Reading Shortlist: 11.19.17

© Wheeland Photography, from the article Couple Encounters a Black Metal Band in Woods During Engagement Shoot

The Reading Shortlist is an occasional post with an eclectic listing of recommended sites, readings and links. A recommendation does not necessarily suggest an agreement with the contents of the post. For previous shortlists, please visit the site links page.

Daniel C. Blight, American Suburb X, Incoming: Photography, Contemporary Art, Whiteness. Another attack on Richard Mosse's Incoming. It's important to read pieces that you react strongly and negatively towards, just as it's important to see art you hate. This piece is problematic on multiple levels, from the smug academicism to its quizzical attempts to create art-making recipes:
the baseline theoretical strategy of any conceptual artist making political work should be one of complete and utter rejection of the following things: emotional transformation, unique visuality, the novel use of technology, dramatic strategies of display and installation, and awe-inspiring visual or aural effects. These things are, in short, a description of "fireworks" art.
Tim Clark, 1000 Words, David Campany. In this case 1000 Words is about 7000 Words, but the lengthy, sometimes wandering interview is ultimately a very engaging conversation with one of today's great thinkers on photography.

Ben Crair, New Republic, 'Then I Found Myself Seeing Pictures All the Time.'  A 2013 article on Stephen Shore that explains his importance within the contexts of photographic and cultural history. Explains his conceptual intents well.

Untitled © Constant Anée

Anna Heyward, The New Yorker, The Opposite of a Muse
. Isabelle Mège may have out Sophie Calle-ed Sophie Calle. She has pursued and convinced around 300 photographers to make a portrait of her during the last three decades.

Eliza Murphy, ABC News, Couple Encounters a Black Metal Band in Woods During Engagement Shoot. I find it enraging that I'm already married and that this will not happen to me.

Robert Frank on photographing The Americans, SFMOMA. Frank talks about how he made a few images from The Americans in a rare video interview.

Kodak 'Investigating What it Would Take' to Bring Back Kodachrome. The rewriting of the "film revival" narrative continues.

Ariel Levy, Catherine Opie,  The New Yorker, All-American Subversive. A check-in with Opie who's settled in to middle age as an artist, teacher, mother and wife.

Ashley McNelis, Aperture, Jason Fulford Can’t Be Contained. All you ever wanted to know about Mr. Fulford with questions that do a good job of elevating the conversation and then getting out of the way to let Fulford respond fully.

Tracy Staedter, Live Science, Tiny, Lens-Free Camera Could Hide in Clothes, Glasses. Lensless cameras so small they can be woven into clothes. People will one day very soon laugh at the quaint privacy concerns we had with cell phone cameras you could actually see.


How to Develop a Project: Jess T. Dugan

From 2011 to 2016 fototazo published a series of short essays from photographers to the basic question, "What advice do you have for starting a project?"

The series featured replies from Judith Joy RossIrina RozovskyAlejandro CartagenaPhil ToledanoSteven AhlgrenSusan LipperAmani WillettLisa KeresziEirik JohnsonRichard RenaldiBrian UlrichMark SteinmetzTim DavisNicholas NixonJeff Whetstone and Erika Diettes.

We continue with a follow-up series of advice from photographers on how to develop a project, asking them how they approach the middle ground of their projects after giving basic definition and before taking steps to finish.

Responses in this new series have come from Elinor CarucciMichael ItkoffJackie NickersonAlessandra SanguinettiChris VereneLaura El-TantawyRory MulliganVanessa WinshipChris Steele-PerkinsDragana Jurisic and Eli Durst.

Today we finish the series with Jess T. Dugan. Her biography follows the text.

For me, new projects begin to emerge naturally as I'm working on other projects. It is rare that I simply come up with an idea and decide to execute it. I make portraits constantly, often following an intuitive interest and then figuring out which images fit within a certain series afterwards. Although I present my photographs as separate bodies of work, they are ultimately all part of an ongoing quest to understand identity and the human condition.

When I moved from Boston to Chicago in 2011, I intended to continue photographing for my series Transcendence, which focused on transgender and gender non-conforming people on the transmasculine spectrum. I found some people to photograph and made some portraits. But, when I looked at them, it was clear to me that my interests had shifted and I was becoming interested in a different set of questions than I had been previously. From there, Every breath we drew began to develop, a series that was less about a specific identity and more about the universal process of coming to embody one's authentic self and then seeking intimate connection with others. It was unclear to me at the beginning how to photograph not just individual people, but a kind of complex desire itself, so there were a lot of false starts, resulting in images that ultimately didn't make the edit.

Usually, a new project begins to emerge for me as a previous one is winding down. I will often make a photograph that feels different from the rest somehow. It takes me a while to determine if the photograph is different from the others in a way that enhances the project I'm working on, or if instead it is beginning to point me to a new project.

I organize my work using 8.5 x 11 prints, which I pin on a print viewing wall in my studio and also store in boxes labeled by project or category. If I make a picture that feels new, sometimes I'll pin it off to the side on the print wall and think about it for a while, looking at it each day until it starts to make sense. Once I make a few of these pictures and have an idea that a new project is forming, I'll start a new box and keep the prints in there. I read once that Nan Goldin edited this way, photographing instinctively and putting the pictures into boxes until she had enough to be a series or project. Every now and then, I pull out a specific box and look at all of the prints to see how the project is emerging or progressing.

Some of my projects have finite endings, such as my project To Survive on this Shore, which is nearly complete at this moment. However, most of my projects are lifelong endeavors, so I think of my process more as organizing everything into chapters rather than ever really completing anything. I have a few projects focusing on my family, both my partner and my mother, that are meant to develop over the long term so I just keep adding to the box as I make new pictures.

The way I find subjects and develop projects varies quite a bit depending on the particular needs of the work. With Every breath we drew, I seek out people who I am somehow attracted to or to whom I feel an energetic connection. As such, the process of finding people to photograph is subjective and is not something I can rush, but rather something that happens naturally throughout the course of my day to day life. I am still working on this series, although I let it rest for a bit after I finished working on my book in 2015 and have picked it up again more recently.

The process for making To Survive on this Shore is completely different. It is a collaborative project that began after I met my partner, Vanessa, in 2012 and was influenced by her research on the intersection of LGBTQ issues and aging. We launched this project together, intended from the beginning to combine portraits with narrative text and to have more of a documentary, educational element. After we had the original idea, we asked a few people we knew from our previous work to participate and made the first portraits and interviews in the summer of 2013. For about a year, I made portraits slowly as I happened to be traveling, again building up a new box of images but not putting them online or showing them to anyone yet. By early 2015, I had a solid set of about 20 images, so I designed a website and put the project out into the world. In March 2015, we had a huge press flurry, including a feature in the New York Times, that was essential for the development of the project. After that, I received hundreds of e-mails from people around the country who wanted to participate in the project. Since then, working on this project has taken the majority of my time.

There are a lot of logistics involved in making this work, such as corresponding with everyone who e-mails, keeping track of potential subjects throughout the country, planning travel, organizing shoots, booking hotels and rental cars, collaborating with local non-profits while on the road, coordinating interview transcription and editing, making and sending prints to each subject, fielding press inquiries and giving interviews, attending trans conferences to find subjects and present the work, and speaking about the work at places such as LGBTQ centers, universities, and non-profit organizations. After four years of work, this project is nearly complete, as I have 80 portraits and interviews and plan to add only 10 more. I'm starting to work on an exhibition and book to be released in fall 2018. There were many points throughout the past four years where I technically had enough images to decide that this project was finished, but I knew that I had to let the project dictate to me when it was complete and to fully let it run its course without rushing it.

As To Survive on this Shore begins to wind down, I have begun photographing intensively for Every breath we drew again. I also have a very new project in the works, but it is too soon to talk about that in any meaningful way (there are only 3 pictures in the box!). But the new project will also be something I can do while traveling and will require that I seek people out who meet a specific criteria, which in a way will replace my working method for To Survive on this Shore.

For some reason, people love to ask "what are you going to do next?" or "do you have a new project in mind after this one?" I follow my intuition and listen to my pictures. They are always pointing the way towards what I should do next and I have faith that, as long as I keep photographing and stay engaged, my path will present itself to me as I go.

Jess T. Dugan is an artist whose work explores issues of gender, sexuality, identity, and community. She holds an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago, a Master of Liberal Arts in Museum Studies from Harvard University, and a BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Her work is regularly exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of several major museums.

Her first monograph, Every Breath We Drew, was published in September 2015 by Daylight Books and coincided with a solo museum exhibition at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. She is the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and was selected by the White House as a 2015 Champion of Change. Jess is represented by the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago, IL.


LatAm f100: Miguel Río Branco and Ernesto Javier Fernández

Homenagem a Goeldi © Miguel Río Branco

fototazo has asked a group of 50 curators, gallery owners, blog writers, photographers, academics and others actively engaged with Latin American photography to pick two early career photographers whose work deserves recognition.

This project aims to highlight great work being made in the region today and also to provide a starting point in both English and Spanish for exploring contemporary Latin American photography. LatAm f100 is a collaboration between fototazo and the photographer and educator Jaime Permuth.

Today we continue the series with selections by Nelson Herrera Ysla. His biography follows his selections.

The series also includes responses from Molly RobertsMariela SancariAlonso CastilloPaccarik OrueKatrin EismannDina MitraniDon Gregorio AntonCristina De Middel, Arturo SotoCecilia Fajardo-HillGuillermo Srodek-HartYorgos EfthymiadisLivia AnimasJuanita BermúdezSusana Raab, the pairing of Victoria Holguín and Daniella BenedettiEmiliano ValdésMuriel HasbunGeorge SladeMarta DahóElizabeth AvedonJorge PicciniRodrigo Orrantia and Sujong Song.

fototazo ha invitado a un grupo de 50 curadores, galeristas, escritores, fotógrafos, y académicos - entre otros individuos seriamente comprometidos con la fotografía latinoamericana - a escoger cada quién dos fotógrafos emergentes cuya obra sea merecedora de mayor reconocimiento.

Este proyecto es una manera de celebrar el gran trabajo que se lleva a cabo en la región. Asimismo, busca proporcionar un punto de partida bilingüe en inglés y en español a las audiencias que deseen explorar la fotografía contemporánea en Latinoamérica. LatAm f100 es una colaboración entre fototazo y el fotógrafo y educador Jaime Permuth.

Hoy continuamos la serie con selecciones aportadas por 
Nelson Herrera YslaEncontrará su biografía al final del texto.

La serie también incluye contribuciones de 
Molly RobertsMariela SancariAlonso CastilloPaccarik OrueKatrin EismannDina MitraniDon Gregorio AntonCristina De MiddelArturo SotoCecilia Fajardo-HillGuillermo Srodek-HartYorgos EfthymiadisLivia AnimasJuanita BermúdezSusana Raab, el dúo de Victoria Holguín and Daniella BenedettiEmiliano ValdésMuriel HasbunGeorge SladeMarta DahóElizabeth AvedonJorge PicciniRodrigo Orrantia y Sujong Song.

Miguel Río Branco

For approximately 30 years, Rio Branco has been the photographer of the big cities, especially Rio de Janeiro, where the camera disappears in its neighborhoods, corners, streets, bars, conventillos and citadels, capturing the atmosphere of each place. He doesn't take on their beauty or grandiloquence but their social fabric, the broken seams, the many lives that go away day by day, consumed by the poverty and the hidden misery caused by tourism and the mass media. He is the creator of atmospheres that he does not invent but rather translates into sober, sordid, dry, rude images without constructions or deceptive manipulations. Whether in black and white or color, each image contains an enormous amount of information about Latin American citizens who are usually forgotten or alienated from social and economic projects. He neither denounces nor protests with his photographs: they are an act of aesthetic and political justice, antidotes against oblivion, of great plasticity and full of pictorial appropriations.

Desde hace aproximadamente 30 años Río Branco es el fotógrafo de las grandes ciudades, especialmente Río de Janeiro, donde hace que la cámara desaparezca en sus barrios, rincones, calles, bares, conventillos, ciudadelas, capturando las atmósferas propias de cada lugar. No asume la belleza o grandilocuencia de las mismas sino sus pliegues sociales, sus rotas costuras, las  muchas vidas que se van día a día consumiendo en la pobreza y la miseria escondida del turismo y los medios de comunicación. Creador de atmósferas que él no inventa sino que traduce en imágenes sobrias, sórdidas, secas, ríspidas, copiadas de lo real sin construcciones o manipulaciones engañosas. Ya sea en blanco y negro o color, concentra en cada imagen una enorme cantidad de información sobre ciudadanos de Latinoamérica por lo general olvidados o alienados de proyectos sociales y económicos. Tampoco denuncia o protesta con sus fotografías: son un acto de justicia estética y política, antídotos contra el olvido, de gran plasticidad y plenas de apropiaciones pictóricas.

Espelho Diamante Rosa e Preto © Miguel Río Branco

From the series Noturnas 2, 1991 © Miguel Río Branco

Entre Os Olhos, O Deserto, 2001 © Miguel Río Branco

Mujer Desnuda From the series "Havana" 2002 © Miguel Río Branco

Golden Feet, 2010 © Miguel Río Branco

Rodas From the series "Havana" 2002 © Miguel Río Branco

Torre From the series "Havana" 2002 © Miguel Río Branco

Mãos From the series "Havana" 2002 © Miguel Río Branco

Cigarro From the series "Havana" 2002 © Miguel Río Branco

Ernesto Javier Fernández

In his initial black and white images, he privileged a certain tendency to the documentary, to life reportage in a society as a Cuban, full of contradictions and tensions but keeping a distance with journalism. He later assumed new points of view in his two-dimensional compositions by incorporating accents of light and color, even more the inclusion of new object elements to articulate a different discourse within the great epic testimonial photographic tradition on the island. His photographs have become almost objects from which he projects a set of images whose essence is still the approach to the essential problems of life in Cuba, especially migration and the dreams and hopes of thousands of people. His critical perspective helps in a deeper perception of acute social and political issues supported by the use of plastic pipes, light boxes, wood, television screens, [and] old cameras, through which he establishes fresh relations between two and three dimensions. It goes beyond the photograph at times and approaches sculpture and installation: hence its specificity and its commitment to integrate more and more codes and visual languages.

En sus primeras imágenes en blanco y negro privilegió una cierta tendencia a lo documental, al reportaje de la vida en una sociedad como la cubana, cargada de contradicciones y tensiones pero alejadas del periodismo al uso. Posteriormente asumió nuevos puntos de vista en sus composiciones bidimensionales al incorporar acentos de luz y color, más la inclusión de elementos objetuales para articular un discurso diferente dentro de la gran tradición épica y testimonial fotográfica en la Isla. Sus fotos se han convertido prácticamente en objetos desde los cuales proyecta un conjunto de imágenes cuya esencia sigue siendo el abordaje de problemas esenciales de la vida en Cuba, especialmente la migración y los sueños y esperanzas de miles de personas. Sus enfoques críticos colaboran en una más profunda percepción de cuestiones sociales y políticas agudas apoyada en el uso de tuberías plásticas, cajas de luz, maderas, pantallas de televisores, viejas cámaras fotográficas, mediante los cuales establece relaciones novedosas entre las dos y las tres dimensiones. Va más allá de la fotografía al acercarse por momentos a la escultura y la instalación: de ahí su especificidad y su empeño en integrar cada vez un mayor número de códigos y lenguajes visuales.

Breaking News © Ernesto Javier Fernández

Coke Route © Ernesto Javier Fernández

Gone © Ernesto Javier Fernández

I Always Shot the Messenger © Ernesto Javier Fernández

Wash Your Hands © Ernesto Javier Fernández

Joker © Ernesto Javier Fernández

Once Upon a Time © Ernesto Javier Fernández

From "Todos mis vecinos quieren ir al cielo" © Ernesto Javier Fernández

From "Todos mis vecinos quieren ir al cielo" © Ernesto Javier Fernández

From "Todos mis vecinos quieren ir al cielo" © Ernesto Javier Fernández


Nelson Herrera Ysla

Art critic, curator, poet. Graduated as an architect from the University of Havana in the mid-1970s, for years worked as a designer of furniture and interior spaces in the Institute of Internal Demand in Cuba to later become part of the Direction of Fine Arts of the Ministry of Culture from 1980 to 1984.

That year he was part of the founding team of the Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center and the Havana Biennial, where he served as deputy director until 1999 when he was appointed Director of both institutions until 2001. He remains with both of them and is currently part of their curatorial team. During these years he also specialized as an art critic in several Cuban and foreign publications, as well as in television spots.

He has lectured in numerous countries in Latin America, the United States, the Middle East and Europe and has served as curator of Cuba in several international art events. Author of several books of poetry and essays. Jury of the Casa de las Americas Award, 2005, and other international art events in Latin America. In 2008 he was appointed General Curator of the XVI Paiz Biennial of Guatemala.

National Prize of Art Criticism Guy Pérez Cisneros, 2007 and 2016, and National Curatorial Prize 2013, both in Cuba. 

Crítico de arte, curador, poeta. Graduado de arquitecto en la Universidad de La Habana a mediados de los años 70, durante años trabajó como diseñador de mobiliario y espacios en el Instituto de la Demanda Interna en Cuba para luego formar parte de la Dirección de Artes Plásticas del Ministerio de Cultura desde 1980 hasta 1984.

Ese año forma parte del equipo fundador del Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam y de la Bienal de La Habana, donde se desempeñó como sub-director hasta 1999 en que es nombrado Director de ambas instituciones hasta 2001. Permanece en ellas y actualmente es parte de su equipo curatorial. En todos esos años se especializa como crítico de arte en varias publicaciones cubanas y del extranjero, y en espacios televisivos.

Ha ofrecido conferencias en numerosos países de América Latina, Estados Unidos, Medio Oriente y Europa y ha fungido como curador de Cuba en varios eventos internacionales de arte. Autor de varios libros de poesía y ensayo. Jurado del Premio Casa de las Américas, 2005 y de otros eventos internacionales de arte en América Latina. En 2008 es designado como Curador General de la XVI Bienal Paiz de Guatemala.

Premio Nacional de Crítica de Artes Guy Pérez Cisneros, 2007 y 2016, y Premio Nacional de Curaduría 2013, ambos en Cuba.