samedi 31 janvier 2009

ホンマタカシ Takashi Homma

ホンマタカシ Takashi Homma - Tokyo Suburbia

vendredi 30 janvier 2009

Blind Woman

Camera Work, Alfred Stieglitz's simple but luxurious magazine of fine photography, published this print by Paul Strand - full page, of course, and in exquisite engraving set in wide margins; The effect was breathtaking for anyone interested in serious photography; or in pictures, for that matter. Seeing it was a strong enough experience to energize on the spot any young camera artist with bold aesthetic ambitions. There is no question that Stieglitz's taste and brilliant showmanship made the strand photograph fairly burn the eye, on this occasion; but paul Strand made the original, and it is one of the lasting glories of the medium. It reverberates.

Walker Evans

Eugène Atget

Eugène Atget - Maison, porte de La Muette

Stephen Shore

BRS: In an early article by Walker Evans, published in Hound and Horn in 1931, of the work of Eugene Atget, Evans writes: “it is not the poetry of the streets’ or the ‘poetry of Paris,’ but the projection of Atget’s person.” If that is the case, I wonder if that is something that can be taught, or expressed in a book?

SS: I think so. My book does not deal with the content of the pictures, it deals with what might be called the visual grammar of photography. That is not separate from what you’re asking, the projection of personality. I think personality expresses itself in these choices that a photographer makes, because of the choices the tools present. But a photographer’s vision is expressed though these tools, as well as through the choice of subject matter.

BRS: Do you assume the audience for this book to be photographers, those involved in the art world, or simply the ones interested in the medium who may not be artists?

SS: I think it’s both. The book grew out of two things, one is course I’ve taught out of Bard College for many years called Photographic Seeing, the other that stimulated me to write it is an experience with a friend of mine, a neighbor, who was a potter, very talented and smart woman, very cultured. In one point in our discussion, she said to me: ”I just don’t get photography, I just don’t know where to begin to look, I don’t know how to begin to look at a photograph. I don’t get what you’re doing.” I thought, here’s this person, who in other media, is very sophisticated, but there’s something different about photography that she’s not relating to. When she goes beyond the subject matter, she said “I don’t know what the photographer is thinking about”. That was the other audience, like this person, who is so cultured, yet photography is somehow foreign.

BRS: Yet one would imagine that the average person in this country might be bombarded with five hundred, a thousand photographs a day. So this same person is seeing photographs plentifully and responding to them, but is it that she’s unaware of her own cultural and artistic response to these images or that she doesn’t have an engagement in this process?

SS: There just isn’t an engagement, or if there is, only a superficial one. She might see a picture in a newspaper and recognize the content, she sees an ad…but she knows that there’s something else that the artists are thinking about, but she just doesn’t know what that is.

BRS: In your early work, you describe your process of making the work as being responsive to a “wordless thought” in terms of photography. Later you talk about becoming a teacher and having to concretely verbalize ideas to students. It seems that photography is somewhere in the middle, you can’t really stab at it through the center but you sort of embrace it on the sides.

SS: That’s a great way of putting it. I went through a big learning process when I started teaching, as you said, all those years before, my decision-making and thinking was visual thinking and that it was wordless, and that was perfectly fine. I could happily and consciously make images, but I didn’t ever have to formulate it in a formal way. Having to teach, I’m no use to the students unless I can stand up there and say something, so I went through a learning process of trying to figure out concretely what went into my visual thinking, and can it be put into words. If it can, how can I explain it, and can I explain it clearly.

BRS: Is having a verbal explanation necessary for the understanding of photography?

SS: No. I think a person can understand photography in a non-verbal way, but I can’t write a non-verbal book… but there are not a lot of words in the book, so I’m getting close to it! What I was able to do in this edition, was with each idea, there’s a portfolio, and the portfolio isn’t an illustration of the text, it’s carrying it forward, exactly the way you’re suggesting. Though the text is setting it up, the portfolio continues the dialogue in a non-verbal way. So there are some ideas I’m putting in the book that are expressed just in terms of photographs, and are not expressed in words. I thought that if I didn’t use the words, it wouldn’t concentrate the reader’s mind towards a particular aspect.

BRS: Yet the photographs are presented in a way where they can communicate with each other.

SS: Yes, that’s the idea.

BRS: One thing I did notice about the photographs in the book that there aren’t any pictures which are composites, or adjusted digitally.

SS: I’m not dealing with that here. In the introduction, I say that I’m dealing with the straight photograph, taken with a camera and printed from a negative or a digital file. And it’s not since Photoshop that we have composite imagery, we have collages and other composites since the nineteenth century. It raises lots of other questions, here I’m setting limited parameters for myself. I’m trying to figure out the way a camera works, or the way film works, or a sensor that translates the world – how do you take the world that flows in time, and turn it into another object? Taking on something like collage opens another door that I just wasn’t ready to deal with.

BRS: In your own work, you’ve set certain rules such as not cropping the image, is that something you only impose only upon yourself, or do you expect that from your students as well?

SS: I don’t want my students to crop, it’s for a simple reason. I want to put as much pressure on myself, and on them, so that they don’t feel that the decision is a soft one. I do some commercial work, and I’ve learned that to sound like a pro, when the art director says “well, what about that one,” I’ll say, “don’t worry, we’ll take care of it in post.” You get used to saying it, you see something you don’t want in the picture, but it doesn’t matter, “we’ll take care of it in post.” But that’s a kind of fuzzy thinking, and it’s fine to meet the requirements of the commercial job. But in the game that I set for myself, I want to be able to make a decision on the spot, and I want my students to. My hero, Walker Evans, he cropped all the time, so it’s not a moral stance, it’s a strategic one.

BRS: Of your audience for the book, in dealing with your students, what are some things you are unable to teach about photography?

SS: I think there’s a lot. Years ago I did a radio interview of a show of my pictures, and I figured out right away, it was not possible to describe this picture…to do a radio interview about photography’s a pretty tricky business. And I realized, as I was talking to him, that no matter what I said, what made the picture interesting was one step beyond my grasp.

BRS: Time is a factor when looking at photographs, not just capturing the world in time, but also how the work may change meaning over time. On top of this is the compression of looking at a series of historical images in a book. Is seeing a photograph in a book enough?

SS: Yes, in more recent work {printed directly into digital iBooks}, often I use cameras that make files that are so small I couldn’t really make a print out of it, it’s not big enough. The object is seen differently in different times, the issues I address in this particular book don’t change over time, the illustrations I use may change (from the first edition), I have a different pool to choose from, but the basic issues haven’t. So how my pictures are seen now, as opposed to the early 70s, I see a tremendous difference. People say my pictures are nostalgic, my pictures aren’t nostalgic, they’re nostalgic! My pictures are just pictures. When they were shown in the early seventies in New York, there was no hint of nostalgia. Some people who didn’t get them said, well, it’s just like looking at the world, why would anyone want to show me this? There was no distance from it, now there’s a distance of time.

BRS: In this digital age, can photography ever become an additive process? Like the photographer would become more like a painter?

SS: A couple thoughts in regard to that. One is that there is something arbitrary about the decision making that a photographer engages in. What I mean by that is this: I can get out of the car and stand by the edge of the highway and take a picture that looks like a totally natural landscape, untouched by the hand of man. I could move back six inches and include the guardrail in the picture and the meaning of the picture changes dramatically. There is a marginal point where I can stand here and it’s one picture or I can stand there and it’s a different picture. And this decision, of what is the meaning of what’s in the rectangle is entirely my decision. It sounds wrong, because I didn’t create the landscape, but that decision so drastically alters the meaning that the weight of the decision becomes very interesting. The same thing with portraits, facial expressions flow in time, the picture takes the face out of the flow of time. As I’m looking at you, facial expressions are passing by in the time that we’re sitting here, I know that I can take a picture now, or a second later, a half second earlier, and have a different meaning. People could make different judgments, even though those judgments are really not about you, they’re about this image of you. If this is true, I don’t see it as a huge leap to go to photograph that’s been set up, say, by Jeff Wall. If I see a picture and I think, there needs to be a car in it, I’ll get in my car and drive it in there. If it’s too close to the edge, then I’ll back it up a foot. In that sense, I see the setup or performative picture as a different branch in the continuum.

BRS: But what makes it correct that the car is two inches from the border instead of right on the border?

SS: {laughs} That’s where my personality projects itself on the picture…There’s no right distance, a distance that’s the correct one, it’s interesting for me to be conscious of that. But being conscious of it doesn’t determine if it’s correct, it becomes something internal and personal: this feels right.

BRS: Is there a universal quality of what’s correct?

SS: I don’t believe there is, it’s a personal thing.

BRS: Do the photographs in this book represent some sort of canon of what photographs people should know?

SS: Not really, they’re examples. There are some that are anonymous pictures, publicity stills, anonymous pictures, pictures that I wouldn’t expect anyone to know, and there are some great, great photographers who aren’t in the book. I’m not trying to present a canon, I’m finding examples for the ideas.

BRS: You made an earlier analogy (in the statement for Shore’s seminal book, Uncommon Places) of the art of photography with that of fishing: the preparation, the technical ability, the patience, the instant capture. Do you then see photography as more of a catch-and-release phenomenon or more of a mounted-on-the-wall type of thing?

SS: That’s a great question and I don’t know the answer, but I’m a catch-and-release type of fisherman.

Entretien avec Ben Sloat ayant eu lieu le 8 avri 2007, trouvé ici.

William Eggleston

William Eggleston - Sans titre

Stephen Shore

Jörg Colberg: As a photographer working in color, you were instrumental in establishing color photography as a widely accepted art form, and your photography has inspired large numbers of other artists. Looking back at how contemporary fine-art photography has evolved over the past decades, how has your own, more recent work been influenced by what other people have been doing?

Stephen Shore: I think I've been influenced recently more by new technology than by any single photographer or artist.

JC: After the 1970's color "revolution" in the fine-arts community - if we want to call it that - the introduction and spread of digital photography appears to be at least equally important. I'd be curious to learn how you view the impact of digital photography.

SS: I'm going to give you a long-winded answer. I guess I see how photographers work as influenced by, among other factors, the cost of their processes. In the 1970s, when I started using 8x10 color, it cost me more than $15 every time I took a picture (film, processing, and a contact print). Simple economy led me to only take one exposure of a subject. I knew I couldn't economize by only taking pictures that I knew would be good – that would simply lead to boring, safe images.
But, I could decide what I really wanted to photograph and how I wanted to structure the picture. This was a powerful learning experience. I began to learn what I really wanted. Digital is the opposite of 8x10. I see digital as a two-sided phenomenon. The fact that pictures are free can lead to greater spontaneity. As I watch people photograph (with film), I often see a hesitation, an inhibition, in their process. I don't see this as much with digital.
There seems to be a greater freedom and lack of restraint. This is analogous to how word processing affects writing: one can put thoughts down in writing, even tangential thoughts, with a minimum of inner censorship, knowing that the piece can be edited later. The other side of this lack of restraint is greater indiscriminancy. Here's a tautology: as one considers one's pictures less, one produces fewer truly considered pictures.

JC: For digital photography good editing would thus be even more important than for film photography. Do you find that for you as a teacher editing has become a more important topic? And do you feel that with digital photography becoming ubiquitous, skills such as editing or composing images are getting somewhat neglected?

SS: I once had a student at Bard College, where I teach, who was taking portraits. The results kept disappointing him, so each week he took more and more pictures. Still he was disappointed. Finally, I assigned him to make only one exposure the next week. The picture was excellent. His problem was that he was replacing really coming to terms with what he wanted in his pictures with quantity. If an artist doesn't work with conscious intentionality, sometimes no amount of editing helps. There are other times (and this was one of the points of my previous answer) when the lack of self-censorship that digital can engender allows for intuitive energy being communicated.

JC: It seems to me that the "digital revolution" is multi-faceted. On the one hand, we are witnessing the addition of new means to proliferate and share photography, with the Internet playing the dominant role. The popular photography site
Flickr has been brought up as especially important. To me, it's not quite clear what impact Flickr really has, though, because it seems that depending on how you view it you arrive at different conclusions. For example, from the perspective of the stock-photography market Flickr appears to be quite revolutionary. However, if you're a photography "amateur" (a word that I am not very comfortable with), Flickr might "just" be another way to show your holiday photos - instead of inviting your friends for a two-hour slide show you send them the link to your Flickr site. Seen from your perspective, what does Flickr have to offer?

SS: One aspect of the "digital revolution" that I find interesting is the ubiquitousness of cameras. That, coupled with new means of transmission of images, is leading us into an interesting age. A person can email a few pictures taken in an Iraqi prison to a friend and within a day they are all over the world. We can witness the Ukraine's Orange Revolution from the multiple perspectives of the participants. When Time magazine illustrates the London Underground bombings of 7/7, they don't have to rely on photojournalists covering the aftermath – they can use cell phone pictures taken by the survivors. The means of transmission, particularly the Internet, mean that everyone now has a public voice. Just as I described digital photography as a two-sided phenomenon, so is this public voice. On one hand it bypasses the visual conventions imposed by the editors of traditional media. It also bypasses the financial constraints of traditional media. Excellent work, perhaps even the most groundbreaking work, can get an audience. On the other hand, when everyone has a public voice, we see how many people just don't have anything interesting to communicate.

JC: ... which then brings up the question of whether the digital revolution really makes things easier - or whether the pool of photography gets so large that it is actually getting harder to find the excellent work you were talking about?

SS: We may see the reintroduction of an editing/curating process: people building sites or tagging work they find interesting. And then we are back to still another duality: editors/curators both bring their insight and impose their limitations. But, people will find their way to what interests them. It's the same with blogs. Some I find fascinating. They're very smart. They provide not only greater access, but a new type of public dialog and communication. On the other end of the spectrum of what can be encountered, others are inane or self-indulgent. We find what interests or stimulates us.

JC: The second, very important aspect of digital photography is that it opens up many new ways to create photography, which previously would have been very hard to achieve, if not impossible. For example, photography can be constructed on the computer, a process that changes our perception of what photography really is and that, at the same time, might open up new avenues for artists. Or maybe not? Does digital photography offer something new, or is it just simply providing a new, somewhat more convenient (or inconvenient?) way to take photographs?

SS: There have for decades been artists who have made composited photographs (from Henry Peach Robinson to Jerry Uelsmann) and other artists who have used photographic processes as part of a print making technique (from Hannah Hoch to Robert Heinecken). Digital makes some of this easier and perhaps offers new possibilities. The success of work such as Barry Frydlender's rests partially on the seamlessness of the compositing and the believability of the image. While we all understand how a photograph is a distortion of the three-dimensional world flowing in time in front of the camera, we all also accept a certain kind of literalness of the straight photographic image.
Familiarity over time with how digital possibilities erode that literalness may alter the very believability that the success of composited images rests on. On another note, I'm particularly interested in digital Type C printing for straight color photography. It allows me to control contrast and tonality both locally and globally in a way not possible with traditional Type C printing.

JC: I was intrigued to learn that you have been producing small editions of self-published books. What is the impetus behind this?

SS: Ever since I first saw Ed Ruscha's small books in the late 1960s, I've loved artists' books. Print-on-demand technology allows me to produce books with ease. I like the basic structure of these small books: the individual images are not intended to stand alone, but are seen as a part of a complex whole. I enjoy availing myself of commonly available technology. Finally, my book project allows me to explore many different visual ideas and explore a variety of directions.

Entretien avec Jörg Coberg réalisé le 24 septembre 2007 trouvé ici.

Jacob Holdt

Jacob Holdt - Anna King

Anna Karina

Quand je filme un visage il y a deux choses : Je filme ce visage parce que j'en ai besoin pour le film, mais derrière cela apparaît autre chose, le visage de l'acteur lui-même. Et le processus qui consiste à photographier ce visage. Et ça change toujours le but initial que je poursuivais dans le film.

Jean-Luc Godard. "Jean-Luc Godard : No difference between Life and Cinema". Entretien avec Gene Youngblood (1968).

Waker Evans

Walker Evans - Room in Louisiana Plantation House

William Eggleston

LACAYO: You were born in 1939. When your father went off to the Pacific in World War II, you and your mother moved in with her parents, who had a cotton plantation in the Mississippi delta. But your grandfather was also a judge in Sumner, Miss., about 15 miles away, and kept a house there. So did you mostly grow up in the house in town?

EGGLESTON: We had two houses. One was the plantation. But my mother stayed at the Sumner house, so I considered that little tiny town my place. Life in the country was sort of remote. It was lonely — the nearest neighbor was fifteen miles. There was nothing in every direction but cotton fields.

LACAYO: Were you an indoors kind of a kid?

EGGLESTON: I had to be — I had asthma. Until I was about eight or ten, then suddenly it went away forever. Back then there was nothing they could do for it. We had a big oxygen tank in my room. I would spend about twenty minutes a day inhaling oxygen and that seemed to help. It was severe for years, so I was pretty much restricted to being an indoor person. Playing any kind of sports or just running around the block, I would get sick and sweaty.

LACAYO: And you played piano since childhood. Can you read music?

EGGLESTON: I can. I don't like reading music. It's like learning a language. You can't read music proficiently overnight. It takes time, it's boring work.

LACAYO: I know you also draw all the time, abstract drawings in color. You started to draw as a kid?

EGGLESTON: And even as a kid the drawings I did were abstract. They weren't pictures of people or things, they were mostly shapes.

LACAYO: Do you find as you've gotten older that your photography is being overtaken by the drawing, the way it happened with Cartier-Bresson? In his later years he stopped taking pictures and returned to painting full time.

EGGLESTON: Oh no. They're completely separate for me.

LACAYO: You attended a few colleges but never graduated. But when you were at your first school, Vanderbilt, a friend urged you to get a camera and start taking pictures, which you did. At what point did you start to think, I'm not a painter, I'm a photographer?

EGGLESTON: It never crossed my mind. I first entered Vanderbilt as a freshman and for several years before that I had been to a boarding school. My closest friend there shared my interest in music and electronics. Photography completely disinterested me. Even then he would urge me to get a camera. But it wasn't until we were both at Vanderbilt that he marched me down to the premiere camera store in Nashville and I bought a camera with a view finder. This was in the days before single lens reflex.

LACAYO: So if somebody hadn't come along and pushed you into photography you might never have found your way there?

EGGLESTON: I give him all credit. Because the very day I bought the camera I loaded it up and went to Centennial Park where they have this big reproduction of the Parthenon. I took some color pictures of it and had them developed as slides. And I was astonished at how perfectly they came up. From that moment on photography was it for me. Which was reflected in my lack of attendance at other classes.

Entretien réalisé en octobre 2008 trouvé ici.

Richard Mique

Richard Mique - Temple d'Amour

William Eggleston

Barry Schwabsky: In the '60s when you started using colour, that was something quite rare for non commerical photography. Did it seem like a big leap to you at the time or just a natural progression?

William Eggleston: It didn't seem like a leap, I don't think. It took a while to get the materials to work right. The first results didn't work.

BS: How so?

WE: It was basically a matter of exposure. I was going by the manufacturer's recommendations. Let's say the manufacturer recommended ASA 80, which I used it at. Turned out that was untrue, the figure they gave in the literature. Its actual speed was about ASA 10. So the first results I saw were weak -- not much density, not much detail in the shadows, generally what happens when you underexpose film. This was colour negative film, and at the time there was only one, and that was
Kodacolor. So I switched films to transparency -- Kodachrome slides, which is very saturated, very sharp. Unfortunately it had to be projected to be seen and I really did not like being forced to see them only in that way. I didn't know about it at the time but I could have made a dye transfer from the slides. The dye transfer process, up until then, had been almost 100% used for advertising and fashion. The subjects and results were many miles away from what I had envisioned for my own work. But once I discovered the process and the first ones were made, I don't think I used any other process. And about that same time I was discovering really how, I thought, to correctly expose negatives, which gave me prints. I wasn't forced to project. Other than that I don't remember regarding it as any breakthrough. I knew that I had wanted to see images in colour for a long time although I was very busy working in black and white and not unhappy with the results. But once I started working in colour I did very little black and white work. Though some.

BS: Actually I was surprised, when I saw your film Stranded in Canton, I really didn't know what to expect -- both the fact that it was in black and white rather than in colour, and also the fact that the whole feeling of the film is quite different from your photographs, which often seem so still and empty, in contrast to the raucous milieu depicted in the film.

WE: : I can understand that. At that time -- this was 1973, when that footage was shot -- the only portable equipment was black and white. There was no such thing as even
VHS. The colour that existed was technically wonderful but weighed hundreds and hundreds of pounds -- not a bit mobile. It was designed to be used in studio situations, with dolly and tripods and great amounts of light, so that ruled that out. I started out in half-inch, black and white reel-to-reel video and was really thrilled with the way it looked even though it was not in colour. In fact, I think it may be true that if I had begun several years later working with a small colour camera I might not have liked it as much as I did the black and white. I'm not sure.

BS: Have you ever used a moving image since then or was that a one-time thing?

WE: It was a one-time thing. I spent about a one or two year period between 1973 and '74 and then it was finished and I started experimenting in colour with what was available which was very heavy, not just the recording equipment but the camera which was worse, having it on your shoulder and I abandoned that very quickly and put my energy back into

BS: I was also, from the film, very curious about your interest in music. It reminded me that I'd read somewhere that you played piano on one of
Big Star's records. Is that true?

WE: On one song.
Alex Chilton was singing and I was, the way I put it, playing around him. His singing was the musical equivalent of abstract painting and I was playing very clearly, not abstract music. I just heard that recording recently. I'd never sat and listened to it.

BS: What was the name of the song?

WE: "
Nature Boy" -- Nat King Cole. A completely new version. It was a song I'd suggested to him, for sole reason that I used to listen to an old, old record of it and knew I could play it well enough. I don't think I was part of any of the other tracks. The album was called Radio City and the cover had one of my pictures on it, The Red Ceiling.*

BS: Looking at the pictures here in the show, the line came to my mind -- I don't remember who said it -- that American poetry is an affair of places, not people. Obviously there are people in
your pictures, but I get the sense that the people are an emanation of the place. Does that make sense to you?

WE: Yes, I think so. I've responded in the past to similar questions in this way. It is possible to look at it like this. Generally, to me, people, human beings, are not terrifically interesting to look at in photographs. It's what they do that's more interesting. That's why, I suppose, you see more pictures that are really of things or of places. They're practically never portraits.

BS: Do you see your subject matter as specifically American? Specifically Southern?

WE: No. Particularly not specifically Southern. I just happen to live there -- grew up there. That's why a lot of the pictures you will have seen were taken in the South. Simply because I'm there more than other places. But I feel just as much as home, really, in a completely foreign environment.

BS: Do you ever travel specifically in order to take photographs?

WE: I won't have any preconceptions about a location but I occasionally have an idea to go to a certain place and see what I can see there. Most of the time I will be in some place not related to photography -- I might be traveling with a friend who's gone somewhere on their own business -- and a great many pictures might come from that.

BS: A lot of younger photographers have been captivated by the look of your images but unlike you they do tend to seek out or even construct what they take pictures of. Do you look much at the work of younger photographers?

WE: Not much. I don't look at other photographs much at all. I don't know why. I study my own a lot. I'm just not drawn to wanting to look at other people's images.

BS: What about when you were getting started? Were there particular pictures that made you think, I’d like to do something like that?

WE: There was nothing out there. I began in 1957 and what we know today of the world of, let's call it, art photography, really didn't much exist. The little of it that did was static and black and white, mostly landscapes, a lot of them out West --
Edward Weston and Ansel Adams. Number one, it didn't interest me, that kind of photography and second, I didn't have anything to take its place to look at. There weren't photographic books -- just, for want a of a better word, cheap color magazines that didn't have serious work. So I was forced to be self-taught. Photography, except for commercial picture-taking, wasn't taught. You couldn't go to a university and take a photography course. It didn't exist. In some colleges and universities there barely was a department where you could study painting. So I didn't have the opportunity to look at what, if it had been good, I'm sure I would have liked. I was struck by one particular photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, simply -- I think he was considered in the realm of photojournalism, but of all those photojournalists, I thought he was more grounded in proper painting and someone really aware of the principals of composition in art. Otherwise I was not drawn to what is called photojournalism, most of which you could see in publications like Life magazine.

BS: In that situation, not having anyplace to learn about what if anything other photographers were doing, as you developed your own work, how did you go about trying to make it known? What were the outlets for that?

WE: There practically weren't any! I would eventually meet some other photographers who seemed to be doing something related to what I thought photography should be, such as
Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus, and Garry Winogrand. And I met John Szarkowski, the photography curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. John and I worked very closely for a number of years on what became a large exhibition of colour pictures and a book. [Guide]

BS: When I first started writing about art 20 years ago, you rarely saw photography in an art gallery. There were photo galleries and there were art galleries that showed painting and sculpture and so on. Obviously that's all changed…

WE: There was a small handful of photo galleries that often showed some very fine works alongside very stupid things. That was a long time ago.

BS: But it seems a very quick shift. Any conjectures as to what brought it about?

WE: Things just develop on their own. It seems that photography just became really popular very quickly but it did take time. At present, photography seems to be, you might say, the most popular of the fine arts. Which I'm glad to be able to say!

BS: This show is focused on work you did 30 or more years ago. What about your more recent work?

WE: I'm very active right now. But the reason for this show had a lot to do with the fact that when John and I were organizing the show we did at MoMA, for the relatively few we chose for the exhibition and especially the book, called the Guide -- those were extracted from thousands of pictures. Then I went on to other projects. So, I didn't forget the rest. I always assumed they would be resurrected. This is an example of some of that work.

BS: The one with the light bulb and the ceiling with the sort of wood grain treatment seems like a direct counterpart to The Red Ceiling.

WE: They were taken years apart and without any thought about any connection. They just both happen to be of ceilings and light bulbs. But they couldn't be more different in every other way…

Interview réalisée pour Kulureflash le 22 novembre 2004.

Jacob Holdt

Jacob Holdt - Linda

Jacob Holdt - Bethel, North Carolina

jeudi 29 janvier 2009

William Eggleston

Harmony Korine: We're out here sitting on my front porch, right across from Belmont University. You were saying that your mom went to school there for a little bit?

William Eggleston: For a little bit.

HK: And you went to Vanderbilt. When did you get your first camera?

WE: That same year. I came to Vanderbilt as a freshman in the fall of '57. I got it at a place called Dury's down on Church Street. It was a Canon Rangefinder-35mm, of course.

HK: What made you want to get it?

WE: My friend who I went to boarding school with was interested in photography. He insisted that I buy a camera and marched me downtown.

HK: I'm curious about the time when everything was black-and-white and you really started getting into color photography. What made you go in that direction as opposed to Walker Evans-like photography?

WE: Black-and-white photography, which I was doing in the very early days, was essentially called art photography and usually consisted of landscapes by people like Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. But photographs by people like Adams didn't interest me. And what we called photojournalism, the photos seen in places like Life magazine, didn't interest me either. They were just not good-there was no art there. The first person who I respected immensely was Henri Cartier-Bresson. I still do.

HK: What was it like meeting him?

WE: He couldn't understand why I was working in color. He said something to me like, "Don't you think it's ridiculous?" If so, I spent an awful lot of years wasting my time.

HK: Was there a reaction to your working in color?

WE: Well, yes. A lot of my friends were mostly working in black-and-white-people like Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand, and others. We would exchange prints with each other, and they were always very supportive of what I was doing. What each of us was doing photographically was entirely different, but we were basically coming from the same place, sort of like a club.

HK: Didn't you feel any pressure to leave Memphis, where you live, and move to New York?

WE: No. I would go there quite frequently. I met and became close with John Szarkowski of the Museum of Modern Art. He was incredibly supportive about me working in color.

HK: Your first big show was at MoMA in 1976?

WE: Yes. The immediate reviews were very hostile, but they didn't bother me-I had the attitude that I was right. The poor guys who were critics just didn't understand the works at all. I was sorry about that, but it didn't weigh on my mind a bit.

HK: You knew eventually that people were going to catch up. It was just a matter of time?

WE: I felt that way . . . and it came to pass.

HK: Do you remember the last time that you got into a physical altercation, like a fight?

WE: I don't think that I've ever had one.

HK: That's amazing. What about music? Did music play a part in your early life?

WE: I would play music every day from the time I was about 4 or 5 years old. Every time I would go from one end of the house to the other, I would pass the piano and play a few notes.

HK: So music was one of your first great loves?

WE: That's right. And I've never stopped. I still play all the time.

HK: I heard you play when I went to your house. It was great. Did you ever meet Elvis?

WE: No, I didn't. But we had the same doctor Dr. Nick [Dr. George Nichopoulus].

HK: For me, growing up in Nashville, there was a visual side of America that I've since noticed is slowly starting to disappear. I want to know how you feel about it-the disappearance of that certain visual America.

WE: I knew it was happening, but I never paid much attention to it . . . just to the passage of time. Something new always slowly changes right in front of your eyes-it just happens.

HK: For your early photos, did you know that there was a unique aesthetic quality around you?

WE: I don't think I thought that way.

HK: It was just taking pictures of what was around?

WE: Yes, what was there at the time.

HK: And as the years passed, as you were photographing some of the same places, did you start to think, Wow, things looked better here 10 years ago-the colors were more beautiful here in the '50s.

WE: I never thought that way. I would have probably stopped to think about it if somebody mentioned it, but that didn't happen.

HK: So you didn't lament the passing of old America? You'd photograph a Kroger or a Piggly Wiggly [supermarkets], and I'm sure at the time they seemed common and maybe even architecturally bland. But now there's a beauty and a strangeness to the old Kroger.

WE: It was something new that was happening everywhere. You couldn't miss it. If you needed to go to the grocery you would go to the predecessors of the big supermarkets of today.

HK: Would you take photos of a Kroger today?

WE: Certainly.

HK: And do you think it would have that same effect looking at it 20 years from now?

WE: I think so.

HK: So you think time makes things more exotic?

WE: I don't think exotic is the word.

HK: So what do you think happens?

WE: Well, probably the best way to put it might be that at some time, not just in an instant, but over some period of time I became aware of the fact that I wanted to document examples like Kroger or Piggly Wiggly in the late '50s, early '60s. I had the attitude that I would work with this present-day material and do the best I could to describe it with photography, not intending to make any particular comment about whether it was good or bad or whether I liked it or not. It was just there, and I was interested in it. That's what I still do today.

HK: Do you see things now that you get just as excited about? Places, areas, specifically in the South?

WE: I don't think that has ever changed. I don't think I see any more or any less than I did years ago. Let's say I have the print of a photo taken in the 1960s and one I took a month ago. I think it's pretty difficult to tell any difference, personally.

HK: Sometimes when you're driving and you look out the window, do you ever think, That would be nice to photograph?

WE: Oh, quite frequently.

HK: Do you always have a camera with you?

WE: Not always. Almost always. If not on me or in the glove compartment, then at least in my bag.

HK: Have there been times in your life when you wished you had a camera?

WE: Yes, but I don't dwell on them because they pass in an instant.

HK: Are there any particular images that you've never been able to get out of your head?

WE: Not that I can think of. I've also never had favorite pictures. Or subjects. I have this discipline of treating everything equally-I used to say "democratically."

HK: You kind of edit as you go. In some ways you work opposite of how a lot of photographers work today.

WE: Exactly. They take too many pictures.

HK: Well, it's playing the odds, right? If you take a thousand photos-

WE: It doesn't mean that one is going to be good. That's the problem.

HK: You can take a thousand photos and they could all be terrible.

WE: Generally, that's what happens-a fundamental rotting of the idea. They woke up with the wrong idea. It's just like music: If you don't have an innate love or calling for it, then no matter how much you study or how well you can play by looking at the score, it doesn't mean that you're going to make really good music.

HK: It has more to do with what's inside you.

WE: It has to do with what can and can't be taught-you can't teach composition. Where would you begin?

HK: Do you have any favorite bars?

WE: No, I have some that I have become a well-known-even infamous-client of, mostly in Memphis. But a great deal of that is legend and doesn't have anything to do with truth. Many people one meets in life somehow think they know you simply because they're hanging out at the same counter-but they really don't know a thing about you.

HK: Do you have friends that you used to just drink with or hang out with, like, from the '60s or '70s-from the early days?

WE: Unfortunately they're practically all dead. And many were my closest associates: friends, co-directors, whatever you want to say-my partners in crime.

HK: A lot of them died from drinking?

WE: Some, yes. A person can attack that bottle of vodka and drink it like it's a bottle of cold water. Two of my wife's girlfriends died from drinking. They weren't big pill-takers; they were drinkers. So it can't be so simple as to slide away, like Marilyn Monroe-

HK: They overdosed?

WE: Overdone something.

HK: Do you hang out at bars as much now?

WE: Hardly at all. Remember, all my friends are dead. I don't have anybody to meet up with. [laughs]

HK: You outlived them all.

WE: I certainly have.

HK: And why do you think that is? Just genetics?

WE: I think genetics. My mom lived to be pretty old and my grandmother lived to be 100 and ate like a bird. I eat like a bird almost.

HK: Have you ever tried psychotherapy?

WE: Only the few times I've been to so-called treatment centers, which were a complete waste of money and useless. I didn't know what I was doing at the time, because I was always drunk when I checked in.

HK: Did you check in voluntarily?

WE: Half voluntarily, half Winston's older brother [William] would take me in, saying, "Daddy, I think you oughta do this." And I'd say, "I think you're right, maybe I do need it." Sometimes a week later I'd leave the place; sometimes I'd stick it out for a month.

HK: Did you have tough detoxes?

WE: No. Never. I never hallucinated during my d.t.'s. They weren't easy, but not-

HK: Not horrific. I was in a room once with someone who was going through it. An old guy, I guess he had been addicted to moonshine-

WE: Moonshine is very strong.

HK: Well, this guy would make it in the stills, and he was having his d.t.'s and he'd be having hallucinations of leprechauns, you know?

WE: How did he know what they looked like?

HK: He would have these visions. Like, he would say they would just jump up on him-leprechauns and frogs and things like that.

WE: Did that really distress him?

HK: Yeah, he'd be really tortured during that and they'd strap his arms down so he couldn't hurt himself.

WE: I've heard about that tons of times, but that didn't happen to me.

HK: That's good. I wanted to ask you about 1980. You went to Kenya and created a body of work called "The Streets Are Clean on Jupiter," right?

WE: I'll tell you where that title comes from. One summer two years before that, in Memphis, there was a festival of old Western B-movie actors, and I became friends with one actor named Lash LaRue. And out of the blue one day, he said, "You know, Bill, the streets are clean on Jupiter." I have no idea where that originally came from, still don't.

HK: I've never seen those Kenya photos.

WE: They've never been published. There are a lot of unseen projects. When a project is finished, I often physically, and in my mind, set it aside, intending something to happen with it, something that does or does not always happen. Now, a lot of these are being resurrected for the public.

HK: What about digital photography?

WE: Don't know anything about it.

HK: Have you ever shot with a digital camera?

WE: As I said, I don't know anything about it. I don't know, I might love it.

HK: You're not opposed to it?

WE: There's plenty of film out there, and quadrillions of cameras that use film-I don't think it makes much sense not to use it. The thing that's going out is the manufacturing of the paper. Incidentally, all these years my wife has told me that I'm color-blind.

HK: You're color-blind?

WE: Yes.
HK: That would be amazing if you were color-blind. If you had to choose between being blind or being deaf, which one would you choose?

WE: Don't know. I don't have any experience with that, except for my color blindness.

HK: But if you were forced to make the decision.

WE: I think with being blind the one thing you would have going is that you could still feel things, see your way around so to speak. And if you had had the experience of seeing at one time in your life, then you would know what it was like and be able to function. I've said this before, I think I could really photograph blind if I had to.

HK: It would be possible to photograph blind?

WE: I quite frequently don't look through the camera, which is very close to being blind.

Entretien avec Harmony Korine réalisé en décemre 2008 pour Interview.

Eugène Atget

Eugène Atget - Rue des Saules, Auberge du Lapin Agile

Jean Denis Attiret 王志誠

Doubtless you have read of the famous Feast in China, call'd The Feast of the Lanthorns. It is always celebrated on the 15th Day of the first Month. There is no Chinese so poor, but that upon this Day he lights up his Lanthorn. They have of them of all sorts of Figures, Sizes, and Prices. On that Day, all China is illuminated: but the finest Illuminations of all are in the Emperor's Palaces; and particularly in these Pleasure-grounds, which I have been describing to you. There is not a Chamber, Hall, or Portico, in them, which has not several of these Lanthorns hanging from the Cielings. There are several upon all the Rivulets, Rivers, and Lakes; made in the Shape of little Boats, which the Waters carry backward and forward. There are some upon all the Hills and Bridges, and almost upon all the Trees. These are wrought mighty prettily, in the Shapes of different Fishes, Birds, and Beasts; Vases, Fruits, Flowers, and Boats of different Sorts and Sizes. Some are made of Silk; some of Horn, Glass, Mother of Pearl, and a thousand other Materials. Some of them are painted; others embroider'd; and of very different Prices. I have seen some of them which could never have been made for a thousand Crowns. It would be an endless thing, to endeavour to give you a particular Account of all their Forms, Materials, and Ornaments. It is in these, and in the great Variety which the Chinese shew in their Buildings, that I admire the Fruitfulness of their Invention; and am almost tempted to own, that we are quite poor and barren in Comparison of them.

Jean Denis Attiret, A Particular Account OF THE Emperor of CHINA'S GARDENS Near PEKIN, 1743

Eugène Atget

Eugène Atget - Porte d'Asnières, Cité Trébert

lundi 26 janvier 2009

Stephen Shore

Until I was twenty-three I lived mostly in a few square miles in Manhattan. In 1972 I set out with a friend for Amarillo, Texas. I didn't drive, so my first view of America was framed by the passenger's window.

It was a shock. I would be in a flat nowhere place of the earth, and every now and then I would walk outside or be driving down a road and the light would hit something and for a few minutes the place would be transformed.

Color film is wonderful because it shows not only the intensity but the color of light. There is so much variation in light between noon one day and the next, between ten in the morning and two in the afternoon. A picture happens when something inside connects, an experience that changes as the photographer does. When the picture is there, I set out the 8x10 camera, walk around it, get behind it, put the hood over my head, perhaps move it over a foot, walk in front, fiddle with the lens, the aperture, the shutter speed. I enjoy the camera. Beyond that it is difficult to explain the process of photographing except by analogy:

The trout streams where I flyfish are cold and clear and rich in the minerals that promote the growth of stream life. As I wade a stream I think wordlessly of where to cast the fly. Sometimes a difference of inches is the difference between catching a fish and not. When the fly I've cast is on the water my attention is riveted to it. I've found through experience that whenever--or so it seems--my attention wanders or I look away then surely a fish will rise to the fly and I will be too late setting the hook. I watch the fly calmly and attentively so that when the fish strikes--I strike. Then the line tightens, the playing of the fish begins, and time stands still. Fishing, like photography, is an art that calls forth intelligence, concentration, and delicacy.

Stephen Shore, 1982

Stephen Shore

Amarillo, Texas July, 1972

Robert Frank

Brian Wallis: I want to ask you about your newest video, Moving Pictures...

Robert Frank: That work is the only thing in the current show that matters to me. The other stuff is old, but this--I made this especially for the exhibition. I liked the idea, and I liked the way it came out. But very few people have commented on it. The people who like it--like Claes Oldenburg--are those who understand something about what it is to try to be an artist, who understand where you get your inspiration. That is what that movie is about to me.

BW: My take was completely different. I thought it was more about aging, death and the passage of time. I was also impressed by the personal style of the people that you were focusing on, their gestures, and the way they constructed their habitats...

RF: Well, that's not so far off. Obviously, I chose these people because they meant something to me. And when somebody means something to you, it means you are really inspired by them. It affects your life. And these people definitely affected what I do in various ways.

BW: I was especially struck by the segment where you were filming Jean-Luc Godard answering questions after a film screening at the Museum of Modern Art. One question from the audience which you highlight in the video is, "What is the role of nature in your work?" And Godard's answer is something like, "Nature is neither romantic nor tragic."

RF: Yeah, yeah. Well, these are his answers. I got that from him. But it also applies to my work. I do admire him; I would say he is a hero of mine. If anybody influenced me a lot it would be him, for all the many things he has produced. Yes, he has produced many bad things, and you can barely look at them, but there is always an idea all of a sudden.

BW: I thought that question about nature was interesting in relation to your work, especially your late photography and films which seem so saturated with nature. How would you answer that question: what is the role of nature in your work?

RF: Oh, it has an effect. It makes you introspective. It makes you aware of how powerless you are. There's big stuff out there--there's real big space and there's a peace. For me, to go up to Canada and to have that house there and to love nature means that you accept its force. All of a sudden you are in the company of something very powerful. And that alone has affected my life and made me a better person. It has made me more aware of something elementary. Nature's cruel. It's big and it's romantic. But you can also say it's tragic.

BW: But Godard is saying that nature is neither romantic nor tragic. Those human emotions are simply mapped onto nature. Nature is just there. It happens, it is elemental, and you can't add on to it.

RF: Well, obviously, nature is what is in front of you. But certainly in my photographs what I wanted to photograph was not really what was in front of my eyes but what was inside. That was what made me want to pick up a camera. The nature that I became familiar with inspired me and I used it as a background.

BW: In the 18th-century notion of the sublime, there was the idea that nature was too terrifying to contemplate, too overwhelming, and that man was powerless before it. Is that how you feel?

RF: I don't see myself as a great thinker. I mean, I just happen to live there. You open a window and you look out on the trees growing behind you, the forest, and on the other side is the sea. It's nothing to contemplate, really. It's big, and it changes a lot, and it's very beautiful. I mean, the beauty of it is overwhelming. I don't get tired of looking at it. Maybe that means contemplating. But when I contemplate, I contemplate my own situation, what has happened to me and what I'm going to do next. That's more of a struggle.
But the other thing is, up there, you don't have that much time to contemplate nature in that way. You have to keep the house warm, you have to split the wood, you have to make sure the water is right and that the wind doesn't get through the cracks. That is what occupies you. It is the drive into the village--which really becomes something else if it's snowing....It's just right to be there.

BW: Throughout your work there is a great attention to those kinds of everyday patterns. You look at the way people perform repetitive tasks like taking out the garbage. I think you once called them "repeated banalities." So you seem to be captivated more by the everyday event and the pattern rather than the heroic or the decisive moment.

RF: Well, in New York, for instance, you're in a very rapid stream and it goes on all the time, so it takes considerable energy to stay in place and not be swept down into whatever. To stand and watch takes energy here. If I look for the decisive moment here, I look for an anchor to be able to function and to do this work. Whereas that question isn't there on the Atlantic coast in Canada. It makes you calmer.
As I get older, I have less strength to find the anchor in New York. I have had success and people write about me and talk about the show, but that doesn't help me particularly. It's nice to have that--also, economically, it's okay--but as a whole it doesn't give you much. It isn't meaningful. It's more meaningful for me to be able to live in between, moving from one place to another.

BW: Does the title of this exhibition, "Moving Out," have something to do with that idea of being "in between"? It seems a little bleak, particularly in connection with the triptych of that title, which shows three abandoned apartments.

RF: Well, I didn't make the title, Sarah Greenough, one of the curators of the exhibition, made the title. But I think it's a good one because it can mean many things. I'm not particularly eager to explain what it means to me, but it could mean moving out of the frame or moving between the frames. There's one frame and then there's a next one, but what's in between? It could mean that. I think a lot about the frame.
But that picture, the one called Moving Out, is like a lot of my work: it was done intuitively, there's not that much thinking about it. I'm not one of those conceptual heads, you know. I'm a visual person, so I see a lot. And it satisfies me, it's always changing here. The decisive moment is circulating here. It's always different, the scene changes. Just yesterday, I saw one of those 3-D movies at the Sony theater with the big, big screen--you know, like four stories high. It's absolutely mindboggling, the size of it. It's unbelievable. But just before the main feature, they showed this little movie about New York. It's only in America you can do this.

BW: Why do you say that?

RF: Oh, because it was totally sentimental, about this boy staying on Ellis Island. They had a lot of wonderful old photographs, stereo photographs, and they're overwhelming, just unbelievable. It is an intimate story, but totally romantic, saccharine sweet, and the music is bad. Still, it's quite wonderful to see, and children love it. For me, I always like things that are so American. Other countries can't do that. Americans are not precious about it. To the French, their culture and their language are precious. But for Americans, it doesn't mean shit, because they'll just go on to the next thing. It's quite wonderful to see this film in that way, to see how proud Americans are to show the tap dancers at Radio City.
So, well, I had to become an American. I'm not a European, you know, even though I was born there. I've spent the most important part of my life here, or the most important part of my life as an artist.

BW: Yes, but it seems you still look at the United States with total amazement. Like for the first time. Don't you feel that growing up in a foreign country allowed you to come here with new eyes?

RF: Let's just say, I tended my old eyes and I didn't buy glasses here. It's a different world. You enter a different room. And this city gave me a lot. I was really inspired when I first arrived here, and it suited my temperment. It suited what I was doing--you know, film and photography.

BW: But not everything that you encountered in America was great.

RF: I hope not.

BW: I mean, my impression from The Americans is that you saw the United States as a place full of brutality, violence and sadness. Your friend Louis Faurer had a great quote in the film Fire in the East; he said, "There was so much sadness, we had to laugh about it."

RF: I see the sadness all around me, and the brutality. But you know, I try to cast a sympathetic eye on it. I don't want to use it, but if I see it, it goes into my pictures. I don't want to look down on anybody that way. But there is a lot of sadness. Despair. Maybe I see it more now than I used to see it.

BW: But hope also, right?

RF: For some people there's not much. I think without hope it's a sad life. Sadder than sad, no hope. I saw that often when I made that film in Harlem...

BW: Do you mean Last Supper, which you made in 1991?

RF: Yes, I saw it there, and it was quite overwhelming, the feeling of no hope.

BW: And what do you think your work does in relation to that hopelessness?

RF: I don't think or pretend that my life will change that. The fact that I see it and I record it in its own kind of humane way...I mean, I want to record it with some dignity. But then, as photography has turned into a sort of moneymaking affair, it makes me think--more than when I did it--that it's not right to sell these pictures taken from people much less fortunate and privileged than you. When I did it, I had no such thought, really. I was moved by what I saw. Now it would be very hard to take those pictures. I don't want to.

BW: So you think that your earlier photographs, like those in The Americans, were too voyeuristic, too appropriative?

RF: I didn't feel then as I feel now. I am still affected by that one photograph of the man on the hill in San Francisco, the way he looked back at me. I think that's why that's my favorite picture in the book. But it was, you know, forty years ago, a long time ago, a different time. And it's different, too, if you get involved with the people in some way that can help their situation, like that guy Jim Goldberg who did Raised by Wolves.

BW: But, you know, Emile De Antonio once said that The Americans was a profoundly political book precisely because you didn't go in there and work with these people to try to change their lives through some sort of local political activism. Rather, you made a book that showed what was happening in a larger context, as evidence.

RF: Well, for him, maybe twenty years later, that was clear, that was his conclusion. Sometimes people's views become stronger in retrospect. But I remember the reaction when I first showed these pictures. People said, "That's too sad. We don't want to look at that."

BW: They are sad, there is a lot of sadness in that book. But I think also there is a sort of overt political play between the people with power and those without--the shots of the convention and the politicians against those of the waitresses and elevator operators.

RF: Yeah, I saw that, and I moved toward it. I think I always like to move to the extremes; I don't like to go to the middle. I've said that before.

BW: Another thing that you've said frequently is that your work is a search for truth. What do you mean by that word, "truth"?

RF: know, tomorrow I might answer the question differently. But I think it means that I would like to talk or show things that I really know about. It would be more truthful to talk about people that I know very well, for instance. I wouldn't go to Indonesia and photograph people or whatever. Not today, at least. I would like to know when I photograph someone why I am doing it, why I am there. Then, what I would reveal about them or myself or about photography would be more truthful.

BW: Certainly that helps to explain your rejection of documentary-type photography in the late 1950s and your increasing focus on more subjective or fictional films. But if you're making a film about yourself, as you have in Conversations from Vermont, how do you identify the "truth" there? Does it mean honesty, does it mean integrity, or does it mean, as you said before, dignity?

RF: I think that truth, once you find it, is slippery like a fish. It's hard to know, hard to grasp. But there is no other motivation. You really want to express something that reveals the truth as you know it. So, when Mr. Hearst sends me to Kansas City, America, I don't want to be a journalist, I want to be myself, and express what I feel about things. But the truth, well, that is very hard to find.

BW: Does it have something to do with that line you used when you wrote about Walker Evans in U.S. Camera in 1958, a line from Malraux: "To transform destiny into awareness." Do you remember that?

RF: Yeah.

BW: I don't know what that means.

RF: I don't know either. (Laughs.) At the time I copied it from a book, you know.

BW: Well, what do you think it means? "To transform destiny into awareness."

RF: I guess I would say it means to come to terms with the long view of yourself and the close-up of yourself, where you stand in this landscape, and also who you are.

BW: So, was that Walker Evans's influence on you, helping you to understand who you are? What do you think you got from your early relationship with him, like when you assisted him with those photo stories for Fortune in the mid-1950s, before The Americans?

RF: His work certainly influenced me. When you are an artist you are influenced by, you know, by the cars outside, by a painting, by literature, by Walker Evans. He certainly influenced me: looking at his photographs, and knowing him even more so. I was also influenced by a good friend of mine in Switzerland at the time named Gothard Schuh, by looking at Andre Kertesz's small book about Paris, and by Bill Brandt. Kertesz's photographs seemed to me very lyrical and very warm, and Walker in a way was almost the opposite, very cold and precise--everything was a jewel. But on the other side stands what you reject. So that, maybe, is just as important.

BW: And what did you reject?

RF: Well, Life magazine, which I came to hate. And Madison Avenue. The falseness and brutality in America. And, earlier on, in Switzerland, the life that my parents led. You know, different standards.

BW: What was it about your parents' life that you rejected?

RF: It was a life that revolved around business. It was very important to make enough money and maintain a social level that was as good as the next one or better. I rejected the necessity of money and the attention that was paid to that path. In America, there was another life.

BW: Your move to America, then, was a sort of search for freedom?

RF: Yes. Coming to America was freedom. The freedom that was given to me here doesn't exist in Europe.

BW: What would you have been expected to do in Switzerland?

RF: I would have been expected to follow in my father's footsteps. To become a businessman.

BW: But you were allowed to apprentice with a photographer.

RF: Yes. That was allowed, but it was only temporary. You were expected to come back to the business.

BW: So you broke free of that and came to New York.

RF: Yes, I came to New York, and I went out and photographed in America. I made this trip with the Guggenheim. This was a far different situation than when I photographed in Europe, when I made a story on a Welsh miner or on flowers in Paris. I was really looking at a much bigger subject, and it allowed me to say what I felt being in this world. What am I doing, wandering around in this city?

BW: In your application for the Guggenheim you said you were going to make a true documentary archive of the United States. You even said that the whole file would be turned over to the Library of Congress so people could later do research on Americans by subject matter.

RF: Well, you know, this was grant language. So I asked Mr. Grant to help me write the letter, and Mr. Grant had a secretary and he sent the whole fucking grant thing to me! It was like that. You know, you try to write it out so they will give you the grant. You don't say, "I want to photograph the whores in Times Square."

BW: But in the grant application it seemed like you were trying to echo the FSA documentary approach.

RF: Well, that may have been the idea. That approach was not so historical then. Roy Stryker was still alive at that time. But I thought his sort of photography was really different from mine. And the point is, I got the grant.

BW: So your approach to documentary is more subjective or personal. Often, in films like Pull My Daisy or Cocksucker Blues--and possibly even in The Americans--scenes were staged. Does that mean you are trying to subvert the documentary tendency of photography by rehearsing things or setting them up?

RF: When you use film it is always a manipulated situation, much more than photography. If you talk about Pull My Daisy, of course, that's a completely manipulated situation. In photography, on the other hand, the picture is either good or it isn't. You respond to them, and you don't ask if it's manipulated.

BW: Right, but that's a big issue to a lot of people. If you go and set up a shot and make it look like you just stumbled upon it, then people think that is a false image, the opposite of truth.

RF: It depends. I think all advertising photography contains that falseness. I think a lot of journalistic stories contain that. I don't mind to do it, but I know that's what I'm doing. I feel it's quite all right for me to do it, I get something out of it, this proof that I can do it. In the films, I like the combination of film and video, because one contains more of a truth. Video's much different from film, where you arrange scenes very carefully and cut it very carefully. You can edit video the same way, but when I use video I try to use it in a more raw and unmanipulated way. You just let it run. And then you select the piece that you want. But you don't direct people too much. Whereas in films, you know, you just redo the shot.

BW: You once quoted from Ken Kesey about that mixture of fact and fiction. It was something like "better to go from fiction to try to get at truth than the other way around."

RF: Yeah, yeah, that's a good saying.

BW: Well, I guess that's what I'm getting at, what is truth to you? In your photographs and films, you seem to have a very malleable approach to truth. It's not about facts, accuracy or precision, it's a more personal or relativistic approach, looking at things from a lot of different sides and approaching truth that way.

RF: Well, yeah. If you look at the work over a long period of time, that description would apply. You see a man trying to photograph this thing, this object, and trying very hard to get at its essence in different ways. And if you look over periods of my work, you see that approach doesn't change that much. The ideas one has don't change, you just cast a different light upon them. And what that ultimately means is that the viewer sees that it's your work and recognizes your personality behind it, in the style or whatever. I mean, it's my work, it's called by my name.

BW: But isn't that what you were trying to get away from, this focus on personal style and the cult of personality? Weren't you trying to get at more elemental questions? I mean, something so primary as identifying truth is not about style?

RF: If you photograph on film for a long time, if you're a visual person who looks through a viewfinder, if you look at your contact sheets and you select the pictures and then you change the pictures or alter the pictures or put them together or cut the film together or whatever you do--that's how you get close to the truth. I mean, I hope! Of course, today it's a different craft. Today it's a much bigger field and the possibilities with images are so enormous that maybe the way I do it sounds very old-fashioned.

BW: Do you think that people think your work is old-fashioned?

RF: Well, I begin to think it myself. When I see this show, I think that about myself.

BW: That's so curious, because I think one thing that's so striking about this retrospective is that it shows how you keep reinventing your methods and your images. It's not about just redoing something in a kind of old-fashioned way.

RF: Well, I am aware of the new technological stuff that you can use with photographs. Photographs don't depend so much on a darkroom now. Sure, I'm aware of it. I try to keep in step. But I also don't want to be swept away by it. You want to stay yourself. I would do anything, use any format, if it would serve my purposes--like the music videos I have made. But some of this new equipment is too much for my brain, too much for my eyes. And sometimes it doesn't go with my heart. You reach that age, or that stage, that I've reached--at seventy--and you don't want to make these contortions anymore.

BW: So having reached that stage, as you say, what is the effect of sorting through your past work?

RF: Well, I didn't put the show together; that was done by the curators, Sarah Greenough and Philip Brookman. I gave my contact sheets and everything to the National Gallery. So it wasn't a question of going over these things and pulling them out. I know there are fifteen great pictures in there, but I never looked through to find them.

BW: And what was the effect of seeing the show itself?

RF: The show was wonderful in Washington, very ambitious and beautifully installed. They worked a long time on it, very hard and conscientiously, and to me it was done wonderfully. They couldn't have presented the work better. I also went to Japan and went to Zurich and went to Holland.

BW: What was it like seeing the show in Zurich, in your hometown?

RF: Oh, they made too big a fuss about it.

BW: What did they do? Give you a tickertape parade or something?

RF: Well, not quite. (Laughs.) But they made a big deal because they think, you know, native son comes home. It was pathetic. I mean, they were nice, but I thought it was too much, too many interviews, too many newspaper articles.

BW: But what was your response to seeing the work all together? Did you want to leave it behind or did you see new things you hadn't noticed before? Or did you feel inspired to make a new film?

RF: It was more inspiring me toward making another film.

BW: Do you have new works in process?

RF: Not that much. I did a fashion show up in Canada. It's easier now but I still try to keep busy. Accepting this job to do fashion was part of it. It was a challenge. I always try to do something new. But nowadays I need somebody to push me, to give me a job, instead of waiting for it. If it's self-generated, I have great doubts. Why should I do one more film, you know, one more photograph? That is a difficulty I face: I have great doubts about the value of what I do. I'm always trying to figure out what to do next.

BW: What's that "figuring-out" process like?

RF: Slow! (Laughs.) It's slow. Slow, slow. It's like a snail trying to cross a highway.

BW: You mean like sitting on a rock looking out at the ocean?

RF: No, like a snail crossing the highway.

BW: You mean you might get run over?

RF: Yeah. (Laughs.)

Interview publiée en mars 1996 par Art in America.

Lilian Gish

David Wark Griffith - The Birth of a Nation


La symétrie est née sans doute de la paresse et de la vanité. De la vanité en ce qu'on a prétendu assujetir la nature à sa maison au lieu d'assujetir sa maison à la nature ; et de la paresse en ce qu'on s'est contenté de ne travailler que sur le papier qui souffre tout, pour s'épargner la peine de voir et de combiner soigneusement sur le terrain qui ne souffre que ce qui lui convient : de là tous les aspects de l'horizon ont été sacrifiés à un seul point, ceui du milieu de la maison. Toutes les constructions déterminées sur ce point milieu ont été privées par là de toutes les dimensions des corps solides pour ne plus présenter que des surfaces sans épaisseur et sans variété de formes ; tous les objets ont été réduits à une seule ligne, et tous les terrains à la platitude d'une feuille de papier.

René Louis de Girardin, De la composition des paysages (1777)

dimanche 25 janvier 2009

The Chelsea Girls

Andy Warhol - Nico Crying, The Chelsea Girls bobine 12

青蛇 - 流光飛舞





On peut l'écouter ici.

Claude Nicolas Ledoux

Salines Royales, Arc et Senans - Photographie de Georges Fessy (recadrée).