RICHARD BARNES: Murmur + Refuge at FOLEY

Murmur no. 1, 2005. 44 x 44 inches, Pigment print

Murmur no. 13, 2006. 44 x 44 inches, Pigment print

In Murmur, Barnes observes the flocks of starlings that cloud the skies of EUR, a suburb of Rome.  In this series, Barnes depicts nature as it behaves on it’s own, alive and breathing.  The photographs capture the birds’ aerial displays, which seem to take on the form of suspended mesh sculpture, and the uncontrollable fluctuation of nature as it moves on its own.

Green Leaf Nest, 2000. Pigment print

Refuge examines the complex architecture of bird nests, constructed from elements of the natural world and debris discarded by humans.  The nests are intricate structures, unique in shape and form. Murmur and Refuge are part of Barnes' larger series, Animal Logic.
through February 23, 2014

+  +  +

Elizabeth Avedon: Is your work collaborative or do you work resolutely by yourself?

Richard Barnes: I enjoy working collaboratively. While in Rome, I entered into what was perhaps the most fruitful collaboration of my career to date. I produced “Murmur” with Alex Schweder, an architect and video artist, and Charles Mason, a composer. “Murmur” forms another chapter in my book (Animal Logic, Princeton Architectural Press) and is an investigation into the flocks of starlings which every winter fill the evening sky over Rome. No one is quite sure why the starlings stopover in Italy but before roosting for the night, they converge on the city from the countryside in flocks numbering in the hundred of thousands. This would be impressive enough in it’s own right, but they also do these incredible aerial displays that resemble drawings or computer animation written large overhead. The effect is awe-inspiring, though the Romans detest this “invasion of the starlings”.

Elizabeth Avedon: There is a surreal quality to these images. Do you regard yourself as a Surrealist or feel an affinity with the notion of the images as a kind of dream?  

Richard Barnes: I certainly have an affinity for surrealist imagery. I don’t see how it can be avoided as it’s so ubiquitous in our time, from movies and books to advertising. What sets my work apart is that it grows out of a documentary tradition and from this straight ahead or forensic approach I subvert the document through either juxtaposition or de-contextualization of an object from its surroundings, thereby rendering it hyper-real. I believe real life is strange and surreal enough if one looks a little longer and harder than to attempt to make something surreal on purpose, which usually comes off as contrived. As far as my images conjuring up the realm of a dream reality in someone, I would take this as an indication that they are working. 

Murmur Installation, 22 4th St at Market, San Francisco
Permanent installation commissioned by Jamestown LP


NIR ARIELI: Inframen at Daniel Cooney

Austin, 2012. © Nir Arieli

 Clinton, 2012. © Nir Arieli

"Inframen" at Daniel Cooney Fine Art is a striking series of black and white infrared images of male dancers by New York based photographer Nir Arieli. "The infrared technique allows the artist to examine below the skin, to reveal the blemishes, scars, stretch marks, sun damage and other traces of wear that lie below the surface of his subject's outward appearance. As dancers, the men express themselves with their bodies, at once pushing their physical limits and maintaining beauty in their appearance and movements."

Nir Arieli launched his career as a military photographer, before receiving a scholarship to the School of Visual Arts in New York - he graduated with honors and has received numerous awards since. If you are in New York, don't miss this exhibition.

Elizabeth Avedon: What brought you to work with dancers which appear in most of your work?

Nir Arieli: My cousin Tal, an incredible dancer,
introduced me to his dancer friends and their performances. I don't dance at all, not even at a party. I admire dancers because they can do what seems to me impossible. The training process of a dancer teaches the body to do things that it can't do naturally. I observe it like a child, like it's a super power. Aside from the physical qualities, these are people who are so dedicated to what they do, subvert norms of gender and thrilled to collaborate on projects of different art mediums - It's quite a pleasure collaborating with them.

EA: What is the "infra-red" process you use to shoot these?

NA: The infrared process is being done digitally. The photos are taken in high resolution and in color, and in the conversion process to black and white I imitate what the old infrared film used to do. In this technique the warm tones (which are the tones of everything that is under our skin) are turning dominant, therefore sun-damage, scars, stretch marks and freckles are all being emphasized, and the cool tones are turning light. 

Kyle, 2012. © Nir Arieli

Taner, 2012. © Nir Arieli

Nehemiah, 2012. © Nir Arieli

EA: Did you receive your scholarship to SVA through Stephen Frailey's "Photo Global" program?

NA: Stephen Frailey is a significant influence in my artistic journey. I wasn't a part of the "Photo Global" program but he was my department chair during my 4 year SVA BFA Photography program. He is a generous and special educator and artist. The 4-year scholarship I received was the "Silas H. Rhodes Scholarship," named after a co-founder of the School of Visual Arts.

EA: What type of photographs did you begin your career with? 

NA: In my mandatory military service in Israel I was lucky enough to serve as a photographer for the IDF magazine "Bamachane". It was a great experience which thought me not only technique but also a lot about what I'm interested in as a photographer. I realized that journalistic work which requires me to capture moments that I have no control over was not something that excites me. I'm more of a director or a sculptor, I need the interaction with the subject and I value the intimacy that is being created during a photo-session. 

EA: How does your early work contrast with your current fine art photographs? 

NA: The military was like an intense three year school program. We photographed something different each day, both documentary work and portraiture. I got to be on airplanes, on ships and in the desert... I was sent to do assignments. My current personal work is much more intimate and personal. It's about themes that I'm interested in, people that I choose and the dialog of the photo-session. It seems like it's the complete opposite but actually, there are some similarities. I had an agenda as a military photographer to find that gentleness and sensitivity in the soldiers I photographed, which is something I do in my current work. I feel like that period set down the first bricks in this "castle" I'm building.

Exhibition to March 8 


JEAN-JACQUES NAUDET: an Exclusive Interview

Shiva and Jean-Jacques

Jean-Jacques Naudet Talks To Elizabeth Avedon

“Photography has never been as fashionable as now. In fact Photography IS the communication now.” – Jean-Jacques Naudet

Jean-Jacques Naudet has championed the careers of countless photographers throughout decades, first as Editor-in-Chief of French PHOTO Magazine during it’s heyday in the 1970′s and ’80′s and later as editor at large for American PHOTO, working for Hachette Filipacchi Media for forty years. A prominent figure in the overall History of Photography, Naudet moved on to found his own publications, starting with the former “Le Journal de la Photographie," and currently with the new “L’Oeil de laPhotographie," promoting legendary icons of the past along side a generation of emerging photographers. 
Elizabeth Avedon: How did you first become involved in photography?

Jean-Jacques Naudet: Totally by pure coincidence. When I was a young journalist I started working at Vogue on movie reviews. It was very very badly paid. One day Shiva announced she was pregnant. We wanted to stop being extremely poor. Vogue was great because although I was not very well paid, we were invited everywhere, from cocktails to receptions, all kinds of social events. But it was not possible to bring a small baby to openings and cocktails, so I had to decide to work in another magazine and by pure coincidence I was at French PHOTO.

I didn’t know anything about photography when I started. I discovered photography and photography became a passion. Roger Thérond - who was, who is my mentor, and was the Director of Match, the Director of PHOTO, in fact he was the Director of the Hachette Filipacchi Publishing Company; for the second piece I had to write for PHOTO, Roger sent me to go and meet Romeo Martinez and make an issue about the History of Photography. So I went to see Romeo. I was really really impressed and Romeo gave me all the information I wanted and then he said, “What do you know about Atget?” I said, ”Atget. Great photographer, loved by the Surrealists and the one who made us remember the old Paris.”

He said, “Tell me about Atget and the prostitutes?” and I didn’t know anything about Atget and the prostitutes. “So, maybe one day we will meet again, but next time try to know better about Atget and the prostitutes. If you don’t know about Atget and the prostitutes, you will never know anything about photography. During the next five years I never met Romeo, then one day by chance I bumped into him at an opening and I said, “You know, I know better about Atget and the prostitutes.” So I gave him proof and that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. After Roger, he was my second mentor in photography.

EA:  What progression took you to be Editor-in-Chief of French PHOTO?

JJN: I arrived at the French PHOTO in ’71 and I took the magazine in 1977. I discovered a totally new world. Remember in the ‘70’s very little was known about photography and photographers. We had the extreme formidable luck to discover and at the same time to make discovery of all these people.

I discovered the power of photography, but I discovered what I liked even better than photography, were photographers. Photographers are really the last cowboys of the art scene in the 20th century. After photography, all the art experience or all these communication was collective - there were movies, there was television - but the last individual adventure was photography.

EA: It was a very exciting time for photojournalism at Paris MATCH and French PHOTO. Would you talk about some of the photographers from that period?

JJN: Of course I remember the giants. Henri Cartier-Bresson. Robert Doisneau. The first time I met Henri, he said you have to tell me “tu”. Can you imagine you meet Henri Cartier-Bresson for the first time and he’s forty years older than you, and he asks, “Tu dois me dire tu.” Oh, God!

All these dinosaurs, these mythical legends were alive at this time. There was of course Dick Avedon, Irving Penn and in fashion there was Guy Bourdin. I remember my first trip in America in 1975. The city was in bad shape. There was the famous New York Daily News headline from President Gerald Ford to New York City, "Ford to City: Drop Dead." On that first trip I met Avedon, Penn, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, all these people. Every day there was a discovery.

Every day in France, every day in Europe, every day in America we were able to discover someone we didn’t know or someone who was totally unknown. There was the discovery of Jacques Henri Lartigue, there was the discovery of Jeanloup Sieff, and there was even the discovery of W. Eugene Smith. There was the discovery of the History of Photography, the discovery of the 19th century and the discovery of the beginning of the 20th century with all these prolific photographers from Martin Munkácsi to Man Ray. That’s why the French PHOTO was magical at this time, because not only did we enjoy our daily profession, but also we made other people enjoy, and for this we were well paid.
EA:  Tell us about Roger Thérond and working with him.

JJN: Roger was the boss of everything and everyone. He was even more than a mentor. I was spending every day with someone who has an incredible eye, an incredible sense of journalism, who was also hugely passionate about photography. At that time, he started to collect 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century photography, so he was everything in one.

In ’74, Roger sent me to London for a charity auction for The Photographers Gallery. So I arrive in Sotheby’s Belgravia. The auctioneer was Philippe Garner, who I didn’t know at that time, and there were probably fifty or sixty people inside the room.  In the middle of this crowd, an incredible good looking guy, dressed all in black, kept his hand above his head for the entire auction. He won half of the auction. Suddenly the last lot was an Irving Penn huge vintage print of Colette. And this guy in black won the bid at £ 700 and everyone booed him at this time. What is this jerk buying a Penn for £ 700? And the guy was Sam Wagstaff.

That night we had dinner with Sam and Philippe. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. That was the kind of encounter you could have in this time.

(left) Jean-Jacques Naudet, Ed-in-Chief L’Oeil de la Photographie; with (center) David Schonauer, Ed-in-Chief American Photography Pro Photo Daily and (right) Philippe Achard, Achard and Assoc.

EA:  What was it like for you when you first arrived in NY?

JJN: The first time I arrived in New York was in 1975, but I remember the day I decided to live in New York. It was Halloween 1984; I decided New York was my dream. MATCH at this time had a marvelous small penthouse apartment on 77th Street, just in front of the Mark Hotel. I arrived on the day of Halloween; I put my suitcase in the apartment, and went back out to the street. Just when I opened the gate, I saw this incredibly gorgeous looking Upper East Side girl, so I stopped to watch her. At the same time a police car came and stopped in front of her. I was 10 meters from the girl. The car swerved off the road onto the sidewalk and stopped the girl. After one or two seconds, this girl is starting to laugh. I thought, what’s going on? So I approach step by step, and guess what? The policemen were wearing pig’s masks! I said, “I definitely want to live here.”

My idea was for Roger to decide to send me to New York, and after 5 years I succeeded, so I arrived and for me it’s still the same magical thing. I just spent seven months in Paris due to the problem with Le Journal. I am as happy as Paradise when I returned two weeks ago. I have the same magical feeling as when I first came to the city.

EA:  Did your wife move to New York at that time?

JJN: My wife, Shiva, let’s say we’ve been living together for 48 years now. Let’s say without her I’m nothing. She’s really - what is that expression - the cement between the stones. She has been the glue of this family.

She was quite a successful stylist and fashion designer. She was at the top when I decided, quite egoist of me, to come and live in New York. For five years she was commuting from Paris to New York every two weeks. After five years, life was quite miserable, so she quit.

EA: You are the author of several books: Marilyn (Assouline, 2003); Marlene Dietrich: Photographs and Memories (Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2001); and Icons of the 20th Century: 200 Men and Women Who Have Made a Difference (Overlook, 1998). What inspired you to interview Marilyn Monroe's most trusted photographers - including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Andre de Dienes, Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon and Milton Greene - about what it was like to photograph this legend?

JJN: The “Marilyn” was quite exciting. I had just finished a special issue of American PHOTO where I spent two months all around the United States to find all these old guys who photographed Marilyn; Ossie Leviness, George Barris and all of them were in fact still in love with her. The one I remember the most was André De Dienes who showed me his diary and especially the page where he talks about his sexual relationship with Marilyn. That was so surreal to see this very very old guy being the lover of Marilyn Monroe.

Probably one of my best memories is when I discovered that all the Milton Greene pictures had at this time been bought by this kind of strange Greek guy with the complicity of the last Milton mistress; and everything was deeply hidden in storage in Pasadena. So I went there for Match to meet the guy. He called me at the Chateau Marmont and he said, “You have to find a way to come to Pasadena. Let’s meet in a bar.” So I went to the bar and he said, “Are you sure you aren’t followed?” I said, “Of course.” I arrived in the storage and discovered thousands of vintage prints by Milton Greene and probably all the dresses and all the personal objects of Marilyn. Later, Joshua Greene and the family sued the guy and they recuperated everything.

EA:  In "Marlene Dietrich: Photographs and Memories" there were almost 300 photographs from her collection. How did you get involved?

JJN: The beautiful souvenir I have of the Marlene Dietrich book - I’m quite friendly with Peter Riva, the son of Marlene Dietrich’s daughter Maria Riva, the grandson of Marlene. Peter called me and said, “Jean-Jacques, are you interested in spending one week in Berlin, the east part of Berlin (this was after ’89) and you will select in the archives of Marlene what you want for a book?” I spent one week, probably 18 hours a day, looking at all the personal archives of Marlene.

The thing I must confess, if the work of looking through archives, digging for pictures was very well paid, I would have preferred to look for pictures, than to publish pictures.

EA: You created a list for American PHOTO of over 30 photographers that had not received recognition or had been underrated. Would you describe that era of Photography?

JJN: I’m always fascinated by how quick some great great photographers disappear. More and more frequently the disappearance is quick now. Almost everyone forgot about people like Chris von Wangenheim, Bill King, and Mike Reinhardt (grandson of the famous film Director Max Reinhardt). Plus all these very famous French guys from the ‘70’s who were the Kings of Fashion: Alex Chatelain, Pierre Houles, Guy Le Baube. Who knows about all these guys?

That is the one thing I’m trying to restore with L’Oeill, is to bring together these two worlds of photography; the world of the dinosaur like you and me - people who are passionate and have the knowledge and the culture of photography - and the world of these millions and millions of young kids addicted to photography through Flickr, Instagram and Facebook, but maybe lacking the background, the culture and the knowledge.

 Jean-Jacques with Grandchildren, Chloe and Julien 

EA:  You’ve written a few controversial pieces now and then.

JJN: It’s not really controversy. But one thing I have noticed, in fact I made an issue of American PHOTO about; that the’70’s and 80’s were far more permissive than today. Being "politically correct" at this present time is absolutely boring.  For someone who loves New York as I do, to see New York so totally sanitized - the meat market looking like Avenue Montaigne in Paris - it’s boring. If I can dare to say it, I miss the transvestites, I miss the prostitutes, I miss the peep shows in Times Sq. I remember when Jean-Paul Goode met Grace Jones. Grace was absolutely fascinated by all the Times Sq. shops. One night we went from peep show to peep show because Grace wanted to make a private thing for Jean-Paul.

EA:  What pieces were of notable success for you in the past?

JJN: I’m particularly proud of a couple of things. Avedon’s Interview’s were quite strong.  Avedon was not really fond of French PHOTO and same for Penn. They found it was a girly magazine. The magazine was important enough so they wanted to be in it in a way, so each time I wanted to have a portfolio, he would say, “Yes, but who is going to do the text?” So I would suggest a couple of names. Each time he said, “No, no. Naudet, if you want my portfolio, I want Roland Barthes.” And because of Richard Avedon I became quite friends with Roland Barthes. Three times I call Barthes and say, “Avedon is giving us a huge gorgeous portfolio, but you have to write the text.” So we used to meet with Barthes at his favorite place at the bar of the Hotel Port-Royal.

The fourth time, Avedon was publishing the fashion book (AVEDON: Photographs 1947-1977. Farrar, Straus, Giroux). I called Barthes and said, “Roland, I have a new Avedon portfolio,” and the day after I received a beautiful note from Roland Barthes. He said, “Dear Naudet, I received the book. The book is gorgeous. Avedon is gorgeous, as usual. This book is full of women and you know women are not my cup of tea.”

Then around ‘95, Roger called me one night. “Jean Jacques, Catherine Deneuve has been elected the most gorgeous French woman. Call Avedon and ask him about the pictures of Catherine because he photographed her like no one? We need this picture. “ I said, “Remember Roger, our relationship with Avedon is not so good. Last time with MATCH they didn’t respect the contract.” He said, “Don’t worry, don’t worry Jean-Jacques, this time we are going to respect.”

So I called Avedon, it was probably 8pm. At 7AM, Avedon called and said, “Come to the Studio, I have something for you.” He gave me four spreads, eight pages he designed himself, plus the cover with his written indication “Avedon as big as Deneuve.” Of course, Roger did not respect the contract and of course he changed the layout. Avedon was absolutely furious.

Six months later arrived one of the most important fashion pieces that I have seen in the History of Fashion in the New Yorker, 32 pages of incredible pictures. Roger called and said, “Jean-Jacques, we need to publish these pictures in MATCH.” I say, “Roger, don’t forget last time. Avedon is not going to forgive you.“ He said, “I don’t care. Try.”

I called Avedon, and it was great. He said, “Ah, Roger is interested. If MATCH publishes these 32 pictures, it’s free.  If MATCH publishes 24 pages, it’s $30,000. If they publish 16 pages, it’s  $40,000. If Match publishes 8 pages, it’s $50,000.” MATCH was not able to publish 32 pictures. They published 8 pages and they paid $50,000. That was his sweet revenge.

And in terms of things that I published and I wouldn’t have published – I’m not going to answer to that. Probably a lot.

EA:  In 2010, you started the very successful "Le Journal de la Photographie." Did you imagine Le Journal would be so well received with so many followers?

JJN: No. No. I was deeply surprised. Of course I was proud. People say behind a success you always have a concept. That’s true, but that’s not so true. Behind a success you always have a team and that’s the most important.

EA: What was your original intent and what happened with Le Journal?

JJN: As you know, I worked for the same company for almost forty years. In 2009, Hachette Filipacchi was sold to Hearst. I was too young to retire or too passionate to retire. I really wanted to continue in photography because it’s the only thing I know.  I was totally fascinated by this new technology, this new form of expression, so I had this idea to make a daily publication talking about of all the things that were going on in photography all around the world. I was lucky enough to find a capitalist business angel who was extremely successful at this time, who didn’t ask anything and didn’t want a business model, just the opportunity to have this Journal.

But after two years, his business had quite difficult financial problems and, what can I say, he was less and less an angel. Things started to be extremely complicated especially because he never explained, never talked, payments were late; you know because you were there during this time. One day as an excuse he told me that the team was not good, I was not very good, we have to rethink about everything.

You can do what you want, but you never never accuse the people who are working with you. The following day I skyped with all the team. I said, “I’ve made my decision. I’m going to quit. I’m going to announce it Friday August 30. They all told me, “OK, we will do the same, we stay with you.”

EA: And in November 2013 you began your new publication, "L'Oeil de la Photographie." 34 of the original 36 Le Journal correspondents followed with you.

JJN: The thing I’m really proud of is the team now working, writing and collaborating. All of these 34 people coming from all different places, young and old, male and female, from all over the world, each of them different.

EA:  You’ve always been ahead of many in understanding the value of using the latest technology.

JJN: Elizabeth, I’m a fraud. I don’t know anything about new technology. I just realized a couple of facts. Photography has never been as fashionable as now. Photography now has replaced the verb in communication. In fact photography IS the communication now.

When all these kids during editorial meetings talk about the technology, they are charming when they explain, but after 2 minutes I’m outside smoking a cigarette because I don’t understand one word. You will see during the next ten days, L’Oeil de la Photographie is reopening the archive, but I don’t understand when they explain how they do this. When you have a team, you have to delegate this kind of thing and you have to trust them.

As I said, success is not only a concept, success is always a team.


LENSCRATCH: Mixtape by Aline Smithson

Photograph © Jerry Atnip

I've been L E N S C R A T C H E D  by the remarkable ALINE SMITHSON. L E N S C R A T C H is considered one of the 10 Photography-related blogs you should be reading by Source Review, Wired.com, Rangefinder and InStyle Magazine. I'm honored to be included in Smithson's Mixtapes, profiling many distinguished professionals in the fine art photography world.

Aline writes: "Constructing today’s MIXTAPE was incredibly exciting–I learned in-depth about a friend and design icon who has traversed a remarkable photographic terrain, creating a legacy for excellence and creativity. Elizabeth Avedon's blog  is a go-to destination for photographers, bringing her unique perspective to her observations and posts.  I first met Elizabeth Avedon when she reviewed my work at Review Santa Fe. I had no idea what to expect, but it turned out that our twenty minutes was my favorite of the event. She was warm, funny, engaging, and encouraging.  We kept in touch and several years later, when I was exhibiting in New York, she attended my opening. It was a reflection of the kind of person she is, someone who makes the extra effort to support, encourage, and educate. It was great to reunite with her in Chicago at the Filter Photo Festival this past fall."

"Elizabeth carries a lifetime of creative seeing, that combined with her exposure to the the greats of design and photography, add up to a remarkable ability to make her mark on all aspects of design that surround the photograph. Her down-to-earth generosity and unflagging enthusiasm for all things photographic make her a very special member of our community." 



STEPHEN MALLON: The Salvage of Flight 1549

Brace for Impact: The Salvage of Flight 1549 © Stephen Mallon

Five years ago, Flight 1549 landed in the Hudson River. Stephen Mallon documented it's salvage. I *spoke with Stephen Mallon about how he got started in Photography and the making of these photographs.
“Mallon’s work harkens back to the heroic industrial landscapes of Margaret Bourke-White and Charles Sheeler, who glorified American steel and found art in its industrial muscle and smoke during the Great Depression.”–David Schonauer

Stephen Mallon is a British-born, Brooklyn-based Industrial and Fine Art Photographer. Mallon first caught my undivided attention and gained enormous acclaim for his series, Brace for Impact: The Salvage of Flight 1549. His large-scale photographs documenting the salvage of Flight 1549, the plane piloted by Sully Sullenberger III who successfully emergency-landed in the Hudson River in January 15, 2009 saving all 155 people aboard.

He followed with another outstanding series, “American Reclamation - Next Stop Atlantic”. NYC Transit joined the artificial reef-building program off the east coast of the U.S. in 2000. Mallon beautifully traced the progress of the train cars on their last voyage out to sea.

Brace for Impact: The Salvage of Flight 1549 © Stephen Mallon
I studied Photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology from 1992-1996. When I came to New York after graduating, I was picked up by several assistants that liked my work ethic and they brought me along on a number of jobs; that was how I got started. I assisted for four years. In the late ‘90’s, I was shooting industrial landscapes, burned up power stations, airplane landing strips, oil fields, and ended up with a portfolio of Industrial Landscapes.

My wife and I came up with the concept of a body of work to propose to the recycling industry to photograph within the 50 states to interested companies and have a flushed out project that could be published as a book. I came up with the title “American Reclamation.

While I was scouting locations for the book, I spotted a barge loaded up with New York City subway cars. The stripped and decontaminated retired subway cars are thrown into the Atlantic Ocean to create a reef. They pull the windows out, they pull out the motor and the plexiglas, but the steel bodies have asbestos from the old fireproofing so it’s not cost efficient for scrap yards to purchase the steel. They can’t cut them up in a traditional scrap yard, so they dump them into the ocean. They have been doing this for centuries, since the 1600’s, with old tanks, old tires, and cement blocks. The EPA signed off on it. They start building reefs within ninety days, although there’s concern about how stable they are because the hurricane apparently pushed a lot of the subway cars around because of the strength of the currents.

American Reclamation - Next Stop Atlantic  © Stephen Mallon

American Reclamation - Next Stop Atlantic © Stephen Mallon

When I found that barge, I got in touch with Weeks Marine and showed them my existing work on the recycling project. The general manager was a fan of photography and said, “Come on down.” He introduced me to the program director of the MTA who then granted me access to the yard at 207th Street and allowed for me to go out on a series of chase boats with them and photograph when they were putting the subway cars into the ocean.

They were going out every month with a tugboat that takes the barge down. It takes about 24 hours for the tugboat to get there loaded up; so the crew boat goes out from either Cape May or Ocean City and we meet up about two hours out. Bang up right next to them. They climb up a ladder onto the barge, start up the excavator with a custom arm built by them to pick up the subway cars and start throwing them off. Then that crew boat backs off. It needs to stay in the area anyway, so I was able to ask the captain, “Can you keep me here? Get me closer, get me to this side.”

Around November of 2008, I got a call from the salvage contractor at Weeks Marine saying, “I don’t know if you’re interested, but we are picking up the Concord tomorrow”. Weeks has a floating crane, so they were able to pick up the Concord and move it back onto the pier that had been built for it. I photographed while the Concord was being moved to the newly restored Intrepid Museum.
Jan 15, 2009, it’s my wife’s birthday, Sully lands in the Hudson River and we’re sitting in a bar in Clinton Hill looking at this on TV. Someone at the bar said, “I wonder how they’re going to get the plane out?”  I said, “I know who’s going to do this!” I called my contact at Weeks Marine and asked if they got the job. He said I’ll be in a meeting with the Coast Guard and the FBI, so I can’t pick up my phone, but call Tom Weeks, who owns all the cranes. I jumped in the car, plugged in the address on the GPS, got on a tugboat and then I went out and photographed the crash site. I ended up with exclusive access to Sullys crash because I went in there under the aspects of photographing for the construction company, Weeks Marine. As the fuselage and engine of the aircraft were later brought up intact, lifted some eighty feet out of the icy waters by a gigantic crane and a team of divers in heated wetsuits, I photographed the moment standing on the deck of a crane-barge. I went inside the aircraft to shoot and photographed inside the cockpit and the pilot’s seat. NTSB was there and granted access for me as well with the understanding they would have jpegs available for their research and presentation if needed.

 Brace for Impact: The Salvage of Flight 1549
© Stephen Mallon

Rob Haggard, of AphotoEditor.com, was the first to post press about my photographs of Flight 1549 on his blog. CBS News picked this up and then it just exploded – NBC and MSNBC, New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, PDN, the Lucie Awards, and numerous blog posts later.

They showed Flight 1549 and a couple of the subway cars at PULSEMiami. About half a dozen prints sold, half of which were the subway cars, so I went back and shot the subway cars again. I had a solo show at Front Room Gallery in Sept 2010, on the next chapter of “American Reclamation - Next Stop Atlantic”. The works have been accepted widely and have been shown in New York, Miami, San Francisco, Rome, and the Bristol Biennial, Bristol, UK.

*The complete article "STEPHEN MALLON: INDUSTRIAL LANDSCAPES" first appeared in iMagazine in 2012.


TOD PAPAGEORGE: Studio 54, 1978-1980

Studio 54, 1978-1980
Photograph (c) Tod Papageorge /All Rights Reserved
• Click Images To View Enlarged Portfolio •

Studio 54, 1978-1980
Photograph (c) Tod Papageorge /All Rights Reserved

Studio 54, 1978-1980
Photograph (c) Tod Papageorge /All Rights Reserved

Studio 54, 1978-1980
Photograph (c) Tod Papageorge /All Rights Reserved

Galerie Thomas Zander presents its first exhibition of works by the American photographer Tod Papageorge. On view is a series of seventy black and white photographs from the legendary New York night club Studio 54, that was frequented by the likes of Andy Warhol, Liza Minnelli, Mick Jagger and Grace Jones. Papageorge always had his camera at hand and between 1978 and 1980 he celebrated with the rich and beautiful, the artists and starlets; even today viewers can witness the eccentric and hedonistic party nights in his photographs. They revive the feeling of the disco era and express a profoundly urban spirit of directness, which condensed in New York at that time.

In the 1960s, Tod Papageorge had a close artistic exchange with Garry Winogrand. Both artists used to meet almost daily to take photographs in the streets of New York. During those days, some icons of photography history originated, which with their intuition and intensity exude a unique kind of lightness. As a recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships and a teaching professor at Yale University for many years, Papageorge’s influence on contemporary photography can hardly be overestimated.

Renowned photographers like Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Gregory Crewdson, or Anna Gaskell were among his students. All of Tod Papageorge’s works are based on an interest in people as social beings. Be it his images of sports stadiums, his photographs of everyday life in Central Park or the images from Studio 54, in all his photographs people are characterized through the group they belong to and their experience of the present moment. His works are intense portraits of America marked by a powerful authenticity. (text courtesy of Galerie Thomas Zander)

January 25 – April 12, 2014
Galerie Thomas Zander
Schönhauser Str. 8, 50968 Köln, Germany


JAMES ESTRIN: Elizabeth Avedon Interview

Trance dancing at a Trinidadian Hindu temple devoted to the goddess Kali in Queens. 2005 © James Estrin/The New York Times

Sheikh Reda Shata, an imam, blesses a newborn child at a Hospital in Brooklyn. 2005 © James Estrin/The New York Times

A ceremony for the dead at a Cambodian Buddhist temple in the Bronx. 2005 © James Estrin/The New York Times

“Silence and Dust, 9/11 Memorial, 2002.” Rescue workers formed a circle on ground zero for a minute of silence in observance of the anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. A strong wind blew dust around the circle. © James Estrin/The New York Times

James Estrin Talks To Elizabeth Avedon

In James Estrin’s exhibition "Observance: Photographs of Spiritual Experience" opening today, sensitivity and technical skill combine to create impactful moments in the world he observes. When thousands of people gathered to commemorate the first anniversary of 9/11, he was assigned one of the least accessible vantage points, yet his extraordinary photograph, “Silence and Dust, 9/11 Memorial, 2002”, was the most powerful (and chilling) image made of the event.

Estrin, a senior staff photographer for the New York Times and founder and co-editor of Lens, the Times's photography blog; is also a writer for the Times and produces audio and video for nytimes.com. He was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for the series “How Race is Lived in America.” Internationally, he has covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, photographed the devastation in Haiti following the earthquake, and in 2004, was the first journalist to document an assisted suicide in Oregon.

I had the opportunity to talk with James before the opening of his exhibition:

Elizabeth Avedon: How old were you when you first became interested in photography?

James Estrin: I was 16, and I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to be a photographer.

EA: What direction would you have gone in if you had not become a photojournalist?
James Estrin: Good question. It’s not that I had many skills when I was 22.  I think I would have become a teacher.

EA: You've been a New York Times photographer for over two decades. How did you get to this point in time?

James Estrin: I've been with the New York Times for 26 years; I was a freelancer for the first four years. I'm now a senior staff photographer, and for the last four and a half years I've been the co-editor of the Lens Blog. At first David Dunlap and Josh Haner were co editors and for the last 2 years David Gonzalez has been the Lens co-editor. And there’s our producer Matt McCann who is indispensable.

I went to Hampshire College and the International Center of Photography in the Advanced Studies program. But I thought I should give myself a chance to do something else. I studied some photography at college with Jerry Liebling but mostly I studied anthropology and history.

I'm a big proponent of studying as many things as you can. I think you shouldn’t only study photography or journalism.  That is like majoring in wood shop.

Much of photography is a craft, and what separates one photographer from another besides a visual style is what you have to say. To have something to say, you have to have ideas and thoughts. I think every photographer should know art history; every photographer should have a good grounding in literature, philosophy, anthropology and history.

When I left ICP I took a job in Jackson, Mississippi at the Clarion-Ledger, which was a very good paper at that time.  After two years I went to Washington, D.C. to freelance and then to New York where I was a stringer or temporary staff for every paper in NY- Newsday, the Post, the Daily News and finally for the Times for four years. I got hired at the Times January 13th, 1992.

EA: What have been your most challenging assignments?
James Estrin: Among them have been covering the attacks on the World Trade Center and the incursions in Ramallah by Israel in 2002. The story that I did on the making of an American Imam in Brooklyn in 2006 was also quite challenging. And it took me years to arrange to photograph an assisted suicide in Oregon in 2004.

EA: What effect did the experience of the assisted suicide have on you or your work?

James Estrin: It was very difficult to gain people’s trust, get access to people considering employing the suicide law there and attend an actual suicide. It reaffirmed my belief that if you are honest and open with people – and patient-that you can photograph anything.

It had more of a personal effect then a professional one. It was a very profound experience. It makes me constantly evaluate where I find meaning in life. I did a multi media piece on this. It was 2004 and I didn’t really know what I was doing but the power of the story comes through anyway.


EA: At what point did you begin to incorporate writing with your stories?

James Estrin: I think it was 2003. I always came up with story ideas but had to get a writer to suggest them to word editors to get them done. Of course the Times has many excellent reporters so that usually worked out well. But even when it did, I wasn’t the primary storyteller. I was illustrating someone else’s words. And on occasion their take on the story was somewhat different than mine.

After one experience that didn’t work out so well I decided that I should try it. And I did. For the next few years I wrote a couple of stories a year, and then we started Lens and I dove into the deep end.

EA: Let's talk about your exhibition "Observance: Photographs of Spiritual Experience." What was the original force behind creating this work?

James Estrin: I have always been interested in spiritual experience - both photographically and personally. From an early age I thought there was more to life than immediately met the eye.

That’s the challenge for me in these photos. Religious ritual is visually lush and made for photographers. Actual spiritual experience is internal and essentially not visible.

EA: Your photograph "Silence and Dust, 9/11 Memorial, 2002" is a transcendent image for me. How did it occur? 

James Estrin: This was a ceremony at Ground Zero one year after 9/11. I was on the 8th floor terrace across the street about as far as could be from what I thought was a good position. I wanted to be down on the ground near the ceremony but I was assigned to the roof. I couldn’t move. I had several very long lenses with me.

At one point something happened in the corner of the site, someone about to walk down the ramp, perhaps the president or the mayor. And photographers started looking that way.

I'm looking the other way and this wind blows and brings up this dust - and its quite remarkable, it feels like the place is alive.

Observance: Photographs of Spiritual Experience by James Estrin
From January 7 to March 3, 2014
92nd Street Y
1395 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 



PAULA McCARTNEY: A Field Guide to Snow + Ice opens at KLOMPCHING Gallery

White Sands #4, 2009  © Paula McCartney 
Image: courtesy of Klompching Gallery, New York

 Black Ice #1 and Black Ice #2, 2011 © Paula McCartney
Image: courtesy of Klompching Gallery, New York

 Backyard Snow #2, 2010  © Paula McCartney 
Image: courtesy of Klompching Gallery, New York

“I see winter everywhere, in every environment, in every season and categorize it by pattern, shape, and line rather than merely by substance”– Paula McCartney

A Field Guide to Snow and Ice is a sophisticated set of photographs, continuing Paula McCartney’s visual exploration of truth and fabrication in the photographic image and natural world. The 29 artworks that make up the exhibit at KLOMPCHING GALLERY, are a sequential installation of modestly-sized photographs, interweaving natural elements and constructed environments—we see snowfalls, frozen waterfalls, stalagmites and snowdrifts.

McCartney’s representation of abstracted elements, reveal a nuanced ambiguity of scale and substance, causing what has been photographed, to transcend its origin. This is not an exhibition to take for granted, but one to explore carefully, particularly its use of a collapse between the creative and scientific languages.

Paula McCartney
A Field Guide to Snow and Ice
January 10 – February 15, 2014
Artist Reception: Thursday, January 9, 6m–8pm

111 Front Street, Brooklyn

Paula McCartney gained an MFA in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute in California (2002). She has been the recipient of several awards including a 2013-2014 MCP/McKnight Artist Fellowship. McCartney’s photographs have been widely exhibited and her work is held in the collections of the Deutsche Bank, Walker Art Center, MOMA and Yale University amongst others. Accompanying the exhibition is On Thin Ice, In A Blizzarda limited edition artist book, featuring a selection of photographs from A Field Guide to Snow and Ice. (Text: courtesy of Klompching Gallery)