I S O
I S O
Co-EDITORS-In-CHIEF Alison Lentz firstname.lastname@example.org Sara Group email@example.com
FACULTY ADVISOR Editha Mesina
Alex Arbuckle Casey Dorobek Josh Haunschild Perri Hofmann Jen Kinney Kristina Knipe James Huang Alison Lentz Jolie Maya-Altshuler Felicia Powell Jonno Rattman Cole Saladino Elizabeth Shrier Taylor Shung Evan Simon Dylan Sites Kyle Tata Tida Tippapart
Edward Burtynsky Scott Houston Brian Ulrich Stephen Shore
303 Gallery, New York
Maddy Boardman firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Davis email@example.com
New York University
Julia Gage firstname.lastname@example.org
Tisch School of the Arts Tisch Undergraduate Student Council Department of Photography & Imaging
Jacob King email@example.com
Olivia Manno firstname.lastname@example.org
Olivia Manno Jack Clarizio email@example.com
Liz Andrews Editha Mesina Michael Messina Deborah Willis Peter Lindbergh Harper’s Bazaar International Center of Photography
previous spread, JOLIE MAYA-ALTSHULER, Untitled, 2010 cover, TIDA TIPPAPART, Bil’in, West Bank, 2009 Israeli Defence Forces use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse non-violent protestors in Bil’in, a small town near Ramallah in Palestine. Bil’in is a center of resistance against Israel’s security wall and the annexation of land in the West Bank.
03 05 07 09 11 17 23 29 35 41 78
MORAL TRAFFIC JAMS Text by J acob King. Edward Burtynsky’s work generates contradictions, both visual and moral, th at raise doubts as to the overarching effects of our human progress on the modern landscape. TACTILE MEMORIES Text by Julia Ga ge. The surface of a printed photograph ch anges as it moves through time. So does its meaning.
THE ART OF HIGH STYLE Text by Maddy Boardman. The exhibition of Harper ’s Bazaar ’s ima ges at the International Center of Photography h ave ch all enged the viewer to wonder if the y h ave the same impact when removed from their original context.
JEN Kinney: ALASKA Text by Hal e y Stark. After nine months of traveling throughout Europe and Alaska, J en Kinne y divulges how the instrumental processes of loss and ch ange can be a photographer ’s two greatest inspirations. KRISTINA KNIPE: FINLAND Text by Mark Davis. Kristina Knipe recounts her photographic journe ys in Finland, where she worked on a small famil y’s farm through the World Organization of Organic Farming. elizabeth shrier: NOVA SCOTIA Text by Sara Group and Alison Lentz. Elizabeth Shrier ’s photographs of Nova Scotia appear to h ave an almost dreamlike quality, with their soft, gentl e colors and sprawling vistas. SCOTT HOUSTON Text by Margaux Swerdloff. Scott Houston (Tisch BFA ‘98) describes his experiences photographing America’s last ‘ch ain gang’.
BRIAN ULRICH Text by Perri Hofmann. I s This Place Great or Wh at? , Brian Ulrich’s first monograph ( Aperture , 2011), attempts to address the compl exities of American consumerism through photographs.
THE GALLERY Introduction by Jonno Rattman and Col e Saladino. Fifteen young photographers offer impressions of “A New Landscape”.
CONTACT SHEET Get in touch with the ISO editors and writers as well as the photographers featured in this issue. Visit isozine.com for the ISO Blog, submissions, previous issues, and more information.
6 ISO FALL 2011
MORAL TRAFFIC JAMS By utilizing classic landscape photography in an a-typical and ultramodern setting, Edward Burtynsky’s work generates contradictions, both visual and moral, that raise doubts as to the overarching effects of our human progress on the modern landscape.
TEXT BY JACOB KING pHOTOGRAPHS BY EDWARD BURTYNSKY
The opening shot of Jennifer Baichwal’s 2006 documentary, Manufactured Landscapes, is one of the most impressive, unsettling, and meditative shots in a documentary film of the 2000’s, brutal in its simplicity and arresting in its scope. The shot is a four minute and fifteen second evenly-paced tracking shot from frame right to left of the inside of the Cankun Factory in Xiamen City, China, a factory that is notable for producing the majority of the world’s irons and coffee-makers. Baichwal’s shot slowly unfolds to reveal thousands of Chinese factory workers all busy doing various jobs along countless assembly lines. The shot remains uninterrupted until a voice-over comes in after two minutes by the film’s subject, Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. He speaks about nature and how people are essentially a part of it; if we don’t have a reverence for nature and we instead destroy it, then we are destroying ourselves, Burtynsky postulates. He concludes with “maybe the new landscape of our time, the one to start to talk about, is the landscape we change, the one we disrupt in the pursuit of progress.” The shot finally ends and Baichwal reveals a diptych by Burtynsky, two photographs simply titled Manufacturing #10A and Manufacturing #10B, that present a massive interior landscape that almost disappears into its own horizon.The title of Baichwal’s documentary reveals the inherent contradiction in Burtynsky’s work; though he’s a landscape photographer he eschews classical and natural landscape subjects for more modern ones, mainly the “manufactured” landscape of factories, recycling yards, and refineries. As Burtynsky puts it, “we are drawn by desire—a chance at good living, yet we are consciously or uncon-
sciously aware that the world is suffering for our success.” Take China Recycling #8, an image that presents an abstracted sea of colors that from a distance looks like an infinite rainbow wave. It’s only upon closer inspection that the contradiction comes to life, for the “sea” is actually the remains of thousands of plastic toy parts. Burtynsky’s photographs have an obvious debt to the “New Topographics” photographers who ten years before him were also beginning to create images that evoked landscapes touched and altered by man. However, where the photographs of the “New Topographics” were often times rife with wry humor and emotional detachment, Burtynsky’s photographs relish in contradictions that are meant to challenge its viewers on both an emotional and intellectual level. On the one hand we are supposed to recognize an inherent beauty in the stark and austere images, however we are also left to question their grim subject matter. Which brings me back to that first shot of Baichwal’s documentary, a shot that inadvertently recalls one of French filmmaker Jean Luc Godard’s boldest moments in his career. The shot is from his 1967 film Weekend and involves a neverending traffic jam of people trying to escape the city to get out to the country. Cars burn, people argue, animals roar, and meanwhile the camera keeps tracking to reveal more surprises down the road. The director may seem to have little in common with Burtynsky but Godard is arguably working with “manufactured landscapes” as well. On the one hand, “manufactured” for Godard implies the literal manu-
factured nature of film work and the way in which shots and sequences are conceived before a camera rolls. The shot in Weekend is obviously heavily orchestrated and involved tens of extras, cars and caged animals. However, the subject matter of the shot is the same ideological groundwork as Burtynsky: mainly the modern relationship between man, machine, corporations and nature. Godard takes a satirical stab at the same hypocrisy by creating a moving landscape that is full of contradiction but impossible not to stare at in wonderment of its own spectacle. The experiential quality of Godard’s shot—mainly the length of time and it’s evenly paced tracking—serves to demonstrate an innate quality of a traffic jam or any disaster, mainlyW that they are impossible not to look at. We are inherently drawn to disasters; find any car wreck or burning building in New York City and there will be a crowd of people standing idly and staring at the spectacle. By being forced to stare at Godard’s traffic jam for so long we forget that something has caused it and only at the end of the scene do we finally see the cause of the traffic jam: a horrific and graphic car accident that serves to undercut all of the humor that has preceded it. Similarly, stare at an image by Burtynsky and you’re left with what could be called a moral traffic jam. His images captivate and aggravate but eventually lead to a causality not unlike the bloody bodies in the final seconds of Godard’s shot. Unlike Godard’s scene though where the protagonists drive away from the traffic jam to leave it behind them, we’re ultimately left to consider that these landscapes are not behind us, but rather somberly a part of our modern presence, a dirty footprint in our pursuit of progress. •
ISO FALL 2011 7
above, EDWARD BURTYNSKY, Manufacturing #10B right, EDWARD BURTYNSKY, China Recycling #8
8 ISO FALL 2011
TACTILE MEMORIES The surface of a printed photograph changes as it moves through time. So does its meaning.
TEXT BY JULIA GAGE
The only way I can transform the photograph is into refuse. Not only does it commonly have the fate of paper (perishable), but even if it is attached to more lasting supports, it is still mortal: like a living organism, it is born on the level of the sprouting silver grains, it flourishes a moment, then ages… -Barthes, Camera Lucida, Part II
It is a chilly, but not altogether unpleasant day in March. The family has gathered at Grammy’s house. We are sifting through Poppy’s old belongings in search of sundry treasured objects for display at the funeral. We crouch in our respective corners sorting his possessions, sneezing all the while as the dust clouds rise. Pulled from beneath some fly-fishing supplies and a pair of surgical tweezers, one photograph makes Grammy pause. It was taken in 1982, and despite minor discoloration and a speckling of mildew it remains in good condition. She grasps the print by its bottom right corner; that corner curves under slightly. Each photograph uncovered during the months-long excavation of Poppy’s study connects to a complex web of encounters. Rendered most apparently is its referent. But dormant in its various imperfections lay the traces of its trajectory through time. Each mark is a referent in its own right, attesting to every occasion the photograph was held, passed around among friends and family, or consulted in some private moment of wistful recollection. I imagine the final moment Poppy visited this photograph before relinquishing it to the hungry chaos of his study. Somewhere, if imperceptibly, the picture bears the trace of his fingers upon it. In this picture, Poppy is the portrait of carnivorous American virility. Clad in Wellingtons and a red hunting vest, he sets mightily about the task of skinning
and gutting the prize of a long day’s labors as his salivating hound looks on. This picture is object of Grammy’s gaze on that day in March. And to my mild astonishment, Grammy—who owns a headband in every color imaginable, who never wears white pants after Labor Day, who plays Bridge at the country club on Wednesdays—looks at this feral image and grins. If, in fact, mechanical time proceeds through repetition and human time proceeds through memory, then at the intersection of these two temporal ‘awarenesses’ can exist the personal photograph; the act of repeating a moment by mechanical means expands the potential for memory—a potential whose catalyst is the material presence of the printed image. In other words, machines make pictures and pictures help us remember. The ‘recordability’ of the photograph is a principle commonly referenced to address colonial photography in the context of postcolonial discourse. But applied to a personal photograph it describes how a signifier of Poppy’s skill as a huntsman also comes to encapsulate Grammy’s secret stomach for slaughter. Grammy, who takes her steaks as rare as they come, would never bat an eyelash for such a mundane instance of bloodshed. For theorist Elizabeth Edwards, photographs are “real visual objects engaged within social space and real
ISSUE 7 9
English language dictates that landscapes are areas marked by distinctive or at least distinguishable features. Nationalism dictates that landscapes are areas to form a basis of identification anchored by shared memories. Landscapes are places where people build homes and feel rooted. Just as we search for domicile in literal landscapes, we can locate the same resonance in the peculiarities of a photograph. Camera Lucida begins as a scholarly meditation on the nature of photography. But devastated by the death of his mother, Barthes collapses into a diaristic narrative chronicling his search for his mother’s essence in old photographs. There is one image in which he finds her:
The photograph was very old. The corners were blunted from having been pasted into an album, the sepia print had faded, and the picture just managed to show two children standing together at the end of a little wooden bridge in a glassed-in conservatory, what was called a Winter Garden in those days. My mother was five at the time. My grief wanted a just image… Such, for me, was the Winter Garden Photograph. Barthes does not share the Winter Garden Photograph because it is exceptional only in his eyes; its singularity died with him in March of 1980. My photograph is a landscape that has been reinvigorated. It lives on. •
Below, Poppy and his dog, Hats, preparing game after a long day of hunting, December 1982 , courtesy of the family of Julia Gage Left, Grammy posing on the back patio wearing her grandmother’s mink stole, courtesy of the family of Julia Gage
time,” capturing and preserving a fleeting instant. From the moment of its printing however, the photograph engages a separate temporal bracket spanning from the moment of its creation until its complete decomposition. The print itself becomes a dynamic landscape, a slate for the steady aggregation of meaning. Herein lies the accumulative history of the photograph: in its accrual of creases, smudges, and mildew spots. These are its inimitable traces of reference. I cherish this photograph for the damage it has sustained at the hands of loved ones.
10 ISO FALL 2011
THE ART OF HIGH STYLE The exhibition of Harper’s Bazaar’s images at the International Center of Photography have challenged the viewer to wonder if they have the same inpact when removed from their original context.
TEXT BY MADDY BOARDMAN
The “Harper’s Bazaar: A Decade of Style” show, on view at the International Center of Photography, challenges us to reconsider the images that have graced the pages of this magazine for the last ten years. The faces that line ICP’s walls are no longer an inch long and compressed by the pages of social media. By seeing these photographs blown up and exhibited on the blank walls of a museum, have their meanings been reinterpreted? They are no longer presented in their original context, a form of advertisement for a widely published magazine, which prompts the question: are they now elevated to the status of art? The average audience of Harper’s Bazaar consists of people who most likely do not have an extensive background on photography. When they pick up this magazine, they do not look at the images inside and analyze each one for the technical aspects of its aesthetic beauty; they look at the subjects: the clothes and the person wearing them and little thought is given to the process of how the images were created. It is strange to think that the massive amount of work, dedication, and creativity that is put into these photographs is somewhat disregarded and the majority of them end up on coffee tables or in the recycling bin. The price of admission to see these stunning pictures was originally around four dollars and could be purchased almost anywhere. Now, they’ve been archived as “high” art and are placed in a museum that charges twice as much. Has their significance altered now that the form their presentation has changed? When looking at some of these photographs on such a large scale, it’s hard to imagine them any other way; by reducing their size, their overwhelming presence is somewhat diminished. A particular stunner is a photograph of Snejana Onopka taken by Karl Lagerfeld
for the November 2007 issue. The scene is dominated by a towering, barren staircase speckled with lichen topped with a sliver of foggy sky. Onopka appears to be ascending the staircase, but she has stopped. Her body is still, statuesque as she places one hand on her hip and the other on her extravagant hat. She looks over her shoulder at something out of the frame. The viewer is tempted to follow her gaze for a moment, but then our eyes are immediately drawn back to her. Her posture exudes grace and commands attention. For a moment, we can forget that this is a fashion shot. She is not just wearing the clothes; she is interacting with them. She and the garments work together to perform for the camera and create beautiful curving lines, which contrast with the rigid horizontals of the stairs. This photograph was selected specifically from thousands to be shown in this exhibit. By taking this photograph out of its original context, it prompts the viewer to consider it on its own rather than a piece of a multiple page editorial. It gives the viewer the opportunity to analyze and admire it as an individual piece of art. Each of these photographs in this exhibit has a presence, a personality, but seeing them standing on their own, proudly forcing themselves to be noticed, makes this all the more apparent. They are no longer shown as part of a collective group of images. They are each given a spotlight and a chance to move the viewer the way a Renaissance painting would. By exhibiting them in a museum, they are able to embody the power that any other piece of art would have over its viewer. By placing them in the context of art, they are forced to be viewed as art whereas before, their significance was up to interpretation. “Harper’s Bazaar: A Decade of Style” is currently on exhibition at the International Center of Photography through January 8 2012. •
PETER LINDBERGH, Kate Winslet (Harper’s Bazzar, August 2009.
ISSUE 7 11
JEN KINNEY, XV
ISSUE 7 13
JEN KINNEY TEXT BY HALEY STARK
FTER NINE MONTHS of traveling throughout Europe and Alaska,
Jen Kinney divulges how the instrumental processes of loss and change can be a photographer’s two greatest inspirations.
What INSPIRED YOU TO START USING PHOTOGRAPHY AS A MEANS OF EXPRESSION?
HOW DID YOUR JOURNEY THROUGH ALASKA COME TO A CLOSE?
I’ve always been really interested in time and memory, and I think that was the reason I got interested in photography. I had this desire to hold on to things… and at first it was just about always having the camera around, making sure things didn’t feel fleeting. But at some point I realized that I really did enjoy it, and I was getting better and better results. When I got to NYU, I did a year of photojournalism, and there is a lot of that style in my work. But I realized that wasn’t where I wanted to be- my photography incorporates a lot of the mythical and the magical. I love moving between the concrete and the abstract, and the most beautiful work comes from the in-between space.
I worked in Whittier for about two months, and then I went hitchhiking around Alaska for another month. Hitchhiking was so easy there, and there are so few roads and places that passing cars will usually be going where you want to. A car will pull up and they’ll say Going to Soldana? and I’ll say, There’s nowhere else to go, is there? It really brought the trip full circle in a great way: it was like I’d built up all of these skills for a while, learning about myself, how to get around, and how to approach the world- then I got to go exercise it. It’s definitely important to learn how to lose yourself, to live the vagabond lifestyle: you have what you can carry, and that is all.
HOW DID YOU END UP IN ALASKA, WHERE YOU SHOT SO MUCH OF YOUR THESIS?
WHAT FEW ITEMS DID YOU DECIDE TO CARRY?
Yes, I was in Berlin for study abroad, and during that time I did a lot of traveling too. I went to Cologne, Dusseldorf, Dresden… and then over spring break, a friend and I biked across the Netherlands. Then I went pretty much right from Berlin to Alaska- I had gotten a job as a waitress before I left; I knew a woman who knew the owner of a restaurant in Whittier, Alaska, and she had always told me if I needed somewhere to go, I could go work there. So I did, and all of a sudden I was living in Whittier, this little town that is known by everyone in Alaska as a strange place. Alaskans all say ‘It’s always shittier in Whittier’. ‘Whittier: the last refuge for the unemployable’. A main reason it is considered so awful is because the main entrance to the town is a tunnel with only one lane, which switches directions on the half hour and closes at night. You can get stuck in there, and being on the other side of it really does feel like the end of the world in a lot of ways. But they’re such misconceptions- once you’re actually inside of Whittier, its an incredible family.
I just had a backpack, mostly full of photography and book-making supplies, along with some clothing. I mainly used a Canon AE-1 and a Mamiya C330-- I love the reaction the Mamiya gets from people, they are kind of confused by it.
IIT SOUNDS LIKE YOU WOULD LOSE A LOT OF EQUIPMENT WHILE TRAVELING AROUND THE WORLD. I lost my light meter when I was in The Netherlands, so for most of my trip I was totally guessing on the light. I also lost a lot of rolls of film… I remember some of what was on them, and I was so excited to develop a lot of them when I came back. But they weren’t there. I guess that is part of the process though, and there were also so many great ones I’d forgotten about. I think that is a huge part of my work, a sense of loss… its pretty dark, pretty morbid sometimes. But I don’t think that loss is a necessarily negative thing, and I often see it as a transformative force. When I was in Whittier, there was no one to turn to and say you remember
JEN KINNEY, XIII
ISSUE 7 15
16 ISO FALL 2011
JEN KINNEY, XVIII: The Moon
what I’m like, and then have them affirm who I am. When you don’t have a place to fall back on, and not having your usual foundation from which to grow-- you lose a lot of yourself. To everyone you meet, you are an entirely new being.
HOW DID THAT LARGE AMOUNT OF LOSS AFFECT THE PROCESS AND OUTCOME OF YOUR THESIS? I wanted the loss and the solitude of Alaska, and I wanted my thesis to somehow ‘happen’ there. I didn’t know anyone when I arrived, not even the owners of the restaurant, but I made so many deep friendships. It was a nice transition from my ‘safe’ journey in Berlin, into total unexpected everything… It’s definitely a strange atmosphere up there in Alaska: you feel like you’re on a frontier, on the edge of the possible world. I originally wanted to make my thesis about Whittier itself, but when I left, I felt like I hadn’t finished that story. Instead, I had a collection of photographs with a lot of myth in it, a lot of ritual… and a myth is something that is universally recognizable. It it my is important to me that my work is psychological, that it ‘clicks’ with viewers apart from space and time. And towards the end of my trip, I gained so much confidence in my work, and I became a lot more experimental- I suppose I had nothing to lose. I took one of my favorites at two in the morning, the lighting situation was awful-
most people wouldn’t have taken the photograph, and I wouldn’t have, normally. But I did, and it turned out wonderfully.
I SEE SUCH A MORBID QUALITY IN YOUR WORK- DOES IT SPEAK TO THE TIME IN WHICH YOU WERE IN ALASKA? People are often surprised that there is so much morbidity in my work, because I come off as a joyful person, and I am. During my journey, I felt so much joy because everything felt new and fresh, but the pains were worse, because it felt like everything in my life was happening for the first time. I wasn’t desensitized to anything anymore, and I could allow myself to be a happy person if I could deal with the darker emotions in my work. This balance is represented in the tarot cards in my thesis-- the tarot has such a wonderful play between positive and negative. The three darkest cards in the deck are the tower, the devil, and death, but they are also three of my favorites. They do not recognize things that we would normally see as being negative as being universally negative. The tower represents the fall of humans from grace, people being expelled from physical
JEN KINNEY, VII: The Chariot
ISO FALL 2011 17
structures and being forced to recognize that these man-made objects are not permanent. It is this really intense expulsion and loss that is one of the most powerful transformations that you can have. And death is the same way: it is the transition from the cycle of man up to the universe-- it doesn’t mean ‘death’, but ‘change’. There is no black and white in morbidity, there is only joy.
DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR RETURN TO NEW YORK AN EQUALLY PIVOTAL CHANGE? When I first got back to New York, I missed this whole journey so fiercely- the freedom, the people,
not being tied down to anything, the ritual of going out and collecting, collecting, collecting and then processing. Even the word we use to describe this- ‘processing’- speaks a lot to how I dealt with these things in my life. In a way, it injures me when I’m working with these pictures, because I realize I’m still trying to live there, and in a way I never have to fully leave. I can look at these and think, It’s okay, I’m still there. But only on paper. I feel like I lived an entire life on my trip, not just a portion of one, but a whole life from birth to death. Sometimes it doesn’t feel real to me at all, and when the people I met along the way text me, it feels
like we’re all grasping at that, asking did that really happen? I almost forgot, was it real? But I know it did, because my mental state is now so much clearer. I’m a more cohesive photographer, a better self-editor. I’ve gotten more interested in how people will experience my work- I don’t want it to be some beautiful reverential thing on a wall, but something you can throw on the ground. I want it to be tactile, fragile, almost disposable. Which is why I’m doing the tarot cards; they are physical, the corners are going to bend, and you’re going to lose some of them. I don’t want my work to be held under glass, but I want them to have the same physical life that inspired me to make them. •
KRISTINA KNIPE TEXT BY MARK DAVIS
20 ISO FALL 2011
URING THE SUMMERS of 2010 and 2011, Kristina Knipe traveled to Karelia and Kustavi, Finland to work through the World Organization of Organic Farming; this series of photographs comes from her trip in 2011. During these experiences, Knipe fell in love with the lifestyle led by the people she lived with. She also became entranced with the stunning summer light and its effect on the landscapes of Finland. The blending of Knipe’s respect for the Finnish people she learned from the beauty of the Finnish landscape, led to the creation of this series of images. Knipe views her work and herself as one in the same; there is no distancing of herself from her art. In her work, Knipe tries to make banal, everyday situations into aesthetically stunning still lifes. She understands that there may not be a distinct meaning to her images, but she is confident with her work because she attributes this lack of definite meaning to a desire to document certain subjects in distinct spaces, so that the images holistically represent the relationships she had with her subjects. One of her photographs from the trip, entitled Elmer in Forest, depicts a black cat with searing yellowish-green eyes sitting on a moss-covered rock in the middle of a pastoral forest. Sunlight illuminates the rolling middle ground and the tree-filled background adding a stunning fantasy element to the image. Knipe explained the events that led to capturing this distinct moment stating, “I loved Elmer. He was this crazy farm cat that would kill bats, birds, and salamanders. I was following him that day because I wanted to figure out where he went during the day because he would only come back at night. He crawled under this barn and I couldn’t go there obviously, so I ran to the other side to see where he was going. Then, he went into these woods.” When asked about the almost mystical way in which the light strikes the landscape, she said, “There is a
quote by Roland Barthes and in his book ‘A Lover’s Discourse’ where he talks about visualizing desire and how it has a certain dazzling light to it. It really resonated with me because I was obviously an outsider, and I had a desire for the beauty of the place and the way the farmers lived and constructed their lives.” So, for her, this captured moment—along with the rest of the photographs in the collection—is a product of desire.
Saga and Kaisa also demonstrates this impression of desire, but this time, in a photo that was taken in the spur of the moment. Knipe was out in the garden working with her sister, when she had the urge to take the picture of Kaisa—the mother of Saga—cutting wood. Knipe got up to take the picture and explained, “I was taking a lot of shots from further away. It was kind of serendipitous because as I was walking up, Saga [the little girl] was walking away, and I just got it. It happened in a second and then it was gone.” And what did she capture in the image? It is a picture of Saga trotting away with a pale and shovel in hand, as Kaisa pulls the axe—with two hands—over her head and behind her, as she is about to cut a log in half on a small stump. Behind Kaisa is a clay-colored barn with a metallic grey roof set before a soft green and blue canvas of treetops and sky. This image was a product of Knipe’s desire to capture a moment: a particular instant in time when Kaisa could be portrayed as the strong, independent woman she is. This modern depiction of a self-reliant woman is the fruit of the Women’s Rights movement. For now, women have the freedom to do as they please and Kaisa’s lifestyle allows for that. It is a rather stunning image and depiction of this particular culture. Knipe’s Venla Behind Tree is not so much a product of desire, but a product of curiosity and awareness; this image captures the psychological interior of a young girl. Kristina says that she could tell
ISSUE 7 21
previous spread, KRISTINA KNIPE, Hanging Laundry right, KRISTINA KNIPE, Elmer in Forest below, KRISTINA KNIPE, Kaisa Chopping Wood with Saga
22 ISO FALL 2011
facing page, KRISTINA KNIPE, Venla below, KRISTINA KNIPE, Morning in Turku
ISSUE 7 23
that Venla, the girl, had a lot on her mind. Venla is partially hidden behind an old, wildly jagged tree. The tree takes up most of the foreground, while Venla sits in focus in the middle ground, which is filled with sizeable rocks, yellow moss, and dead grass. Kristina says, “The mood of this was also kind of matched up to the way I think she was feeling at this time.” Venla’s internal discord was evident to Kristina because they had become acquainted during Knipe’s work building Venla’s home on the island of Kustavi. Knipe says, “It’s just like a kid. You have your ups and downs. I really admired Venla because she did things without any fear.” Her admiration really shows in the composition of the photograph. There is a sense of mental insight in the image because the tree is a kind of chaotic barrier between the viewer and subject. In one way, the tree distances the viewer from the subject. In another, it shows that the photographer was able to understand the psychologically
confused state of her subject. The fact that the camera is on a lower plane to Venla gives her a sense of distinction. Since Knipe saw Venla’s mind working through her troubles, Knipe was able to compose this shot in a manner that reflected the intimacy of their relationship. Knipe’s work confronts the categorical barrier between documentary and modeled photography. She says, “I don’t see any boundaries between the two because my art and my life are so interconnected.” Knipe resists categorization but says “If I was trying to make a documentary, I would have gone about it a different way.” She hopes that as viewers, we can take this information and let it free our critical mind so that we can enjoy the images for what they truly are: representations of Knipe’s intimate relationship with the people and landscapes of Finland. •
ELIZABETH SHRIER TEXT BY ALISON LENTZ & SARA GROUP
t first glance, Elizabeth Shrier’s photographs of Nova Scotia appear to have an almost dreamlike quality, with their soft, gentle colors and sprawling vistas. These are indeed landscapes; that commonality is quite clear, but these are far from landscapes in the traditional sense of the word. The natural elements that she has photographed are punctuated by the hard lines and stark edges of structures that were not originally there, that disrupt the dream. However, upon closer examination, one may realize that perhaps it is not useful to think of these structures as disruptions; perhaps we should accept the disjunction that is present and revel in the state that these photos create: one that is not quite dreaming, but not quite awake either.
What initially drew you to photograph in Nova Scotia? How often do you photograph there? Frankly, I fear being asked that question as so much of this project has been trying to figure that out. Accident, circumstance, anti-metropolis—I’m not certain what “drew” me to photograph Nova Scotia— perhaps it was the influence of classical American painting, or simply a sense of respect for and infatuation with nature. My family always seemed to emphasize the horizon line and the moon. I wanted to find an original frame; and in searching for that, nature seemed to be the appropriate subject. So, I was traveling across the country, stopped in Nova Scotia, and after three visits over the course of a year it became my thesis.
How has your project transformed since your first visit? It became a project. I was first there over the winter when the landscape was barren and the population stayed indoors. The absence of anyone (or anything) almost deceived me into thinking that I had found a place untouched. I returned seasonally; each visit expanded my understanding of the landscape as I interacted with both man-made objects
and the people that constructed them. I began to realize that relationship.
What does a landscape mean to you? Has this definition changed throughout the course of working on this project? This project is about the changing definition. On first approach, I thought the landscape was this virgin, organic, open space that existed not only outside, but outside of what one regularly experienced. It was a slice of perfection. As the project developed, so did my definition. I began to understand the contemporary landscape as an interaction between horizon lines and rooftops.
I enjoy how many of the photographs show a wide vista beyond, say, a trailer, an outhouse, or other man-made elements. This landscape becomes, in a wak, interrupted. Can you speak about this idea? I don’t necessarily see the interaction of man-made objects and nature as contentious. Perhaps, the man-made objects are not meant to interrupt the landscape, but instead synthesize with it, and thus create a new understanding of the landscape—a landscape that is made of all elements.
Many photographers work to document the struggle between mankind and nature. This tension between the two can be seen in your images. How is your work different? As you redefine landscape, how does this struggle play into your definition? The work is different because it does not attempt to illuminate the struggle or tension between man and nature. Man’s presence in the natural process is a subject that has been tried, defined, and exploited. Instead, my intentions are to settle that conflict, to show the beauty
previous, spread ELIZABETH SHRIER, Cucumber Farm right, ELIZABETH SHRIER, Gulf of Saint Lawrence
ISSUE 7 27
28 ISO FALL 2011
ELIZABETH SHRIER, Malagash Park
"Perhaps, the man-made objects are not meant to interrupt the landscape, but instead synthesize with it.. "
ISSUE 7 29
found in both, and to offer the journey I took to arrive here.
Your compositions are all very beautiful, yet calculated (for example, many are symettrical). How does this affect the interpretation of the landscape? What do you want the viewer to take away from this aesthetic choice?
ELIZABETH SHRIER, White Point
This body of work is traditional in its form, medium, and production. I used symmetry and calculated compositions to create a platform to compare my work to my predecessors. I wanted to embrace tradition while discovering geometry in the relations between
man-made and natural objects. I attempted to produce organic work. Additionally, each visit to Nova Scotia was shared with a different companion. I found that it was not only the reoccurring location that taught me about the project, but the fellow travelers. And thus, I figured sharing this with the viewer would continue to expand that process.
you are using a 4x5 camera to photograph a new landscape of today. Why did you choose this contradiction: to use an older, more traditional form? Why did you not use a newer medium, such as cell phone photography, to convey the messages of the 21st century?
I felt that digital photography would not capture the subtleties and intricacies of the landscape. It would have prevented me from taking time to contemplate the shot. My intentions were to claim that the traditional landscapes are survived by a fused man-made-nature landscape. Out of respect for my predecessors, I wanted to honor the traditional process. Elizabeth plans on expanding this project to include areas outside of Nova Scotia. One wonders if she will find a similar interaction between the natural and the manmade in the landscapes of other locations or if her perception of this interaction will shift yet again. •
SCOTT HOUSTON TEXT BY MARGAUX SWERDLOFF
32 ISO FALL 2011
hain gang, the perfume.
Scott Houston jokingly says that he is going to use his latest series of photographs, which features prisoners from the notorious Maricopa County prison in Arizona, to advertise a new product, one that will highlight the intersection of consumerism, mass incarceration, human rights violations, and jingoism. Houston said he found all this and more at Estrella Prison in Arizona, the only prison in America that still uses an antiquated form of punishment: it chains prisoners together while they perform hard labor, for free, under the eye of the hot Arizona sun. “21st century slavery,” Houston calls it. His photographs, derived from ten days spent with the all-female chain gang, express the humanity of the prisoners and the brutality of the punishment. Houston is a native of Scotland and a 1998 BFA from Tisch’s Photography and Imaging Department. He was sent on assignment by a Glasgow newspaper to photograph the female prisoners overseen by Sheriff Joe Arpaio who calls himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” Houston says the inmates “were very open” to his presence. Using what he calls an “immerse and author” method, Houston got close
ISSUE 7 33
above, SCOTT HOUSTON, Bus at Dawn previous spread, SCOTT HOUSTON, Women in Cell
34 ISO FALL 2011
left, SCOTT HOUSTON, Sheriff Arpaia facing page, SCOTT HOUSTON, Five Females below, SCOTT HOUSTON, Trustee at Coffins
ISSUE 7 35
with the inmates over his ten-day stay in Arizona, surreptitiously buying them Cokes after they finished work on a hot day outside of Phoenix and allowing them to use a precious commodity that he was allowed to bring into the jail: a cell phone. He has since sent the inmates copies of the photographs—three of which are now in ICP’s collection—and has forged what he calls a “beautiful relationship” with the women. Relations between Houston and Sheriff Arpaia, however, are more complex. Although he enjoyed photographing Arpaia, Houston says the reason he enjoyed it was complicated, “I got
to see evil up close. I think what he does with the inmates is disgusting and highly exploitative.” Still, while in the midst of photographing the Sherrif, Houston says, “I remember thinking to myself when photographing him, this really is an interesting part of the job.” While Houston appreciated the Arizona light and dirty windows of the prison, his real purpose seems to be to bring light to the plight of the inmates. Houston sees the use of chain gangs as a “human rights violation” that serves a capitalist end: “Inmates do
hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free work for the state. It’s a business.” Houston’s photographs are glamour shots that pack a punch; no one can see these photographs without feeling the power of state, the burden of the work, and the individuality of the women. In Houston’s view, Estrella Jail is a “corporate prison” and “commercial enterprise.” As he puts it, “There might as well be a fragrance called Chain Gang that you can buy in Bloomingdales. All proceeds go to Maricopa County Jail.” •
TEXT BY PERRI HOFMANN
BRIAN ULRICH, Circuit City, 2008, from Dark Stores
BRIAN ULRICH, Plate 50: Untitled, 2006, from Thrift
s This Place Great or What?, Brian Ulrich’s first monograph (Aperture, 2011), attempts to address the complexities of American consumerism through photographs. Ulrich began his project at the “really weird and somewhat great moment [when] all these social rules broke down” following the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Subsequently, the Bush administration encouraged consumer spending as a patriotic act. This directed Ulrich’s gaze to homogenized spaces of consumption across the country and culminated in three extensive interconnected photographic projects: Retail, Thrift, and Dark Stores.
In each series, Ulrich develops a visual vocabulary by embedding signifiers of contemporary social, political, and economic issues while simultaneously alluding to the art historical contributions of his predecessors. Spaces of spending are thus re-branded in a photographic examination of an American identity which seems intrinsically and inexplicably bound to consumerism. Large format color photographs of expansive and decrepit stores; once desired and now discarded objects; overwhelmed and avid shoppers typify the said brand. The Ulrich brand directly references classical oil painting and the New Topographics photographers, yet adds contemporary connections to cell-phone and Internetbased imagery. Is This Place Great Or What? examines and challenges our notions of American spending and warns of the ultimate destruction these patterns yield. Ten years ago, Ulrich began photographing retail malls and big box stores throughout the country in an attempt to understand these spaces and the people who utilize them. Ulrich extended his research online where he found commercial real estate listings and resources such as deadmalls.com. He also knew about the jeering posts on peopleofwalmart.com which are consistent with the “black and white criticism that exists in so much of our culture,” as Ulrich said in a November interview. Instead of “showing you the lady with the bad thong sticking out of her pants at a Walmart—if we can actually recognize that it’s all of us; that we’re looking at each other; that we all participate in this thing—that to me sounds like a much better avenue of discussion.” Ulrich seeks to make images that ask questions rather than offer a singular derisive answer. Thus, viewers may relate and respond with a certain degree of empathy and self-reflexivity.
ISSUE 7 39
either end of the other rods lining the foreground, which creates a series of bars. In the background, out of focus, a mother holding a child is obstructed behind these bars. The subjects are fixed—the man appears stagnant and the woman is detained. Ulrich made many of his pictures of shoppers by “find[ing] an appropriate setting and simply wait[ing].” The images become performative allowing the viewer to witness an actualized event, which Ulrich describes as a kind of “phenomenological experience when we’re looking at the photographs [as if] we’re actually there.” The incredible detail and undistorted description provided by the medium allow for this effect. Because these spaces are incredibly familiar, the large format camera’s objectification paradoxically introduces surrealism to the otherwise commonplace. Consequently, the viewer acknowledges elements of absurdity when reevaluating their unwittingly accepted surroundings. Ulrich both fights and embraces this objectification in his images from Thrift. Instead of focusing on shoppers like we see in Retail, he mostly photographs the people burdened by these objects—for example, employees sorting a multitude of discarded clothing and household goods at thrift stores.
Ulrich strives to depict these relationships in the Retail series, particularly in Gurnee, IL 2003. In this image, a man stands holding a fishing rod, illuminated by an eerie orange glow. He is spotlit like an object on display. Like many of Ulrich’s subjects shown shopping, the man stares downward with an emptiness in his eyes— seemingly lost or indecisive. We are unable to see BRIAN ULRICH, Plate 12: Gurnee, IL, 2003, from Retail
40 ISO FALL 2011
STEPHEN SHORE, Richland Mall, U.S. 30, Mansfield, Ohio, July 5, 1973 , courtesy of the artist and 303 Gallery, New York
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Ulrich began addressing what he referred to as the “great American problem” which was “this huge disconnect between people who have things and people who don’t.” He continues: “there is a certain degree of thiefdom that exists between classes and it’s all represented in this stuff. One class absolves their guilt of owning by giving to the class beneath with the intention of ‘oh they’ll need it and use it and care for it’—my junk.” These types of statements underscore the extent to which Ulrich’s images have a political intent. The life-cycles of consumable objects become incredibly weighed with social and cultural implications.
Art, it seems, has a similar lifecycle, as illustrated by Ulrich’s photographic reference to Hendrick ter Brugghen’s painting Heraclitus (1621). The painting, part of the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art where Ulrich once worked, depicts the Greek philosopher Heraclitus leaning over his desk pointing to a human skull. Similarly, in Ulrich’s image from Thrift, Untitled 2007, the subject points to the head of a doll and shares a contemplative, heavy expression. Heraclitus or the “weeping philosopher” kept a skull at his desk to remind him of his own mortality. Ulrich introduces the woman, Jessica, as it reads on her name tag, into a larger conversation of art history. The connection between the two subjects alludes to broader themes of death and
destruction throughout his work and the next cycle in the lives of these objects and spaces. Ulrich is similarly referential in Richland Mall, 2009 (after Stephen Shore, 1973) from Dark Stores. His photograph was taken in the exact location of Shore’s from his series Uncommon Places. Shore’s Richland Mall, 1973 shows the mall mid-day as a busy hub of consumer spending with rows of parked cars in front with triangular clouds above. “Lazarus” is emblazoned across the facade— but by the time Ulrich pays photographic homage, the same location is without signage and covered in snow. What once was a symbol of American capitalism and the “bounding hopefulness” of
BRIAN ULRICH, Plate 66: Richland Mall, 2009 (after Stephen Shore, 1973) from Dark Stores
ISSUE 7 41
the 1960s and 70s is now just another dead mall. Paradoxically “Lazarus” is not resurrected as a consumer space—instead it is reborn in Ulrich’s photograph. Ulrich oscillates between times by referencing the characteristic banality of the New Topographics tradition while alluding to a contemporary economic landscape that exists in cold contrast to the ambitious architectures of bygone days. Ulrich is equally adept when adapting a snap-shot vernacular to the large format camera’s objectifying view. Some pictures seem to point; to say “look at this,” in the same commanding way cell-phone imagery functions. For example, in Untitled 2006, Ulrich photographs a hanging rug with contrasting patterns and styles. Paintings, other rugs, and
mirrors hang against it. Ulrich crops the image so the only hint of the store is visible through the reflections of the mirrors and an exposed pipe on the top left edge. One of the smaller hung rugs depicts The Last Supper while another rug illustrates men on horses. The paintings show a still life of fruit and vases. There is a sense of humor in the image; all these contrasting time periods are contained in one ambiguous space. However, there is no ambiguity as to what Ulrich wants the viewer to see. Like cell-phone imagery, he has cropped in a way that makes the focus of the image quite evident. He condenses time by pairing a modern stylistic choice with the heterogeneous periods of the objects.
Just as the elements within the image transcend time, their juxtapositions emphasize the complexities of American consumerism in its cycle of destruction and transformation. Whether influenced by work at a museum or on a blog, his references often fragment time. Yet he traces a narrative from Retail to Dark Stores exploring the entire life-cycle of retail shopping centers. While this narrative could be hostile and cynical, Brian Ulrich synthesizes his own nuanced and empathetic language of contemporary consumer culture to reevaluate notions of progress. Maybe the Ulrich brand isn’t a brand at all, but rather a contradictory yet cohesive attempt to understand a set of absurd realities.. •
ISSUE 7 43
GALLERY INTRODUCTION BY JONNO RATTMAN AND COLE SALADINO
A photograph can describe the now-ness of a space and the people who have left a trace-whether fleeting or longstanding. Landscapes have long been awed abstract symbols of human emotion--but the emergence of a New Topographic juxtaposed natural and man-made forms in the 1970s. In the forty proceeding years, the ways of seeing and understanding various --scapes has transformed to reflect changes in the sociocultural, political, and physical landscapes. The advent of the Internet and new medias have added nuance to the vocabularies throughwhich we understand our encounters with tangible, virtual, and imaginary environments. Now is a time when what we thought we understood as inflexible is flexible. Moments of recent turmoil are challenging the notions of stability inspired by a 1990’s childhood.
PERRI HOFMANN, Savannah, GA, 2011
Fifteen young photographers offer impressions of “A New Landscape”.
above, PERRI HOFMANN, New York, NY 2011 facing page, PERRI HOFMANN, Cross, 2011
above, PERRI HOFMANN, Untitled, 2011 facing page, PERRI HOFMANN, New York, NY 2011
above, DYLAN SITES, Untitled, 2011 facing page, DYLAN SITES, Untitled, 2011
above, TAYLOR SHUNG, Untitled, 2011 right, TAYLOR SHUNG, Untitled, 2011
JOLIE MAYA-ALTSHULER, Untitled, 2010
facing page, JOLIE MAYA-ALTSHULER, Untitled below, JOLIE MAYA-ALTSHULER, Untitled
bottom, JOSH HAUNSCHILD, Untitled left, JOSH HAUNSCHILD, Hampton Inn of I-80
above, JONNO RATTMAN, Untitled (R.V.) facing page, JONNO RATTMAN, Untitled (A Man in a Mask) following page (left), JONNO RATTMAN, Untitled (A Dead Bison) following page (right), JONNO RATTMAN, Untitled (A Boy at Fountain Geyser)
KRISTINA KNIPE, Untitled, 2011
above, FELICIA POWELL, Untitled facing page, FELICIA POWELL, Untitled
ALEX ARBUCKLE, Occupy Wall Street Protests, 2011
above, EVAN SIMON, Beach facing page, EVAN SIMON, Roots previous spread, COLE SALADINO, Untitled
facing page, ALISON LENTZ, Shop Keeper
above, KYLE TATA, Abandoned Car Dealership 2 2010 facing page, KYLE TATA, Silly String United States 2009
JAMES HUANG, Safari Jungle
78 ISO FALL 2011
Anderson, Sarah firstname.lastname@example.org
Manno, Olivia email@example.com
Arbuckle, Alex firstname.lastname@example.org
Mathura, Shivam email@example.com
Boardman, Maddy firstname.lastname@example.org
Maya-Altshuler, Jolie email@example.com
Cobb, Nicole firstname.lastname@example.org
Ohira, Shiori email@example.com
Davis, Mark firstname.lastname@example.org
Powell, Felicia email@example.com
Dorobek, Casey firstname.lastname@example.org
Rattman, Jonno email@example.com www.jonnorattman.com
Julia Gage firstname.lastname@example.org Group, Sara email@example.com Haunschild, Josh firstname.lastname@example.org Hofmann, Perri email@example.com Huang, James firstname.lastname@example.org King, Jacob email@example.com Kinney, Jen firstname.lastname@example.org Knipe, Kristina email@example.com Lentz, Alison firstname.lastname@example.org
Saladino, Cole email@example.com Shrier, Elizabeth firstname.lastname@example.org Shung, Taylor email@example.com Simon, Evan firstname.lastname@example.org Sites, Dylan email@example.com Stark, Haley firstname.lastname@example.org cargocollective.com/haleystark Swerdloff, Margaux email@example.com Tata, Kyle firstname.lastname@example.org Tippapart, Tida email@example.com
Please visit isozine.com for the ISO Blog, submissions, previous issues, and more information.
right, CASEY DOROBEK, Austin, Texas 2011 back cover, JAMES HUANG, We Are Watching, 2011