Dane – Johanna Stickland (2013)

First off: this is really the first time I’ve put a face to the name Johanna Stickland and Jesus Harold and Maude Fucking Christ on Christmas she is breathtaking.

Looking back I’ve seen oodles of her work before but it’s never clicked until this that it’s the same young woman in so many wonderful images.

I won’t lie: I am completely taken with this. If you’re a regular, you’ll ask: but what about your intractable opposition to #skinnyframebullshit?

It’s not #skinnyframebullshit. Why? Well, the composition doesn’t echo the model. Instead, the frame is oriented in this fashion to compensate for both the lack of room (the area between the shrubs and the chain link fence is quite narrow); also, if the camera were landscape oriented it would create all kinds of problems–there would be even more of the bokehed fence (which as it is teeters at the edge of too much), not to mention the shrub which you can see jutting into the lower-right corner of the frame would appear in the frame and distracting from the loose one point perspective that constantly refocuses the eye on Ms. Stickland and her intensely penetrating stare.

Lastly, this fence–like so many of its brethern–is slightly canted. Ms. Stickland’s pronounced lean away from the fence combined with the upper arm intersecting so precisely with the first horizontal third expertly balances the frame.

I am curious to know more about the image maker responsible for this but I can’t find fuck all about Dane anywhere. Alas.

Henry Gaudier-GreeneTanya Dakin: Absinthe and Caviar for Breakfast. (2013)

One (1) of six (6) 4×5 Fujiroids created by Gaudier-Greene and Dakin appearing in Issue 7 of the always comely analogue only art-zine 62nd Floor..

Tanya Dakin is a Philadelphia based model/photographer/provacateur writing a book about her vagina; she shares explicit photos depicting her DD/lg relationship and has the most beautiful ink I’ve ever seen. 

Gaudier-Green is a photographer who shares my commitment to film and shoots with Pentax 67ii.

I dig their respective work with limited reservations–Dakin is a competent image maker but I am far more taken with her no safety net approach to life and the uncompromising openness with which she shares herself; Gaudier-Greene’s has preternatural aptitude for color work and any sort of instant film he touches becomes a medium for the transmission of god-like beauty; thus the lack of specificity in his B&W film work is never something I quite know how to reconcile.

They remind me of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí: individually I respect the quality and care with which they craft their work; however, it always feels as if their personal work suffers from the echoing absence of the things that render their collaborative endeavors so effortlessly transcendent.

That’s not to say this image is free of problems and distractions–it isn’t. But between the attention to color and light, the wawker-jawed composition gets its volume turned down by the ‘realness’ of a fully-experienced unmediated moment in which two impressive talents merge into a single, uninterrupted and timeless genius.

Sam Scott Schiavo – excerpts from La Solitudine (2013)

This post presents the images as a triptych whereas on Schiavo’s website it’s a five panel progression.

I am not sure how to process it. None of the images considered individually are especially strong.

However, re-constructed as a triptych, the separate images form a cohesive whole: water droplets and reflections in the glass separating the subject from the camera diminish as the eye moves downward; the elbow’s reiteration strangely enforces as continuity between the top and center frame, easing transition.

Whereas, the discontinuity between the absence of the hand and arm in the center frame eases what would other be an especially jarring re-framing.

I dig the the images as a triptych. The difficulty I have is the individual images aren’t strong enough to stand on their own. And to me that’s one of the prerequisites of the polyptych form. Granted I am not well-versed in the formal conventions beyond altarpieces, Van Eych and Bosch.

Familiarity with the form is certainly important but there is something disingenuous about cramming a work into a form as a remedy for one-dimensional conceptualization and lackluster execution.

And that is a shame because in the age of iPhone panoramas and automated photostitch programs there are a few image makers who are creating fascinating polyptych’s. The ones that jump immediately to mind are: David Hilliard, Accra Shepp & Tom Spianti.

Source Unknown (Initial poster Scott Loves Cock, maybe?)

My reading of this runs pretty much like this: these two fellows are hanging out and one says: would you mind licking my balls while I masturbate.

I’m not going to lie: a world where desire was addressed in a similar fashion as admitting you’re hungry and inquiring if someone else is also. (By extension, the other person could not be hungry and it wouldn’t be a big deal that one party was and the other wasn’t.)

As fabulous as it all sounds–it’s a pipe dream for hundreds of reasons I can’t possibly get into here.

Here’s the knotty rub (pun maybe a little intended): part of the reason I see this image in the way I do is that I tend to perceive ‘gay’ porn as a cut above porn targeting straight men.

‘Gay’ pornography constitutes a fraction of my lifetime smut consumption, in truth. Whereas, I am familiar with the conventions of ‘straight’ porn: bronzed and muscle-bound male-bodied performer encounters buxom female-bodied performer in a perfectly mundane situation that might happen to anyone, things rapidly and unrealistically escalate and so begins ticking off check boxes on the list of things porn through nothing more than rote force of blind habit has convinced us ‘straight’ folks get off on seeing.

Not to even get into the issues surrounding privilege, objectification, exclusion, etc. & etc.

But as I am largely unfamiliar and therefore oblivious to comparable tropes in ‘gay’ porn, my impression is that ‘gay’ porn is more enjoyable for those who perform in it that is ‘straight’ porn.

It’s a well-intentioned enough view. However, at best it’s essentialist, at worst slut-shaming by proxy–the assumption being that because of the pervasive sexism in the porn, there is no way a woman can derive pleasure from her participation. (I am going to work on this, going forward.)

Finally, my reading presumes from a place of fundamental unknowing that there are no comparable politics of oppression acting in ‘gay’ porn. Just because I am unfamiliar with them doesn’t mean they do not exist. (I’m sure they do, in fact; history shows that as soon as something is commodified, means of exploiting the commodification for material gain come out of the fucking wood work.

Source: Unknown (Initial posting here, maybe?)

With depictions of desire, why is it at best & always a little of the good and a little of the bad?

I want to like this. That’s not fair–dismemberment of her right forearm and both legs by frame edge & #skinnyframebullshit aside, I like it: I swoon over freckles like it’s my job and I prefer giving over receiving. Credit should also be given to the bokehed emphasis of her expression/face as opposed to her body and her lover’s hand shielding her is a delightful gesturing.

Still I am hesitant to embrace; I think because it strikes me as a clumsy half-measure.

Yes, shifting depictions of sexual pleasure away from the usual male-bodied locus and onto female-bodied individuals is out-fucking-standing; but this well-intentioned effort only serves to reinforce the traditional one-dimensional view of female bodies as the singular site of all that is sexual.

The unfathomably talented Sarah Polley–who, duh, I LOVE–implicitly calls bullshit on the double standard with regard to depictions of nudity in her film Take this Waltz. It’s depressing how shocking it is to audience to have female nudity presented in the way male nudity is: i.e. as incidental and unconnected to sexual behaviors. This reprehensibly simple-minded conflation of female bodies with sexuality is fucking everywhere.

And it’s not not that female bodies are not or shouldn’t be sites of sexuality; they are and will be forever and ever amen. The fucked-up thing is they shouldn’t be the only such site.

Again credit to those out in front of this issue. I’m thinking of Beautiful Agony, Clayton Cubitt’s Hysterical Literature and clever work like this; or, any effort really to present sexuality as an extension of an interpersonal totality and not the requirement of a body.

Jan Emil Christiansen – Book II (20??)

The colors in this are in-goddamn-sane. the punchy yellow of the 3D glasses…

…the cream + peach + magenta of the skin tone against the red plastic…

…and the exhaust blue + gun metal grey of the storm-roiled sky.

Still, something is missing…something about those glasses triggers a series of questions:

  • Why is she wearing them?
  • What is she seeing?
  • Isn’t she worried about the weather?
  • Why is she nude?
  • How in the hell did she get here?

For me, the patent lack of answers is not charmingly ambiguous, it’s fucking frustrating.

So… I breeze over to Christiansen’s website since his Flickr no longer has any shared content.

Frustration rapidly transforms into confusion. + I don’t mean confusion in the usual sense of being lost or uncertain. I mean more: how in the exact fuck did this cat ever make such a killer image?

Le sigh.

Jan Emil Christiansen is an Urban explorer; the above, ostensibly (not that you can realy tell) an Urbex image; making it the least Urbex-y Urbex image I’ve ever seen–which probably also makes it the best. (I give negative shits about Miru Kim’s ‘thinly veiled’ narcissism.)

Not to be all Debbie Downer on Urbex. I vaguely orbit the scene + in truth urban exploration environs figure prominently in my own work.

This issue is making images in such environs demands a hodgepodge of bastardized and otherwise degraded photographic conventions: a little bit o’ landscape, some documentary and some architecture thrown in for leavening.

Put another way: if an urban explorer is there  has a camera, there is a sense that the resulting images have an in-built relevance.

Mostly he abject wonder that motivates most urbex folks to bother taking a picture usually serves the resulting work. The trouble arises when airs emerge + pretense begins to take root.

Christiansen thrills at mixing his beloved hobby with a gumbo of contradictory ends in mind: documentary, horror films, erotic + portraiture. Excepting this image the single unifying aspect of his work its the appalling discontinuity between concept and enactment.

To see these tendencies in this image, you need to look no further than what stands out the most in the frame: the 3D glasses. They do tie the frame together fabulously.

But as has been noted, their presence suggests questions for which the image contains no answers. This has to do with Christiansen’s pick and choose approach to image making blissfully unaware that the glasses shift the image away from an uncomplicated ‘document’ and veer toward a mise-en-scène, of sorts. + the audience has no recourse to fill in the blanks necessary to suspend their disbelief, unravel the story and surrender to the image.

This could have been so fucking lovely; but all just sound and fury, signifying nothing–a fact which depresses + infuriates me me all at once.



Source: as best as I can tell these six images were likely gathered and arranged by fulme. (The top-center image seems to predate this assemblage.)

In theory, I am a proponent of bricolage.

However, if you are working digitally, there is very little that isn’t at hand for you to use. To me this muddies the already precarious distinction between ‘formal’ collage and MacGyver free association.

I don’t know how to illustrate it except to point to another image that was making the Tumblr rounds back in early October. It’s a really solid idea but the execution is lame brained–half a grapefruit on a white background super-imposed over what looks like the legs of a model wearing a white one-piece American Apparel swimsuit.

On the other hand, the six images above were carefully selected. The similarity in tonal range and luminosity is striking. Further, the arrangement serves to activate the images in different ways, promoting interplay, building and relieving tension by means of line, color, echoing of shape, conceptual mirror, etc.

Highly astute work deserving of recognition.