Man RayParis feat. Lee Miller (1929)

My fixation with this photograph boils down to the line of Miller’s neck.

Weirdly, it reminds me of one of the weirdest notes I ever got from someone looking at a drawing I had made–way back when I was 17 and was determined to have drawing be my medium for becoming a famous artist: someone told me they thought my drafting skills were atrocious (true) and that I lacked even a rudimentary understanding of form (a bit overblown, as far as criticisms go) or the conceptual reflexivity between content, context and materials (also: true) but that they loved the truth of a particular line (which they indicated).

It always struck me as a way of making a scathing critique palatable but I realize now that it was actually a backhanded compliment. And it’s this photo that’s made me understand why that’s the case.

See it’s not just the line of Miller’s neck. It’s sensuous–the way the light chisels her body out from the shadows. The pose is meditative and intensely vulnerable but everything about it seems to radiate a warrior’s strength and self-possession.

Also–synchronously: my MFA cohort has begged me to organize an informal class where we screen underappreciated/forgotten miracles of the cinematic form. Last night we I presented Joachim Trier’s Thelma. (Trier is one of the most exciting young filmmakers in the world, having made three films that are all wildly different in style and tone but that all embody a startlingly refined sense of visual dynamism and psychological intensity.)

It’s the 2nd time I’ve seen Thelma (and it’s even better the second time around–I’m pretty sure it’s the first movie in a decade to crack my top 10 favorites of all time) and I was even more impressed with the attention to detail and depth. But also: it’s a bit unnerving to watch because I not only relate to the character but I also see the movie as a kind of mirror because the degree to which the character is aware of herself as both herself and a character in a dramatic scenario short-circuits a lot of my own parameter defenses and I have this weird experience of watching someone who not only looks like I see myself in my head but experiences the world in a way that goes far beyond superficial similarities. Watching it is almost like having someone take my notion of myself and putting her in a narrative that would be exactly the sort of narrative I’d put myself in given half a chance.

And that’s how I feel about this photograph of Lee Miller: that although it was made almost a full 50 years before I was born, it still shows me something unexpected about myself.

Victoria Baraga – [←] Self-portrait (2012); [→] Self-portrait II (2012)

I could’ve sworn I posted the Self-portrait II previously–but I’ve spent the last half-hour trying to find it and I see no trace, so…

It’s possible I had it saved as a draft and subsequently opted not to post it.

There’s not one but two layers of ubiquity working against these images. The TLR, waist level finder in the mirror trope deserves every bit of shit the bathroom mirror selfie gets. (Folks who pursue the former tend to get a pass they shouldn’t because they’re doing it the old-fashioned way and it’s not as straight forward was aiming the camera and pushing a button–but both tend to be devoid of any vivacity.)

There are exceptions of course. Laura Kampman does some exquisite things within very narrowly circumscribed margins–i.e. there’s a ridiculous degree of technical mastery at work in her better photos. Baraga, on the other hand, tends to fixate on capturing herself in the act of watching herself.

The result is conceptual satisfying–the viewer watches her watch herself, while she watches herself experience intimacy. It’s a clever deconstruction of the triad where the photography use the camera in an effort to parse time and space in such a way that the viewer of the resulting photo see much in the same way the photographer did in the moment of making the image. In this case, the mirror is an impartial arbiter allowing her to focus on one relationship in the triad–photographer to subject and subject to photographer in a fashion that presumes an empathetic response from the viewer.

There’s life an artfulness to these images that far exceeds 98% of comparable work out there.

Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

I have no idea where this image comes from but I absolutely love it.

It’s partially an aesthetic thing. Customarily, I’m not a fan of close-ups–to my way of thinking they excise too many crucial contextual cues/clues.

An acquaintance who attends the same monthly book club I do and is currently pursuing a Philosophy PhD has pointed out to me that she doesn’t completely buy my objection as she seems something valuable in close-ups ability to essentially build a context that allows one to see the foreign in the familiar.

I counter that this sounds an awful lot like those awful activities in children’s magazines where they show a close-up of the pattern on a manhole cover and invite the reader to identify the object they’re viewing.

She’ll fire back with Suren Manvelyan as an example of how an identical framing can serve as an impetus for the creation of art.

And I get tripped up because I don’t know whether I’m inclined to suggest her example is the exception that proves the distinction I’m drawing or if due to the dual notion of infinite–i.e. both the set of all real number extending in both negative and positive directions endless, while also the endlessly divisible space between any number in the above set–that Manvelyan is actually terribly disingenuous to the spirit of the initial premise. (Yeah, I know: I’m insufferable.)

A third thought occurs to me writing this now: perhaps, I’m not being entirely honest, either. I mean: I really dig a good bit of Lina Scheynius’ work–and she employs close-ups frequently–granted with just enough of a hint of context that you can usual fill-in any requisite blanks.

Come to think of it, the above image is actually something very much in keeping with Scheynius’ work. The perspective, angle of view and how the scene is presented in a fashion which pinpoints a specific, emotionally resonant detail and then provides enough of the surrounding context to insinuate an idea is very much a skill set she exemplifies. (Despite compositional and tonal similarities as well as the implication of bathing/water, it’s definitely not her work–the color is entirely too saturated to be hers.)

I’ve had this image lurking in my drafts for the better part of a year–knowing unequivocally that I am going to absolutely post it at some point.

The trouble is I’ve never really know what to say beyond the above knee-jerk reflection; however, the events of the last three months–in particular–and the last three years in general, render this image especially meaningful at present.

I’ve at least twice (1 + 2) before about how thoroughly amazing my living situation was during my junior year of college. Amadine, who is mentioned in the second post and that’s also not her real name, and I recently reconnected. It was intense–in a wonderful way and the immediacy and profound intimacy of the way we interact with one another has set my brain on fire.

The realization that I’ve come to is that being a severely damaged individual, I seek out others who have also been broken by life. I’ve spent most of my life surrounding myself with folks who have hard eyes and sharpened edges.

More and more, those are not the people I want to share my mind, my energies and my body with. I think that due to growing up in an environment where kind words weren’t offered unless they were inextricably tangled up in bitter, criticism. For example, my parents would always be like: oh, you could be doing so much better at this if you just tried and it’s disappointing for us but it doesn’t make us love you any less. Like what the actual fuck?

Increasingly, I’m attracted to kindness. Amadine was the first person who was ever kind to me seemingly without any sort of selfish motivation. And if I’m being honest, I am more than a bit smitten with her. But our respective situations make these feelings (which have been validated as mutual, or did I imagine a subtext that wasn’t present yet again?) extremely complicated. Also, we are tentatively discussing collaborating on the most ambitious creative project I’ve undertaken in more than a decade…

Really, that’s why I’m finally posting this because the feeling in this image holds a faint glimmer of what it’s like to share time and space with Amadine… for whatever that admission is worth and means to any of you out there.

Allison WhiteScrubbed Clean (2014)

Looking at this I can’t help but compare and contrast with another image by janies. I featured 1.5ish years ago.

Comparing how and why both images work and in what ways that functionality is tied into the decision over whether they are in B&W or color are a worthwhile exercise.

I’ll leave that as sort of a bonus assignment because I’m currently fixating on a different association; namely: Juul Kraijer & specifically this photograph.

Wait! You admonish, wait… what does a high contrast image of a neck speckled with loam have fuck all to do with an low contrast image of a hand covered in twenty ladybugs?

Well, it’s partly the angle of view. White and Kraijer both favor a similar perspective. The former is more dimensional, the presentation of the latter, flatter but they both share a disembodied separation from any sort of definitive contextual connection.

I have zero way of knowing whether White knows Kraijer. But I appreciate the overlap in stylistic considerations and the work that those considerations is rendering far more than a certain other image maker who is currently shamelessly and one dimensionally aping Kraijer’s approach. (Looking at you, Evelyn Bencicova. Further, note how Bencicova’s borrowing of content without any obvious understanding of the unity between form and function in the work she’s referencing results in yes, pretty but ultimately muddled images.)

pulmonaire:

 (by jɑne.)

I love this. LOVE.

Originally, it was supposed to reblog via sporeprint Wednesday morning but was deleted for ‘violating one or more of Tumblr’s community standards’.

Huh? Why? It’s not like it’s risque. In fact, it’s downright tame compared to what I usual post and G rated by Tumblr standards.

I wonder if maybe there’s something afoul with the attribution? Both this post and the aforementioned deleted post are both sourced to a Flickr user with the alias hisplainjane–maybe that’s incorrect?

After scanning through her images I didn’t see this one. Granted, at present I am locked out of my account, so I guess it could be a restricted image. (Why on earth, though?)

On the other hand it is not exactly out of line with the rest of the work–even if it is of a much higher quality. Or perhaps I am just so jealous and awed as a result of it’s simplicity, surreality and ambiguity. I mean, Jesus Harold and Maude Christ, it’s goddamn dead fucking sexy.

It took longer than am willing admit– along with a good bit of lost sleep and an uncharacteristic stroke of good luck– but I found a cross post. This one lacks the nearly 25K notes.

This post is guest curated by azura09:

nevver:

How to bend light

And in the dark we will take off our clothes
And they’ll be placing fingers through the notches in your spine

When I first looked at you in the almost-dark, scared that you would not like my breasts. That I would see disappointment on your face. But you still pushed me to touch you, my fingers climbing your back as I held you and kissed you near your mouth. 

Years pass and I’m used to your hatred of overhead lighting. I expect it when you reach over to turn on the desk lamp or light a candle I don’t like the smell of, wax and apple cinnamon. I’m grateful for the way you now know my body so well it’s not necessary for you to see me, but yet you still want to look.

m-as-tu-vu:

by fred.c.fred

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Received wisdom maintains that a boy willing to hold a girl’s hair back is a ‘nice guy’.

Isn’t it more complicated than that? What if a girl doesn’t want her hair held back, wants to hold the boy’s hair back or wants another girl to hold her hair back?

If I were a boy I’d a girl to hold my hair back and were I a girl, I’d want to hold another girl’s hair back.

But I am neither/both and all I have are hair ties.

youarecordiallyinvitedtopissoff:

Jessica Silversaga

171.

The dreamy ethereality of Jessica Silversaga’s work compliments her affection for fairy tales.

Despite their suffused light and idyllic innocence, her images have nothing in common with the ubiquitous Disney versions except the subject of beauty. But where the mass market films reify the notion that goodness always carry the day, Silversaga’s images employ the mechanism of the original materials—wherein the brutality of cruel, pricking thorns frame the delicate rose, rendering it all the more beautiful as a result of sinister intentions.

The brilliant white of tiles and tub, the few clinging strands of wet hair escaping thin braids at her neck and her averted face are replete with beauty.

But why is she turned away. I question whether she has a face– perhaps there is nothing but ragged skin lining the edges of a gaping black void.

Maybe such a response is a result of having seen too many horror movies. (Although I do not think I am entirely off base… she is after all turning left and as the eye enters the frame and passes left to right over it it becomes clear there is nothing she can be looking at. Interestingly, if this image were flipped and she was looking to her right, I think the singular thought would be she was merely turned away.)

It does not matter whether she has a face or not, what matters is her knowing what it is to hold chaos in one’s palm because like us all she too has a body.

By knowing this, we also know she is not another dime a dozen damsel waiting for deliverance from distress.

She is the thorn and the rose. As are we all.