© Roberta Ridolfi
Like memories suddenly resurfacing, Italian photographer Roberta Ridolfi shares rediscovered images from a trip to Andalusia last September. “It’s amazing how editing can change the meaning of an edit,” she says. The edit indeed has a lighter mood compared to the original. Ridolfi finds inspiration from classic cinema, as if foretelling of her chosen title for the original series, Texas Hollywood
. As if to emphasize this natural psyche, the way she describes how she became a photographer, is like reading the opening of a story: “My uncle had an old Nikon he bought in the 70’s he hardly ever used. For some reason he thought I could do something with it. Next thing I knew, I quit university and enrolled myself in a photography course. One thing led to another.”
Roberta currently lives and works in London as a fashion photographer.
© Misha Taylor
Most may be familiar with Misha Taylor as a fashion and portrait photographer whose undeniably seductive and grappling work has graced the pages of magazines such as V Man
. In a rare instance, today, Taylor shares with PLANET a very special personal project he has been working on.
Taken in Durban, South Africa, these images reveal a reality that often goes unrecognized in mainstream media– the effects of Chinese trade agreements on the youth of Africa. Ice cream vendors on the beach fronts of Durban sell 9mm replica pistols that shoot plastic BB guns made in China to young children. Regulations in China forbid the sale of such items within its own country’s borders, subsequently forcing exports to countries like Durban, where a less controlled government sees them sold, not only without regulation, but to those as young as six years old. On the one hand, Misha tells PLANET, “what is happening isn’t all bad”– indeed, Africa needs investment that can boost education and development and China needs Africa’s natural resources. However the emerging economic and political power of China on Africa has been a dual dance of good and bad.
Doug Aitken, Altered Earth, 2012. Commissioned and produced by the LUMA foundation, photo © Robert Leslie.
The gallery walls came tumbling down in the 60’s and 70’s when a generation of land artists stepped outdoors and used nature as their canvas. For Robert Smithson, the doyen of the Earthworks movement, whose “Spiral Jetty” still protrudes from the shore of the Great Salt Lake, art was meant to engage with the outside world in a way that it couldn’t when cooped up inside. “A work of art when placed in a gallery loses its charge,” he stated in that earlier era.
It’s a shame Smithson couldn’t be there for Doug Aitken’s projection of movie images on the façade of New York’s MoMA for 2007’s “Sleepwalkers.” It was a case of art finding its way outside the museum’s walls but with the added twist of actually becoming the museum’s walls. Delineations between inside and out, real world and representation, never felt so fluid.
As a multimedia innovator, Aitken has built a reputation for reimagining time and space. Few artists come better equipped to capture the kaleidoscopic fever dream we know as life in the present day. With his latest installation, “Altered Earth,” he sets about creating what’s being billed as land art for the electronic age, and in 21st Century fashion, the results are disorienting and overwhelming.
From Out My Window by Gail Albert Halaban, published by powerHouse Books
If you live in a city, in a place where you can look into other people’s windows through your own, it may be irresistible to indulge your voyeuristic impulses. We all love mysteries, and what could be more mysterious than a parallel life witnessed in glimpses through glass? Just ask Jeff Jeffries, the character played by James Stewart in Hitchcock’s masterful Rear Window
. Laid up at home with a broken leg, Jeffries gets so involved with his Greenwich Village neighbors that he gives them inventive nicknames like “Miss Torso.”
With its crowded-together buildings and social diversity, New York City is the perfect locus for a film like Rear Window, or the similarly voyeuristic Dirty Windows, photographer Merry Alpern’s 1995 book of images secretly shot through the window of a low-rent sex club. But not everything going on through those neighboring windows is tacky or suspicious. Witness Gail Albert Halaban’s beautiful new book Out My Window (powerHouse), a warm and lyrical study of New Yorkers and their windowscapes.
© Ariko Inaoka
Ariko Inaoka is a photographer from Kyoto, who only shoots film to this day and has her own color dark room. PLANET is pleased to present Ariko Inaoka’s beautiful world full of light and wonder.
© Samantha Casolari
When photographer and past PLANET contributor Samantha Casolari told us she was headed home to Italy for summer vacation, we asked if she could send back some images from her trip. The collection presented here, intimate images that exude a sense of place, friendship, and the passage of time, are imbued with Samantha’s signature sense of color and mood. They are fitting remembrance of a summer just passed.
The Invisible Man, Harlem, New York, 1952. Gelatin silver print
“I am an invisible man,” begins Ralph Ellison’s famous 1952 novel, in an opening that rivals “Call me Ishmael” and “Lolita, light of my life” for its compact resonance. The narrator of Invisible Man
goes on to say that he’s “not a spook like those that haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood movie ectoplasms.” Instead, his invisibility is caused by race: being a black man in 1950s America makes him a blank canvas onto which people’s fears and anxieties are projected.
How do you photograph an invisible man? That was the challenge Gordon Parks took up in 1952, when Invisible Man was published. At that time, Parks himself was a highly visible black man. He’d broken through race barriers to become the first African-American staff photographer at Life magazine, and had written his own prose and poetry. He’d made an enduring and iconic portrait, American Gothic, in which a dignified cleaning woman symbolizes the shabby treatment of blacks in America.
The soulful images Parks produced, with inspiration from Ellison’s novel, are the subject of an intriguing exhibition, Contact: Gordon Parks, Ralph Ellison and ‘Invisible Man’ at the Howard Greenberg Gallery. At the time he made this work, Parks had just won a plum assignment to work in Paris for Life. He was leading a cosmopolitan life of glamor–but his passion and empathy for Harlem shines bright and clear in his Invisible Man series.
Fashion photographer Billy Kidd’s newest work explores his partner and muse, Heather Huey, a milliner whose pieces have caught the attention of stylists such as Karl Templer and Nicola Formichetti. Huey and Kidd have been working together as artists and lovers with Billy behind the lens and Heather as inspiration for almost two years, using Huey’s body cages and sinuous cocoons to help create poetic images that retain intimacy and anonymity. The result is an erotic ballad that is contemporary yet classic. Their work will be on view from September 6th at Clic Gallery.
Both of your work have an aesthetic that is undeniably grounded in classical aesthetics–Billy your work recalls Lee Miller and Man Ray, Heather you create headpieces, which are historically significant. Yet both of your work is undeniably contemporary. Has this brought you together?
Billy: I feel that’s why Heather and I get along so well. We have such similar tastes that we often respond to the same things.
How did this body of work begin?
Billy: We started shooting almost 2 years ago as a photographer often does with his lover/muse. Heather being the shy one, took some time to open up in front of the camera. Our love and comfort with each other was the catalyst for where it went. It was a goal of mine to, without retouching, to alter her body into different shapes.
Greame Williams, Sisulu released. South Africa, Soweto, 1989. © Greame Williams.
ICP’s latest tour-de-force historical exhibition is Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life
, opening September 14th. The exhibit attempts to include all the important forms of visual documentation that bore witness to South Africa’s sixty years of apartheid: films, books, and photographs in all forms, from newspaper-commissioned to social documentary to photo essay.
The exhibition is of course powerful for its subject matter, and the show digs deep in its illustration of how apartheid touched every aspect of life, large and small. You see the South African Communist Party demonstrating in a large group, with arms raised defiantly and film cameras swarming the scene. Contrast this with the lone woman on a streetcorner, protesting against hangings to passing traffic. Contrast this with a pro- segregation demonstration backed with Biblical quotes. Throughout, Rise and Fall of Apartheid is valuable for the way it showcases South African photographers working in incredible times, and under incredible pressures.
The show’s deep reach is thanks to its curators, the Nigerian-born Okwui Enwezor with Johannesburg-based Rory Bester, two specialists of modern and recent-era South Africa. Rise and Fall of Apartheid runs September 14 – January 6.
John Cage, A Dip in the Lake, 1978.
John Cage has been an important figure on the landscape of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago since literally the beginning: he performed at the opening of the institution’s first-ever exhibition in 1967. In the decades that followed, Cage and the MCA enjoyed a fruitful working relationship, with the artist creating and performing scores on-site and the museum hosting performances of his works over the decades, continuing after his death in 1992 and into the present day.
If only just for those performances, MCA would be a precious keeper of Cage’s legacy. But the museum has more: the material results of its long association with the artist can be seen in MCA DNA: John Cage, a multimedia exhibition opening September 1st of photographs, letters, performance, video, and Cage’s idiosyncratic scores, the most famous of which is created on a large map of Chicago. The exhibit seeks to make Cage’s scores come alive again, with displays and materials that demonstrate how to interpret them. Elsewhere the artist’s influences, such as books he kept, sit next to notes he wrote and archival papers documenting his time at MCA. The exhibit mixes art with archive and creative with strictly professional, and keeps the close link to the MCA as a central element throughout. As site-specific as a Cage performance and equally unpredictable, MCA DNA: John Cage is a snapshot of an extraordinary artist’s process.