We had an amazing weekend in Denver for reviews two weeks ago at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center. We were glad to meet the photographers and to spend time with the other reviewers. There was a plethora of strong, diverse photography and we look forward to supporting the artists that we connected with. As always, thank you to Samantha Johnston and her amazing team. You all worked so hard to make the weekends activities go off without a hitch. Please support CPAC, check out their upcoming events, and find ways to get involved, they are an amazing organization!
Sinchi's inaugural photography competition provides a unique opportunity for visual storytellers around the world to be recognized for their talent and commitment to the preservation of culture and indigenous rights.
The aim of the competition is to celebrate the strength and beauty of indigenous culture. This can be inspired from activism, relationship to nature, spirituality, community, everyday life to art, music and cultural practice. Participants are invited to submit up to 6 photos with accompanying captions, welcoming submissions from both remote and urban indigenous communities.
The entry period ends May 31st. Visit their website for more information.
Fraction is now accepting submissions for our 9th Anniversary Issue. If you're interested, please submit up to 3 images (800px wide, 72 dpi, sRGB, .jpg) directly to email@example.com. The subject line should be "9th Anniversary Issue submission" and please include your name and website in the email. Due to the number of submissions we can only respond to the artists that we will include. Thank you for understanding and we look forward to reviewing your images!
Deadline is Friday April 28. No extensions!
I’ve been thinking about how the form of photography books is informed by the concept around which the book is conceived. This was certainly the case for two publications that I reviewed in Fraction in recent months: The Canadians, a page-by-page rejoinder to Robert Frank’s The Americans, with images drawn from the archives of The Globe & Mail; and Documentum, Fall Line Press’s transposition of Instagram to newsprint, which played with notions of what is necessary and possible in both print and digital media. Cristina de Middel’s This is What Hatred Did, reviewed last year, was designed in direct response to its source material My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, the photobook building on the mythologies of Amos Tutuola’s novel.
The structure of a book becomes essential to the reading of the material in situations where the generating conceit of the project is strongly conceptualized – where content is chosen according to the concept, rather than the concept emerging from the material. The edit becomes like a game where the images are pieces slotted into the appropriate position. The pleasure of the book resides to some extent in a conscious engagement with the logic of the book. In some cases this can detract from the experience of the images themselves, in other cases this won’t hurt the images at all.
Recently I received a copy of Nariz, an independently published record by Eduardo Arénas. Arénas, bass player for the Los Angeles band Chicano Batman, produced the solo album over six years and Lorena Endara, his wife, created a modest 10” square photo booklet to accompany the 12” vinyl. The music on Nariz is a mix of styles including blues, funk, and Brazilian Tropicalía, the latter itself a mélange of traditions brought together in an act of “cultural cannibalism.” The photographs similarly draw on different styles and approaches, the twelve images corresponding to each of Arénas’ twelve tracks. The album is bright and vibrant and beautifully produced. My first question to myself was: can this small book stand alone, and if not, how is it like or different from album art?
The twelve photographs run across a range of references and modes - abstract, figurative, notational, and sensorially immersive. The Nariz images remind me a little of surrealist photography of the 1920s and 1930s, where symbols are appropriated both for their power and in order to see them repositioned. They feel like, but don’t look like surrealist photographs; the overarching feel is psychedelic. We see a lizard without its tail, cacti with their leaves perforated, a nude with her back painted, trees with colors digitally dropped in. The pictures don’t necessarily seem to belong together – but they don’t seem to not belong together either. With the images linked to the music more than they are to one another, the photo book does not want to be read as a narrative on its own; without the music it’s hard to imagine why one image would follow another.
Alongside the music, however, the photographs make sense. Just as entering a gallery primes a visitor to encounter the pieces on the wall as art, and not information, the music brings forth the images’ assertive intention to be read in this specific context, which then opens up the opportunity for a very focused experience of both music and photographs. Visual mood and tone shape the hearing of the music. Each photograph could be the cover art for an individual single.
Last month I considered reviewing Nariz alongside Darin Mickey’s Death Takes A Holiday, set in used record stores, and both related to vinyl, but it didn’t seem fair to either. The idea felt awkward as Nariz is so different from the traditional idea of a photobook and the kinds of cases that photobooks make for themselves. Tied so closely to the music, the success of the images lies in their ability to enhance the experience of the music. Like the examples I cited earlier, Nariz draws attention to its own structure. In this case, the awareness of the structure is a pleasure, because of the warmth of the total work, and also because the design helps the listener to experience the pictures in relation to the music.
* When: Opening Reception, January 26th, 6-8pm; Exhibition Dates: Jan 20 - Feb 21, 2017
* What: Becoming, photographs of girls, women and coming of age
* Who: Rania Matar
* Where: RayKo Photo Center, 428 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
* Image by: Rania Matar, "Maryam 9, Beirut, Lebanon, 2011"
RayKo Photography Exhibition
features powerful portraits of girls and women
Photographs by Rania Matar
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 26th, 6-8pm
Exhibition dates: January 20th – February 21st, 2017
Becoming is a continuum of Rania Matar’s work from the past several years, and it’s a feast to view her multiple projects together. Through this collection of portraits, Matar leads us through many stages in the life of a woman. She photographs girls and young women from the US and from Lebanon, her country of origin. Matar notes, “These are not meant to be a comparison, on the contrary, as the lines blur quickly. Regardless of place, background and religion, girls that age everywhere seem united by similar feelings, aspirations and attitudes.”
The word “becoming” speaks to the whole cycle of growth but is perhaps best seen in two projects. In a still-developing body of work, Matar has returned to re-photograph the young women in the same environment as they’ve aged. In the tradition of the Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra, she has patiently employed the element of time, and it powerfully charts the change of growing up.
In Unspoken Conversations, Matar photographs young women with their mothers, a different and equally potent vision of growing older. The viewer is left to marvel at the similarities, imagining the form one woman came from, projecting the form the other may eventually take. Mother and daughter mirror one another and differentiate themselves like shifting magnetic poles. The women exchange gestures that take on new meaning as they echo one another.
Also on view at RayKo is a grid of 50 images from Matar’s landmark series, A Girl and Her Room, which is comprised of environmental portraits of teenaged girls in the United States and the Middle East. To quote the artist, “Being with those young women in the privacy of their world gave me a unique peek into their private lives and their inner selves. They sensed that I was not judging them and became an active part of the project. Their frankness and generosity in sharing access was a privilege that they have extended to me but also to all the viewers of this work.”
The profundity of each portrait compounds upon the next. As viewers, we are drawn into the subtlety of pose and attention to detail that Matar uses to weave together her portraits. The poised and refined quality of Matar’s composition contrasts the very real vulnerability of her subjects. It gives her images an unusual beauty; the sophisticated adult aesthetic of the female imagemaker creates a graceful vehicle for the spontaneous and unfiltered self-presentation of the young subjects. The resulting imagery is carefully sensitive to its subjects, while still revealing the complex world of emotions they inhabit.
Rania Matar will be here for the opening reception on January 26th, from 6-8pm. She will be signing copies of her latest monograph, L’Enfant Femme. Come get a copy and raise a glass to this artist and her powerful image making!
This exhibition is made possible with works on loan from Pictura Gallery, Grimaldis Gallery, and Richard Levy Gallery. Many thanks to Mia Dalglish and Lisa Woodward, co-curators at Pictura Gallery for their words and wisdom and vision.
RayKo Photo Center & Gallery is a comprehensive photographic facility, located near the Yerba Buena Arts District, with resources for anyone with a passion for photography. Established in the early 1990’s, RayKo Photo Center has grown to become one of San Francisco’s most beloved photography darkroom spaces; it includes traditional b&w, color and alternative process labs as well as a state-of-the-art digital department, a professional rental studio, galleries, and the Photographer’s Marketplace – a retail space promoting the work of regional artists. RayKo also has San Francisco’s 1st Art*O*Mat vending machine and a vintage 1947 black & white Auto-Photo Booth and a retail store that sells all types of used film cameras, from view cameras to Leicas to a build-your-own Nikon station. Everything you need to make any type of photograph!
RayKo Gallery serves to advance public appreciation of photography and create opportunities for regional, national and international artists to create and present their work. RayKo Gallery offers 1600 square feet of exhibition space and the Photographer’s Marketplace, which encourages the collection of artwork by making it accessible to collectors of all levels. RayKo also has an artist-in-residence program to further support artists in the development of their photographic projects and ideas. Recent resident artist, McNair Evans, and current resident artist, Carlos Javier Ortiz, are both 2016 Guggenheim Fellows.
RayKo Photo Center & Gallery, 428 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
Tuesday-Thursday: 10-10 pm, Friday-Sunday: 10-8 pm, Monday: closed