Making a Funny Face

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Jill FreedmanGoofy Kids, Dublin, 1984 (33.1988)

weegee_2139_1993Weegee, [Women with children making silly faces],  ca. 1950 (2139.1993)

burkhard_hans_jurgen_137_2003Hans-Jurgen Burkard, Ulon Uda, Siberia, 1989 (137.2003)

Studies have shown that smiling can make you feel happier and less stressed. Try it!

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The Uncanny Indecisive Body

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Hans Bellmer, La Poupée, 1935 (207.1987)

[

Legs as extension of the body.

Legs as the choreographers of movement.

Legs as navigators.

Legs as present moment.

Legs as independence.

Legs as control.

Legs as power.

Legs as balance.

Legs as decision makers.

Legs as duality.

Legs as surreality.

Legs as sexuality.

Legs as the protectors of the vagina.

Legs as the indecisive body.

]

The surreal leg images made by the German photographer Hans Bellmer (1902-1975) in the mid-1930s combine the physical interior with the psychic interior while reflecting on Bellmer’s idea of a physical unconscious. The body becomes the place on which identity can be explored in a way that blurs the boundaries between reality and fantasy.

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Hans Bellmer, La Poupée, 1935 (205.1987)

While looking at these images, the haze of distinction between imagination and reality appears to distort the lines between pleasure and anxiety. The viewer also has a childish fantasy that this doll is an actual autonomous being.

Bellmer said of his motives in making his dolls: “I shall construct an artificial girl whose anatomy will make it possible physically to re-create the dizzying heights of passion and to do so to the extent of inventing new desires.”

bellmer_hans_206_1987Hans Bellmer, La Poupée, 1935 (206.1987)

These growing female body parts deny any straightforward reading of subjecthood or desire also carry a question of sexuality. But these bodies do not rely on binaries of homosexuality or heterosexuality but more of a hermaphroditic–or even a homogeneous–untouchable inanimate being.

The doubling of the legs and the doubling of self and other, animate and inanimate, creates a skewed eroticism that keep us trying to make couples and links that make sense together. The legs of the doll are both Bellmer’s in terms of a voyeuristic possession or control.

bellmer_hans_202_1987Hans Bellmer, La Poupée, 1935 (202.1987)

The tensions between Bellmer as the photographer-voyeur, the doll as a construction of Bellmer himself, and the doll as a completed object onto which fantasies can be projected  are very compelling; it seems that Bellmer becomes the courtier of this strange character. The photographs reveal the two modes of aggressive voyeurism and uncertain identification, resulting in this indecisiveness.

bellmer_hans_211_1987Hans Bellmer, La Poupée, 1935 (2011.1987)

Bellmer’s adolescent-looking doll models function in an uncanny space that places them between child and adult, real and fake; present, past, or future. This makes the work the perfect example of Freud’s definition of the uncanny: “an uncanny effect is often and easily produced when the distinction between imagination and reality is effaced, as when something that we have regarded as imaginary appears before us in reality, or when a symbol takes over the full functions of the thing it symbolizes.”.

Nina Mendez Marti, ICP-Bard 2014

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Storyville Portrait

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E. J. Bellocq, Storyville Portrait, New Orleans, 1912 (33.2004)

E. J. Bellocq was a wealthy French-Creole man living in New Orleans at the turn of the twentieth century. He was known professionally as a photographer of landmarks, ships, and commercial machinery, but upon his death in 1949, a seedier side of the hunchbacked, dwarf-like photographer was discovered. Among Bellocq’s effects were eighty-nine haunting glass-plate negatives taken around 1912 of prostitutes in New Orleans’ legalized red-light district, Storyville. While most of his work was destroyed in 1949, the Storyville Portraits were found later by Bellocq’s brother, a Jesuit priest, and eventually sold in 1966 to a young photographer named Lee Friedlander. Friedlander began making printing-out paper prints, or sun-exposed contact prints, of the glass plate negatives, and in 1970 they were exhibited by John Szarkowski at the Museum of Modern Art. On many of the plates the faces of the prostitutes have been crossed out, believed to have been done by Bellocq himself while the emulsion was still wet, and two others, including this one, showed the prostitutes wearing masks. However, Bellocq’s images from the brothels of Storyville were not taken as objects offered up to the male gaze, but instead the women are willing subjects of Bellocq’s 8×10 view camera.

Kory Trolio, ICP-Bard 2014

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Boys’ Room

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Tina Barney, The Son, 1987 (2.1998.a)

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Gregory Crewdson, Untitled, 1998 (9.2001)

Gran Fury, Read My Lips (boys), 1988 (1138.2000)

David Seidner, [Pavlos, Prince of Greece], ca. 1994 (2007.65.13)

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Sheng Qi, Memories (Me), 2000 (7.2004)

The son becomes the part of the future family that takes place in the mind of the viewers.

Constructs of masculinity vary across historical and cultural contexts. I would like to question the set of qualities, characteristics, or roles generally considered typical of, or rather appropriate to, a man in our society. This selection is based on the stereotyped expectations of the inappropriate mindset of the growing up teenager. What images he would look at or rather what images he would have on his computer desktop nowadays? Who is his hero and who he would like to become when he grew up? I am interested in the narrative quality of photographs that opens up the discussion for the wider context. How by looking at photographs we assume and create stories in our heads. This curatorial decision of selecting images shared with the viewers is presented to open the dialogue of reading images through personal selection rather than based on the historical or project related context. I am interested in presenting both: documentary and staged work to create a whole new spectrum of the constructed narrative, and the play between curator and viewers.

Kasia Gumpert, ICP-Bard 2014

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Happy Birthday, Albert Einstein!

stein_fred_238_1993Fred Stein, Albert Einstein, Princeton, New Jersey, 1946 (238.1993)

Born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Germany, Albert Einstein received his PhD in 1905 from the University of Zurich. During the same year he published five theoretical papers, including “On a Heuristic Point of View Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light,” which would earn him the 1921 Nobel Prize in physics, and two papers setting out his special theory of relativity and contributing what is considered by many to be the most famous equation in the history of physics: E = mc2. These papers would become heavily influential in the foundation of modern physics. He died in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1955 at the age of seventy-six.

eisenstaedt_alfred_1208_2005Alfred Eisenstaedt, [Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Institute of Advanced Study, discussing theory of matter in terms of space with Albert Einstein, Princeton, New Jersey], 1947 (1208.2005)

aigner_lucien_342_1982Lucien Aigner, Albert Einstein at work, Princeton, 1940 (342.1982)

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Windjammer

weegee_7584_1993Weegee, [Widescreen image of sailboat Christian Raditch in Louis de Rochemont's film Windjammer], ca. 1958 (7584.1993)

This image is of a movie, Windjammer. The movie was filmed in Cinemiracle, a wide-format film type. Cinemiracle was in direct competition with the previously developed Cinerama. It used three cameras to capture a 2.59:1 image, including two mirrors to give the left and right cameras the same optical center as the middle camera. This had the effect of making the joins between the projected images much less obvious than when films were shot with Cinerama. Unfortunately, Windjammer was the only movie ever filmed on Cinemiracle, as it was shortly bought out by Cinerama and effectively shelved ad infinitum. The film premiered on the East Coast at the Roxy Theater, 153 West 50th Street, in New York. There’s a good chance this theater is where the image was taken, given how few theaters were equipped with the special twenty-four foot curved screen necessary to project the film. Windjammer is a documentary tracking the 17,500 nautical mile journey of a Norwegian training ship, the Christian Radich. The film follows the ship and crew, made up mostly of young sailors-in-training, from Oslo across the Atlantic to New York and back to Norway. Weegee shot the New York sequences of the film.

Kathy Akey, ICP-Bard 2014

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Norishment or Poison?

Milk has been part of our diet since the Neolithic Revolution (10,000 BCE), when humans domesticated animals. The discussion about organic, raw, and genetically treated food is at its peak. There are arguments on each side of the coin, both convincing and supported by real scientific data.

The way to understand milk is by understanding love, says a raw milk producer—no pasteurization is needed. To him to drink milk is a natural way of living. Is a custom that has been passed from one generation to the next, and is the ultimate expression of love.

In another corner, dietitians, scientists, vegans, etc. have discovered that milk has a close relationship to medical problems in humans. The data is convincing, and it has been suggested that milk can cause cancerous cells to develop.

To drink raw milk is bad because animal protein has to be processed in order to be well digested by the human metabolism. Pasteurized milk is bad because it is processed. Milk from genetically treated cows is worst because of the hormones added.

If everyone is right, then everyone is wrong too. Today, food has become a political tool, and when politics gets involved in a problem as basic as whether milk is good or not, then to find the answer will take a lot of time, and a lot of money.

I found very interesting photographs in the collection that depict the different points of view over this problematic topic.

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Roman Vishniac, [Boy learning to milk cows by using a model of a cow's udders, Niederschönhausen, an occupational training camp for German Jews hoping to emigrate, Pankow, Berlin], 1930 (2012.80.17)

©Mara Vishniac Kohn, courtesy International Center of Photography

A boy is milking a model of a cow’s udders. Beginning in the 1930s, many German Jews sought to leave the country due to increasing Nazi oppression. Due to immigration restrictions they were more likely to successfully emigrate if they had artisanal, agricultural, or engineering skills. Because of this, vocational schools were formed to give people the opportunity to learn these much-needed skills and then emigrate.

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Harold Eugene Edgerton, Coronet, 1936 (77.1987)

Edgerton’s Coronet is a very important photograph. Edgerton invented the strobe flash that let him freeze and follow movement on film.  The choice of milk is interesting. Because of its color and its consistency, it seems to be the perfect material for such an experiment. At this point in history, milk was also easily accessible.

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Weegee, Milk Drinker on the Bowery, 1940s (14368.1993)

In the 1940s, the Bowery was a unique place. Most of the personalities found there were alcoholics and drug addicts, or simply homeless. This one man drinking milk straight out of the carton suggests the universality of milk and its importance to human diet. Whether thirst or hunger, milk will quench it.

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Gordon Parks, [Child with bottles of milk], ca. 1970s (342.1974)

Gordon Parks’s image  takes us to that place of comfort where milk equals nourishment. We see a child drinking milk. We imagine how he will grow up strong and happy. The kid is being taken care of, or at least he has a good amount of milk to keep him going.

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Aleksandras Macijauskas, In The Veterinary Clinic – 100, 1979 (1140.1986.u)

Aleksandras Macijauskas’s image suggests thoughts about animal experimentation, genetic treatments, and overall animal cruelty.

Juana Romero, ICP-Bard 2014

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