donderdag 16 augustus 2018

Views & Reviews THE EVERYDAY LIFE TRANSFORMED Veramente Guido Guidi Photography

Guido Guidi Veramente

Veramente encompasses Italian photographer Guido Guidi’s entire oeuvre, bringing together excerpts of his series from 1959 to the present day to illuminate the distinctive photographic language he has forged over a 40-year career.

Guidi, a pioneer of new Italian landscape photography, was influenced by architectural history, neorealist Italian film, and conceptual art. Using photography as a process and an experience of understanding, Guidi’s body of work frames a visual discourse that revolves around what it means to see, or what it may mean to offer up an image.

Veramente is published to accompany a touring exhibition of the same name opening at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in January 2014, and then moving to Huis Marseille Museum voor Fotografie, Amsterdam in June and the Museo d’Arte della Città, Ravenna in October.

Guido Guidi was born in Cesena, Italy, in 1941. He studied in Venice at the University Institute of Architecture (now IUAV), where he followed the courses of Bruno Zevi, Carlo Scarpa and Mario De Luigi, and at the Advanced Course in Industrial Design with Italo Zannier and Luigi Veronesi.

Guido Guidi, Veramente
By Loring Knoblauch / In Photobooks / July 29, 2014

JTF (just the facts): Published in 2014 by MACK Books (here). Paperback, 172 pages, with 121 black and white and color photographs. Includes texts by Marta Dahó and Agnès Sire. The monograph is also the catalog for a retrospective exhibit, with 2014 stops at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson (here), the Huis Marseille Museum voor Fotografie (here), and the Museo d’Arte della città di Ravenna (here). (Spread shots below.)

Comments/Context: Given the dramatic influence that urban and suburban sprawl has had on American societal development and the large number of extremely talented photographers (New Topographics branded and other) who have chronicled this massive post war expansion, we often tend to have the blindered, myopic view that ours is the only place in the world that has gone through these kinds of wrenching architectural and environmental transformations. Of course, that conclusion is patently false, and great photographers from all over the globe (particularly the UK, Germany, Japan, and more recently China) have investigated the seen and unseen consequences of rapid economic expansion, watching carefully as the old has been incrementally supplanted by the new. For many of us, we haven’t often thought about this process in a more integrated global fashion, comparing results from alternate geographies and artists to look for commonalities and differences, both in the ways the physical built environment has evolved and in the variety of artistic approaches being applied to capturing the ongoing changes.

The Italian photographer Guido Guidi has spent a forty year career observing the exurban evolution in his own native landscapes (and in other nearby European locales), and this retrospective volume provides a succinct summary of his thoughtful approach to documenting the kind of overlooked, marginal places we have become accustomed to finding here in America. His story begins in the early 1970s, with rich, squared off black and white views of vernacular suburban architecture (multi-unit concrete or stucco buildings), stylistically reminiscent of the frontal geometric formality of Lewis Baltz or Judy Fiskin. By the mid 1990s, he had transitioned to small format color, stepping back and capturing overlapped layers of open streets, vacant lots, ugly apartment blocks, and decayed infrastructure, often with an eye for new covering old or groups of people caught in some in-between space, interrupted by a telephone pole (like Lee Friedlander), a cast shadow, or a parked car. More recent images have moved on to large format color, diving deeper into the lush textures of rotting planks, faded plastic crates, stained walls, rusted oil drums, and stray dogs, with worm’s eye views of the sidewalk bringing us right down into the gutter, where every loose pebble becomes an item of interest.

Interleaved with this consistent look at Italian transitional landscapes has been an ongoing conceptual investigation of the elemental nature of photography, from experiments with light and shadow to multi-image time elapsed series. Early black and white works find him playing with sequential diptychs, pushing us into the dilated space between the turning of a newspaper page, the arrival of a wave at the beach, or the twist of perspective looking up at a ceiling light. By later in the 1970s, Guidi had colonized abandoned John Divola-like rooms, making ephemeral diptychs as the sun cast parades of ever changing angular shadows through the windows. After his transition to large format color, he reprised some of these same themes, moving outdoors to track light as it crossed a wet underpass, a muddy rooftop, and an intrepid clump of grass on a sun baked walkway. Each pairing is a meditative investigation of transient fluidity, of subtly changing mood in otherwise fixed circumstances.

Seen together, the two picture making methodologies inform each other more than we might normally expect. With Guidi’s time series works in my head, his undefined, empty suburban spaces started to look less like lucky snapshots or formally composed individual observations, and more like points in a larger continuum of broad thinking about societal transformation. Minute changes across textural surfaces show us one kind of close up evolution, while faded signs, torn posters, and cannibalized architecture tell us something similar about the molting surfaces of our cities.

While many of the New Topographics photographers easily edged into hectoring, caustic tones, Guidi never wavers from straightforward realism – a dose of quiet visual humor now and again, yes, but never outright irony or intentional lecturing. His results are less stark and more contemplative than his contemporaries, providing a look at neglected landscape spaces that encourages slow, deliberate investigation to uncover its nuances. For all their wasteland ugliness, these pictures never feel discouraging. Instead, they feel attentive and reflective, their judgments left open ended.

Collector’s POV: Guido Guidi is represented by Pedro Alfacinha in Lisbon (here), but I was unable to discover any US agent. His work has very little secondary market history here or in London/Paris, so gallery retail likely remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.

Guido Guidi "Veramente", 2014. Photograph: Courtesy Mack



Two dogs snoozing away on a greyish dust road. Fenced in horses next to high piles of wooden pallets. Or a man reading a newspaper in a café. Banal situations which at first glimpse don’t offer much to take a photograph of. Not so for Italian photographer Guido Guidi.

As the recently published retrospective of his 40-year-career titled “Veramente” shows, Guido Guidi broke with the rules of what had generally been considered “photographable” up to the 1960’s.

As Marta Dahó writes in her accompanying words of the book:


Guido Guidi Veramente
Atri, Italie, 05.2003 © Guido Guidi


The dominant subject matter throughout Guido Guidi’s work is territorial transformation. Born near the city of Cesena in the northern part of Italy in 1941, Guidi has dedicated a great part of his oeuvre to documenting the changes in that area.

His images are silent witnesses of a landscape undergoing profound changes: Once an agricultural area on the edge of a suburb and now traversed by a highway.

The artist himself once referred to his photographs as “ugly”. But he doesn’t care.

His approach to photography is a reflection of his character. Unpretentious and observant.

Agnès Sire puts it like this in her afterword to “Veramente”:


Guido Guidi’s images don’t offer explanations. He shows reality. A reality formed and shaped by changes either so subtle that most are people not even aware of them. Or they don’t wish to pay attention to them thus avoiding to think about the consequences of what little changes – seemingly insignificant when looked at individually  – might add up to in the long run.

Guidi’s photographs are sober and stripped down to the core reminders of “what’s there” or “what’s real” – veramente.

More information about Guido Guidi “Veramente”
“Veramente” by Guido Guidi (2014): Published by MACK with an essay by Marta Dahó and an afterword by Agnès Sire.

Guido Guidi Veramente
Guido Guidi “Veramente”, 2014. Photograph: Courtesy Mack

maandag 13 augustus 2018

Views & Reviews Anastasiia Photobooks of the year 2018 (so far) Christian van der Kooy Photography

Published on 2 August 2018
Photobooks of the year (so far)
Written by Izabela Radwanska Zhang

From the series Anastasiia © Christian van der Kooy

Foam founder Marloes Krijnen, curator Yumi Goto, and photographers Rob Hornstra, Mark Power and Mariela Sancari highlight the photobooks that have impressed them most so far in 2018

Anastasiia by Christian van der Kooy
Published by Eriskay Connection
Nominated by Rob Hornstra, photographer and self-publisher

Dutch photographer Christian van der Kooy has spent over a decade working on a number of projects around eastern Europe. The photographs in his new book are shot over two years in Ukraine, a country subject to fluctuating tensions with neighbouring Russia, particularly prior to and after the annexation of Crimea, while also being a place of continuing uncertainty, socially and politically, since it ceased to be a communist state.

This is observed through the eyes of Anastasiia, and narrated as a love affair with Van der Kooy. The photographer interlaces documentary images of her daily life with screenshots of Skype conversations and text messages. His motivation is neatly described in an introduction by the publisher: “There is an urgent need to capture a visible, understandable cultural identity that listens to the ideas of a younger generation…[Van der Kooy’s] depiction of Ukraine demonstrates the creative way the Ukrainian people deal with the current developments in Kyiv, Odessa and Crimea.”

“The book serves as a subtle counterpart to the hard news that has highlighted Ukraine in the past years, and beautifully balances the intriguing line of reality and fiction,” says Rob Hornstra, who picked the book as his favourite of the year so far. “Jörg Colberg perfectly expressed my feelings towards the book by stating that he was unable to read Anastasiia in one sitting, simply because he didn’t want the experience of spending time with the book to end.”

Zonder titel (vier volmaakte perziken op een schaal) | Christian van der Kooy
• 26 JULI 2018 • WERK

[ Deze tekst schreef ik in mei 2018 in opdracht van de fotograaf ter begeleiding van zijn boek.
Ze is ook te vinden op zijn website ]

Dit boek is een atlas. Een atlas van een mentale ruimte gevuld met betekenissen uit twee belevingswerelden.

Deze atlas stelt je in staat een reis te maken van buiten naar binnen, van West naar Oost en weer terug, een reis van het ene perspectief naar het andere, en van zachtheid via verwarring en irritatie naar begrijpend voelen. Het is een lange tocht, heen en weer, zonder duidelijke bestemming en met verlangen als tijdelijke pleisterplaats. We kruipen voorbij Cliché, doen Neurose en Ontzetting aan, struikelen over Gewoonte terwijl we ons langzaam en geduldig – sporen in het landschap helpen ons de juiste weg te herkennen – een weg het onspectaculaire binnenland in banen, waar Begrip, Extase en Overgave liggen te wachten. Waarom zo metaforisch? Omdat bij een boek waarin intellect en emotie elkaar in zo’n complexe choreografie ontmoeten, het begrip alleen op metafysisch niveau kan ontstaan.

Hoe dit boek te lezen? Van voor naar achter, bijvoorbeeld. In één ruk, misschien – hoewel een tegenargument kan zijn dat de romance zo lang mogelijk gerekt moet worden – , meerdere keren, dat is onvermijdelijk. Waar te starten met de duiding van dit objet d’amour? Zomaar een idee: WE BEGINNEN BIJ DE LIEFDE voor een grensland vol pracht, drama en absurditeit. De fotograaf-bewonderaar – hij maakt zijn foto’s van op afstand, alsof hij niet aan de overrompeling wil toegeven – transformeert gaandeweg van buitenstaander naar ingewijde. Onherroepelijk verandert zijn blik mee, wordt die bijgestuurd, gekleurd.

christian van der kooy, the eriskay connection, anastasiia, spread

Liefde blijkt uit de manier waarop het boek is vormgegeven en uitgevoerd. Het roze van intieme dingen. De sensuele dimensie van de kattentongen-ruwe lichterroze linnen rug, dat voorhoofd (om een zoen op te drukken) en die wang (om de jouwe tegenaan te vleien). En ja, ook het roze van de verliefdheid die de kiem van dit boek vormde en de kleur van de brillenglazen waar eigenlijk heel het leven doorheen bekeken zou moeten worden.

Liefde ook van de fotograaf voor zijn tweede thuisland dat hij met de onbevangen blik van een jongeling streelt. De dansende krullen, de ontblootte billen, een godin op een steen, warme kiezels onder een handdoek, vier volmaakte perziken op een schaal, de gewelfde lippen van een vreemdeling, hypnotiserend geel, gras dat kietelt en fluisterende bomen. Maar vooral: de liefde tussen Anastasiia en haar Christian. Een zinnelijke, jaloersmakende liefde waarin de protagonisten elkaar tot poëtische hoogtes stuwen in een samentaal – een kenmerk van goede liefde.

“No. I imagine you in Koktebel learning to play durak. Or, no, in a scary garage under a grey sky in the rain when we were searching for the flying house on one leg! All I feel now is love in every cell, in every drop of my blood! I’d love to appear on your couch now, covered in salt and some lemon juice maybe, we would have a shower of tequila and dance.”

De liefde is zowel onderwerp als voertuig. Het is de liefde die een perspectief op het onderwerp Oekraïne biedt dat dichter bij een waarheid op menselijk niveau komt dan de spektakelbeelden uit de media die ons ongenadig achtervolgen. Ze komt ook tot uitdrukking in de innige relatie tussen tekst en beeld: hier trefzeker, daar weifelend, soms conflicterend. Ze ontluikt in de dialoog tussen twee fysiek van elkaar gescheiden geliefden die te midden van verandering een fundament voor hun samenzijn proberen te leggen, terwijl ze simultaan grip proberen te krijgen op het zelf in relatie tot de ander, terwijl onbegrip en verwijdering op de loer liggen.

De liefde is een psychose, een hardnekkig vasthouden aan een droombeeld dat al lang door de werkelijkheid is ingehaald; een droom die aanvankelijk al het andere naar de achtergrond verdrijft en zelfs vervangt door een eigen realiteit met het uitnodigende karakter van een ménage à trois.

“News on radio: they put love diagnosis to the world list of mental diseases…”

BUITEN DE COCON DAVERT DE ACTUALITEIT. Terwijl de ontdekkingsreis vordert, de verzengende liefde een gematigder temperatuur krijgt en het winter wordt, manifesteren de gebeurtenissen zich hoe langer hoe meer in de berichten. Hoop is nodig, ondanks de vreemdeling op het bankje die wijst op onwaarschijnlijke gebeurtenissen uit het verleden. We moeten blijven geloven in de kracht van liefde, de kracht die je een beter mens doet worden, de kracht waarop een land zichzelf kan doen verrijzen en haar stof en ballast kan afschudden.

“We are drinking a milkshake that tastes like lipstick from an old pleasure madam who sticks her nose in dusty books to get high; but reality is to absurd and grotesque to sink in pages!”

Het hele boek lang speelt het spektakel op het tweede plan. De politieke gebeurtenissen lijken zodoende buiten de foto plaats te vinden. Ze verstoppen zich in en tussen sporen die slechts door de geduldigen gelezen kunnen worden, in plaatsen en lichamen waarvan de betekenis zich enkel prijsgeeft door een minutieus verkennen van details, ook de schijnbaar onbeduidende, omdat die net zoveel zeggen als de schreeuwerige. Alleen in rust ontvouwt zich de rest van het karakter. Te weten waar en wanneer we precies zijn, wiens bloed of welk roet wordt weggepoetst, welke deals worden gesloten en welke leuzen onleesbaar gemaakt is van ondergeschikt belang. “Da Pravda!”, schrijft onze hoofdpersoon, de waarheid is echter subjectief en pluriform.

christian van der kooy, the eriskay connection, anastasiia, spread

Eén waarheid is dat er naast de actualiteit van tumult en bominslagen ook het dagelijks leven is, dat de koelkast gevuld moet worden, de zon altijd en overal ruggen verwarmt; de warmte van een eindeloos lijkende zomer die zich alleen laat verjagen door een koele duik. En in elke actualiteit is er is altijd ook de liefde. Het boek staat bol van dergelijke tegenstellingen –  Christian versus Anastasiia, oude versus nieuwe overtuigingen. Welk – en wiens – Oekraïne we krijgen voorgeschoteld is een onmogelijk te beantwoorden vraag. Daarbij, het is onzin om te streven naar een antwoord als er nog gezocht wordt, onderwijl in de wetenschap verkerend dat er alleen fragmenten gevonden zullen worden.

TERUG NAAR HET BEGIN. De fotografie heeft steeds een relatie tot tijd en plaats, maar binnen de grenzen van dit boek, deze roze cocon, vormt ze haar eigen universum dat op geen enkele kaart te vinden is. Dit boek is de atlas van een poëtisch land waarin de schilferende verf van een betonnen zwembad de bast van een plataan imiteert en de omgewoelde aarde rond de stam van diezelfde boom op haar beurt zich aan de vorm van het zwembad spiegelt. Het is ook een land van wensen, dromen en mogelijkheden, zoals nieuwe naties die geboren worden uit de dromen en speeches met het doel verandering te brengen (en worden omgebracht omdat de niet gedroomde wereld bang is voor wat zou kunnen zijn).

Terug naar die ongelofelijke titel, ontleend aan het werk van de schrijver Joseph Brodsky. Herinneringen als valscherm voor een veilige landing in het heden of de toekomst. Herinneringen als drijfhout die ons, door ze te delen, helpen onthouden dat we niet gek zijn, terwijl we al dobberend ook nieuwe herinneringen maken. Dat geldt zowel de liefdesrelatie als de zoektocht van een land naar een eigen culturele identiteit.

Is het mogelijk nostalgisch te zijn naar een plek waar we nooit zijn geweest? Wel als die besloten ligt in een boek dat even fysiek is als de realiteit. Bij het elke volgende keer openslaan zal de betekenis van wat zich op de pagina’s bevindt veranderd zijn, zoals tijd ook de facetten van een geliefde prijsgeeft. Zelfs die gestolde vorm is niet voor altijd vast.

christian van der kooy, the eriskay connection, anastasiia, spread

woensdag 8 augustus 2018

How Selfies killed the Postcard Photography

How selfies killed the postcard
Andy Dawson
Even the rain in Spain couldn’t persuade me and my family to send a humble card. But now a leading postcard firm is closing, let’s celebrate a lost art
• Andy Dawson is a freelance writer and author of Get in the Sea

See also

Mail Art Postcards A visit to all 863 municipalities in The Netherlands 1972 Wim Gijzen Martin Parr Artist's Book 

 ‘I recently bought a postcard, dispatched from Woburn Abbey in the 1950s, solely because of the message on it.’

Tue 26 Sep 2017 13.24 BST Last modified on Thu 22 Feb 2018 16.27 GMT

Last month I spent an occasionally fraught week in Spain with my two kids – and for the first time, we didn’t send a postcard home to their grandparents.

We almost did. On day five we were in the little supermarket round the corner from our hotel and as I walked past the revolving rack of postcards in the doorway, I briefly stopped and looked at them, before deciding that we wouldn’t bother.

Postcards on the edge as Britain’s oldest publishers signs off

There didn’t seem to be any point. The previous evening a freak thunderstorm had left our balcony and the hotel lobby underwater, with two of the three pools knocked out by flash flooding.

My nine-year-old son, a keen YouTuber, quickly flipped into cyber-journalist mode, reporting on the drama as I pointed my smartphone at him. Minutes later, the video had been uploaded and friends and relatives had been emailed a link.

This is the way it is now. We go away on holiday but it’s easier than ever to remain in touch. Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram all provide the means for us to keep everyone back home abreast of our movements (assuming they haven’t muted us as a result of irritation, jealousy or apathy).

But today I am appalled by my decision not to send a postcard, having read about the imminent demise of Britain’s oldest postcard publisher. J Salmon will shut its 140-year-old operation at the end of the year, blaming shrinking markets and the rise of social media for nose-diving sales.

Look what we’re doing. We’re killing off the postcard and none of us even realise it, because we’re too busy tweeting pictures of our hot dog legs by a nondescript pool somewhere sun-drenched.

See also

Views & Reviews Selfish Terribly Awesome PhotoBook Kim Kardashian Photography

There used to be a genuine thrill associated with receiving a holiday postcard; even if the words on the back were bland, with just a weather report and a list of sights that had been seen, it gave us a chance to gawp at the destination while reassuring us that the sender hadn’t been killed by a shark or some dodgy foreign food.

Postcards on the edge: curator's homage to a dying tradition

That is, of course, if the postcard made it back to the UK before the holidaymakers themselves. The sight of the postcard on the doormat four days after you had got home was par for the course if you had travelled abroad, unless military precision was applied and postcard duties were carried out on day one.

Of course, the humble postcard used to be more versatile than just a holiday bulletin device – in the days before email and premium-rate phone lines, we would turn to it to enter a newspaper competition or vote for a singing binman on Opportunity Knocks. But no more.

One of my favourite places on earth is the indoor weekend market at Tynemouth station on the coast near Newcastle. There’s a fantastic stall with hundreds of old postcards divided into various categories, some blank, others used and decorated with stamps, offering glimpses into the lives of strangers.

The sender Ruth, wrote ‘I remembered I’ve left my button-up green dress in the sitting room. Please could you send it as soon as possible’

I recently bought one, dispatched from Woburn Abbey in the 1950s, solely because of the message on it. The sender, Ruth, wrote: “I remembered I’ve left my button-up green dress in the sitting room. Please could you send it as soon as possible.”

After that came some mundane space-filling about what Ruth was up to in the next day or two before she signed off with some thinly disguised passive aggression: “I would like my dress by Saturday.” Hopefully Mr and Mrs SJ Ashby of 10 High Street, Polegate, got the message.

Postcard from the past: a nostalgic glimpse into holidays of yesteryear

Unlike vinyl, there will probably be no revival for postcards, which is a shame. As they slide towards extinction, you could do a lot worse than visit postcard-killing Twitter and check out the @pastpostcard account. It promises “fragments of life in real messages on postcards from the past” – and boy, does it deliver.

There are more than 6,000 tweets there, with cards from across the globe, accompanied by snatches of ephemeral information from the senders. We can only wonder about the whole story behind “Raymond looks well but very quiet. Doesn’t say much at all” on the back of a picture of a bloke sitting in the Howard Davis Park in Jersey with his shirt off.

I’ve just ordered the spin-off book, mainly from guilt at having contributed to the death of the postcard industry. I’m blaming the rain in Spain.

• Andy Dawson is a freelance writer and author of Get in the Sea

Boek: Boring postcards – Martin Parr
demaakbarewereld / 10 september 2013

IJslandse boring postcard
De boring postcard is nog altijd actueel. Deze kaart nam ik in 2011 mee uit IJsland.

Over de jaren heen hebben zich in mijn boekenkast naast heel veel romans, graphic novels, natural history en reisverslagen ook de nodige fotoboeken verzameld. Sommige bekend, anderen obscuur, maar altijd leuk om weer eens door te bladeren.

Zo is daar het boekje Boring Postcards van Martin Parr. Martin Parr is een beetje een held van me. Zijn foto’s zijn van een geniale lulligheid, die de mens in al zijn ontluisterende platheid tonen. Ontluisterend, maar op een bepaalde manier ook ontroerend en troostend. In momenten van twijfel en zelfhaat is het heerlijk om even op zijn fotoserie Bored Couples, of de strandfoto’s te Googelen en te zien: we zijn allemaal maar arme sukkelaars.

De Boring Postcards zijn niet door hemzelf gemaakt, het is een bloemlezing uit zijn collectie saaie ansichtkaarten. Viaducten, betonnen winkelcentra, caravanparken, fabrieken, de meest saaie onderwerpen zijn ooit door iemand op een ansichtkaart afgedrukt. Je hoopt bij het doorbladeren maar dat een deel van de kaarten ooit uit marketingoverwegingen is gemaakt, en niet serieus bedoeld om naar vrienden en bekenden te worden opgestuurd. (“In deze vertrekhal hebben we vijf uur op onze vertraagde vlucht moeten wachten. Heerlijk geklaverjast met een stel uit Beverwijk.”)  De meeste lijken uit de jaren ’50, ’60 en ’70 te komen, en de rood, geel of blauw uitgeslagen foto’s ademen dan ook een fijne vintagesfeer.

Nu ik dit stukje schrijf, kan ik me weer helemaal verliezen in de foto’s, die overigens zonder enig commentaar of bijschrift worden afgedrukt. Neem het plaatje van het interieur van een wegrestaurant boven de M6. We zien een lange bar, gedekt met een hele rij bordjes en bestek, inclusief servetjes. Erachter een ober in wit uniformjasje met strikje die de bestelling opneemt van een vrouw met opgestoken jaren-zestigkapsel. Ik zie donker zeil, nepleren stoeltjes, en 16 fantastische, knalrode, druppelvormige lampjes die ik dolgraag zou willen hebben. Door het muurvullende raam een stukje grijze snelweg, een wit-met-glazen bijgebouw, en een oplegger.

Het gaat allemaal nergens over, en toch fascineert het me mateloos, dit soort foto’s. En voor je het weet ben ik weer verzeild geraakt in een nutteloze maar entertainende Google-sessie over Britse wegrestaurants uit de jaren ’60…

Boring Postcards
samengesteld door Martin Parr
Uitgeverij Phaidon, 1999
ISBN 9780714838953

vrijdag 3 augustus 2018

Views & Reviews Does Yellow Run Forever? Paul Graham Photography

Does Yellow Run Forever
Graham, Paul
ISBN 10: 1910164062 / ISBN 13: 9781910164068
Published by Streidl

Signed by the Photographer Paul Graham - Does Yellow Run Forever? Paul Graham?s Does Yellow Run Forever? comprises a series of photographs touching upon the ephemeral question of what we seek and value in life ? love, wealth, beauty, clear-eyed reality or an inner dream world? The work weaves in and out of three groups of images: photographs of rainbows from Western Ireland, a sleeping dreamer, and gold stores in the United States. The imagery leads us from reality to dream and illusion, between fact and spectral phenomena, each entwined one within the other. Does Yellow Run Forever? refuses to reduce the world to a knowable schema, but instead embraces the puzzle - that there are no singular meanings, direct answers, or gold waiting at the end of the rainbow. Yet, there are startling visions in the everyday, be they ?beautiful? or ?ugly?, that there are dreams worth dreaming, magical scenes to be seen, and true moments of wonder to be found as we shiver the mirror of life. SBN 9781910164068 Embossed hardcover 96 pages 31 colour plates 13.5 cm x 19 cm.

Posted on September 29, 2014 by Disphotic

Does Yellow Run Forever?
Paul Graham

I’ll say it straight away, as photographers go Paul Graham ranks high in my estimations. Looking back across the span of his career in advance of writing this review acted as a reminder for me that few photographers have exhibited his diversity of subject matter, his willingness to experiment, or his knack for the manipulation and application of the unique attributes of photography and the book format. This reputation means that on the one hand I’m pretty prepared to gobble up anything new he puts out, but it also means the bar has been set pretty high, and his new work has much to live up to.

Graham’s latest book is Does Yellow Run Forever? a small volume which consists of just three types of photographs. The first photograph shows a young black woman asleep in a series of bare walled rooms, an image which is then followed by three photographs of rainbows in the west of Ireland. This pattern repeats again, then in the middle of the book a new feature is injected, three photographs of gold merchants and pawn shops in American cities. This pattern repeats once more, and then returns to the original pattern of sleeper and rainbows through to the end of the book. The final photograph shows a rainbow disappearing into the ground, the location of the proverbial pot of gold.

And that’s it, there’s no text apart from the title and a small amount of publishing information at the back. At first glance it’s disarmingly simple, even slightly disappointingly so. But then Graham’s best projects have always had this first glance simplicity about them, which on repeated inspection gives way to more and more discoveries. It’s true here as well, even if the discoveries definitely don’t feel as revelatory as in some of his previous works (and given the small size of the plates one has to hunt rather harder in the images to find them). Graham’s intended meaning is also rather harder to identify than in his previous works, perhaps partly because the total absence of text leaves our interpretations to hinge so heavily on the photographs. Thats fine with the rainbows and gold merchants which are fairly self-explanatory, but it took finding out that the sleeping woman is Graham’s partner for the book to suddenly make a whole lot more sense as a meditation on the things that keep us all running on the treadmill of life. The inexpressible loves, the awe inspiring beauties, and the fickle pots of gold.

I wouldn’t normally mention the production quality of a book except in passing, but here it deserves a little more attention. Does Yellow Run Forever? has been very consciously constructed, with its gold coloured felt like cover and debossed lettering, gold marbled end papers (reminiscent of the almost abstract photographs of clouds in Graham’s 1994 project Ceasefire) and gold edging on the pages themselves. The combination of these three elements leaves the book hovering (rather like real gold) between opulence and tackiness, with only its diminutive size and the restraint of the photography helping it to avoid plunging into the latter. That said given gold isn’t the only topic at work here it’s questionable whether the design gives the viewer certain pre-expectations about the book’s subject that perhaps colours the way they subsequently interpret the photographs. Certainly for me there was an element of that.

Does Yellow Run Forever? is undeniably slight compared to some of Graham’s previous epic works like Troubled Land or New Europe, or the ambitious multi-volume Shimmer of Possibility. It’s also I think in some ways one of Graham’s least accessible works, which is a pity because part of why I’ve always admired his photography is his knack for making difficult topics and ideas relatively accessible but without being simplistic. That said it’s also a nice little volume, which rewards repeated contact. I don’t think it’s up to his usual standard, but at the stage Graham is at in his career I can forgive him a little abtruse indulgence.

Does Yellow Run Forever? is published by MACK.

Paul Graham: ‘Does Yellow Run Forever?’

“Senami, Shambhala, New Zealand” (2011), in Paul Graham’s show, organized by Pace and Pace/MacGill.Credit2014 Paul Graham, Pace Gallery and Pace/MacGill Gallery

By Karen Rosenberg
Sept. 25, 2014

A sentimental lyricism, with strong Romantic leanings, distinguishes Paul Graham’s latest show of photographs, organized by Pace and Pace/MacGill, from his social-documentary efforts. Here, his subjects include rainbow-streaked landscapes in western Ireland, pawnshop storefronts in New York’s rougher neighborhoods and tender portraits of a woman — the photographer’s partner — asleep in various rooms in New Zealand.

Mr. Graham sticks to his signature installation format, hanging prints of different sizes at varying heights. But as is rarely the case in his shows, the relationship between placement and content seems almost too obvious: The rainbows hang high on the wall, and the street views skirt the floor, with the sleepers sitting at roughly bed-height in between. The pictures of the sleeping woman, however, change the entire dynamic of the show: its emotional highs and lows, its contrast of Constable-esque countryside and urban grit. They are exceptionally lovely images, framing the sleeper’s graceful features with colorful blankets and reveling in the strange poses of deep slumber (arms swaddling head, back curling away from pillows). They give the pawnshops and rainbows a magical, somnolent quality, making them part of her dream world, even as they present their own dream of contentment.

‘Does Yellow Run Forever?’
510 West 25th Street, Chelsea
Through Oct. 4

Paul Graham: Does Yellow Run Forever? @Pace and Pace/MacGill
By Richard B. Woodward / In Galleries / September 17, 2014

JTF (just the facts): A total of 20 color photographs, alternately framed in white/gold and unmatted, and hung against white walls at different heights (from floor level to above eye level) in a series of four interconnected gallery spaces (11 walls). The prints are a mix of pigment prints and c-prints mounted on Plexiglas (15 pigment prints, 5 c-prints), made between 2011 and 2014; the show includes 1 triptych and 1 diptych (all pigment prints). Physical sizes range from as small as 32 x 43 inches to as large as 63 ½ x 96 inches, and the prints are available in editions of 5+2AP. A monograph of this body of work was recently published by MACK Books (here); it is an austere 96-page hardcover catalog (7 7/8 x 5 5/8), with 31 color plates and no essay, priced at $50. This show has been jointly organized by Pace and Pace/MacGill, and is on view at the Pace space on West 25th Street; it is not on view at the Pace/MacGill space on East 57th Street.

Comments/Context: To display photographs of rainbows in a prominent  New York gallery, an artist today had better have a good explanation. Paul Graham never provides one in this sweet, nervy, if unduly hermetic show, but he has enough confidence in himself to make pictures of this Romantic cliché in the belief that we will follow the arc of his thought wherever it leads and ultimately feel rewarded.

Before the publication of A Shimmer of Possibility in 2007, he spoke of a wish to do with photographs what Chekhov did with words: to construct stories about ordinary people out of familiar elements, adhering to the tenets of realism while altering our preconceptions of its boundaries.

Does Yellow Run Forever? (a candidate for worst title of the year) seems to be asking us to fashion a love story from three ostensibly unrelated parts. The eleven different rainbows constitute the largest group of pictures here. Five portraits of his partner, Senami, asleep in bed, and four urban landscapes of pawnshop facades, emblazoned with signs advertising that they buy gold, are the other two subjects.

Each subject was photographed in a distinct place and style. The rainbows were observed in Ireland and all have wild, outdoor settings packed with clouds, mist, greenery, rocky hills. In one Claudean landscape a tree protrudes into the foreground beside a slate-gray body of water.

In the portraits of Senami, taken during a 2011 trip to New Zealand, she is covered in brightly colored sheets or a blanket, her dark face and arms the only visible parts of her. The rooms are plain, windowless, and she is angled into one or another corner. The pawnshops are pictured head-on. All are located in the outer boroughs of New York City, where the British-born Graham now lives.

How we choose to edit these three groups of pictures into a narrative is up to us. Graham offers no manual. The duality of yellow may be one theme. It represents both the “natural” warmth of the sun’s energy and, in a darker hue, the “crass” materialist substance of gold. As such, we can sense here the adventurous life of an artist invited to travel the world is engaged in a Wagnerian struggle with the responsibilities and burden of making a living back home in Manhattan.

Rainbows are full of symbolic resonance (they appear after the storm, signaling its end) and scientific wonder. Ethereal embodiments of the color spectrum, they depend on two properties of light, reflection and refraction, and were of special interest to Descartes and Newton, as well as the scholar-poet Goethe. They are also dazzling meteorological events—and sufficiently rare, like gold—that for seconds or minutes they can turn the head of almost anyone, no matter how rushed or jaded, toward the heaven. Like photographs, rainbows are both commonplace and deeply magical.

It is brave of Graham to gamble on these responses from us. It is also borderline foolhardy, as rainbows have been thoroughly exploited to make us feel good about dozens of commercial products, everything from Lucky Charms to Ben & Jerry’s discontinued ice-cream flavor Chubby Hubby. The rainbow is now politicized, as the symbol of gay marriage, not to mention as the name for Greenpeace’s environmental attack yacht and for Jesse Jackson’s defunct presidential organization. Maybe the only subjects that Graham might have chosen that would be riskier would be sunsets and unicorns.

What saves him in this case is the absence of irony and the space he has left around the pictures for interpretation. He wants to reclaim rainbows from their debased status and he almost succeeds because they aren’t the most precious subject of these pictures. Senami is. The show revolves around her sleeping head, leaving us to ask: Is she dreaming these images? Or is he? Or are we?

Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced between $35000 to $65000 each. Graham’s work has surprisingly little consistent secondary market history, so gallery retail likely remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.