Saturday, December 31

rinko kawauchi.

Sometimes, when I'm feeling airy, I turn to Rinko Kawauchi. She's a Japanese photographer who I imagine smells like apple blossoms and tastes like sweet mint tea. Her work is all the lightness and serenity I suspect Japan to be; an effervescent world of stillness and contemplation of life as it happens, without haste.

Please excuse my romanticism. Then again, I think Rinko would encourage it.

website here.

all images © Rinko Kawauchi 

Friday, December 30

taryn simon.

Taryn Simon is very good at what she does. Whether it be posed objects, portraiture or snapshots of nature, her photographs satisfy a primal urge for composition and continuity, the absurd and the melancholy.

In this particular series she undertook the measured task of photographing over a thousand objects confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Illegal firearms, undeclared horse-meat sausages, pirated TV shows, Chinese Viagra, and any other object deemed too tainted to cross America's hallowed perimeter. It's like a smuggler's birthday party just after the piñata got smashed; luckily Taryn was around to politely arrange, frame and shoot the aftermath. Her month long stint at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York yielded this brilliant series, titled Contraband.

It would be wrong to try and cover all of her work here so I'll leave you with these; but her other projects are equally fascinating and include studies of the wrongfully imprisoned, Fidel Castro, and meditations on the nature of kinship.

view her work here.

via It's Nice That.

all images © Taryn Simon

Thursday, December 29

vanessa conyers.

So we're back from Christmas shenanigans, i.e.sleeping-in late, drinking too much wine, dancing after multiple course meals, and ripping open DVD's that were intended gifts for your mother but which you've actually purchased so that you could spend six nights on the couch "borrowing" them...

Ah yes, Christmastime. It's a time when most people spend endless hours shopping, sifting through potential presents with a voracity unmatched by any other purchase-based occasion. That is unless we count Black Friday... but that's another story.

Anyway, I looked through a lot of lovely things over the holidays, but I'd have to say that amongst all of those beautiful bits and bobs there was something that really stuck out, and that was the work of Vanessa Conyers. You see, not only does Miss. Conyers possess my childhood fantasy-name (at age eight I compromised by asking my parents if I could at least change my middle name to said "Vanessa"), she's also got a knack for hand-crafting delicate, witty and confoundedly lovely ceramic pieces. Knack would actually be a bit of an understatement, considering this is some of the most cray-cray pottery I've ever seen, and I mean "cray" in a really good way. I imagine Wonderland's Mad Hatter would cast a lusty eye over one or two of these tea sets...

Innovative and with exquisite attention to detail, this Dorset based artist is really worth a look. She even runs a pottery studio and workshops to help introduce people to "the magical world of ceramics". Sweet! Check out her beautiful website here.

all images © Vanessa Conyers

Monday, December 19

leif podhajsky.

This is Leif Podhajsky. He makes sublime, hypnagogic images using kaleidoscopic tricks of reflection and repetition. Sort of like that time you played around on the "mirror" setting of Photobooth, only better.

Some of his images make it onto album covers. The rest can be viewed at your leisure here.

Go get lost.

via Its Nice That.  

all images ©  Leif Podhajsky

Saturday, December 17

'tique vision.

Something's in the air... a haze of damp afternoon mist, the clatter of mouths chattering and feet shuffling, a musty smell of un-aired coats and the creak of drawers gone sticky from neglect. Mmm... its the din of one of London's most beautiful institutions, the antiques market: a place where, for a few hours, a stranger's wedding album can become a collectable, or a used tea set a must have Christmas gift. In another context junk, chatchkie, or bric-a-brac would be appropriate words. But for today they are annoited "vintage", and we'll jostled shoulder to shoulder for a chance to nab that tarnished silver napkin ring (it's probably french...). Not that I'm complaining. These bazaars are my Mecca, they call to me like Bilal from the minaret. 

And in that vein I'd like to segway into a couple of clips from the gamut of antique film. And because I'm in an old-fashioned mood it seems the moment for a bit of a rue followed by a touch of reminiscing. Maybe its all the silk and smoke and pianos, but I'm feelin' it. (Props to Ms Bacall by the way for her excellent use of upper-midriff).

(Bacall and Bogart in To Have and Have Not)

(Monroe in The River of No Return)

All this has got me thinking about the mystique of the antique, something which can translate to inanimate object but also to living characters as well.  What was it then, that made these lords and ladies of the screen so effortlessly watchable, so pleasantly elegant, capable of delivering lines which teeter precariously on the edge of cringe-inducing cliche? ("Here's looking at you kid".... bit creepy, eh?) 

Again, I think its all back down to this mystique of the 'tique. A diverse spectrum of figures from King Arthur to Oscar Wilde, Guinevere to Audrey Hepburn, can claim much of their appeal as derived from the attractive aura which surrounds any object belonging to a faded era. Lines become fuzzy, holes appear in memory, leaving room for romance to fill in the gaps. Anything that is not "now" has an instant capacity for chicness. 

Anyway, enjoy.

Tuesday, December 13

sabastiao salgado.

 Kicking myself for just missing his latest show at Somerset House. It was even called "Amazon". Does it get much better?

This recent discovery comes via my personal photography guru, The Bone Warmer. Though he's hardly news to the world of photojournalism, Salgado has been an exciting acquisition in my slightly behind-the-times sphere of photographic knowledge.

Sitting here, heavy headed and slow to end another day in foggy London town, Salgado's work feels ripe for long, lazy contemplation. Sharp focus meets bleary eyed escapism. And it's here, for me, that the true dreaminess of black-and-white photography lies. Such images play with the constructedness of their content, holding fantasy and reality together in calm simultaneity. Salgado acts as documentarian of a world, a scene, a face which we know must be real yet seems eerily just beyond truth.

Look, there it is. Right there in the photograph. It's real, isn't it? And yet it also seems too big, too beautiful, too sad and too strange to be real. So maybe it is, maybe it isn't. At least I'm thinking.

all images © Sabastiao Salgado