Archive for January, 2013

Sebastian Liste And “Tough” Pictures

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 28, 2013 by johnbuckley100

A few weeks back, on the Leica Blog, members of the D.C. street photography collective Strata had a wonderful joint interview with its various members, including the redoubtable Matt Dunn.  Something that stood out from the interview was a quote from Steve Goldenberg, who said, “One of the biggest principles that drives our work is best encapsulated by Joel Meyerwitz: we aim to make images that are “tough”. As he said, “‘Tough’ meant it was an uncompromising image, something that came from your gut, out of instinct, raw, of the moment, something that couldn’t be described in any other way. So it was tough. Tough to like, tough to see, tough to make, tough to understand. The tougher they were the more beautiful they became.”

We thought of that quote this morning when reading, in last week’s New Yorker, Jon Lee Anderson’s takedown of Hugo Chavez’s dystopian Caracas, which was illustrated by one of the most amazing sets of photographs in modern photojournalism. Sebastian Liste is a 26-year old Spaniard whose work in Brazil is in a league of its own.  If you ever wanted to know what Meyerwitz meant when talking about “tough” pictures, look at his work.  In its content, composition, and in kohl-dark contrast, every image of his we’ve seen is nigh on breathtaking.

We admit we hadn’t seen his work before, but at an amazingly young age, he’s making his mark.  From his website:

Sebastian´s work has been internationally recognized by POYi, The Overseas Press Club, Sony WPO, NPPA, Lucie Awards, PDN Photo Annual, Paris PX3, Anthropographia Human Rights Award, Daylight/CDS Awards, CENTER Awards, Freelens Awards, The PGB Awards, Reinassance Prize, Terry O´Neill Award, among others. In 2011 Sebastian was also selected to participate in the 18th World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass.

In 2012 Sebastian was announced as the winner of the City of Perpignan Rémi Ochlik Award, the Community Awareness Award at POYi, as one of the 30 photographers to watch at PDN 30 and received a Citation at the Olivier Rebbot Award. In addition he received a Magnum Emegency Found Grant to develop his new project in the Brazilian Amazon.

Fortunately, to bring this post full circle, Liste is represented by a lone gallery, and it happens to be in D.C.  Tough pictures.  Amazing photographer. Go check out the pictures from the New Yorker piece.  Then check out everything else.

Don’t Tell Fox News

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 23, 2013 by johnbuckley100

We found a woman with Federal Obama Notes.  The scandal could be huge.  Leica M9, 35mm Summilux FLE, Inauguration Day.

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Widowspeak’s “Almanac” Is A Compendium Of Facts About An Emerging Great Band

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on January 23, 2013 by johnbuckley100

When Widowspeak’s eponymous first album was released in 2011, you’d have been forgiven for thinking it was that Mazzy Star reunion we’ve all been waiting for.  Robert Earl Thomas was less adventurous than Dave Roback, maybe, though certainly his equal in sonic tastefulness, and singer Molly Hamilton sounded a lot like Hope Sandoval, minus the otherworldliness.  Now they are back with Almanac, and have surer footing, and a more aggressive pace, and we feel confident that the path they are on will take them far.

They make good partners, Thomas and Hamilton, as he shapes the sound with his lead guitar while she holds down the rhythm guitar parts forging the melody with artful phrasing.  Her voice stretches the canvas on which the songs are written across a fairly narrow frame.  Most times a baby doll husk, occasionally it loses all substance and recedes entirely into pretty fog, like Chet Baker playing trumpet on a slow song.  Widowspeak’s limitations, such as there are, emanate from whether one can live on the sustenance provided entirely by vocal meringue, and as we’ve just today heard about a restaurant in Tokyo that serves customers meals containing actual dirt, we have found ourselves nodding, seeking just a little grit, and wondering whether Widowspeak would be more satisfying listened to in longer increments if they emulated that approach.

Pareles used a Velvet Underground reference in his recent nice write up of Almanac, and while a stopped clock is occasionally right, you won’t be surprised that we beg to differ, that we think of Widowspeak less in the context of the VU than in the fourth-degree separation that comes from a young American band actually sounding more like the black ryder’s mutation of a Morning After Girls homage to the Brian Jonestown Massacre, who actually possessed the direct link to that VU sound.  Good company, though, right? More than sounding like Mazzy Star, better than sounding like one more acolyte of the Velvet Underground, Widowspeak reminds us of that magical moment we first heard the black ryder’s Aimee Nash singing with the Morning After Girls, though others will think of Miranda Lee Richards fronting the BJM.

For his part, Robert Earl Thomas is a canny lead guitarist who sounds more delicate on Almanac than he did live last November when Widowspeak opened for Woods at that amazing show at the Red Palace.  When he plays slide, he sounds like David Byrne on “The Big Country,” which of course was an homage to Phil Manzanera playing “Prairie Rose.”  All good lineage, all good music, a band with a future that links to the past — the best kind — and an album we will be listening to, over and over, until they mercifully deliver the next one.

Big Day In Washington

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 21, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Four years later, the crowds were only slightly smaller, it seemed to us.  It was definitely warmer.  People seemed just as happy, and as proud.

Leica M9, 35mm Summilux, except where noted.

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“Every Leica Has A Soul”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 19, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Very cool promotional video from the Leica Store in Brazil, via the good folks at Leica Rumors, which tells the story of the Leica M-Monochrom as the reincarnation of Robert Capa’s Leica III.  Even though Leica’s code name for the Monochrom was Henri, after Cartier-Bresson, we love this.

Families Arriving For The Inaugural

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 19, 2013 by johnbuckley100

January 19th, 2009.  Concert the day before the Inaugural.  Leica M8, 50mm Summilux.

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And So We Gather For The Inaugural

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 18, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Leica M8, 50mm Summilux, January 20, 2009

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On Meeting Sebastiao Salgado

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 12, 2013 by johnbuckley100

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Only a novelist — and a South American novelist at that — could know what to make of how, precisely, it came to be that Sebastiao Salgado was able to break free from the life of a photojournalist to commence his exploration, in the 1980s, of Workers, his epic documentation of laborers around the world.

It all began in Washington, where he has been for the past two days, presenting his forthcoming Genesis — last night at NatGeo, and tonight at the Brazilian Embassy.  Providence placed him, 32 years ago, just outside the Washington Hilton  at the very moment Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, and it was Salgado who captured the images that soon were on the front pages of newspapers worldwide.  Capturing the near killing of the president who led America’s capitalist resurgence left Salgado — who has become the most renowned photographer of our age — in a financial position to document capitalism’s effects on the workers of the world, the army of miners entering the pits, the farmers struggling to fuel the caffeinated West.  Of all the photographers in Washington that day, it was the former economist from Brazil who was able to, well, capitalize on the moment, in service of one of the most ambitious artistic projects of the epoch. What would Garcia Marquez do with those facts, such magical realism?

And then came Migrations, which sought to document how the planet was trod by those pulled to opportunity, or pushed from disaster, or maybe it’s the other way around; the magnetism of cities depopulating the countryside, refugees from war-torn Africa, from famine, from genocide.  And as a one-time exile from Brazil, he had a special eye for those who had to leave their homelands because they were ripped apart.

And now he is back, after an eight-year exploration of that portion of the planet that has not been despoiled by man, and the photos, of course, are nothing less than magnificent.  If Salgado could render starvation in the Sahel in a photograph that somehow, despite it all, contains the beauty that comes from human dignity, imagine what he can do capturing the last pristine places on Earth.

You’ll know soon enough; Genesis will be the most important photographic event of the year, as it launches in April with multiple museum shows on different continents, as two books are published by Taschen, as Salgado’s son and Wim Wenders release a documentary on the making of this, his greatest work.  Get ready.

On the eve of World War II, Cartier-Bresson complained of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, “The world is falling to pieces and Adams and Weston are taking pictures of rocks.”  Genesis transforms Salgado into a landscape photographer, every bit as much as he was a humanist documentarian, and before that, a photojournalist.  But now as the world is literally falling to pieces — even the rocks are falling to pieces, now that so much of the world is being drilled and mined, with habitat shrinking faster than the glaciers — Salgado has spent eight years capturing it, the glaciers and mountains, the tribes and the caribou.  And in so doing he has produced the most breathtaking hymn to the planet.

From capturing the dignity of people who refuse to be degraded by their conditions, he’s spent his seventh decade capturing the dignity of the planet that still has beauty preserved, in pockets here and there.  Only someone with the stamina of Salgado, and an ability to charter the planes and hire the pack animals, can get to the ends of the Earth, capturing them before they’re gone.

What we learned tonight in meeting him was a) his eyes twinkle, b) he is as warm and patient as only a humanist photographer can be, c) he shrugs off the physical discomfort he had to have gone through, all alone in Antarctica or the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or with the the native peoples in tundra and rainforest, and d) most surprisingly, he’s actually optimistic about the planet.  He described the genesis of Genesis as coming out of the bleakness of photographing the Balkans for Migrations, when he was depressed about the condition of the planet.

But after he and Lelia Wanick — his wife and collaborator who run the Amazonas photo agency, which syndicates his work — began their project to reforest the section of Brazil in which he was raised, ultimately planting two million trees, he began to be hopeful once again.  And he focused on the approximately 50 percent of the planet — from Antarctica to the Arctic, from the deserts to the jungles — that has not been paved over.  And from that he began what may be his final extended project.

Each individual photograph is gorgeous, but the power of the collection is unlike any photographic project you will have ever seen.  If the word “stunning” has meaning, this is when to use it.  The 140 images he showed tonight — a portion of the 500 we will get to see in April — is an aria to the beauty of the planet still remaining.

Sebastiao Salgado is a great photographer because he can frame and illuminate images with an aesthetic sensibility unlike anyone today.

He is a great artist because of his conceptual ambition — not for him the limitation of photographing a gang in New York City, or people at a zoo, or the denizens of the street.  Salgado is intent on capturing the workers of the world.  All of them.  And all the migrations of people across continents and seas.  And now Genesis, for God’s sake.

He is a great man because of his humanism, which is not rare among photographers, though as with his work, Salgado is in a league of his own.

Ten Days Until The Inaugural

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 10, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Leica M8, 35mm Summilux

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Man, it was cold that day four years ago.  17 degrees.  Only warmth came from the million citizens around us.  If you’d like to remember what that day was like, go here.

Omigod, The Deathfix Song Released Today Is Amazing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 9, 2013 by johnbuckley100

We wish we were excited about the Bowie release yesterday.  We’d like to be, but the song’s kinda dull, id’nit?  But “Transmission,” the new track released by Brendan Canty and Richard Morel’s Deathfix is nothing short of astounding.  We’d love to tell you the saga of how Brendan got from powering Fugazi from behind the skins to a song that sounds like Joe Boyd capturing the Incredible String Band jamming with Traffic in Syd Barrett’s basement, but we don’t yet know it.  You wait here, we’ll find out.

Wow!

Check it out here, courtesy of Spin.

Album is out February 19.  We count the days on fingers, toes, and the digits of friends.

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