Southern Province – Vassilis Konstantinou


Vassilis Konstantinou returns to a familiar place to photograph the familiar and unfamiliar.

These pictures are the outcome of a three-year photographic wandering of Vassilis Konstantinou – in his place of origin: the province of Achaia. In the context of this wandering, the photographer directed his gaze and lens to things simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar, focusing on the intermediate zones between the past and the present, the old and the new zones still coexisting in the countryside.

This is a photographic endeavour of remapping not only the familiar landscapes of childhood memories – landscapes now in a state of radical transition – but also of the people dwelling in them and cultivating the earth. In Peloponnese, this southern part of Greece (which is also the southern border of Europe), the interesting thing lies in the co-existence – at times harmonic, at times full of tensions – of native people, economic migrants and internal immigrants – that is,  young people who left the big cities to experiment with different ways of life. The place and the cultivation of the land is what binds these people on one level, and yet builds new borders and boundaries between them, on another: borders and boundaries symbolic and imaginary, hence imperceptible. Their co-existence marks the emergence of a place different and uncharted; a bizarre landscape neither beautiful nor ugly, in a process of deep transformation and reshaping – a liminal landscape.

Using the special characteristics of this southern part of Europe as his background, Vassilis Konstantinou captures a moment of the complex everyday life of these people and landscapes, informing the viewer about their specificities and the identity of all the small and insignificant things which construct their reality, while remaining unseen.

The facts:
Vassilis Konstantinou
You can see more of Vassilis’s work here.
All photos: © Vassilis Konstantinou
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.






The Hungry Years – Jack Pierson


The reunification of Germany, the war on drugs, the launch of the Hubble telescope, Jurassic Park, Goodfellas, “Ice Ice Baby”.

Ahhhh… 1990. Truly a suitable year to help put behind us the tumultuous decade of the 80’s.

While the world was going through massive political and cultural changes of the 80″s, Jack Pierson was producing a series of highly personal photographs documenting his life and the life of his friends. Jack Pierson: The Hungry Years contains 43 color images from that series.

As stated in the books promotional information, “The Hungry Years collects the early photographs of Jack Pierson, taken throughout the 1980s—photographs that have increasingly captured the attention of the art world since they were first editioned in 1990”

You can see the foundation of Jack Pierson’s unique photographic style – the odd color, the unique framing and the choice of subjects, both personal and universal. A damaged sign reading “Angel Youth”. “Two Queens in L.A. (Alexis Arquette and Mario Gardner)”.  “Chantal at Dawn”.

In “The World”, a room includes a red couch, a discarded disco ball, and an open bottle of beer, all scattered about in a room giving the impression of the aftermath of a hedonistic party. Cropped on the left of the frame is a leg and a foot of a figure that may have his pants pulled down and may be engaged in a sexual act.

In the photograph titled “Nice Blue Pickup”, the sign on the building behind the truck reads LEE MANOR CONDO. It is posted using 3D letters in a couple of different typefaces, perhaps foreshadowing the technique Jack uses in his word sculptures.

As Stephen Shore states in his introduction, “Authenticity is what Jack Pierson’s pictures convey. They have the feel of raw experience: the taste of a place, the face of a friend, adismal aspect, a flash of passion.
At the same time, they relish the medium of photography, its epiphanies, and its flaws. Jack disrespects the merely good for the sake of the expressionistically real.”

Jack Pierson: The Hungry Years presents the work of a gifted artist in the years he was developing his singular style and the photography world began to take notice.

The facts:
Jack Pierson: The Hungry Years
Introduction by Eileen Myles.
Foreword by Stephen Shore.
Hbk, 8 x 9.5 in. / 104 pgs
More info here.

Daniel Shipp – Botanical Inquiry 2014-2015


Daniel Shipp – Botanical Inquiry 2014-2015

Daniel sent me the following background on his series:
Botanical Inquiry is a series of photographic dioramas that shuffle nature, geography, and physics into familiar but fictional environments.

In these compositions, the physical characteristics of the unremarkable plants I have collected become storytelling elements which, when staged against the backdrop of common urban environments, explores the quietly menacing effect that humans have on the natural world. From a subjective and ambiguous point of view we witness the plants ability to adapt and survive.

By manipulating the optical and staging properties of photography with an analogue “machine” that I have constructed, I have produced these studio based images “in camera” rather using Photoshop compositing. They rely exclusively on the singular perspective of the camera to render their mechanics invisible.

The facts:
Daniel Shipp
You can see more of Daniel’s work here.
All photos: © Daniel Shipp
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.






The Village – Nadia Sablin


Nadia Sablin documents a Russian village and how it has changed over a decade.

I’ve been coming to the Russian village of Alekhovshchina for a decade, and in this time I have watched it change little by little – the children growing up, their mothers struggling to make a living, their fathers often absent. The village is a paradise for the young – there is a wildness to the lack of supervision and infrastructure, a freedom that is beautiful for a time. There aren’t many choices when it comes to professions in this remote village, surrounded by forests. Logging is the main source of income, saw mills taking over abandoned collective farms, eighteen-wheelers dwarfing the wooden houses that belong to their owners, the sound of chainsaws breaking the heavy silence of country living.

As Russia changes, the village feels reverberations. One year there were suddenly migrant workers taking labor jobs and renting houses from the locals. The native villagers sneered at the newcomers, but accepted the rent money and the cheap labor. When the Ruble fell in 2014, many families started raising pigs, goats and chickens – a better choice than working a job for a salary that doesn’t cover expenses even if it is paid on time. The families that have befriended me over the years are showing a strain – there is more talk of fights and cheating. Family and love are that much more fragile, when there is not much else to rely on.

The economic issues that seem abstract and remote in the press have a very real and direct effect on the villagers. My photographs from Alekhovshchina are a way for me to explore and describe a world that doesn’t fit into the neat narrative of “Putin’s Russia” put forth by both Eastern and Western media. It is more beautiful and complicated than either side would have us believe, more tragic and hopeful.

The facts:
Nadia Sablin
You can see more of Nadia’s work here.
All photos: © Nadia Sablin
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.






The Havens – Gabriele Galimberti 


Gabriele Galimberti’s deep dive into tax havens.

Tax havens have quietly taken the world by storm. More than half of world trade now passes through these places. They are in the news every day, and are fast becoming a constant fixture of the political debate.

The growing flow of articles and reports on this poorly understood subject are usually illustrated with images of palm-fringed tropical beaches.

Is that what tax havens really look like? From Delaware to Jersey; from Singapore to Panama; from the British Virgin Islands to the City of London, passing through Cayman, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, we take you on a tour into a rarely seen, secretive world that is quite different from what you imagine.

For more than two years we have travelled to the offshore centers that embody tax avoidance, secrecy, offshore banking and extreme wealth, driven by a constant obsession with translating this rather immaterial subject into images. We have produced a body of work that shows what these places look like, but, even more importantly, what they mean.

It has been estimated that as much as $32 trillion are sheltered in tax havens worldwide, largely out of sight. That is 13 times the GDP of the United Kingdom. Much of this money is stashed offshore by very wealthy individuals. But a growing share is owned by companies that use tax havens, often legally, to escape financial regulations or to reduce their taxes, draining the resources countries can spend on education, health care and security.

Tax havens are not an exotic tropical eccentricity, but have become a structural instrument of the globalized economy. They confront us with fundamental moral issues, involving the relationships between public and private; between companies and states; and between the haves and the have-nots.

We have conceived the resulting book as the self-congratulatory annual report of a successful company, borrowing the photographic tropes and language of the world we have investigated. The company, aptly named “The Heavens”, actually exists, and we have incorporated it in Delaware, where for a small fee – with no documents required or questions asked – an LLC can be formed in less than 20 minutes. “The Heavens” is now based in the same Delaware office as Apple, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Google, Wal-Mart and 285,000 other businesses.

The book, in slip-cased hardback coffee table format, has more than 80 plates, and a text by Nicholas Shaxson, one of the most recognized experts in the field, that helps the reader decode the workings of tax havens and shows why we are all deeply affected.


The facts:
Gabriele Galimberti
You can see more of Elton’s work here.
Social media: @gabrielegalimbertiphoto and @woods_galimberti
All photos: © Gabriele Galimberti
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.






The Hidden Identities – Elton Gllava


A few photos from a series by Elton Gllava shot in a psychiatric hospital.

Here is a write-up about Elton’s series from his website:
I worked on this photo essay at the Ali Mihalis psychiatric hospital of Vlore, in the southern part of Albania. From August to December 2009 Ali Mihali was overcrowded: 203 patients, 170 men and 33 women. In front of such a scenery of desolation, human fragility, and solitude, I felt a deep feeling of empathy, and also an incredible friendliness. I spent several days going around, seeking images to give voice to the people living in Ali Mihali. The more I went round, the more I got lost through rooms, corridors, toilets, and common areas where the absence of people was usually predominant compared to their presence. Furthermore, the patients’ presence gave evidence of the absence and the abandon of a society which is unable to manage this kind of illness and considers the psychiatric patient as someone to hide. Someone to be afraid of.
The choice of shooting several images blurred or out of focus wants to reflect the look of stubborn myopic cultural blindness which, unable to manage, goes on escaping from mental illness. A look can have a very strong emotional impact, it can hurt, silence people, make them think. Their eyes, a vortex in which I dreamed of falling and hurting myself.
Edited by Christian Caujolle

Elton’s bio:
Elton Gllava was born in Albania under the closed communist regime of the 1970’s. When the borders opened in 1991 he seized his opportunity to experience another world and like thousands of Albanians made the crossing Italy. His early years in Rome exposed him to some of the darker sides of multilayered Roman society through various pursuits and employments……however in 2007 he made the decision to dedicate himself to photography. His photographic style is focused towards both social and authorial reportage with a strong draw towards the intimate aspects.


The facts:
Elton Gllava
You can see more of Elton’s work here.
All photos: © Elton Gllava
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.






Between Blossoms – Shen Wei


I was impressed with the work of Shen Wei I saw this year at AIPAD.

Here is Shen’s artist statement about his series Between Blossoms.
Between Blossoms is inspired by my dreams of the unknown and by the mysteries that fascinate me.

And I find these fantasies hinted at in the reality that surrounds me; a touch of melodrama here, a hint of seduction there, that enhance the everyday with an exclusive, enchanting beauty.

My choice of these subjects reflects the passion for the unfamiliar and the fantastical, balanced with my preference for the natural and an optimistic perspective.

The blossoms in these pictures may be the beginning or end of their life, but either way they are about the mysterious magic of life that exists in between.

Here is Shen’s bio from his website:
Born and raised in Shanghai, Shen Wei is an artist based in New York City and Shanghai.  His work has been exhibited internationally, with venues including the Museum of the City of New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Power Station of Art in Shanghai, La Triennale di Milano, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. His work has been featured in The New Yorker, The Guardian, CNN, Aperture, ARTnews, American Photo, China Photo Press, and Wall Street Journal.

Shen Wei’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Library of Congress, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Museum of Chinese in America, and the Ringling Museum of Art, among others.

Shen Wei is a recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Arts Residency, the Asian Cultural Council Arts & Religion Fellowship, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Arts Grant.  He holds an MFA in  photography, video, and related media from the School of Visual Arts, New York; and a BFA in photography from Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

The facts:
Shen Wei
You can see more of Shen’s work here.
All images are copyright Shen Wei, courtesy of the artist and Flowers, London / New York.
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.






The Traditional Gold Miners of Burkina Faso – Hugh Brown


My good friend, Cary Wolinsky, turned me on to Hugh Brown’s work:.

Here is a writeup from his website about his series The Traditional Gold Miners of Burkina Faso:

Burkina Faso is where I began my quest to photograph the world’s artisanal miners.  It is a brilliant country, located in the backblocks of West Africa and bordered by Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Mali and Niger.  Most people have never heard of it and that is perhaps why it remains one of my favorite countries around the world.  Because the people are authentic and friendly.  Authentic.  Free largely of Western cultural influences.

In recent years, sadly, the security situation has deteriorated markedly and this sequence of images would now be even more difficult than it was when I ventured there to take these images in 2010.

Many of these people work for less than 1US$ per day, but it is a lot most of them have chosen as they search for a life that will gain them wealth over and beyond that which they can earn in the fields and villages.

The work at times is dangerous and deaths are frequent.  Mostly during the summer wet season when shafts get flooded and mine walls become less stable.  Descending the mine shafts is not for the faint-hearted and it is common for the miners to drink large quantities of alcohol before going to work to give them the courage to venture into the mines.

You can learn more about Hugh’s Cruellest Earth Project or make a donation here:

The facts:
Hugh Brown
You can see more of Hugh Brown’s work here.
All photos: © Hugh Brown
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.






Icebreakers – Karol Stollmann


Karol Stollmann sent me this writeup about his color portraits of a group of very cold lake water swimmers called “icebreakers”:

A member of an informal athletic group Icebreakers from Kosice, Eastern Slovakia, EU, posing after his immersion in icy lake water, their regular training cold bath, December 2016.

Staged portraits show best the line of cold water everyone was immersed. From the old time known effect of cold water is based mostly on blood circulation improvement, positively affecting many diseases of contemporary civilization. In addition to improving the athletes health, swimming in icy water also provides a flood of endorphins, the hormones of happiness.

The facts:
Karol Stollmann
You can see more of Karol’s work here.
All photos: © Karol Stollmann
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.






The Life and Work of Sid Grossman


One of the most pleasurable aspects of The Life and Work of Sid Grossman is that it renews the faith of photo book lovers like me, that there are still people who believe that attention to detail and fine craftsmanship makes a difference

The book is beautifully designed and printed. It is a joy to just hold in your hands and read.

If for nothing else, the fact that Sid Grossman co-founded the Photo League, he would be one of the most important figures in 20th century photography. But as the book illustrates, his obsessive documenting of New York City and Coney Island he was a major figure in establishing the street photography aesthetic.

The Life and Work of Sid Grossman presents over 150 images from all aspects of his short life.  The book includes work from projects including “Chelsea Document, 1938-1939”, “Harlem, 1939”, “Guatemala and Panama, 1945-1946”, Coney Island, 1947-1948”, and “Folk and Blues Musicians, 1940’s” which includes portraits of Woodie Guthrie, Josh White, Big Bill Broonzy, and Billie Holiday.

From the press release:
Sid Grossman and his photographs were largely forgotten after his untimely death in 1955 at the age of forty-two. One of the founders of the left-leaning Photo League (1936–51), Grossman was labeled a Communist and blacklisted in 1949. A demanding and capricious teacher who challenged his students to think critically about all aspects of their photography, Grossman’s own approach to image-making and his remarkable body of work were constantly evolving. This monograph, the first comprehensive survey of Sid Grossman’s life and work, contains more than 150 photographs that demonstrate Grossman’s enduring talent and depth. The images range from his early social documentary work of the late 1930s to the more personal and dynamic street photography of the late 1940s, as well as late experiments with abstraction in both black and white and color. It features a biographical and critical essay by the renowned curator and photo historian, Keith F. Davis, which traces Grossman’s evolution as a photographer and examines his considerable influence as a teacher. The book concludes with an extensive selection of excerpts from a transcript of tape recordings of a course that Grossman taught in the spring of 1950 in which he expounds his views on photography, art, and creativity.
Co-published with Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

Sid Grossman was born in New York in 1913. In 1938, Grossman and his friend Sol Libsohn co-founded the New York Photo League, a left-leaning, socially conscious photographers’ cooperative and school. Grossman’s early photography was very much in the social documentary tradition, while his work began to evolve into a more personal and dynamic style during World War II. These changes came to fruition in his best-known photographs made in the late 1940s — images of New York’s Little Italy and Coney Island. Photographing at a very close distance and using blur and off-kilter compositions, his images are a precursor to the work of many better-known street photographers of the 1950s and ’60s. Grossman died of a heart attack in 1955.

The facts:
The Life and Work of Sid Grossman
Edited by Keith F. Davis
252 pages, 150 images
Four-color process
Hardback / Clothbound
More information here.

Sid Grossman, Sonny Terry, c.1948. copyright Howard Greenberg Galley

Sid Grossman, Mulberry Street, 1948. copyright Howard Greenberg Galley

Sid Grossman, Coney Island, 1947-1948. copyright Howard Greenberg Galley

Sid Grossman, Black Christ, 1945. copyright Howard Greenberg Galley

Sid Grossman, Girl with Notebook, 1938-1939. copyright Howard Greenberg Galley