Piper on Consumerism

“The culture of unrestrained free-market capitalism feeds on the shared and foundational experience of incompleteness, inferiority – of generalised insuffuciency, or want. The experience of generalised want is created by media fabulations of a fantasy world of perpetual happiness that sharply contrasts with our complex and often painful social reality, plus the promise that this fantasy world can be realised through the acquisition of those material goods that serve as props within it. For those who have the wealth to acquire such props, this promise is broken on a daily basis, and the hollow dissatisfaction at the core of perpetual acquisition is a constant reminder that something is missing. Unfortunately, this dissatisfaction only rarely leads to interrogating the basic premise of the fantasy itself – i.e. that the acquisition of material props can realise it in the first place. Usually the conclusion is, rather, that more props are needed to do the trick.”

— Adrian Piper “Political Art and the Paradigm of Innovation” in The Life and Death of Images: Ethics and Aesthetics

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One off: Catherine Opie

Untitled#1 (Jan 20th 2009), from The Inauguration Series © Catherine Opie, courtesy of Regen Projects

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Kozloff on Voyeurism

Voyeurism, then, realizes itself only through a hindrance that it creates on its own. In refusing or fearing to engage directly with the attracting object, the individual compensates by possessing it visually. At the same time, if the occupational hazard of this player of a silent game is the possibility of his own discovery, the effortful defeat of another’s privacy is his stimulus. Voyeurism may be one of the more peculiar bargains the libido makes with the puritan work ethic.

— Max Kozloff, “Photography and Fascination” in Photography and Fascination

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One off: Laurie Anderson, John Berger & Laura Mulvey.

“…men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object – and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.”

John Berger Ways of Seeing


from Fully Automated Nikon, (Object/Objection/Objectivity), 1973 by Laurie Anderson.

“When I got back to my neighborhood, the Lower East Side in New York, I decided to shoot picures of men who made comments to me on the street. I had always hated this invasion of my privacy and now I had the means of my revenge. As I walked along Houston Street with my fully automated Nikon, I felt armed, ready. I passed a man who muttered “Wanna fuck?” This was standard technique: the female passes and the male strikes at the last possible moment forcing the woman to backtrack if she should dare to object. I wheeled around, furious, “Did you say that?” He looked around, surprised, then defiant, “Yeah, so what the fuck if I did?” I raised my Nikon, took aim, began to focus. His eyes darted back and forth, and undercover cop? CLICK.”

Laurie Anderson, in Stories from the Nerve Bible (1993) Continue reading

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One off: Joel Sternfeld


Joel SternfeldA Tourist at the South Street Seaport, New York, New York, July 1987, from Stranger Passing

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Fischer on Art

“If we are to regard the recognition of an objectively given reality as the nature of realism in art, we must not reduce that reality to a purely exterior world existing independently from our consciousness. What exists independently from our consciousness is matter. But reality includes all the immense variety of interactions in which man, with his capacity for experience and comprehension, can be involved. An artist painting a landscape obeys the laws of nature discovered by physicists, chemists, and biologists. But what he portrays in art is not nature independent from himself. It is a landscape seen through his own sensations, his own experiences. He is not merely the accessory of a sensory organ apprehending the outside world, he is also a man who belongs to a particular age, class, and nation, he possesses a particular temperament and character, and all these things play a part in determining the manner in which he sees, experiences, and depicts the landscape. They all combine to create a reality far larger than the given assembly of trees, rocks, and clouds, of things that can be measured and weighed. This reality is determined, in part, by the artist’s individual and social point of view. The whole of reality is the sum of all relationships between subject and object, not only past but also future, not only events but also subjective experiences, dreams, forebodings, emotions, fantasies. A work of art unites reality with the imagination.”

Ernst Fischer ‘Realism’ in “Art and Capitalism”, from The Necessity of Art

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One off: Williams & McElroy


Sorrow is my own yard
where the new grass
flames as it has flamed
often before, but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this year.
Thirty-five years
I lived with my husband.
The plum tree is white today
with masses of flowers.
Masses of flowers
load the cherry branches
and color some bushes
yellow and some red,
but the grief in my heart
is stronger than they,
for though they were my joy
formerly, today I notice them
and turn away forgetting.
Today my son told me
that in the meadows,
at the edge of the heavy woods
in the distance, he saw
trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.

William Carlos Williams, “The Widow’s Lament in Springtime” from The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume I, 1909-1939







Photographs from The Thirteenth Month, by Nich Hance McElroy.

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One off: Soth & Wadsworth Longfellow.

There are things of which I may not speak;
There are dreams that cannot die;
There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,
And bring a pallor into the cheek,
And a mist before the eye.
And the words of that fatal song
Come over me like a chill:
‘A boy’s will is the wind’s will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.’

Strange to me now are the forms I meet
When I visit the dear old town;
But the native air is pure and sweet,
And the trees that o’ershadow each well-known street,
As they balance up and down,
Are singing the beautiful song,
Are sighing and whispering still:
‘A boy’s will is the wind’s will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.’

And Deering’s woods are fresh and fair,
And with joy that is almost pain
My heart goes back to wander there,
And among the dreams of the days that were
I find my lost youth again.
And the strange and beautiful song,
The groves are repeating it still:
‘A boy’s will is the wind’s will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.’

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow My Lost Youth (ca. 1842)


2008_02zl0189, from “Broken Manual” © Alec Soth

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Mark Steinmetz lecture

From April of this year, Mark Steinmetz delivers a lecture on his photography, covering a significant proportion of the work he has published in the past decade, at the California College of the Arts, as part of their Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program.

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One off: Michelle Frankfurter.


A short selection from the project “Destino“, by Michelle Frankfurter. More to follow.















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