From 2008 to 2015, Caitlin Teal Price photographed strangers sunbathing on New York City beaches under stark, immaculate rays. Shot from above with her medium format camera, her subjects lay back with eyes closed, presumably unaware of the photographer's presence. They exist for viewers to ogle and observe, to draw our own conclusions about their personal stories, to look without permission. Price recently published a monograph of the series, Stranger Lives with Capricious Books, which piqued our interest to learn more about her process and metaphors at work.
Photography has a history of debate over its flawed potential to represent the truth. From disputes around Robert Capa's iconic 1936 photograph The Falling Soldier, to '80s and '90s consciously staged tableaus, the 2015 revoking of the World Photo Competition prize due to digital manipulation, and countless other controversies, questioning the medium as an accurate communicator has now become commonplace, and almost boring. This past year, the proliferation of click-bait #fakenews sites, and even inconsistencies in the mainstream media have been at the center of this conversation, with photographs and memes playing a central role towards enhancing those narratives. And in late January, 2017, Kellyanne Conway caused a stir with her Orwellian reference to "Alternative Facts." Which brings us to our latest open call.
For Group Show #52: Alternative Facts, we're interested in seeing how photographers play with truth in a so-called "post-fact" world. We're intentionally leaving this vague and open ended - please interpret as you see fit. (And while you're at it, check out our current exhibition: Future Isms)
In the wake of Donald Trump's electoral victory, photographer Gregory Eddi Jones embarked on a new series using the classic novel Flowers For Algernon as a symbol for the president's unexpected normalization. The story focuses on an intellectually disabled man who undergoes surgery to triple his IQ, only to revert back to his original condition by the end of the book. Using found images, many related to the 2016 election, Jones creates floral collages that parallel the story's central arc with the country's shift towards Trumpism. While Jones' convictions are unavoidable, his tools extend beyond didacticism, nodding equally to the history of still life as they do to his political intents. We found Jones' work, while in progress, incredibly timely and reached out to learn more.
In the 1980's and 1990's, New York City was home to growing social unrest over issues ranging from the city's rapidly gentrifying landscape, police brutality and strained race relations, to international conflicts like the war in Iraq. During this period, countless photographers captured its spirit of protest: moments of violent confrontation like the Tompkins Square Park and Crown Heights riots, as well as the more sanctioned, organized demonstrations, instances of non-violent civil disobedience and elaborate, often-costumed street theatre. Meg Handler, former photo editor of The Village Voice, historian Tamar Carroll, and Michael Kamber, founder of the Bronx Documentary Center recently curated Whose Streets? Our Street! New York City: 1980-2000, an exhibition at the Bronx Documentary Center up through March 5, 2017, which includes the work of more than thirty-eight photojournalists who covered protest in NYC between 1980 and 2000. I spoke with Handler and Carroll to learn more about the exhibition and its increasing relevance today.
2016 has been a crazy year. From a tumultuous US presidential election, to celebrity deaths and political unrest around the world, we're ready, though somewhat scared, to move into the New Year. In these uncertain times, photography keeps us image-obsessed nerds going more than almost anything. Admittedly, aside from the onslaught of new photobooks, blogs (yes, blogging's not dead), and studio visits, Instagram continues to be one of our go-to sources for visual inspiration. So behold: 18 of our favorite photographers we've featured on our Instagram over the past few months. Do them a favor and follow them now. XOXO, and Happy New Year!