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LOVE

Had a fun time in New York last week. Stayed with Jack and Marisa. Below is not Jack. Below is Chris by Jack.

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We went to Christopher Anderson’s book launch for Capitolio. It was great to see it after recent reviews, heated debates (check out comments) questions and wot not. I don’t think the selection of the images was the best.

At the Metropolitan, Surface Tension: Photographs from the Permanent Collection was a pleasant whimsy into some mesmerizing works, notably Adam Fuss’ UNTITLED (1997) made by the metronome shimmers of snakes upon black dust upon white dust. Image Source: Cheim & Read

Fuss, Adam

The Met’s photography department was putting together the final touches on Robert Frank’s The Americans which opened this week. It was all hands to the pump as evidenced by besuited Malcolm Daniel – who I spied carrying large, heavy object (post?) behind a partition and into the exhibition space.

Egg and Cheese Bagel.

Over at the Museum of Modern Art, I was pleased to see Russell Lee‘s work Bulletin Board in Post Office Showing a Large Collection of “Wanted Men” Signs, Ames, Iowa (1936). Who doesn’t love a mug shot?

Lee, Russell, MoMa Bulletin BoardCRI_61685

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Bringing the practice of mapping of transgressions into the 21st century, the Spatial Design Lab from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University exhibited its Million Dollar Blocks Project (2006).

Brooklyn. Million Dollar Blocks

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On Monday night I sat with Andrew Lichtenstein. We talked. Andrew recommended Brennan Linsley‘s work and was quite emphatic about the book ‘Concrete Mama‘. He also spoke highly of Max Kenner and the work at the Bard Prison Initiative

Tuesday, I met Emiliano Granado. We were first in contact over his San Quentin Giants pictures. We talked about many things including Trevor Paglen, Argentina, the Burke Gilman, and the Horticultural Society of New York, which recently lost Barbara Margolis who was an inspiring leader. Emiliano recommended Alessandra Sanguinetti‘s work.

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On Sunday, I’d been at the WTC construction site. There was some portraiture on display in a window. The space behind the window was closed but would usually be open. The photographs were easy on the eye.

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On my last night I checked out Steven Hirsch’s Courthouse Confessions.

That’s Matt Kelley looking at Steven’s work. He’s coordinator for Change.org Criminal Justice, online communications for the Innocence Project and all together nice bloke. Matt’s double identity is twittered and can be followed here and here.

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Hirsch takes street portraits of folk going to court, secures (in some ironic twist) a non-binding statement and then transcribes it verbatim to go with the portrait. Constantly moving the camera, Hirsch uses hard flash and distorted angles/zoom to depict these individuals as shape shifters; as anomalies. The fact Hirsch’s subjects (in most cases) seem alien to the logic of the courts – that any lessons arising from their cases are unlikely to effect sentencing laws in the future – should but be a source of disquiet for us as an audience.

Hirsch, Steven

One last thing. On Saturday, I saw John Baldessari sat outside a Grennwich Village coffeehouse, but I bottled saying anything. I’ve learnt that famous people abound in Manhattan and you see ’em everywhere.

Thanks to everyone who altered their orbits a little to coincide with mine.

NCN

No Caption Needed (NCN) is a bubbling blog-broth of visual politics and opinion that swills about their own cast-iron-think-piece cauldron. Last year, NCN (Robert Hariman & John Louis Lucaites) posted thoughts on America’s Prison Industrial Complex.

NCN began by stating, in my opinion, an irrefutable fact, “The prison system in the United States gives a hard meaning to the adage ‘out of sight, out of mind’.”

2008. Copyright: Andrew Lichtenstein

2008. Copyright: Andrew Lichtenstein

Specifically, NCN was reacting to the formidable work of Andrew Lichtenstein who has documented for many years America’s sites of incarceration. In 2006, he was a Soros Documentary Photography Grant recipient.

The words that stuck with me from NCN’s post The American Gulag were those that lamented Democrat and Republican obstinacy and mutual blindness to shared agendas. NCN suggests both major parties have ideological roots which should inform progressive positions on prison reform and thus the down-scaling of US reliance on custodial sentencing:

The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world; the causes include both excessive income inequality and the disintegration of the family. Given that both conservative and liberal arguments are proved correct, you might think that a strong bi-partisan effort could be made to keep millions of Americans out of prison. Think again, for why would anyone bother to fix something they never see?

NCN’s brand of commentary on this type of pariah-issue is in stark comparison to the empty promises of politicians to reach across the aisle.

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