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A SENSE OF PLACE PIER 24 PHOTOGRAPHY


PUBLISHED IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE EXHIBITION A SENSE OF PLACE AT PIER 24 PHOTOGRAPHY JULY 1, 2013 – MAY 30, 2014


CONTENTS: INTRODUCTION 04 JOSHUA CHUANG SELECTED PLATES 15 THE DEVELOPMENT OF A COLLECTION SANDRA S. PHILLIPS PAUL GRAHAM AND STEPHEN SHORE IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER MCCALL

104 126


INTRODUCTION JOSHUA CHUANG

Francis Frith, Pyramids of El-Geezah from the Southwest, 1858. Albumen print from a glass negative, 13 x 19 in. (33 x 48.2 cm)


Place. It is a word so ordinary that we rarely stop to consider what it means. Is its definition fixed and universally understood? Can it be captured by a particular set of coordinates on a map or is it something more abstract, subjective, and experiential? Aristotle thought of place as an empty container in which things exist, but Plato understood it more explicitly, as “the nurse of all becoming.”

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A perennial subject of artists and writers, the concept of place has also been the focus of a rich and varied body of literature within the field of geography. In the 1970s humanist geographers such as Yi-Fu Tuan began to develop the idea of place as distinct from that of space. “What begins as undifferentiated space,” Tuan maintained, “becomes place as we get to 2

know it better and endow it with value.” If space on its own is anonymous and indeterminate, then place can be thought of as a space to which we attach personal significance—a location of private import, of rootedness and authenticity. We must pause and linger in, and sometimes alter, a space in order for it to become a place. Places are vital centers of human experience because it is through them that we can locate ourselves and understand the world. Home is an especially profound example of place, one in which life unfolds and meaning accumulates through layers and associations. Landscape is another word intertwined with the idea of place. Defined as “all the visible features of an area of countryside or land, often considered in terms of their aesthetic appeal,” the term, when it first appeared at the end of the sixteenth century, referred to a genre of art, namely painted depictions 3

of natural settings that were often imaginary and distant. If place is a location invested with personal meaning, then a landscape, strictly defined, is simply a location that can be viewed. Taking into account the more encompassing and political use of the word landscape in the modern era, the cultural geographer J. B. Jackson has offered an updated

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Introduction Joshua Chuang

Charles Marville, Rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Geneviève, 1865–69. Albumen print, 11 ½ x 10 ½ in. (29.2 x 26.7 cm)


definition—“a composition of man-made or man-modified spaces to serve as infrastructure or background for our collective existence”—that aligns it more closely to the concept of place.

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Aspects of contemporary life have vastly complicated our sense of place. As more and more of our lives occur in spaces that look and feel the same as many other settings throughout the world, social critics have observed the existential problem of placelessness—a sense of alienation resulting from a disconnect with a genuine and singular sense of place. The French anthropologist Marc Augé developed the term “non-places” to refer to spaces of transience (such as motel rooms, airports, and supermarkets) that cannot, by their nature, register the personal significance of place. Among the undeniable effects of globalization—and the astonishing advances in communication, distribution, and transport that have facilitated it—is the erosion of the importance of place in our lives. The photographs that follow in this catalogue, which commemorates the exhibition A Sense of Place, held at Pier 24 Photography, were each chosen for their contribution to a wide-ranging dialogue about our diverse and changing notions of place. In its capacity as both a precise visual document and an artistic medium, photography has been from its inception well suited to address the subject, particularly in its ability to transport the viewer to the scene described. Some of earliest pictures here, such as Francis Frith’s (1822–1898) detailed 1858 view of the pyramids in Giza (p. 4), were made with the intent of conveying the actuality of exotic sites to a public who previously had only known them through idealized etchings or engravings, if at all. Others, like Charles Marville’s (1813–1879) picture of a quaint, cobblestone Paris intersection (p. 6), possess an added measure of poignancy when we learn the facts beyond those visible in the picture— for this photograph was commissioned to document what

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Introduction Joshua Chuang

If space on its own is anonymous and indeterminate, then place can be thought of as a space to which we attach personal significance—a location of private import, of rootedness and authenticity.


Stephen Shore, Presidio, Texas, February 21, 1975, 1975. Chromogenic print, 17 x 21 ½ in. (43.1 x 54.6 cm)

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Introduction Joshua Chuang

the street had looked like shortly before it was demolished in a push toward modernization. The scruffy lower Manhattan building that Walker Evans (1903–1975) photographed in 1934 (p. 118) is also long gone, but somehow, thanks to the photographer’s aversion to nostalgia and gift of irreducible description, Paul’s Restaurant has been immortalized in its vernacular splendor. Similarly, John Chiara’s (b. 1971) contemporary camera obscura images of particular buildings and views in San Francisco (pp. 43–51) conjure, in their seductive physicality and primitivism, a palpable sense of place that seems to stand outside time. Places as experienced via the grand tradition of the American road trip are featured here as well, from Stephen Shore’s (b. 1947) deadpan color pictures (p. 9, 129), taken during his nomadic journeys in the 1970s, to Lee Friedlander’s (b. 1934) exuberant visual mash-ups of the American social landscape (pp. 92–101), as seen through the window (and sometimes mirror) of his car. Paul Graham (b. 1956), in his series The Present (2010–12, pp. 126–27, 132–33), takes to heart Lucy Lippard’s notion of place as a “layered location replete with human histories” by registering acutely described scenes of marked difference just seconds or steps apart on the 5

same New York City streets. By contrast, Asako Narahashi (b. 1959), Eric Carroll (b. 1980), and Todd Hido (b. 1968) present a more associative and suggestive approach, obscuring specific detail in their pictures to enable us to relate viscerally to the experience of the depicted places without necessarily knowing where they are. Significantly, more complex notions of place—and the disorienting sense of alienation that comes from placelessness— are also reflected in this selection. Erik Kessels’s (b. 1966) installation 24 HRS in Photos (2013, pp. 34–37), composed of physical snapshots of all the pictures uploaded to Flickr in a single day, confronts us with a deluge of images so overwhelming that we fail to absorb any of them singly. Jan De


Todd Hido, #3878, 2005. Chromogenic print, 60 x 48 in. (152.4 x 121.9 cm)

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Introduction Joshua Chuang

Robert Adams, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1968. Gelatin silver print, 14 x 14 in. (35.5 x 35.5 cm)


Cock’s (b. 1976) photograph of an empty university library at night (p. 28) and Andreas Gursky’s (b. 1955) panorama of a 99-cent store interior (pp. 24–25) perfectly express Augé’s notion of the non-place, “a space which cannot be defined as 6

relational, or historical, or concerned with identity.” Although we can begin to relate to some of the typecast, would-be revelers standing in the foreground of Jeff Wall’s (b. 1946) carefully orchestrated picture of a nightclub entrance (pp. 16–17), we are ultimately left only with the sensation of the picture’s surfaces, which are as alluring and impenetrable as the club itself. Along similar lines, Thomas Demand’s (b. 1964) photographs of his room-size paper constructions (pp. 18–21), built and lit to simulate the experience of actual places, are headshaking not only in their virtuosity but also in their credibility. Perhaps the work that best encapsulates the complexities of place, however, is that of Robert Adams (b. 1937), whose austere pictures from the 1960s and 1970s helped to reassert landscape as a rigorous subject in the realm of photography. Spurred by the bitter loss of the Colorado he once knew, Adams pioneered a way to make photographs that could speak intimately to both the land’s grandeur and its wrenching transformation into a setting for the proliferation of non-places. His work—in which space and landscape are synonymous with place—serves as a singularly suitable introduction to the many congruities and contradictions contained within this book. For its excellent survey of the various and evolving notions of place I am indebted to Tim Cresswell’s book Places: A Short Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004). 1. Steven Hoelscher, “Place—Part II,” in The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Human Geography, ed. John A. Agnew and James S. Duncan (West Sussex: Blackwell Publishing, 2011), 251. 2. Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1977), 6. 3. “Landscape,” Oxford Dictionaries, accessed June 15, 2014,

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/landscape. 4. J. B. Jackson, Discovering the Vernacular Landscape (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984), 8. 5. Lucy Lippard, The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicultural Society (New York: The New Press, 1997), 7. 6. Marc Augé, Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, trans. John Howe (London: Verso, 1995), 77–78.

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SELECTED PLATES

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Jeff Wall, In front of a night club, 2006. Transparency in lightbox, 88 他 x 143 他 in. (225.4 x 365.1 cm)


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Thomas Demand, Grotto, 2006. Chromogenic print with Diasec mount, 78 x 173 Âź in. (198.1 x 440 cm)


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Thomas Demand, Kabine (Changing Room), 2002. Chromogenic print with Diasec mount, 71 x 99 Âź in. (180.3 x 252 cm)


Thomas Demand, Kßche (Kitchen), 2004. Chromogenic print with Diasec mount, 53 x 64 ½ in. (134.6 x 163.8 cm)

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Andreas Gursky, F1 Pit Stop lll, 2007. Chromogenic print, 88 x 239 他 in. (223.5 x 608.9 cm)


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Andreas Gursky, 99 cent, 1999. Chromogenic print, 81 x 132 in. (205.7 x 335.2 cm)


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Cinthya Soto, Tramo el Saborcito, 2005. Chromogenic print, 107 x 215 in. (271.7 x 546.1 cm)


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Jan De Cock, Denkmal 9, Henry Van de Velde Universiteitsbibliotheek, Rozier 9, Gent, 2004. Transparency in lightbox, 70 ¾ x 118 ¼ in. (179.7 x 300.3 cm) Right: Lucia Koch, Spaghetti (2 windows), 2006. Pigment print, 135 x 63 in. (342.9 x 160 cm)


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Richard Misrach, Desert Fire #43, 1983. Pigment print, 96 x 120 in. (243.8 x 304.8 cm)


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Edward Burtynsky, Socar Oil Fields #1a and #1b, Baku, Azerbaijan, 2006. Digital chromogenic prints, each 48 x 72 in. (121.9 x 182.8 cm)


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This spread and previous pages: Erik Kessels, 24 HRS in Photos, 2013. Site-specific installation of Fuji Crystal Archive prints, dimensions variable


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Jose Manuel Fors, Havana Circle, 2012. Gelatin silver print, diameter 78 ½ (199.3 cm)


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Richard Learoyd, The Stour from Dead Man’s Bridge, near Flatford, Winter, 2013. Gelatin silver contact print, 48 x 80 in. (121.9 x 203.2 cm)


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John Chiara, Embarcadero at Interstate 80, 2013. Dye destruction process, unique photographs on Ilfochrome paper, each 50 x 79 in. (127 x 200.6 cm)

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John Chiara, Felton at Amhearst, 2012. Dye destruction process, unique photograph on Ilfochrome paper, 33 x 28 in. (83.8 x 71.1 cm)


John Chiara, Inca at Avalon, 2012. Dye destruction process, unique photograph on Ilfochrome paper, 32 ½ x 28 in. (82.5 x 71.1 cm)

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John Chiara, Crestmont End (Upper-East and Lower-East), 2012. Dye destruction process, unique photographs on Ilfochrome paper, each 34 ½ x 28 in. (87.6 x 71.1 cm)


John Chiara, Sunnydale at Russia, 2013. Dye destruction process, unique photograph on Ilfochrome paper, 53 x 50 in. (134.6 x 127cm)

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John Chiara, Crestmont End, Southwest, 2013. Dye destruction process, unique photograph on Ilfochrome paper, 33 ½ x 27 in. (85 x 68.5 cm)


John Chiara, Crestmont End, Southeast, 2013. Dye destruction process, unique photograph on Ilfochrome paper, 33 x 26 in. (83.8 x 66 cm)

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John Chiara, Funston at Cascade, 2013. Dye destruction process, unique photograph on Ilfochrome paper, 49 ½ x 69 in. (125.7 x 175.2 cm)


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Todd Hido, #10101, 2011. Chromogenic print, 59 x 74 in. (149.8 x 187.9 cm)


Todd Hido, #3179, 2003. Chromogenic print, 59 x 74 in. (149.8 x 187.9 cm)

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Todd Hido, #6426, 2007. Chromogenic print, 59 x 74 in. (149.8 x 187.9 cm)

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Todd Hido, #7557, 2008. Chromogenic print, 59 x 74 in. (149.8 x 187.9 cm)


Todd Hido, #10320, 2011. Chromogenic print, 59 x 74 in. (149.8 x 187.9 cm)

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Todd Hido, #10845–7, 2012. Chromogenic print, 59 x 74 in. (149.8 x 187.9 cm)


59


Doug Aitken, House, 2010 (stills). Single-channel video with sound, 8:36 min.


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Rinko Kawauchi, Untitled, from the series Ametsuchi, 2013. Chromogenic print, 58 x 73 ½ in. (147.3 x 186.6 cm)


Rinko Kawauchi, Untitled, from the series Ametsuchi, 2012. Chromogenic print, 24 ž x 31 ½ in. (62.8 x 80 cm)

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Asako Narahashi Mekari, from the series half awake and half asleep in the water, 2004. Chromogenic print, 24 x 36 in. (61 x 91.4 cm) Right: Kawaguchiko #6, from the series half awake and half asleep in the water, 2003. Chromogenic print, 35 x 52 ½ in. (88.9 x 133.3 cm) Kawaguchiko #4, from the series half awake and half asleep in the water, 2003. Chromogenic print, 35 x 52 ½ in. (88.9 x 133.3 cm) Kawaguchiko #2, from the series half awake and half asleep in the water, 2003. Chromogenic print, 35 x 52 ½ in. (88.9 x 133.3 cm)


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Eric William Carroll, Blue Line of Woods, 2010, Diazotype, eight panels, each 72 x 36 in. (182.8 x 91.4 cm)


Moyra Davey, Nyro, 2003. Chromogenic print, 24 x 20 in. (60.9 x 50.8 cm)


Moyra Davey, Shure, 2003. Chromogenic print, 24 x 20 in. (60.9 x 50.8 cm)

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Uta Barth, Untitled (aot 7), from the series ...and of time, 2000. Chromogenic prints, each 35 x 44 in. (88.9 x 111.8 cm)


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Wolfgang Tillmans, summer still life, 1995. Pigment print, 53 x 77 in. (134.6 x 195.5 cm)


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Previous pages: Veronika Kellndorfer, Lovell Beach House, 2008. Silkscreen print on three glass panels, 115 Ÿ x 158 ½ in. (292.7 x 402.5 cm) overall


Photographer Unknown, Untitled, ca. 1950. Gelatin silver prints, each 4 ½ x 2 in. (11.4 x 5 cm)

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Robert Adams, Newly completed tract house. Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1968. Gelatin silver print, 5 他 x 6 in. (14.6 x 15.2 cm)


Robert Adams, Newly occupied tract houses, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1968–71. Gelatin silver print, 6 x 6 in. (15.2 x 15.2 cm)

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Robert Adams, Security, Colorado, 1968-71. Gelatin silver print, 5 ½ x 6 in. (13.9 x 15.2 cm)


Robert Adams, Denver, Colorado, 1973. Gelatin silver print, 7 Ÿ x 6 ž in. (18.4 x 17.1 cm)

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Robert Adams, Eden, Colorado, 1968. Gelatin silver print, 5 ½ x 6 in. (13.9 x 15.2)


Robert Adams, Eden, Colorado, 1968-69. Gelatin silver print, 4 他 x 6 in. (12 x 15.2 cm)

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Robert Adams, New housing. North Denver, Colorado, 1973. Gelatin silver print, 6 x 7 ½ in. (15.2 x 19.0 cm)


Robert Adams, Longmont, Colorado, 1979. Gelatin silver print, 5 x 5 in. (12.7 x 12.7 cm)

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Robert Adams, Pike’s Peak, Colorado Springs, 1969. Gelatin silver print, 5 ½ x 6 in. (13.9 x 15.2 cm)


Robert Adams, Fort Collins, Colorado, 1976. Gelatin silver print, 5 x 5 in. (12.7 x 12.7 cm)

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Lee Friedlander, Montana, from the series America by Car, 2008. Gelatin silver print, 14 ½ x 14 ½ in. (36.8 x 36.8 cm)


Lee Friedlander, Washington, from the series America by Car, 2006. Gelatin silver print, 14 ½ x 14 ½ in. (36.8 x 36.8 cm)

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Lee Friedlander, Zion National Park, Utah from the series America by Car, 2007. Gelatin silver print, 14 ½ x 14 ½ in. (36.8 x 36.8 cm)


Lee Friedlander, New City, New York, from the series America by Car, 2009. Gelatin silver print, 14 ½ x 14 ½ in. (36.8 x 36.8 cm)

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Lee Friedlander, Lone Pine California, from the series America by Car, 2009. Gelatin silver print, 14 ½ x 14 ½ in. (36.8 x 36.8 cm)


Lee Friedlander, Maria, Death Valley, California, from the series America by Car, 2009. Gelatin silver print, 14 ½ x 14 ½ in. (36.8 x 36.8 cm)

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Lee Friedlander, Cleveland, Ohio, from the series America by Car, 2009. Gelatin silver print, 14 ½ x 14 ½ in. (36.8 x 36.8 cm)


Lee Friedlander, New York City, from the series America by Car, 2002. Gelatin silver print, 14 ½ x 14 ½ in. (36.8 x 36.8 cm)

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Lee Friedlander, Savannah, Georgia, from the series America by Car, 2008. Gelatin silver print, 14 ½ x 14 ½ in. (36.8 x 36.8 cm)


Lee Friedlander, Montana, from the series America by Car, 2009. Gelatin silver print, 14 ½ x 14 ½ in. (36.8 x 36.8 cm)

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THE DEVELOPMENT OF A COLLECTION SANDRA S. PHILLIPS

Henry Faul, Pike’s Peak, Judd Mine, Colorado Territory, 1861. Albumen print, 6 x 7 ½ in. (15.2 x 19.0 cm)


Three galleries within the exhibition A Sense of Place are dedicated to the Collection of Paul Sack and the Sack Photographic Trust. These galleries feature three distinct thematic continuities within the collection: Horizons, Dwellings, and The City. Primarily from the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, these photographs prominently feature a range of structures and locations throughout the world.

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The Development of a Collection Sandra S. Phillips

Roger Fenton, On the Wye, ca. 1855. Salt print from a glass negative, 7 Âź x 9 in. (18.4 x 22.7 cm)


I met Paul Sack for the first time in early 1989, the year after I was made curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It was evident that he was absolutely fascinated with photography; the medium was still relatively new to him then, and he found it challenging in a way he could not yet fully explain. Because his business was residential real estate, Paul had decided that focusing on photographs of built structures would be a way of assembling a collection that was personal and meaningful to him. This guideline proved to be an adventurous theme around which to assemble a collection, since photographs of this subject are nicely diverse. Paul set one other limitation: color was not to be admitted into the scope of his collecting. He felt that by the time color photography was introduced the medium had changed in some essential way, and he found that in general much of the more contemporary photography was not congruent with his interests, and, moreover, that early color photographs were (as color photography still is, to some extent) far less stable than gelatin silver prints. I remember clearly the moment when Paul asked if he should be looking at nineteenth-century photography, whether that was an area of importance. As I recall, I told him that some of those early pictures were as modern and adventurous as the photographs he had already purchased, and that he would be eminently suited to explore such territory. He instinctively understood the continuity of the medium—that unlike painting there is no separate “modern� photography, that in fact the whole medium, a child of the technological revolution of the nineteenth century, is itself modern. As the collection grew, it was fun to visit him and see what new pictures he was considering or what he had acquired. Over time he began to articulate the range of his collecting more precisely, saying that he wanted to own pictures that

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The Development of a Collection Sandra S. Phillips

Many of these pictures were the first photographs ever made of their subjects; all of them reflect a desire to inform and excite the viewer by representing what these far-flung places looked like.


Humphrey Lloyd Hime, Birch Bark Tents, West Bank of Red River, Middle Settlement, 1858. Albumen print, 5 ½ x 6 ¾ in. (13.9 x 17.1 cm)

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The Development of a Collection Sandra S. Phillips

Carleton E. Watkins, Spokane Falls, 1882. Albumen print, 14 ½ x 21 in. (36.8 x 53.3 cm)


not only depict buildings but that also, somewhere within the bounds of their four sides, show a property he could own or lease. I will admit that at first I tried to encourage him to consider pictures of all kinds of architecture, but he was very clear that a more expansive approach was not of real interest to him. I find this a wonderfully individual and revealing, if sometimes baffling, way to define a collection. I respect it because it somehow fits, and even reflects, his personality and interests, and, if one dare enter this ambiguous terrain, I find that as a parameter it is psychologically true. My friend Paul is an accomplished businessman and has done some very adventurous things in his life. I believe it is fair to say that he has been conscious and appreciative of, and nourished by, the idea of home, as well as curious and interested in a nonjudgmental way in places where people live, work, or go to enjoy themselves. Today we refer to such spaces as the “built environment,” but I believe that Paul is an old-fashioned idealist, and that as such what really interests him about these subjects is the idea of community. He believes in progress, in the ability of people to do better, to make their lives richer or more meaningful and purposeful. Each of the three galleries in this exhibition, organized by Pier 24 Photography, identifies a different thematic thread within the Sack Collection: Horizons, Dwellings, and The City. Although many of the featured pictures are familiar, they have not been assembled in this manner before. This presentation encourages us to examine them—and the Collection more broadly—in very new ways. The photographs in the first room, organized around the theme Horizons, have been selected for the graceful continuous line that delineates the point where the earth ends and the sky begins. A great deal of care has been taken to match up the horizon lines in these works and thereby visually unite

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The Development of a Collection Sandra S. Phillips

Photographer Unknown, Untitled [Family in front of Farm House], ca. 1870. Full-plate tintype, 7 x 9 in. (17.7 x 22.8 cm)


the pictured sites, which range from Europe and the Middle East to the United States. The specific location of these pictures is not the first thing we notice; what is most striking is the broad horizon and expanse of sky. In the nineteenth century, when all of these pictures were made, the photographic emulsions that were used (the wet collodion process was the one most frequently employed) were highly sensitive to the color blue, and thus the sky was always rendered as an abstract, empty space. The only way a nineteenth-century photographer could show clouds in the sky was to make two negatives—one for the clouds, the other for the view—and print them together. For a contemporary viewer, these pictures tend to look abstract, to an even greater degree than the photographs we know today; they seem at first almost radically modernist. The pictures by J.B. Greene (active 1832–1856), Timothy H. O’Sullivan (ca. 1840–1882), Carleton E. Watkins (1829–1916), and Francis Frith (1882– 1898) included in this room seem to resonate, when considered in the context of our twenty-first-century sensibilities, with a Cubist aesthetic. But that is not how nineteenth-century viewers saw these pictures—they saw them as the truth. After viewing the continuous horizon presented jointly by these pictures, we move close and examine each of them intimately. We look into the lovely picture by Roger Fenton (1819–1869) and see a man fishing on the banks of the Wye River (p. 106); we see the particular barrenness, the beautiful emptiness, of the desert around the Second Pyramid in Frith’s picture from Egypt (p. 4); we see the dense forest and the rushing Columbia River (also an abstraction because the exposure was so long) in Watkins’s depiction of Rooster Rock. Many of these pictures were the first photographs ever made of their subjects; all of them reflect a desire to inform and excite the viewer by representing what these far-flung places looked like.

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The Development of a Collection Sandra S. Phillips

David W. Butterfield, Untitled [New England Houses], ca. 1870. Albumen print from a glass negative, 16 Âź x 20 Âź in. (41.2 x 51.4 cm)


Henry White, Untitled [Country Cottage with Couple], 1856. Albumenized salt print from a glass negative, 7 他 x 9 他 in. (19.6 x 24.7 cm)

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The Development of a Collection Sandra S. Phillips

Walker Evans, South Street, New York City, 1934. Gelatin silver print, 7 ¾ x 5 ½ in. (19.7 x 13.9 cm)


The pictures in the second gallery form a much sparser display. Most of them represent dwellings in villages or country homes that are graced and protected by trees. In this room there is a sense of the pleasure and gracefulness of country life. There is a long tradition of idealizing such settings in England. Henry White’s (1819–1902) couple at the door of their cottage is paired here with its American version (p. 117): David W. Butterfield’s (1844–1933) picture of a house and barn in a New England village, the sidewalk lined by a white picket fence (p. 116). Such visions of harmonious domestic life are echoed in Edward Weston’s (1886–1958) picture of a working farm surrounded by trees and the view of San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill by Johan Hagemeyer (1884–1962). Though it shows a city, Hagemeyer’s beautiful Pictorialist photograph depicts a very harmonious, atmospheric, and graceful landscape, full of trees and gentle breezes. The last room, representing The City, is filled with the energy and aspiration we commonly ascribe to urban life. It is not surprising that most of the pictures in this room were made in the twentieth century. Hung together in an arrangement that emphasizes the dynamism and vitality we appreciate in cities, they show the city as a living entity in itself—we see forests of chimneys, mountains of walls, curtains of windows. All of these elements, and more, are present in this room. In most of the pictures on display there are no people at all, and when people are present they are most often fragmentary (as in Lisette Model’s [1901–1983] picture of a storefront reflection), or they are dwarfed by towers or walls (as in Bill Brandt’s [1904–1983] nighttime photograph). Many of the pictures here are related to Cubism (such as André Kertész’s [1894–1985] abstract wall of Parisian windows, one of them open on the human activity within) or Surrealism (as in Parisian scenes such as Ilse Bing’s [1899–1998] crumbling Greta Garbo). There are also the sublime portraits of the city by the brilliant

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The Development of a Collection Sandra S. Phillips

Karl Struss, Cables—Singer Building, Late Afternoon. Brooklyn Bridge, 1912. Platinum print, 8 ½ x 7 in. (21.6 x 17.8 cm)


Eugène Atget (1857–1927), who saw his beloved Paris as the epitome of a long history and culture, and depicted it most often without the people that inhabited it, indicating their presence through other markers, such as the worn stones of streets and buildings. The early morning fog filling Atget’s empty streets is also heavy with meaning, evoking the weight of the city’s rich history as well as the inevitability of change. Walker Evans’s (1903–1975) atmospheric early picture of a dark Manhattan skyline shows both his indebtedness to Atget, his acknowledged predecessor, and his need to see beyond the clarity and order of twentieth-century artistic Modernism into a more complex modern reality.

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The Development of a Collection Sandra S. Phillips

Lewis Wickes Hine, Empire State Building Construction, 1931. Gelatin silver print, 3 ž x 4 ½ (9.5 x 11.4 cm)


Andreas Feininger, New York, South Street, Corner of Roosevelt Street and Brooklyn Bridge, 1940. Gelatin silver print, 9 ¾ x 7 ½ in. (24.8 x 19.0 cm)

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PAUL GRAHAM AND STEPHEN SHORE IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER McCALL

Paul Graham, 51st Street, 18th June 2010, 1.28.45 p.m., 2010. Pigment prints mounted on Dibond, three prints, each 56 x 74 ¼ in. (142.2 x 188.5 cm)


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Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

Excerpted from an interview recorded at Pier 24 Photography in San Francisco on April 23, 2014. Christopher McCall: I assume that early in your careers both of you thought about the presentation of your work in book form, rather than in terms of a gallery or exhibition context. At that time there were far fewer exhibition opportunities for photography than there are today, and most people experienced the work of other photographers in book format well before seeing it in exhibitions. I imagine that you also thought of the book as the initial vehicle for getting your work into the world. But, I’m curious, was there a particular point in your career—a shift in your photography—where you began to think about the work in terms of exhibitions rather than books? Paul Graham: Stephen is a decade ahead of me, so it’s best he starts. Stephen Shore: The first series I considered for an exhibition was American Surfaces. I was thinking not just of the image but also of what the physical objects looked like—they were Kodak-made snapshots. And I wanted the viewer to understand them that way, so they were not matted or framed. They were just put on the wall as a grid, three rows high. The photos were stuck on the wall with double-sided tape, so that it was just these pieces of paper there. PG: What gallery first showed those works? SS: Light Gallery in New York. It was on the Upper East Side at Seventy-Eighth and Seventy-Ninth on Madison. It was in the same building as Wittenborn Art Books. Are you familiar with Wittenborn?


Stephen Shore Alanreed, 1972. Chromogenic print, 5 x 7 in. (12.7 x 17.7 cm) Amarillo, 1972. Chromogenic print, 5 x 7 in. (12.7 x 17.7 cm)

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Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

Stephen Shore Dayton, 1972. Chromogenic print, 5 x 7 in. (12.7 x 17.7 cm) Farmington, 1972. Chromogenic print, 5 x 7 in. (12.7 x 17.7 cm)


PG: No. Is that an art bookstore?

SS: But when you consider the gallery’s 50 percent, I didn’t make very much on it.

SS: It was the best art bookstore in the city—especially for contemporary art. There were two great art bookstores at

PG: But, that’s not what it’s about. It’s about the pride of

the time—Wittenborn and Weyhe, which was this old, musty,

selling something that is great. Well done. You were lucky.

cavernous bookstore on Lexington Avenue. But if you wanted

You were in the one and only prestigious photo gallery, Light

to buy an Ed Ruscha book, you would go to Wittenborn.

Gallery, in the ‘70s. The options were incredibly restricted for most photographers as to what they did with the work.

PG: So you were sticking your pictures directly on the wall,

It’s only been recently that the landscape has changed for

almost like Wolfgang Tillmans has done recently. And they

photographers—there’s a new economic landscape and the

were installed unframed and unglazed. Were they cheap

ability, more importantly than economics in a way, to present

prints, or were you doing fine art printing at the time?

their work at serious galleries.

SS: Oh no, they were just made by Kodak!

We’re incredibly fortunate that a powerful gallery situation has blossomed, as it has with photography books. And at the

PG: So just the generic, disposable, luster sheen prints that

same time there has been a shrinking of other options—the

everyone had.

editorial option, the Magnum Photos structure for photojournalists and so-inclined photographers, has dramatically

SS: Yes. And the work in the show was only available for sale

shrunk. They’re looking constantly to galleries and indepen-

as a complete set—220 prints.

dent publishers for forums in which to release their work, which essentially was not intended for the gallery context

PG: Did you sell it?

at the outset.

SS: Yes. To Weston Naef, who was the curator of photography

CM: With the rise of more exhibition opportunities, did you

at the Metropolitan Museum in New York at the time.

notice a shift when you began to really consider the presen-

So now the Met has one, and it sold for the monumental

tation of your work, Paul? Earlier in your career you were not

price of $220. It cost only a dollar a print!

doing many exhibitions for your projects—here I’m thinking of A1—The Great North Road and Troubled Land—and if you

PG: Yes. I was just about to work that math out—a dollar

were making prints at that time I imagine they were more

a print. Well done! How much did they cost you from Kodak?

traditional in size.

A dollar a print? However, it’s clear now that you are making specific decisions SS: No, no. They cost maybe twenty cents a print.

about scale and presentation in your most recent projects. Where the pictures are hung on the wall seems very delib-

PG: Good markup, then!

erate—each one engages the viewer in a specific way. I think The Present, which is shown here at Pier 24 Photography,

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Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

Paul Graham, Vesey Street, 25th May 2010, 5.51.05 p.m., 2010. Pigment prints mounted on Dibond, each 56 x 74 Âź in. (142.2 x 188.5 cm)


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Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

is a prime example of this. PG: Well, the prints in Beyond Caring and Troubled Land were not as large as some of my prints in The Present, but they were considered big at the time. SS: So you had already made the leap at that point and you were thinking about gallery presentation. PG: I was thinking about scale. SS: Yes. The physical experience of looking at the pictures. PG: Yeah, and I’ve always produced my own work. I physically make all the prints, including the photographs here in the A Sense of Place exhibition at Pier 24, and I have worked this way since the 1970s. It has always been important to me to be hands-on with the production. I wanted to survive as a photographer and make it work because then, as you all know, if you wanted a fine print you had to have a lot of money to pay a lab to make you a 40-inch color print. That was hundreds of dollars, and as a young photographer I simply didn’t have that kind of money. So the photography labs then become the gatekeepers dictating who could be an artist. It was about whether you could afford to make a big print or not. So I put a lot of effort into building up my own color darkroom and my own resources to facilitate printing, and I was able to make those prints. SS: How did you print Beyond Caring? PG: Myself, in my lab. I bought a lab and my own Colenta for processing. I had a series of machines, but I ended up with a 55-inch Colenta. I spent half my life babysitting that goddamn machine.


Paul Graham, 125th Street, 9th March 2010, 2.09.36 p.m., 2012. Pigment prints mounted on Dibond, each 28 x 37 ½ in. (71.1 x 95.2 cm)

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Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

Stephen Shore New York City, 1972. Chromogenic print, 5 x 7 in. (12.7 x 17.7 cm) New York City, 1972. Chromogenic print, 5 x 7 in. (12.7 x 17.7 cm)


But the point was, yes, that freed up the scale. And to really

CM: So, Stephen, thinking about scale, when you were talking

answer your question, Chris, I thought very much in terms

about the 3-by-5-inch Kodak prints in American Surfaces I got

of books to begin with, because I was a photographer stuck

the impression that they were printed at that scale for rea-

in the southwest of England then. And my dialogue with the

sons beyond affordability. Was there something else about the

photo community, the way I was getting information, was

nature of the size of these pictures? Maybe the fact that they

from books. I’d seen your books, Stephen, and Robert

were a familiar scale, a size that people were used to seeing

Adams’s books, and Garry Winogrand’s books. My rapport

in their everyday lives?

with photography was through printed books. SS: Yeah. It was because I wanted to attach the cultural referAnd it wasn’t until much later—once I’d learned how to

ence of a snapshot to those pictures.

push pictures around the “gallery” of a book, the space of a double-page spread, and the sequence of spreads—that

CM: And you still maintain this idea when you present the

I learned how to transcribe the pictures into a real-world

work today. You haven’t decided to shift scale decades later?

gallery situation, in actual rooms. The first time I really did that was in London in 1989 with New Europe, where I took

SS: I make the pictures a little bit larger now. But at the time

pictures out of their frames. I was one of the very first people

the film was Kodacolor, which was, I think, the common color

to put the prints on aluminum with no frames around them,

negative roll film available. Professionals did not use it,

just free-floating on the wall and different in scale. The prints

and I think it was rarely printed larger than 3-by-5 inches.

shifted from ten inches to eighty inches, and moved up and

It was for snapshot photographers, and so there was no

down on the wall.

need to make a finer-grain film. It simply doesn’t stand up to enlargement.

SS: And there is a difference between how pictures will look in a book and how they are experienced when you come into

But now, with digital, I can blow it up a little bit and boost the

a room. You can create space within a book, but the physical

saturation to match the saturation of the original 3-by-5

experience of entering this room and—

inch prints.

PG: The presence. You’ll never get that presence of an art-

PG: I’m very happy to see that your color palette, the color

work in a book. But you will get different things—in a book

palette of the time, has stayed consistent; you haven’t digitally

you get intimacy, you get a personal dialogue, you get

shifted to a contemporary color gamut, or however you want

a sequence, a time and a sequential control that you don’t

to refer to it. The works have the same color feel that they

have in an exhibition. And in the case of my book The Present,

had when the prints were originally made; the color is still

I could do things with gatefolds, which were really about con-

authentic and present in these works that you are showing

cealing and revealing the next moment, hiding that alternative

here, even though they’re contemporary prints.

frame until you turn the page, which you can’t do so easily

And secondly, you haven’t blown them up to sixty inches,

in a gallery. So there are advantages and disadvantages of

which you easily could do, especially with the 8-by-10 inch

both. And the challenge is to maximize them respective to the

negatives of Uncommon Places. The information definitely

form.

is there. And I’m so happy you haven’t done that. Yes, they’re

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Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

Stephen Shore, Marland Street, Hobbs, New Mexico, February 19, 1975, 1975. Chromogenic print, 17 x 21 ½ in. (43.1 x 54.6 cm)


Stephen Shore, West Fifteenth Street and Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 15, 1974, 1974. Chromogenic print, 17 x 21 ½ in. (43.1 x 54.6 cm)

139


Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

probably a little bit enlarged from the original prints, but it’s very modest. And it looks great at that scale. And to touch on the actual nature of what’s in the pictures, it’s also lovely how color has an era—and I don’t necessarily mean Kodak’s color, but the color of a place. SS: The color of an age, absolutely! PG: The color of a place and age. It was defining the time— the colors of the signage and the clothing people wore. It’s not about the fading film or the Kodak palette. It’s about the actual colors of that time. SS: Absolutely. And that is one thing I’ve found fascinating about photographing in color. It gives a layer of information about a culture that black-and-white doesn’t give. PG: Exactly. It’s wonderful in that way, but it isn’t about being nostalgic. SS: Yes. But, some people still talk about my pictures being nostalgic. And I say, “No. You’re nostalgic!” PG: The pictures in Uncommon Places and American Surfaces were ruthlessly contemporary at the time. SS: Absolutely. And if someone were to see my picture Mount Blue Shopping Center in 1974, they would not say, “This is nostalgic.” They would say, “Why are you photographing something that simply looks like the world today?” PG: Yes, it’s a rather nondescript, empty car park. There is nothing special about it. And it’s a gray day; there’s no dramatic sunshine, there’s no real center to the picture.


Stephen Shore, Mount Blue Shopping Center, Farmington, Maine, July 30, 1974, 1974. Chromogenic print, 17 x 21 ½ in. (43.1 x 54.6 cm)

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Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

Stephen Shore, U.S. 22, Union, New Jersey, April 24, 1974, 1974. Chromogenic print, 17 x 21 ½ in. (43.1 x 54.6 cm)


Stephen Shore, U.S. 1, Arundel, Maine, July 17, 1974, 1974. Chromogenic print, 17 x 21 ½ in. (43.1 x 54.6 cm)

143


Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

Stephen Shore, Victoria Avenue and Alberta Street, Regina, Saskatchewan, August 17, 1974, 1974. Chromogenic print, 17 x 21 ½ in. (43.1 x 54.6 cm)


And, that’s what we’d say we love about really good photogra-

Were you conscious of this while making the work? Or were

phy. It makes something out of a thing everyone would walk

you just traveling around and looking and working primarily

past. It is not a place where a normal person would get out

off of instinct?

their camera and take a picture. But you stopped, for God knows what reason, and you got out and made the picture.

SS: For me, it’s something that I’m conscious of. I can tell you that at the time something that would play through my head

SS: God knows. I certainly don’t know why!

repeatedly was the moment when Hamlet is giving the acting lesson to the players who are going to Elsinore and says that

PG: You do, though. Your sense of wonder and cognition, that

the purpose of acting is to show the very age and body of the

this mattered when everyone else was ignoring it, is remark-

time, its form and pressure.

able. And that’s what a lot of this photography is about—that moment of cognizance of something of the everyday, of the

I thought a lot about that line, and what it means. And so,

fabric of our lives that people just missed. You managed

when I see myself imposing a structure—I mean, we always

to somehow realize that you had to stop, get out your 8-by-10,

have to impose a structure, that’s what we do—I would ask,

set it up, look into what appears to be nothing, and photo-

“is the structure I’m imposing coming from something I’ve

graph it. And now we see that you’re right. Almost nobody

learned, or is it a response to what is in front of me?”

could see what you saw then. It’s this funny gray area because I’m imposing it. I’m not CM: So, how much does instinct play a role in work, then?

claiming that I’m the receiver of it. You can compare it to

I see a lot of overlap in your photographs. For one, you began

a scientific theory, where one scientific theory seems like an

shooting in color at a time when it was primarily being used in

imposition of an a priori idea on the world and begins to look

advertisements and the everyday snapshot.

artificial and outdated, and then someone else comes up with another explanation for the same phenomena that seems

But also, Stephen, there has to be some instinct that tells you

more responsive to the laws of nature, even though both are

to stop and photograph a parking lot. You were able to capture

impositions of structure coming from us. And this second one

these kinds of moments at a time when they were of interest

may, one hundred years later, also look artificial.

to very few photographers. PG: Yes. I was very aware of the irony of giving my series of And Stephen, you’ve said that “formal characteristics can

New York street photographs the provocative title The Present,

capture the taste of an age.” I found this statement really

because it will age, of course—it will become old photography

interesting. When looking at those pictures now, it’s not just

and still be titled The Present.

the palette. There’s something also about the formal approach you took to making the pictures in Uncommon Places

And people will start doing what they’re doing with your pic-

and American Surfaces that really heightens the sense

tures, Stephen. They’ll begin looking at them nostalgically—

of place within that specific time period.

looking at the hairstyles, the clothing, the street signage—and they will have to ask themselves, “Why is this series called

145


Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

The Present? And hopefully they will get, from the title, this modest point: “Don’t be nostalgic. This was the now, this was the immediate moment when the picture was made, it was of its time, not motivated by nostalgia.” But to cut back to this question of formality and the composition of the pictures, I think we have to acknowledge that you were working with a different type of camera then. You were working with a very conscious camera with a ground glass that you set up on a tripod, and you saw the picture upside down on a screen, you saw an 8-by-10 inch version of your image, and you were able to control it absolutely. With the photographs in The Present, I’m working with a handheld camera capturing fleeting moments arriving and departing. SS: Which camera did you use in that series? PG: It’s a medium-format digital—a Phase One camera, like a Hasselblad. You can work at a one-thousandth of a second, seizing at time, rather than having the control that you had with your way of working, Stephen. There is a fleeting, offkilter embrace of a flowing situation, the arriving instant that is quite overwhelming, the sense that this moment is somehow right: Yes, it’s worth it . . . make a photograph. The actual conscious awareness of the value of that moment comes later, through viewing and reviewing, editing and sifting. You learn that yes, this moment is powerful and valuable. It mattered, you see that now—it really mattered. And how perfectly and correctly everything falls! Embracing and accepting the provisional nature of this flow is part of the wonder of photography itself. CM: Thinking more about the editing process, how long do you


Paul Graham, Uptown (Nurse), 19th October 2009, 2.03.40 p.m., 2012. Pigment prints mounted on Dibond, each 28 x 37 ½ in. (71.1 x 95.2 cm)

147


Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

Stephen Shore, Second Street East and South Main Street, Kallspell, Montana, August 22, 1974, 1974. Chromogenic print, 17 x 21 ½ in. (43.1 x 54.6 cm)


Stephen Shore, Broad Street, Regina, Saskatchewan, August 17, 1974, 1974. Chromogenic print, 17 x 21 ½ in. (43.1 x 54.6 cm)

149


Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

Paul Graham, Broadway, 3rd June 2010, 2.10.12 p.m., 2012. Pigment prints mounted on Dibond, each 28 x 37 ½ in. (71.1 x 95.2 cm)


wait after shooting before you start to look at the work? Do

else pull something out of those endless images? Looking

you need distance? And do you feel that instinct plays a role in

at the archive it was very clear. There was Winogrand’s Cray-

editing? Is it at all similar to the practice of taking pictures?

ola yellow marking around exactly the right image. He nailed it on every sheet, in my opinion. He got the best work out of

I think editing is one of the hidden secrets of photography.

the series.

Some people seem to be naturally good at it, and their work benefits as a result. But this isn’t the case for everyone.

SS: I’ve come to realize I’m not a very good editor of my work.

Some people really need an advisor or editor to help with the

It’s not instinctual. I’m looking for pictures, because I have

process. And editing photographs is rarely taught in school; it

specific visual problems or content relationships on my mind.

just doesn’t seem to ever come up. Do you think that this pro-

I’m interested in the pictures that most address what is on my

cess can be taught? Or is editing really more about intuition

mind now, which means sometimes I pass on wonderful pic-

and instinct?

tures because they feel so last week. I find that if the pictures don’t relate to what I’m thinking about now, they’re of less

PG: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there are two steps

interest to me.

to editing photography. There’s the step of editing the world, if that’s not too hyperbolic, while shooting—selecting what

PG: So do you need someone to rewind you a little bit into the

it is you are going to point the camera at out of this endless,

frame of mind of when you were shooting?

infinite world, which Stephen chose very clearly with his 8-by10 in the series Uncommon Places and American Surfaces, and

SS: I either need someone to rewind me or I need the passage

more recently in Ukraine.

of enough time that it all gets scrunched together, and I can look at it all together.

You have this process of editing in the moment, and then you bring those pictures back, reducing life down to a selection of

If you look at the selection from Uncommon Places that is

rolls of film or digital files on your screen. And then you have

being exhibited here, you’d find that maybe half of these

to edit those photographs into a fresh world that you create.

pictures were not in the original Uncommon Places book. But

That is a struggle. As you have suggested, Chris, some people

they’re some of the best I took! The picture that’s the cover

are great at step one and no good at step two. They need help,

of the new edition of Uncommon Places wasn’t in the original.

they need a good editor, a trusted advisor or colleague to help

Now I go back and look at those prints and think, “I don’t get

them take that second step. Some people are even better at

it. I don’t understand why this wasn’t in the original book.

the second step. In a perfect world, you’d be great at both.

Or in the second book.” It’s as good as any picture, and I just wasn’t seeing it at the time because it didn’t address some-

Many years ago I went down and looked at the Winogrand

thing that was on my mind when I was editing.

archive at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson.

PG: Although you were sufficiently aware of it to stop, set up

I said, “Show me the Public Relations work.” Winogrand was

that great big camera, frame it correctly, and do the picture.

the quintessential over-shooter of his time. And I wanted

So, some part of you was recognizing it, even if later on your

to find out whether he knew what he was doing. Did someone

conscious mind didn’t trust your unconscious mind. You know,

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Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

Stephen Shore, Cleburne Road, Fort Worth, Texas, June 11, 1976, 1976. Chromogenic print, 17 x 21 ½ in. (43.1 x 54.6 cm)


Stephen Shore, Holden Steet, North Adams, Massachusetts, July 13, 1974, 1974. Chromogenic print, 17 x 21 ½ in. (43.1 x 54.6 cm)

153


Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

it’s a strange process. We definitely all need time. I mean, we don’t need twenty or forty years, but I definitely need the gap, the pause of doing the work and putting it away for a good few months before I can come back to it fresh. It was wonderful walking into Pier 24 not having seen the pictures from The Present for almost two years. I’d grown a distance from them, and so I was able to ask, “Are the prints any good? Are they sharp enough? Do they look dated?” That was a really nice moment, seeing my work like it was somebody else’s photographs. CM: So, Paul, your last three bodies of work have explored the formal qualities of seeing, camera versus the eye, which, in many ways, is how we experience the world. In The Present you’re going to a place like New York and you are making pictures, but it is somewhere in the editing process that you begin to unpack the formal qualities and connections and make decisions such as which works make great pairings, and how best to sequence the images for a book or an exhibition. I see this type of exploration in both of your practices. The statement that always comes up is Garry Winogrand’s quote, “I photograph to see how the world looks photographed,” which is the most basic part of that equation. But the interesting thing is that the approach, for each of you, begins with being conscious while photographing and then, later, being conscious during the editing process. PG: Hmmm. Well, that raises a big question. What is conscious in the production of art and what comes from another place? To run through some examples, I wanted to work with shallow focus in The Present to explore our awareness of attention—the moving from one thing to the next, drifting to something else, and coming back to the original thing.


Paul Graham, 1st Avenue, 11th May 2011, 2.29.57 p.m., 2013. Pigment prints mounted on Dibond, each 28 x 37 ½ in. (71.1 x 95.2 cm)

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Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

Stephen Shore, Church Street and Second Street, Easton, Pennsylvania, June 20, 1974, 1974. Chromogenic print, 17 x 21 ½ in. (43.1 x 54.6 cm)


The work was about struggling to reflect that naturalistic

PG: Struggling to photograph something, yeah.

process of seeing and consciousness. SS: And so the formal things you referred to, how a photoAnd a similar thing is true with a shimmer of possibility, the

graph is different from the world, or the technical—what one

work I created before The Present. It’s about sensing a mo-

camera can do versus what another camera can do—these

ment of being with someone—like looking at Stephen sitting

are the tools that we have to master to be able to communi-

here and seeing his face, and then his hands, and then his

cate a perception of the world in this form.

feet and the floor in front of us, and then back to his face again. It’s an awareness of this wholeness of being there,

There are some photographers who seem to focus more on

of the breadth of the moment, rather than the isolation

what the tools are, and exploring the tools at the expense of

of a singular instant.

how they’re put to use. I think we both are interested in how to put these tools to use and in what’s being communicated.

Putting it another way, there is so much photography that deals with a kind of spotlight consciousness. It tries to be like

PG: Ultimately, you’re right. You can get distracted and

a singular beam of light focusing on this one isolated mo-

sucked into the process so much that you forget about that

ment, telling you that this, and only this, is what you should

wonderful central quality of photography, that it does connect

be looking at. Now to shift that spotlight consciousness into

with the world in a very vital and immediate way. You can get

a floodlight consciousness, where we are looking at the totali-

so wrapped up in process that you lose sight of that goal,

ty of the experience of seeing, can be profoundly interesting.

shall we say.

CM: I also feel that photography often draws a certain type

CM: I was wondering if you could speak about each other’s

of mind, one that wants to explore the scientific side of the

practices. Do you find overlap in each other’s work, any

medium, the mechanics of the camera and the balance of the

shared elements that challenge or have challenged you—

chemistry, and what can be done with those tools. Was this an

now or at an earlier stage in your careers—either visually

initial draw for either of you? Stephen, I know that you began

or culturally?

working in the darkroom as early as six years old. One thing that I’ve noticed, as you’ve mentioned, is a comSS: I guess the draw for me was the sort of tools that were

mentary on American culture, and in particular dealing with

given, both technically and visually. But I want to go back to

a sense of place and age. Paul, this is the case with your

something you said before, Chris. You mentioned looking at

recent work, and Stephen, obviously this is found in both

both of our work and feeling a similar connection.

American Surfaces and Uncommon Places. Across your work I find this similarly diaristic view of time and place.

I think one of the things we both have talked about is that this isn’t just about perception, it’s due to the fact that much of

PG: I had wonderful moments when I was making a shimmer

both of our work is about culture, American culture. We’re

of possibility. This is sort of an answer to your question.

both starting at a point and we’re dealing with this idea; we’re

I’d be photographing something, and I’d have to stop and say,

photographing something and we care about it.

“Goddamn it! Stephen Shore did this ten years ago!” I’m pho-

157


Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

Paul Graham, 53rd Street and 6th Avenue, 6th May 2011, 2.41.26 p.m., 2012. Pigment prints mounted on Dibond, each 56 x 74 in. (142.2 x 188.5 cm)


159


Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

Stephen Shore, Fifth Street and Broadway, Eureka, California, September 2, 1974, 1974. Chromogenic print, 17 x 21 ½ in. (43.1 x 54.6 cm)


tographing a McDonald’s meal in the Midwest, because I’ve

PG: Right. Thank you. And as we sit here with the pictures

been on the road for weeks and that’s all I can find to eat.

from The Present—it was to me one of those things—I was

And I think, “Oh shit. Stephen’s already done this. I can’t do

very aware that it is such a cliché to make “street photogra-

it. And his wrappers are so much better than mine—the 1970s

phy” in New York. And at the same time, such work almost

McDonald’s wrappers were better than mine.” Of course

became a test, a shibboleth, within photography. How much

they’re “better,” because I’m being nostalgic about it!

do you get what this is? Do you get that this appears to be transient, to be close to nothing? I love the challenge of

SS: Well, what I would say about Paul’s work is—actually

pulling something from the air. The magic of conjuring up a

going back to our discussion before, about the structure of an

revelation of the flow of life through the magical selection

age—first of all, Paul, I see you always pushing yourself and

of these moments that previously had been invisible in their

not just sticking with a paradigm and keeping it rigid. Your

commonplace nature.

work in the ’90s really struck me. I liked what you had done before and respected it, but there was something about this

And to switch this around, one of the things I learned from

work—I felt that there was a structural shift in how you saw

your pictures, Stephen, and from the work of your peers, was

things. And that structural shift was the best reflection I had

how valuable it is to embrace and accept what would be over-

seen of that age.

looked and mundane in everyday life, to somehow be sensitive to this.

PG: That’s nice to know. I didn’t even know you were aware of that work. I don’t even think that it got shown in America.

There is almost nothing spectacular in any of the pictures in your gallery here, with Uncommon Places. There is nothing

SS: Well, I saw it in books.

obviously dramatic in any of them. There’s nothing to make any normal passerby get their camera out. That was a huge

PG: In books. There you go. That’s the power of books.

lesson in my life. You know, in seeing the world. And with The Present, it might have more spectacle because of scale,

SS: It made me think of my students, who often say “Nothing

sequence, and placement, but there’s virtually nothing that

new can be done in photography.” I’ve listened to people say

any ordinary person would have got their camera out for—and

this for about forty years. It always seems that way, because

believe me, there are plenty of other people on the streets of

if they could conceive of something different, they would do

New York with their cameras out.

it! They are only expressing their own limitations. And for something to be different it doesn’t have to be radical, it can be different simply in the way you see. I think that your work, both in Europe and in Japan in the ’90s, had this. It was, again, made with the same tools that we all use. But it reflected a different language, a slightly different twist on the language that was responsive to what seemed to me to be the pulse of that age.

161


Paul Graham and Stephen Shore In Conversation with Christopher McCall

Stephen Shore, U.S. 2, Ironwood, Michigan, July 9, 1973, 1973. Chromogenic print, 17 x 21 ½ in. (43.1 x 54.6 cm)


Stephen Shore New York City, 1972. Chromogenic print, 5 x 7 in. (12.7 x 17.7 cm) London, 1972. Chromogenic print, 5 x 7 in. (12.7 x 17.7 cm)

163


Director:

Pier 24 Photography would like to acknowledge the follow-

Christopher McCall

ing individuals and lenders for their assistance in making this exhibition possible.

Associate Directors / Editors: Seth Curcio

303 Gallery, New York

Allie Haeusslein

Jeroen Bijl Eric William Carroll

Editorial Associates:

Doris Fisher

Sarah Croak

Randi and Bob Fisher

Mari Iki

Jeffrey Fraenkel

China Langford

Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

Copy Editor:

Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

Amanda Glesmann

Murray Guy Gallery, New York Haines Gallery, San Francisco

Design:

Cindy Herron

Something in the Universe

Todd Hido Erik Kessels

Installation Photography:

Abner Nolan

Charles Villyard

Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York Richard Misrach

Print Management:

Gina and Stuart Peterson

Sprinkle Media

Sandra S. Phillips Regen Projects, Los Angeles

This publication would not have been possible without the

Rose Gallery, Los Angeles

generous contributions of the Pier 24 Photography volunteer

Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York

and internship team.

Paul Sack Sack Photographic Trust at the San Francisco Museum

Edition: 1000

of Modern Art

ISBN: 978-0-9839917-4-8 Printed in the United States Pier 24 Photography Š2015 Pier 24 Photography

Located on San Francisco's Embarcadero, Pier 24 offers a

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in

venue to experience and quietly contemplate photography. In

any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission

addition to presenting original exhibitions, publications, and

of the publisher and copyright holders.

public programs, Pier 24 Photography houses the permanent photography collection of the Pilara Foundation.


CONTRIBUTORS: Joshua Chuang is chief curator at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona. He was previously the Richard Benson Associate Curator of Photography and Digital Media at the Yale University Art Gallery, where he served for more than a decade. He was the lead curator of the acclaimed retrospective Robert Adams: The Place We Live and directed the exhibition’s three-volume publication. He also organized the exhibition First Doubt: Optical Confusion in Modern Photography and coorganized Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century. Paul Graham has developed a style of photography that subtly combines social consciousness and political commitment while providing a nuanced reflection on the nature of the medium itself. Graham’s recent exhibitions include a shimmer of possibility at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the mid-career traveling retrospective Paul Graham: Photographs 1981–2006. He is a recipient of the Hasselblad Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. His photographs can be found in public and private collections worldwide, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Gallery, London; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Books of Graham’s photographs include: A1—The Great North Road; Beyond Caring; Troubled Land; End of an Age; American Night; a shimmer of possibility; Paul Graham; The Present; and Does Yellow Run Forever?. Christopher McCall is the founding director of Pier 24 Photography in San Francisco. In 2002 McCall received his MFA in Photography from California College of the Arts, studying under photographers Jim Goldberg and Larry Sultan. After teaching photography and visual literacy for seven years, he joined Pier 24 Photography in 2009, assisting in the conceptualization of the organization’s mission and operating principles. Since opening the doors of Pier 24 Photography in 2010, McCall has overseen the presentation of six major exhibitions and spearheaded the creation of the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program, in collaboration with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and California College of the Arts. Sandra S. Phillips is the senior curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She has organized numerous acclaimed exhibitions, including retrospectives of work by Diane Arbus, Helen Levitt, Robert Adams, and Daido Moriyama, and group exhibitions such as Police Pictures: The Photograph as Evidence and Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870. Stephen Shore is a photographer whose works have been widely published and exhibited for the past forty years. He was the first living photographer to have a solo show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York since Alfred Stieglitz, forty years earlier. He has produced solo exhibitions for the Museum of Modern Art, New York; George Eastman House, Rochester; Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Jeu de Paume, Paris; and the Art Institute of Chicago, and has received fellowships from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Books of Shore's photographs include Uncommon Places: The Complete Works; Essex County; The Velvet Years, Andy Warhol's Factory, 1965–1967; American Surfaces; A Road Trip Journal; From Galilee to the Negev; and Stephen Shore, a retrospective monograph in Phaidon’s Contemporary Artists series.

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Photography and reproduction credits: Adams, Robert: © Robert Adams, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco / Aitken, Doug: © Doug Aitken, courtesy 303 Gallery, New York; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Regen Projects, Los Angeles / Barth, Uta: © Uta Barth, courtesy Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Burtynsky, Edward: © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto, and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco / Carroll, Eric William: © Eric William Carroll, courtesy the artist / Chiara, John: © John Chiara, courtesy the artist / Davey, Moyra: © Moyra Davey, courtesy Murray Guy, New York / De Cock, Jan: © Atelier Jan De Cock, courtesy the artist / Demand, Thomas: © Thomas Demand and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York / Evans, Walker: © Walker Evans Archive, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York / Feininger, Andreas: © Andreas Feininger—Time & Life Pictures and Getty Images / Friedlander, Lee: © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco / Graham, Paul: © Paul Graham, courtesy Pace Gallery, New York, and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York / Gursky, Andreas: © Andreas Gursky and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, courtesy Sprüth Magers, Berlin and London / Hido, Todd: © Todd Hido, courtesy Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco / Kawauchi, Rinko: © Rinko Kawauchi, courtesy Rose Gallery, Santa Monica / Koch, Lucia: © Lucia Koch, courtesy the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica / Learoyd, Richard: © Richard Learoyd, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco / Misrach, Richard: courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles; and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York / Narahashi, Asako: © Asako Narahashi, courtesy Rose Gallery, Santa Monica / Shore, Stephen: © Stephen Shore, courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery, New York / Soto, Cynthia: © Cynthia Soto, courtesy the artist / Karl Struss: Karl Struss © Estate of Karl Struss, courtesy Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles / Tillmans, Wolfgang: © Wolfgang Tillmans, courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles / Wall, Jeff: © Jeff Wall, courtesy the artist


All photographs are in the Pilara Foundation Collection unless otherwise noted below. Doug Aitken and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Lucia Koch and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

pp. 60–61

p. 29

Edward Burtynsky and Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

Richard Misrach

pp. 32–33

pp. 30–31

Eric William Carroll

Gina and Stuart Peterson

pp. 66–71

pp. 22–23

John Chiara and Haines Gallery, San Francisco

The Sack Photographic Trust at the San Francisco Museum of

p. 47–51

Modern Art p. 4, 6, 104, 106, 109–10, 114, 116–18, 120, 122–23

Moyra Davey and Murray Guy, New York pp. 72–73

Stephen Shore and 303 Gallery, New York p. 129, 130, 136, 138–39, 141–44, 148–49, 152, 156, 160, 162-63

Doris Fisher pp. 24–25
 Randi and Bob Fisher pp. 82–83, 85, 88, 91, 94, 98 Lee Friedlander and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco p. 93, 95–97, 100–101
 Paul Graham and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York p. 135, 147, 150, 155, 158–59 Rinko Kawauchi and Rose Gallery, Los Angeles pp. 62–65 Erik Kessels pp. 34–37

Pier 24, The Embarcadero San Francisco, CA 94105 p. 415.512.7424 e. info@pier24.org

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A SENSE OF PLACE EXHIBITION CATALOG