Something like love

Stephen Wilkes Lecture at PhotoNOLA

Posted in Commercial, Documentary, Fine Art, Fine art, Lecutre, Moving, Photography, Pretty things by linhdy on December 24, 2010

Stephen Wilkes - Ellis Island

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I returned from PhotoNOLA at New Orleans where we  had the wonderful experience of hearing photographer Stephen Wilkes lecture, in the flesh.  The December 11th lecture was two hours long and focused on his personal work with glimpses of his from high school work up until his recent project on the BP Oil Spill.

The most critical moment in the lecture and (in some ways his career), was when he was serendipitously granted unlimited access to document the Ellis Island hospital complex, which housed ill immigrants from 1892 to 1954 on their way to the United States.  As he said, Wilkes was in the right place at the right time.

The abandoned hospital complex was left in all its haunting glory in a secluded section of the Island.  During that time, it was exposed to the natural elements and–most importantly– time.  Wilkes captured the beautiful decay of the rooms,  parallel to the heavy history of those who stayed and even died in within the hospital ward.   His photographs tell the story of those who suffered, lived, and died within those confines.  The photos hint at an unsettling, and sometimes light, side of humanity.

On a lighter note, his lecture segued to his Vanity Fair piece on the billion-dollar financial swindler Bernard Madoff (incredibly clever!), to his on-going documentation of China as an industrializing machine (both scary and admirable).

Wilkes ended on an uplifting note by sharing his photos document the BP oil spill.  At that moment, it became clear that he aims to use his work to drive change.  And that my friend, is incredibly inspirational.

[Photos by Stephen Wilkes, Ellis Island]

John Divola – Artist Lecture

Posted in Fine Art, Fine art, Landscape, Lecutre, Photography, Relationships by linhdy on December 6, 2010

I was extremely excited to listen to the very influential photographer John Divola lecture on Sunday at the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art.  Despite the lack of ventilation in the stuffy Ahmanson Auditorium, Divola plowed through an hour-long lecture on his artwork dating from his humble beginnings as a graduate student at the University of Califorian in Los Angeles to his current work as he continues to teach photography at the University of California in Riverside.  He appeared very relaxed speaking in front the intimate crowd, no surprise coming from a professor.

The most interesting part of any artist lecture, is hearing and seeing the artist talk about their work and the evolution of their art as their thought process changes.  From Divola’s older work up until his most recent was very consistent in his exploration how humankind interacts with the natural environment and his constant exploration of the abandoned spaces, the spaces around him and man-made elements within the landscape.

Even to this day, I will still recall how my photography professor showed us his Isolated Houses series– we all looked on in silent.  Divola has an instinctual eye for light and how it shapes the subject matter, and to this day, I still believe his house series is one of his most beautiful for its play on light and color.

In Artificial Nature, Divola selects and exhibits found photographs of fake natural landscapes created for movies.  At first appearing natural and eerie, the movie sets are gorgeous.  Once the viewer takes a closer look and notices the movie set signs and the painted background, the whole gig is up.

john-divola-artificial-nature

Bernard Faucon and the Modern Photograph

Posted in Fine Art, Landscape, Love, Photography, Pretty things by linhdy on November 15, 2010

Just got back from a wonderful Bernard Faucon lecture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with my wonderfully talented artist-friend Rosemary Winn (check out her work, she is amazing).

Faucon is a French artist who originally started painting before, in his own words,  realizing he had no talent and moved on to photography.  Faucon’s photographic works have themes of love, beauty and his personal favorite– childhood. Much of his photographic works explore the idyllic time of youth, sublime love and childhood dreams.

Earlier photographs explore these themes using mannequins engaged in some child-like activity, setup, scene or narrative.  As he got older, he starting photographing more conceptually like in Winter and Golden Rooms or their antithesis The Rooms of Love.

Faucon moved further away from photography in his series The Scriptures in which he built wooden words, staked them in various landscapes and photographed them with a strong flash; the words take on a ethereal quality, appearing to float above the ground.  These photos were less about the photograph and more about the words and thoughts themselves.

Finally, The End of the Image marks his last official project in photography.  These are exhibited as small photographs with powerful, poignant phrases painted on youthful skins.

Faucon led the audience from his earlier train of thought using staged photography to finally his disillusionment with staged photography.  He raises an interesting idea.  Paraphrasing his words, with the ubiquity of photography, everyone is taking photographs of everything.  “All the photographs have been taken…” There is no further need to photograph.

Instead, the artist becomes the person who selects the photograph.  For Faucon, the voice that makes a difference is the person who selects and who lends his/her perspective to the work.  And that, my friend, is why he no longer photographs.

Take a look at some of his stunning work below.  His voice is an artist’s voice that has expressed beautiful ideas.  As Faucon says, “You cannot get over the fact that it should come to an end…”

Bernard Faucon - The Probable Evolution of Time

See more of Faucon’s works at Gallery Vu.

[Images from The Probable Evolution of Time by Bernard Faucon]