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summer 2009 / #19

Jaap Scheeren Jessica Backhaus Syoin Kajii Koen Hauser Madi Ju & Patrick Tsai Sanna Kannisto

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foam magazine #19 / wonder

editorial / content



Marloes Krijnen, director Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam

Our ability to wonder at banal, everyday things and the power of photography to capture this in images are the focus of this issue of Foam M­agazine. This means that it is devoted to a way of looking that enables us to see the world with fresh eyes. This way of looking precedes any thinking.­ The trouble is that wonder and amazement can not be forced – they just come over you. A measure of alertness and receptiveness to such moments is often all it takes to experience reality just a little differently. Many things to which we would not normally pay any attention, or which we would not find worth looking at, suddenly prove to be bizarre, absurd, wondrous, beautiful or strange. Photography is very well placed to lend things a different significance, for example by taking them out of their usual context and thereby robbing them of their usual significance. We must be aware of the fact that in this issue we look not only at what is wondrous and inexplicable in the world, but also in photography. This edition is not just about ‘what’ is photographed, but also ‘how’ it’s done. The object of our amazement may be in the real world and photography may be the way to make it visible, but it may also exist only by virtue of the medium. We are proud of the fact that we have succeeded in bringing six photo­ graphers together in this issue who have, each in their own way, interpret­ ed the theme of Wonder. There are great differences between them, both in terms of subject matter and in their photographic approach. The German photographer Jessica Backhaus is able to find beauty in the obvious and the banal. Through her lens, trivial things suddenly come alive and prove much less one-dimensional than you might think. When working in a rain forest Finnish artist Sanna Kannisto is a ‘visual researcher’, exploring the relationship between nature and culture. With irony and wit she aims to investigate the concept of truth in photography by isolating the wonders of nature. Koen Hauser is archiving a reality that is quite different form the one we thought to know. In odd, deadpan images in which he him­ self is often the main protagonist he presents a world that is as strange and surreal as it is surprising and fascinating. Also a bit surreal are the images made by Jaap Scheeren. The body of work presented is inspired by Slovaki­ an fairytales and possess a whimsical, light-hearted, yet clearly calculated naivety. For people who are deeply in love, the world can look quite wonder­ ful. Look for instance at the photo diary that reflects the romance between Chinese photographer Madi Ju and American/Taiwanese Patrick Tsai. Quite different is Nami, a series of photos of waves around the shores of Sado Island in Japan. The photographer, a young Buddhist monk named Syoin Kajii, watches the water patiently, waiting for a moment of surprise, in order to create magnificent, monumental images. In addition to the portfolios and accompanying texts on the theme Wonder, this issue includes several familiar features, such as the inter­ view, this time with a photography specialist – Alison Nordström, Curator of Photographs at George Eastman House – and of course our regular feature On My Mind… A book review section and an overview of the exhibitions that will be held at Foam this summer.

On My Mind… images selected by Alessandra Mauro ~ Cara Phillips ~ Frido Troost ~ Stephen Gill ~ Andrew Losowsky ~ Lesley Martin

Pages 016 – 021

Interview Mercurial Objects: Alison Nordström on the Materiality of Photographs by Jessica S. McDonald

Pages 022 – 026


Theme introduction With the Ability to Marvel by Marcel Feil

Pages 027 – 034

portfolio: Jaap Scheeren ~ 3 Roses, 9 Ravens, 12 Months text by Aaron Schuman

Pages 035 – 054

portfolio: Jessica Backhaus ~ One Day in November text by Eric Miles

Pages 055 – 074

portfolio: Syoin Kajii ~ Nami text by Jim Casper

Pages 075 – 094

portfolio: Koen Hauser ~ The Lustre of the Land text by Kim Knoppers

Pages 095 – 114

portfolio: Madi Ju & Patrick Tsai ~ My Little Dead Dick text by Laurel Ptak

Pages 115 – 134

portfolio: Sanna Kannisto ~ Theatre of Nature text by Harri Laakso

Pages 135 – 154

Photobooks by Sebastian Hau

Pages 156 – 159

~ Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam Massimo Vitali Foam Exhibition Programme


Pages 164 – 176

Jaap Scheeren ~ 3 Roses, 9 Ravens, 12 Months

Jessica Backhaus ~ One Day in November

Jaap Scheeren’s project 3 Roses, 9 Ravens, 12 Months is inspired by a book of Slovakian fairytales. His portfolio incorporates a diverse range of photographic styles and strategies including still-lifes, landscapes, portraits, constructed performances and open-ended narratives, all of which invoke the humour, mystery and underlying menace of traditional folklore.

One Day in November is Jessica Backhaus’ pictorial tribute to her friend and mentor, the photographer and historian Gisèle Freund. Intended as a posthumous birthday present, One Day in November is a quiet meditation on the small, easily overlooked items of everyday life.

Syoin Kajii ~ Nami

Koen Hauser ~ The Lustre of the Land

The Buddhist Monk Syoin Kajii stayed in or on the verge of the sea, sometimes for as long as five to six hours, waiting for the perfect moment to catch the surging waves with his camera. The result is sublime; each photograph explodes with a myriad of tiny details, intense clarity, ultravivid colours and frenzied dance-like frozen movements.

Koen Hauser considers his photos personal dioramas: spy holes constructed so that the viewer can glimpse a world previously invisible – a world that is invented, created, but at the same time rooted in reality. For The Lustre of the Land Koen Hauser had access to the huge Spaarnestad Photo archives for his creative play with history and identity.

Madi Ju & Patrick Tsai ~ My Little Dead Dick

Sanna Kannisto ~ Theatre of Nature

For exactly one year in 2006-2007, Madi Ju and Patrick Tsai published a ‘love diary’ together. Known cryptically as My Little Dead Dick their project was a real and unfolding love story in photographs, an intimate portrayal of the nomadic life and times of a struggling young couple narrated to a global audience almost in real-time.

Finnish photographer Sanna Kannisto has focused on plants and animals in tropical rainforests for years. She has gradually accumulated an impressive body of work that examines, in a style both rigorous and delicate, the wondrous species of the tropics and the metaphors of seeing, science, photography and art.


foam magazine #19 / wonder Six well-known figures from the cultural world selected an image that has recently been on their minds...

On My Mind...

Jacob Israel Avedon, father of Richard Avedon, Sarasota, Florida, August 25, 1973 © 2009 The Richard Avedon Foundation

Alessandra Mauro Of the many photographs ‘on my mind’, one, or rather a group of them, have made a particularly lasting impression on me. A few months ago I had the privilege of working with The Richard Avedon Foundation on the retrospective dedicated to Richard Avedon, held at Forma, the International Centre for Photography in Milan, of which I am the artistic director. Among the photographs included in the exhibition was a profound series of portraits which Avedon had, over time, made of his father, who was dying of cancer. During the months in which we were preparing the exhibition in ­Milan, I lost my own mother: a personal tragedy that brought me even closer to these images. The work I was doing on the exhibition subsequently became work on myself; a long psychoanalytical session in which, through the help of images, rather than words, I reconstructed the tragic and deep meaning of human life, with its memories, faces and emotions. Avedon and his portraits were with me in my grief. Each of the photographs in the exhibition recorded an aspect, a fragment,


a reflection, of the photographer’s growing consciousness of himself as a man moving slowly through life towards death. And this journey of selfawareness found its extreme expression in this unique series of portraits of his father at the end of his days, representing the photographer’s ultimate response to the event: a desperate attempt by a powerless son to capture, through the gratuitous act of photography, a father’s final moments of suffering and preserve them for posterity. Sometimes, curating an exhibition – becoming closely involved with the work of a great artist, mounting his photographs on the walls – brings with it another gift: the ability to understand yourself better. + Alessandra Mauro is a journalist born in Rome. She is currently editorial director of Contrasto Publishing and artistic director of Forma – Centro Internazionale di Fotografia in Milan, Italy. She also teaches History of Photography at Suor Orsola Benincasa University in Naples, Italy.

foam magazine #19 / wonder On My Mind...

Untitled, 2008 © Cindy Sherman, courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

Cara Phillips Much of my childhood was spent taking sheets, safety pins, pillows, and my mother’s scarves, and trying to turn myself into a princess, Scarlet O’Hara, or a Jane Austen character. So every time I see one of Cindy Sherman’s images, I smile and remember the joy my little creations brought me during periods of extreme childhood angst. Like the colour pink, baby dolls and tiaras, playing dress-up is a culturally female behaviour – and one that is ripe with very loaded connotations about gender roles. Despite the feminist implications playing dress up, it was an integral factor in the development of my imagination and of my visual creativity. The hours I spent in my self-created universe, were less about me being a girl, than about me needing an outlet to create. Maybe because of my role-playing past, what interests me most in Cindy Sherman’s work, is not that she is an ‘artist who uses photography’, or that her work questions the photographic medium itself (not that these are not valid conceptual strengths of her photographs), but that her images are about being a woman. More than any other artist who deals


with gender in their work, Sherman captures the female experience. Her self-portraits are, in the words of Madonna, ‘what it feels like to be a girl’. Whether she is giving you a glimpse of what it feels like to be a 1950s housewife at her wits end, or a middle-aged Park Ave doyenne posing for her portrait with her dog substituting for her husband, Cindy Sherman’s pictures have a unique ability to allow the viewer, if only for a moment, to feel what it is like to be one of her characters.  + Cara Phillips is a Brooklyn-based photographer. She is also the co-founder and ­co-curator of the online exhibition project Women in Photography. See and for more information.

foam magazine #19 / wonder On My Mind...

Untitled, circa 1905 © Guy & Co. Ltd. Cork

Frido Troost When I was still a young boy and had to visit my grandmother with my mother, I used to kill time fishing. If the fish weren’t biting or if it was pouring rain I sought refuge indoors, leafing through the fairy tale albums lying under the bookcase. Because the stories were written in clumsy pre-war Dutch, I limited myself to looking at the pictures. These were faded chromolithographs that came with packages of coffee, or tea, or biscuits, intended for collecting and illustrating the albums. Mostly, I didn’t think they were much good, because they often didn’t fit the passages where I would have liked to see a picture, like the story of Iron John, where a poor gardener takes up a plan to battle the enemy and defend king and fatherland but gets saddled with a three-legged horse. This fairly crucial scene – I later came to understand that this happens in many other fairy stories and sagas as well, and thus has a deeper meaning – is one that really appealed to my imagination. How I would have loved to see the boy on this animal, as described in the


fairy tale, stumbling about in the forest! They must have been moving at a snail’s pace, limping along in the dusk and the fog. Or something like that. I really couldn’t even imagine a three-legged horse, let alone such an animal with someone riding on his back. I understand now that the artist didn’t want to take the risk of painting such a picture, but that didn’t make the disappointment any easier to bear at the time. Apparently, I was not to be granted the sight of that tragic, three-legged horse. Well, OK then, that’s how it had to be. I wouldn’t have spent too much time grieving about it because, as you know, after a rainstorm it’s easy to catch worms... P.S.: Not so long ago, on a dreary Sunday afternoon in February in London, I came across a photo of a three-legged horse. I bought it. + Frido Troost is a photo historian, gallerist and owner of the ICM photo collection in Haarlem, The Netherlands. See

foam magazine #19 / wonder On My Mind...

Skype image 7, 2009 © Stephen Gill

Stephen Gill Bicycle bells under canal bridge, purple wheelie bins, happy accidents, intention in conjunction with coincidence, stepping outside one’s knowledge, summer mornings, not what – but the way it was said, no I’m ok thanks just looking, non drowsy hay fever tablets buying time, baptism on the river Lea, pushed to one side, fallen to one side, Bethnal Green blues, two is a coincidence, three is a series, words into pictures and pictures back into words, sorry you can’t for health and safety reasons, you get the picture, between new and second-hand, slowing down for a better life – now we have everything, the dangers of addiction to process, art informing life, life informing art, what colour do you think of when you think of Hackney?, sharp objects, make sure you select the signed for option, would you like a roast potato?, seasonal accidents, archival pigments, winter evenings, wasps, mosquitoes and other tiny pests, refuse to be blind, I would loose my job as you could be a terrorist, pray for rain to reply to e mails, empty lucozade bottles with lids screwed on, save as jpeg, what shall we do today?, collected bagged and discarded


dog shit, you get the picture, photocopies – only 2p for text and 4p for images, don’t forget to say hi for me, irrelevant, why do I bother?, clear plastic bags, firmly apply the accelerator and break at the same time, 20 minute cutting time for £60 bicycle lock, a refreshing change, music to my eyes, sea sick fish. + Stephen Gill is a British photographer who became well known for his highly original photobooks about the Hackney Wick area in London. So far, he has independently published eleven photobooks, experimenting with style and form. His latest publication is The Hackney Rag (Nobody Books, 2009). Stephen Gill’s photographs are held in various private and public collections and have been exhibited at many international galleries and museums including London’s National Portrait Gallery, The Victoria and Albert Museum, agnès b., Victoria Miro Gallery, Galerie Zur Stockeregg, Gun Gallery, The Photographers’ Gallery, and Palais des Beaux Arts.

foam magazine #19 / wonder On My Mind...

Echo of the War, 1942/2009 © Sergey Larenkov

Andrew Losowsky History can feel very distant, or impossibly close. It’s all a matter of presentation. Sergey Larenkov’s montages, created by meticulously retracing the footsteps of previous photographers, combine contemporary images of St Petersburg with monochrome, archival photographs of the brutal 872-day Siege of Leningrad (1941-1944). In his images the past haunts the present – or perhaps the reverse. His work is an evocative demonstration of concepts that I have ­recently been grappling with, particularly the complex relationship ­between place and memory, emotion and understanding. As with Shimon Attie’s nighttime projections of pre-Holocaust ­Jewish life onto buildings in Berlin, Larenkov’s work helps us peel back the surprisingly thin layers of the here and now, to reveal the here and then. It singles out innocuous-seeming buildings and streets as ­witnesses to historical horrors, while encouraging us to identify further evidence of wartime Leningrad in the modern-day streets of St Petersburg. For those who pass this street corner every day, seeing this image could forever change their experience of their morning commute.


The group I co-founded, The Museum on Site, helps people understand their worlds by deliberately encouraging emotional associations with unremarkable spaces. Through research-based free events featuring participatory rituals, spectacle, theatre and documentation, we aim to change people’s perceptions of places and issues, and to fundamentally alter how people experience the everyday. As Larenkov’s work reminds us, there are hidden truths everywhere, but it isn’t enough merely to reveal them – the challenge is to create an emotional connection within people’s lives. Only then can we try to ­understand.  + Andrew Losowsky is co-founder of the Museum on Site, helping people understand their worlds. He is co-curator of Colophon, the international magazine biennale, and the author of the recently published fiction/photography book The Doorbells of Florence (Chronicle Books).

foam magazine #19 / wonder On My Mind...

4,786,139 Suns From Flickr (Partial) 1/14/09, 2009 © Penelope Umbrico

Lesley Martin It seems like this image by Penelope Umbrico – though hardly a single image; more like a multitude of images – has been on my mind almost continuously over the past year. It was just over a year ago, in fact that I first saw it realized in actual time and space as part of a show I curated for the first annual New York Photo Festival. The name of the piece is Suns from Flickr, and it consists of a grid of hundreds or thousands (­depending on the allotted space for the installation to fill – it was 44 feet when we installed it in Dumbo in 2008) of 4 × 6 inch Kodak machine ­C-prints, each depicting a tightly cropped orb of a sun. Each of the ­images has been culled from the popular photo-sharing site and when the piece is installed, the caption notes that this is a partial installation, followed by the actual number of sunsets that one might find if searching for the keyword ‘Sunsets’ on the day the piece was created (5,461,278 at the time of this writing, for example). After all, who amongst us can honestly­ say that they have never succumbed to the impulse to snap this most banal yet beautiful of all photographic tropes? Yet despite the banality of the source – or perhaps because of it – the impact of this piece is un


deniable. The range of colours is glorious: pinks, oranges, purples, blues and the energy is palpable, as though this amassing of images of the sun, shot by anonymous photographers all over the world, is enough to channel the real power of the sun, its ability to transform the most ­common of materials into something growing and alive.  + Lesley Martin is the publisher of the book programme at the Aperture Foundation in New York. She has edited over fifty photography publications, including: Reflex: A Vik Muniz Primer; An-My Lê: Small Wars; Shuffle by Christian ­Marclay; Paris – New York – Shanghai by Hans Eijkelboom, My Life in P ­ olitics by Tim Davis and On the Beach by Richard Misrach. Previously she was Senior Editor at Umrage Editions. Lesley Martin was one of the curators of the first edition of New York Photo Festival in 2008.

foam magazine #19 / wonder



foam magazine #19 / wonder


Mercurial Objects Alison Nordström on the Materiality of Photographs interview by Jessica S. McDonald photographs by Barbara Puorro Galasso

Alison Nordström is curator of photographs at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, New York, the oldest museum of photography in the United States. She met with Jessica S. McDonald in Rochester, where they talked about the materiality of photographs in the digital age. Nordström describes new challenges for students and professionals learning to care for photograph collections amidst rapid technological change. She considers shifting cultural practices in photography, as well as new intellectual concerns in the ‘perpetuity business.’ Barbara Galasso photographed her for this interview. You have been Curator of Photographs at George Eastman House since 2004, and you have worked with photographs at a wide variety of other institutions. How did you become interested in photography? It actually took me quite a while to get interested in photography. I was a word girl – an English major – when I was coming of age in the sixties, and I thought art photography in those days was really boring. I was interested in ideas, and it seemed to me, though I wasn’t paying a lot of attention, that photography was aspiring to have no ideas in it. I spent the seventies taking a walk through Southeast Asia and I didn’t take photographs – I’ve never taken photographs – and I didn’t even look at them very much. It was when I came back to the States that I got interested in photographs and, tellingly, they weren’t art photographs. My real interest, then and now, was in how we represent cultures – both our own and others – visually. I began looking at photographs seriously, through the lens of anthropology. I was particularly interested in nineteenthcentury ethnography and its photographs. Our ideas of both practices were forming in parallel tracks at the same time. The first museum work that I did was at a small, non-collecting art museum in a town of ten thousand people in southern Vermont. The first project I worked on there had to do with the films and photographs associated with Robert and Frances Flaherty, who made the film Nanook of the North in 1922. The Flaherty’s got me to the South Pacific because I was interested in their 1926 film Moana. This interest also brought me


to the ethnographic archive at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard, which had a very good, quite typical nineteenthcentury collection of systematically organized photographs of ‘exotic’ people. I was intrigued, and am still intrigued, by the slipperiness of most photographs. These had been made as government documents, missionary propaganda, and tourist souvenirs, but they became anthropology at the point when they were placed in a file labeled ‘Samoan Chief’. This is what got me really thinking about photographs and how they are used. In the 1980s, of course, a lot of art photographers were investigating similar questions, the visual sociology movement was burgeoning, and the critical theorists were helping us knit several disciplines ­together. I was in the right place at the right time. Later I did some work at the Williams College Museum of Art, and then became the founding director of a small museum of photography in Florida, part of the university system there. I was director there for eleven years, and then had an interesting brief hiatus working for the New Hampshire Humanities Council, trying to bring the visual into the way we use the humanities to understand culture. Finally I ended up here at George Eastman House. The fact that an interest in photography so easily cuts across so many disciplines made it possible for me to work with photographs in art museums, history museums, and museums of science. It is such a wide-ranging practice. The photography collection at George Eastman House is equally wideranging, so it would seem that your experience makes you well suited to be its curator. The Eastman House collection and I are a very good fit; it’s telling that after having many art historians as curators, we now have a curator trained in cultural and visual studies. I sometimes joke that I had to wait until they invented cultural studies before undertaking the doctorate; I knew I didn’t want to do art history because it seemed really narrow to me. I think this is the crux of where we are going both as an institution and perhaps as a field. We are realizing that the vocabulary we’ve been given for thinking about photographs is largely borrowed from the

foam magazine #19 / wonder


~ It’s amazing what you can learn about a photograph by smelling it ~ v­ ocabulary of art history, which works great only for certain kinds of photo­graphs; if a photograph was made with artistic intent, and especially if it lends itself to a vocabulary that considers things like tonality and composition, it’s an easy photograph to talk about in art historical terms. But the other ninety-nine percent of the photographs in the world, including family snapshots, advertising, photojournalism, scientific photo­ graphy, and mug shots, don’t lend themselves to this kind of interpretation and so they either get talked about badly or they don’t get talked about at all. This is why I find that more and more the discipline of material culture studies gives me a way of approaching these things – because they are, after all, things, with their own materiality and trajectories through time and space – and lets me begin to understand how and what they have meant within the larger context of the people who have been around them. How would you characterize the collection at George Eastman House and how would you say that a material culture approach supports your analysis of the collection? The collection is remarkably diverse; it’s actually a collection of collections that were not put together to tell the story of photographic art, but to tell the story of photographic technology and of the broad history of photographs. These collections were assembled really before anyone had a strong idea of what a photograph was, and how we were supposed to understand it, and it represents that. If we’re looking for some kind of grand question that will allow us to look at all of the photographs in our collections in something like the same way, we start by asking the basic descriptive questions that a historian would ask of an object. If it’s a wedding dress or a book or a plough or a car or a building we start asking questions like who made it? Where was it made? How did it get from where it was made to where I found it? How has it been used, how has it been valued, and how has it been kept? It’s funny that any historian would ask those questions of almost any other kind of object, but if you give her a photograph, she’s likely to say ‘Oh, it’s Main Street, 1905’. Because photographs look like the truth, and feel like memory, there’s a tendency to accept the image uncritically as a fact. But, of course a photograph of Main Street in 1905 made to encourage the razing of buildings for urban renewal is going to be a very different photograph from one made to encourage tourists to come and spend time in its charming streets. The anthropologist Nicholas Thomas uses the word ‘trajectory’, and the wonderful phrase ‘entangled objects’ to talk about primitive art, but it’s applicable to photographs, as objects that get touched, that get moved, that get looked at, and that should always be understood in context. This idea puts me in a funny position, because whereas an art historian is likely to want the most pristine version of a print possible, a photograph that looks as though it has just come out of the darkroom, I tend to get really excited by photographs that look awful – that have been folded in half, that have writing on the front and the back, and


pinholes in the corners – because those are often the marks that tell me where something’s been. It’s amazing what you can learn about a photograph by smelling it – maybe it’s been in a basement or kept in someone’s sock drawer with a lavender sachet. Maybe it’s been in a fire. Those kinds of materially relevant pieces of information are the ones that interest me the most. George Eastman House, like most other museums, is working toward digitizing its collections and making as many photographs as possible available to the public. With your emphasis on materiality and attention to signs of use, including smells, what are the implications of digitizing work and making it available to researchers online? I think it’s really complicated; and again, it is the slippery and confusing nature of the photograph that causes me to appreciate just how complicated it is. If we were a museum of furniture, and we photographed all of our chairs, and put those on the web for research purposes, no one would confuse a digitized photograph of a chair with the chair itself – no one would try to sit down on that digital scan. But when we digitize a photograph, it looks so much like the original photograph, and because we are so used to looking at photographs on a computer screen now, that conveying the other information inherent in that object and keeping it in the forefront is deeply challenging. For some photographs, the image is going to be the most important thing. One of my favourite researchers at George Eastman House is a man from northern Ontario who comes down every summer to look at our photographs of nineteenth-century sailing ships. He makes ships in bottles and he uses a lens to look at our photographs to make sure that he gets the riggings right. For him, the informational quality is the only thing that matters. We still believe that photographs tell the truth, and he wants to make something that is true, and so he wants to look at a photograph. But, in other cases – whether it’s to discern print quality or to analyse the chemical makeup of a toning process, the image is a poor substitute for the object. We are already facing great hardships in understanding photographs from the past, and removing them even further from their physical context through digitization makes the challenge even greater, but it’s not insurmountable. How is the next generation of museum workers being trained to meet this new challenge? There are really two different sides to this question. One understands a digitized object as a separate thing. A scan, in a way, even though it’s only zeros and ones, has its own trajectory and a variety of contexts. We are beginning to pay very serious attention to our digital assets; a scan of one of our photographs that can be used in a book, on the web, and in various other ways begins to resemble an actual photograph in the ways that its uses contain its meanings. The other side of the digital question involves returning to the actual object. There are great advantages to being able to keep this first object safe in a box without any handling, because for many people the image will do; we have no idea what, a hundred years from now, we will be able to ascertain from a close study of the original object. That’s one of the reasons to keep it, but it also validates all of its digital versions that we use for different purposes. At George Eastman House we run a graduate school in partnership with Ryerson University that offers a year here in residence working directly with the materials in the collection. We know that now you can’t send someone out into the world as a collections manager who isn’t completely fluent in the languages of the database. A scan without a way to find it is as useless as a misfiled photograph. Still, we emphasize the material aspects of these objects because for us they remain the critical elements of coming to an understanding about a particular object, and we do pay attention to a lot of things besides the image itself. >

foam magazine #19 / wonder



foam magazine #19 / wonder


As an institution, how is George Eastman House using digital technologies to enhance its understanding of photography’s material aspects? Some of the things that are being done at Eastman House, especially the Notes on Photographs project, are attempts to, at the very least, quantify the types of knowledge we have about our collections and get that information on the web. Notes on Photographs explores the use of Wikipedia-like collaborative software to encourage scholars to come together to ‘meet at the print’, if you will, but to do it in cyberspace. It’s not exactly like Wikipedia because not just anyone can contribute, but it permits scholarship around a particular object to be shared. Its first undertaking is comparing variant prints of Lewis Hine’s Powerhouse Mechanic. We have the Lewis Hine archive here at George Eastman House, so we had the opportunity for really close examination of signatures, for example, and we were able to encourage other institutions that hold signed Lewis Hine prints to scan and upload the signatures to the site. Now, without having to travel to twenty institutions, it is possible to compare the signatures made on early Hine prints with those on later prints. Similar comparative studies are being done with the papers and blind stamps Hine used, which allows us to establish a very specific dating chronology. With all of this change, what are some of the things that keep you intensely interested in and committed to photography? It was a happy accident when I realized my favorite adjective for talking about photographs was ‘mercurial’, because of course the first photographs are literally mercurial but all photographs are figuratively mercurial, and it is great fun to watch the way photographs are continually shape shifting. It can’t think of a technology since moveable type that has so changed the profound sense of who we are, what we know, and how we know it. I’m still astounded by nineteenth-century photographs, but I’m also fascinated by how in the twenty-first century the way photographs are used continues to change. I notice that when I was twenty, if I was given a photograph, there was some sense of its preciousness. I would put it away in a box with the thought that I might in the future use it to remember what the past felt like when it was the present. My twenty-year-old daughter doesn’t have the same feeling for photographs in the present. She sits around with her friends in a restaurant, they take a picture and pass the phone around, and everyone looks at it and then they delete it. So the notion of photography today as enhancing the present is quite different from the notion that photography will eventually enhance the future. I don’t know what that means but I am intrigued to watch cultural practices changing. Everyone’s a photographer now and that changes art photography, family photography, and news photography certainly, but in 1888 when the Kodak arrived and everyone could be a photographer then, it changed everything too. The distinction between what’s a photograph and what isn’t a photograph is changing. The knee-jerk belief in the truth of a photograph may be changing, but not nearly as fast as you would expect it to. What persists is a fascination with the ability to replicate the real, to replicate what’s around us, and to recognize that that replication is in and of itself transformative, and that any photograph, whether it’s on a camera phone or is a laboriously produced daguerreotype, in some sense is an arbitrary framed abstraction of the real, immediately put in another context by the act of its making. The way we make and use them has changed radically since 1839, but our desire for these images doesn’t seem to have gone away at all.


If the definition of what is and what isn’t a photograph is expanded to camera phone images and other things, what are the implications for collection practices at a museum of photography? It’s harder to collect, and of course it’s a big issue regarding collections care. Most of the nineteenth-century photographs we have today survived by accident. They were in an attic, and the building didn’t burn down and there wasn’t a flood. The percentage of photographs from the nineteenth century that has survived is tiny, we’re sure. Digital photographs don’t survive as easily by benign neglect. If you leave them on a hard drive for a hundred years it is unlikely that you will be able to see them again. The technology for looking at a nineteenth-century photograph is your eyes; the technology for looking at a twenty-first-century photograph is a complicated, quickly outmoded machine. The issue of how to preserve a photograph on a camera phone becomes more an issue of how to preserve a camera phone, which is technically difficult, but not impossible. I think the intellectual challenge is that now we have the capability of saving everything and we haven’t figured out whether we ought to or not. And, if we ought not to save every photograph being made, then how do we choose as we go forward? How do we know which photographs and which photographic objects will be valued a hundred or a thousand years from now? We’re still a museum. We are in the perpetuity business, but the kinds of things we take care of have changed. From time to time my colleagues and I talk about shutting a door. Shall we start in 1839 and stop at the digital turn? I don’t think so. Our ongoing concerns are the culture of the photograph and the photography of culture. My interest in these ideas persists and should keep me busy for the foreseeable future. + Alison Nordström is curator of photographs at George Eastman House the oldest and largest museum of photography in the world. She has curated over 100 exhibitions of photography and published extensively, most recently TruthBeauty: Pictorialism and the Photograph as Art, 1845 -1945 (Douglas & McIntyre Publishing Group, 2008). She writes and lectures extensively on contemporary photography. Nordström holds a PhD in Cultural Studies and Visual Studies. Jessica S. McDonald is a doctoral candidate in the Visual and Cultural Studies program at the University of Rochester, in New York. This summer she is a Patterson Fellow in the Photography Department at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She teaches writing and photo history courses, and is the U.S. reviews editor for the journal Photography & Culture. Barbara Puorro Galasso is museum photographer at George Eastman House. She has worked there for 29 years.

foam magazine #19 / wonder

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foam magazine #19 / wonder

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foam magazine #19 / wonder

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~ With the Ability to Marvel ~ by Marcel Feil ~ curator Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam Imagine that the Martians succeeded, after all, in reaching Planet Earth and managed a safe landing. Without us earthlings noticing, they have lived among us for some time and have been able to examine our planet at their leisure. It is interesting to attempt to see our own environment through their eyes. What do they see? What strikes them? And what will fascinate them enough to take back with them as typical of our planet? What these questions are really about, of course, is an attempt to see the world we assume to be familiar without any prior knowledge, without any prejudice or hypotheses. It is an attempt to see and experience things as they really are, as they exist outside of us. It’s a renewed ­acquaintance without artificial connotations, and therefore as objective as possible. Of course that is extremely difficult, if not impossible. How can we escape from our own selves and experience the true nature of things? And what is that, anyway, the true nature of something? It’s a question which philosophers and scientists have been asking themselves for centuries, and which they have not been able to answer ­satisfactorily. The problem is greatest when man and his actions are themselves the subject of observation, examination and analysis. That is where we encounter most obstacles. But in fact the same goes for every form of observation and for all phenomena. It has never really proved possible to separate the things around us from ourselves. Our links with the world, and vice versa, are so strong that it is not particularly odd to conclude that they are inextricably connected and that the world exists only because of us and within us. Does this mean that we cannot be amazed about what happens on our planet? Yes, that indeed is what it means. But it doesn’t mean that we cannot be amazed by the things we see around us. Thank God


it doesn’t. Perhaps the ability to feel wonder and surprise is an intrinsic human quality. It makes us ask questions and is therefore the origin of knowledge and development. This, however, may be where the snake bites its own tail. For the more we know about the way the world is put together, the greater the danger that this will colour our way of looking at things and that prior knowledge will obstruct our ability to feel genuine wonder. In fact, however, our amazement may actually increase as our knowledge grows, and every answer may open up unknown worlds and raise new questions. This would make scientists the people with the strongest sense of amazement about our wondrous and inexplicable world. Knowledge comes with the years. The occasional genuinely amazed ­scientist aside, the fact is that as time passes we feel less and less wonder and amazement. We just don’t have the time. There’s too much to do. In our daily lives we are mainly occupied with practicalities: getting dressed, eating, going to work, working, returning home. All our time is taken up with day-to-day worries, with all the things we still have to and want to do. Wonder is something for daydreamers, and our society is too focused on usefulness and efficiency to give them much sympathy or space. Our activities are result-oriented and it is on their results they are judged and valued. This attitude defines our perception, the way we see and experience things. Our brain filters out everything we don’t need, at a given moment. And that is just as well. We cannot afford to walk around in a constant state of utter amazement. We would be caught in an autistic ecstasy. To function well in society, too much amazement is no help at all. I use e-mail and the internet dozens of times every day. I know how it works. By which I mean I know how to use it. I have come to take it for granted that it works if I hit a few keys. That no longer surprises me.

foam magazine #19 / wonder

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foam magazine #19 / wonder

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foam magazine #19 / wonder

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foam magazine #19 / wonder

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~ A sense of wonder cannot really be learned. It’s something that comes over you, suddenly and when you least expect it. ~ But of course I don’t really know in any detail how it works or how it has been constructed. There’s no need for me to know. It’s an invention I’m eager to use to my advantage without having a clue about the technology. That’s nothing compared to the next generation, the teenagers in the street or in the playground. They are growing up in a world of gaming, broadband, satellites, interactive TV, texting and messaging. Nothing amazes them any more. The inherent danger is that they’ll believe anything. Everything is possible – why shouldn’t it be? But how do you develop the ability to be amazed? Knowledge can be acquired, and so can behaviour and perhaps even taste. But wonder? It seems that it is an ability that only decreases as the years go by, crushed by the pressure of an achievement-oriented technology-based society. The danger that we take everything for granted, that we just accept everything we come across and lose our awareness of the wondrous, the bizarre, the unusual and the different is lurking just around the corner. I recently watched one of my daughters closely study a strawberry. An ordinary strawberry. She took her time to do so, because a threeyear-old doesn’t yet have any real idea of time. She stared at it intensely. After a while she said: ‘Look daddy, lots of little hairs!’ She held up the strawberry, with an expression in which wonder and acceptance were in perfect harmony. She was right: every segment of the strawberry had its own yellowy-green little hair. It’s something we could observe on any strawberry, but when do we take the time to study a strawberry in this way? Her discovery was the result of the untainted observation of a child who looks before she thinks. Perhaps that is why a sense of wonder cannot really be learned. It’s something that comes over you, suddenly and when you least expect it. Wonder is a strange phenomenon. Is it an emotion, a state of mind? In any case it’s not something that can be summoned up – it just makes itself felt. For a moment you perceive things in a different way, and they appear strange or peculiar, as if the earth is tilted for a moment, changing the perspective. But are we not constantly surrounded by things that arouse surprise, things we don’t understand and which – when it comes down to it – are awesome or beautiful? Normally we pay them no attention and just carry on. It takes a particular sensitivity, the main precondition for which may well be an open, receptive mind, but it’s incredibly hard to empty our minds and create space for new things to enter them without preconceptions. We would be a little like that three-year-old who discovers the world bit by bit, slowly creating a framework of knowledge and experience that makes it increasingly difficult to escape from reason, even for a moment.


One of the few fields where wonder has found a natural place is art. Art exists by virtue of a fresh way of looking at our world and the ability to be amazed by it. This gives form and meaning to the sense of wonder. It’s the opposite of the practical and profit-oriented thinking that so impoverishes our society. In itself, art has no practical use. Rarely has a tree been so beautifully portrayed as by the Hungarian writer and photographer Peter Nadas. He has a wild pear tree in his ­garden, which he photographed for a year at different times of the day and in different seasons, in ever changing light. The photographs are a silent, modest testament to the passage of time, barely perceptible but unstoppable and merciless. They are accompanied by My Own Death, a short story in which a man sees his life pass before his eyes while lying on the floor after a heart attack. After three and a half minutes, he comes round again. It’s an occurrence that is as horrifying as it is commonplace. The two stories, presented in two different forms with different speeds, speak of time, mortality, acceptance and resistance, and of the thin line between life and death. Life and death, rise and fall are as incomprehensible as they are self-evident – for both the man and the tree. The ­difference is that the man knows it and suffers because of it. He can look back and see himself, albeit only briefly. Perhaps life itself is, ultimately, the greatest wonder. No one knows why we are born, why we are who we are, how much time we have in this life or what the idea of death really is. I often think of the last words of a good friend’s grandfather. He had devoted his whole life to the ­essence of man and to the way it relates to the rest of the universe. ‘Well, I ­wonder…’, he said – and then he died. Intrigued till the end, he surrendered to the inevitable. While Nadas has created a very moving series about aging, the passing of time and mortality, in her beautiful book Aila, the Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi shows her bond with the world in quite a different way. Kawauchi’s work is atmospheric and indirect. She shows a world caught in a divine light, before good and evil, a paradisiacal environment where all things have their natural place, however strange they may appear to us. It is an enchanted, vulnerable and fragile world. For Kawauchi it is of great importance that the people who see her work do so in an atmosphere of peace and security, as if, through her work, she wants to create an intimate and safe place to counterbalance the hurry and agitation of everyday life. In an interview with Masakazu Takei she once said: ‘I want to create a quiet, intimate place where people can be alone and listen to their inner voices while they are looking at my work.’ In her view, the photographs serve as instruments for reflection and meditation. They require a staring, unthinking way of looking, provoking an awareness of the miracle of life and of our living planet at every level. ‘Aila’ is a Turkish word for family and connection. In this case it may be interpreted as a feeling of connecting with the world, with an ideal of unity and essential mutual dependence. The longing for this ideal may perhaps provide compensation for the downside of modernity based on man disengaging himself from his natural environment and ultimately also from himself. The photographic work of the Japanese monk Syoin Kajii is interesting in this context. Although Kajii himself is reserved about the relationship between his capacity as a monk and the photos he takes, drawing a comparison between the two is only natural. In the text Jim Casper has ­written to accompany Kajii’s portfolio, he refers to Kajii’s ‘heightened sense of alertness’ and the analogy between the impalpability of a wave and that of a Zen koan. A koan is a paradoxical statement or unsolvable riddle which, in Zen Buddhism, serves to confuse a student in such a way that rational thinking is pushed to the background and direct observation takes its place. The continuous direct observation which can thus be attained, without preconceived notions and prejudice, becomes the state of mind that in

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Buddhism is called enlightenment (satori in Japanese). Thus the waves photographed by Kajii do not appear to be recorded from a deliberate, conceptual viewpoint, rather they have originated from a completely open, unlimited receptivity to the characteristics of a wave. Where in the West, for example throughout the Romantic era, natural phenomena which were simply too large and too complex to be defined rationally were viewed with a mixture of fear and fascination, repulsion and attraction, the work of Kajii expresses far more acceptance that the essence of a wave ultimately escapes every form of capture. Such acceptance is in essence alien to the Western approach to the world around us. Here, instead, there’s a need to deal with the world rationally and to lay the phenomena we encounter in it on the operating table for dissection, description and analysis. This often gives rise to a relationship between nature and culture that is as absorbing as it is risky – risky because natural phenomena are thus forced into a straightjacket in our culture and looked at from a biased, conditioned viewpoint. The question then is how much justice is done to the often intangible characteristics of what is being investigated. Look, for ­example, at the intriguing spectacle the work of Sanna Kannisto offers us. She shows objects such as flowers, fruit, branches and occasionally a solitary small animal, which have been taken out of their natural ­environment and exhibited in the sterile, semi-scientific context of a field studio. About this process Kannisto herself says: ‘In my series ­Private Collection and Field ­Studies I was interested in borrowing methods­of representation, as well as working methods, from the natural sciences, from anthropological and archaeological practices and from still-life painting tradition to use in my photographic work. Taking photo­graphs in a field studio has become one of my most important working ­methods. The portable photography box I have constructed is like a stage showing scenes from nature, which I direct. Once the object has been taken out of its original setting – out of nature – it becomes special. The ­aspect of a white background that suggests scientific ­recording and documentation interests me.’ With a sense of humour and a certain ­irony, Kannisto investigates the way in which we approach ­nature and how the medium of photography interrelates with the ­recording and representation of reality, as well as with the accumulation of knowledge. By expressly making use of language and the theatre of science, she ­creates mildly absurd images that have a greater ­tendency to emphasize the impossibility of using this method to find out more about the ­exhibited objects. The complex relationship between science and art, between knowledge and naivety, and the question of whether there is still room left over for wonder in our knowledge-determined world, also plays a large part in the fascinating work of the Dutch artist Koen Hauser, whose portfolio is included in this edition. A short time ago, Hauser was invited to create new work with material from the Spaarnestad Photo archives, one of the largest press archives in Europe. Driven by his own obsession with the diorama he interlaced the found images with work in which he himself is featured to render a fantasy world. In these carefully constructed ­images Hauser too plays with the idea of a world in which quite disingenuous things can be created and exist. It gives the feeling of a time in which there was still a place for voyages of discovery to unknown, ­mysterious distant places, a time in which there was still the opportunity to admire strange phenomena, a time that points to a past that is not yet so far behind us and where there was room for a fruitful and often wondrous mixture of science and fiction.


Usually such stories, and Hauser’s images are no exception, deal with people with a particular obsession, people who are considered eccentric and idiosyncratic by others. Perhaps, however, these lone wolves are in fact open to the wonder in the world around us. In order to experience a miracle as such and marvel at our natural environment or the often curious behaviour of man and everything he has produced, there must be a certain distance. Ultimately, losing yourself in all-embracing holism is also the kiss of death. You cannot look at the world in wonder unless you do so with a certain detachment. This does not mean there cannot be a deeply felt social and natural bond. The opposite may well be the case. But those who are outsiders to some degree often have a well developed sense of the wondrous, remarkable or comical in what seems ordinary. Ultimately, it is about the juxtaposition of originality, individuality and singularity versus lethargy, blandness and conformism. + All images from the series Aila, 2004 © Rinko Kawauchi/Courtesy of the artist and FOIL Gallery, Tokyo Rinko Kawauchi was born in 1972 in the Shiga prefecture in Japan. She studied at the Seian College of Art and Design and worked in advertising for several years before choosing a career as a fine art photographer. In 2001 she simultaneously released three publications, Utatane, Hanabi, and Hanako. Great critical success led to her becoming one of the most celebrated photographers in Japan. In 2002 she received the prestigious Annual Kimura Ihei Award. Her European debut was at the Les Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie d’Arles in 2004, curated by Martin Parr. Within a few years she had published three more significant books: Aila (2004) with Little More Publishing; Cui Cui (2005) and The Eyes, The Ears (2005) with FOIL Publishing. Rinko Kauwauchi has worked with the Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, making the still photographs for the award-winning film Nobody Knows (2004).

With a simple, serene and poetical approach, Rinko Kawauchi depicts

birth, life, death and time. She has sometimes presented her work alongside her own Haiku poetry, expressing her awe at everyday life.

Kawauchi has participated in many exhibitions in Japan and abroad.

Major solo exhibitions have been at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris; The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Hasselblad Center, Göteborg; ­Semear Museu de Arte Moderno de Sao Paulo and Huis Marseilles, Amsterdam. Rinko Kawauchi is represented by FOIL Gallery in Tokyo.

foam magazine #19 / wonder


Jaap Scheeren 3 Roses, 9 Ravens, 12 Months

foam magazine #19 / wonder

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Jaap Scheeren

List of works (in order of appearance): 1

The Golden Feather


The Cocoon


Meeting of the Storks


Man with the Red Hat


Mother Nature


Girl with the Golden Apples


The Horse


Dead Dragon


The Hunter

10 From Wind and Smoke 11 The Tree All images © Jaap Scheeren

Jaap Scheeren was born in 1979 in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. He attended art school at St Joost Academie in Breda in the same period as Anouk Kruithof. They collaborated on the project The Black Hole, for which they won the Unique Photography Prize. The series was exhibited at Foam and published as a book by Episode Publishers in 2006. The book received an Honourable Mention at the Les Rencontres d’Arles Photographie. The following year Jaap Scheeren individually published the photobook Oma Toos (Grandma Toos) and in 2008 3 Roses, 9 Ravens, 12 Months. Jaap Scheeren has exhibited his work widely since graduating in 2003, including the Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam; Fotofestival Naarden; W 139 and De Balie, Amsterdam; Villa Noailles, Hyères (Festival International de Mode et Photographie);


Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney; 6th International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts, Liège, and at the Gallery Michalsky Dvor in Bratislava, Slovakia. Jaap Scheeren has worked in commission for various magazines and publications, including, Wallpaper, Kilimanjaro, Le Book and Picnic magazine.

Aaron Schuman is an American photographer, editor, lecturer and writer, based in the UK. He is a Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the Arts Institute in Bournemouth, and a Lecturer at the University of Brighton. He is also the founder and editor of the online photography journal, SeeSaw Magazine.

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With a Wandering, Wayward and Wonderful Eye

by Aaron Schuman

In 1859, Charles Baudelaire famously railed against photography and its early aspirations towards Art, proclaiming that the medium was, ‘[T]he refuge of every would-be painter, every painter too ill-endowed or too lazy to complete his studies’. Furthermore, in the same essay Baudelaire fiercely berated the general public for its fascination with the newfound technology and warned of its potential dangers, declaring that, ‘[T]his universal infatuation [bears] not only the mark of a blindness, an imbecility, but also the air of vengeance…[I]f it be allowed to encroach upon the domain of the impalpable and the imaginary, upon anything whose value depends solely upon the addition of something of a man’s soul, then it will be so much the worse for us.’

Identity Crisis, 2008 © Jaap Scheeren


Describing himself a century and a half after Baudelaire penned his fierce remonstrations, the twenty-nine year old Dutch photographer, Jaap Scheeren, states in his own artist biography, ‘People always have a certain idea about me…[E]specially in my youth, they told me that I looked lazy, and assumed that I was.’ Scheeren’s statement confirms that, despite photography’s gradual rise and acceptance as an artistic form, many photographers still find themselves, in both their art and life, associated with the long-held prejudices so eloquently articulated by Baudelaire at the dawn of the medium. Considering his remarkably prolific, diverse and ever-expanding oeuvre, it is clear that Scheeren is by no means ill-endowed or lazy. Yet perhaps it could be argued that he has a ‘lazy eye’, in the sense that it wanders – and wonders. ‘I never keep my mind and eyes fixed, though I am focused’, he cryptically explains. ‘Sometimes my work looks like there is no unity, but I am the main connection, and I change my mind like everybody else does.’ Perhaps these early misconceptions of photography, and of Scheeren, stem from their open acknowledgement and acceptance of their innate uncertainty, as such frank admissions of one’s own ambiguities are generally quite rare on the part of both a medium and an artist – after all, art is a vocation that until relatively recently was seen to rely upon a nearly prophetic nature, which in turn was meant to be driven by passionate, unwavering conviction. In fact, Scheeren often uses this stereo­type of the artist to his advantage by adopting a seemingly serious, dead-pan style – one which is common to both photography’s past and present – but mischievously applying this matter-of-fact perspective to

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seemingly ridiculous, fantastical or incongruous sights and scenarios, thus playing (or insisting the viewer play) a kind of straight-man caught in the midst of a farce. And precisely because Scheeren’s work ­possesses this rather whimsical and light-hearted, yet clearly calculated naivety – as well as a disparate and often contradictory quality (not only from project to project, but even within individual bodies of work) – it becomes all too easy at first glance to assume that his approach is lazy, and that his ­intent is merely to indulge his erratic, childish impulses more than ­anything else. Of course, throughout the 20th century hundreds of celebrated artists – Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Keith Arnatt, Chuck Close, John Baldessari, Cindy Sherman, Bruce Nauman, William Wegman and Erwin Wurm, just to name very few – used photo­graphy to employ similar tactics, not only in order to create a parody of Art (with a capital A) and therefore cut through its pretentiousness, but also to pose questions and insinuate broader critiques, whilst making sure that the audience doesn’t dare assume that they, as artists, were in any sense visionaries with big answers. In many ways, such artists – Scheeren included – have conjured up Baudelaire’s worst nightmare. Rather than simply letting photography ‘be the secretary and clerk of… factual exactitude’, they’ve skilfully harnessed and utilized the power

Oma Toos, 2007 © Jaap Scheeren


of both ‘the imbecility’ and ‘air of vengeance’ Baudelaire sensed in the public’s enthusiasm for the medium. Furthermore, they have purposefully allowed it to ‘encroach upon the domain of the impalpable and imaginary’, and ultimately have imbued it with ‘something of a man’s soul’ without claiming too much of the credit. Perhaps Warhol summarized this approach best when he both defined and undermined himself by stating, ‘I am a deeply superficial person.’ Similarly, by incorporating humour, ­absurdity and play into his own work, Scheeren rejects the haughty self-regard found in more traditional notions of both Art and the artist, but this is not to say that he means to relinquish the underlying seriousness or sincerity of his intentions. As Erwin Wurm has argued, ‘Most artworks try to represent something lofty and important, but I find pathos repulsive. I want to address serious matters but in a light way…Speaking in a light way is not the same as making superficial conversation or small talk, but rather it is to speak in a positive, edifying way.’ As its title suggests Scheeren’s most recent body of work – 3 Roses, 9 Ravens, 12 Months – remains unfixed in many ways, yet retains a very subtle sense of focus. The project is inspired by various scenes, ­stories and illustrations discovered in a book of Slovakian fairytales, and is centred upon the unique coalescence of fantasy, morality, truth and nature found in such stories. As one would expect from Scheeren, the port­ folio incorporates a diverse range of photographic styles and strategies – still-lifes, landscapes, portraits, constructed performances, openended narratives, and so on – all of which invoke the humour, mystery and underlying menace of traditional folklore. A golden feather glistens

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in an otherwise black void; a human figure looms beneath the greengrass surface of the earth; a blinding light radiates from the heart of a tree-trunk split in two; a woodland hunter sturdily sits in a stone grotto cradling his rifle; a face, full of surprise, fear or perhaps panic, peers out from the innards of a tree; and from a smouldering pile of dry, dead turf rises the head of a dragon, a dinosaur, a griffin or some other primordial or mythic beast. Again, Scheeren has forgone the absolute, exacting promise of photography and has instead utilized its potential for lyricism and uncertainty, appealing not to our more mature pursuits of fact, rationale and truth, but instead – like folktales themselves – to our most primal, childish senses of both worry and wonderment. That said, this does not mean that Scheeren’s images are completely shrouded in the imaginary, for photography is uniquely and forever grounded in reality, and it is important to recognize that he is not alone in using fairytales to find photographs. From the Cottingley Fairies – a series of photographs from 1917, made by two young girls, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, depicting storybook sprites dancing in a wood – to Clare Richardson’s Beyond the Forest, many images throughout the medium’s history have been inspired by such stories, precisely because of both the vivid imaginings and fundamental truths that they conjure up. In fact, as Richardson subtly


implied in a previous issue of this very magazine, it is for this very reason that photography can be seen as being closely related to this particular form of storytelling in that, rather than reproducing the world accurately, it distorts, enhances and transforms reality into its own unique fable, yet in the process retains an unavoidable hint of veracity: as she explained it, ‘Every folklore has a bit of truth.’ The Cottingley images even went so far as to convince Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the masterful detective celebrated for his powers of deduction and reasoning, Sherlock Holmes, of the true existence of fairies. Ultimately, 3 Roses, 9 Ravens, 12 Months, represents Scheeren­ at his most seriously playful, and his most playfully serious; at his most clearly uncertain, and his most uncertainly clear. Because of the childish associations inherent within the work’s source of inspiration, ­Scheeren is free to abandon the role of impish prankster in his artistic approach and perspective, and to explore with his distinctively wander­ ing, wayward and wonderful eye the nature of tales, the nature of photo­ graphy, the nature of the artist, and importantly in this particular body of work, nature itself. Describing the common themes within these par­ ticular photographs, Scheeren has stated, ‘Sometimes I truly feel that I need to connect to nature, maybe even to become one with nature. My friends tell me that I get so absorbed with it that they start to believe I will become Mother Nature’. Of course, just like in his work, as soon as a touch of pretension or arrogance – Wurm’s ‘lofty and important pathos’ – enters the discussion with Scheeren, a self-effacing punch-line is bound to follow: ‘But I know that I wouldn’t be a good mother’.  +

foam magazine #19 / wonder


Jessica Backhaus One Day in November

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Jessica Backhaus

All images © Jessica Backhaus, courtesy of Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York; Robert Morat Galerie, Hamburg; The Photographers’ Gallery, London

Jessica Backhaus was born in 1970 in Cuxhaven, Germany. She moved to Paris at the age of sixteen, where she studied visual communication and photography and worked as a picture editor. Eight years later her passion for photography drew her to New York, where she assisted photo­graphers and developed her own style. Focusing on quiet moments and easily overlooked details, Jessica Backhaus’ visual language is intimate and delicate. She worked for four years on the project that resulted in her first book, Jesus and the Cherries (Kehrer Verlag, 2005) which portrays in vivid colours the simple life in the small Polish town of Netno, where her family had bought a farmhouse. In 2008 Jessica Backhaus published two books, What Still Remains, a photo series of 65 works created since 2006 in various locations and One Day in November,


a visual tribute to her friend and mentor, the photographer Gisèle Freund. Jessica Backhaus’ work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including shows in The National Portrait Gallery in London and the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. She is represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York, Robert Morat Galerie in Hamburg and The Photographers’ Gallery in London. Jessica Backhaus lives and works in New York and Europe.

Eric Miles is a writer and bookseller specializing in photographic liter­­ ature. He is based in New York. He is an advisor for My Best Fred, a creative company.

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Reverence and Wonder ~ On Jessica Backhaus’ One Day in November

by Eric Miles

‘Most artists are brought to their vocation when their own nascent gifts are awakened by the work of a master. That is to say, most artists are converted to art by art itself. Finding one’s voice isn’t just an emptying and purifying oneself of the words of others but an adopting and embracing of filiations, communities, and discourses. Inspiration could be called inhaling the memory of an act never experienced. Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos. Any artist knows these truths, no matter how deeply he or she submerges that knowing.’ – Jonathan Letham, The Ecstasy of Influence

The inverted shadow of a bare tree reflected on the water-slicked surface of a well-used, weather-beaten tennis court; it’s off-season, clearly, and though the details of the image are banal, a thick melancholy hangs in the air. In another image from One Day in November a well-worn chair, perhaps of institutional origin, sits in an oddly-angled space formed by a room’s corner and its pitched ceiling; it is likely that the room has not seen a fresh coat of paint in decades, the moisture causing the pattern formed by puckered and peeling paint, by default, lends the image its busiest compositional incident. In fact, most of the pictures in One Day in November are similarly spare in their inclusion of any extraneous elements that would give them some sense of dramatic incident or narrative pull. One Day in November is Jessica Backhaus’ pictorial tribute to her friend and mentor, the photographer and historian Gisèle Freund. The two met in 1992, following a panel discussion that was part of the biennial, Le Mois de la Photographie, striking up a friendship that lasted until the older artist’s death in 2000. In her description of her relationship with Freund in her introduction to the book there is a depth of humility, a deference to the weight of tradition, the received wisdom of elders that can be rare in the world of contemporary photography. This is especially striking given that, as Backhaus reveals in the last paragraph of her essay, never during the course of her friendship with Gisèle did she offer her work up for comment or critique. Rather, they went for walks, shopped and cooked, visited restaurants and exhibitions. Which is to say their relationship was wonderfully devoid of the instrumental,

From the series What Still Remains, Pillow, 2007 © Jessica Backhaus


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goal-oriented structures that permeate the art school experience (and, even more so, the world of portfolio reviews). It is hard to imagine another figure in twentieth century photography or indeed in the culture as a whole through whom one could be connected so intimately to so many of the artistic and literary luminaries of the immediate pre-and post-war periods. Freund, born in 1908, came from a well-to-do German Jewish family in Berlin. Her father, an art collector, bought Freund a Voigtlander 6 × 9 camera when she was seventeen and a then a Leica in 1929. She studied sociology and art history at the famous Frankfurt School under some of the giants of social theory: Karl Mannheim, Norbert Elias and Theodor Adorno. Like many German Jewish intellectuals, especially those who protested against National Socialism as students, she emigrated to Paris following the Nazis’ rise to power. She finished her PhD at the Sorbonne in 1936 and her dissertation was published in book form by Adrienne Monnier (1892-1955), whose bookstore, La Maison des Amis des Livres, Freund visited for the first time in 1935. With Monnier’s help, as well as that of Sylvia Beach, owner of Shakespeare & Co., Freund was given an entree into literary circles. She played chess with Walter Benjamin on the Boulevard Saint-Germain and delved into the cultural history of the

nineteenth century with him at the Bibliothèque Nationale. After the German invasion, she hid out in the south of France before fleeing to Argentina and then on to Mexico, returning to Paris after the war. She was associated with Magnum Photos in its earliest years (her actual membership of the group is a matter of some dispute; she may have been asked to leave for political reasons after her story on Evita Perón got her blacklisted), and so befriended Henri Cartier-Bresson, David ‘Chim’ Seymour, George Rodger and many others. A short list drawn from the hundreds of people she photographed would have to include Louis Aragon, Frida Kahlo, Jean Cocteau, Walter Benjamin, Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, André Breton, Colette, Marcel Duchamp, T.S. Eliot, André Gide, James Joyce, André Malraux, Jean-Paul Sartre, Virginia Woolf and George Bernard Shaw. Freund immersed herself in the work of her subjects; her portraits convey an intimacy while at the same time situating her subjects squarely in a Parisian milieu that is only slightly romanticized. Indeed, she perfected a type of environmental portrait that has since become conventional in depictions of the famous. In many cases she used early colour processes. In her portraits the subjects emerge as fully formed icons. Our images of Joyce or Beckett, Cocteau or Benjamin and many others are inseparable from Freund’s portraits of them. If Freund was a pioneer of the environmental portrait, Jessica Backhaus is adept at what one might call the environment as portrait. There is an uncanny sense in which the inanimate surfaces and objects depicted contain traces of something difficult to latch onto or to define. Certainly her attentiveness to the banal has ample precedent in the work

From the series What Still Remains, Bottle, 2007 © Jessica Backhaus


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of Stephen Shore, William Eggleston – what young photographer working in colour today doesn’t? In her earlier book, Jesus and the Cherries, part of the goal was to tease out a highly specific sense of place via scrutiny of the most ordinary and overlooked objects and surfaces (though a fair number of portraits are included as well). In this newer body of work the subject matter remains banal and prosaic. Furnished only with gener­ alized clues to surroundings – urban or rural – the viewer is left adrift. But, in a way, the absence of any documentary imperative frees view­ er and photographer alike to surrender to the seductive pull of the rich optical pleasure on offer. If we call that optical pleasure ‘aura’, perhaps we can get a bit clos­ er to how Backhaus’ pictures ‘preserve and hold on to something that has happened in the past’, as she once said. In the same interview she added, ‘the passage of time and time itself are issues that occupy me and play a more and more significant role in my work. It is true that I am fascinated with this experience of vanishing and slipping away’. The sur­ realists believed that even the most ordinary objects are possessed of a certain but intangible intensity that is in most cases dulled by every­ day use and utility. Their goal was to reanimate this latent intensity; the camera was an ideal tool for doing so, because, as Walter Benjamin said, it has the ability to hone in on ‘hidden details of familiar objects’, reveal­ ing ‘entirely new structural formations of the subject’. Commenting on Benjamin, Michele Frizot has written, ‘The photographic act confers a presence on things, a corporeality that is almost tangible, the appear­ ance of a relic, of a fragment saved through good fortune and chance from being entirely lost, the fragment of a lost body whose aura – the sacred fluid – through the photographic image, still leaves an authentic footprint’. While Benjamin famously lamented that photography sapped a work of art of its aura, severing it from its tradition and its origins, and thus its very authenticity, Frizot wonders whether ‘photography’s extra­ ordinary power of mimicry imbues all things photographed with the aura of the original, the aura of generic type, of a timeless apparition which has been long awaited’. And here we touch on what seems to me to be the real subject of Jessica Backhaus’ recent work: removed from the specificity of time and place that was so crucial to the more implicitly documentary work of Jesus and the Cherries, what we are left with as we gaze at her images


is a sense of wonder, that instantaneous flash that removes us from the day-to-day particularities that anchor our senses to an ordered reality which allows us to move through the world without bumping into things in our path. Art historian David Doris recently described it in this way: wonder is that moment when we are ‘left outside of the cultural and historical categories that constitute us... that moment when we look at the moon as if it were for the first time, that moment when we see fireworks exploding in the night sky and say, ooooh, and ahhhh...’ How else to explain the affective presence of strangely anthropomorphic spruce trees set against the starlit sky; the shadows of bare trees – in one image cast upon a rain-slicked tennis court, in another on a featureless white brick wall; the seemingly viscous condensation on a window pane that renders the brilliant autumnal yellow outside even more brilliant and otherworldly? In these moments we are drawn outside of our immediate context, we become, for an instant, utterly childlike. Very often the qualities of an object or image that spark wonder are the qualities we associate with ‘aura’ as Benjamin famously used the word – qualities that are best exploited by photography: those of glow and of brilliance, luminosity and radiance. The word aura comes from Greek and Latin words for air in motion, breeze, breath; phenomena that extend beyond themselves and permeate the environment. The deliberately skewed and angular divisions of space in Backhaus’ compositions, the saturated colours of her palette call attention to what would otherwise be completely ineffable. Yet this feeling is fleeting. Wonder must ultimately resolve itself somehow, must be given meaning. And that meaning resides within the viewer. To grasp it requires not just discernment or sensitivity – certainly taste could be said to have little to do with it – but a humility, an openness. In Backhaus’ work – both her narrative of her friendship with Gisèle Freund and her images – this is what comes across most clearly. A reverence before the world in all its glorious ordinariness, and the ­reverence of a seeker before a teacher of great wisdom – One Day in November shows us that the two can be completely co-extensive. + Thanks to Professor David Doris, whose introductory remarks to The Experience and Use of Wonder, a conference he organized in September 2008 at the University of Michigan (available online at http://lecb.physics.lsa.umich. edu/CWIS/browser.php?ResourceId=1181), provided much help in completing this essay.

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Syoin Kajii Nami

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Syoin Kajii

All images © Syoin Kajii, courtesy of the artist and FOIL GALLERY, Tokyo

Syoin Kajii was born in Niigata, Japan in 1976. His interest in photography began while attending junior high school and is self-taught. He graduated from the Shingon sect’s Koyasan University in Mikkyo with a degree in Esoteric Buddhism in 1999. As a student he travelled around the world, visiting Britain and Papua New Guinea and followed the Mekong River upstream by canoe and bicycle in Cambodia. In 2000 he returned to Japan to serve as the resident monk (and his grandfather’s successor) at a seaside Buddhist temple on the northern part of Sado Island, where he continues to pursue his career as a photographer. In 2004 he was awarded the 1st FOIL Award for his series of pictures in which he photographed a succession of waves on the shores of Sado. Following the FOIL Award, he published the photo book, Nami (wave), and was awarded the Rookie of the Year 2005 by The Photographic Society of Japan for ‘this overwhelmingly energetic and spiritual’ book. His current interest is photographing rural landscapes in Japan, with special emphasis on documenting the severe circumstances and difficult lives of older people who remain in hundreds of small


villages that have been abandoned by younger people who prefer to live and work in large cities. In 2008 his Nami series was amongst finalists of the BMW Prize at Paris Photo. In 2009, he was honoured as Rookie of the Year by the Gotoh Memorial Foundation. His photographs have been exhibited and are held in collections worldwide, including Huis Marseille and the H+F Collection in Amsterdam.

Jim Casper is the editor and publisher of Lens Culture (, an international online magazine exploring contemporary photography, art, media, and world cultures. Lens Culture’s website attracts millions of visitors per year from more than 50 countries worldwide. Casper is an active participant in photography festivals and conferences around the world. He writes and lectures about photography, curates shows, and organizes photography-related events and workshops. He lives and works in Paris, France.

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A Powerful, Eternal Essence

by Jim Casper

Nami is a Japanese word for wave, as in the infamous tsunami. In this case Nami is the title of a series of photos of waves in many of their guises and manifestations around the shores of Sado Island in Japan. The photographer, a young Buddhist monk named Syoin Kajii, watches the ever-changing waters patiently, waiting for a moment of surprise, and then clicks the shutter. When I first saw the Nami photos by Syoin Kajii I was shocked with delight. My response was instant and spontaneous, visceral and cerebral. These large, hyperreal images of playful, powerful, thundering ocean waves stopped me in my tracks and made me smile. They transported me out of my momentary concerns into a heightened sense of fascination and wonder. The succession of waves crashing around the shores of Sado Island is at once fresh and ancient – endless iterations of the same form, rising up exuberantly toward the sky, pausing with perfect individual grace in mid-gesture, and then collapsing back down into mother ocean. Each photograph explodes with myriad tiny details, intense clarity, ultra-vivid colours, and frenzied dance-like frozen movements – all served up on glassy surfaces topped with white frothy foam – then flattened and compressed into the plane of a photograph. Diptychs of two photographs of the same wave taken just moments apart remind me of Zen koans. We are confronted directly with a phenomenon we know to be true, but the unexpected juxtaposition of these very similar but different photos shocks us into an instant, deeper understanding. Can we still call them pictures of the same wave? Every

aspect has changed. Nami simply and directly reminds us of the puzzling, elusive nature of nature; the event documented in the photograph ceased to exist in that exact form the moment the shutter was released. (Indeed, this ‘never again’ idea is one of the fundamental puzzling truths about the nature of photography itself). In other photos gentler swells of water vibrate with frantic activity and slippery multicoloured psychedelic reflections. They are celebrations of light and surface and the endless nuance of colour and shifting form. In many of these images we feel as if we are in the water ourselves, perilously close and hyper aware of the churning activity that immediately surrounds us. In some we’re adrift in playful, bubbling, gurgling, bumping waves. In another we are dwarfed by surreal glowing green and white water foaming high against a yellow sky. More than a few put us in the midst of thundering, threatening, stormy waves that could easily overwhelm us and swallow us whole. The variety of personalities of these waves is remarkable and seemingly endless. There is the obvious temptation to talk about these pictures emotionally as well as intellectually and how we might place them in various contexts of philosophy, theory, and art history, to name but a few. Lovers of photography will make the connection between these photos and the earlier work of another contemporary Japanese photographer, Hiroshi Sugimoto. Sugimoto’s luscious large-format, elapsed-time Seascape photographs are stunning meditations on the erasure of momentary details of the sea and sky and shore and light. They vibrate with the universal truth and beauty of phenomena that recur, with infinite minute variations. Over time, and in front of an open camera, this endless succession of actions and reflections of light is evened out, averaged into humming vibrations of light that exist as the accumulation of these highs and lows, peaks and troughs, moments of violent action and calm stillness. In Sugimoto’s photos of time exposed we have a universal oneness that is still unique to that particular day’s individual variations and intensities. It’s the record of a specific event over time – a blurred averaging of the images of beginnings, middles and ends. Syoin Kajii takes a very different tack by rendering highly specific frozen moments of waves that nevertheless convey a similar, powerful, eternal essence.

From the series Nami, 2004 © Syoin Kajii, courtesy of the artist and FOIL GALLERY, Tokyo


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Any student, young or old, who has studied science through the magic of stop-action photography will recognize the strong connections between Kajii’s suspension of time and infinite detail and photos from the mid20th century by Harold E. ‘Doc’ Edgerton, a scientist with an aesthetic bent, who invented novel photographic techniques so he could stop time in microseconds with sharp detail. The rigours of his synchronized highspeed strobe-flash photography revealed the physical moment of explosion of a balloon being punctured by a speeding bullet, and the wings of a hovering hummingbird suspended in mid-beat. Edgerton’s simple, elegant and amazing Milkdrop Coronet from 1957, captured a moment of fluid beauty and near perfect symmetry as a drop of milk bounced back up into space, creating a crown-like physical reaction of pure beauty and grace in the otherwise still surface of milk below it. Perhaps it is only natural for people who live on an island to make art about the sea, but the Japanese have a particularly rich tradition of exploring the phenomenon of water and oceans in its many forms. The iconic Japanese woodblock print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, made by Katsushika Hokusai in 1832, is known around the world. Hokusai envisioned – in his artistic mind, without the aid of any high-speed recording device – the variety of small beautiful forces and gestures that make up just one moment of one wave curling up and about to crash into the sea. When this print was revealed to the public around 1832, it shocked and delighted people around the world, and spawned a tidal wave of inspiration and repetition (pun intended). Hokusai’s crisply detailed cartoon-like graphic clarity, with all its violence and power and graceful fluid motion, inspired the Pop Art of Roy Lichtenstein and countless others. Syoin Kajii has created his own artistic variations on this traditional theme using a high-speed digital camera in conjunction with his heightened sense of alertness. He gives us photographic evidence and proof that reveals the otherwise unknowable complex beauty of forces

of nature. His art works as a counterpoint to the blur of time and the fluid inaccuracy of normal human perception and memory. In many ways, Kajii’s ‘being in the moment’ is a natural extension of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s ideal of capturing the ‘decisive moment’ in photography. Kajii says he waits patiently in the water with his camera, sometimes for hours, for a moment of surprise to shock him into releasing the shutter. One is reminded of Alfred Stieglitz and his Equivalents, and it is easy to draw the connection between Stieglitz’s emotional/artistic relationship with his photographic abstractions of clouds and Kajii’s sea waves. Photography historian Sarah Greenough claims that in his Equivalents series, Stieglitz ‘was destabilizing your [the viewer’s] relationship with nature in order to have you think less about nature, not to deny that it’s a photograph of a cloud, but to think more about the feeling that the cloud formation evokes.’1 A wave is defined in scientific terms as ‘a disturbance that propagates through space and time, usually with transference of energy – a phenomenon.’ Waves are universal iconic symbols of power, grace and caprice. They are dangerous, threatening and beckoning. Waves imply the cycle of birth, death and regeneration – ideas at the heart of Buddhist beliefs. And they embody richly referential archetypal meanings in dreams and the collective unconscious. The connections go on and on. Syoin Kajii has captured the essence of many of these physical and psychological references in his pulsing, awe-inspiring works of art. They are alive, amplified, intensified, energized, and ecstatic. The Nami work is complex yet simple, stunningly direct and loaded with implications. In the end we come back to the images before our eyes and luxuriate in the improbable beauty of these moments, letting ourselves dream and wonder about the richness of the world that surrounds us.  >

Note: 1

Sarah Greenough, Mark Greenburg. (eds). In Focus: Alfred Stieglitz;

Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 1995, p. 132.

From the series Nami, 2004 © Syoin Kajii, courtesy of the artist and FOIL GALLERY, Tokyo


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… Shortly after I discovered these photographs, I contacted Kajii by email to talk about his work and the ideas and intentions that compelled him to stay poised with his camera at water’s edge. His humble, Buddhist nature is as direct and elusive as his artwork. Here is an excerpt from our conversation (published online at Lens Culture in 2008): Jim Casper: Do you feel a strong connection between the way you make photographs and your practice as a Buddhist monk? Syoin Kajii: Basically I’d like to separate my religion and photography. I sometimes feel, however, there is some kind of similarity in practicing and reciting Buddhist sutras and in being concentrated to photograph waves. It seems natural to see references in your work to the Japanese wood block art prints of waves from long ago. Do you see your work as a continuation of that artistic tradition? I’ve never consciously photographed waves with reference to the wood block prints, nor intended to work as a continuation of the tradition. The temple I live in now on Sado Island commands a bird’s eye view of the sea naturally, and while overlooking the view everyday, I found fatherly strength and motherly tenderness in the sea, and it fostered me to photograph Nami. Can you describe how you prepare for making photos like those in your Nami series? Do you consult tidal charts and wait for high tide? Do you shoot a lot of frames? How long do you stay planted by your camera at each location – several hours or more? All the pictures of the Nami series were taken around Sado Island, where I currently live. The coast of the Island is about 270 km, and I choose places to photograph based on information from weather forecasts or news from fishermen.


Using a digital camera, I photograph waves by staying in the water, or going down on the rocky seaside. I often stay there like that about 5 to 6 hours, but normally I try to capture the very moment I was somehow startled, so it’s not just high waves. What are the qualities of waves that attract you to them? That would be perhaps because they have variety of expressive faces (like fatherly power and motherly generosity). Some of your photographs of waves make them look threatening, dangerous, dark, ominous and frightening. Others make the waves seem like graceful dancers – powerful, but beautiful and full of poetic gesture. Do you see this as a dual nature? Well... waves (or in other words, nature) should have various aspects. What else would you like to say about these photographs? Nothing else. I’d like viewers to see them freely, and with their own individuality. +

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Koen Hauser The Lustre of the Land


2050-21 n.


de Luister van het Land

3111-1. Giant cactus 30 feet high in the arizona desert. Note one pant shaped like prehistoric monster.







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2043-8. 3116 zw. 98




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3121 I. Discretion being the better part valor, these giraffes decided, after taking a look at the thick blanket of snow around their quarters, that it would be a lot easier on their feet staying inside.

2342 zwe. De diepe doorgangen bieden een prachtige speelgelegenheid voor de jeugd (...). De doolhoven vormen echter ook gevaren voor de kinderen, van wie er ieder jaar een aantal verdwaalt. Het is verschillende keren voorgekomen, dat vreemdelingen een dag zoek waren.


Rotterdam Prima Vera. 100


2342 zwe.


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441-48. Aquama Rijn, waterballet 441-48. Vijfhonderdduizend liter water 102






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2941-1. Het Marokkaanse paviljoen. 106




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2093-2. Funny Bunny. This picture was the cause of our cation writer dashing out of the office to make sure he was not drunk...... In actual fact it really is a rabbit all dressed up and nowhere to go. Complete with topper, cane — and a dangerous glint in his eyes, he’s al set for an evening out on the town — Burrowsville. 108


3126-9 n.

3121 II. THE BIRTH OF A GIRAFFE. The hooves and head of baby Lord Alexander begin to appear.


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3131-9. WEIRD WONDERS OF THE DEEP. Few more grotesque exist then those deep-sea fishes lurk in darness on the bed of the ocean.


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Koen Hauser

All images © Koen Hauser and Spaarnestad Photo & Nationaal Archief Special thanks to Galerie 37 Spaarnestad and The Mondriaan Foundation Bookdesign by Bart de Baets

Koen Hauser is born in 1972 in Rijswijk, The Netherlands. He is currently based in Leiden. Koen Hauser frequently uses existing photographs and archives in his work, in which he often constructs alternative realities, worlds within worlds. Hauser studied Social Psychology at the University in Leiden from 1992–1996. Two years later he went to the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, later moving on to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. Hauser’s photos have been published in numerous magazines, including Picnic Magazine, Capricious, Blend, Slash Magazine and Mister Motley. His work has been exhibited at Galerie Ron Mandos in both Rotterdam and Amsterdam; GEM, The Hague; Historisch Museum, Rotterdam; Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem and l’Institut Néerlandais in Paris. In 2002 he was included in the Young Photo­ graphers exhibition at Foam and in 2005 in the Marks of Honour project


­ rganised at Foam by Van Zoetendaal and In 2008 Galerie 37 o Spaarnestad in Haarlem invited him to make new work based on the famous archives of Spaarnestad Photo, which resulted in the exhibition and book De Luister van het land (The Lustre of the Land). Currently he is working on a new project which includes a 3D (stereoscopic) video projection. Ocean of Darkness will be on show at the CBK Arnhem, during the Dutch Arnhem Mode Biënnale from June 6 – July 6 2009. Kim Knoppers studied art history at the University of Amsterdam. She is a freelance curator and producer working in the field of photography and visual arts. She is also jury foreperson for the Steenbergen Stipen­dium. In 2005 she curated Koen Hauser’s first solo exhibition in De Beyerd in Breda.

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The Artist as Creator

by Kim Knoppers

Anyone who thinks that Louis Daguerre (1787-1851) is famous purely for inventing the daguerreotype – and along with it, photography – is doing him an injustice. Daguerre achieved great renown as a set designer in the early 19th century; journalists were even more appreciative of his naturalistic sets than of the plays and operas for which they were designed. On 11 July 1822 the enterprising Frenchman came up with a new form of entertainment that left the discerning Parisian audiences speechless: he opened his spectacular Diorama where the Place de la Republique is now located. The Diorama was an enormous building in which visitors were directed into a circular, darkened room by an invisible guide. As their eyes became accustomed to the dark, a Swiss mountain landscape slowly began to unfold before them. The response was enthusiastic: ‘Here is an extraordinary combination of art and nature, producing the most astonishing effect, so that one cannot decide where nature ceases and art begins.’ Through changes in light and shadow, like clouds passing before the sun, the transparent set paintings came alive. Wherever visitors looked they were surrounded by mountains, valleys and snow, completely forgetting that it was actually a dreary autumn afternoon in Paris. Time and place no longer mattered.

Today we can scarcely imagine why Daguerre’s public reacted so effusively to his Diorama. We have since come so much further in the creation of illusionary worlds scarcely distinguishable from reality. But the diorama hasn’t disappeared. A diorama built in 1971 in the De Efteling theme park has practically become part of the Dutch cultural heritage. Or consider the somewhat dusty dioramas in natural history exhibitions like Heiman’s Diorama in Artis’ Zoological Museum. Dioramas pop up from time to time in visual art settings, too; a notable example was the exquisite, contemplative diorama by the Belgian artist Hans op de Beeck on show last year at the celebrated Holland Festival in Amsterdam. Visual artist Koen Hauser is also indebted to Daguerre’s legacy. Hauser considers his photos personal dioramas – spy holes constructed so that the viewer can glimpse a world never seen before – an invented world rooted in reality, a world that can carry viewers away to a spot where time and place are forgotten, where they can imagine themselves in a world that invokes stories, stimulates the power of imagination, ingenious and multi-layered. Hauser consistently makes the diorama the centrepiece of his photos, installations, texts and performances, sometimes explicitly, sometimes symbolically. The elements he employs can be found in the work of such American icons as Matthew Barney and Cindy Sherman. Diorama Stereografica (2005) is an installation based on a 19th ­century Kaiser panorama, usually to be found at fun fairs, showing viewers photos of exotic spots from all over the world. The panorama’s mechanism changed the photos, which were illuminated by an oil lamp. In his Diorama Stereografica Hauser shows fourteen stereo photos of fairytale figures, nature and architecture, which together invoke a feeling of nostalgia, mystery and alienation. At the same time Hauser accentuates the act of looking by including typical symbols of viewing, such as a shoebox diorama and a stereo camera.

Kroniek der Lichtwerkers, videostill, 2008 © Koen Hauser


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Photograph I (2006), a three-dimensional interpretation of a photo, was created as a logical consequence of thinking about and developing the diorama theme. Here, for the first time, Hauser radically reversed his form of presentation; he created a three-dimensional diorama that made reference to a two-dimensional photograph. Hauser carefully stages his photos, using signs and symbols often seen in dioramas: stuffed animals, fairytale figures and imitation flora. By regularly inserting himself as a figure in the diorama, he makes the pictures personal. This could be considered a sign of vanity, but it is chiefly a logical development of a second major theme in his work: that of the artist as creator of a new world. In his Diorama Mechanica project Koen Hauser was depicted as the creator of his own world. Dressed in a 1950s outfit with hair sharply parted, surrounded by collections of records, stuffed animals, scientific drawings and symbols of looking, such as a microscope, he created his own universe in a secluded attic room. The romantic cliché of the artist is perfectly preserved. The computer, important though it is for Hauser, has been carefully excluded. In the De Luister van het Land exhibition, which Hauser produced in 2008 at the invitation of Galerie 37 Spaarnestad, in Haarlem, the artist as creator is the central theme. For this exhibition Hauser was given the opportunity to draw on more than 11 million (!) photos from the Spaarne­ stad Photo archives, produced from 1850 to the end of the 20th century by press and documentary photographers from all over the world. This was right up Hauser’s street. Ever since his art academy days he’s been col-

lecting, arranging, combining and reusing pictures from sources such as medical encyclopaedias, architectural handbooks and gardening books. He sometimes uses them in installations, but more often they serve as inspiration for his staged photos, which seem to conceal a longing for bygone times. As a viewer, the moment you see these photos you are instantly transported back in time. Hauser accomplishes this effect by working in black-and-white and by giving careful thought to the places­, the architecture and the clothing he uses. The historical feeling he is searching for in his work is unquestionably present in the Spaarnestad Photo collection. That this archive also provided a good opportunity for studying the history of photography was a welcome bonus. Hauser’s work doesn’t just deal with the diorama, with the artist as creator and with giving new meaning to old images, it is also a reflection on the history of photography. The artist makes much use of visual language from specific historical genres within photography in his photos. The book De Luister van het Land (selected as one of the Best ­Designed Book in 2008) was released in cooperation with graphic designer Bart de Baets concurrently with the exhibition. The portfolio that appears here in Foam Magazine is based on this book. One can gaze for hours at the photos: through the precise selection of images and the order in which they appear, new relationships can constantly be discovered. It becomes evident just how well the book has been thought out. Koen Hauser has chosen all sorts of photos dealing with theme parks, zoos and stage sets: illusionary, constructed worlds which, in the best case, dissolve the distinction between real and unreal. Sometimes that distinction presents itself powerfully, and you realize that everything you are looking at is a sham. The illusion is penetrated and you are brought back to reality. The diorama turns out to be a mere construct. Hauser intersperses the photos of flower arrangements, stuffed animals, theatre and film sets with photos of people. Their clothing or

Diorama Stereografica (Wunderkammer III), 2005 © Koen Hauser


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unique faces, or the combination with other photos, make them almost characters in a film. In between the archive photos, Hauser himself is the lead in staged and ‘Photo-shopped’ photos that fit in perfectly with the spirit of the archive. He is consistently depicted in the role of creator, the maker of new creations, as pondering architect, producer of plaster models, taxidermist or Dr Frankenstein pedantically explaining how he has brought his puppet to life. It becomes clear that, as far as Hauser is concerned, the roles of artist, scientist and inventor are closely related. All three start from a deep-rooted determination to search for something, although what that something is, often remains unclear. The Kroniek der Lichtwerkers, a video Hauser made recently, deals with this search and the creative process. The video occupies the middle ground between a kitschy musical, video clip, children’s programme from the past and self-portrait. Above all, it is an ode to photography. American artist Matthew Barney must have served as a source of inspiration here. In his Cremaster film series, this completely unorthodox artist created a mythical and super-aesthetic world in which performance, sculpture, fashion and film come together: a world as bizarre as it is inviting, one that is not unequivocal, but multi-interpretable. Cindy Sherman, too, the queen of set-up post-modern photography, must certainly be included as a source of inspiration for Hauser. With her Untitled Film Stills of the late 1970s she was able to make use of Hollywood’s visual language to appeal to the collective memory of the audience. To this day, Sherman still acts as the protagonist in her photos.


Although certain aspects of Hauser’s work can surely be compared to the work of other artists, what he does remains utterly unique. How often does an artist develop a fully authentic visual language and constructs a solid oeuvre that can be experienced on multiple levels, using existing photo material as its starting point? How often does an artist create photos that are inviting to look at and yet at the same time have a strong conceptual viewpoint? Koen Hauser is an heir that Daguerre would have been proud of. +

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Madi Ju & Patrick Tsai My Little Dead Dick

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Madi Ju & Patrick Tsai

All images © Patrick Tsai, Madi Ju

Patrick Tsai was born in Pennsylvania, United States, in 1981. He studied film and video at Cal Arts in Los Angeles and at the Tisch School of Arts in New York. In search of his roots and in order to get closer to the Taiwanese film movement, he moved to Taipei in 2003 where he eventually switched over to photography. Madi Ju was born in 1983 in Wuhan, China. She studied French at the Guangdong University of Foreign Languages. After graduating, she ­created After 17 (now called Here Comes 18) a web magazine introducing Chinese female artists. Patrick Tsai and Madi Ju discovered each other’s work on the internet, and after an intense correspondence lasting several months they eventually met, fell in love, quitted their jobs and travelled together. The bitter-sweet project My Little Dead Dick is a love diary that stretches over


a period of one year. This portfolio is a selection of over 200 images from that period. The duo was shortlisted for the Hyères Festival ­International de Mode et de Photographie in 2008. Today Patrick Tsai lives in Tokyo and Madi Ju lives in Beijing. Both are still taking photos and their work can be seen at their separate web pages: and

Laurel Ptak is an independent curator based in New York City. She is the founder of the popular blog about contemporary photography She frequently lectures, teaches, and writes about photographs, the internet, and image culture, as well as curates many ‘offline’ exhibitions based on her blog. She is also Aperture Foundation’s Educational Programs Manager.

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Love 2.0

by Laurel Ptak

Seeing Madi Ju and Patrick Tsai’s photographs published here in the pages of a magazine feels, truth be told, a tad malapropos. I say this not because their photographs are in any way unworthy of our looking, but simply because these are photos that I believe – in every sense of the word – belong to the internet. For exactly one year from 2006 to 2007, Ju and Tsai collectively published a ‘love diary’ online that was infamous among savvy Flickr users, young photographers, and bloggers everywhere. Known cryptically as My Little Dead Dick their project was a real and unfolding love story in photographs, an intimate portrayal of the nomadic life and times of a struggling young couple narrated to a global audience nearly in real-time. By the time of their break-up (announced publicly by mass email) they had been dubbed by one blog as ‘the John and Yoko of the photo world’.

Patrick Tsai and Ume Kayo at Hyères, 2008 © Madi Ju


Somewhere along the way their relationship had officially become the very symbol of modern love. Looking at these photos you can see why. The first thing that strikes you is how entirely they convey the spirit of being young, carefree, and in love – the wondrous feeling that the entire world exists and unfolds for the two of you alone. What we see in these pictures is exactly what we want to feel in our own lives. To orient these images inside a recent history of photography, they might be best described as Nan Goldin (minus the dark side of drugs, AIDS, and domestic violence) meets Ryan McGinley. They are part unflinching diary and part performance of unabashed bodies for the ­camera. Yet they also intrigue because of their stark ordinariness – they resemble tons of other snapshots posted every second to Flickr. A major part of their charm is their ability to balance a savviness and a naiveté about self-representation all at the same time. Their story begins (as many love stories probably do these days) with two twenty-somethings gazing restlessly into their computer screens. Madi Ju, a 23-year-old living in Guangzhou, China is rapidly garnering a following for the photographs she contributes to her online magazine for girls, After 17. Patrick Tsai, a 25-year-old American who has recently relocated to Taipei, Taiwan is avidly posting his own photographic work online. Separated by many kilometres and cultural differences, they coincidentally happen upon each other’s Flickr pages on the exact same day. They feel an instant connection looking through each other’s photographs

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and immediately begin emailing. Some weeks go by and they firmly ­believe that they are in love. Madi and Patrick decide it is time to meet. Their first-ever encounter takes the form of a romantic nine-day romp through Macau and Guangzhou. The cameras come out on day one. Patrick vividly remembers snapping his first-ever photo of Madi – it’s one of her undressed and lying on their hotel bed – taken that very first night they met. Madi can’t recall exactly what her initial photograph of Patrick was but remembers fondly many rolls taken in those first days on the black sand beach of Macau. After a few days, pouring through the flurry of raw and intimate photos they’ve produced together, they decide that these images should be the start of a joint photographic studio and brainstorm for an official title. ‘We kept laughing at the thought of us meeting some business executive and introducing ourselves to them

Patrick Tsai at Hyères, 2008 © Madi Ju


as My Little Dead Dick. It seemed so wrong and embarrassing that we thought it was perfect,’ Patrick explains.1 By the end of their trip one more crucial decision gets made: Patrick will quit his job, pack up his things, and move to China to be with Madi. Photographs of their fledgling relationship will continue to be taken and regularly updated online. It doesn’t take long at all for them to realize that they have a cult following of strangers and friends who are cheering them on. The world watches as they go for a swim, lie around in bed, take a boat ride, play with tiny kittens, and lock lips. They are officially ‘internet famous’. When asked if he thought their joint project would become famous when they started it Patrick admits: ‘It’s embarrassing to say, but yes I did.’ 2 Madi’s account is much more modest: ‘I didn’t know it would be famous. When it started, I never knew that anyone would like this love story that much.’ But despite people’s obsession with the story or the photographs there is something else that made My Little Dead Dick the phenomenon that it was. Madi and Patrick’s romance is swept up in a cultural moment when our very notions of public and private are undergoing radical transformations online. Everywhere, from blogs to Flickr to Facebook, self-disclosure is rapidly becoming the new cultural norm. Madi and Patrick were well ahead of the curve. The photos that they continued to post online over the next year reflect the brightest moments of being in love, but behind the scenes there are endless ups and downs. Suitcases are packed and unpacked

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as they travel frequently and impetuously decide to settle down in various parts of China. They feel the pressure of trying to seem happy for the world. They break-up and get back together again. They take assignments photographing for magazines and clothing companies. Then abruptly one day their website just vanishes. Exactly two years after they met, Madi and Patrick have broken up for good. The news reverberates across many blogs. Devastated fans offer up condolences punctuated with sad-faced emoticons. Meanwhile, Patrick has left for Japan. It is only in an article published in an online magazine a few weeks later that Madi even learns of the true reason for their break-up: Patrick is smitten with Japanese photographer Ume Kayo and has followed her to Tokyo. Instead of narrating the story Madi now finds herself watching the next chapters unfold online along with everyone else.


Ultimately Madi and Patrick’s love dairy begins and ends with three things: a camera, a computer screen and an audience. Their romantic entanglement cannot be separated from the medium of photography or our networked digital age with its blurry boundaries between public and private. It is what propelled them to fall in love in the first place, helped them through the rough spots, and eventually ended it all. But it’s not hard to wonder: in an age when we’re surrounded by social networking, reality TV, and instant publishing can anything at all be felt or experienced outside of our compulsion to narrate and broadcast it for the entire world to experience along with us? Or put even more simply: without their love diary would Madi and Patrick have ever been in love in the first place? + Notes: 1

Originally published in: ‘Patrick Tsai & Madi Ju – My Little Dead Dick’, an interview for Unseen Magazine, April 2008, http://unseenmagazine. com/photographers/mylittledeaddick.html


From an interview with Patrick Tsai for Six.

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Sanna Kannisto Theatre of Nature

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Sanna Kannisto

List of works (in order of appearance): 1

Cymbopetalum brasiliense, 2000


Aristolochia gorgona, 2003


Passioflora vitifolia, 2003


Dictyophora indusiata, 2003


Leptophis ahaetulla, 2006


Saturniidae: Automeris postalbida, 2004


Tangara larvata, 2006


Bothriechis schlegelii, 2004


Musa paradisiaca, 2000

All images © Sanna Kannisto, courtesy of Galerie Wilma Tolksdorf, Frankfurt am Main/Berlin; Galerie Georg Kargl, Vienna; Galerie La Ferronnerie, Paris

Sanna Kannisto was born in 1974 in Härmeelinna, Finland. She currently lives and works in Helsinki. She studied photography both at the Turku School of Art and Communication and at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki. She has exhibited her works in many solo and group shows widely since 2002, including the Masters of Arts at The Finnish Museum of Photo­graphy in Helsinki, Personally at Kulturhuset in Stockholm, Self Timer at Kunsthalle Fridericianum in Kassel and The Faraway Nearby at the White Box in New York, Repeat All at the Centro Cultural Matucana 100 in Santiago de Chile, Research and Invention at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland and Arctic Hysteria Onscreen at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


In her work, Sanna Kannisto explores the relationship between nature and culture and the theories and concepts which are used to approach nature within the arts and sciences. Her methods, field studies and the objective scientific way of presenting the objects, refers not only to anthropological and archaeological ways of working, but also to studio portraiture and staged photography. Harri Laakso, is a Professor of Visual Culture at the University of Art and Design Helsinki, Pori School of Art and Media. He has previously worked as a photographer, curator and researcher and published many articles on art and photography in Finland and abroad. He is the author of Valokuvan Tapahtuma (The Event of Photography published by Tutkijaliitto, Helsinki 2003).

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Lucidities of the image ~ On the Photography of Sanna Kannisto

by Harri Laakso

Photographer Sanna Kannisto has focused on plants and animals in tropical rain forests for years. She has gradually accumulated an impressive body of work that examines, in a style both rigorous and delicate, not just the wondrous species of the tropics but the metaphors of seeing, science, photography and art. Her work presents us with a ­collection and a theatre; it focuses attention on plants and animals that one could rarely hope to see in their natural habitat, and even more ­miraculously reveals and unleashes the mechanisms of this theatrical presentation wherein lie its two wonders. Two ways to wonder It could generally be said that we wonder in two ways: our negative sense of wonder is principally based on disbelief or surprise (I wonder if this is true?). This wonder is in essence related to a quest for knowledge and the need to know. It is the insistent wonder of negation upon which science is founded, wonder based on verification of facts. Then there is the wonder of pure affirmation, the wonder of admiration and awe, something that speaks with all that is uncontrollable and that runs free in this world.

Throughout its history photography has flirted and toyed with these two different forms of wonder. Many a debate has arisen about the particular feeling of veracity that photographs seem to evoke, owing to their umbilical attachment to the world by rays of light. We have become accustomed to thinking that what is in the picture was once in front of the camera, and that photography is true to the vision in front of the lens, that there exists a visual correspondence. Then we have photography’s ability to disclose the unseen and the useable by its temporal commitment to fractions of a second, its ability to freeze the movement of galloping hooves or wings rapidly beating, something the human eye cannot accomplish. It appears that photographs are marked simultaneously by an idea of equivalence and, for lack of a better word, a mundane form of clairvoyance. Undoubtedly both cases are something to remark upon, something remarkable. The photography of Sanna Kannisto inhabits this nexus of the two wonders, echoing the duplicity and division of the image, the ways in which images are images. For photographs can be both illustrative and illustrious. They can be informative instruments of vision just as well as sites of powerless fascination, where seeing is no longer an ­active force but the impossibility of not seeing – where that which is seen takes hold, a touch from a distance taking seeing hostage. Already these two insights place Sanna Kannisto’s work at a remove from purely formalist work, even if the strange life forms she depicts are usually pleasurable to look at. Sometimes the forms appear so alien to us that we might imagine the creatures to be extraterrestrial, from beyond the horizon of our world. This is particularly evident in some of Kannisto’s video works depicting insect behaviour. The feeling of unworldliness is intensified by the separation of the creatures from their environment and their placement on the lustrous white background – a consecration of a sort. Perhaps it is precisely this amalgam of strangeness and pleasure that brings ‘the beyond’ up close and opens the stage to another way of seeing.

Flight Tent, 2006 © Sanna Kannisto


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Two theatres The images in this portfolio have a pronounced relation to the theatrical. The lighting, the black curtain, the placement of the figures all attest to this. One quickly gets the feeling, however, that the theatrical elements are more than just a setting or props, that they are themselves characters of the as yet undisclosed play and its choreography. A photographic sense of arrested motion or pose is hinted at: one can imagine the metal support performing a clumsy dance with the plant’s graceful stem and tender petals in Passioflora vitifolia (2003). It is an uneven and humorous coupling, one that serves to underline further the insufficiency of rational and systematic science in seeking to encompass the lure of a flower. In another image the rigidity of the metal stand is contrasted with the flexibility of a snake and in yet another with the delicateness of a small bird. One gets caught up in these metaphorical (and metaphysical) gestures and chains of thought. The images evoke a sense of experimentation, of scientific research and of theatrical operations – the viewer is invited into the operating theatre of the image. But in what sense are the images really theatrical? We are accustomed to thinking of the theatre as a place of speech and performance, a place where word becomes flesh. Yet it would seem as if the opposite happens here, an inverse phenomenon, a negation of theatre, a kind of backstage, where wordless unspeaking bodies are placed in full view, to dumbfound us. With respect to theatricality there are two questions to consider in Kannisto’s images: What is the difference between bodies in an image and on a theatrical stage and what is the nature of displacement and ex-position in these images? Both are obviously very much photographic themes. We know that photography translates the three-dimensional,

moving world into flat and motionless surfaces and that photography is the instrument of separation par excellence, the disrupter of contexts. It would be easy to conclude that we are far from the theatre of live bodies once we are within the realm of the photograph. Yet somehow Kannisto’s images seem to contest this and manage to salvage some distinct theatricality, or maybe it is more appropriate to say that the images acknowledge this reduction to the point that it no longer matters but becomes the image’s innate trait, and hence invisible. Her photographs are images (and theatre) in another sense too, and the way in which the photographed bodies (plants and animals) ­exist within them is equally curious, both matter-of-fact and magical. The theatricality in Kannisto’s images is that of the resurrected flesh, of something that was lost but has been conjured up again. This is of course true of any photograph, but Kannisto’s photographs have something more pressing about them, they mount the stage of resurrection and demonstrate the ways in which a photograph is never simply an image. As Giorgio Agamben writes, photographs present ‘a demand for redemption. The photograph is always more than an image: it is the site of a gap, a sublime breach between the sensible and the intelligible, between copy and reality, between a memory and a hope.’ 1 For Agamben the photographs he loves have a sense of exigency­ about them. He writes that photographs require something from us, and that this demand should not be confused with factual necessity.2 ­Perhaps this exigency is another aspect of the wonder and the pure ­affirmation I mentioned in the beginning of the text, a sort of promise, a prophecy. What about the bodies in Kannisto’s images? One might think that these photographed beings are rather like bodies in mirror image, pressing but without substance. The vivid colours and the shapes that invite touch underline this separation from the sensuous material world. We immediately recognize that there are many different kinds of plant and animal species in these images. Just as present but less obvious is the fact that the images themselves are species. As Agamben reminds us,

Taste of Nectar (1), 2008 © Sanna Kannisto


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the more archaic Latin sense of species does not refer to a thing, but to a ‘kind of thing’, an appearance. Agamben: ‘The image is a being whose ­essence is to be a species, a visibility or an appearance.’3 ­Kannisto’s ­images show us how the things photographed are connected to (and separated from) their own visibilities, their becoming image. This relates to the second question of displacement and time. If we think of an image as a stage on which selected items are isolated from some previous context and then displayed, we may think of their temporality in two ways. Thierry de Duve has characterized this division as one between image as event and image as picture. When considered a picture a photograph is a live witness to an already vanished past. As in a funerary portrait, in which a life that has already ended offstage is protracted onstage. On the other hand, when seen as an event, as in the case of a press image, the photograph freezes onstage something that continues its life outside.4 De Duve finds these two temporalities to be mutually exclusive and ­nevertheless to exist in every photograph. In the work of Kannisto this paradoxical hide-and-seek of temporalities becomes particularly ­noticeable. We can no longer be certain whether we are attending to the historical time of judgment and gesture (the incident that selected and isolated the flower to be photographed) or to the singular time of the flower that continues to emit its brilliance from within the image. Two lucidities The duplicities of wonder and of staging could perhaps be called the ­lucidities of the image, the coexistence of clarity and clairvoyance in them. For one sees them with a biologist’s empirical clarity of vision, and also by joining with them to look beyond, alongside their luminosity.


Sanna Kannisto’s photographs demonstrate photography’s nature in a tempting manner. But surely these photographs tell us not just about the way in which photographs exist but, plainly put, about the diversity­ of life in the world, thereby facilitating every valid concern, assisting anyone willing to act so that the environment around us – everything that we are responsible for – can be preserved in its full variety.  + Notes: 1

Giorgio Agamben, Profanations, (Zone Books, New York, 2007), p. 26.


ibid, p. 25. This concern for the needs and demands of the image has interested many of late, including for example W.J.T. Mitchell in his book What do Pictures Want? (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2004)


ibid, p. 56-57.


Thierry de Duve, ‘Time Exposure and Snapshot. The Photograph as Paradox’ in James Elkins (ed.), Photography Theory, (Routledge, New York, 2007), p. 110.

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paper selection

Foam Magazine’s choice of paper from ModoVanGelder Amsterdam

Jaap Scheeren is printed on PhoeniXmotion Xantur 135 g/m2

Jessica Backhaus is printed on Novatech Satin 150 g/m2

premium coated paper and board, FSC-certified

coated fine paper and board, FSC- and EU Flower-certified

Syoin Kajii is printed on tom&otto Gloss 150 g/m2

Koen Hauser is printed on Eurobulk 135 g/m2

coated fine paper and board, PEFC-certified

coated paper and board with 1.1 bulk, PEFC-certified

Madi Ju & Patrick Tsai are printed on Pioneer 115 g/m2

Sanna Kannisto is printed on Novatech Satin 135 g/m2

premium offset

coated fine paper and board, FSC- and EU Flower-certified

The paper used in this magazine was supplied by Amsterdam paper merchant ModoVanGelder. For more information please call +31 20 5605333 or email


a company of

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Roger Ballen Boarding House Roger Ballen’s work has been dark and sinister ever since his first publication. His method is now more precise and his


disappeared almost completely from his

Krass Clement Novemberrejse

arrangements; there remain only hands,

Although Krass Clement has already

the ocean, and the fog provide no clues.

eyes and mouths that emerge from shad­

published 17 books (many of them

And just like some of the trips under­

ows and holes. Most of the images have

impressive, one of which was included

taken by Daido Moriyama, we never

an enormous depth of field and feature

in Parr/Badger Volume 2), he is not

know what is behind them. Are they a

small animal carcasses, creepy drawings

exactly well known. There is something

search for memories, or are they about

by children, and wire netting. Ballen is a

old fashioned about his tender black-

longing and a desire for freedom? And

rarity among contemporary photo­

and-white photographs, but we shouldn’t

are these chance encounters, or are the

graphers in his preoccupation with

be misled: this self-taught, sixty-year-old

people related? Whatever the case may

obsessions and hallucinations. What is

Dane has many different styles, and his

be, the look of his subjects is frank and

perhaps most uncanny is that in almost

‘favourite medium is the photo book’.

almost challenging, as if they wanted to

every image we can feel the clear mind

Novemberrejse punctuates a melancholy

say: ‘Your solitude and melancholy are a

and cool hand of the author. Phaidon

atmosphere with a subtle rhythm. We

personal choice’. The structure and the

has now released his third book, a large-

never know for sure who we are dealing

rhythm of the book are generated by

format publication with a short introduc­

with, what the relationship is between

recurring subjects: a view from a bus

tion. The quality of the black-and-white

the photographer and the people he

window, encounters with people, and

reproductions is outstanding.

photographs, sometimes in intimate

time spent in empty places.

instruments are sharper. People have

moments, or even when and where he


is working. The rural setting, the build­


ISBN 978-0714849522

ings with their impenetrable windows,

ISBN 978-8702073881


foam magazine #19 / wonder



Lee Friedlander Witness Number Six Volume six of the Witness series pub­ lished by Nazraeli / JGS is dedicated to Raoul Hague, an artist few people are likely to know. The Witness series is a cross between a book and a magazine, and each volume is edited by a different photographer. This volume contains 157 photographs of the sculptor and his art

Dana Lixenberg Last Days of ­Shismaref 3

Gerry Johansson Ulan Bator

taken by Lee Friedlander between 1966 and 1990. The images speak of the inten­ sity with which Friedlander has studied Hague, an artist and a friend (Maria

During the shooting of a film in Alaska,

Friedlander describes this friendship in a

Dana Lixenberg came across this small

wonderful afterword). Friedlander’s crea­

community and made a book about her

tive energy has been let loose in Hague’s

stay there of several months. As a result

house and studio; every angle, the tools

of climate change, the ocean is washing

and objects, photographs on the walls,

Gerry Johansson’s new book is pub­

amazed at the different types of stone

away the shore, and the community will

possessions and the man himself are

lished by GUN Gallery, which opened

and concrete) and light. The city of Ulan

sooner or later have to leave its island

transformed into images quivering with

in Stockholm last year. Entitled Ulan

Bator has its roots in a nomadic settle­

home. Dana Lixenberg has made a por­

plasticity. Friedlander’s ability to dance to

Bator, it is named after the Mongolian

ment, and borders and markings in the

trait of the Inuit living there. Using a

his own tune and at the same time to

capital, which the photographer visited

form of fences, plants and statues are a

methodical approach, she has photo­

share with us the life of someone else,

in the autumn and winter of 2008. It

distinct theme in many images. These

graphed the various members of

and his stimulating and inexhaustible

follows the minimalist design of his two

pictorial elements are a formal device

selected families. Scenes from the ­village

compositional technique are once again

previous books, Amerika (1998) and

for the photo­grapher, but they also help

and still-lifes round off the book. An

abundantly documented in this volume.

Sverige (2005). Bound in cloth, with

us to understand the form of a foreign

interest in signs of American culture,

Friedlander is of course one of the all-

practically no text, and with black-and-

city. It is difficult to say with any cer­

which moved the photographer in ear­

time greats and here, by limiting his sub­

white photographs surrounded by gen­

tainty whether these images are austere,

lier publications, is shown here above

ject matter he allows us to study his

erous white margins, the book is

objective or aesthetic. Whatever the case

all in portraits of teenagers who are

qualities in greater depth. Maria quotes

designed to focus our eyes on the

may be, they take as their yardstick the

sceptical of or indifferent to the tradi­

her husband on the task of photography:

images themselves. In Johansson’s pho­

photographs of Robert Adams and his

tional way of life practiced by their par­

‘To bring you a part of the world you

tographs we see a series of buildings,

ability to dedicate himself completely to

ents. Episode has turned this project

wanted to know about as well as to

public squares and streets, no necessar­

a chosen place.

into a smartly designed publication.

emphasize what you already knew.’

ily without people. And then we recog­ nize the exactitude of his topographical

GUN Gallery

episode publishers

Nazraeli / JGS

eye and his interest in materials (I was

ISBN 978-91-9777658-3-1

ISBN 978-9059731103

ISBN 978-1-59005-243-3


foam magazine #19 / wonder



Verena ­Loewenhaupt CU Tokyo The images here speak of time and dura­ tion. The background to the book is an illness the photographer was forced to

adhere to a quiet and direct documen­

Coleccíon Anna Gamazo de Abelló, Fotografía ­Latinoamericana, A selection (1895–2008)

tary style. She uses this style to photo­

Besides publications by Erika Billeter and

graph her fellow patients and the

the Noorderlicht catalogue from 2002, I

building, the hospital in which she

know of few books on the subject of

stayed. A view from the window, an old

Latin American photography. Things

image of hope and the future, offers little

may change this year as Martin Parr is

consolation here. The building and its

rumoured to be compiling a history of

furnishings appear unfriendly; it is not a

the photobook in that part of the world.

place where we would wish to spend

The beginnings of a trend can already be

even an hour of our lives. But her stay

observed. The collection of Ms Gamazo

there led to the creation of these photo­

de Abelló, which comprises 87 photo­

come to terms with, something that is referred to only indirectly. Unlike the many busy, staged or dramatized images that compete for our attention these days, those of Verena Loewenhaupt

graphs, and in them we recognize a spirit of contradiction and a struggle to deal with the situation, if not to accept it.

The hospital images are inter­

graphers, is the basis of this well-edited,

Lukas Felzmann Waters in Between


remarkably designed, and carefully ­documented book that has been made by RM, a new Mexican publishing house,

spersed with colourful photographs of

Lars Müller Publishing has released a

together with Alexis Fabry, who has

cherry blossoms in Tokyo, which tradi­

photobook that in volume and depth

assisted with the collection, and Toluca

tionally symbolize a fresh start in life and

transcends normal photographic com­

Éditions from Paris. The collection

cycles of development. These images are

mitment. For more than ten years Lukas

embraces all possible photographic

printed on parchment paper, which

Felzmann visited a region north of San

trends. Between Sergio Larrain and Pablo

allows those of the hospital to shine

Francisco to study and photograph

Lopez everything is possible: studio por­

through, thus bringing the two series

swamps, the ways of water and how peo­

trait photography, journalism, subjective

together. Although the book presents

ple use it. The book’s focus on water

and constructive photography, etc. As a

these two sides of life, it does not make

holds the different photographic styles

result, we first see the hand of a well-

them into a harmonious whole. Verena

together. Felzmann has added a statement

informed collector (and thus echoes of

Loewenhaupt is my colleague and friend,

of his own to this examination of ecology,

already well-known photographic styles

and I am happy that she decided against

the environment and topo­graphy, a con­

from the canon) and only then the

harmony in favour of a difficult, honest

cern of documentary photographers for

­foreign richness of a world that operates

and convincing solution.

thirty years.

according to its own rules.

White Press Edition

Lars Müller Publishers

Editorial RM


ISBN 978-3-03778-138-8

ISBN 978-9-68934-522-0


foam magazine #19 / wonder


Chris Killip Here Comes ­Everybody – ­ Chris ­Killip’s Irish ­Photographs What was once a present, an album with photographs which Chris Killip gave to his mother, has now become a book. The transition was occasionally prob­ lematic. The page numbers and the printing are not completely satisfactory, but as a small series about Ireland, about belief, hills, pilgrims and the coast, the book is delightful, concentrated and accessible. The arrangement of the images is simple. Black-and-white pho­ tographs showing the slow ascent of pilgrims alternate with dignified vignettes of country life in subdued colour. Together they generate a simple and quiet rhythm. Both a sketchbook and an album made as a gift, the character of this book touched me and revealed a completely different side to a photogra­

Patrick Faigenbaum Santulussurgiu

pher whose book In Flagrante continues to stir my heart.

A Sardinian village and its inhabitants are the subject of this book. The photog­

Thames & Hudson

rapher has visited them over many years

ISBN 978-0-500-54365-8

and has family there. We can feel his familiarity with the place. The more than 115 photographs in this volume, how­ ever, do not revel in this familiarity


Text by Sebastian Hau

strategies are used to generate distance

Adam Bartos Yard Sale ­Photographs

in intimate moments of portraiture. This

Adam Bartos belongs to the second gen­

objects, their history and the stories they

in Cologne.

may sound forced, but the book in fact

eration of New Color photographers

tell and who include a note at the back

He also writes for the German website

documents a frank, sensitive, sensuous,

such as Mitch Epstein and Mark Cohen

of their books about the camera, the lens,

intelligent and discrete study of a place.

and was already mentioned in Sally Eau­

and the film they used. In any case, I am

As he did in Tulle, which was published

claire’s groundbreaking New Color/New

addicted to the green of an artificial

two years ago by Le Pont du Jour and

Work from 1984. This is the work of a

leather tennis-racket bag, the blue of a

Credits: all images are reproductions of

which for me is a model for all books

photographer who, with the certainty of

book, and the play of sunlight around a

book covers, unless numbered.

whose subject is a city, Faigenbaum com­

a daydreamer, is exploring a zone

salad spinner (and I’m also glad I didn’t

Credits for the numbered:

bines different styles into an effortless

between mass culture, consumption and

have to visit all these yard sales and flea

1 © Roger Ballen / Phaidon

book about life in a village. Festivities,

history, somewhere along the edges of

markets). Fortunately, Bartos appears to

2 © Krass Clement / Gyldendal

vegetation, work, play, inhabitants, the

American middle-class society and con­

have been involved in the design of his

3 © Gerry Johansson / Gun Gallery

elderly and children, in various formats,

sciousness. His fourth book is a collec­

book. As a result everything fits, from the

4 © Dana Lixenberg / episode publishers

in black and white and in colour – it all

tion of still-lifes of objects at yard sales.

cover, through the choice of paper, to the

5 © Verena Loewenhaupt /

adds up to a wonderful book.

He visits wealthy neighbourhoods as well

short story by Raymond Carver.

as those of the less-well-to-do. Between

(­Craigie Horsfield and Jeff Wall take the same approach), and various painterly

Sebastian Hau works in the specialised photography bookshop

Editions Xavier Barral

obvious and ordinary they can still be


ISBN 978-915173-39-0

found, the photographers who listen to

ISBN 978-8862080781


White Press Editions 6 © Lukas Felzmann / Lars Müller Publishers 7 © Adam Bartos / Damiani

foam magazine #19 / wonder webshop

A Shimmer of Possibility ˜ ‘Step into G

raham’s photog raphic stories of ever yday life in tod ay’s America, wher e nothing much happens, but n othing is forecl osed either, where ev er ything shimm ers with possibilit y.’

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foam magazine #19 / wonder On My Mind...

Kim Boske, Mapping 3, 2008-2009 colour print, 40 × 60 cm, from € 900, edition of 10.

Foam Editions is proud to represent a selection of six works by Kim Boske. The exhibition Mapping will be on view in Foam_3h from July 9th till August 17th. Also in Foam Editions: Daniëlle van Ark, Mitch Epstein, Marnix Goossens, Pieter Hugo, Marcus Koppen, Marrigje de Maar, Awoiska van der Molen, Daido Moriyama, James Nachtwey, Sanne Peper, Bart Julius Peters, Malick Sidibé, Raimond Wouda and Vincent Zedelius Open Wednesdays – Fridays 1.00 pm – 6.00 pm Saturdays 11.00 am – 6.00 pm and by appointment Foam Editions Keizersgracht 609 NL-1017 DS Amsterdam T +31 (0)20-5516500 W E

foam magazine #19 / wonder

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam

Foam exhibits all genres of photography: fine art, documentary, applied, historical and contemporary, and is a museum with international allure. Along with large exhibitions of established world-famous photographers, Foam exhibits emerging young talent in smaller, shorter shows. Keizersgracht 609 1017 DS Amsterdam tel +31 20 5516500 Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Foam is supported by the VandenEnde Foundation and the BankGiro Loterij

foam magazine #19 / wonder

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam

Frigido Ferragosto, 2006 Š Massimo Vitali


foam magazine #19 / wonder

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam

Massimo Vitali

29 May – 9 September 2009

The Italian photographer Massimo Vitali rose to fame in the late 1990s with large-format colour photos of crowded Italian beaches. His exceptional eye for detail enables him to capture what ordinary people do. Recreation, leisure and the holiday atmosphere fascinate him. He focuses above all on how people today spend their free time. The beach, clubs and mass tourism are among his favourite subjects. Vitali’s huge photos are the result of a complex process, in which he often uses a classic camera, a Deardorff 11x14 inch – a wooden model from the 1950s – to record everything around him with meticulous precision. He enlarges the resulting images digitally to create his astonishing panoramas. Vitali generally takes his pictures from a high vantage point. Using a large-format camera and an elevated perspective gives the artist an extremely wide view and at the same time an exceptionally detailed image. His latest pictures, taken in Sicily and Turkey, recall the traditional ‘capricci’ landscape paintings of frivolous, pastoral scenes of the 18th century. He spends months finding the ideal locations with the perfect elements: the dramatic rock formations and ancient ruins and villages that remind him of those paintings.


Massimo Vitali was born in 1944 in Como. He moved to London where he enrolled in a photography course at the London College of Printing. His career as a photojournalist began in the early 1960s and he worked for numerous periodicals and agencies in Italy and Europe. In the early 1980s Vitali lost faith in the absolute power of photography to provide for reality’s subtleties, and he was prompted to switch to the world of fiction and advertising as a cinematographer. Yet photography kept him in its grip and over the last ten years he has been working on his monumental images of holidaymakers in public spaces. Vitali’s work has appeared in countless museums and galleries in recent years, both in Europe and America. +

This exhibition was made possible by the cooperation of Istituto Italiano di Cultura

di Amsterdam and Excelsior Markiezenfabriek. Foam is sponsored by the BankGiroLoterij and the VandenEnde Foundation. All images: © Massimo Vitali

foam magazine #19 / wonder

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam

Sacred Pool Russians, 2008 Š Massimo Vitali


foam magazine #19 / wonder

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam


foam magazine #19 / wonder

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam

Vecchiano Norte, 1999 Š Massimo Vitali


foam magazine #19 / wonder

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam


foam magazine #19 / wonder

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam

Butterfly Valley, 2008 Š Massimo Vitali


foam magazine #19 / wonder

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam


foam magazine #19 / wonder

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam

Catania Under the Volcano, 2007 Š Massimo Vitali


foam magazine #19 / wonder

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam


foam magazine #19 / wonder

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam

14 May – 23 August 2009

NY Perspectives ~ Amsterdam discovered by NY photographers To mark the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of ­Manhattan Foam is teaming up with the Amsterdam City Archives and the John Adams Institute to organize an exhibition about Amsterdam as seen through the eyes of four New York photographers. Gus Powell, Carl ­Wooley, Richard Rothman and Joshua Lutz were each commissioned to explore a different aspect of the city: the street, the night, the water and the outskirts. The surprising images that resulted show an unknown side of Amsterdam. The exhibition is held in the Amsterdam City Archives.

© Emilie Hudig

29 May – 8 July 2009

Foam_3h: Emilie Hudig ~ Control

Yellow Van, from the series Night, 2008 © Carl Wooley/Collectie Stadsarchief

29 May – 5 July 2009

Marks of Honour Thirteen international photographers were invited to choose a photobook that has influenced them, and to pay it artistic homage. The participants show a wide spectrum of enthusiasm for photobooks and demonstrate the variety of inspirational sources. Limited to three copies, each work contains the original photobook and its complementary homage. The photographers and their homage: Harvey Benge/William ­Eggleston; Chris Coekin/Henrik Duncker & Yrjo Tuunanen; Peter Granser/ Robert Frank; Pieter Hugo/Roland Barthes; Tiina Itkonen/Pentti Sammallahti; Onaka Koji/Daido Moriyama; Jens Liebchen/Anthony Hernandez; Michael Light/Ansel Adams; Mark Power/Stephen Shore; Matthew Sleeth/Lars Tunbjörk; Alec Soth/Andrea Modica; Jules Spinatsch/Block 2008; Raimond Wouda/Paul Shambroom.


In July 2007 photographer Emilie Hudig was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease for the second time. Her series Control records the process of her illness in an extremely personal way. She won The Photo Academy Award for another project in 2007 and with it an exhibition in Foam_3h. Having had no signs of the illness for 13 years, Hudig discovered it had returned. She was 34 years old, married and the mother of a tenmonth-old son. In everyday life Hudig is a documentary photographer and when her treatment started at the Amsterdam VU hospital she decided to take a small analogue camera with her everywhere. She used the camera to compile a photographic diary that expresses her feelings during her treatment. Taking photographs gave her the feeling that she did not have to give up everything that belonged to her normal life. It also had a significant impact on the atmosphere in the hospital and helped to reduce her fear. The series about Hudig’s sickbed is personal and uncompromising. The style of her story is documentary, artistic and associative. One result of this project was that Hudig discovered that, for her, photography is first of all about vulnerability and transience.

foam magazine #19 / wonder

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam

29 May – 30 August 2009

Guy Tillim ~ Avenue Patrice Lumumba Foam presents a broad selection from Avenue Patrice Lumumba, the most recent project by South African photographer Guy Tillim. With clear, precise and engaging images, Tillim focuses on the modernistic architecture that was a symbol of the original optimism surrounding the idea of an independent post-colonial Africa during the first years of the Lumumba leadership. Guy Tillim started to work on this project after receiving the first Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography, awarded by the Peabody Museum of Harvard University. In addition to this exhibition in Foam, Avenue Patrice Lumumba will be displayed by the Fondation Henri ­Cartier-Bresson in Paris, The Photographers’ Gallery in London and ­Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto. A book accompanying the exhibition has been published by Prestel. Guy Tillim is based in Cape Town. He was previously a jury member for Foam’s KLM Paul Huf Award.

Napkin, 2009 © Hendrik Kerstens. Courtesy Witzenhausen Gallery Amsterdam/New York

11 June – 13 September 2009

Dutch Seen ~ New York Rediscovered

Apartment building, Avenue Bagamoyo, Beira, Mozambique, 2008 © Guy Tillim. Courtesy Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town


Together with the Museum of the City of New York, Foam presents the exhibition Dutch Seen: New York Rediscovered. Curated by Kathy Ryan, Director of Photography at The New York Times Magazine, the exhibition will mark the 400th anniversary of the Dutch arrival in Manhattan and feature the work of contemporary Dutch photographers. The exhibition, presented in the Museum of the City of New York, presents New York with some of the most exciting imagery in the photo­ graphic medium being done by the Dutch. The artists featured in the exhibition range from well-known and leading photographers to emerging artists who are just now gaining recognition. Participating artists include: Daniëlle van Ark, Morad Bouchakour, ­Wijnanda Deroo, Rineke Dijkstra, Charlotte Dumas, Hendrik Kerstens, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, Hellen van Meene, Arno Nollen, ­Erwin Olaf, Misha de Ridder, and Jaap Scheeren. The majority of the work in the exhibition will be created and premiered in this exhibition. A fully illustrated catalogue featuring work created by all of the participating photographers will accompany the exhibition.

foam magazine #19 / wonder

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam

10 July – 9 September 2009

Foam_3h: Kim Boske ~ Mapping Dutch photographer Kim Boske examines how moments in time and space come together. Her work is made up of various layers that combine to create a harmonious image, though on closer inspection many questions arise. Boske photographed trees for her Mapping series by circling them to view them from different angles. She combines the results in a new image that presents the entire tree. Every perspective of the tree appears at the same time, overlapping and sharing space in a single image.

4 September – 22 November 2009

Charlotte Dumas ~ Paradise Foam presents Paradise, the first major survey of the work of Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas. Dumas makes serene, intimate ­portraits of animals. Her fascination with animals began with a desire to record aggression. While studying at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam she ­produced a series of photos of police dogs, followed in later years by a series on police horses (Day is Done), wolves (Reverie) and more recently stray dogs (Heart-Shaped Hole). Dumas captures moments of concentrated calm, almost always placing the subject in the centre in a traditional manner.

Untitled (Taza), 2005 © Charlotte Dumas

11 September – 25 October 2009

KLM Paul Huf Award ~ Leonie Purchas From the series Mapping, 2009 © Kim Boske

10 July – 9 September 2009

Gerda Leo ~ Photographs 1926-1932 This is the first exhibition in the Netherlands of the remarkable oeuvre of the Dutch-German photographer Gerda Leo (1909-1993), one of the most promising art students at the ‘other Bauhaus school’ in Halle, Germany. She showed work in 1929 in the legendary Film und Foto exhibition, the first major presentation of modern photography in Europe. Though her career was short, packed into the few years between 1926 and 1932, Leo managed to assemble an astonishing oeuvre that made a significant impact on the New Vision, the key movement of the 1920s.


The winner of the KLM Paul Huf Award 2009 is the young British photo­ grapher Leonie Purchas. The international jury was enthralled by these ­visually and emotionally compelling photographs. Working within the confined and complicated space of her family home, Leonie Purchas shows us moments that are familiar and everyday, yet reveal something new – the poetics of the ordinary.

18 September – 9 December 2009

PRUNE ~ Abstracting Reality This exhibition concentrates on the complex yet intriguing relationship between reality and abstraction in contemporary photography. PRUNE – Abstracting Reality gathers photographic work which though grounded in reality pushes toward abstraction. The show features work that is initially appreciated for its form, until the viewer realizes that there is a story behind the image, one revealed only by reading the ­caption. PRUNE – Abstracting Reality features work by Julian Faulhaber, Edgar Martins, Luke Gilford, Horacio Salinas, Roger Ballen, Broomberg & Chanarin and others. The exhibition is curated by Kathy Ryan, ­Director of Photography of The New York Times Magazine, in collaboration with Foam.

foam magazine #19 / wonder


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foam magazine #19 / wonder


Colophon Foam Magazine International Photography Magazine Issue #19, Summer 2009 June 2009 Editorial Advisers Christian Caujolle, art director VU, Paris / Kathy Ryan, photo editor The New York Times Magazine, New York / Markus Schaden Editor-in-chief Marloes Krijnen Editors Marcel Feil / Pjotr de Jong / Tanja Wallroth / Sara Despres Managing Editor Tanja Wallroth / Sara Despres Magazine Manager Chee Yee Tang Communication Intern Eva Valkhoff Concept, Art Direction & Design Vandejong, Amsterdam – Pjotr de Jong / Marcel de Vries / Hamid Sallali / Lucie Pindat / Claudia Doms Typography Hamid Sallali / Frederic Brodbeck Contributing Photographers Jaap Scheeren / Jessica Backhaus / Syoin Kajii / Koen Hauser / Madi Ju / Patrick Tsai / Sanna Kannisto Cover Photograph Man with the Red Hat, 2008 © Jaap Scheeren Contributing Writers Marcel Feil / Sebastian Hau / Aaron Schuman / Eric Miles / Jim Casper / Kim Knoppers / Laurel Ptak / Harri Laakso Copy Editor Pittwater Literary Services, Amsterdam – Rowan Hewison Translation Iris Maher / Paul Christensen / Terri J. Kester Lithography & Printing Drukkerij Slinger Strooijonkerstraat 7 1812 PJ Alkmaar – NL Binding Binderij Hexspoor Ladonkseweg 7 5281 RN Boxtel – NL


ModoVanGelder, Amsterdam Postbus 49000 1009 CG Amsterdam – NL For this edition the following paper has been selected: Pioneer offset 300 g/m2 (cover) Pioneer offset 80 g/m2 (editorial) Pioneer offset 70 g/m2 (portfolio texts) Novatech Gloss 90 g/m2 (Koen Hauser prints) The production of Foam Magazine has been made ­possible thanks to the generous support of Drukkerij Slinger, Binderij Hexspoor and ModoVanGelder, Amsterdam.

Editorial Address Foam Magazine Keizersgracht 609 1017 DS Amsterdam – NL T +31 20 5516500 F +31 20 5516501 Advertising Chee Yee Tang Foam Magazine PO Box 92292 1090 AG Amsterdam – NL T +31 20 4622062 F +31 20 4622060 Subscriptions Bruil & van de Staaij PO Box 75 7940 AB Meppel – NL T +31 522 261303 F +31 522 257827 Subscriptions include 4 issues per year including VAT and postage The Netherlands e 50,– Rest of the World e 55,– Students and Club Foam members receive 20% discount Single issues include VAT and postage The Netherlands e 13,50 Rest of the world e 15,– Foam Magazine #1 is out of print Publisher Foam Magazine PO Box 92292 1090 AG Amsterdam – NL T +31 20 4622062 F +31 20 4622060 ISSN 1570-4874 ISBN: 978-90-70516-14-7 © photographers, authors, Foam Magazine BV, Amsterdam, 2009.


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 contact copyright holders. Any copyright 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 photocopy, 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. Distribution

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