The PhotoBook Journal

September 17, 2018

War is only Half the Story – 10 years of the Aftermath Project

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books, Photographers — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:10 am

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War is only Half the Story10 years of the Aftermath Project, Edited by Sara Terry & Teun Van Der Heijden, Copyright 2018

Director/Founder/sustaining editor; Sara Terry (resides in Los Angeles, CA, USA)

Photographers: various, all copyrights apply to the photographers

Publisher: Dewi Lewis Publishing (Manchester, UK)

Introduction: Sara Terry, essays by Donald Weber, Clare Cavanagh, poems by Wislawa Szymborska

Text: English

Stiff-cover book, Concertina cover with belly bands, sewn naked binding, captions, listing of The Aftermath Grant Winners & Finalist, four-color lithography, printed by EBS, Verona, Italy

Photobook designer: Teun van der Heijden

Notes: Background: The Aftermath Project is a non-profit, grant-making organization which for the past ten years has supported the work of photographers documenting the aftermath of conflict. Their stated mission is to change the way the media covers conflict, and to broaden the public’s understanding of the true cost of war and the real price of peace.

This is a retrospective monograph of the series of annual War is only Half the Story photobooks that have been curated and published by Sara Terry’s The Aftermath Project. It is a collection of singular images, extracted from the various photographic investigational projects that have been supported over the past 10 years, structured around the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska. This is an extremely impressive recall of the broad scope of this important initiative.

Terry states that her goal with this monograph is “to let the images speak to each other… created a dialogue that’s never been heard before, a post-conflict visual symphony, one that invites you to listen over and over again.”

The individual images are visually searing; images and narratives that I first came to know as each of these annual stiff-cover books were published by The Aftermath Project. Which have, if it seems possible, even a stronger emotional impact in the context of this monograph. Some of these images can be very difficult to view; to witness what someone else has experienced and the tragic enormity of the consequences of events like war and hatred have created.

The documentary photographers and photo-journalist whose work is included is extremely broad, a virtual who’s-who of this genre of investigative work. To Terry and her editorial team’s credit, their grants and support represents an extremely broad international selection of photographers, from the well-known to the relatively unknown, including Donald Weber, Nina Berman, Jim Goldberg, Louie Paul, Jessica Hines, Stanley Greene, Kathryn Cook, Javad Parsa, and Justyna Mielnikiewicz to name only a few. All of whom have a difficult story to share and narrate.

There is still a measure of hope of in how the individuals and groups are documented in their attempts to rebuild their lives after such devastating carnage and loss. It can be difficult to comprehend the emotional impact to these individuals, especially when we are confronted with similar images of loss every day in the news. At times it just seems unrelenting.

This monograph is an elegant and touching ten year synopsis of this extensive body of work by Terry and the Aftermath Project. A testimony to the fact that after the conflict ends, not all of the photographers leave.

Nevertheless, one has to wonder how does another ignorant and ill-informed world leader come to power, who does not seem to know or even want to understand “the cost of war and the price of peace”?

The Aftermath Project annual editions (Volumes) that have been previously featured on TPBJ include: Volume IIVolume VVolume VIII

The Aftermath Project just announced a $25,000 grant for 2019. Details on their web site.

Cheers, Doug

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September 9, 2018

Julia Borissova – Let Me Fall Again

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Let Me Fall Again, Julia Borissova, Copyright 2018

Artist: Julia Borissova (born Talinn, Estonia, resides St. Petersburg, RU)

Self-Published: St Petersburg, Russia

Essay, Julia Borissova

Text: Russian, English

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Stiffcover book, handsewn binding, stitching, inserts, gate-folds, First edition of 239, hand-made in Russia

Photobook designer: Julia Borissova

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Notes: It was not until I had a chance to spend time with Julia Borissova’s latest photobook, Let Me Fall Again, did I reflect on the act of what constitutes “failure” for an artist, versus the perspective of the corporate/business person. For a business venture failure is the worst possible event. I will have to admit as a person who has been involved in the development of countless pharmaceutical drugs that researchers are probably more in alignment with artist in that a “failure” can considered to be on a path to success.

She states in her artist statement, which is complexly folded and partially hidden within the book, …this word (failure) means something else in the art world. The gap between the initial intention and realization of artwork can be seen as an artistic failure. However, if unsuccessful attempts are not regarded as the final result, it encourages artist to work more and gives them opportunities to grow.

The subject of her book is Charles Leroux who was an early (1890’s) adapter in the act of parachuting, which eventually led to his early demise in Estonia (Russia). The book is complex and lots of parts are mashed together, a continuous series of small and large gatefolds that reveal text, posters, images and illustrations. I will have to say, I wonder if all of these page folds are a bit overdone, but I sense the reason behind the complexity and sculptural qualities; an attempt to create an interaction by the reader for more engagement with the contents.

Second regarding her layered narrative; on the surface it would appear to be about her subject, but lurking below the surface, I sense it’s about the lives of creative persons. Granted most artist do not jump out of high-flying balloons on makeshift ropes, but figuratively most artist are constantly taking chances with their creative endeavors while they put at great risk a chance at making a sustaining livelihood.

In an interview with Julia, she states Regarding the collages in my book, I used the wire to create three-dimensional objects, I have been inspired by the works of Miró and Calder. These works do not illustrate the history of the balloonist, I just wanted to visualize a sense of lightness & fragility – I tried to draw in the air.

As a book artist, I find Borissova’s book to be very inspirational for my creativity; especially if after working for a year on a new book for it to be greeted with a luke-warm response. Thus, like Borissova, every time I feel I might fail in my work, I now think about Charles, who not being able to fall would have meant great failure.

Btw, I will not divulge the little hidden secret found at the end of each book concealed in a very complex folded insert glued into the ending pages. Perhaps an Icarus metaphor. And to say I am a big fan of Borissova’s artistic work is an understatement. Very inspirational!

Other artist books by Julia Borissova on TPBJ; J. B. About Men Floating in the AirDimitryDOM, address, Running to the Edge

Cheers,

Douglas

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August 31, 2018

Melissa Lazuka – Song of the Cicadas

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Song of the Cicadas, Melissa Lazuka, Copyright 2018

Artist: Melissa Lazuka (born Cleveland, OH, resides Chardon, Ohio)

Self-Published, Ohio

Without essays, pagination or captions

Text: English

Hardcover book, leporello binding, photographs & paper ephemera, hand-made, limited edition 1/1 in a series of 25, USA

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Photobook concept & designer: Melissa Lazuka

Notes: I met Melissa Lazuka while reviewing her portfolio at the LACP (Los Angeles Center of Photography) EXPOSURES 2018 event last July during which we spent time with two of her artist books, Song of Cicadasand Fly Away, both of which I thought were brilliant. We mostly discussed the challenges of an artist book (1/1) and how to create multiple of the concept, which I have just written about in a previous article on TPBJ.

Lazuka has decided that her the path forward to create multiples of her artist book is to create a series of unique books (each 1/1), each individually unique but slightly different as to all of the found ephemera and materials that constitute her books. This artist books series is unified by the photographs she will included in each edition. I am very excited about her publishing strategy as it has in turn allowed me to acquire an edition for this artist book review.

Her artist book is a wonderful mashup of found objects and old ephemera that are layered with her own photographic prints. Bits and pieces of old books create the foundation to support her photographs, thus creating the back-story of past events, while foretelling of the future. Lazuka’s photographs appear almost mysterious, in and out of soft focus, that are grounded in current experiences while harkening ahead to future memories, as an indistinct recall of past events. She obtains her beautiful visual effects with a combination of technics; freelensing and the use of multiple exposures. Her black and white photographs remind me of the magical work of Keith Carter’s Fireflies and a monochromatic version of the recent photobooks by Cig Harvey, such as her Gardening at Night.

Lazuka has written a poignant passage that I would like to share as it sums up very elegantly her intent; These photographs of single, delicate and fragile moments of time, I collected just as we collected the beautiful see-through wings of the cicadas that summer of 2016. Like the cicadas that lived such a short time, these moments did too. They were beautiful and real, and then they were gone, only to be remembered in photographs, just as all we had left of the cicadas in the end. Each photograph in this series (Editor: artist book) is an individual moment, that was not a memory as it was taken, but became one in its afterlife. However, strung together, in this series, this is their “song”, like the cicadas, of those magical summer days.

It is safe to say that her narrative is not about these prolific cicadas bugs that strangely appear in mass every 17 years, or the sometimes-deafening noise they can create in the late evening. Lazuka as a parent and a mother of four is very aware of events that are not fathomable to a child; that a fleeting event that her child is experiencing now will not reoccur again for a considerable amount of time and when it does, that child will have grown to be a young adult. Her short narrative is about taking note of the present moment, perhaps event admonishing to be presentat all times, as today’s events will eventually create future memories.

As a physical object, her small petite artist book is roughly hone with ragged edges, uneven textures and a deckled top-edge on the heavy paper that creates the backbone of this leporello book design. Truly a visual diamond in the rough. There is nothing neat and tidy about this artist book, but conversely it is a bit of a mess, perhaps even purposely crude, with hints of fragility such that it seems as though it might suddenly fall apart, thus a wonderful metaphor for life itself. Highly recommended.

Cheers, Doug

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August 28, 2018

Todd Weaver – 36

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Books, Photographers — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 5:56 pm

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Photographer:  Todd Weaver (born in Kansas City, Missouri; lives in Los Angeles, California)

Publisher:  Self-published; © 2018

Essays:  Devendra Banhart; Rodrigo Amarante

Text:  English

Hardcover book, sewn, cloth-bound, debossed cover with tipped-in illustration; 212 paginated pages; 9 ¼ x 11 ¾ inches; printed in the USA by Dual Graphics

Photobook designer:  Todd Weaver

 

Notes: 

What would happen if people portrayed by photographers were given more freedom and control over the process than is usually the case? Who would really be in control?

The title of this innovative book refers to the 36 persons who appeared in a specific space, to be photographed by Todd Weaver as THEY might like, moving at will for three minutes for a total of 36 exposures, taken every 5 seconds, while the camera location remained the same. If ever there was true collaboration between photographer and person portrayed, this is it – unprecedented and most intriguing! This project reminded me a bit of the work of Canadian photographer Arnaud Maggs, who photographed individuals from various angles to arrive at a more complete depiction of each person, but Weaver’s approach goes even further.

Here the individuals photographed externalized and structured their appearance and movements and bared their insides as well. We can see a most eclectic series of self-portrayals, produced in collaboration with the photographer as uber-visualizer. The fact that the 36 individuals are artists helps a bit, I think, since their self-concepts and their understanding of self-presentation may be somewhat more developed than in others. This also presented major challenges to the photographer to capture the appearances authentically and with technical dexterity in the short amount of time and with physical restrictions. We see a gamut of emotions and degrees of physicality – some made use of objects that are meaningful to them, some appearing with clothes and some without or fewer than usual. The photographic techniques employed by Weaver also encompass the range of possibilities – from close-ups to full-body renderings, from sharply defined specifics to somewhat longer exposures that are able to trace movement or quick gestures that the eye might not register sharply either.

The volume is a pleasure to view and peruse; the design is attractive and varied, full of surprises. It is as if you are sitting in a theater and 36 characters that will appear in the play briefly introduce themselves to the audience, both as actors and also in the roles they are playing. The volume constitutes a refreshingly different visual record of thirty-six creative individuals captured by their innovative artistic photographer. The process of baring their souls is well described in the impressions written by Rodrigo Amarante. The volume concludes with notes on the 36 artists who participated in this project. A most impressive and creative work!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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August 24, 2018

Tara Wray – Too Tired for Sunshine

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books, Photographers — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 1:30 pm

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Too Tired for Sunshine, Tara Wary, Copyright 2018

Photographer: Tara Wary (born Manhattan,Kansas, resides Vermont, USA)

Publisher: Yoffy Press (Atlanta, GA, USA)

Introduction: Aimee Bender

Text: English

Hardcover book, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed in Turkey

Photobook designer: Jordan Swartz

Notes: I am always amazed when an artist attempts to define an internal personal feeling, whether is it is a dazzling sense of excitement or a gloomy sense of dread, that they are able to convey those feeling with visual images that seem to connect for me in regard to those indirect expressed feelings. That is exactly what I experience while looking at Tara Wary’s photographs of her photobook Too Tired for Sunshine, that hints at the issue of depression in the context of the ups and down of life.

I do think that there is a gender difference in experiencing the myriad of various feelings encountered in life, whether is physiological or part of the social imprint created during childhood. Even so, as individuals I believe we all experience events differently. So far be it for me as a male, to state that what Wray has photographed is or are not visual clues as to her life’s ups and down issues.

Nevertheless I find a intriguing combination of pathos and humor in many of her photographs that seem to connect for me; the playground slide frozen in a winter landscape, a slightly out of focus animal, a down-trod appearing dog that seems to potentially exemplify the feelings of the photographer, a woman appearing to be stuck (trapped?) in the back of a truck, some dishes stacked in a sunlight kitchen sink, a donut that is accidentally squished and the back end of a deer that for me, is symbolic for the end of her narrative (was thinking the end of her tale, but decided that pun is probably a bit tired).

Perhaps one of the more interesting for me is the photograph of the stack of boxes that are stamped with the label “Disappointment” and my experience has been that for some individuals, a series of disappointments become accumulative and create a morass that one seems unable to escape. The disappointments start to take on an almost perceptive weight. Likewise, I encounter individuals whose life would seem nothing short of a high stack of disappointments, yet they appear to not be similarly burdened. I have also learned that DNA plays a part for some individuals tendency to have “down” moods, who may have a chemical or psychological unbalance due to no fault of their own, but nevertheless need to learn how deal with the cards they have been played. Wray’s message is that life is complex and not always sunny and bright.

Wray’s book has given me an opportunity to introspectively look at my life as to past events, my own ups and downs and what has provided me with perseverance to keep moving ahead (although perhaps not always easily). That a photographer can create a book that invites these kinds of open questions and inquiry is a strong testimony as to how well it is thought out. Wray provides a difficult investigation into the various challenges of life with a sideways glance towards the darker side.

Cheers

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August 16, 2018

Michael Kolster – Take Me to the River

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Michael Kolster – Take Me to the River

Photographer: Michael Kolster (born Milwaukee, WI, resides Brunswick, ME, USA)

Publisher: George Thompson Publishing (USA) 2016

Essays: Michael Kolster, Alison Norström and Matthew Klingle

Text: English

Hardcover book with dust jacket, sewn binding, tri-tone (black & white) lithography, including 10 gatefolds, printed at ESB, Verona, Italy

Photobook designer: David Skolkin

Notes: Contemporary landscape photograph as an artistic genre sits on the edge of a delicate two edge sword; part objective documentary evidence and part artistic (subjective) personal interpretation. Perhaps vexing is that these two descriptive attributes usually co-exist in the same body of work. I think in an attempt to engage the potential subjective artistic aspects, Michael Kolster for this landscape project deferred to the use of making ambrotype (wet-plate photographic process characteristic of the mid-1800’s) photographs.

Unlike the digital photography, as well as the use of film, the ambrotype is a direct process that requires the preparation of the glass plates on-site immediately prior to exposure, then a rapid return to the chemicals required to fix the image. As evident in this body of work, the process has elements of chance and the inclusion of serendipity as to how the coating process was completed and the resulting visual effects; no two images are alike. To further complicate this process, the emulsion is very UV sensitive, requires long exposures and without any effective means to calculate the proper exposure in advance. The exposure is by educated guess and until the glass plate is developed, the artist does not know if they were successful in their attempt. The resulting glass plate is actually a negative that does not reveal its essence until layered on top of a black background, thus the reason for the black printed pages in the book (although not really required as the glass plates were scanned for this publication, while the black pages provides a symbolic background consistent with viewing a proper ambrotype).

Interestingly, an aspect that keeps me returning to these intriguing images, is the nature of the wet-plate photography process which introduces unanticipated swirls and flow marks that are wonderful visual metaphors consistent with his subjects; four rivers of the eastern coast of the United States. Likewise, the longer durations required for the glass plate exposure allows the things that will move, the water, tree limbs, grass blades or individuals in close proximity, to leave a ghostly blurred image. This blurring provides for me an inherent dynamic element to these images as a departure from a quick fraction of a second that could result in a very static appearance.

A really nice book to consider for the summer, as his subjects were all captured in the duration that spans spring, summer and into the fall. Although the ambrotype process results in black and white images, there is a perceived lushness within these landscapes photographs. His subjects capture not only the beauty of “nature” inherent in these river pathways, but includes a mash-up of the man-built urban landscape that is representative of the early settlements adjacent to most of these vital water ways.

Another subtle element in this project is that the four rivers featured, the Androscoggin, Schuylkill, James, and Savannah, were until the Clean Water Act of 1972, essentially extremely polluted chemical cesspools. The rivers are all in much better condition today, although still not pristine yet, but now potentially rivers that are in a state of renewal (or at least these were at the time of this publication in 2016, prior to the recent American elections). Nevertheless, this book is a story about environmental hope.

Cheers, Doug

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June 16, 2018

Simon Roberts – Merrie Albion

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Photographer: Simon Roberts (born & resides Great Britain)

Published by Dewi Lewis Publishing, UK, 2017

Text: English

Introduction by David Chandler and essays by A L Kennedy, Alex Vasudevan, Carol Ann Duffy, David Matless, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Ian Jeffrey, Irenosen Okojie, Nikesh Shukla and Tristram Hunt.

Hard cover, sewn binding, four-color lithography, detailed captions, pagination, printed by Petit S.K. Lublin, Poland

Photobook designer: Ben Weaver

Notes: Urban and cultural landscape photographer Simon Roberts photobook Merrie Albion – Landscape Studies of a Small Island is another visual investigation of his homeland, the encompassing urban landscape of the United Kingdom. That he chose a title which in old English would mean Merry Britain might imply that he is investigating the heritage of this country, perhaps with a nod towards the evil spirits of Nationalism. Happily it is anything but.

This book also draws on the time of his earlier investigating English rituals in 2007 that resulted in We English, subsequently the outer edges of the British urban landscape in Pierdom, as well as his time when he was commissioned to photograph the U.K elections of 2010. The book contains only photographs that until now have been unpublished. This is a compilation body of work that attempts to take a straight forward pulse on the many social changes that create the current fabric of this island nation. The on-going flux of those coming to this country from other places, a process which can trace its roots to the early colonial age of this nation, thus creating a melting pot of cultures. The pending political and economic changes of its disassociation from the European Union (E.U.).

Suffice to say, what might constitute current Britain is mash-up of the old with the new. As has been noted in the accompanying essays, Roberts landscape photography has attained a subtle trademark look; using a large format camera, non-romantic (aka factual, dead-pan) framing and frequently a viewpoint from a higher elevation that creates an interesting depth to his landscapes. The later due mostly in part to his use of the top of his motor-home as a camera platform. This camera position provides a pictorial framing that is broader in scope, but conversely, such as the Download Festival at Castle Donington, can also make him the center of attention.

The resulting photobook is complex and visually layered, much as his subject Merry Britain, and a delight to read. Recommended.

Other photobooks by Simon Roberts featured on The PhotoBook Journal: Pierdom, and We English.

Cheers!

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June 9, 2018

Ellen Korth – Fabric of Time

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Artist: Ellen Korth (b. The Hague, Netherlands – resides Deventer (Netherlands) & Nordhorn (Germany)

Self-Published 2018 and developed in collaboration with Castle (Kasteel) Twickel (Netherlands) (see exhibition photo below), signed and numbered Edition of 50

Text: English

Poetry: Pablo Nerudo

Stiff cover, rolled, artist printed on 14-gram Japanese Awagami double-layered paper, and then bottom layer removed, Japanese binding by Fopma Wier/Wytze Fopma

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Photobook designer: -SYB- (Sybren Kuiper)

Notes: Family mysteries and family secrets, how does one investigate these and then subsequently report their findings? What if there is no collaboration; those who could speak to what occurred are no longer among us, then how does one know really with certainty what the “truth”, a slippery slope at best, might be?

Ellen Korth is continuing to investigate into what might be her family history. With this latest work, a layered translucent artist book, she provides a wonderful metaphor for memory while attempting to deal with her mother’s desire to keep her own past a secret.

Her subject are garments that are from a wardrobe collection at the Castle (Kasteel) Twickel, which are reminiscent of her mother’s under clothes that constitute very personal feminine items. It is by looking closely at these personal items similar to those her mother choose to spend much time in cleaning and preparing, Korth might find some understanding or make a connection with the secrets of her late mother’s past that she was reluctant to share.

Perhaps fitting that Korth is investigating undergarments in a quest to further understand here own mother, as these items are things that a woman would keep secret, as these are concealed under her clothing. Metaphorically clothing is a facade, meant to hide what resides underneath, while the undergarments create both exterior form as well as concealing the person’s full identity. A facade is a false front, projecting something that one might want others to think they know and with Korth’s own mother, not allowing others to know the true person who lurks within.

Likewise utilizing the thin translucent Japanese Awagami paper to print her book, Korth layers her subjects, allowing one to see thru the ghostly layers.  Nevertheless these layered pages, without providing a clear and sharp definition, are visually representing various attributes of a murky and unknown memory.

Other photobook by Ellen Korth featured on The PhotoBook Journal: CHARKOW 

Cheers

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May 25, 2018

Anthony Hernandez – Beach Pictures, 1969 – 1970

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Photographer: Anthony Hernandez (born Los Angeles & resides Los Angeles & Idaho)

Published by Silas Finch, NY, USA, 2016

Text: English

Printed chipboard over cloth end sheets, sewn binding, tri-tone black & white lithography, printed by Studley Press, Dalton, MA (USA)

Photobook designer: Kevin Messina

Notes:  A monograph of Anthony Hernandez’s earliest body of work created shortly after his two years of service in the U.S. Army, when he spent a tour of duty in Vietnam. His photographs appear humorous, poignant, yet there lurks a dark undercurrent. This body of work is not overtly political, but there are dark undertones as will it appears that his subjects are sleeping or resting, while incorporating enough ambiguity and lacking evidence that his subjects are actually still alive.

The prone individuals that Hernandez photographed on the beach may have been a cathartic response to his battle experiences in the Vietnam War. The wounded or dead soldiers & civilians would have had been laid out in similar prone positions. Even to the point that casualties in war have their faces covered similar in a very eerie way to those sunning themselves on the beach.

Hernandez is a west coast photographer who adapted a NYC street photographic style that is mashed with the west coast minimalist stylistic practice of Lewis Baltz. While working in Los Angeles on the left coast, he is thus perhaps lesser known than his East coast contemporaries of Arbus and Winogrand, yet still was anointed by Szarkowski at MoMA. As evident at this stage of Hernandez’s street photography career, he is using the full frame format of his 35mm film to great effect. Every square inch appears to be well thought out and visually working for the photographs selected for this publication.

Cheers,

Douglas

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May 14, 2018

LA Pages – Book Fair for Independent West Coast Publishers

LA Pages – Book Fair for Independent West Coast Publishers

Dates: May 18-19-20th

Times: 11am – 8pm

Location: Mayra’s Banquet Hall, 6075 Normandie Ave, Los Angeles (yes, believe it or not, just below South Park)

This event is produced by 8-Ball Community, Bunny Jr and Ooga Booga, and it’s a one time only, not for profit and in memory of Shannon Michael Cane. Everyone is welcome, & FREE entry!

With 80+ exhibitors.

THU 5/17 – FUNDRAISER EVENT
Food by Familia Romero
Music performance by Yanga (8pm)

FRI 5/18
Music curated by 8-Ball Radio
Food by Natural Soul Food
Music performance by Black Congress (7pm)
Future Preservation / Short film festival curated by 8-Ball TV & Symposium (8pm)

SAT 5/19
Music curated by Bunny Jr.
Food by Mai Downs
Music performance by É Arenas (7pm)

SUN 5/20
Music curated by Kchung Radio
Food by Natural Soul Food
Music performance by Jazzy Romero (7pm)

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