offers an edge over Genova‘s. this is because the significant statues are confined to the building in Staglieno, with “regular” headstones graveyards dominating the field. in some ways. this is a good situation because there is no need to compete between the two, and the experiences were complementary. strangely, the best works at Staglieno were those used on the cover artwork for Joy Division‘s releases**. I was hoping that they were chosen for their design goal, rather than being the most exemplary statues at cemeteries yet seen.

[ link ] another video from Staglieno [ on Instagram ]

{** there is a sense that, exposure to the work via a covert artwork, and the music contained therein, would make it the favorite one. however, this is not the case. the Appiani family grave statue is quite magnificent, working at many layers as photographs and paintings can affect one at a museum. }

 

 

the vanity of grief

a second visit to Milano’s Monumentale, and this phrase still rings as the best description. the first visit was 6 hours, until I got kicked out, and this one was still 3 hours. the impact is still there, and unlike appreciating all the statues at a museum like the Louvre. for obvious reasons, despite the vanity of these burials, the emotional impact is quite subjective, regardless of the family that executed such pieces of art for their loved ones. it is the case that every visit is peeling at the layer of the impressionable collective arrangement, and revealing a personal connection to a few graves at a more intense level.

[ links ] more at instagram

when Kertészian goes towards Leiter-ism

I have been pursuing a project in Instagram, under Kerteszian, to bring simplicity onto a photograph with a sense from André Kertész‘s The Polaroids. a kind of emotional Haiku in a simple photo, be it made to look like a Polaroid or BW. the main thing is to reduce the visual noise when looking, before a photograph is taken. aside from the simple composition, there is André Kertész‘s use of shadows. while he was more graphic in the use of shadows, as in not necessarily used to obscure or create a negative space, my use is more into the negative space use of the shadow. none of this quite in the dominant language from Saul Leiter, as his negative space seems to be derived from obstructionism of other objects. (I think that both photographers also strive from that emotional Haiku.) however, it seems that in using too much shadow, the photograph (as shown below) goes to some place between André Kertész‘s and Saul Leiter‘s signatures. (NB: this is not an allusion to a similar quality, as that is not the point of my photos, rather to have an incomplete description as “photograph= photographer1 + photographer2 + « je ne sais quoi » “)

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alternate version to that posted on Kerteszian Instagram account

[ link ] Kerteszian on Instagram
[ link ] fernand de Beauvoir on Instagram

hedges or trees? hedges of trees?

« […] Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to (discover**) get to know the ice. » — Gabriel García Márquez‘s first sentence on 100 Years of Solitude. this came to mind as I took my daughter to get to know the French garden trees, which are manicured like hedges. for me, they bring to mind the variations of Claude Monet‘s haystacks, with many photographic possibilities. the amount of time I spend looking at them, examining for the time of day, and the changes with seasons is unlike many other repeated themes in my photography. as my friend Peter Keyngnaert (@peterkeyngnaert) mentions on a reply: « Well I guess you HAD to show [her] those! », but I think in the end it was an excuse for me to visit the park at St. Germain en Lay and know that I have to return for more photographs at different times of the day, and seasons.

~
** why is “discover” used in translations, when the word used by GGM is “conocer”? I can never be sure. there is “descubrir” in Spanish for “discover”. such a translation robs the first line of much of its magic. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

link: typically, I photograph them as lone, singular, creatures and present them in varying effects, like this other version in the same park [ link to Instagram]

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venetian projections

Venice has re-kindled some ideas on photography. there was a philosophical view that Venice developed in a very different way to the European cities that I have been able to visit— or let me say, any cities I have visited outside of Japan. there is also the sentimental search for a replacement to Old San Juan: a bubble that has an insular growth and texture to experience. (worth noting that both are small islands next to a their metropolitan mainland.) one of the photographic ideas to seek, out of many, is the projection of light due to the way the location was built. from the strong usage of light/shadow by Hungarian (André Kertész) and Czech (Jaromír Funke) photographers for Still Life, it is easy to extend this concept to the Still Life of a city, and its many variations due to the time of day and the consequences of people’s actions. the part that is not easy is that, as it is well-known, there is the beauty of Venice— photographed a million times over— and one having to look elsewhere. this is not about seeking something new, but to find some comfort in what has become familiar through other locations.

link: other examples posted to my Instagram account, starting with the first photo, and working forward in time from it.

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