Occluded Witnesses Opening at IAM
This morning I woke up in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I now sit on my couch in Grand Forks, ND. It is a strange contrast of cultures and views. I love both...I love visiting NYC. I love coming home too.
It was a great trip...good food, the Met, Guggenheim, and lots of walking. But the highlight of course was my own opening at Space 38-39. Given Sandy's destruction on the island the week before, we had no idea what to expect. But I was happy with the turnout and some great questions and conversations about the work.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to show at IAM's gallery and certainly to Meaghan and the staff there for the publicity and work that goes into putting it all together.
Objective Subjects Opening
Last week Friday, Karina and I made a flying trip down to Orange City, IA to my opening at Northwestern College. It was a great opening...a good turnout, time with family and friends, seeing former professors, and of course seeing ones art in a new space. As I said that night, any solo exhibition is a great event as an artist but the opportunity to do so in a community that has been so formative in my own life is extremely special. I am so thankful for this opportunity, for family and friends who came to the show, and for Emily Stokes wonderful help in hosting.
Objective Subjects Exhibition
I am happy to announce my upcoming opening of Objective Subjects at the TePaske Art Gallery at Northwestern College in Orange City Iowa.
The work includes many pieces that were first shown in my MFA exhibition at the University of North Dakota. The show will also have a number of new pieces.
I am thankful for NWC's hosting of this work, their work to publicize the show and the opening. Below is their press release.
NORTHWESTERN ART EXHIBIT TO FEATURE 8-13-12
WORK BY NORTH DAKOTA ARTIST RYAN STANDER FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ORANGE CITY, Iowa—“Objective Subjects,” an exhibit by North Dakota artist Ryan Stander, will be on display in the Te Paske Gallery of Northwestern College Aug. 21 through Sept. 14, with a public reception scheduled for Friday, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m.
Stander’s show reflects his interests in memory and vernacular photography and explores the relationship between the archivist and the objects in an archive. Traditionally viewed as an objective repository of items and information essential to human history, archives now are understood to reflect the cultural and historical biases of the curator—or as Stander puts it, “the inescapable fingerprint of archivist in the formation of the archive, human memory and, ultimately, history itself.”
As part of his exploration of objectivity and subjectivity in the interpretation of texts and objects, Stander has taken thousands of vintage snapshot photographs, most purchased through eBay, and placed them in traditional archive and museum trays and drawers to suggest the modern scientific approach. By modifying them with translucent layers and white-on-white lithograph backgrounds, however, he also suggests the cultural framework— including beliefs, biases and assumptions—that guide human interpretations.
Originally from northwest Iowa, Stander now lives in Grand Forks, N.D., where he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in mixed media from the University of North Dakota. He also holds a master’s degree in theology from Sioux Falls Seminary and a bachelor’s degree in art from Northwestern College. His work has been exhibited internationally in China, South Africa, Nicaragua and Grenada, and nationally in New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Kentucky and Texas. More extensive exhibitions across the upper Midwest have included North and South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Northwestern’s Te Paske Gallery is located in the Thea G. Korver Visual Arts Center, on Highway 10 at 214 8th Street SW in Orange City. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to midnight Sunday.
by Anita Cirulis
Following up yesterdays post on tintypes, I thought I would share this small collection of tintypes I picked up in Tea, SD back in January. They were sold as a lot of 6. These are among the smaller tintypes in my collection but they are all set within an embossed paper/cardboard frame. While none of these are have any real rarity to them, I did like the various framing on the pieces. You can see that the photos are in a plastic protective sleeve...ones that I have borrowed from my baseball card collection that is still hanging around.
My goal in collecting these objects is to one day use them in a history of photography class to discuss the early photographic processes and how photography impacted the general populace, rather than simply focus on the fine art component.
Of the thousands of vintage photos that I have collected, the tintypes are among my favorite. Today Ive included a small gallery of a few of my collection.
I am perpetually astounded by the quality of some of the images...how sharp they are...the beautiful depth of field in some. For an early process, they are remarkable. The size variation is always interesting as well. Not many are more than 2x3 but many are 1x2. I think this variation is at the heart of my love for vintage photography against the standardized formats that I grew up with. Enjoy.
A. Hellmuth: German Photographer
A while back I did a little work on another Cabinet Card that was actually a lot of fun for me. I love giving these objects a bit of a historical context and the Cabinet Cards are especially open to these sorts of investivations. This card was received in the same lot as the others a few months back. Once again we set the time period of production between the 1860's and 1900.
So here it goes...
Our photographer looks like A Hellmuth from Aschersleben (or Alsleben as both places are listed on the front of the card). But sadly that is all the information I can find on the man. Ancestry.com does list several German born A Hellmuth's in the 1930 American Census. But without a full first name it becomes much harder to make any sort of conclusion about an immigration. Neither do any of them list photographer as their profession, though that may well have changed within a move to a new land where you do not speak the language.
Starting with the top line
"Atelier fur Malerie und Photograpihe" = Studio for Painting and Photography (I actually wonder if this is a typo on the "photograpihe" on the card instead of "photographie"?
In the banner under the name it lists both towns Alsleben a/Saale (Salle is the river on which the town is located) and Aschersleben. Under this, the address of Markt 25 is listed. Assuming streets and names have remained the same, see it here on Google Maps.
On the left panel it reads, "Portraits, Gruppen, Kinder, Moment, Aufnahmen, Reproduction, Gemalden etc., Specialitat: Vergrosse(?) nack jedem bilde auf pigment bromsilber, platin papier etc. Zusammengeserzte Gruppen, Vereins Tableaux, Deinecte Aufnahmen bis Lebensgrosse, Malerei in Jeder Ausfuhrung."
While Google Translate cant figure everything out, it comes back as "Portraits. Groups. Children snapshots. Reproduction for paintings, etc., Specialitat:Enlarge to every fancy of pigment-bromide, platinum paper, etc. Zusammengeserztegroups (?). Association tableaux. Direct recordings to life-size painting in any execution."
The bottom line reads, "die platte bleibt aufbewahrt" which means "the plate is kept" and numbered into the photographers inventory for future reproduction.
Within the scroll is the term "widmung" which translates to "dedication" hence the wonderful handscript, which I cannot read save for the name Margaritte. If you can read German handwriting could you make out that translation for me?
Well, without finding much on the photographer himself, it is hard to go on much beyond the facts on the card itself. I do still find them fascinating and there are more coming up in the next month or so that I will be looking at as I have time.
Within my ever growing collection of photographic objects are a few photos known as Cabinet Cards. In the mid 1800's photographers began attaching thin albumen prints to a thicker cardboard and were modeled in size (2x3.5) and intent on the calling or buisness card. By the 1870's the size increased to about 4.5x6.5 inches but maintained the albumen print on adhered to the board. The cards were greatly popular for both the photographer and consumer. For the photographer they had an easy marketing in the very form of its product. Their popularity ran through the early 1900's when it became increasingly possible to photograph with ones own camera apart from the studio.
One of the things I love about these cards is that it answers a few questions about these mysterious photographs...who took the photograph, and where was it taken. As you can see from the image up in the corner, the photographer was Albert Blankhorn in Koln or Cologne, Germany.
Once you know someones name, you can begin to do a little cyber sluething. Here are some more photos taken by Albert. His studio (Atelier) was located at 79 High Street (Hohestrasse) which you can still find on Google maps here. While you are there, take a look at the street view. Perhaps this is even the shop where he once worked. With the help of Google translate, we can figure out what the lower left means.
While some of the paper is missing, it says something like "Portraits through/by work in oil, pastel, watercolor, and platinum prints.
"vergrösserungen nach jedem bilde" - "Magnifications for every fancy"
"die platten bleiben fur nachbestellungen aufbewahrt" - "The plates remain stored for repeat orders." So apparently one could order reprints down the road.
In the upper right hand corner, we learn the Mr. Blankhorn was the court photographer (Hof-photograph) for what roughly translates as the Grand Duke of Hesse on the Rhein (Sr.Kgl.Hoh.d. Grossherzogs v.Hessen u.bei Rein). Learn about the House and Rulers of Hesse here. Given the dates of usage for Cabinet Cards, perhaps we may assume, that his reference to the Grand Duke refers to Louis IV.
The Invisible Mother
A couple of weeks ago I posted on a photo I picked up over Easter of a mother holding a child still during a photo. I metnioned how this forms a motif in vintage studio photography of the hidden mother.
I bumped into a great site this morning that has a good number of example the "Invisible Mother" as they call it. I suppose I understand the practice considering the sqirmy or frightened child, but why cover the head of the mother? Why not photograph the two together or instead draw upon a Madonna and Child sort of precedent? Some of the photos in this motif do hide the mother quite well, others...well...do not. Because they are so obvious, they look rediculous...and kinda creepy. Anyway...Enjoy.
In my ongoing effort to migrate from my old blog AOA, I am continuing in a series of reposts.
One of my favorite books on photography is Geoffry Batchen's Each Wild Idea. The book contains 9 essays wrestling with the histories of photography. My favorite chapter, not surprisingly, is on vernacular photography. Batchen's work attempts to elucidate the "complex matter of photography's conceptual, historical, and physical identity." He continues, "Morphology is another of those issues that most histories of photography ignore. Indeed, the invisibility of the photograph, its transparency to its referent, has long been one of its most cherished features.
Most of us tend to look at photographs as if we are simply gazing through a two-dimensional window onto some outside world. This is almost a perceptual necessity; in order to see what the photograph is of, we must first repress our consciousness of what the photograph is. As a consequence, in even the most sophisticated discussions, the photograph itself--the actual thing being examined--is usually left out of the analysis. Vernacular photographies tend to go the other way, so frequently do they exploit the fact that the photograph is something that can also have volume, opacity, tactility, and a physical presence in the world. In many cases, the exploitation involves the the subject of the photograph's intervening within or across the photographic act. These subjects make us attend to their photography's morphologies, and thus to look right at rather than only through the photograph. In this sense, vernacular photo objects can be read not only as sensual and creative artifacts but also as thoughtful, even provocative meditations on the nature of photography itself" (Pages 59-60).
One of the trajectories of my MFA show was a means to highlight is the physical nature of the photograph. Batchen's text was released in 2001, and since then the digital revolution has only picked up speed further minimizing the physicality of photographic objects. The vernacular photographic objects that I have collected over the past few years intend to highlight the diversity from this relatively young medium. Varying in sizes and processes, the objects mounted in artifact trays, encapsulated in drawers, bins etc intend to suggest the physicality of the photo object. It has been interesting to me in this process the varying sizes, papers, and processes that were quickly cast away as the technology of photography advanced. Fewer and fewer sizes of film and prints were available over time to where we are now, if we print our images at all, have the options of 3.5x5, 4x6, 5x7 etc. Some of my favorite photos that I have collected are the smallest ones that are 2x3ish.
Vernacular Photos: Nazi Germany
Today's posting is a delacate topic: photographs of Nazi Germany. What are we to do with images of German soldiers? There are various restrictions and laws around the world prohibiting the sales of Nazi memorabilia. (You can see eBay's here.) In spite of the difficult subject matter and horrific legacy of Nazi's upon the world, I feel it is important to consider the images for a number of reasons...and pehaps ones that may seem contradictory.
First, we live in a strange time of Holocaust denial. What makes this strange phenomena worse, is that it is growing. Because of photography's veracity, these images and other like them, serve as a reminder of the horrible attrocities the Nazi's committed. These images do so only indirectly, however.
Secondly, I noted in my post on the 13th that "photography is intimately caught up with the documentation of place and time, sometimes the poignancy of history, like Barthes prick of the punctum, is startling." One of the other peculiarities about looking at vernacular photographs is that as viewers we are peering into another person's life. And in these cases, they are not able to interpret the image for us. We are outsiders to the photographic event. Many of the photographs I've posted here came in one large lot bought off of eBay. What was striking to me in these photographs, like Barthes punctum, was the domestic nature of in which many of the photographs shot...homes, weddings, with friends and lovers laughing and eating. One of the reasons the photos are important to see is that they humanize those who are often painted in the widest of brush strokes as Nazi's. For me, the prick of these images highlighted the nature of being an American, brought up with Hollywood films full of patriotic American soldiers fighting the Nazi's. And not to deminish the atrocities of the Nazi's nor the sacrifices of Allied troops, but the images remind us of the humanity behind the stereotypes cast about in popular culture. It reminds me of the dangerous power of propaganda within the popular imagination.
Of the thousands of photographs that I have, several hundred are of American soldiers. Photographs of them with girlfriend or wife. Photographs of them with parents and siblings. Photographs of them with their children and friends. Photographs of them in their uniforms getting married, going for dinner, relaxing in the safety of their home. The difference between these images is simply the uniform which subsequently triggers all of our collective memory and preconceptions into action.
Historically, "stereotypes" originated from an efficient printing process that allowed for repeated usage of one typesetting. We use the term now in a metaphorical manner. “Stereotypes are rather negatively defined as ‘conventional, formulaic and oversimplified conceptions, opinions, or images’ that may communicate without nuance or subtlety. For visual communicators, whether they are filmmakers, photographers, graphic artists, etc…stereotypes are useful devices because they are easily understood and make clear, albeit possibly injurious, points.” “Stereotype is a shorthand way to describe a person with collective, rather than unique characteristics. To stereotype is, in both a real and metaphorical sense, to lose sight of the individual.”
And while I absolutely condemn the atrocities committed by the Nazi's, these photographs of the intimate moments of life of these German soldiers remind me to consider the humanity of the individual as well as the larger historical and geopolitical context of their life.
 Images that Injure, Lester & Dente Ross, xi.
 Lester & Dente Ross, 2.