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Art, Cloth, and Cultural Production

The Object of Labor explores the personal, political, social, and economic meaning of work in the context of art and textile production. The ubiquity of cloth in everyday life, the historically resonant relationship of textile and cloth to labor, and the tumultuous drive of globalization make the issues raised by this publication of special interest today. The seventeen essays cover topics ranging from art-making practices to labor history and the effects of globalization as seen through art and labor. The artists' projects—twelve striking and beautiful eight-page, full color spreads—conduct parallel investigations into art, cloth, and work.

The contributors explore, from historical and personal perspectives, such subjects as the charged history of offshore garment workers; the different systems of production and consumption in factories, homes, studios, and exhibitions; the revelation of class, gender, and sexuality through cloth, costume, and textile images; textile production as commemorative acts in South Africa, the United States, and India; transnationalism, cultural hybridity, and race in the work of individual artists; lost histories of garment production and embroidery; the physical act of art-making as labor; and the value of handmade and "technologically improved" objects.

Essays by:
Ingrid Bachmann, Carol Becker, Andries Botha, Lou Cabeen, Helen Cho, Alison Ferris, Nancy Gildart, bell hooks, Alan Howard, Mary Jane Jacob, Janis Jeffries, Neil MacInnis, Margo Mensing, Kevin Murray, Sadie Plant, Maureen Sherlock, and collectively by Viji Srinivasan, Skye Morrison, Laila Tyabji, and Dorothy Caldwell.

Artist projects and portfolios by:
Susie Brandt, Nick Cave, Park Chambers, Lisa Clark, Lia Cook, Ann Hamilton, Kimsooja, Barbara Layne and Sue Rowley, Lara Lepionka, Merrill Mason, Darrel Morris, Pepón Osorio, J. Morgan Puett and Iain Kerr, Karen Reimer, Yinka Shonibare, SubRosa, Christine Tarkowski, and Anne Wilson.

Bernd and Hilla Becher's almost fifty-year collaboration constitutes the most important project in objective and conceptual photography today. With this volume, grain elevators join the list of building types documented by the Bechers in their book-length studies: water towers, blast furnaces, gas tanks, oil tanks, mineheads, frame houses, and cooling towers.

Grain elevators are towering structures in the flat, vast landscape of the world's granaries. Providing a fast and efficient method of loading and unloading grain to keep pace with the industrial production methods of the nineteenth century, they made possible a tremendous increase in the trafficking and processing of grain. Scooping, pouring, and spitting, they both illustrated and inspired Le Corbusier's idea of buildings as functioning machines. Monumental, essential, and visually arresting, grain elevators belong as much to the American imagination and landscape as to the European. The photographs of grain elevators in this volume were taken in Germany, Belgium, France, and America. But the specificity of time and place is erased in these photographs; the monolithic structures evoke the agricultural prosperity of a vanished era and the vacancy that replaces it today.

Life and Work

Bernd and Hilla Becher's lifetime project of documenting the industrial landscape of our time secures their position in the canon of postwar photographers. Their work—at once conceptual art, typological study, and topological documentation—has influenced German photographers of a younger generation, including Thomas Struth, Thomas Demand, Candida Höfer, Thomas Ruff, and Andreas Gursky. This compelling, exhaustively documented biography describes the Bechers' life and work and offers a critical assessment of their place in the history of photography.

Becher scholar Susanne Lange, granted access to the photographers' archives and quoting extensively from interviews with them, writes the first sustained analysis and biography of the Bechers' extraordinary partnership. She discusses, among other topics, both the functionalist and aesthetic dimensions of the Bechers' subject matter, their typologizing (which she finds reminiscent of nineteenth-century naturalists' classificatory schemes), and the anonymous industrial building style favored by German architects. She argues that industrial building types impose themselves on our consciousness as the cathedral did on that of the Middle Ages, and that the Bechers' photographs—which seem at first glance only to record a vanishing landscape—serve to examine this shaping of our perceptions. Their work provides us with a rare opportunity to see how we see.

Bernd and Hilla Becher: Life and Work, with 53 duotone plates and more than 200 additional illustrations, is the first book to delve deeply into the sources and vision behind the evocative and melancholy beauty of the Bechers' work. It will be indispensable both as a reference for students of postwar German photography and as a guide for readers who want to know how to approach the Bechers' monumental project.

Edited by Johanna Burton

With her Untitled Film Stills of the 1970s, Cindy Sherman became one of the era's most important and influential artists. Since then, her metamorphosing self-portraits and appropriation of genres can be seen as a continuous investigation of representation and its complicated relationship to photography. Sherman and her work are often discussed in terms of postmodern theories and ideas that were coming to increasing prominence as her career began—feminism, subjectivity, mass media, new forms of mechanical reproduction, and even trauma, among others. Yet her refusal to acknowledge any of these themes as particular concerns raises questions about the relationships between the meanings projected upon a work of art and those produced by it. Cindy Sherman's art fascinates us in part because of its capacity to suggest—while at the same time slipping away from—so many possible readings.

The discussions in these illustrated essays span Sherman's almost three-decade-long career, from her striking debut in the black-and-white Untitled Film Stills through her color photographs using back-projection, prosthetic body parts, and the ever-ingenuous modes of disguise and self-fashioning seen in such later series as Centerfolds, Fairy Tales, and Disasters. The essays—by such well-known critics as Douglas Crimp, Hal Foster, and Rosalind Krauss—respond not only to Sherman's work but also to the arguments and postulations made about it, becoming part of the ongoing critical conversation about an artist of major significance.

For the past two decades Louise Lawler has been taking photographs of art in situ, from small poignant black-and-white images of art in people's homes to large format glossy color pictures of art in museums and in auction houses. In addition she has produced a variety of objects—paperweights, etched drinking glasses, matchbooks, gallery announcements—all of which cleverly describe how art comes to accrue value as it moves through various systems of exchange.

Lawler's oeuvre was essential in creating an expanded field for photography, it was crucial in postmodern debates over theories of representation, it remains indelible within the field of institutional critique, and it has always been trenchant and witty in its sustained commitment to a feminist vision of art, art history, and contemporary art practice. But Lawler is also an old-fashioned "artist's artist," long overdue for the kind of serious reconsideration and recognition that this volume affords. The very self-effacing nature of Lawler's practice, however, her continual suspicion about notions of authorship—and her sly disregard for museological conventions—have meant that she has resisted precisely the usual mid-career retrospective. Twice Untitled and Other Pictures, published in conjunction with Lawler's first major museum exhibition in the United States, organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts, eats away at the standard museum practices of chronology, linear development, and the presentation of masterpieces, opting instead to explore such dynamic themes and undercurrents in Lawler's practice as her relationship to sculpture, her long history of collaborative projects, her production of such ephemera as napkins, matchbooks, and announcement cards, and the steady political dimension of her work—which culminated most recently in works that are deeply critical of the American invasion of Iraq. With essays by art historian and political theorist Rosalyn Deutsche and curators Ann Goldstein and Helen Molesworth, Twice Untitled and Other Pictures promises to be an essential volume for anyone interested in late twentieth- and early twenty-first- century art.

The Wildlife and Scenery of Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan

The island of Borneo is a place of great natural beauty and rich biodiversity. From the peaks of the majestic Mount Kinabalu to the enchanting coral-fringed islands that lie offshore, with vast tracts of lush rainforest in between, Borneo's landscape is as varied as it is magnificent. In Wild Borneo, author Nick Garbutt embarks upon a fascinating investigation into the wonders of this island, exploring every aspect of Borneo's terrain, from its rainforest-covered lowland areas to its mountain ranges, highland areas, and winding rivers. He shows us the profusion of flora and fauna living within these habitats, including the enormous Rafflesia flower, the carnivorous Pitcher plants, snakes, frogs and lizards that fly, fish that walk on mud, and rich and varied bird life. The island is home to a diversity of mammal species, some of which are highly unusual, including the outrageous-looking Proboscis Monkey, the remarkably tolerant Bornean Pygmy Elephant, the diminutive and shaggy Sumatran Rhinoceros, the native Bornean Orang-utan, and the doe-eyed, endearing Slow Loris.

Published in association with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, Wild Borneo also examines the ongoing attempts to preserve the island's natural resources in the face of commercial logging and large-scale land clearing. Illustrated with more than 200 stunning photographs, this book offers a vivid celebration of Borneo's many natural wonders.

Bernd and Hilla Becher's photography can be considered conceptual art, typological study, and topological documentation. Their work can be linked to the Neue Sachlichkeit movement of the 1920s and to such masters of German photography as Karl Blossfeldt, August Sander, and Albert Renger-Patzsch. Their photographs documenting the architecture of industrial structures, taken over the course of forty years, make up the most important body of work to be found in independent objective photography. This volume adds cooling towers to a list of photographic projects that includes book-length studies of water towers, blast furnaces, gas tanks, mineheads, and frame houses.

Since the end of the nineteenth century, cooling towers have formed a striking part of electricity and steel works. The first cooling towers were wood-clad structures at coal mines; more recent examples are the steel or concrete constructions seen at nuclear power stations. The simplicity of these forms and their hermetically sealed external skins create an impressive, monumental effect. The Bechers have been photographing cooling towers since the 1960s. This volume contains 236 photographs of cooling towers—in all their different shapes and structural forms—from Belgium, England, France, Germany, Holland, and the United States, and includes a short text by the Bechers.

Czech Avant-Garde Photographer

Jaroslav Rossler (1902-1990) was one of the Czech avant-garde photographers of the first half of the twentieth century whose work has only recently become known outside Eastern Europe. Czech photography in the twenties and thirties produced radical modernist works that incorporated principles of abstract art and constructivism; Jaroslav Rossler was one of the most important and distinctive artists of the period. He became known for his fusing of different styles, bringing together elements of symbolism, pictorialism, expressionism, cubism, futurism, constructivism, new objectivity, and abstract art. His photographs often reduced images to elementary lines and shapes that seemed to form a new reality; he would photograph simple objects against a stark background of black and white, or use long exposures to picture hazy cones and spheres of light. From 1927 to 1935 he lived and worked in Paris, producing work influenced by constructivism and new objectivity. He used the photographic techniques and compositional approaches of the avant-garde, including photograms, large details, diagonal composition, photomontage, and double exposures, and experimented with color advertising photographs and still lifes produced with the carbro print process. After his return to Prague, he was relatively inactive until the late 1950s, when he reconnected with Czech artistic and photographic trends of that period, including informalism.

This book documents each stage of Rossler's career with a generous selection of duotone images, some of which have never been published before. The photographs are accompanied by texts by Vladimir Birgus, Jan Mlcoch, Robert Silverio, Karel Srp, and Matthew Witkovsky.

Photography and Its Nation

The old dream of social belonging and political sovereignty—the dream of nation—was fraught with anxiety and contradiction for many artists and intellectuals in the 1950s. On the one hand, memories of the Second World War remained vivid and the chauvinism that had enabled it threatened to return with the growing tensions of the Cold War. On the other hand, the need to bind together into a new global identity—into a world nation or "family of man"—seemed ever more pressing as a bulwark against the rapidly expanding threat of a nuclear World War III.

The Pivot of the World looks at an exceptional effort to work out that geopolitical tension by cultural means as developed in three hugely ambitious photographic projects: The Family of Man exhibition that opened in 1955 and traveled the world for the next decade; Robert Frank's influential book The Americans, photographed in 1955-1956 and first published in 1958; and Bernd and Hilla Becher's typological record of industrial architecture, begun in 1957 and continuing today. Each of these projects worked to release the dream of nation—of belonging and sovereignty—from its old civic trappings through the medium of photography's serial form, in the experience of one photograph followed by another and another and another, so that all seem at once intimately connected and at the same time autonomous and distinct. Innovations in the serial composition of photographic form could open new possibilities for social form while the modern desire for political belonging could be made cosmopolitan, could be globalized—but in the most human of ways. This epic sense of purpose lasted only for a moment—it had already passed by the beginning of the 1960s—but it bears particular interest for any historical understanding of the contest over globalization that continues to hold such great consequence for us now.

Images and Voices of the Rwandan Genocide

In 1994, an interim government in Rwanda orchestrated one of the world's worst mass crimes: a 100-day extermination campaign that took half a million lives. At the time, Rwanda's genocide went largely unnoticed by the outside world. Today there is growing interest in the Rwandan experience as many discover the horror that took place and seek to understand how and why violence of this character and magnitude could have happened in our time.

Intimate Enemy is a rare entrée into the logic, language, and imagery of Rwanda's violence. The book presents perpetrator testimony along with photographs of Rwandans, both perpetrators and survivors. The images and words are raw and unanalyzed; the reader is left to make sense of the killers and their would-be victims. Intimate Enemy challenges our assumptions about the genocide and about those who perpetrated it. It also prods us to consider how to represent and imagine violence on the scale of Rwanda's.

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