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#33 Trip Winter 2012/2013 â‚Ź19,50

Todd Hido / Jan Hoek / Nils Strindberg Ricardo Cases / Cristina De Middel Erwin Olaf / Anne Sophie Merryman Thomas Mailaender

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Todd Hido / Jan Hoek / Nils Strindberg Ricardo Cases / Cristina De Middel Erwin Olaf / Anne Sophie Merryman Thomas Mailaender

3 Editorial

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4 Portfolio Overview 6 On My Mind Diane Smyth, Melanie Bonajo, James Stevenson, Yannick Bouillis, Todd Selby, and Martin Z. Margulies 12 Interview Roma Publications Holding The Course by Hester Keijser 19 Theme introduction Daytripper by Marcel Feil

Portfolios 29 Todd Hido A Road Divided text by Katya Tylevich 49 Jan Hoek Sweet Crazies text by Sean O'Toole 69 Nils Strindberg S.A. Andrée Arctic Balloon Expedition text by Max Houghton 89 Ricardo Cases Paloma al Aire text by Bill Kouwenhoven 109 Cristina De Middel The Afronauts text by Jörg Colberg 129 Erwin Olaf Paradise text by Natacha Wolinski

149 Anne Sophie Merryman Mrs. Merryman's Collection text by Adam Bell 169 Thomas Mailaender Cathedral Cars text by Ian Jeffrey


190 Photobooks by Sebastian Hau 195 Foam ­Amsterdam Exhibition Programme 216 Colophon

Editorial by Marloes Krijnen Editor-in-chief

We travel with nineteenth-century photographer Nils Strindberg on a fatal polar expedition, pictures of which have survived almost by a miracle. Todd Hido stays closer to home, photographing muddy country roads in the west of the United States through the wet windscreen of his car. Young Dutch photographer Jan Hoek travelled to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and made portraits of the many mentally ill people who live on the streets there. Bizarre and surrealistic in equal measure is the project by Cristina De Middel about The Afronauts – spacemen in the heart of Africa. And that the world contains many remarkable and often ambiguous places is clear from the weird and wonderful selection of picture postcards taken from the collection of the equally mysterious Mrs. Merryman. Paradise by Erwin Olaf is a hallucinatory trip, with nightmarish qualities, through a fantastical world full of hedonistic partygoers, and no less hallucinatory are the painted pigeons that Ricardo Cases came across in Spain and recorded in all their colourful absurdity. Then there are the owners of the piled-high cars that Thomas Mailaender photographed as drily humorous typologies of migration and mobility. Together these portfolios offer an enthralling trip through the landscape of contemporary photography. W   e hope that you, as we did, will enjoy the view. •

And then of course there is a category of photographers who, rather than being on their way to a prearranged destination, treat the journey itself as their goal. They work in their chosen no man’s land, between departure and arrival, a place of detachment where the usual duties and responsibilities have far less hold on them. The addictive sense of being ‘on the road’ and the pleasure of freedom, individuality and the opportunity to turn off to the right or left at any moment has created unique artistic genres, in cinematography as well as in literature and photography. In the United States especially, many photographers have taken their lead from the big names who traversed the continent and captured how it looked to them, from Walker Evans to Robert Frank and Joel Sternfeld. This issue of the magazine is all about travel, about the sense of being in transit, in a place where things are different from the way they are at home. Of course Foam Magazine goes beyond a literal interpretation of the theme. You can, after all, travel purely in your head.



Despite the fact that everyone these days has a mobile telephone capable of taking photographs, a camera is still an essential part of the modern traveller’s equipment. When we go on a journey, setting off for a distant location, we always insist on taking a camera, eager to record things we come upon along the way, things that are different, strange, beautiful or exotic. So holiday and travel photos, in whatever form they may take, continue to make up a large proportion of all the photographic images produced. As well as accumulating evidence that we really have been to a place, we want to capture our experiences of being somewhere else and share them with others. Professional photographers sometimes travel to obscure locations as well, to create photos that would be difficult or impossible to make closer to home. Travel photography is a genre in itself.

Travel is ultimately more a mental state than a physical effort. Mentally too you can escape the daily grind, relocate your mind’s eye and call at places you thought impossible, whether or not aided by mind-expanding substances. The word Trip is therefore the word that best describes the theme of this issue: from road trip to mental trip. We bring the subject alive in eight quite different portfolios, taking you on eight diverse journeys, ranging from the fantastical to the concrete, from the conceptual to the extremely stylized.

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Portfolio Overview

Todd Hido A Road Divided To make A Road Divided  Todd Hido patiently waited for dark clouds to roll over San Francisco Bay area. His landscapes evoke the banality and tragedy of confinement in space, in situation, in a body, in the calendar year, and the fantasy of escape.

Jan Hoek Sweet Crazies The series Sweet Crazies is made up of portraits of a particular group of the homeless living on the streets of Addis Ababa. All of them mentally ill, they roam on the streets and they are known to the locals as Sweet Crazies. Jan Hoek portrayed them in photo studios furnished with Roman pillars and golden thrones re-imagining them as kings, or emperors.

Nils Strindberg S.A. Andrée Arctic Balloon Expedition In 1897 an expedition of three aeronaut explorers took off from Spitsbergen aboard an aerostatic balloon, aiming to reach the North Pole. Nils Strindberg was the designated photographer. They never came back. More than 30 years later, in 1930, their remains were found by the crew of a Norwegian vessel on White Island, some 300 miles short of their destination, together with five rolls of exposed film.

Ricardo Cases Paloma al Aire With Paloma al Aire, Ricardo Cases turns his camera to a tradition of pigeon sports, also known as columbiculture, unique to Spain. It is a race, for which the birds are flamboyantly painted and evocatively named. The colours painted on the birds’ wings and bodies may indicate the regions their owners come from or their own personal choices; the names of the birds, too, are personal – Oro del Ring, Aplausos, Extasis, Coloso, Nucleo… 4

Erwin Olaf Paradise Erwin Olaf ’s Paradise The Club is featured here along with two portraits from the sister series Paradise Portraits. Conceived in the wake of a large scale performance on the theme of the circus, these tableaux vivant attack the eye and the mind teetering between horror and decadence. This bad trip remains unresolved in the faces of the characters portrayed, remaining with them as a morning after flashback.

Anne Sophie Merryman Mrs. Merryman's Collection Anne Sophie Merryman’s project Mrs. Merryman’s Collection purports to be a collection of postcards inherited from her grandmother, who passed away before she was born and shares her name.

Thomas Mailaender Cathedral Cars The vehicles that cross the Mediterranean from Marseille to North Africa by ship are called Cathedral Cars by the dockworkers at the port of Marseille. Loaded with belongings of every sort, these mobile monuments to commonplace domestic needs speak of the voyage they are bound for and of the life of their passengers. Thomas Mailaender portrayed them, documenting their passage. But is this a documentary series, surely?

However, all is not as it seems…


portfolio overview

Cristina De Middel The Afronauts The Afronauts tells the real, re-imagined story of the Zambian space program to conquer Mars with a spacegirl, two cats and a missionary. Cristina De Middel re-constructed and ­re-imagined the ambitious project, bringing it back to life. It all looks so real, and it feels so real, it feels as if Zambian Space travel could have really happened, if only...

On My Mind

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Six well-known figures from the cultural world s­ elected an image that has recently been on their minds...

Untitled, from the series Fairytale for Sale, 2011 © Natasha Caruana

Diane Smyth François Cheval, the director of the Musée Nicéphore Niépce, recently asked me to contribute five exhibitions to Lianzhou Foto 2012. He had selected an overall theme for the festival, Stories, Forms of Narrative, and had written an introductory text, Narratives and Narrative Forms. Photographs do not present facts, decisive moments, truths or lies, he argues; they present narratives. With that in mind one of the projects I chose was Natasha Caruana’s Fairytale for Sale, and the more I think about it, the more perfectly it fits the theme. It’s a collection of wedding photographs put online by ex-brides to sell their wedding dresses. It shows a range of methods by which the women have blanked out their own faces: Blu-Tack, pieces of paper, scratches, smudges, smiley faces, black circles, white circles and grey circles. For me, the image I have chosen is one of the most poignant because of its total anonymity. Defacing the bride so completely effectively removes her from the scene. It reminds me of those giant fairground photographs in which the faces are cut out so that visitors can insert their own. It confirms that the fairytale wedding, as presented in wedding photography, is just that – a carefully constructed fairytale, into which participants can insert, and remove, themselves at will.  • Diane Smyth (b. 1975, Northern Ireland) is deputy editor of the British Journal of Photography, one of the oldest photography magazines in the world and recipient of the Best Magazine of the Year 2012 Lucie award. Her writings have appeared in Aperture, Creative Review, Photomonitor, The Philosophy of Photography. She curated exhibitions for Lianzhou Foto and the Flash Forward Festival.


on my mind

Photographer and date unknown

Melanie Bonajo About a year ago I spent a winter in eastern Greenland, isolated from all comfort. To prepare myself for long weeks in snow and ice I trawled through old photographs of the Arctic. The contrasts in this photograph affected me deeply. According to the caption, it was taken in the late seventies somewhere in the north of Russia. The man in the photograph holds out a tin can to a mother polar bear who inquisitively accepts the man’s offer. One of the cubs playfully nibbles at his knee. The scene presents several contradictions. We all know you should never to approach a mother bear with cubs, but in this picture there is no hint of hostility. A wild polar bear and a human seem to be in peaceful contact with one another. There is a similarity between their gestures. The bear’s acceptance of the proffered can of milk suggests the communication of a mutual understanding of the intention of the gesture. Polar bears do not usually know what a human is. They live on the Arctic ice where they hunt marine animals and breed. Before the global melt started, polar bears rarely reached the land where humans live. As they do not share the same habitual grounds the chance of bears encountering people was small. Like humans, polar bears are very curious. On both sides curiosity, trust and courage have been rewarded through the intimacy of this encounter. A truth conveyed by this fascinating image seems to hold out the promise that trustworthy intentions can bring unfamiliar worlds together. So miracles are still possible. •  Melanie Bonajo (b. 1978, the Netherlands) is a multi disciplinary artist interested in the paradoxes inherent in our future-based ideas of comfort. Her work has been exhibited widely in international art institutions such as the Institute Neérlandais in Paris, Modern Art Museum in Ljubljana, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. She lives between Amsterdam and Berlin.


foam magazine # 33 trip

Jamestown, from Snow and Ice, Rhode Island, 1974 © Arno Rafael Minkkinen

James Stevenson That critical studies of the photographer Claude Cahun commonly cite Cindy Sherman as her natural successor has always bothered me. Cahun concentrated on the depiction of her own body, how it merged with the landscape and how the natural human appearance can be distorted by the action of photography. On the other hand Sherman uses constructions with costume to alter her appearance, which was only ever a minor element of Cahun's work. Her most memorable images are either naked or in everyday clothes. A far more honest and brave use of the body to create dramatic photography, and much closer to the legacy of Cahun, are the self-portraits by Arno Minkkinen. His work follows Cahun's tradition of altering the landscape with the body. And like Cahun, nudity is often part of his work, although set in extreme landscapes of snow, desert or water rather than the comfort of Cahun's island of Jersey. In this photograph all we see is a part of Minkkinen's body, his backside and one leg, apparently diving into a lake. The image is full of movement, as if in an action photograph. Questions are raised, as is often the case in Cahun's work. Who took the picture? Is there a cable release? How did he get into this position? As in Cahun’s pictures there is a disturbance in the landscape, with the apparently mundane creating bizarre tensions. But then it could just be a photograph of a naked man leaning on a stick.  •

James Stevenson (UK) is the Photographic Manager at the Victoria and Albert Museum Photographic Studio in London. One of the largest in-house museum studios in the UK, its history dates back to 1856, as does the Museum itself. The studio photographs museum objects for its publications, exhibitions, online galleries and website.


on my mind

Obersalzberg, 2006 © Erik Van der Weijde

Yannick Bouillis Like Efriede Jelinek, I love Austria. So I’ve chosen a photo of Obersalzberg, at Berchtesgaden, by Erik Van der Weijde. It’s right smack in the middle of my dining room; none of my guests can miss it. Everyone thinks it’s lovely. It’s very important to have a nice photo when you give dinner parties. It breaks the ice and gets people talking, about the ski resorts, the pollution in the cities, the simple beauty of mountain landscapes, the love of photography... It allows them to get to know each other better very quickly. Sometimes in their enthusiasm they just keep talking and my appetizers get cold. At that point I always let slip that the photo was taken from Hitler’s bedroom. Then I have a moment to add a casual 'Shall we start?' •

Yannick Bouillis (b. 1972, France) is a journalist, bookseller and the director of Offprint. Offprint is a project space for contemporary photography and a book fair for independent publishers. Initially established in Paris in 2010, Offprint came to Amsterdam in 2011 and was part of the photo fair Unseen in 2012.



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Roma Publications is considered one of the best independent art publishers in Holland. Since 1998 they have published almost 200 titles, with editions between 2 and 150,000. Between The Hague, Amsterdam and Paris, Hester Keijser talked to Roger Willems, one of the founders of Roma Publications, about making books, solar panels, the 7 Cs and different kinds of speed. Interview with

by Hester Keijser

Holding the Course portrait by Dirk Braeckman 13


Roma Publication

foam magazine # 33 trip

Your website states that Roma Publications was founded in 1998 by you and Mark Manders. You are a graphic designer and Mark is a visual artist, both with your own full-time careers. Yet across the past fourteen years Roma has managed to ­publish almost 200 titles, many of them instant classics, made in collaboration with artists, ­photographers, designers, writers and institutions. What comes to mind for me as a photo book lover are Dirk Braeckman’s monograph, A not B by Uta Eisenreich, Spomenik by Jan Kempenaers, the Parallel Encyclopedia by Batia Suter or Siedlung by Erik Van der Weijde. Some people say you are the best independent art publishers in Holland. How did all this happen? What was your first project? I made the first-ever Roma publication with Marc Nagtzaam, whom I knew from art school in Breda. It grew out of his participation in the Prix de Rome in 1998. Around the same time I got to know Mark Manders while working as a design assistant on his catalogue for the 24th São Paulo Biennial. From the moment Mark Manders and I met, we knew we could make a lot of things happen together. His free way of thinking and creating was fantastic for me, and fitted my desire to become more self-initiating beyond my commissioned work. In the following years, while we were both living in Arnhem, where I had an office at the newly opened Werkplaats Typografie, we worked together on many booklets, posters and newspapers like Coloured Room With Black-and-White Scene and Newspaper with Fives. It gradually expanded  as a platform for producing publications and presentations in collaboration with various partners. For the past eight years I’ve been basedin Amsterdam, where I share a space with graphic designers Hans Gremmen, who runs FW: and Radim Pesko, who runs an independent type foundry, while Mark Manders runs his factory in Ronse, Belgium. When I look at Roma books, I see a strong m ­ odernist influence in the designs, which are mainly from your hand. Who or what influenced you most as a designer in your formative years? What are the things your eyes are still drawn to when you go to the second-hand shops or flea markets? I think my background in design and my preference for a minimalist style matches the wish of many artists to make simple books. When discussing a design proposal, we tend to take away unnecessary elements and let the object speak for itself as much as possible. Basic variables like size, paper stock, printing and binding techniques sometimes become the most important design decisions. 


I have the feeling th to stop because kee and slowing down part of ou

I don’t want to go too much into theory, but this might indeed connect with modernist values in the Dutch design tradition. Personally, I feel very much at home with the work Willem Sandberg did for the Stedelijk Museum, and I admire the designs by Wim Crouwel for the same museum. I have been collecting their museum catalogues since I was a student, and I’m still surprised how they bring you back to the spirit of exhibitions that took place decades ago. From the Russian avant-garde, De Stijl and Bauhaus, you can easily draw a formal line to ‘modern’ designers such as Wim Crouwel and Karel Martens – who was my most influential mentor, guiding me into the design profession. But obviously this is also a line that starts with artists who believed they could change the world and ends with talented nonpolitical professionals operating in a ­market-oriented economy.  By running your own institution, like a museum or gallery without actual space or a collection, you create a bit more space to express a vision. You could maybe read this as a nostalgic or romantic move backwards, but in my opinion it fits perfectly with the current global situation in which we definitely need more and more small-scale initiatives, just as we should all install solar panels on our rooftops to make us less dependent. It’s a matter of common sense. I assume Mark’s taste will converge for a large part with yours, otherwise you wouldn’t still be in ­business together. Where does the overlap end and the dialog start? At first there was no structure behind our collaboration, but at a certain moment we decided we should establish the broad outlines together, even though I’m much more involved in some projects than Mark. For me, it’s extremely important to have the option of asking for his feedback whenever I need it, whether to give his opinion on proposals that reach us or to help me make editorial and design decisions while working on projects.

hat we will never have eping to our course has already became ur method.

Our general method is that I build up a responsibility for and an understanding of all kind of sensitivities around a project and then confront Mark with questions. He always has a bright view about things, and can reply quickly and freely. He often finishes our conversations feeling that everything is clear and settled now, whereas I know that the work has only just begun, and that undecided matters will show up again. That’s fine, because Mark goes back to his sculptures and empties his publisher’s head for the next time I need him. Above all, we both love the books and the projects as a whole and we both need each other to make them real and sustainable.

Christoph Keller once suggested a business plan for you, based on the 7 Cs: Consistency, Control, Context, Concentration, Caution, Creativity, Courage. What was that all about, and can others learn from it too? Keller compiled his business advice just after he left Revolver. It was clear that his activities had grown too fast in too short a time. At the end of his letter he concludes that Roma would have to stop at some point, because expansion and success could become our failure. That stills sounds a bit dark to me. It’s always been in the back of my mind somewhere, but of course I read it more as an encouragement to prove the opposite, instead of merely feeling trapped. In the end, I’m grateful that Christoph formulated it as



After almost 200 titles, Roma Publications is still run by two people from a relatively small office in Amsterdam. Did you ever have the opportunity or the desire to grow beyond that or to design visual identities for institutions as Irma Boom has done for the Rijksmuseum? As a designer, I could maybe have let my practice grow into a medium-sized design office, with a few people employed there. Always when I had too much work, I felt that I could give that a try, but in the end I never really wanted it, because I don’t like bureaucracy and hierarchy. In the past few years Roma Publications itself – which is not the same as my design practice – could very easily have grown into a larger company. Besides a large amount of unrealized projects proposed to us by individuals and institutions, we also received serious invitations from international institutions, mostly in Germany, France and the Scandinavian countries, to start up shared programs. That would have meant that we could have made very many more publications under our name than we have. So it feels as if we are always slowing things down, despite still being very productive.


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The internet doesn’t bring the world into our books, but it does bring our books into the world.

It is often said that the internet collapses geographical distances, making it easier for people to connect. The flip-side of the coin is that the internet erodes our local networks by persuading us to spend less time on them. In the list of titles published by Roma I don’t immediately see any shift towards globalism. You tend to work with the same collaborators more than once, the number of international titles has not exploded over the past five years. Roma has not thrown itself into the global market in the way some other small publishers have done. How important is it for you to retain the person-to-person contact with the makers of your books? It’s impossible to imagine a case when person-­toperson contact wouldn’t be important. What comes to mind is a project with Lawrence Weiner that was proposed to us through a curator we didn’t know. It confused me and I couldn’t figure out what our role could be without meeting Weiner in person. In a rather clumsy way we finally decided not to publish it, which was probably a pity. But for us it always starts on a personal level by tuning in and formulating a shared vision, no matter how narrow or wide that vision might be. And although we receive many proposals via e-mail, the process of initiating projects isn’t influenced by the internet so much. In another way the collapse of

geographical distances is essential for us. The internet doesn’t bring the world into our books, but it does bring our books into the world. It’s a small market and we have relatively few sales in the Netherlands. We really need the specialized bookshops in Canada, Korea, Japan and New Zealand as well. Most of those shops make their choices by surfing the internet, receiving mailings, reading weblogs, attending book fairs and meeting representatives. The topics of logistics, distribution and presence in book shops worldwide often come up in conversations with those involved in making independent photo books. Jörg Colberg and I have set up a blog where we list, free of charge, books that are ­distributed independently of the regular channels. Roma Publications works mainly with Idea Books, who takes care of promotion, warehousing, ­shipping and billing? Do you still believe in bookshops or do you see room for alternative solutions in the future? We sometimes deal directly with institutions, we run our own webshop, and we sell occasionally at book fairs, but Idea Books deals for us exclusively with the retailers. This is already a long-term collaboration and gradually it has become our most steady source of income. Unfortunately bookshops are having a difficult time and you see them struggling or disappearing. I’m happy to see that Idea Books tries to support them, stays loyal to these specialized bookshops and supports new initiatives. I’m sure there is still a place for shops, but they will survive only if they operate in a dynamic way by being present on the internet and at fairs, and organizing exhibitions, book-signings and conferences. People who run those places need to have the energy and social skills to connect to the book makers and at the same time guide their audience through the great variety of art publications.  ›



sharply as he did. He confessed that during his time with Revolver he had been naïve, or rather that he had been undisciplined in handling all the chances he was faced with and couldn’t say no. I think about that often whenever when we had to make decisions. It helps me place joy and reliability above everything else, and I think we still follow that. You can never be sure, but I have the feeling that we will never have to stop because keeping to our course and slowing down has already became part of our method.

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Can you name two or three photo books  –  by ­ ther publishers – that either made you think o ‘Damn, I would have liked to make these myself’, or that have triggered a change in your approach of photo­graphy in print? Many times I’m impressed by the quality – and quantity – of photo books in shops and at fairs such as those held in Paris. At Offprint I had a table next to König, literally looking up to a mountain of great photo book classics. It makes you aware of your position – which is certainly on the margins – and sometimes it makes us a bit jealous, but at the same time I’m always happy to see the intimate atmosphere of our own selection. In a way, seeing impressive amounts of great books leaves me cold, because having our own platform next to the major players is exactly what we wanted. Personally I’m more inspired by older and cheaper books that I find by chance in second-hand bookshops. It’s fascinating how books can end up as characters in the random setting of a second-hand shop. In many cases books become more beautiful over the years because of the traces they carry. Their production techniques and design are sometimes refreshing or surprising. In Paris, for example, I saw a book with a beautiful blue cover in a bookshop window; a hardcover about the Metro in Paris from the 1960s. I went back three times to check it out, but every time the shop was closed. I hope that most of our books will become more beautiful over the years, or at least stay attractive. I can’t tell yet, because I’m convinced it’s impossible to predict if a book will become a useless object or an inspiring beauty after twenty or thirty years.  •

Roma Publications is an independent art publisher founded in 1998 by artist Mark Manders (b. 1968, the Netherlands) and graphic designer Roger Willems (b. 1969, the Netherlands). It is used as a platform to ­produce autonomous publications in close collaboration with a growing number of artists, institutions, writers and designers. Related to the content, every publication has its own rule of appearance and distribution, varying from house to house papers to ­exclusive books. Until now the publications have editions between 2 and 150,000. Mark and ­Roger live and work between Ronse (Belgium) and Amsterdam. Hester Keijser (b. 1967, the Netherlands) is an author and photo specialist. She is ­currently the creative director of East Wing, an international platform for photography in Doha. Since 2006, she edits and publishes the widely read photo blog Mrs. Deane. ­Together with Jörg Colberg, Hester runs The Independent Photo Book blog. Her ­recent curatorial projects include Cruel and Unusual, an international group show co-curated with Pete Brook for Noorderlicht Photo Gallery and Women on the Verge, featuring a new generation of female photographers from the greater Middle East. Hester Keijser is based in The Hague. Dirk Braeckman (b. 1958, Belgium) is a ­photographer, filmmaker and lecturer. His monumental photographic works show a mysterious world made of vague and enigmatic details. He exhibited widely in Europe and North America, and won a number of prizes internationally. ­Braeckman’s images are part of many privates and public collections. His latest, homonymous publication Dirk Braeckman (Roma Publication) has been named as one of the best photo books of 2011. He is currently e ­ xhibiting at the De Appel arts centre, ­Amsterdam and at the Kunsthalle Erfurt, Germany. Dirk Braeckman lives and works in Ghent, Belgium.


A road trip is often essentially a mental trip. Where you are travelling to and how you travel are less important than your state of mind as you travel. Certainties fall away, and unforeseen situations arise again and again. We find ourselves physically and mentally in between two worlds. We have already departed, but we have yet to reach our destination. This is the trip phase, the transition to a new stage in life.

by Marcel Feil

Lee Friedlander is not known as a man who will often be seen at busy social events or in the company of a great many people. He avoids crowds as far as possible, preferring a quiet and rather solitary life. Friedlander does his own thing, in his own way and at his own pace. That does not mean, however, that he can always be found close to home. On the contrary. If Friedlander needs to travel, he does so, although again always in his own way and at his own pace. Almost ten years ago he began a project that has taken him to virtually all the fifty states of America. Wherever he landed, ­whether


in Texas, Mississippi or Oklahoma, he rented a car and started driving. From the protected cocoon of the car he looked out through the windscreen or side window or into the small wing mirror. Bounded by the frame of the window of whichever type of hire-car he happened to have, the United States of the first decade of a new century revealed itself. And from the driver’s seat, safe behind the steering wheel, Friedlander took photo­ graphs, lots of photographs. Through the window we recognize the skyline of Manhattan or Chicago, which then gradually gives way to anonymous suburbs, to vast skies, endless plains and an America of wooden houses, tall trees, cattle and crows. Some things seem strangely timeless, such as those archetypal motels in the desert or the traffic signs at the side of the road. They are icons of the American landscape, clichés that belong to the American road trip as presented in countless filmic or photographic images. Yet our own time also inevitably intrudes, especially through the l­anguage of advertising: nailed to a suburban fence is the ­message ‘We Support Our Troops’, a huge billboard speaks of ‘Hot Babes Direct To You’, and a motel warns ‘Don’t Take Cheques’.  ›

theme introduction



foam magazine # 32 talent

The journey, the ultimate combination of physical and mental progress, can be interpreted as a version of the age-old rite of passage, that expression of the universal need to mark a fundamental change in a person’s life.

Like his illustrious predecessors, including Walker ­Evans and Robert Frank, Friedlander went in search, by car, of the America of his day. His project’s ­matter-of-fact title could not be more apt: America by Car. What distinguishes his work from that of any ­other photographer is his simple yet audacious decision not to get out of the car to take photos. They are all shot from inside. This transforms the car from simply an anonymous means of transport into an essential ­element of each picture. We always see part of the ­interior: a section of dashboard, the steering wheel, the frames of one or more windows. By using a Hasselblad Super Wide Camera, Friedlander was able to capture a far wider picture than would have been possible with an ordinary camera. The result is fascinating. Every photograph is transected vertically or diagonally by what is known as the A-pillar of the car. Each photo therefore consists of two rigidly bordered images. A third image often appears in the small surface of the wing mirror. To complete the complex visual puzzle, a fragmented view of the American landscape appears above the edge of the dashboard and windscreen, showing buildings, trees, billboards and occasionally a human torso. Friedlander presents images within ­images, reflections, fragments, a shattered picture of the outside world. Like many other series in his ­impressive oeuvre, America by Car comments on the potential and nature of the medium, on the com­plexity of our perception, and on America’s social landscape.


This final photograph seems like a knowing wink, an homage perhaps, to Robert Frank, a photographer of Swiss origin who drove out from New York in the ­summer of 1955 in a Ford Business Coupe and spent a year crossing the United States. Fortunately for us, Frank took photos regularly during that year, ­twenty-seven thousand of them to be precise. They formed the basis for The Americans, arguably one of the most important and influential books in post-war ­photographic history. The last photo in the book shows Frank in his trusty vehicle, in which he had travelled tens of thousands of kilometres. But it is not so much Frank’s dark, grainy and unconventional photographs that matter here, nor the story of how all those ­thousands of photographs were pared down to the eighty-three that finally appeared in The Americans, nor indeed how the book came to be published by Robert Delpire in Paris. The important point is that Frank was Swiss by origin, not American. He was an outsider looking at a country that was not his own, a strange country he was not part of. His view was in some sense pure, not having been shaped by the culture of the country he had chosen to travel through. The people who supported him in his application for the ­Guggenheim Fellowship that enabled him to undertake his journey, who included Edward Steichen, Alexey ­Brodovitch and Walker Evans, had this fact very clearly in mind. In his application the stated goal of the project was to capture ‘what one naturalized American finds to see in the United States that signifies the kind of civilization born here and spreading elsewhere’. Given that Evans had largely rewritten the original ­application (Frank was not yet an American citizen at the time and his English was anything but flawless) this underlines the importance attached to the view of a

theme introduction

Another important consequence of this approach is that America itself remains strangely at a distance. Along with Friedlander we look out through the ­window at a reality we can see but are not part of. Along with him we find ourselves safe in the car, and that other reality is literally somewhere else, outside. We look with the eyes of an outsider, an observer, at a reality presented as if in film stills from some obscure road movie, frame by frame. Only in the very last ­photograph in the series do we see a self-portrait of the notoriously shy Friedlander, who seems surprised that the camera has now suddenly captured him.

The traveller is now in between departure and arrival, in a vacuum: free, but also utterly detached.

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stranger, an outsider. Of course the fact that Frank was not an American was used against him by his o ­ pponents as soon as the book came out. He was said to hate his chosen country: he was an agitator; The Americans was an un-American book. The magazine Photo Arts ­consistently referred to Frank as the ‘Swiss Mister’, an alien who could be distrusted and scoffed at with ­impunity. After Robert Frank it became almost impossible for a photographer to get into a car and cross the continent. Yet many followed him, with varying degrees of ­success. Some of the resulting images have become photo­ graphic clichés (think for example of an empty, black asphalted road forming an ever-narrowing stripe that disappears into infinity). They can only really be used as pastiche, as tongue-in-cheek pictorial commentary, or as part of a suitably ironic concept. That was ­precisely the approach of two other Swiss photo­ graphers in 2009. The question as to which images show typically American scenes was the starting point of the project The Great Unreal by the photographic duo Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs. They aimed to combine the personal experiences gained during their various journeys with the stereotypical images of a mythological America provided by, above all, books and films (from Stephen Shore’s American Surfaces and Joel Sternfeld’s American Prospects to road movies like Easy Rider, Thelma and Louise and My Own Private Idaho). Onorato and Krebs built a number of scale models and made use of illusionist tricks of the kind sometimes deployed by Hollywood movie directors. One of the photos shows casually grouped caravans with giant cacti and telegraph poles next to them. A tornado storming across the land turns out to be, in fact, water swirling down a drain. As well as constructed images like these, in which reality is combined with models, The Great Unreal includes straightforward ­photographs that have not been manipulated in any way. The result is astonishing. Suddenly no image can be trusted. The real looks fake, the fake is cast into doubt, landscape becomes decor and artificiality is ­unquestioningly accepted. And of course that cliché of the disappearing road could hardly be omitted from a project as playful and intelligent as this. A highway undulates endlessly across empty land like a black ­ribbon. In another picture the trick is laid bare: a m ­ odel of a road stands on a tripod placed in a majestic ­mountain landscape. The American landscape, the American dream, is depicted as a reality in which it is impossible to tell fact from fiction. It is of course not for nothing that the image of a gradually disappearing road has become the ultimate visual cliché. A road trip is not about departure, let alone the place or time of

arrival, it is all about the road, about being underway. We take our leave of everything familiar and safe – ­husband, wife, children, house, job – to head for the horizon, stripped of all earthly possessions. Usually the journey is a metaphor for freedom and individuality, and therefore an ode to the American dream. The sense of detachment is important, the feeling of no longer being part of a regulated society. Established ­conventions and commonly accepted norms and values no longer apply. The protagonists of the average road trip fully enjoy, if in most cases only temporarily, the freedom of an unrestrained life. Think of the classic outlaws Bonnie and Clyde, or of Billy and Wyatt, the two motorcyclists in the film Easy Rider who are ­continually flung back and forth between freedom, the deprivation of freedom and the regaining of freedom, with or without the aid of mind-expanding substances. On a good road trip there are always countless setbacks along the way that have to be overcome in order to achieve full maturity, to gain insight, or simply to reach your fated destination. The road trip is therefore in essence a mental trip. Where you are travelling to and how you travel are less important than your state of mind as you travel. ­Certainties fall away, and unforeseen situations arise again and again. Everything is in flux and change is the only constant. Risks and opportunities can sometimes be hard to tell apart. All this demands both a certain wariness and a fundamental confidence, which is no doubt why travel has been seen for many years as the perfect means of preparing young people for adult life. The term ‘Grand Tour’ denotes the long journey across continental Europe that was often undertaken by young adult men of the British elite from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century. A tour of the monuments of ‘the continent’ (Italy in particular) was for a long time an almost compulsory element of a refined ­upbringing, which included getting to know classic artworks. But those young people were also being brought up in a sexual sense, trained for marriage if you like. The grand tour was an opportunity to escape the straitjacket of the British upper classes for a while. Parents encouraged their children to go on the grand tour so that they could sow their wild oats far from home. The term is still in use as a euphemism for ­acquiring one’s first sexual experiences. In light of this we can see both the grand tour and the world tour undertaken by almost every student these days after graduation as initiation rituals. On the way from childhood to adulthood, freedom may be enjoyed one last time as the mind is made ripe for a balanced and virtuous life. The journey, the ultimate c­ ombination


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of physical and mental progress, can be interpreted as a version of the age-old rite of passage, that expression of the universal need to mark a fundamental change in a person’s life, especially in the social and sexual sense, by means of symbols and long-established proceedings. French anthropologist Arnold van Gennep, who ­introduced the term rites de passage in 1909, distinguished between three phases: separation, ­transition, and reincorporation. In the first phase, s­ eparation, the individual becomes dissociated, ­ symbolically or ­otherwise, from a previously fixed s­ ocial status.  The old status is destroyed, as it were, in preparation for the new. The person in question (whom we might for ­simplicity’s sake call the traveller) can no longer return to the old order and must take to the road. During the middle phase the traveller is stripped of all outward signs of rank or role and enters a liminal (or threshold) status between former and future i­dentities. This phase is often compared to a ritual death. The traveller is now in between departure and arrival, in a vacuum: free, but also utterly detached. In the final phase the traveller returns, re-entering ­society in a new social or religious role. Van Gennep hardly needed to add that these three categories are not all developed to the same degree in all rituals or among all peoples, but they do emerge as a universal pattern.

intention is to leave earthly things behind and enter another reality. After all, travelling does not always have to involve physical relocation. We are familiar with the stories of Native American peoples who could actually travel to other places in spirit. Most drug-induced trips are the result of powerfully enhanced sensory ­perception, whether or not in combination with an ­increased permeability of the divide between the ­conscious and the subconscious. In our society, with its reliance on rationality, this permeability is e­ xtremely limited. We distinguish very firmly between the ­conscious and the subconscious, two parts of the mind that interact only in dreams or deliria. In many ­primitive societies the distinction is far less definitive, and sometimes no artificial means such as drug-taking are needed for the unconscious to spill over into what we would call reality. Such societies cannot so easily draw a Western distinction between the two – spirits, dreams, materialized energy and concrete powers are an inseparable part of their reality. In their universe, mind and matter are one. To them, therefore, travel is a quite different concept than it is to Westerners, for whom a car and a camera are tried and tested means of capturing a trip and showing others what they have seen along the way. •

In the context of the current issue of Foam Magazine, the central or liminal phase is the most interesting. It is where we find ourselves physically or mentally ­(usually a combination of both) in between two worlds. We have already departed, the old self has been left behind, but we have yet to reach our destination. To put it rather crudely, this is the trip phase, the t­ ransition to a new stage in life. Scottish anthropologist Victor Turner has carried out a great deal of research into this liminal phase and he suggests that while we are in it we have an unaccepted or undefined social role. The ­individual concerned is therefore vulnerable. This ­special social group is often characterized by what Turner calls ‘communitas’: a temporary feeling of ­social equality, solidarity and togetherness. Its kindred spirits recognize each other and, both for their own protection and in anticipation of the next phase, they stick together, as can be seen in the way young ­travellers gather in specific hangouts at distant, exotic places, inform and help each other, and then part no less ­readily when the time comes to move on.

All images @ Paul Den Hollander Paul Den Hollander (b. 1950, the N ­ etherlands) is an artist whose work has consistently focussed on the relationship between man and the natural world, and on his garden. His images have been exhibited extensively in international institutions, and are part of several private and public ­collec­tions such as the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, ­Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Maison Europeénne de la Photographie in Paris and ­Stedelijk Musum in ­Amsterdam. The Luminous Garden is his latest, ongoing project.

Rites of passage are rich in symbolism and often ­involve innumerable rituals that have to be followed ­meticulously. In many cultures the young person also has to go through a series of ordeals that press home the change in status. The use of mind-expanding ­substances is quite often one aspect of this. Even today many adolescents and young adults experiment with drink and drugs, especially when instead of being at home in a familiar environment they are at some other part of the globe, without parental supervision, ­surrounded by their peers. Many adults too, when on an actual road trip, will be more likely to reach for things that reinforce their sense of detachment. In many other cultures, especially in certain primitive ­societies, drugs are an established and accepted part of spiritually-charged initiation rituals. In their case the

The Luminous Garden, like the previous ­projects from Paul Den Hollander, can be seen as an example of photography which breaks through the familiar modes of l­ooking at our physical world; it is an adventure in consciousness and perception. Its point of departure is the fact that our limited sensory capacity excludes almost all the electromagnetic spectrum from our field of direct awareness. With The ­Luminous ­Garden he penetrates deeper into the secrets of the vegetable kingdom,showing a known physical reality in relation to the usually invisible electromagnetic field that penetrates and surrounds the physical plant. This creates an unseen ­experience of ‘­reality’ filtered through scientific tech­nique and artistic intervention.


Todd Hido A Road Divided

Todd Hido

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Where the Image Breaks Down by Katya Tylevich At his house in Oakland – defined by thick art books and the thin smell of old cigarette smoke – Todd Hido is impatient. Looking out the window of his second-story home studio, a watchtower of sorts, he says, ‘It’s sunny. There’s nothing we can do.’ Not until several hours later, after dark clouds roll over the Bay Area and fog obscures the city’s form, does Hido finally pronounce the view outside his window ‘perfect.’ He grabs a Pentax he hasn’t used in a long time (kissing it for effect, ‘I’ve missed you’) and we drive off in search of ­another ‘perfect’ view – this one o ­ utside a car’s windshield, and this one also in quotation marks.


There’s gridlock, honking and swearing, and then Hido abruptly drives off the highway onto unpaved road, bordered by water on one side and giant bags of trash on the other. ‘If you ever have to kill somebody, this is a good place to dump the body,’ he jokes. We’re by the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza, on the other side of the Port of Oakland. Nature always highlights the post-apocalyptic look of its city, doesn’t it? Yeah, but this is ­exactly the world that we live in, says Hido. He maneuvers the car to set up the shot he wants, then leaves it running in park. ‘Why do I love this place?’ he asks me, waiting for the windshield to fog a bit.  ›

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I often think concept is overrated. I want to feel when I see a photograph; I don't necessarily have to think.

I thought I was supposed to be asking the questions. ‘But it’s a shitty place. What makes it interesting?’ And then he says, to no one in particular: ‘The ­telephone poles, the electric wires, the bridge, the fact that the tide comes up here and always leaves water on the ground.’ This could be the view from the driver’s seat in almost any small town in the US, it could be anybody’s car ­running under any bridge. The a­ m­biguity of that implied story is rooted in the­ ­ambiguity of the environment in which it takes place. Todd Hido’s landscapes are suggestive of narrative and event, but mostly they’re just suggestive. His photographs give body to the otherwise intangible elements of mood, impulse, and ­emotion. Rather than treating nature as ‘still life,’ Hido’s images instead bring the viewer’s attention to movement: the ­running of a motor, the tapping of ­raindrops on a car roof, the urgency of a moving vehicle over wet roads – what is it moving away from, or what is it ­driving into, anyway? Not unlike his ­portrait work or even his photographs of suburban homes at night, Hido’s landscapes evoke the banality and ­tragedy of

c­ onfinement (in space, in situation, in a body, in the calendar year), and the ­fantasy of escape. But I often think concept is over-rated,’ says Hido. ‘I want to feel when I see a photograph; I don’t necessarily have to think. I’ve seen concept cripple photo­graphers.’ It was while working on his book, ­Between The Two (published by Nazraeli Press in 2006) that Hido made the ­conscious ­decision to start taking ­photo­graphs of people. At the time, he was perhaps best known for his l­andscapes and photographs of houses at night – ‘sharp and exact views of the suburbs from a ­distance,’ says Hido. ‘A lamen­tation of the loss of love.’ The p ­ ortrait work nudged the focal point of Hido’s work from the uncertainty of h ­ uman situation to the uncertainty of human expression, but to call it a ­‘departure’ from his e­ arlier work would be to disregard the questions and dispositions that they have in ­common. Hido’s seemingly disparate works are united by a palpable uneasiness, the sort of desperation that ­mundane territory breeds. They hint at the ­claustrophobia of small towns and closed


↖ #1952 © Todd Hido courtesy Stephen Wirtz Gallery ↗ #9485-a © Todd Hido courtesy Stephen Wirtz Gallery

‘I don’t just work for my projects. I work because I need to take a picture when I see it in front of me,’ Hido tells me. So when he was concentrating on portraits in 2006, he was still taking landscape ­photographs – driving on the highway in a downpour, for example. At the time he took them, these landscape shots weren’t for an upcoming book or show, and Hido felt they were for his eyes only. ‘That’s why I didn’t have a voice in my head telling me: “Don’t make this too beautiful, it’s going to get rejected if it’s too beautiful.” The truth is, I want ­beauty.’ The result was an unexpected and accumulating body of work, which later became the bulk of A Road Divided (published by Nazraeli in 2010), a ­collection of photographs that he calls ‘unafraid and more mature than my ­previous landscapes.’ He tells me that

todd hido

bedrooms. There’s a reason Hido says that having his photographs ­published as covers of seven Raymond Carver books (published by Vintage in 2009) was one of the most significant moments of his life as a photographer. But even in his portrait books, Hido i­ncludes landscapes to create setting, build association, and craft his nebulous fictions.

A Road Divided is a collection made without regard for a deadline or an art market; most importantly, ‘it was made by a ­photographer who wasn’t timid.’ Although free of human figures, Hido’s landscapes in A Road Divided are rarely free of human presence. Electricity poles, empty roads, condos in the ­distance, and the recurring barrier of a windshield, often smeared with rain­drops or the condensation of fog – all these things signal the heat of human breath, the pulse of a single heartbeat, the inclusion of electricity and cement among a landscape’s indigenous plants. ‘I don’t like pure nature,’ says Hido. It’s neither the reality in which he finds ­himself now, nor the backdrop of his memories. He recalls a Dorothea Lange quote, once cited by photographer R ­ obert Adams, which strikes him as e­ ntirely relevant today: ‘She said that a photographer should go out and photograph “what ­exists and prevails,” and that’s exactly what I want to do,’ says Hido. ‘I want to photograph what exists and prevails in modern America.’ Hido clarifies that, of course, while his works capture ‘what exists’ exactly as he


The truth is, I want beauty.

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knows it, they are also a ‘com­plete fabrica­tion.’ He takes one of three water bottles in his car and sprays the windshield. ‘I’ve learned from sheer disappointment that sometimes I need to take pictures, but it isn’t raining outside.’ Sometimes he sprays glycerin on the windshield, for a different kind of effect. He compares the technique to changing brushes. The size, direction and position of the drops of water on the car window inform the photograph that results. ‘There’s a difference between this and the real thing,’ he laughs. ‘You can’t get all ­Gerhard Richter without real rain.’ Still, within these fabricated raindrops, Hido says he can ‘compose’ the picture that he wants to see, to the best of his ability. ‘But a crucial part of photography is the ­moment that you hold your breath and say, “I hope it turns out.” I have a little bit of control over these images, but if I knew exactly what was going to happen each time I took a photo­graph, I would stop taking ­photographs.’ Sometimes people ask him questions like, ‘What ­filter do you use in Photoshop?’ ‘Lady, I don’t even know how to use Photoshop,’ is his ­answer, give or take a degree of ­politeness. ‘I don’t do anything digitally that I wouldn’t do in the darkroom.’

Now Hido drives his car some two ­meters to the right, puts it in park, and starts spraying water from a different bottle onto its roof, trying to angle the raindrops in a different direction. Hearing the tap, tap above us is like hearing the existing present chiseled by a fictitious one. The difference is a matter of driving two meters to the right. It’s slight, and it’s also tremendous. But Hido’s technique has its own built-in metaphor, I don’t have to create one. ‘Part of what you see in these photographs is crystal clear, despite the patches and holes in the rest of the view,’ he tells me. ‘And, really, that makes it exactly like a memory, doesn’t it?’ •

Hido often finds himself in small town hotels, traveling across the US for a shoot, a show-opening or a lecture. He can’t stay in those rooms, he tells me. If he wants to work on a new book, for example, he takes his materials with him in a car, parks somewhere, turns the music up and smokes a cigarette, ­ because there’s nobody around to ­ ­complain. Being in a car is a step closer to being in the world, even if a car has a door to slam shut. In those moments, his work-desk becomes the dashboard, his soundtrack comes out grainy from the car speakers, and he finds himself ­surrounded by the same kinetic, unclear landscapes that he so often takes back with him in a camera. Why is the view eerie from a car window? Why is there a danger inherent in the open, empty American roadside, and a sadness embedded in those monuments of ­ ­network and communication (telephone wires, cross-country highways) designed to connect people, entirely isolated as they are? Hido’s works can make a viewer feel lost and at home, in tandem. One can be familiar with discomfort, after all, cozy in the warm textures and thick ­vapors of a depression. Hido’s landscapes have both the soft shadow of paintbrush on canvas and the blunt ­rawness of an interrogation light.

All images 1996-2011 © Todd Hido, courtesy Stephen Wirtz Gallery Todd Hido (b. 1968, USA) is an American contemporary artist  and photographer. Currently based in San Francisco, much of Hido's work involves urban and suburban housing across the U.S., of which the artist produces large, highly detailed and luminous color photographs. Hido's work has been featured in Artforum, The New York Times Magazine, Eyemazing, Wired, Elephant, I-D, and Vanity Fair. His photographs are in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art amongst others. He has over a dozen published books; his upcoming monograph titled Excerpts from Silver Meadows will be released in Spring 2013. Katya Tylevich (Belarus) is an editor for the arts journal Elephant, a contributing editor for architecture publication Mark, and frequent contributor to journals like Domus, Frame, and Pin-Up, among others. As a fan of absurdist short stories, she often looks for them in art and architecture. She lives and works in Los Angeles.


Jan Hoek Sweet Crazies

Jan Hoek

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He and His Models By Sean O’Toole Dutch photographer Jan Hoek started writing professionally early: when he was twelve for his mother’s art magazine, The Dummy Speaks. A former ­ editor of Spunk, an online youth m ­ agazine, in 2006 he took part in the making of the non-fiction book Sex in Africa, with ­Renske de Greef. After eight years as a youth-affairs hack, Hoek ditched ­journalism and enrolled at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam.


Though his art-school studies initially ­focussed on writing and drawing, he eventually shifted to photography. In O ­ ctober 2011, nine months before ­graduating, he exhibited a series of u ­ neasy portraits at Artpocalypse ­Collective, a gallery in ­Amsterdam’s ­Jordaan district. The photo­ graphs, all of them indoor portraits made in the ­Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, ­depicted a variety of homeless men with undiagnosed mental health problems. ›

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During the run of his exhibition, which he titled Sweet Crazies, Hoek was asked to write a short piece of text for Vice magazine, which planned to showcase his portraits both online and in the Dutch version of the magazine. Despite being so fed up with journalism – he never wanted to write again when he ­entered art school – Hoek agreed to the request. His essay describes his first ­encounter with one of the mercurial ­loners who roam the streets of Addis Ababa – men who, a­ ccording to Hoek, are referred to by some locals as sweet crazies. He saw a man standing in the middle of a roundabout having an ­animated chat with the sky. ‘He had cigarettes in both of his nostrils, wore aviator sunglasses, and his outfit was a hodgepodge of frayed, ­ worn-out, ­wonderfully matching pieces of clothing. He looked like a mythical figure, and when I approached him he threw a stone at my head.’ Hoek’s lyrical description belies some hard truths. Founded in 1886 by ­Emperor Menelik II, Addis Ababa has a large metropolitan population of 3.4 million people, of whom an estimated 20,000 are homeless. According to a ­recent report by the London-based

Centre for Global Mental Health there is a high prevalence of serious mental disorder amongst that homeless ­pop­ula­tion. The end of Emperor Haile Selassie’s lavishly inept reign in 1974 marked the beginning of a period of ­prolonged m ­ isery for many Ethiopians; coups, ­rebellions, epidemics, droughts and the influx of refugee populations from neighbouring states form the ­back­ground to daily life. Nearly half of Ethiopia’s 85-million population ­currently live below the poverty line. The country has only 44 practicing ­psychiatrists. Hoek went to Addis three times and quickly acquainted himself with the city’s ­mental health problems. He visited a ‘miserable clinic’ as part of his research. Possibly of greater significance was the friendship he struck up with a young street hustler named Solomon, who translated and negotiated on the Dutchman’s behalf. Initially Hoek tried to hurry the n ­ egotiations along, but soon woke up to the merits of sluggishness (‘Deep ­hanging,’ as Mikhael Subotzky has d ­ escribed it.) Coffee and chat ­became an integral part of his working process. While some s­ ubjects flatly refused to engage with him, others


He saw a man standing in the middle of a roundabout having an animated chat with the sky.

c­autiously ­interrogated his motives. While some mistook his i­ntentions as a gesture of genuine friendship, not everyone was so simple – one subject, for ­instance, was a former university lecturer. Occasionally, says Hoek, he would buy medicine or offer a small present. Once in the studio, the men were asked to stow their belongings, typically plastic bags stuffed with objects that they ­carried wherever they went. Other than this intervention, Hoek did not interfere with the self-image of his subjects. It is fair to say that his portraits describe ­Addis’s itinerant loners as they might be seen on the street, although Hoek tries to re-imagine them. Formally posed in their everyday dress, directly facing the camera, Hoek’s descriptive portraits ­inadvertently recall the work of Bedros Boyadjian. An Armenian-born studio photographer, Boyadjian came to ­Ethiopia via Jerusalem in 1905 and was soon ­appointed by Menelik II as official court photographer.

During our interview, speaking about his decision to embark on his Ethiopian portrait project, he offered: ‘It started with me seeing them and thinking, “Wow, they’re so cool.” Of course they are homeless, African, and crazy, but they were dancing in the street. I wanted to make contact, and photography was a way to do that.’ Unlike the reportage photographer Stefano De Luigi, whose recent essay on Somalia includes an ­unequivocal if hackneyed documentary photograph of a shackled inmate of the mental ward of the Hargeisa Central Hospital, a photograph that is a staple

↖ → From the series Kim in my house © Jan Hoek


of reportage projects from the African continent, Hoek was adamant about his artistic right to interfere. ‘I wanted them to be shown not just as homeless crazy people but as royal personages,’ heirs to the men who repulsed Italian invaders in 1896. ‘Out of respect for the sweet crazies I decided not to photograph them in the littered streets,’ Hoek mentioned in his Vice text. ‘I shot them ­instead in typical Ethiopian photo studios furnished with Roman pillars and golden thrones, the kind of places newly­ weds go to look wealthy in ivory suits.’ As is evident from the careers of Diane Arbus or Roger ­Ballen, there is a yawning gap between intention and outcome, ­between the idea of the photographer and the a­ ttitude of the viewer. Hoek’s ethically ambiguous photographs ­generated ­hostile responses when they appeared online. ‘So let me get this straight,’ wrote Velvet Jones, a US-based artist formerly from Addis, in a blog post, ‘You go to a poor, developing country that barely provides mental healthcare to citizens that need it ... and you photograph the mentally fractured and unhealthy folks for their sense of boho fashion? What exactly is the point here? And why is no one outraged?’  ›

jan hoek

There is more than a passing similarity between the physical pose of Hoek’s swaddled portrait subjects, who hold their walking sticks like royal sceptres, and that of the vaunted royals photo-

graphed by Boyadjian. But it is an ­ nreliable echo: Boyadjian affirmed the u pageantry and power of an African m onarchy that famously repulsed ­ c­olonialism. He used devices that were once the stock in trade of painters, say Goya, whose portraits of the Duke of Wellington and Ferdinand VII rely g reatly on the subject’s ceremonial ­ ­military dress. Hoek’s work, by contrast, speaks to a different sense of power: the camera and its ability to broker encounters with otherness. Hoek, who lived in the Tanzanian port city of Dar es Salaam for four months before he went to art school, is uncomplicated on this issue.

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I pressed Hoek for a response. ‘What’s the point of being outraged?’ he asked after a pause. ‘Those people never get attention. I see something ­different in them, I like them, and I want to have a good time with them. I think it is ­demeaning to speak of them in that way because what you are saying is that they can’t make decisions for ­themselves.’ He is also wary of the i­mplication that ­engagement, even if only with a camera, should be ­instrumental and focussed on help or activism. ‘At that point you stop seeing people as human.’ Hoek’s project is not the first to lend agency, however tenuous, to mentally ill subjects. In 2001, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin visited the Rene Vallejo Psychiatric ­Hospital in Cuba. ‘The ­ ­process of ­photographing psychiatric patients, many of them under medication, is m ­ orally complex,’ they told me in 2004. Still, they were photographers – they had an assignment brief to fulfil. In a bid to critique the concerned ­spectatorship that marks the documentary t­radition, they showed volunteer ­subjects how to use a long release cable on their camera. In the manner of that earlier project, Hoek’s portrait series presents an artistic critique of looking at mental incapacity. But it remains tangled in that well-­established tradition of gawking at otherness, a tradition that extends back to the nineteenth be­ ginnings of photography when English physician and s­ cientific practitioner of photo-­therapy Hugh Welch Diamond made seated portraits of the female ­inmates of Surrey County Asylum.

‘I try to find the awkwardness in a ­situation,’ he says. This response may not totally address the ethical ambiguity of what he is doing, but neither does he deny it. ‘For my work it is good, but it is also painful.’ One way for Hoek to surface this pain, which is multi-headed and sometimes ironic, is by writing. Despite having ­renounced verbal description in favour of a visual practice, Hoek still writes. He has recently produced a book entitled Me and My Models that offers a concise summary of his idiosyncratic situationbased photography. It includes a series of Jurgen Teller-like portraits of his mother looking morose. The captions make clear her place in his biography. A sequence of studio portraits from ­Ethiopia upends the idea of the author; the ­captions explains that his assistant made them while Hoek was in Amsterdam. The journalist may have backed off, but Hoek the writer remains. ‘The photo is a visual proof of the meeting. But there is always so much more than the photo. I don’t get it when photo­ graphers say only the pictures count and you cannot add anything. Sometimes the photo is not just a photo but the ­beginning of dreams, or the end.’  •

For his part, Hoek is more interested in Diane Arbus. While at art school, Hoek presented a thesis paper on Arbus, P ­ ieter Hugo and Boris Mikhailov. He describes the trio as a big influence. Typically, Hoek shoots in a loose D ­ IY-style that is closer to the ­immediacy and ribald sadness of Mikhailov (see his Case ­ ­History series from 1997-98) than Hugo, who is a pin-sharp formalist. ‘I am not good with lighting,’ laughs Hoek. His growing portfolio of work, some of it made in Africa, but the large bulk of it in his native Amsterdam, also evidences a working method concerned with the chance interactions that derive from working with people in extreme situations, be they homeless, drug ­dependent, struggling with self-­r epresentation ­issues, or mentally ill. Geography is ­unimportant: he sees little difference between the portrait s­ ituations he has brokered in Ghana, Ethiopia or ­Holland.

All images © Jan Hoek Jan Hoek (b. 1984, the Netherlands) is an artist and writer. He published his first text when he was only twelve. He wrote for Spunk, Mister Motley, ELLEgirl, Club Donny, NRC Handelsblad,, Parool, L’HOMO, PSY and Vice. At the age of twenty-four he decided to attend the Image and Language Department at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. In 2012 he graduated with the film Me & My Models, now published in its book form by APE. His photographs were exhibited at the first edition of Unseen Art Fair. Jan Hoek lives and works in Amsterdam, and is represented by Galerie Ron Mandos. Sean O’Toole (b.1968, Pretoria, South Africa) is a Cape Town-based journalist and writer. He is co-editor of Cityscapes, a journal for urban enquiry, and writes a bi-monthly column for frieze magazine. He contributed an essay to Mikhael Subotzky's new book, Retinal Shift, and an essay on Santu Mofokeng to a catalogue originated by Market Photo Workshop, Johannesburg, for the 2012 Gwanza Month of Photography, held in Harare, Zimbabwe.


Nils Strindberg S.A. AndrĂŠe Artic Balloon Expedition

Nils Strindberg

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The Cold Only Kills by Max Houghton ‘It is not a little strange to be floating here above the Polar Sea. To be the first that have floated here in a balloon […] We think we can well face death, having done what we have done. Is not the whole, perhaps, the expression of an ­extremely strong sense of individuality which cannot bear the thought of living and dying like a man in the ranks, f orgotten by coming generations? ­ Is this ­ambition?’ S. A. Andrée, 12 July 1897


In 1930, a year before Walter Benjamin wrote A Short History of Photography, making an early attempt to define the concept of aura, five rolls of exposed film charting an ill-fated balloon voyage were found alongside the frozen corpses of three Swedish explorers who tried to reach the North Pole in 1897.

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For 33 years, the bodies of S A Andrée, Nils Strindberg and Knut Fraenkel, half-ravaged by bears, lay on White ­Island, some 300 miles short of their ultimate destination. They were discovered by the crew of a Norwegian vessel, the Bratvaag, which had stopped to hunt walruses during a geological expedition to Franz Josef Land. From diaries and an almanac kept by Andrée and Strindberg, it has been possible to piece ­together some of their experiences and discoveries, as well as their hardships and privations. We know, for example, that the balloon, which left the Swedish polar outpost of Spitsbergen on July 11 1897, stayed airborne for some three days, despite the fact that Andrée’s plan for using guide ropes faltered at almost the first hurdle, when the ropes became stuck as they uncoiled. Without them, the three men were free-floating towards the Pole. ­Remarkably, there had been a balloon ascent north of the Arctic Circle as ­early as 1809, though the Pole itself remained unmapped. Now, in 1897, in their ­balloon Örnen (Eagle), the three Swedes endured the longest flight ever recorded – 65 hours and 33 minutes – and ­travelled 517 miles. They were the first men to see polar ice sheets from above. Andrée guided the balloon so smoothly during its forced landing on an ice floe on 14 July that none of the carrier ­pigeons aboard (only one of which ever reached its destination, with the message that all was well) was hurt. It took the men a week to make a boat, aboard which they tried to navigate the channels through the ice. When that became ­impossible, they trudged across the pack ice with their sledges, sometimes on their hands and knees. When their food supplies ran out, they began to hunt and ate the internal organs and flesh of bears, birds and an occasional seal. As well as being the designated photo­ grapher, Strindberg was the cook, ­experimenting with algae to make soup, and, at first anyway, supplementing the local resources with biscuits, syrups and champagne. He wrote regularly to his fiancée Anna Charlier, transferring his thoughts to his diary as the voyage ­became ever more arduous. Her photo-

graphic likeness and a lock of hair were eventually found in his pocket. A typical Arctic grave, shallow and covered with stones, indicates that Strindberg died first, some time in October, and was buried by the other two, whose bodies were found together. They must have died soon after. It is interesting to consider whether ­g iving primacy to the photographs, ­instead of the information gleaned from written sources, changes our understanding of this astonishing human ­endeavour. Perhaps, well over a century later, the knowledge ­imparted by the photographs ceases to be connected to the specific voyage of ­Andrée, Strindberg and Fraenkel. While the photographs may well prompt a desire to discover the detail of what happened to the three men, the photographs only offer fragmentary illumination. Our morbid curiosity ­demands the details of the men’s struggle against nature, right up to the point of their deaths. The photographs already serve a different purpose than that for which they were intended, a scientific study of the polar region through aerial photography. Though an accomplished photographer, Strindberg did not succeed in amassing


Looking deepens the mystery; seeing is not knowing.

↖ → All images © Grenna Museum, Sweden

a significant amount of evidence in the service of science. Neither did he succeed in creating a detailed pictorial ­narrative of the events that befell the men after their landing on 14 July, though some poignant moments were captured. Of a possible 240 images, 93 were recoverable, and were developed in Stockholm in 1930. The images we see here tell an extraordinary story of hope, endurance, ambition and human vulnerability. The aerial images in particular possess a supernatural quality. Ice looks by turns utterly ungovernable or serene. The balloon, lying side-on, as though trapped in its own webbing, appears ­deceptively solid. The two men seem to be staring at it as though it was the ­balloon that fell from the sky, rather than they themselves. A young ivory gull adopts the stance of an eagle with its wings spread, the ancient messenger of the gods. The photographs, quite l­iterally frozen in time in their undeveloped state, have undergone a sea change. These ­images ‘from beyond the grave’ dwell ­almost exclusively in the auratic realm.

Aura was an ambivalent, unstable term in the writings of Walter Benjamin, ‘the unique phenomenon of a distance, ­however close it may be’. Benjamin saw photography and film as precisely the kind of modern technology that distorts the relations of closeness and distance – thereby destroying aura, but now, in the digital era, the still photograph, made from an original negative, seems somehow permanent. It can be reproduced, but its unique status is enshrined by its idiosyncratic ageing process. ­Benjamin developed his use of the term to involve the concept of aura as ‘the ­experience of investing a phenomenon with the ability to return the gaze [of the spectator]’. He is, it seems, looking to reinstate the bonds between man and nature, which he feels modernity is eroding. Furthermore, for Benjamin, aura has an indexical dimension in its relation to the past. This has resonance with the Barthesian concept of the Ça a été – the ‘that has been’ of the photograph. When he looks upon a ­photograph of Lewis Payne, about to be hanged for

murder, Barthes, in Camera Lucida, ­captions it: ‘He is dead and he is going to die’. The death is long gone, but in the picture, it awaits. The future disaster of every photograph – ‘the catastrophe which has already occurred’ – is what makes the act of looking wholly without comfort. In the end, though, the aura which I contest is manifest in these ­images, does not emanate from the ice, from the deflated balloon, or from the ghostly human figures, it arises instead from the very act of perception. Looking deepens the mystery; seeing is not ­knowing. Something is gained by gazing upon these images, but it is atavistic, entering the body as much the mind. In a more limited, aesthetic sense, photographs that have been noticeably a­ ffected by the passage of time have an increased sense of ‘atmosphere’ that envelops the subject of the photograph, indeed overtakes it. In this case, it is as though aura is the ability to perceive lost time. Photography was an instrument used by conquerors, a tool of empire used to

nils strindberg

The unique phenomenon of a distance, however close it may be.


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classify, control and apprehend ‘exotic’ races and lands. It was used with great success by Herbert Ponting, official ­photographer to Captain Scott’s final mission to the Antarctic 1910-12 and likewise by Frank Hurley in photo­ graphing Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ­expedition in 1914-16. It was very much a habit of the time to use the photograph as evidence in the service of science. In his retelling of this story, The Ice Balloon, Alec Wilkinson writes: ‘Andrée exemplified a conceit that outlived him, the ­belief, then nascent, that science, in the form of technology, could subdue the last obstacles to possession of the world’s territories, if not also its mysteries.’ Andrée cited the extraordinary Arctic light as a particular benefit to their ­scientific endeavour – they would be able to photograph, at all hours, a territory never seen before. Photography imbued the trip with a seriousness of purpose that detractors saw as missing from the ‘stunt’, when Andrée delivered his ­lecture of intent less than a year before departure, in London, at the Sixth ­International Geographical Congress. ‘In the Arctic,’ he said at the time, ‘the cold only kills.’

Salomon August Andrée, usually given the epithet ‘explorer’ or aeronaut, though he didn’t fly in a balloon until he was 38 years old, was a trained engineer whose closest relationship in adult life was with his mother, Alma. When she died, shortly before the three men left for Spitsbergen, a different mood befell Andrée. He declared his personal interest in the expedition had disappeared and ‘the only thread which bound me to the wish to live is cut off.’ When his will was published in an Atlanta newspaper in 1901, it revealed: ‘I write on the eve of a journey full of dangers such as history has never yet been able to show. My ­presentiment tells me that this terrible journey will signify my death.’ Can history ever ‘show’ such dangers, even through the visible evidence of photographs? Strindberg’s photographic achievement offers a mere glimpse of that most unfathomable of all landscapes, the human mind. •

These elegiac images, far from conquering the earth’s mysteries or bringing them closer, only increase the gap ­between knowledge and understanding. They are photographs of a mystery in one very obvious sense – the 33-year wait to find out what happened to the men – but also of the mystery of enduring such terrain, of the belief that their ­mission might succeed, of their thoughts as death approached.

All images © Nils Strindberg, courtesy Grenna Museum, Sweden Nils Strindberg (1872–1897, Sweden) was one of the three members of S. A. Andrée’s ill-fated Arctic balloon expedition of 1897, the third member being Knut Frænkel. He recorded on film the expedition and their struggles to reach populated areas. When their remains were found in 1930, five exposed rolls of film were discovered. A selection of these photos was published along with the diaries of the expedition as Med Örnen mot Polen (British edition The Andrée Diaries, 1931; American edition: Andrée’s Story, 1932). The original negatives are stored at the Grenna Museum in Sweden. Max Houghton (b.1970, United Kingdom) is senior lecturer in photojournalism at the University of Westminster. She edited the photography biannual 8 magazine for six years. Her writing appears regularly in magazines and online for Black and White Photography, Axisweb, the BBC, the Daily Telegraph’s Telephoto arts hub and Foto8. She has curated group photographic exhibitions in New York, London and Brighton. 


Ricardo Cases Paloma al Aire

Ricardo Cases

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For the Birds by Bill Kouwenhoven Pigeons have an ancient history as ­companions of man and messengers of the gods. The symbolic value of doves, or rock pigeons as they are known, goes back to Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Carrier pigeons have served ­armies the world over for millennia. ­Indeed, according to the BBC, the ­remains of one of more than 200,000 such birds used by British forces in World War Two was found recently in a chimney in southern England, complete with encrypted message still intact, near a hotel where Field Marshall ­Montgomery was preparing the D-Day


l­andings in 1944. Pigeon racing, involving flying homing pigeons over long distances, remains a popular sport in England and in the United States. In Spain, however, pigeon sports take on a different hue as the work of Ricardo ­Cases shows. Born in the town of Orihuela, Alicante, in southern Spain in 1971, Cases ­studied information sciences at the ­Universidad del Pais Vasco in Bilbao before turning to photography and ­ ­graduating in ­journalism at that same university.  ›

With Paloma al Aire, Ricardo Cases turns his camera towards a tradition of pigeon sports, also known as columbiculture, unique to Spain.

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From the 1990s, as Spain underwent astonishingly rapid development as a result of integration into the European Union, rural traditions began disappearing under the pressures of relentless modernization and urbanization. For people who came of age in the Spain of the late 1980s and early 1990s as Cases did, the transformation from the archaic Francoist society to the vibrant, ­democratic, and consumerist society of today had no historical precedent. ­Entire ways of life were turned upside down within a generation. After graduating from university Cases took up his Yashica and with it the ­challenge of exploring and documenting the effects of the rapid change on both rural Spaniards and those living in cities. With more of the eye of an anthro­ pologist documenting a culture than a photojournalist recording facts, Cases has examined traditions of hunting in the countryside in a body of work called La caza del lobo congelado and life in the neighborhoods of Madrid: Serrano Boogie,

Belleza del Barrio, and La ciudad que soy – titles that remind one of the late Ed van der Elsken who shared a similar lust for life in the city. In each of these bodies of work he casts a humorous, sym­ pathetic eye on the foibles of his fellow citizens now adrift in modern Spain. These works, all completed in recent years, attest to Cases’s unusual approach to photojournalism and to documentary photography in general. Where other photographers might create typologies or document transformation in a more literal way, Cases proceeds more freely and lets his eye be moved by seemingly random juxtapositions of people and place or form and colour. In this he shares something with photographers such as van der Elsken and Martin Parr, but Cases’ touchstone is the great ­Spanish photographer Cristóbal Hara, whose images overturned the formalistic language of photojournalism and ­documentary photography in Spain. ­Cases notes that, inspired by Hara and others such as Carlos Pérez Siquier, Gonzalo Juanes and Ramón Masats, he took the visual language of photojournalism as a starting point but then set out to evade its limitations and ­formal constraints.


The rowdier public domain where events can easily run out of control.

According to Luis López Navarro, who wrote the text for the book, ‘The game is to set loose a hen pigeon plus dozens of cock pigeons who all fly after her to compete for her favours. Although none of them really fully achieves its goal, the male who spends the most time close to the female is the winner. The winner is not the most athletic pigeon, the one with the most endurance, or the purest bred. The winner is the most gallant ­pigeon, the one with the greatest persistence and reproductive instinct, the most macho.’ In this contest, the birds are flamboyantly painted and often evocatively named. The colours painted on the birds’ wings and bodies may ­indicate the regions their owners come from or their own personal choices; the names of the birds, too, are personal – Oro del Ring, Aplausos, Extasis, Coloso, Nucleo… They symbolize the hopes and dreams of their owners and of the ­punters.

ricardo cases

With Paloma al Aire, Cases again escapes the bounds of traditional documentary photography, let alone those of straightforward photojournalism. His title, ­Paloma al Aire means roughly Launch the Dove, immediately places the viewer of his pictures, into a subculture scarcely known in Spain.

By extension, López Navarro notes, ­‘Without pigeon fanciers being fully aware of it, their activity puts into play elements such as sex, flight, competition, hopes, ­triumph and failure. In the rustic scenarios of the lush countryside of eastern Spain, metaphors are born by themselves. On the domestic scale of a rural and rather ­ marginal hobby, pigeon breeding and racing offers us images of hope and longing which, out of context, take on a greater, universal, meaning. Men looking up at the sky, their gaze trained on the flight of their pigeons, their life a projectile; their bet, their bullet, their lottery ticket.’ Cases captures the intensity and devotion of the pigeon fanciers. His images highlight the swarming energy of the painted birds and their colours rampant in the sky or massed on the ground. Like an anthro­pologist tracking down a tribe in the ­Brazilian rainforest, Cases researches his own countrymen enacting their own private and communal rituals, which can beget ­status or monetary reward. Like Claude Lévi-Strauss, in López Navarro’s words, Cases describes a world that is as unknown to us as to most of his fellow countrymen: ‘Breeding a winning pigeon can mean ­prestige and


← ↖ From the series La caza del lobo congelado, 2009 © Ricardo Cases

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financial gain. Painted with combi­ nations of primary colours, just like flags and football teams, the pigeon s­ elected, bred and trained to mate b ­ ecomes a ­projection, a flying vector of the pigeon fancier, which will represent his sporting, economic and sexual s­ uccess, or failure, in front of his ­community. Far from the daily grind, the pigeon fancier finds in the pigeon-breeding universe a parallel life where he can reach the top. All he needs is a ­winning bird. The pigeon ­fancier ­remains on the ground but his vector can fly.’

It sounds absurd to utter or so Paloma al Aire, or Launch the Dove, every Sunday. Y   et Ricardo Cases takes that cry seriously. Men’s lives, hopes and dreams rest on the brightly coloured wings of members of the s­ pecies Columba livia domestica. Cases treats the men, and the pigeons, with the under­standing of a sympathetic ­ a nthropologist. In his pictures, as in the rural images of ­ ­Cristobal Hara or the city images of Ed van der Elsken, we can recognize our own ­ humanity in men fighting for ­survival in a chaotic world.

Cases’s images are charmingly sincere and directly depictive. He has won the acceptance of the men whose world he photographs. He respects their needs and longings and, by extension, their hopes and desires. Unlike Jerzy ­Kosinski’s Painted Bird, these pigeons are not flying scapegoats, but rather the avatars of men whose dreams are sent aloft, as it were, on a wing and a prayer.

When we look at the changes Spain has gone through in the past forty years, the astonishing boom and now the colossal bust, we can stand with these men on their Sunday afternoons in the countryside, their countryside, watching them send hope aloft, and sometimes even imagine their thoughts. Modernity? It’s for the birds. •

For the men in Ricardo Cases’s pictures, the art of pigeon racing represents their escape from the earthly bonds of ­e veryday struggle. Their weekend ­meetings give meaning to their lives. Their actions may seem absurd to city people, like some remnant of the times of the Don Quijote of Miguel de ­Cervantes or more recently of Camilo José Cela, the great chronicler of rural life under Franco, and they are not the fantasmagoria of Luis Buñuel. They are the real, living fantasies of real men ­trying to find dignity in a world torn asunder first by the rampant trans­ formations that accompanied Spain’s post-Franco development and now by the collapse of its bubble economy. López Navarro writes: ‘These men ­represent a country full of rural folk who have been forced to live in cities, in a modernity they neither understand nor are interested in them and that ­profoundly disturbs them. It is a country split in two by a serious social conflict where those at the top fight to defend their status while the common people of the villages and neighbourhoods, even when separated only by short distances, fight to maintain their dignity and values. As on a battlefield, their folkloric traditions, seem however surrealistic, ­delirious, individual and chaotic they may seem, are part of their fight under the law of the jungle in an institutional and civic vacuum in which everybody is forced to fight everyone else.’

All images © Ricardo Cases Ricardo Cases (b. 1971, Spain) originally studied journalism at the University of The Basque Country. He has exhibited widely throughout Spain as well as in China, Poland and Peru, and has won several awards. In 2006 he joined the Blank Paper photography collective. He has published three photobooks: Belleza de barrio (2008), La caza del lobo congelado (2009) and Paloma al Aire (2011). At the beginning of 2012 he was commissioned by TIME to cover the Republican presidential primary election in Florida. Ricardo cases is now collaborating ­regularly with SZ Magazine. He now lives and works in Madrid and is represented by La Fresh Gallery, Madrid. Bill Kouwenhoven is International Editor of HotShoe magazine and a frequent contributor to numerous other contem­porary photography journals in the United States, England and Europe including ­After­image, Aperture, British Journal of Photography, Foto 8, ­Photonews, Foto, European Photography, and Camera Austria. He is the author of several monographs, and the major survey of contemporary ­Spanish Photography and Video, Nuevas Historias. He lives and works in Berlin and New York.


Cristina De Middel The Afronauts

Cristina De Middel

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We’re Going to the Moon! No, to Mars! by Jörg Colberg ‘I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. [...] But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon – if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation.’

‘If I had had my way Zambia would have been born with the blast of the ­academy’s rocket being launched into space. [...] The rocket could have been launched from the Independence S tadium and Zambia would have ­ ­conquered Mars only a few days after independence.’

John F. Kennedy, Special Message to the Congress on ­Urgent National Needs, 25 May 1961.

Edward Makuka Nkoloso, ­op-ed We’re Going to Mars! (With a Spacegirl, Two Cats and a Missionary), 1964.  ›


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President Kennedy did not live to see the day when an American astronaut would set foot on the moon. His life was cut short two years after his famous moon speech, and it took another six years for Neil Armstrong to become the first man on the moon. Nor did Edward Makuka Nkoloso live to see the day when a Zambian astronaut would set foot on Mars. His space ­program collapsed before a single rocket could be launched. In a sense, K ­ ennedy and Nkoloso were both dreamers, with the imagination needed to conquer that last frontier. ­Unlike the president of the richest country on Earth, Nkoloso did not have the means at his disposal to make his dreams a r­ eality. But there are dreamers and there are dreamers. There are those who imagine the seemingly impossible and make it happen – ­because it actually is possible. And there are those who imagine the ­actually imposs­ible and, not surprisingly, fail to make it happen. In an op-ed describing his ­aspirations, Nkoloso wrote about the Zambian space program he had initiated. He also wrote ‘It is unlucky for L ­ usaka that I did not have the chance to run for mayor. If I had been elected, the capital city of Zambia would quickly have been ­another Paris, if not a­ nother New York.’ With his space program, Nkoloso wanted to combine the roles of President ­Kennedy and Wernher von Braun, the Nazi missile-builder turned US space program genius. Instead, he ended up being more like a failed Roger Corman. For his low-budget B-movies (think for example of the 1956 It Conquered the World), Corman worked with materials that barely looked like a­ nything they ­pretended to be. Corman would have appreciated Nkoloso’s idea of using oil drums for space ships, and of catapulting the space ship into orbit. A story like Zambia’s failed space p ­ rogram just begs to be re-imagined, to be brought back to life; moving beyond the obvious temptation to create something Cormanesque without skirting around the issue. With images playing such an important part in the world of space – astronomy relies on photographs like no other ­science – photography must be the ideal medium by which to retell the ­ story of the ­Zambian space program.

real stories in ways that will be seen as real. Re-­imagining a­ spects of the past does not seem to fit the job description. So The Afronauts amounts to a considerable leap of faith for the ­photographer. Many of her photographs are simple eye candy, especially when presented online, without any context. If men cavorting somewhere in barren landscapes in ­plastic-bubble helmets and fantasy space uniforms were the extent of The Afronauts, we would really be dealing with a C ­ ormanesque one-liner. But the project is considerably more complex, and that complexity does not translate well when its photographs are confined to its ­flashiest examples. For a start, many of the photographs are not so obviously flashy: a tent underneath two large leaflless trees, the ­remains of a bird – really just a wing – on some ­non­descript sand, a bed – or maybe ­table – pushed against a wall that has black marks resembling the Big ­Dipper on it. Add all those ingredients together and the photographs as a whole lose some of their initial sensationalist visual appeal, to r­ eveal depth, to reveal an artist ­attempting to move beyond a cheap Corman B-movie-told-­ i n-­ pictures. The story is more ­re-­imagined than re-told. After all, there is not much left of ­Zambia’s space program, and ­information about Edward Makuka Nkoloso is equally hard to come by. And is not history itself more of a ­re-­imagination than a re-telling?

Spanish photojournalist Cristina De Middel has produced The Afronauts. She may seem like the most unlikely candidate for such an endeavour. After all, photo­journalism lives from telling


It all looks so real, and it feels so real, it feels as if Zambian space travel could have really happened, if only...

The type of imagery used in The ­Afronauts challenges our assumptions about what is real in photographs and what is not. Photographs operate in funny ways: something in them might conceivably not be real, yet may appear to be very real. Part of the credibility of De Middel’s work lies in the fact that the photographs are made to look faded in a faux-vintage a­ esthetic that has only recently become e­ normously popular in the form of smart-phone apps such as Instagram or Hipstamatic. Those apps tie in with a u ­ biquitous desire for an ­idealized past that never existed (see ­Simon Reynolds’ ­masterly Retromania). But at the same time they make a connection between non-perfect image quality and a larger degree of ­credibility, in much the same way as highly pixilated cell-phone ­photographs or videos are now routinely seen as more real than their professionally produced equivalents (particularly in war zones).

The Afronauts gains its full power in the form of a book De Middel published herself. The book combines her photographs with ephemera of all types, ­including a ­reproduction of the op-ed Nkoloso wrote, copies of various typedout letters, plus reproductions of vintage photographs that might or might not have been ­tampered with in Photoshop (does it ­matter?). A lot of attention has been paid to detail, while, at the same time, the size and format remain modest. Photobooks have gained greater importance over recent years, probably in part as a backlash against digital technologies, but in equal – or possibly larger – part as a consequence of photographers ­increasingly recognizing the medium’s possibilities. The Afronauts demonstrates how photographic story-telling can work, once one is willing to move ­beyond the somewhat simple idea that every ­picture tells a story. (It does not, but that is for another day.) In the book, the many photographs start weaving ­together, and what is in between them is brought together in the viewer’s mind. When looking through the book, the

← From the series Pop Totem © Cristina De Middel


cristina de middel

That a photojournalist would embrace such images does not come as much of a surprise to those who have followed the evolution of the field. Especially in the United States, more and more photo­journalists have started to work with Instagram, partly as a response to news magazines desperate to attract viewers who want such imagery. The Afronauts operates in safer territory, since it is a ­re-creation, a re-telling of an older story, a story that had (and has) little, if any, ­ r elevance beyond its

i­mmediate reach. But still, The Afronauts can – and maybe should – serve as an example of what the artifice of the chosen aesthetic can achieve, and why using that very same (or a similar faux-­ vintage) aesthetic in a news context will ultimately lead to an even ­ further ­erosion of trust in the ­media.

v­ iewer is asked to replicate the kind of thinking that might have motivated ­Edward Makuka Nkoloso: aspects of the story are in ­various photographs, but the full story only ­unfolds in the minds of the viewers – in much the same way as ­Nkoloso’s unfulfilled dream involved more than a few people in space outfits, training with ­materials completely unfit for space travel. The Afronauts thus becomes ­completely believable, not as the re-­creation of a man’s failed dream, but ­instead as something that made ­perfect sense. It all looks so real, and it feels so real, it feels as if Z­ambian space travel could have really happened, if only...

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Isn’t the dream that starts an endeavour that which ultimately determines its ­outcome? The Afronauts slyly throws that somewhat naïve, widespread belief back at us. And had there been no men on the moon, wouldn’t we look at ­President Kennedy’s speech in much the same way as we look at the Zambian space p ­ rogram?  •

All images © Cristina De Middel Cristina De Middel (b. 1975, Spain) is a photographer based in London. De Middel’s personal and professional work for newspapers and NGOs has been recognized by the National Photojournalism Prize Juan Cancelo (2009), Fnac Photographic Talent (2009) and the Humble Arts Women in Photography Project Grant (2011). She holds an MA in Fine Arts from the University of Valencia, Spain (2001), an MA in photography from the University of Oklahoma (2000) and a postgraduate degree in photo­journalism from the Universitat Politécnica de Barcelona, Spain (2002). Her photographic activity combines strictly documentary assignments with more personal projects. She asks the audience to question the language and the veracity of photography as a document and plays with reconstructions or archetypes that blur the border between reality and fiction. The Afronauts was shortlisted for the Aperture First PhotoBook of the Year 2012. Cristina De Middel has recently been nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013. Jörg Colberg (b. 1968, Germany) is the founder and editor of Conscientious, a widely read weblog dedicated to contemporary fine-art photography. He is a faculty member of the International Limited-Residency MFA Photography Programme at Hartford Art School (Northampton, MA). His writings have appeared in international photography magazines. Colberg has contributed introductory essays to monographs by various photographers.


Erwin Olaf Paradise

Erwin Olaf

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Liberating Mad Fantasies by Natacha Wolinski People who have discovered the work of Erwin Olaf in the last ten years would find it difficult to imagine that before his portrayals of young women with sleek hair and tight brassieres, in the manner of Bree Van de Kamp, the virtuous spouse from Desperate Housewives, the photographer had used very different models. Abnormal, deformed or obese persons, clowns, drag queens and ­gypsies were Erwin Olaf ’s first heroes


For the first twenty years of his career, he glorified them with an uncommon degree of energy and audacity. During this period he either used contrasts of black and white or turned to a palette of garish colours approaching the hues of advertising. Before mastering the art of the allusive image, for many years the photographer aimed for direct impact in his images, bordering on crudeness.  ›

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The series Mature, dating from 1999, depicted aging women recreating the poses of pin-up girls from the fifties. Its tone is characterised by humour and u nambiguous freedom. By making ­ women with flabby, creased flesh sexy and assigning each of them the Christian name of a top model such as Claudia, Karen or Kate, Erwin Olaf fifteen years ago posited new standards for beauty and thumbed his nose at the sanitized world of fashion that rejects any defect. In his collection Squares (1983-1993), he crossed men with sirens, women with peacocks and fish, and portrayed ­dog-clowns and exhibitionist bellboys. Erwin Olaf displays an unbridled ­imagination and confirms his rejection of norms by coupling the male and the female, the human and the animal, the beautiful and the ugly, the sacred and the licentious.

In contrast to his most recent ­collections, which are wreathed in almost arctic ­clarity, the figures in his early works are confronted by seedy darkness. In Blacks (1990), a series of thirteen allegorical portraits in the form of a tondo, the executioner, the grenadier and the ­ ­guerrilla are all blindfolded, rendered sightless before the beauties of the world. In Chessmen (1987-1988), the faces of the characters, straight from one of ­Joel-Peter Witkin’s nightmares, are ­completely obscured by veils and ­Roman or medieval helmets, like zoomorphic masks. In Fashion Victims (2000), men and women blinded by their consumerist impulses wear Gucci, Chanel or ­Calvin Klein bags on their heads, ­looking like hooded prisoners on their way to ­execution. The privileges of an honest gaze and an open view of the world fall to those who can elude the dictates of ­appearances and social norms, without descending into violence or sacrilege This is true of the innocent look of handicapped children in Mind of their Own (1995), the malicious stares of the septuagenarian seductresses of Mature (1999), and the bold gaze of the androgynous subjects of Lady’s Hat (1985-1992). Clowns, the central figures in his ­alternative pantheon, are the subject of two striking collections. In Paradise The Club, demonic clowns indulge in all sorts of depravity against the background of an orgiastic party. This series was conceived in the wake of a large-scale performance on the theme of the circus, organised by the photographer in ­Amsterdam’s temple of pop, the Paradiso club. Struck by ‘the horror and ­decadence of late-night life’, Erwin Olaf came to this project some time later upon encountering Rubens’s painting The Rape of Hippo­damia in the Prado Museum. He then conceived these large scenes depicting a sort of Apocalypse, seven pictures of ­debauchery and crime that attack e­ qually the eye and the mind. But as Jean Cocteau wrote, ‘The most crass and aggressive ­spec­tacles contain an ­angel waiting to escape.’ In the following series, Paradise Portraits, the clowns have suddenly taken on h ­ umanity: their masks with grimacing demons and moon-struck Pierrots ­create a funereal galaxy. The images r­ eveal the imperfections of the skin, the wrinkles, the signs of old age and of p ­ athos. Throughout these portraits framed in tight close-up, as if taken in the confines of a closed box, the photo­grapher sheds light on the secrets of his own cranial cavity.


In 2003, shortly after the series of clowns, Erwin Olaf undertook one more fantastical collection, Separation, and then embarked, as he himself has ­confirmed, upon the second part of his life. In the collections Rain (2004), Hope (2005), Grief (2007) and Fall (2008), his colour palette changed radically. After the excesses of youth and the turbulent 1980s and 1990s, Erwin Olaf reconnected with the estrangements of ­childhood, with emptiness and silence. In particular, Rain radically changed ­Erwin Olaf’s ­career. Until this point, the photo­grapher had been seen as a brilliant fashioner of images. His advertising campaigns for Diesel and Heineken ­contributed to his celebrity in the world of fashion and ­publicity. Before Rain, Erwin Olaf had been a ‘studio’ photo­ grapher, associated with the world of applied photography. Beginning with Rain, he became an ‘intimate’ photo­ grapher who had branched out into the world of contemporary art.

erwin olaf

Erwin Olaf likes to relate how he ­initially hoped to do homage to the grandeur of America. But in spite of these ­intentions, the photographs in Rain took on a ­dimension of wait-and-see, as if all the characters had been struck by an ill omen. The melancholy issuing from every photograph establishes the accuracy of tone in the series and ­ ­constitutes its principal attraction. This melancholy reflects on the gloomy image one has of the United States in the ­period after September 11, 2001; it ­expresses a premonition of the Western world’s irreversible decline. The narrative, yet ambiguous character of the ­images is a major factor in their success. In Rain, Erwin Olaf displays a highly personal way of transforming a banal everyday scene into a silent drama, whose viewers are unsure whether it has been tinged by the bizarre or the ­perverse. Could that secretary squeezed into a tight-fitting suit be her boss’s ­mistress? Has the young man in his ­underpants posing next to a flowered dress just undressed his girlfriend, or is he about to dress as a woman himself? For the first time, Erwin Olaf conceived images here that resemble scenes from a movie.

The most crass and aggressive spectacles contain an angel waiting to escape.

After Rain, Erwin Olaf produced Hope, where we again encounter the same ­appetite for detail and reconstruction, the same existential solitude affecting its characters, the same sense of familiarity with the profiles of the wife in the ­hallway, the schoolgirl, or the Vietnam

← ↗ From the series The Keyhole, 2011 © Erwin Olaf


veteran, who all seem to have escaped from Terrence Malick’s latest film, The Tree of Life. The lighting is more ­discreet and much more finely-worked than that of Rain: it is this quality which gives the series its crepuscular mood and is ­responsible for its depth.

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Grief, from 2007, is the series that most successfully exemplifies the sixties ­revival. Here, Erwin Olaf has softened his palette, drawing on a range of ­monochromes in grey, beige and brown, which strongly evoke ascetic ­modernism, ­rather than circus kitsch. The c­ inematic element in these images is arresting. These glacial beauties, reminiscent of Grace Kelly or Kim Novak, recreate femininity as d ­ epicted by Alfred Hitchcock or Billy Wilder.

young people are seeing beyond those walls. By making us want to uncover the secret of the partitions and the beyond, and to try to conceptualize what is ­invisible and inaccessible, the images of The Keyhole speak to us of the enigma of representation and the mysteries of ­desire. They reconnect us to our own voyeurism. For many years, Erwin Olaf has not hesitated to expose his demons and assault our eyes. By inviting us to liberate our own mad fantasies forever, he establishes himself as the master of the forbidden.  •

After Rain, Hope and Grief, Erwin Olaf took on the creation of Fall (2008), a series which he wished to be ‘less charged with emotion, more inexpressive’. This series came into being by ­accident. The photographer caught his models at the moment of blinking, ­lending their gaze a disturbing strangeness, as if the ­half-closed eyelids opened onto an interior abyss. Tightly enclosed in its framing, Fall distances itself from the world of cinematography and draws much more on the tradition of painting. All the ­models are framed from the waist up, like Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, and moving from one portrait to the next, the viewer recognises numerous references to the art of the Renaissance: the long, ­undulating tresses of a Botticellian ­beauty, the languid praying hands of a Fra Angelico Madonna, the nearly exposed breast of Raphael’s Fornarina, or perhaps the ecstatic pose of Christ in Antonello da Messina’s Flagellation. One recent series by Erwin Olaf, The Keyhole (2011), is likewise not free of implicit references to the history of art. It consists of seven images of a child or an adolescent turning its back towards us, assuming the pose of one of Gerhard Richter’s most famous pictures, Betty, the young woman who turns away from the world. Each of the children appears to exhibit the same curiosity: they are looking through a keyhole at what is ­taking place on the opposite side of a ­partition. The object of temptation is out of viewing range for the spectator, and out of reach for the young voyeurs whose stooped bodies sag under the weight of shame. These introverted photographs function as a powerful vessel for dreams. We are all left to imagine what these

All images © Erwin Olaf Erwin Olaf (b. 1959, the Netherlands) is an artist who focuses on visualizing the unspoken, the overlooked, that which typically resists easy documentation. Olaf's trademark is to address social issues, taboos and bourgeois conventions within the framework of a highly stylised and cunning mode of imagery. Mixing photo journalism with studio photography, Olaf emerged on the international art scene in 1988, when his series Chessmen was awarded the first prize in the Young European Photographer competition. Since then his personal work and advertising campaigns have been awarded with a number of international prizes, including the Silver Lion at the Cannes Lions Festival for Advertising. Erwin Olaf has had numerous important group and solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally, including George Eastman House, Rochester, USA; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; Chelsea Art Museum, New York; Kunsthalle, Winterthur, Switzerland and the Museum of the City of New York, New York. Erwin Olaf lives and works in Amsterdam. Natacha Wolinski (b. 1963, France) is an art critic for Beaux Arts magazine, France Culture and Le Quotidien de l’Art. In 2011 she published her first novel, En ton absence (Editions Grasset).


Anne Sophie Merryman Mrs. Merryman’s Collection

Anne Sophie Merryman

portfolio text

The Surrealist’s Grand Tour by Adam Bell ‘All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.’ Martin Buber


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Postcards occupy a unique space within the history of photography. Firmly rooted in photography’s vernacular and ­populist nature, they show us distant lands, ­tourist traps, beautiful vistas and ­landmarks. Although largely a novelty of the past, and replaced by status updates, tweets and emails, postcards still hold power as missives from far-flung places – haptic affirmations of existence, travel and remembrance. I was here. I thought of you. Look at this. Like found photographs, given enough time, and with the right context, old postcards and their imagery of a world and people long gone can c­ onvey meanings that vary with each generation. Unmoored from their original context, they offer us a glimpse into the often strange and suggestive ­possibilities of photography. Anne Sophie Merryman’s project Mrs. Merryman’s Collection, accompanied by a book of the same name, purports to be a collection of postcards inherited from her grandmother, who passed away before she was born and shares her name. However, all is not as it seems. Collected from the late 1930s until the 1980s, the postcards were never actually sent or received by Merryman’s

g­ randmother, but rather collected by her over the years for their striking imagery. They bear stamps and postmarks from all over the world. In its book form, as here, the cards are shown full-size with the front on one page and the back ­presented on the reverse. This simple design replicates the act of paging through a pile of postcards, but it also allows us to read the messages and savor the physicality of each postcard. The t attered edges and faded patina ­ seductively draw us into the past. ­ ­Although not all have messages, when they do, the correspondences are u ­ sually cryptic or cursory and reveal little about the images. Written in French, Spanish or English, the flowing script is often hard to read or indecipherable. The pictures themselves are incredibly strange and don’t resemble any postcards you’re likely to encounter in even the most well-hidden or remote flea market or antiques shop. After all, who makes a postcard of someone delicately laying out a piece of paper, a stuffed monkey head, a hand gently touching a mirror, or a preserved and mounted ear? Small, precious and unnerving, they more often resemble a cross between the poetic


work of Masao Yamamoto and André Breton than the kinds of vernacular ­picture postcards that shuttled back and forth across the globe in the mid-­ twentieth century. Although the images are presumably ‘authorless’ in the sense

The details of the cards are crumbs that point towards another truth.

↖ → From the series Nakazora © Masao Yamamoto, courtesy Galerie Gabriel Rolt

that most reclaimed vernacular images are authorless, the images share an affinity for the odd and cryptically ­ o­btuse. Unlike the postcards you or I might find, the images and their subject in the book are rarely identified. Rather than offering exotic or prosaic views of distant lands, the images are a series of surreal puzzles and non sequiturs. Upon closer examination, the postcards reveal numerous clues that point towards their mysterious origins.

Looking through the book and work, I was immediately reminded of artists who’ve used and complied vernacular imagery. The wonderful book of found photographs from the Walther ­collection, Other Pictures, is a recent example. ­Collected over the years, Walther’s collection is a remarkable group of ­ ­images in many ways. Although created by anonymous photographers, the ­images echo the taste of their collector, but also the canon of photography. We catch glimpses of a Rodchenko, a Walker Evans or a Friedlander. There is a sense that these ­photographers, ­independent of any formal knowledge of or education in photography, were d ­ iscovering its­ history and traditions. This was uninten­ tional on the makers’ part, but it points to a generosity of the medium, or what Luc Sante recently called the ‘­genius of the system’. This was also one of the key i nsights in John Szarkowski’s The ­ ­Photographer’s Eye, which included ­several vernacular images.  ›

anne sophie merryman

While the notes tend to be illegible and offer few clues, the postage and postmarks are often mismatched. Postcards with Spanish stamps are postmarked in Prague and Italian stamps are postmarked in China. ­Seemingly impossible, if true, the mixed ­languages and origins of the cards ­suggest a young aristocratic surrealist sending missives from a Grand Tour. One imagines the traveler, Leica slung over his shoulder and striding aboard a tramp steamer, eschewing the accepted itinerary of the grand tour for oddities just off the beaten path. While it is ­amusing to imagine the c­ ollected images coming from one ­imaginary author, they are really the ­collection and creation of Merryman – gathered, and perhaps ­created, for her imaginary travels and our own. Like the artifacts in a wunderkammer, the images and postcards

catalog a strange and beautiful world, and offer cryptic m ­ essages and annotations of a strange trip. The impossibility of the postcard’s origins adds a layer of disbelief and ­confusion. While the ­images themselves are mysterious enough to suggest other ­origins, the details of the cards are crumbs that point towards ­another truth.

I was here. I thought of you. Look at this.


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There are numerous examples of ­contemporary artists using vernacular or found images to create new bodies of work, including Melissa Cantanese’s Dive Dark Dream Slow, Ron Jude’s Alpine Star, Ofer Wolberger’s recent series of books, which are often built around ­appropriated imagery, the books of ­Michael Abrams, Chris Gianunzio’s Speaking of Names. The work is also reminiscent of the Texas-based artist Dana Harper who recreates enigmatic photographs from vernacular imagery. This brief list is embarrassingly ­deficient and only scratches the surface, but it points to the richness and potential for artists working in this vein. While ­numerous other books of vernacular photographs exist, they are usually ­presented as collections based on a theme, place, archive or rediscovered commercial photographer, and avoid a particular narrative or self-consciously artistic structure. Mrs. Merryman’s ­Collection relies on, and is part of, this rich tradition, yet it deviates in an ­interesting way.

Real or fake, a curious sleight-of-hand occurs in this unassuming collection that blurs the lines between Merryman and her grandmother. The back of the book contains a telling detail – a tiny red square in the middle of the page. Two pages are sewn together with red thread. At first glance, there is only the ­dedication to Merryman’s grandmother on the back side, but sealed in between the pages is a secret left for the reader daring enough to cut the pages apart. Either way the sewn pages suggest a fused and inseparable identity. Hidden beneath the surface, woven together across generations, dreaming parallel dreams, both seduced by the mystery of photography. The two act as one. In the end, the creator and collector are never far apart.  • 

Reshuffled and given a new context, the meanings of vernacular or found ­images are easily transformed. The mystery of Merryman’s collection relies in part on such a simple maneuver. We want to ­believe, yet still question the compelling stories of most old photographs. Who are Anne Sophie Merryman and her grandmother? Are these real postcards? Where did she get them? Do the two women even exist? Or is it all the c­ reation of another artist – artistic ­ conceits, ­layered and perplexing to ­untangle? The artist exploits our urge to believe the i­mages and her story to hook us, to ­convince us that the two sides of each postcard have always been ­conjoined and are not a transmutation, a collaborative half-truth of the past and present. Across generations, these p ­ ostcards are a daydream of real and i­magined places – journeys taken or ­fantasized, objects and moments encountered.

All images © Anne Sophie Merryman This essay was adapted and expanded from a book review that originally appeared in Photo-eye ­magazine on the 30 August 2012. Anne Sophie Merryman inherited the postcards collected by her grandmother Anne-Marie Merryman between 1937 and 1980. The book, Mrs. Merryman’s Collection, presents the postcards which ­together form the story of two intertwined lives – one life lived ­travelling the world through the postcard images, the other a child and then adult whose life and relationship to her own history and her future were influenced by the collection. While Anne-Marie and Anne Sophie never met, both their lives were inspired by the postcard ­collection – a relationship that was born, and continues to flourish, in the realms of the imagination. Mrs. Merryman’s Collection is the winner of the First Book Award 2012, a photography publishing prize made by the National Media Museum and MACK to support the ­publication of a book of previously unpublished work. Adam Bell (b. 1976, United States) is a photographer and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. He received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2004. He is the co-editor and co-author of The Education of a Photographer (Allworth Press, 2006). His writing and reviews have appeared in Foam Magazine, Lay Flat, Photo-eye, Ahorn Magazine and The Brooklyn Rail. He is currently on staff and faculty at the School of Visual Arts’ MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department.


Thomas Mailaender Cathedral Cars

Thomas Mailaender

portfolio text

Mind the Gap by Ian Jeffrey It’s a documentary series, surely? What could be more admirable than an indepth study of passengers on the point of embarkation at the port of ­Marseille? Returning to Algeria after years overseas, you need to take as much with you as possible. There are family members ­filling the car, so freight can only go on the roof. You’ll have to tie everything


down with great care and ­ingenuity but there is a limit beyond which driving the vehicle becomes ­unsafe. You or I cannot imagine just how hard it must be to travel like this; but then the art of ­documentary has always been about intro­ducing us to the textures of other people’s lives to the point where we can begin to identify with their ­condition. ›

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Thomas Mailaender, though, has something else in mind, something ­ ­rather metaphorical. The travelers, ­whoever they may be, openly declare their priorities: mattresses, blankets, bags and kitchen goods. Clearly they aren’t much bothered by their public exposure of the poor possessions they’ve assembled, like mobile monuments to commonplace domestic needs. Stuff you wouldn’t give tuppence for has been stacked with maximum ingenuity and attention to detail. These cars, bound for Algeria, may not be meant as gestures of contempt for the host culture and for the etiquettes of lifestyle, but their ­owners are indifferent to most pre­ sumptions about public appearances and to the decorum of travel in Europe. They stand out as travelling shows – and it is in such entertainments that the ­artist is interested.

Mailaender’s forum and sphere of ­operations is less the art world than the rowdier public domain where events can easily run out of control. Society – the British variant, at least – evolved a livid counter-culture, staffed by fallen angels of all sorts. When exactly that culture originated is unclear, but it flourishes and services a fevered public imagi­nation entranced by its own wit and jokes. The majority of solid citizens follow football, for instance, for the artistry of the game, but a hard core of activists revel in its shouted and insulting poetry. If art is to put itself on a par with such a spontane-

ous and convulsive counter-culture it has to cultivate the kind of suddenness which is Mailaender’s forte. He is attracted, over and over again, to the idea of the one-track mind, ­represented by these Algerian travelers intent on putting together their ­collections of useful materials. They may be European residents but their minds are elsewhere, in a homeland in need of handy furnishings. Most of his subjects, usually played by himself, subscribe to a big idea which will probably do them harm in the long run. In his most recent

The rowdier public domain where events can easily run out of control.

Art in a contemporary environment is hard to achieve, that much is clear. To be conclusively successful it is probably better to know nothing about art at all. To be well informed condemns the ­aspiring artist to redundancy. Hence Mailaender’s admiration for the ­Algerian travelers who, without giving a thought to art in public spaces, have made their mark with what amounts to a series of mobile monuments – although the German term denkmal, with its conno­ tations of thoughtfulness, is preferable, in this context, to ‘monument’. Remember Cy Twombly, a gold-plated artist if ever there was one, making paintings which feature what look like authentic graffiti transcribed from the Virgilian walls of ancient Rome. ­Twombly’s idea was to make script which seemed spontaneous, as if it was the work of someone in the grip of an ungovernable impulse. Graffiti have to be accomplished in haste, for the ­calligrapher never knows just who will turn up unexpectedly. That is to say, there is no time for reflection, as is the case with Mailaender’s removal experts who are forced to cram all they own into the space available, and then hope for the best.


project, for instance, members of the public, played by volunteers, experiment with sun tattoos. In this format a photographic negative is applied to exposed skin which is then reddened by a sun lamp, resulting eventually in a pale ­positive. It is the most dangerous form of photography ever devised, cancerous if it were ever carried out in earnest.

In these montages he aims for substantial differences, even if the differences only take shape in the imagination of his ­audience. In another current project, carried out in conjunction with a French national collection, he has undertaken to eat photographs from the national ­holdings – perhaps not very many of them and none of great value. We all know that the photographic patrimony is held in very high regard, securely stored and hygienically handled by trained operatives. So, what will he do? Waxed paper negatives and albumen prints might be the most digestible parts of any major collection, and cyanotypes best avoided. If the project is to have any credibility it will have to be syste­matically

carried out and in the end this will mean collecting and analyzing specimens – in a way most of us are familiar with. Thus memories of excrement are introduced into photography’s delicate environment.

← ↗ The illustrated people, 2012 © Thomas Mailaender


He is attentive to the gap between ­culture and nature, between script, for instance, and bodily functions. In one series, devoted to foodstuffs devised during a residency in 2011-12, a plate of alphabet pasta clarifies in the artist’s spoon to read COMING SOON, an ­interestingly ambiguous phrase in E ­ nglish – a language which the artist likes to use and misuse. From the same series a tableau entitled WC features the bowl of a lavatory crammed with French fries – a short-circuiting of the digestive process. The body is never far away in Mailaender’s pieces. In the same ­successful residency he hung three socks from a ceiling-fan fitting. Press the b ­ utton and the socks take the place of the rotor blades, spreading their aroma far and wide. Something quite similar takes place in the Marseille embarkation pictures where all those mobile sculptures are made up of domestic items in common use – sitting, lying, eating, all the unavoidable elements in an average day. ›

thomas mailaender

At first sight these new ‘sun pictures’ look like an awful warning to anyone in the grip of a new-found enthusiasm. You may end up with a new range of attractive imagery here and there on your torso, but at a terrible cost. He is not, though, a health-care professional h ­ oping to keep the general public from self-harm. What he is really interested in, by the look of it, is art and its procedures. He is, in particular, a montagist more or less in the style of his Cubist precursors, ­although with a wider range of reference. Photography is no more than a starting point, a rather anaemic common ­denominator in the field of represen­ tation, which can be contrasted strongly with real-time memories and experiences. The new sun pictures, so palely registered, contrast with that enflamed and endangered skin and bring to mind the long-term threat of melanoma.

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Photography is clearly important to Thomas Mailaender, but he values it, on all the evidence available, as a l­ightweight medium which only resonates properly in rough company. It is the same with words which need to be accompanied by things, by bulk and texture, to come into their own. One of his great works of 2010 – his Sistine Chapel – was an ­installation prepared for a venue in ­Marseille. Called Chicken Museum, it featured five chickens housed in a ­plasterboard coop where the walls were decorated with noteworthy photographs from the artist’s collection of bizarreries discovered on the internet. By themselves the pictures are striking enough, for they are in the main lewd and garish, but in the presence of the poultry eating, resting and idly killing time they begin to lose some of their substance. Compared to the chickens they are not so real. What he proposes is a gradation based in the natural world, in the sort of materiality embodied in that set of indolent chickens or even in the idea of himself excreting photographs. In contrast to such earthy matters any representation ­whatsoever becomes ethereal, however ­compelling it may seem at first sight. Does he mean to intervene on behalf of a real world that has been sadly neglected and threatened by a mass of mediated imagery? Or does he want to put photo­ graphy in its rightful place as providing no more than a ghostly record of things? Perhaps he is just vastly entertained by the gap, and even by gaps in general. His most recent publication, called Gone Fishing, is a series of letters from a male traveler, Thomas himself, to someone variously known as Marion, Sweetheart and My Love. Thomas, a hero in his own eyes, climbs mountains and wins trophies world-wide. His thoughts are with the family but his focus is always on his own achievements, chronicled in full colour as he boxes, fishes and surfs his way to success. S ­ omewhere in the wide world his ­contemporaries are busy with just such self-regarding chronicles. One of the real Thomas’s great virtues is that he is alert to the culture at large, which makes him a great guide to the latest usages and practices. •

All images © Thomas Mailaender Thomas Mailaender (b. 1979, France) is based in Paris and Marseille. A recently deceased famous French critic once compared his work to that of Bernd and Hilla Becher under the influence of Pastis, a local aniseed liquor popular in the south of France.His work has been shown in numerous international group and solo exhibitions.He just released his last book titled Gone Fishing published by RVB Books. Ian Jeffrey (b. 1942, Scotland) read art history at the Courtauld ­Institute in the University of London. During the 1970s and 1980s he taught at Goldsmiths College, also part of the University of London. He wrote the text for FREEZE, an important exhibition which ­originated in Goldsmiths in the late 1980s. During the early 1990s he taught at the Central European University in Prague. He has written a number of books on the history of photography, including How to Read a Photograph, published in 2008 by Ludion, Thames & Hudson and others. At present Ian Jeffrey is contributing to an exhibition on Josef Sudek to be staged by the National Gallery of Canada. In ­London he works for The Archive of Modern Conflict.


r Fo

l l A C Foam Magazine's annual Talent Call opens in February 2013. We are looking for the world's next photography talent. Submit your work and it could be published in Foam Magazine's 2013 Talent issue.

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foam magazine # 33 trip

by Sebastian Hau

Luigi Ghirri Project Prints

Catherine Opie has gained the attention of both the art and the biennale scene as well as of the photographer Alec Soth for her portraits and street photography. Her work on gender, women’s rights and the LGBT community is understated yet self-assured and her images colourful and often intimate. Her new book shows for the first time her work on communities and meetings, demonstrations and Tea ­Party gatherings. The photographer’s scrutiny and curiosity invite the reader on a journey through today’s grassroots landscape. The book is like a hymn to democracy and human rights and reminds me of the beauty of Walt ­Whitman’s Leaves of Grass of 1855. It is also clearly related to the work of photographers such as Zanele Muholi, David Goldblatt and Bruno Serralongue. This publication is a nicely crafted and designed catalogue to accompany an exhibition in Boston.

Luigi Ghirri’s photographs resist classification and have taken years to become known to a wider public, despite appraisal by the likes of William E ­ ggleston and Thomas Demand. The Bechers ­famously introduced their students at the Düsseldorf academy to work by ­Stephen Shore and Ghirri, whose influence shows through in early Gursky and Ruff images. Examining the catalogues published during Ghirri’s lifetime one often encounters poor printing quality and a confused jumble of images and texts. His artist books are all but impossible to find. But now that the Ghirri Foundation has a new director, more engaged work about this prolific photo­ grapher can be expected. There are ­international shows in the offing and a reprint by MACK of his Kodachrome book. The catalogue in question, impeccably designed and produced by the Ringier team, is a good start, providing an overview of many of his series, brief historical texts and a choice of his ­writings that I find enlightening and ­inspiring. The landscapes and images of people show Ghirri’s great understanding of light and colour and his low-key and almost ironic use of concept. They are presented with a lot of white on the page, giving them air and offering the viewer a renewed chance to discover his work.

There has been much talk about this book since the Arles Fotofestival when a happy few got hold of a copy. It’s a story of a seventies schoolteacher in Africa who dreamed and planned a pan-African rocket flight to the moon. That ought to be exciting enough, but the perfectly designed book with it’s mix of documents (are they?) and hipstamatic-style photographs of African astronauts elegantly broaches the ­borders between fashion, art and photography. The mix of costume-play and historical context is difficult to pull off without looking silly, but Cristina De Middel provides just enough background information, set against atmospheric and blurry images, to make it work. The book has been edited with Laia Abril, and designed by Ramon Pez. Copies of this limited print-run are probably becoming hard to get, but a second edition has been announced.

Hatje Cantz ISBN 9783775730150

JRP Ringier ISBN 9783037642498

Self Published ISBN 9788461585960

Catherine Opie Empty and Full


Cristina De Middel The Afronauts


Adam Murray & Theo Simpson Road and Rail Links Between Sheffield and Manchester

Peter Fischli & David Weiss Fischli/ Weiss: 800 Views of Airports David Campany Rich and Strange

Preston is My Paris, the project imitated by Adam Murray and Robert Parkinson, which has been documenting smallcity life in Preston and publishing books for its citizens, has recently become better known outside the UK, thanks to the Publish it Yourself exhibitions curated by Laurence Vecten. Together with the Institute of Mass Observation, a ­research centre for sociology, they have now published their first hardcover book of black-and-white images. There is a marked interest in industrial and post-industrial architecture, crossroads, traffic and the way the landscape has been changed by the age of concrete. Set against the dry and deadpan ­images of bridges and empty railway stations are photographs taken on the road that offer more poetic glimpses of the countryside.

Sadly the Swiss artist David Weiss has died, and he will be missed by those young artists, and members of a wider public who have followed this duo’s work with great enthusiasm. The ­now-rare book Airports, published in the nineties by Patrick Frey in a volume that had the dimensions of a curtain vendor’s sale folder has been reedited into an an oversized volume as big as the New York telephone directory. There were originally some thirty images. Now there are 800 arranged in grids, similar to the duo’s classic Visible World, more than enough either to turn you into a fan of, or expert on, international airport architecture or to make you start to hate it. It’s the artists’ visual sense and their wry mix of sentimental moods and the dead-pan-style of the New Topographics that holds the work together. An enticing photobook from artists who never even considered themselves to be photographers.

Artists Broomberg and Chanarin have founded a small publishing house for artist books and handmade posters called Chopped Liver Press, which also features a new series of books in which an invited editor selects an image as the subject for a short essay. The books are intelligently and stylishly designed, and it’s a pleasure to hold them and to browse through them. David Campany, who will publish a book about Walker Evans’ magazine work later this year, chose a photograph found at a flea market, a still from a thirties Hitchcock movie. The first part of the book dissects the image into heterogeneous parts, which only come together in the full image at the end and in the careful reconstruction of what we are seeing in Campany’s writing. The photograph holds some amazing surprises.

Mass Observation & Preston is my Paris No ISBN

Walther König ISBN 9783865609328

Chopped Liver Press ISBN 9780957161207


foam magazine # 33 trip

Nikola Mihov Forget Your Past

This work was originally published in a very small print run by and White press. After a lot of controversy and several museum shows, König books and Aperture have co-published a larger print run at an affordable price. Doug Rickard has added another thirty images to the original 69 and, as well as adding texts and an interview, it ­features amazing work by artists from all over the world, sourced from the ­internet. In rephotographing the poorer streets of American cities with a large format camera Rickard’s work adds ­political context and his informed eye makes recognizing influences of Robert Frank and William Eggleston in his ­images a pleasure. These pictures feel as if they are here to stay. They strike me as far less ephemeral than other similar work.

This summer Archive of Modern Conflict have published the third issue of their hybrid magazine. It has the distinctive features of a portfolio combined with the seriousness of an academic publication. The latest issue includes new work by Stephen Gill plus a portfolio from the fifties about Berlin’s famous shopping mall KDW, all in luscious colour. Each of the six independent segments are accompanied by texts; the design and production are of the highest standard.

When empires collapse, their monuments are the first things to fall. Since the nineties images of pulled-down statues of overthrown dictators have become an internet meme and the ­subjects of countless works shown at art biennales. From Koudelka’s famous photograph of a giant Lenin transported on it’s back on a ship to more recent work on Soviet Architecture in Georgia or elsewhere (recall the impressive book by Jan Spomeneik) the subject has proven endlessly fascinating. Nikolai Mihov has published his survey of ­Bulgarian Soviet-era architecture with a small Bulgarian publishing house, and as a result of strong media interest his debut book is nearly sold out. Next to black-and-white photographs that show an array of monuments and buildings in varying stages of use and disuse there are brief historical texts and architectural drawings. Mihov has published a book that manages to combine his serious engagement with his country’s past and some pop-cultural bravado. To my knowledge this is one of the very first photobooks to come from an independent publishing house in Eastern Europe and as such it is an impressive debut.

Aperture / Walther König ISBN 9783863352097

AMC Books No ISBN / Special Olympics Issue

Janet 45 Publishing ISBN 9789544918033

Doug Rickard A New American Picture

Amc2 Journal issue 3


Sebastian Hau (b. 1976, G ­ ermany) runs LE BAL BOOKS, the specialized Photobookshop linked to the independent exhibition space LE BAL in Paris. He previously worked for ten years at Schaden. com. He regularly contributes to, Foam Magazine and Photo-eye Magazine.


Martin Weber Ecos del interior Argentina Still at the forefront of new colour photography, having published books and portfolios by Onaka Koji, Tim Davis, Yutaka Takanashi and Miguel Rio ­Branco among others, Toluca Éditions has come up with an entrancing book by Argentinian photographer Martin ­Weber about his country’s land-locked provinces. Each photograph is accompanied by a short text that provides ­historical background. A young farmer on his knees praying, policemen smoking cigarettes on a bridge, an old man posing in front of his Peròn posters – they seem to depict a rural life deeply rooted in a long history. But something in the colours, the tint of the reds, the heavy blues speaks of a more symbolic struggle by the people which the photographer carefully underplays. Weber has had international exhibitions but this book may well be a good starting point for Europeans who have yet to discover his work. The disconcerting balance between history, politics and poetics may recall writings of the ­Realismo Magico movement, but in the end it’s the quality of Weber’s photographs that convinces.

Texts from magazines and lectures by Lewis Baltz have been published both as a book and as an e-book, and they are well worth discovering. His assessment of photographers, his overview of the seventies in the United States and the role of photography, his sharp critique and sly humour ensure that those texts are an immediate good-read. They go on to provide a perspective on the production of photographers from Walker Evans to William Eggleston and from Allan Sekula to Jeff Wall. The texts on Evans and the seventies are the longest, accompanied by shorter pieces on, for example, his book Park City or Hitchcock’s Vertigo. There’s much to be learned from his story of how and why the MoMA and its photography director John Szarkowski chose Walker Evans to be an American artist and how they went about marking that position. The passages about Michael Schmidt or Robert Adams are generous and provide a rich discourse rare in photography.

The book’s first and last images are of a white pigeon seeking shelter in a hole in a wall – a sunlit and peaceful image, which introduces the subject of migration, shelter and roaming. All the ­pictures were taken in Tel Aviv between 2010 and 2011, and they feature scenes from the lives of migrants. The viewer is not able to form a judgement on their legal status; the photographer has ­taken care to touch lightly on his subjects. The book shows brief scenes, very much like Paul Graham in Shimmer of Possibility, temporal glimpses that might or might not form stories and narratives. The people shown, using public telephone cabins or often simply waiting, seem to carry an invisible weight, but Tel Aviv’s beautiful light and the plants and lively streets give us an idea of why people would migrate there. The book is a beautiful love song to a city of promise.

Toluca Éditions ISBN 9879395727

Steidl ISBN 9783869304366

Mack ISBN 9781907946233

Lewis Baltz Texts


J Carrier Elementary Calculus

Missed an issue? You can order back issues of Foam Magazine online. The ­earliest editions of Foam Magazine doubled as exhibition catalogues. Since the release of #3, Foam Magazine is no longer linked to the ­exhibition programme of the museum. Foam Magazine has become an ­exhibition space in itself. A timeless collectors-item, a source of inspiration and reflection, containing over a hundred pages of photography featuring a specific theme.

foam magazine # 33 trip

Collect all the issues at our webshop:

#32 Talent Coumou / Cartegena / Lavalette / Kim / Falls / Sarchiola /Messias / Cafiero / Zambardino / El-Tantawy / Teichmann / Sleeuwitz / Goudal / Murakami / Taptik / Lavigne

#31 ref. Hisaji Hara / Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs/ Viktoria Binschtok / Ed Ruscha / Stan Douglas / Michael Schirner / Alex Prager / Taysir Batniji

#30 Micro Stephen Gill / Corinne May Botz / Rineke Dijkstra / Joris Jansen / Christian Patterson / Harold Strak / Masao Mochizuki / Boris Mikhailov

#29 What’s Next? Independent / From Here On(line) / Curating the Space / Magazines / Next Generation / Technology Matters

#28 Talent Jang / Martin / Dallaporta / Vermeire / Dodewaard / Vonplon / Abreu / Blalock / Van Roekel / Rubchinskiy / Hosokura / Eaton / Imbriaco / Prickett / Salván Zulueta

#27 Report Chris de Bode / Aernout Mik / Amirali Ghasemi / Taryn Simon / Rolls Tohoku / Doug Rickard / Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse / Michael Christopher Brown

#26 Happy Yeondoo Jung / Thomas Mailaender / Henze Boekhout / Olivia Bee / Ruth van Beek / Eva-Fiore Kovacovsky / Jaimie Warren / Inge Morath

#25 Traces Seba Kurtis / Willem Popelier / Ishiuchi Miyako / Robert Frank  / James D. Griffioen / Gert Jan Kocken / Anni Leppälä / The La Brea Matrix

#24 Talent Bergström / Boske / Dubuisson / Engman / Gibson / Lopez Luz/ Lowy / Herman /  Nagahama / Prager  / Rotatori / Stephenson / Somers / Volpatti / Weiner

#23 City Life Mohamed Bourouissa / Takashi Homma/  Nontsikelelo Veleko / JH Engström / Otto Snoek / Bertrand Fleuret / Reinier Gerritsen / Joel Sternfeld


Foam enables people all over the world to experience and ­enjoy photography, whether it’s at our museum in Amsterdam, on the ­website, via our internationally ­distributed magazine or in our E ­ ditions department. The heart of Foam is located in the centre of Amsterdam, in the museum on the K ­ eizersgracht. Here we schedule a varied programme of exhibitions including world-famous photographers as well as young or undiscovered talent. Large-scale exhibitions alternate with small, quickly changing shows. We also organise a dynamic programme of lectures, discussions, guided tours, workshops and special events. Open daily 10:00 – 18:00, Thu⁄Fri 10:00 – 21:00

foam magazine # 33 trip

A young man in curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C. 1966 Š The Estate of Diane Arbus LLC


Diane Arbus 26 October 2012 – 13 January 2013 Diane Arbus (1923–1971) revolutionized the art she practiced. Her bold subject matter and photographic approach produced a body of work that is often shocking in its purity, in its steadfast celebration of things as they are. Her gift for rendering strange those things we consider most familiar, and for uncovering the familiar within the exotic, enlarges our understanding of ourselves. Arbus found most of her subjects in New York City, a place that she explored as both a known geography and as a foreign land, photographing people she d ­ iscovered during the 1950s and 1960s. She was committed to photography as a medium that tangles with the facts. Her contemporary anthropology — portraits of couples, children, carnival performers, nudists, middle-class families, transvestites, zealots, eccentrics, and celebrities — stands as an allegory of the human experience, an exploration of the relationship between appearance and identity, illusion and belief, theater and reality.

Much has been written and said about Diane Arbus’s work since her death in 1971 — so much that it has sometimes made it difficult to see the work on its own terms. Foam is pleased to present, perhaps for the first time, a major retrospective of Arbus’ uniquely powerful photographs in the true eloquence of their silence. The show will enable each viewer to encounter the images much as the photographer encountered her subjects: directly and unencumbered by preconceptions. Visitors to the exhibition seeking knowledge about Arbus’s life and working methods will be able to explore four additional separate galleries containing biographical m ­ aterial, books, personal notebooks, correspondence and other writings in which the artist articulates the goals, obstacles, and strategies that went into making the pictures. This exhibition has been organized by Jeu de Paume, Paris, in collaboration with The Estate of Diane Arbus LLC, New York and with the participation of Fotomuseum Winterthur and Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin. •


foam amsterdam

This exhibition of about two hundred photographs affords an opportunity to e ­ xplore the origins, scope, and aspirations of a wholly original force in photography. It ­includes all of the artist’s iconic photographs as well as many that have never b ­ efore been exhibited in the Netherlands. Even the earliest examples of her work d ­ emonstrate Arbus’s distinctive sensibility through the expression on a face, someone’s posture, the character of the light, and the personal implications of objects in a room or ­landscape. These elements, animated by the singular relationship between the ­photographer and her subject, conspire to implicate the viewer with the force of a personal encounter.

foam magazine # 33 trip Kolya Kozakov and the Dog Gipsy,Yalta 1910 – 1911 © Piotr Vedenisov, Moscow House of Photography Museum


Primrose Russian Colour Photography 25 January – 3 April 2013

foam amsterdam

Sea cadets, End of 1940s © Yakov Khalip, Collection Moscow House of Photography Museum

Bearing the metaphorical name of the flower Primrose, the exhibition presents a retrospective of various attempts aimed to produce coloured photographic i­mages in Russia. This process began in the early 1850s, practically simultaneously with the discovery of the new medium itself. The colouring technique, based on the ­traditional methods of craftsmen who added colour into a certain contour design, has ­determined a whole independent trend in the history of photography in Russia, from ­‘post-card’ landscapes and portraits to Soviet propaganda and reportage photo­graphy.­ Primrose – Russian Colour Photography can be viewed as a journey through ­various ­techniques and genres, meanings and messages, mass practices and ­individual ­experiments. The exhibition contains works by renowned photographers and artists such as Ivan Shagin, Dmitry Baltermants, Sergey Prokudin-Gorski, Alexander Rodchenko, Vladislav Mikosha and Boris Mikhailov. The exhibition is organized as part of Netherlands-Russia 2013 by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, Moscow City Government, Moscow City Culture Department and the Moscow House of Photography Museum and it is curated by Olga Sviblova and Elena Misalandi. Primrose – Russian Colour Photography is made possible with the support of SICA. • 199

Jan Hoek Me & My Models 31 August – 14 October 2012 Foam proudly presents the first Foam 3h e ­ xhibition of the new year, Me & My Models, by Jan Hoek. Jan Hoek has photographed amateur models, ­mentally ill homeless people in Africa, an attentionseeking girl with no arms and legs, a ­heroin addict who dreams of being a model, or ­people he has ­simply found in advertisements on the ­internet. The photo shoot is never what he expected, model and photographer a ­ lways have different expectations: the model a ­ ctually wants sex while Jan Hoek wants to shoot the dog; the model tries to be as glamorous as possible, while Jan wants to picture the decay. Photographing is not just about the image but also the relationship b ­ etween the photo­grapher and the model. How far can you go with your models? In the accompanying film, Me & My Models, Jan talks about the nasty, funny, painful or touching things that ­happen around p ­ hotographing people.

foam magazine # 33 trip

Tokyo Tokyo, Sumida Gawa #5, 2010 © WassinkLundgren, Courtesy van Zoetendaal Collections

WassinkLundgren One Group Show

Jan Hoek (1984) is an artist and writer. At the age of 12 he published his first text. He wrote for Spunk, Mister Motley, ELLEgirl, Club Donny, NRC Handelsblad,, Parool, L'HOMO, PSY and Vice.  At the age of 24 Jan Hoek decided to attend the Image and Language department at the Gerrit Rietveld ­ Academie in Amsterdam. In 2012 he graduated with • the film, Me & My Models.

25 January – 17 March 2013 Foam starts 2013 with One Group Show, the first ­major solo exhibition by Dutch duo WassinkLundgren. This exhibition will present a broad overview of their work, including projects shown for the first time. The work of WassinkLundgren develops from small observations or humorous twists of situations from everyday life. Their starting point is always a social interest in the world around them, but equally ­interesting to them is how the medium of photo­ graphy can deform reality. WassinkLundgren ­playfully ­subvert some of the unwritten rules of the medium. As in Tokyo Tokyo, a series of diptychs in which the ­decisive moment is approached in a l­ighthearted way. Or Empty Bottles, which catches 24 Chinese people as they scavenge bottles placed by the photo­ graphers in various locations. Their a ­ pproach could be called ‘conceptual documentary’, where repetition, playfulness, investigating the ­medium of photo­graphy and collaboration are all important. WassinkLundgren consists of Thijs groot Wassink (1981) and Ruben Lundgren (1983). Both g ­ raduated in 2005 from the photography department of the School of Arts in Utrecht. During the last year of this course they decided to collaborate. ­Subsequently, Thijs groot Wassink ­completed his ­Master Fine Arts at Central Saint Martins in L ­ ondon and Ruben Lundgren received his Master in ­Photo­graphy at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. The duo has had several group and solo exhibitions in The Netherlands and abroad. ­ ­WassinkLundgren first exhibited at Foam in 2007. •

Tonio, 2012 © Jan Hoek



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The Master Photography programme at AKV|St.Joost offers places to photographers and visual artists who are interested in researching the role of photography within the contemporary discourse of documentary, art and media.

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The Surrealist’s Grand Tour by Adam Bell ‘All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.’ Martin Buber


The cover is printed on Maxi Offset 250g/m², wood-free offset paper EU Flower awarded

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Colophon Issue #33, Winter 2012 Editor-in-chief Marloes Krijnen Creative Director Pjotr de Jong (Vandejong) Editors Marcel Feil, Pjotr de Jong, Elisa Medde, Marloes Krijnen Managing Editor Elisa Medde On My Mind Editorial Assistant Eva Bremer Magazine Management Betty Man, Lout Coolen Communication Interns Agata Bar, Stefanie Hofman

foam magazine # 33 trip

Art Director Hamid Sallali (Vandejong) Design & Layout Hamid Sallali, C ­ amilla Martinsen (Vandejong) Typography Camilla Martinsen (Vandejong) Contributing Photographers and Artists Dirk Braeckman, Ricardo Cases, Todd Hido, Jan Hoek, Paul Den Hollander, Thomas Mailaender, Anne Sophie Merryman, Cristina De Middel, Erwin Olaf, Nils Strindberg Cover Photograph Image from the series Paloma al Aire, Orihuela, 2010, © Ricardo Cases Contributing Writers Adam Bell, Jörg Colberg, Marcel Feil, Sebastian Hau, Max Houghton, Ian Jeffrey, Hester Keijser, Bill Kouwenhoven, Sean O'Toole, Katya Tylevich, Natacha Wolinski

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Publisher Foam Magazine PO Box 92292 1090 AG Amsterdam – NL ISSN 1570-4874 ISBN 978-90-70516-28-4 © photographers, authors, Foam Magazine BV, Amsterdam, 2012. All photographs and illustration material is the copyright property of the photographers and  /or their estates, and the publications in which they have been published. Every effort has been made to con­ tact copyright holders. Any copy­ right holders we have been unable to reach or to whom inaccurate acknowledgement has been made are invited to contact the publishers at All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photo-copy, recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the publishers. Although the highest care is taken to make the information contained in Foam Magazine as accurate as possible, neither the publishers nor the authors can accept any responsibility for damage, of any nature, resulting from the use of this information.

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PREVIEW Foam Magazine Issue #33 Trip  

This issue is all about travel, about the sense of being in transit, in a place or in a dimension where things are different from the way th...

PREVIEW Foam Magazine Issue #33 Trip  

This issue is all about travel, about the sense of being in transit, in a place or in a dimension where things are different from the way th...