Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Orleans: Kevin Kline and Rick Oliver on One One Thousand

One One Thousand, the online photo magazine of the American South offers us for October work by two New Orleans-based photographers, Kevin Kline (no, not THAT Kevin Kline) and Rick Oliver.

Kline brings us street images (see image above) made his wanderings through the parishes of Louisiana, chiefly portraits, that document and celebrate the variety and diversity of the people of New Orleans and its surroundings.

Kline has a fine eye for people, and for their similarities and their differences, and  he has this on display in these engaging images.

Rick Oliver's work attends more narrowly to the culture of Zydeco music and the people of Acadiana, the southwestern part of Louisiana, around Lafayette, New Iberia, Breau Bridge, and St Martinville. This is where French settlers in Canada wound up when they were run out of Canada by the English.

Somehow, French culture and African-American culture got together in Louisiana, and Zydeco music is a large part of the result. Also, they learned how to cook, if a really mediocre meal my wife and I once had in Nova Scotia that was supposedly French Canadian cooking was any evidence of how they were cooking before they moved South.

In any case, if you have not been to the Zydeco Brunch on Saturday morning at Cafe Des Amis in Breaux Bridge,  you have a serious treat coming to you in Louisiana.

And while you are there, pick up a novel by James Lee Burke to take you into the complex heart of this part of the USA, and of its people.

Oliver has been there, and all over Cajun Louisiana, and says the "zydeco culture of Acadiana has provided me with the richest raw material an artist could ever hope to find. In these small town nightclubs and bars I discovered a warmth, passion, and visual delight that never failed to inspire me."

He has been making this work for over a decade, and gathered it into the book  Zydeco! (University of Mississippi Press, 1999), which was awarded the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book Of The Year prize for 1999.

Both Kline and Oliver work in the classic black and white mode of traditional documentary photography, an appropriate choice for the folks they bring to us in these images.

Strong work, much to be appreciated.

Pierre Gonnord at SCAD

French photographer Pierre Gonnord is having a show of his work from his portfolio Portraying the South in Gallery See in the branch of the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, at 1600 Peachtree Street NE.

The show opened on

This show -- part of this year's Atlanta Celebrates Photography -- is a joint effort by SCAD Atlanta and France-Atlanta in recognition of the the 50th anniversary of the death of Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner.

Gonnard made this work during a recent three-month residency in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

According to its sponsors, Gonnord seeks in this work to capture "a glimpse into the soul of the Deep South, offering a timeless, unclassifiable, explosive and riveting portrayal of the American South . . . through the faces and landscapes he encountered.

Gonnord is a master of the portrait, especially through his handling of the play of light over the human face and his placement of the face in the frame.

Definitely looks worth a visit to SCAD before this show closes next month.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Jan Banning, Down and Out in the South

The Dutch photographer Jan Banning was artist-in-residence at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, South Carolina, in 2010.

While in residence, he developed a portfolio of portraits of homeless people in Columbia, and also in Atlanta and in the Mississippi Delta.

This portfolio, now known as Down and Out in the South, will be on view for ACP at Big House Gallery, 211 Peter Street SW, in Atlanta, from October 18th - 31st, 2012.

CNN has picked up images from this portfolio and has them for view on their CNN Photos blog, here. 

In an interview with CNN’s Cody McCloy, Banning says that meeting with some homeless people led him to think about his work as a photographer in terms of making visible those whom society regards as invisible.

Banning made these images with a medium format camera in a studio and with a full array of lights, to crate a strong sense of intimacy with his subjects.

He shot the portraits using a Fuji GX680, a physically large medium format camera that makes a statement in and of itself.

“This is something monumental,” he says. “So I want to get away from this association with the neighbor with a camera. This is more like making a statue. That’s the atmosphere I want to create.

“For me a portrait is, first of all, an encounter between two people. Forget about the camera, forget about subject, these are two people and they have to somehow relate.”

This approach gives us images that reveal the dignity of Banning’s subjects, the basic humanity that they share with everyone regardless of our station in life.

Banning says, “What it boils down to is the question of labeling. Are you concentrating on what makes other people different from you, or do you find yourself in these people, in these faces. Are they more familiar than you might want to admit?

“Seeing a homeless person is somehow scratching our conscience,” Banning says. “I think we all hope to live in a world where people don’t have to be homeless. And seeing them confronts us with our own failure to organize our society in a just way.”

Definitely strong work here, powerful images that overcome distance and difference to remind us of our common humanity.

For his respectful engagement with  the least of these, our Southern brothers and sisters, Jan Banning is an Honorary Southern Photographer.

It's October, It Must be Time for ACP

Its October, and that means that the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival is in full swing.

There are photography exhibitions up all over Atlanta, as well as a portfolio review and an auction, as well as lectures, discussions, and who knows what all the folks in Atlanta are up to.

You can find the online schedule of events here, or you can download a PDF of the Schedule here. 

The whole thing has gotten too big for one person to get his head around, but we will try to report on some of the highlights as time goes by. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The South and Southern Photography -- News, Reviews, Conversations

Kael Alford's new book Bottom of 'da Boot: Photographs by Kael Alford (Fall Line Press, 2012) is reviewed (very favorably) by Daniel W Coburn in the latest issue (# 43)  of Fraction Magazine.

Roger May talks about the work of Shelby Lee Adams on his blog Walk Your Camera, here. 

Jennifer Schwartz' flash photography show in a barbershop -- with photographs by Heidi Lender -- took place last week in NYC, and you can read a full report on Jennifer Schwartz' blog here. I missed the show, but Adam Isler was there and reports on his oBLOGago blog, here. 

Sally Mann's new show at the Edwynn Houk Gallery is reviewed in Le Journal de la Photogaphie, DLK Collection, Time Out NY, and The New Yorker.

There is an interesting conversation going on today in the NY Times under the heading The South's Enduring Conservatism. The piece includes comments by a panel of 7 Southern historians, legal scholars, and students of politics; responses to their brief but thoughtful essays are, as of this writing up to 122 and growing.