Page 1

2016 Contest Photos: Smartphone Photographs


Hiroji Kubota: The Decisive Observer

Matt Black: The Geography of Poverty Steven A. Heller: Detective Fiction

Issue 115 June 2016 US $7.95 Can $9.95


“I see the giving and receiving of photographs as something beautiful and personal.” — Hiroji Kubota

38 2016 Contest: Looking Back– Looking Forward: HIROJI KUBOTA: THE DECISIVE OBSERVER — 38


From the beginning of his five-decade career, Magnum photographer Hiroji Kubota’s political science background has helped inform his insightful and sensitive images of different cultures throughout the world, with particular emphasis on Southeast Asia, China and North and South Korea.

For the past two decades Matt Black has photographed the indivisible issues of migration, agriculture and poverty, bringing much-needed attention to overlooked and marginalized populations who make the American Dream possible for others while often remaining barred from entry themselves.

ANTHONY HERNANDEZ: STRANGERS IN A STRANGE LAND — 50 Sociologically rich and thematically dense, the urban images of Los Angeles made by Anthony Hernandez in the late ’70s and early ’80s render—with uncommon empathy and understanding—the alienation, anxiety, loneliness and resignation common to the modern urban environment.


STEVEN A. HELLER: DETECTIVE FICTION — 70 Steven A. Heller put his own stamp on the time-honored genre of combining written text and images in his portrait series of hard-boiled private eyes. In its conception and execution, the project challenges fundamental photographic assumptions while indulging in a tongue-in-cheek game of truth or fiction with viewers.


60 “The most important thing is to capture moments in photography, moments that are kind of harmonies.” —Tomasz Lazar

82 Smartphone Photographs — 18 TOMASZ LAZAR: THEATER OF LIFE — 82 What do astronauts, space aliens, Mickey Mouse, Voldemort and the Grim Reaper have in common? They’re all present, in one form or another, in Tomasz Lazar’s Theater of Life series, which turns the quotidian upside down and inside out to an otherworldly entertaining degree.

DAVID JAY: WAR-TORN — 92 Catastrophic combat wounds are the focus of David Jay’s photos of soldiers who have given their all, and then some, in service of their country. And who show perhaps even greater courage in posing for these groundbreaking images that foreground the too-often unacknowledged cost of modern warfare. These images are hard to look at. They’re even harder to look away from.




Cover image: El Broncero, Chennai, India, 2011 by Carlos Rozensztroch


Contest entries accepted thru October 31, 2016

NEW BLACK & WHITE PHOTO CONTESTS LOOKING BACK – LOOKING FORWARD Although we have photo contests for the broad categories of single images and portfolios, readers have suggested contests limited to the method of exposure or the time period when a photo was captured. We have come up with a blend of old and new which offer an opportunity to a variety of photographic interests. Vintage Images Smartphone Photography Alternative Printing Processes Pinhole/Plastic Camera The narrow focus of each contest means fewer entries and increases the chance your image will be selected. While the winners won’t be featured in a Special Issue, they will get prominent representation in regular issues of Black & White. Adding more pages to each issue will allow us to dedicate 16-24 pages to display winning photos. Each of the four contests will have a dedicated section in one of the four regular issues of Black & White. The added pages of award-winning photography will be an added bonus for our readers. VINTAGE IMAGES: Since the advent of digital, there has grown an ever-greater interest in and appreciation of fine art photographs made back in the analogonly era. To honor that work, and to help ensure that it doesn’t fade into obscurity, Peruvians by railroad track, Peru, 1975 © Jack Feder we’ve created this contest for photographs made prior to 1980. Do you have an archive of vintage images waiting to be discovered? Here’s your opportunity to get some valuable exposure for your classic decisive moments. Entry Specifications: Open to all genres and film formats (35mm, medium, large). Images are limited to those made in 1980 or earlier.

SMARTPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY: The smartphone has revolutionized the nature and potential of photographic capture and has opened up expressive possibilities to billions of people the world over. But since quantity does not necessarily equate to quality, we’ve created this contest to help stimulate your smartphone photo creativity. With more megapixels and a growing array of apps, filters and features, today’s smartphone camera is quickly becoming a serious fine art tool. Show us what you can do with your smartphone camera. Entry Specifications: Open to black-andwhite smartphone and tablet images, original monochrome capture or converted from color. Louie in the Desert © Steven A. Heller


Contest entries accepted thru October 31, 2016 ALTERNATIVE PRINTING PROCESSES: Although pioneered decades ago, alternative printing processes — photograms, daguerreotypes, tintypes, collodion, Mordançage and others — are still widely practiced. Photographers worldwide love the unpredictable and fascinating print characteristics of these time-honored techniques. Our contest provides the perfect opportunity to show off your darkroom skill and creative vision. Entry Specifications: Open to all alternative printing processes.

Looking at You, 1997 © Elizabeth Opalenik

PINHOLE/PLASTIC CAMERA IMAGERY: There’s nothing quite like pinhole and plastic cameras like the Holga, Diana and Lomo. The unique visual qualities of these cameras open up a whole new level of creative possibilities for the adventurous photographer. Submit your best pinhole/plastic camera photo Beyond, 2005 © Susan Burnstine and share your vision with the world. Entry Specifications: Open to black-and-white images made with any type of plastic or pinhole camera.

CONTEST GUIDELINES: PREPARING YOUR IMAGES: • Save images at 300 ppi (lower resolution files cannot be used), 8 bits, in grayscale, as jpeg files only. • WIDTH must be 7 inches – Width is measured from left to right and will total 2100 pixels. Enter 7” in WIDTH option when resizing and allow LENGTH to proportion itself naturally (pixel count will adjust accordingly) Use MEDIUM for Quality option. If prepared correctly the image file size will be approximately 1MB. • Please name each digital image file exactly as shown below: Title of image, Location, Year of capture. Example: The Rose, New York City, NY, 2005 or International: Eiffel Tower, Paris, France, 2008 • Do not use: all capitals, all lower case, underscores, or personal reference numbers in your titles. • Avoid using the following characters in an image file name or CD/DVD name: \ | / ? : “ * < > • If more than one image is Untitled, name them Untitled 1, Untitled 2, and so on. • Do not use Picasa, iPhoto or similar file-sharing programs to burn your CD/DVDs. SUBMITTING IMAGES: ENTRIES CAN NOW BE SENT THROUGH EMAIL BY EMAIL In the body of your email include: Complete name of contest you are entering (there are currently two), artist name, email address, website, physical mailing address, phone, and method of payment (physical mailing address will be used for your subscription.). Prepare images per instructions and save in folder using your name as title. Compress folder using programs such as Stuffit, ZIP, etc. and then attach the compressed file. Send to BY CD/DVD: • Write your complete name, phone number and email address on the CD/DVD itself. • Before sending CD/DVDs, using another computer, please double-check that the disks and your image files open properly. • On a sheet of paper, TYPE your name, mailing address, phone number, email address, and website address. DO NOT include an artist statement or curriculum vitae—entries are judged solely on the merits of the images. DO NOT include an image list separate from what is on the CD/DVD. • Mail to: Black & White, PO Box 700, Arroyo Grande, CA 93421 or other carriers: 1789 Lyn Road, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420.

IMPORTANT: YOU MUST LIST THE CONTEST FROM THE 4 CHOICES AND WHAT IMAGES YOU WISH TO SUBMIT TO IT ENTRY FEES: The entry fee of $30 includes submission of two photos. Additional images can be submitted for $10 each. There is no limit to the number of images that can be submitted. Payment may be made by check (payable to Black & White), money order, PayPal (pay to or credit card (MasterCard, Visa or American Express). Include number, expiration date, 3-digit security code on back of card, name exactly as embossed on card, cardholder’s signature and amount to be charged. ONLY Mastercard, Visa, American Express, PayPal, or International US Dollar Money Orders are accepted for international entries. We do not accept bank or money transfers. Entry fees are non-refundable. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: All CDs/DVDs will be destroyed after judging is completed. Winners will be advised of the cover date and publication date of the issue which will include their photos. PHOTO RELEASES must be available and furnished upon request for all individuals prominently featured in an entered image. This rule is not generally applicable to street photography. Do not include any releases with your entry. Please forward questions to or call us at 805.270.3312. COPYRIGHTS AND THE WEBSITE GALLERY: By entering this contest you give your permission for Black & White to print your images in our magazine or on our website for one-time use. Images entered in this contest will be posted on our website gallery with a link to your website unless you NOTIFY US IN WRITING that you do not want your images placed in the gallery. DEADLINE: Entries should be postmarked no later than October 31, 2016. NOTIFICATION: Judging will be completed by January 31, 2017 and you will receive an email communication of the results. If you wish to IMPORTANT! YOU MUST LIST THE CONTEST AND WHAT IMAGES YOU WISH TO SUBMIT TO IT. have a confirmation of receipt of entry, please include a stamped, self-addressed postcard.


From Fetishism to Photojournalism

Dean Brierly

IN THE MUSEUMS LACMA Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium (Mar 15, 2016–Jul 31, 2016) It’s safe to say that the late Robert Mapplethorpe was one of the most original American photographers of the late 20th century. He was also one of the most controversial, thanks to his unflinching male and female nudes, graphic self-portraits and uninhibited exploration of the BDSM community and practices. Mapplethorpe also made celebrity portraits, formal still lifes and exquisite flower images. All of his work was informed by a rigorous compositional aesthetic in which he strove to achieve “perfection in form.”

“She fought to return life to society’s forgotten, to the homeless, the migrants, with photography as her sole weapon.”

Robert Mapplethorpe, SelfPortrait, 1980, promised gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Trust, © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation This major retrospective exhibition, jointly organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum, draws


on work from the 1970s to the 1990s that was part of the 2011 acquisition from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. It also includes the artist’s drawings, collages, sculptures, Polaroids and two moving-image works. It will be accompanied by an installation titled “Physical: Sex and the Body in the 1980s,” designed to help place Mapplethorpe’s work in the context of the era in which it was made. A simultaneous companion exhibition will be held at the Getty. ( VISUAL SMARTS You may be pretty handy with that smartphone, but just how visually literate are you? The good folks at the Museum of Modern Art in New York want to help you become more informed about the medium of photography, and in the process help you become a better, savvier image maker. The vehicle for making this happen is MoMA’s first online course for the general public, titled “Seeing Through Photographs.” Led by Sarah Meister, curator of the Department of Photography at MoMA, it’s offered as a free program of study through the educational technology company Coursera. The course unfolds over six sessions that incorporate short films, video conversations, audio slideshows and studio visits, plus access to the museum’s vast photo-

graphic collection. Students will be introduced to various themes, including Seeing Through Photographs, Documentary Photography, Constructing Narratives and Challenging Histories, and more. And, just like school, there are quizzes and a final project. To participate, go to tography. IN MEMORIAM Leila Alaoui (1934-2016) The French-Moroccan photojournalist Leila Alaoui, who used her camera to help illuminate such issues as immigration, homelessness, women’s rights, cultural identity and displacement, died in the West African nation of Burkina Faso on January 18, from injuries sustained during a terrorist attack in the capital of Ouagadougou. She was on assignment for Amnesty International covering women’s rights in the country. Alaoui was 33. Born in Paris and raised in Marrakesh, Alaoui studied photography in New York. Her work was tough and unsentimental, yet imbued with strong empathy and natural lyricism. She was deeply committed to her subjects and their struggles and circumstances. Her celebrated series “The Moroccans,” comprised thoughtful formal portraits of men and women from the country’s various ethnic groups and regions. Jean-Luc Monterosso, director of the European



Inspired by the New Objectivity movement that emerged in the 1920s, the Bechers created a vast visual record of structures that they knew would eventually be destroyed.

House of Photography, and Jack Lang, president of the Institut du Monde Arabe, said in a joint statement on Facebook, “She was a radiant artist. She fought to return life to society’s forgotten, to the homeless, the migrants, with photography as her sole weapon. She was a peace correspondent.” Alaoui’s death, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, brought to 69 the number of journalists who were killed in the line of duty in 2015, underscoring the increasingly precarious nature of the profession.

Hilla Becher (1934-2015) Hilla Becher, the German photographer and conceptual


Bernd and Hilla Becher, Spherical Gas Tank, Wesseling, near Cologne, Germany, 1989 artist who, in collaboration with her husband, Bernd (1931-2007), extensively photographed industrial structures in Europe and

North America, passed away October 10, 2015 at the age of 81. Inspired by the New Objectivity movement that emerged in the 1920s, the Bechers created a vast visual record of structures that they knew would eventually be destroyed—pitheads, water towers, coal bunkers, blast furnaces, gas tanks and factory facades. They typically presented their images in grid formations to underline the typological nature of the work. As longtime professors and mentors, the Bechers also inspired the generation of German photographers known collectively as the “Dusseldorf school,” notably Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky.

Pop Quiz

10 Questions with: Don McCullin

Joel Meadows

The internationally renowned British photographer Don McCullin has taken his camera into many of the world’s war zones since the 1960s. While he later turned to landscape and still-life imagery, he spent 10 days on assignment for Harpers magazine in late 2015 covering the war in Iraq. Our London correspondent spoke to McCullin soon after his return to England prior to a major exhibition of his work at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in Somerset. This is an excerpt from a far longer conversation.

“Black-and-white photography, in a way, is much more powerful than looking at color.”

When you meet someone, do you say, I am a photographer, rather than, I am a war photographer? I hate saying that, because it doesn’t mean much. I went to see my doctor the other day, who I had an immediate dislike of. He said, “Where have you been? You’ve been travelling?” I said, “Yes, I’ve just come from Iraq.” He looked at me as if I was bonkers or telling a fib. Then he said, “What do you do?” and I said, “I’m a photographer,” and I hated saying it. Is that because it’s a narrow description that makes you feel you are being pigeonholed? I don’t know why people want identification. I don’t always want to be, as you say, pigeonholed. You’re famous for your


black-and-white imagery, but do you ever shoot in color? I did when I was in Iraq, but I have transferred it all to black and white. I think color takes you on another journey. I was forced to do color when I eventually found myself working on The Sunday Times, but even so I used to persuade the art director there to let me shoot black and white and they would put my black and whites on a four-color printing procedure. Black-and-white photography, in a way, is much more powerful than looking at color. I don’t care what anyone says. Color tries to take you on a much pleasanter journey. Black and white is bleak and stark and it brings reality into things, whereas color gives you opportunities to go off at different thoughts and places. You’ve never been one to follow a conventional path and follow the rules, have you? When you say follow the rules, that’s very disturbing, because one should never really follow the rules if you are creating. Perhaps convention is the word I am looking for. But [conventions] are meant to be broken. Many years ago I went to a Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference, and in those days—we’re talking about the late sixties—the Fleet Street brigade was all

lined up, and I ran out in front of them with my 35mm camera and they kept saying, “Oy! You can’t do that! Get back here! What the hell do you think you’re doing? Do you think you’re going to get anything with that stupid little camera?” Because they were all using Rolleiflexes, and I had a 35mm Pentax, they were making fun of me, thinking that you couldn’t get anything with that “horrible little camera.” But before they even got into it, people like Henri Cartier-Bresson went around the world with a 35mm Leica and took the greatest pictures in the world. So why would I listen to fools like that? So I did break the rules. I think rules are meant to be broken.

Do you still shoot with film? I do. But I have been given some digital cameras. It has just taken me a while to understand them. They are far too sophisticated for anybody. Canon gave me two D5s and a series of lenses, which were brilliant, really. But I use the lenses on AV, manual exposure but automatic focus. It’s a good combination, but one’s never sure at my age when you’re focusing. When you are in a war like I was two or three weeks ago, you haven’t got time to focus, you’ve got to press that button. I have made the transition partially to digital, but I still have a darkroom.

Pop Quiz Continued...

“Running across the street with a massive bulletproof jacket, with cameras and a helmet, you have to be quick. And I’m not quick anymore.”

Do you still enjoy developing, and you would miss that if you switched completely to digital? When you ask me if I would miss it, I am not going to be doing it for much longer. I just passed my 80th birthday, and I am not going to be standing in that darkroom. I am beginning to get chest wheezes and pains and I have been doing that for 60 years. Can you imagine? I might as well have been smoking three packs of fags a day. Developing fluid is lethal stuff.

your experience covering war. Has it affected you personally? When you come home to England how do you divorce yourself from the conflict you’ve been immersed in? You can’t divorce yourself from tragedy like that. It’s impossible. If you do you shouldn’t be doing it, and secondly how it affects me is I get less and less patient with things and people. I have realized that particularly now…and what affects me is doing what I am doing now, talking about it. I am so tired of talking about it because I have been doing it for Does being in a so long. This is going war zone give you to be the last knockan adrenaline rush? ings. I’ve got one Or do you go simmore thing tomorrow ply because you morning with the want to represent BBC and then I am what’s going on going to pull up the around you? drawbridge. If you Don McCullin, 2015 (photo by Joel Meadows) The adrenaline keep talking about doesn’t really conthe same thing it cern me anymore. When I the streets. I was in Aleppo becomes tiresome. I don’t was younger and I was obviget anything out of it. two years ago, covering the ously confused by the war there, and the streets How do you feel about excitement and the extraordi- were empty. When you did your photographic legacy? nary circumstances in which have to run across the I would like my legacy not one was involved—being streets you had to be bloody to be seen [strictly] as war, part of international world quick, and someone of my but as a greater width and news and being at the pinnaage wearing a bulletproof being funneled into war. cle of the top news story of jacket is a target. Anything is Look at my work—it also has the moment—of course it’s a target, even a dog and a to do with still-lifes and landexciting. But when I went to cat, so running across the scape photography. I can do Iraq I wasn’t excited in that street with a massive bulletgood portraits. If I wanted I sense anymore. I was interproof jacket, with cameras ested as a man who knows and a helmet, you have to be could do most things in photography, but I choose not to all about war, because war quick. And I’m not quick anydo other things. has changed a lot now. It more. isn’t the way it used to be. I know it’s a horrible Wars are conducted inside cliché, but you’ve seen the houses with holes in the heart of darkness through wall, because you don’t go


on the streets because snipers will kill you. The people who are waging war these days have the most sophisticated sniper rifles that can kill you from five or six hundred yards away. So nobody wants to be seen on


Tomasz Lazar: Theater of Life George Slade

One classic assignment for young and beginning writers goes something like this: Imagine you are a visitor to Earth from another planet far, far away. Describe what you see. Pretend that you are sending messages back to your home; you are an intergalactic anthropologist traveling the universe and recording the public behaviors of known civilizations. It’s an assignment that helps a writer establish a point of view. Sometimes the assignment’s focus is narrowed so the writing may deepen; concentrate your attention on this school, this hobby, this city, this festival. What the world looks like, from this vantage, can be quite surprising.

Tomasz Lazar, born 1985 in Poland, would seem to have inverted this assignment. Looking at his photographs one gets the impression that Lazar is deeply embedded in human culture and is describing the alien visitors themselves. He has a special eye for the outsiders moving in his world. Not unlike global immigration agents Jay, Kay and Zed and their MIB (Men in Black) colleagues, he has a knack for singling out those who are here with questionable motives.

Tomasz Lazar (photo by Malgorzata Wyrzykowska)


Some visitors are pretty obvious. The band of walking eyeballs, for instance. No mistaking them for earthlings. The individual in the space suit—NASA employee? Right, sure. The diminutive character in the hooded sweatshirt inspecting its distorted, possibly decomposing face in a fuzzy mirror/orb. They all stick out in what otherwise seem to be fairly normal scenes in our public, urban world. That is to say, Lazar has not gone to Area 51, or wrangled a press pass to an extraterrestrial convention held on Earth. (“Next year, the Alpha Centauri galaxy. And be sure to register soon for the special millennial anniversary meeting on Betelgeuse in 2018!”) Besides those overt intruders, Lazar spots aliens whose camouflage is more subtle. The camera’s singular perceptive capabilities make it an ideal associate in the search. But a question arises: Does Lazar’s camera create as many aliens as it records? This is where the hardest, most probing work begins. This is the zone where Lazar uncovers the most interesting truths. More about this in a moment. Lazar’s editorial feature work, which has been published internationally over the past half decade, is of a piece with the estrangement of the work reproduced here. His fashion photography, which he labels Fashion Philosophy, has a comparable otherworldli-

Theater of Life #9, Szczecinek, Poland, 2010

Theater of Life #1, New York, 2011


Theater of Life #2, Niechorze, Poland, 2008

Lazar has not gone to Area 51, or wrangled a press pass to an extraterrestrial convention held on Earth.

ness in its evocation of a world in which the unusual is the norm; Tokyo Reflections follows a travelogue format that is shattered and restructured in images rich with abrupt framing and multilayered description; City Pole Vault—the title a pun on his Polish origins—is sports photography with a twist, that being that the competition is staged in an urban setting in Lazar’s hometown of Szczecin, so the photographs seem like athletes and vaulting apparatus superimposed on a crowded street scene; Occupy Wall Street’s confrontations between global economy protestors, Wall Street brokers and New York City police are singularly evoked in United States of Debt and Children of Siberia. The last of that group would seem, on its face, to be the most conventional reportage. The title refers to a group of some two million Poles who in 1940 were deported to Siberia by the USSR for reasons of ethnic cleansing and destruction of socio-political elites. For six years they existed in terrible conditions, and were able to return to their homes following the cessation of World War II conflicts in


1946. Seventy years ago, then, a group of displaced natives reassumed lives in a place that was irrevocably altered. Children and parents died during the exile period due to malnutrition and mistreatment at the hands of their Soviet captors. Lazar chose to carry out the story by recording the faces of these now 70- and 80year-old Poles in tight, full frame, sharply detailed, crisply lit portraits. Some seem to be speaking (Lazar made all the portraits while interviewing them), some are pulled along offscreen vectors, others stare directly, confrontationally, into the camera. One woman appears to be drawing down her eyelids. All, except the last, have careworn faces that reflect tribulations. There are no smiles in these photographs. The story they tell is as powerfully alienating as any other mode of documentary description Lazar might have employed, and seem, after close inspection, like the only way to carry out an assignment such as this one. The comments Lazar recorded during the interviews reflect the ongoing pain of the survivor experience. As

Theater of Life #8, New York, 2011

Theater of Life #4, New York, 2013


Though the pictured elements in his “theater” may seem foreign or disharmonious, Lazar’s images on the whole possess an unsettling yet resonant wholeness.

one woman said, “After returning you couldn’t talk about being in Siberia. There was this sort of humiliation.” Lazar shared his own thoughts about this intentional deportation, this alienation from one’s homeplace, in a 2015 interview published in the Dutch magazine GUP. He said he chose to work in the extreme close-up, macro zone “because their faces are like maps” and that it was important to him that viewers become “attracted to the emotions and what happens on the face, unrelated to the context and environment they live in” as modern-day Poles.

Theater of Life, featured here, follows a more circuitous approach to photographic narrative. The series has been reproduced in editorial contexts and seen in solo exhibitions in Cortona (Italy), Barcelona, Hanover (Germany), and Warsaw, Lodz and Szczecin in Poland. As Lazar stated in the 2015 interview, “The most important thing is to capture moments in photography, moments that are kind of harmonies.” Though the pictured elements in his “theater” may seem foreign or disharmonious, Lazar’s images on the whole possess an unsettling yet resonant wholeness. The singular characters noted earlier, to which should

Theater of Life #5, New York, 2011


be added an image allegedly featuring Mr. Mickey and Ms. Minnie Mouse accompanied by a more-downcast-than-usual Winnie the Pooh, are complemented by a number of images in which strangeness takes root and disrupts our familiar comforts. Lazar has a special talent for capturing women with surreal qualities and otherworldly abilities. One, seen in passing, resembles a two-faced Janus, a disfigured Voldemort attached to the back of her head. Another, caught and partially lit in profile through a train window, wears a scarf or holds something on her lap that, given the disappearance of her head in shadow, appears as a lupine monster with quaking, possibly unpleasant intentions. Another image features a lovely face, apparently featured on a Times Square billboard, and seen in a puddle. The reflection, though, is chilling, as it can be read as the disarticulated head of the train window werewolf/woman (vertical flopping, turning top into bottom, adds to the visual disturbance). A young girl (we assume) wearing a disarming, angelwinged-and-haloed outfit appears to be dematerializing as she enters a magical portal partially concealed behind a trash can. Speaking of dematerializing, Lazar’s series offers several images of phantoms. One reveals the transparent spirit presences of a

Theater of Life #7, New York, 2011

Theater of Life #14, Warsaw, Poland, 2010


Theater of Life #11, Warsaw, Poland, 2010

Lazar has a special talent for capturing women with surreal qualities and otherwordly abilities.

man and woman apparently observing and discussing the urban density we witness around and through them; another captures a cluster of impossibly arrayed partial forms floating through darkness. In other works, a natty poltergeist is guided by its adult familiar, a bikinied naiad holds back a crashing wave, and a concealed crone flips us the bird in the form of her taloned middle digit. Unsurprisingly, even the Grim Reaper makes a cameo appearance. Lazar is unquestionably a digital native, and thus possibly excused for his belief in the feasible representation of alternate realities. However, in his statement about Theater of Life he insists that what he sees is a population that “feels disconnected from the world,” that in a way has lost its terrestrial ties and experiences “off moments” in life. Furthermore, he states his belief that “people are increasingly getting lost between the borders of two worlds; the real world in which they live and the world created by the media.” In any case, what we see in his photographs is what Lazar shows us, utilizing the


camera’s unique syntax to capture a distinct vision. “The truth is out there,” as X-Files partners Scully and Mulder know. Tomasz Lazar knows just how far. Fact File Lazar’s online world can be accessed at “Children of Siberia: An Interview with Tomasz Lazar” by Maria Teresa Salvati (April 12, 2015) can be found here:

Theater of Life #3, New York, 2013

Theater of Life #10, New York, 2011


Theater of Life #13, Warsaw, Poland, 2011


Theater of Life #12, New York, 2011



“I love to photograph things that are not quite as we expect them to be.”

Fact File Patricia Galagan Santa Fe, NM Images are available at 17” x 22” for $600.

Patricia Galagan Portfolio Contest Winner

A rhyming couplet by Robert Frost, often cited by the late artist, photographer and teacher Kate Carter, guides Patricia Galagan. Frost wrote: “We sit in a circle and suppose. The secret sits in the middle and knows.” In the decades since she was 10 years old, Galagan has used photography to elicit and transcribe life’s secrets. She is also comfortable with, even welcoming of, secrets within certain photographs— the images, she notes, “that make you wonder what’s there besides what you see.” In the portraits reproduced here, from the Objects of Desire series within a larger project called Cuba on the Cusp, there are both overt, factual narratives and effectively invisible implications. After four trips to Cuba Galagan has developed a sense of both the explicit desires of the island’s residents and the surrounding, defining environment—the “bell jar of Communism,” as she puts it—in which they have been living. Galagan, a resident of New Mexico, says Cubans demonstrate an “openness to the camera” that she finds irresistible. In these portraits, the mix of open and obscured is tantalizingly present. The spaces in which the images take place are largely interior; many are made with the camera quite close to the personal space of the individual (or individuals) portrayed. This positioning denotes palpable intimacy to the exchange between photographer and collaborator/subject that creates a strong portrait. On the other hand, the nominal object of desire is not consistently identified. The gentleman in “The Catch” displays a pendulous cluster of silvery fish. Clear enough, right? But there are complicating elements: Galagan’s camera has captured and drawn the cluster-holding hand in a remarkable, strange fashion, creating a mystery for the eye; simultaneously, the blackboard behind the man, scrawled with lines that only occasionally resemble letters, may be communicating something only insiders recognize. What, truly, is the catch? The casual grace of the hatted man in “The Comrade” accompanies a distinct lack of specificity about his cherished object. Given


the abundance of reading material on the desk in front of him and the rogue’s gallery of Cuban leaders on the wall behind, one might assume that he is a journalist or other type of writer, the absence of writing tools on the desk notwithstanding. A paper punch, a Rolodex (but no phone), a stapler, a table lamp, a bottle that may still or once have contained alcohol, and a flag—indicators all, but of what? A better semiotician than I must parse this image for its narrative. This paradoxical Cuban series (published by Blue Sky Books in 2014) presents an intriguing and appropriately complicated record of a people whose survival over the past five decades has been one of resourcefulness and notalways-sanctioned activity. Galagan has sought to understand “what being Cuban is about in these changing times.” The object of desire, then, may be more intangible than material. Or, perhaps, the physical thing is a cover for a more profound and seditious desire. Galagan says, “I believe that Cubans of all ages want a culture that is more open to the rest of the world, but there are lingering questions about what that will mean to individual Cubans. Mostly, I think Cubans want to know what opportunities await them and how to take advantage of them.” Galagan is drawn to “the aftermath of upheaval, especially social, geographic and ecological.” As well, she seeks “places where nature and man have collided…. I love to photograph things that are not quite as we expect them to be.” In other words, she is prepared to have her preconceptions of a place rearranged, or discarded altogether. Her early education as a photographer, which included a trip to Yosemite with a Kodak Brownie along with years of absorbing Life magazine and family photo albums, imbued her with the richness of photography as a literal, descriptive medium. Her Cuban experiences have added the possibilities of metaphor and disguise. She now describes making photographs as “a necessary pleasure,” a suitably oxymoronic label for this embracer of conjecture and secret knowledge. — George Slade

The Comrade, Havana, Cuba, 2011

The Catch, Havana, Cuba, 2011


Josie and Miguel, Havana, Cuba, 2011


Jorge, Havana, Cuba, 2011

Odalisque, Havana, Cuba, 2011


Profile for Black & White magazine

115 June 2016  

Black & White magazine: for collectors of fine photography. Our June 2016 issue shakes things up with photographer Matt Black’s tough, compa...

115 June 2016  

Black & White magazine: for collectors of fine photography. Our June 2016 issue shakes things up with photographer Matt Black’s tough, compa...

Profile for bandwmag