Hambourg on Photography, Memory and Sigmar Polke

“Memory digests and stores original experience in representations that are personally colored, recast by the imagination. Creativity seems to work in much the same way; it swallows its impetus in order to reconstitute it in a more consequent and permanent guise. The São Paolo prints usher us inside the dreamy universe of the creative act; we see how memory shapes representations of experience, highlighting some details while shading others, and always inevitably offering only a version of the truth from which it sprang and which dissolved in it.”

— Maria Morris Hambourg “Polke’s Recipes for Arousing the Soul” in Sigmar Polke – When Pictures Vanish (1995)

Sigmar Polke, Untitled, São Paolo series, 1975

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Blanchot on the Object, the Image and Distance

“After the object comes the image. “After” means that the thing must first take itself off a ways in order to be grasped. But this remove is not the simple displacement of a moveable object which would nevertheless remain the same. Here the distance is in the heart of the thing. The thing was there; we grasped it in the vital movement of a comprehensive action — and lo, having become image, instantly it has become that which no one can grasp, the unreal, the impossible. It is not the same thing at a distance but the thing as distance, present in its absence, graspable because ungraspable, appearing as disappeared. It is the return of what does not come back, the strange heart of remoteness as the life and the sole heart of the thing.”

— Maurice Blanchot “The Two Versions of the Imaginary” in The Space of Literature (1955, 1982)

Glen Erler, Sweatshirt, first school, Valley Center, CA, from Family Tree

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Cadava on Benjamin, Photography and Death

“…the photographic event reproduces, according to its own faithful and deathbringing manner, the posthumous character of our lived experience. The home of the photographed is the cemetery.”

— Eduardo Cadava “Mortification” in Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History (1997)

Hans-Peter Feldmann, “Two Girls With Shadow” (2004)

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Mulvey on the Figure of the Woman

“Woman then stands in patriarchal culture as signifier for the male other, bound by a symbolic over in which man can live out his phantasies and obsessions through linguistic command by imposing them on the silent image of woman still tied to her place as bearer of meaning, not maker of meaning.”

— Laura MulveyVisual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema

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Williams on Williams

“The art world is one of the few public areas that allow for speculative thought or slowed down vision. The camera, the gallery, the museum, the play between language and images, are all part of a workshop to make things that could be interesting and useful to others. I hope that I am providing models for use and specifically models for a kind of seeing related to New Objectivity, which allow for the sustained observation of an object that exists in the world outside the art. A model is a representation of a system. The structure of a system determines our behavior. This unfreedom is the subject of my work.”

— from Christopher Williams: The 19th Draft in DIS magazine

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Remember, Body by Cavafy

Body, remember not only how much you were loved,
not only the beds on which you lay,
but also those desires which for you
plainly glowed in the eyes,
and trembled in the voice — and some
chance obstacle made them futile.
Now that all belongs to the past,
it is almost as if you had yielded
to those desires too — remember,
how they glowed, in the eyes looking at you;
how they trembled in the voice, for you, remember, body.

Cavafy, (1863 – 1933)

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One off: Collier Schorr.

Craig Garrett: Earlier you asked me whether I thought your photos looked “too gay.” Having always focused on the feminist angle of your work — and, specifically, how decoding masculine poses might be relevant for a lesbian — I confess I’d never really perceived them that way. Your images are extremely popular with gay men, though — not just collectors but critics and curators as well. And you seem conflicted about this side of their popularity. I don’t remember your exact wording, but you said that a lot of male critics had taken your work to speak for their own desire. Most of them surely appreciate its ambiguity, knowing full well that your are not a gay man yourself. But what do you think this phenomenon says about what kinds of dialogues are (and are not) encouraged in the art world today?

Collier Schorr: Objectification has usually been a male mainstay. Homosociality is, without a doubt, present in any project that involves itself in a male dominated arena, such as sports or the military. However, it may be that some gay male critics have become too comfortable in the idea that male sexuality, or men being caught in the gaze, is the property of male homosexuality. That type of “ownership” allows that women don’t look at men and that when men appear a certain way it is a performance for other men. It’s just another way that women’s desire is undermined. This does give me pause, not in image making as much in the editing process afterwards. The struggle is how to represent men in a more fully defined way — i.e., tenderness, vulnerability, physicality — without falling into the trap of an assumed gay male gaze. In a way you have to search for varieties of ugliness, to almost de-aesthetify the image, to try and divest it of iconic perfections, all the while making pictures where the camera seems to fall in love.” (…)

Untitled, from “Neighbors/Nachbarn” by Collier Schorr [SteidlMACK, 2006]


“You know, people say, “How come you don’t take pictures of girls?” And I say, “Well I do, I just use boys to do them.””

Collier Schorr, in an interview with Craig Garrett, Flash Art no. 237, Jan/Feb 2004.

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Kozloff on the Camera and culture

“Without asking so much as the viewer’s leave, photographers have deprogrammed the genres and tossed media in a juggle of unexpected meanings. They remind us, if only by contrast, of how often our understanding of photographs originates on the basis of their decorum – imagery and style proper to the media occasion. But in consumer society, rules of decorum are chronically redefined or even subverted in the search for novelty. Many of the images we see around us today have no trouble communicating that impulse. Technological advances condensed or interrupted the work of photographic propriety; boredom with formulae deflected it; urgency diminished it. In fact, restless media have affected (if they haven’t exactly shaped) conduct, made it more open to psychological discovery and to epochal disturbance.”

— Max KozloffStreet & Studio: An Urban History of Photography,” in TATE Etc, Issue 13, Summer 2008

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Cadava on the Photograph, Ruin & Time

“There can be no image that is not about destruction and survival, and this is especially the case in the image of ruin. We might even say that the image of ruin tells us what is true of every image: that it bears witness to the enigmatic relation between death and survival, loss and life, destruction and preservation, mourning and memory. It also tells us, if it can tell us anything at all, that what dies, is lost, and mourned within the image—even as it survives, lives on, and struggles to exist—is the image itself. This is why the image of ruin-again, speaking for all images—so often speaks of the death, if not the impossibility of the image. It announces the inability of the image to tell a story: the story of ruin, for example. It is because of this silence in the face of loss and catastrophe—even when ruin remains undeclared—that the image is always at the same time an image of ruin, an image about the ruin of the image, about the ruin of the image’s capacity to show, to represent, to address and evoke the persons, events, things, truths, histories, lives and deaths to which it would refer.”

— Eduardo CadavaLapsus Imaginis: The Image in Ruins,” October, Vol. 96 (Spring 2001)


Awoiska van der Molen, #202-10, from “Sequester


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Duchamp on Photography

“photography is not limited to the role of copyist. It is a marvellous explorer of those aspects that our retina never records, and that, every day, inflict such cruel contradictions on the adorers of familiar visions that are so few, whose turn was over before a bold navigator could go around the world.”

Marcel Duchamp, “Deceiving Appearances” (1926)

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