if you haven’t gone swimming naked in a freezing cold stream in the canadian wilderness i really recommend it and it was one of the most surreal moments of my entire life ❤

this lil outing was probably one of my favorite moments of 2016. i miss my montreal friends ❤

Baohien Ngo – Untitled (2016)

This post is guest curated by @suspendedinlight.

It’s really hard to pick favourites when it comes to Bao’s work. I
really love that these have the signature hazy glow, like a daydream of
what summer could be or has been. I think what draws me to this set is
the impression that
her subjects are care-free. They feel candid, and the distance between
the lens and the subjects adds to the feeling of having freedom and
space to be. There are an abundance of photos with similar ingredients
(groups of nude women by the water) but the results
here don’t call to mind nymphs, sirens, or mermaids. In short, no
male-gaze-y bullshit. 


Kourtney Roy

Kourtney RoyUntitled from Hope series (201X)

I really, really, really, really, really super (that’s five reallys and a super) dig this image.

There’s a way in which a figure in a landscape skews towards being indicative of an underlying narrative.

I could digress into speculation on the relationships with staffage, segueing into an analysis of staffage’s inherent narrative potential by contrasting an idiot like Gregory Crewdson who won’t shut up about narrative but whose work is fundamentally un-narrative and a masterful painting like Bruegel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. (It’s worth noting that Roy’s image does suggest broad answers to the questions why is this character here–she clearly intends to go for a swim and is undressing to facilitate that. Before the moment we see now she was ostensibly not in the pool and we can presume based upon what we’re seeing that she will soon wade into the brackish water. Is her motivation being in a sort of dream-like state where she will sink into the puddle and be transported to another layer of a dream? Or are her actions driven be a sort of suicidal abandon–perhaps motivated by bourgeois ennui? Unlike Crewdson, Roy gives her audience nuanced implication from which to draw conclusion and does not rely on empty spectacle to miraculously catalyze the suggestion of the action leading up to this point and potential actions trailing away from it.)

Of course, there’s also comparisons which can be made with Stephen Shore’s American SurfacesHope seems almost self-consciously aware of it’s reverent emulation of the former.

But I think it’s all a little too easy to head down these rabbit trails. It’s not that I don’t think the work supports them–it very much does. And it’s not that while I am extremely fond of the above image, the rest of Roy’s work is a bit too late-70′s/early-80s high end fashion editorial kitsch in it’s frequently garish execution.

There’s an argument to be made that perhaps a more productive approach might be to examine the influence on her work of cineamatic auteurs. There’s a clear strain of Lynch–likely more directly localized in an idealization of Hitchcock. (It’s difficult to look at her supersaturated pastels and not think of Kim Novak’s wardrobe in Vertigo.

However, when you browse through Roy’s oeuvre–as I did this morning while sipping Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee–there’s a sense that you really miss the central thrust of her work examining her work as if it’s born solely from the influence of photographic progenitors. I dare you to try to look at her Carte blanche pmu/le bal series without flashing back to Jacques Tati–in particular: Playtime.

David Meskhi – from When Earth Seems to Be Light series Title Unknown 2008.

Meskhi’s website presents his as a photographer preoccupied with athletes, skateboarders and soldiers. Shooting predominately flat black and white, his inclusion of occasional, irreverent bursts of color do nex to nothing to lessen the work’s dour murk.

By contrast– and as suggested by the title– his When Earth Seems to Be Light series is full or warmth and whimsy.

It’s maybe not good but it is undeniably more accessible than the other work showcased.

It is incomprehensible that this image does not appear on the site. Instead, another image of the same young woman–Anna, apparently is featured. The second image isn’t bad; it’s casual immediacy seems forced, as if it seeking to neuter the sentimental nostalgia.

And I see how someone could read the image I posted could as self-indulgently sentimental. It is a little; However, that’s not always a bad thing–arrive for the nostalgia, stay for the Art.

In this case, neither sentimentality or nostalgia pull me in. It’s the sheen of water droplets on her skin, the texture of her wet hair. And I absolutely love how she is turned away– it reminds me of the hypothesis posited by either Edward Snow or John Berger that the young woman in Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring is simultaneously turning toward and away from the viewer. (If you’ve got seven minutes to kill, check out: a physicist tackling this question.)

I confess that this image does cause me to lapse nostalgic. But that is due to the content more than anything pertaining to the execution. See although I am in my… er… well, further from my teens than I have ever been, I missed out on a lot of normal– at least for John Hughes movies–social rites of passage.

I played Spin the Bottle a handful of times but was always told that at least one of the people playing had promised my mom that they would make sure I didn’t play. I would beg and plead but there would always be a caveat that if the bottle landed on me, the most I could do would be choose two other people to kiss. (The stopped letting me play altogether when I began suggesting two boys or two girls should kiss.)

I also realized sometime last year that I have never been skinny dipping. And it’s not that the repressive environment I grew up in was so effective and getting kids to not be kids. It was more that I wasn’t invited to gatherings where those types of things happened.

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to go skinny dipping this year. But the truth is I have just as many people to go with then as I do now.

selections from Caroline MackintoshThigh Deep series

This is so how I want to celebrate my birthday this year.

Alas, with two or three exceptions my friends wouldn’t be down for drunken skinny dipping. (And I am way too chicken shit to suggest it as an option.)

Maybe next year. (Probably not though.)

Le sigh.

(Soundtrack suggestion: Oceanic)