Magazine Contemporary Culture


Photographer: Ed Panar

For the most part, his subtle color photography has mined the territory of what he calls “the edges or background of the human scene.” His 2007 book “Golden Palms,” a study of Los Angeles, exemplifies this approach: the photographs hone in on the patterns or textures of objects. For Panar’s photos, the light falling on the hood of a car, or the way a plant grows through concrete, holds as much meaning as the people who live with these things. In fact, he almost never photographs people, which has made his work fairly abstract.

Panar studied photography in school, and has found an appreciative audience for his quiet photographs, but his new book, “Animals That Saw Me,” seems bound for wider acclaim. “Animals” (published next month by The Ice Plant) does exactly what it says on the cover: each photo is a memento of an extra-human encounter. He says it’s his “tribute to living beings,” and if you can pick up on the humor in that statement, you’re on the right track.
Panar takes a light approach to his work, which extends all the way to the CV section of his website, which may include the best jokes on the photography internet—if you can find them. While there’s clearly something funny about faux-portraits of animals, Panar also sees his more abstract photos in the same humorous way. In this interview, he talked about his editing process, the relationship between his different projects, and why “Animals That Saw Me” could help explain all of his other work.

Placing equal weight on editing as well as shooting allows Ed Panar to fully explore the potential that his images have when contextualised. Individual images work together to produce everything from humour to reflection within the viewer. The idea here is not that the images compliment one another to clarify the subject matter at hand, but rather that they work together to resist one simplistic reading. To look at Ed Panar’s pictures over and over again, is to learn something new each time, both about the photographer and also the places he photographs.

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Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon,  From the Series, Contraband, 2010

Shot over five days for the book and exhibition, “Contraband” — of items detained or seized from passengers or express mail entering the United States from abroad at the New York airport. The miscellany of prohibited objects — from the everyday to the illegal to the just plain odd — attests to a growing worldwide traffic in counterfeit goods and natural exotica and offers a snapshot of the United States as seen through its illicit material needs and desires.

Taryn Simon (born February 4, 1975) is an American artist. Simon’s artistic medium consists of three equal elements: photography, text, and graphic design. Her practice involves extensive research, in projects guided by an interest in systems of categorization and classification. She is a graduate of Brown University and a 2001 Guggenheim Fellow.

Simon’s photographs and writing have been the subject of monographic exhibitions at institutions including Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2012); Tate Modern, London (2011); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2011); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2007); Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2008); Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2004); and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2003). Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate Modern, Whitney Museum, Centre Pompidou, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2011 her work was included in the 54th Venice Biennale.

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Jeff Wall


Jeff Wall, Boxing and Boy Falls From Tree, 2010

Over the course of Jeff Wall’s career, his versatile and disciplined approach to the possibilities of the medium of photography to ‘paint modern life’ has resulted in a body of work notable in its attention to composition, scale, color and construction and for its hybrid integration of the documentary and the cinematographic, the ‘street’ and the monumental, two directions he has pursued simultaneously, while being partial to neither.

‘The Crooked Path’ , an exhibition that surveys Jeff Wall’s work from the seventies to today in conjunction with the work of fifty-nine other artists, has just opened at the CGAC, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and will be on view until February 28, 2012. The exhibition was organized by the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and opened there in spring of this year.

Jeff Wall’s work has been seen in a number of large solo exhibitions over the past few years. These include ‘Transit’ at the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen, in Dresden in 2010, and ‘Jeff Wall: Exposure’, a special commissioned exhibition of new black & white works in conjunction with earlier works, at the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin in 2007. That same year an important retrospective featuring a selection of over 40 works, was shown at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and travelled to The Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 2005, ‘Jeff Wall, Photographs 1978-2004’ was seen at the Schaulager, Munchenstein, Basel, for which a catalogue raisonné was published. A related, revised exhibition was shown at Tate Modern, London, for which a complementary catalogue was also published.

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“There is a dialogue to be had about sex. All the information out there, whether it’s about sex parties, Internet sex, or pornography, is overwhelming. There is a real need for an edited voice.”

Classy pervs, rejoice: The coffee-table sex magazine Richardson is back from the dead. British fashion stylist Andrew Richardson (no relation to the similarly licentious photographer Terry) put out three glossy issues featuring porn stars and pontification between 1998 and 2002 before going on hiatus amid the post-9/11 economic downturn. In the years since, Richardson refined his business plan. (Sex = still interesting! Website = necessary!) “It’s the perfect time,” Richardson says. “There is a dialogue to be had about sex. All the information out there, whether it’s about sex parties, Internet sex, or pornography, is overwhelming. There is a real need for an edited voice.”

“Sorry I was being polite because you had put me in a public and difficult position. I actually think the magazine brings nothing to the potential art of pornography and do not want to be quoted in any way. Sincerely, Richard Avedon.”

That was a letter written by the legendary photographer to Andrew Richardson that is proudly reprinted in the opening pages of the third issue of the magazine published in 2002. With its confrontational, potent mix of sex, politics, art and a hefty dose of punk rock attitude, Richardson was never going to be to everyone’s taste. But even if Avedon passed on it, plenty of the highest calibre of photographers ranging from Glen Luchford, Mario Sorrenti and of course, Terry Richardson have shot for its pages, elevating it far above the realms of the mere sex magazine. That the magazine more closely resembles a beautifully put-together coffee table book is probably due to British-born Richardson’s background as a highly-sought after fashion stylist. But inside its pages, stories on group sex, sadomasochism, internet hook-ups, a guide to sexual fetishes represented by handkerchiefs and contributions from the likes of Bruce LaBruce, Harmony Korine, Richard Prince, Jack Pierson, Larry Clark and anarchist, Stewart Home serve to discomfit and entice in equal measure.

After a seven-year hiatus, the magazine returns with an unflinchingly honest look at the female gaze in A4. Crossover porn star, Sasha Grey gives a full and frank interview whilst posing seductively, whereas elsewhere Amy Kellner dishes on Riot Grrl, and transgressive artists like Annie Sprinkle, Valie Export and Carolee Schneeman are profiled in detail. At a time when the conservative nature of advertisers means that sexual provocation in magazines has become a rare commodity, the return of Richardson provides a much needed jolt and frisson of excitement.

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Ditte Haarløv Johnsen, Maputo Diary

Ditte Haarløv Johnsen, Maputo Diary, 2000-2009

Mozambique gained its independence in 1975. It was ruled by the socialist Frelimo Party. My parents decidedto  relocate to  help the government  rebuild the country. We arrived in Maputo on the 11  of  January 1982.  I was five years old.

In 2000,  I spent another summer in Maputo. This time  I helped out at the photo school and got to  use thedarkroom for free. One day walking home from the school I met Ingracia and Antonieta. They stood out fromthe crowd as they strolled down the streets of Maputo, hips swaying. They were openly gay and for Maputo this was truly outrageous.
I approached them and we spent an afternoon together. Gradually they allowed me to get a glimpse into their lives. Stigmatised and  yet inhibited by such a crazy and stubborn will to survive. And with a fearlessness I admired – there was not much left to lose. Antonieta worked the streets and Ingracia  survived  by entertaining in the bars  of the  Shanty  Towns  and  getting  people to  buy  him  beer and food.
They introduced me to their circle of gay friends: “The Sisters”. I  photographed the Sisters and got the  feeling of a  story that was so much  deeper than what a  few picturescould convey. That was the beginning of Maputo Diary.

One and a half years later, I returned. I went to look for Ingracia at the apartment where he used to live. His mother had passed away and Ingracias older sister, Carla, had  taken over the place. She had kicked out Ingracia who was now living with an auntie. Ingracia showed me the way to Antonietas new place. Antonietta was more tired than when we first met. Tired of walking the street every night.
Maputo gets cold in the winter. I would walk the streets with Antonieta – attracted to that dark and secret side of life.
Antonieta was the only man in Maputo that dared wear womens clothes in public. He had worked the streets since he ran away from home at the age of 13.
Whenever he managed to make a little money, he would spend it right away. He said: “Save money for what if tomorrow I might be dead?” And he lied a lot. It annoyed me when he also lied to people about me, bragging about the big money I had spent on buying us drinks at an imaginary bar the evening before. I told him off and he said: “Ditte; When I meet a man I tell him my nameis Isabel and that I have two children, Carla and Nito. My whole life is built on lies”.
On New Years day we travelled to Xinavane, the village where he was born. There, with the family, Antonieta was Antonio. Antonieta died the 11th of January 2004. He was 29 years old. I always felt it as a special confirmation of the bond between us that he died on my birthday.

Ingracia’s brother Zito was in jail. Zito had been using hard drugs for a long time and was now doing time at the “Central Prison”. Marcelo, a Sister, had been accused of stealing a pair of pants off a clothesline and was also at the Central Prison. Ingracia had been inside  for a while. He sold  his stove back home and used the money to pay an officer to sign his release papers.
The prison was overcrowded. There was one water tap for the 2000 inmates and no latrines. A plate of foodwas served once a day and always the same – rice with a watery sauce. Inmates survived by trading food which family brought on the visit that was allowed every two weeks. Sex was traded too.
Marcelo was found innocent and released, having spent eight months in the Central Prison. He returned to his home province and lived there for two years until he passed away. Soraia, the owner of the bar where we usedto hang out, said: “He should have played safe”.

Rui  rented a room in the outskirts of Maputo. He also belonged to the group of Sisters. As a teenager, Ruiwent to Eastern Germany, where he worked on a power plant and came out as a gay man. When East and WestGermany reunited, all Mozambicans were sent home. Coming back was tough. Jobs were hard to find and Rui moved around a lot. Wherever he moved to he would bring with him his pot of orange flowers. Last time we met he said: ”There are so many feelings in my life. I think a lot about love and the work that I don’t have -and  sickness.” And  I  asked  him  what  he meant  by  sickness.  “You  know,  any  kind  of  sickness…  And  I’m afraid because I’m alone…”

Twenty percent of the Mozambican population are HIV positive. Yet it is still a taboo to talk of the disease.Rui passed away in 2004. He was 32 years old

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Gerhard Richter

Uebermalte fotografien, 5 october 1998, Uebermalte fotografien, 8 september 2004 and Uebermalte fotografien, 2 march 2005

Gerhard Richter is a German visual artist and one of the pioneers of the New European Painting that emerged in the second half of the twentieth century. Richter has produced abstract as well as photorealistic paintings, and also photographs and glass pieces. His art follows the examples of Picasso and Jean Arp in undermining the concept of the artist’s obligation to maintain a single cohesive style.

In the early 1960s Richter was exposed to both American and British Pop art, which was just becoming known in Europe, and to the Fluxus movement. Richter consistently regarded himself simply as a painter. He began to paint enlarged copies of black-and-white photographs using only a range of treys.

The evident reliance on a ready-made source gave Richter’s paintings an apparent objectivity that he felt was lacking in abstract art of the period. The indistinctness of the images that emerged in the course of their transformation into thick layers of oil paint helped free them of traditional associations and meaning. Richter concentrated exclusively on the process of applying paint to the surface.

As early as 1966 he had made paintings based on colour charts. Although these paintings, like those based on photographs, were still dependent on an existing artefact, all that was left in them was the naked physical presence of colour as the essential material of all painting.
All vestiges of subject-matter seem to have been abandoned by Richter in the paintings that he began to produce in 1976. Even these supposedly wholly invented paintings retained a second-hand look, as if the brushstrokes had been copied from photographic enlargements.

The extreme variety of Richter’s work left him open to criticism, but his rejection of an artificially maintained consistency of style was a conscious conceptual act that allowed him to investigate freely the basic principles of painting.

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Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand, Embassy VI, 2007

Thomas Demand is known for making photographs of three-dimensional models that look like real images of rooms and other spaces, often sites loaded with social and political meanings. He thus describes himself not as a photographer, but as a conceptual artist for whom photography is an intrinsic part of his creative process. Having studied sculpture under Fritz Schwegler at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf alongside Katharina Fritsch and Thomas Schütte, Demand began his career as a sculptor.

In 1993, he began to use photography to record his elaborate, life-sized paper-and-cardboard constructions of actually or formerly existing environments and interior spaces, and soon started to create constructions for the sole purpose of photographing them. The photograph he takes of this model with a large-format-camera is the final stage of his work, and it is only this image, most often executed in an edition, of six that is exhibited unframed behind Plexiglas, not the models. On the contrary, Demand destroys his “life-size environments” after he has photographed them. One notable exception is his large scale model for Grotto (2006), inspired by a postcard of a Mallorcan grotto Demand has never visited, which was later exhibited. The life sized models are highly detailed, yet they retain subtle but deliberate flaws and anachronisms, such as an unnaturally uniform texture; according to art critic Michael Kimmelman, “the reconstructions were meant to be close to, but never perfectly, realistic so that the gap between truth and fiction would always subtly show”.

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