Maciek JasikAneta at Dusk (2014)

This is clearly an image where one of those spark shower shooting fireworks has been placed just out of from on the river bank, ignited and then with the camera set to burst, the fuse is lit.

You’d think my first thought would be that this is not unlike the more lo-fi work Ryan McGinley has been doing with fireworks for decades (at least I believe it’s now decades at this point).

Truthfully, if you deleted McGinley’s work with fireworks from his larger output as an artist, I would likely reclassify his work as a personal favorite.

But what Jasik has done is taken an idea so haphazard and slapdash in it’s application that it’s difficult to see how anyone saw merit there and turned it into something so thoroughly ephemeral, I only know how to speak of it in terms of haunting-ness.

It’s not just that he leaves a half-baked notion in the oven long enough for it to be done, it’s that he adds something evocative to the proceedings–presumably through careful editing.

This image–in particular–reminds me of that Björk* quote:

There are certain emotions in your body that not even your best friend can sympathize with, but you will find the right film or the right book, and it will understand you.

I’d say add a photograph to that list because this conveys a wistful yet grounded feel that I frequently wish I had a word to call it by its name.

A part of that association is that although I look at it and know the sparks are a result of some sort of fire work, it reminds me of the effect from the original Star Trek they uses for teleportation. It was basically a two part effect. The camera was anchored on a tripod, they lined everyone up in the transporter on their marks and then they walked off while the camera was still running and they faded out the characters while optically printing footage from a slow motion camera that was inverted and then filmed aluminum powder falling against a black background. So the feeling of displacement is not just in my head–it’s a sort of visual rhyme I’m picking up on.

(*Björk‘s latest album Utopia is effing superb, by-the-by… it may not be the sort of thing I usually feast upon but it is one of the best works of Art from 2017.)

Karen KuehnUntitled from MetropoLOVE (2010)

Confession: I find this ineffably effing sexy.

It’s really all the little things in concert that get me worked up into a lather. The texture–his pants (the bunching of the rolled down waist band against the velveteen texture of the rest of the garment), the thickness of the cotton of the waistband and leg holes of her panties (and the visible stitching!!!) vs. the busy pattern on the thinner, inner cotton. His skin against her skin (the sheen and grain of it so tactile.

I love that the picture in and of itself communicates–without a single word–some of the truth underlying the image. The illumination as well as the background (what you can see of it) is very clearly arid and dry. And it turns out that Kuehn is a burner and travels to Burning Man every year with her camera gear.

But it’s really the intimacy of it. His thumb is clearly inside her underwear but the position makes it clear that it’s in the crack of her ass. Further, his index and ring finger are positioned in such a way that he’s almost certainly touching her anus through the material.

Given a wider frame, you would’ve lost the emphasis on the graphicness of the touch while–presuming nothing in the background–contributing a sense of two lovers alone in an empty world.

But the close up here in combination with the gesture, brings in questions of public vs private. With this frame there’s no way to know if anyone else can see this but given that the photographer can, we presume others can but since we don’t see others in the frame, they are both engaging in amorous foreplay with a potential for the behavior to be occurring simultaneously private and in public. (It’s a clever way of invoking the thrill seeking mind set that drives most people to attempt to have sex in public in the first place: the balancing of the risk of being caught with not actually being caught.

Untitled shot on a Mamiya 645 by Heidi Systo

Every now and again I crush hard on internet famous photographers. For example: Kimmie Eliot Fung, Traci Matlock (aka Rose) & Ashley MacLean (aka Olive) and Lynn Kastanovics.

With Ms. Fung’s shift to more textile oriented work and Traci and Ashley’s ‘breakup’ the last three years have remained crush-less. (Even if Ms. Kastanovics never chooses to exhibit her work again, she will always hold a place in my heart not unlike the one occupied by Francesca Woodman.)

But the drought ended when Muss4You posted this photo created by Pratt undergrad Heidi Systo.

Ms. Systo describes herself on her website as:

[A]n artist living in Brooklyn who uses medium format photography to explore issues of identity and voyeurism in the era of social media.

She is who she appears to be.

As far as artist statements go the above hits all the right notes: simple, unadorned and streamlines.

So I was surprised to find another expanded statement on her Flickr profile:

Since the era of social media, photography is more accessible than ever. From the perspective of teenage girls it is a tool used to gain attention through provocative imagery posted on sites like Facebook, Flickr, ad [sic] Tumblr. My work explores the relationships between photographer, photograph, and ultimately how it is consumed at various levels in the realm of social media. I portray these attention seeking girls at different levels of development, from passive and curious, to sad and aggressive. As an artist, I am shifting the power away from the viewer and on to the subject. No longer an object to be either discarded or idolized, she now becomes a window into the unsettling viewer’s gaze.

This again towers over most undergrad artist statements—which suffer from the default ego-tripping blather setting; but a young artist whose work is so precocious, edgy, technically savvy and stands on its own, doesn’t need to be explanations.

Unless the statement is meant to reveal the artist is fully aware of what she is doing—and given the swaggering confidence of the photographic voice, doing so seems unnecessary/redundant. (Then I am admittedly kinda anti-artist statement…)

Regardless, I cannot recommend her work highly enough. Definitely check her out. Just don’t tell her I sent you. The lesser known fourth law of thermodynamics holds that: beautiful women render [me] incapable of managing fuck all more than stuttered, incoherent ramblings.

I’d rather not come off like a total heel to someone whose work I admire so much.