This is the beginning of a series of photos I’m working on entitled “How We Eat.” I will be documenting various aspects of eating in this country, focusing on restaurants but also considering markets, perhaps farms, food itself, and other related subjects.
For all of you photo geeks out there, all of these exposures were around 12 seconds or so.
Fat Mo’s, Night. Mamiya 7, Tri-X
Steak & Pizza, Night. Mamiya 7, Tri-X
Grocery, Night. Mamiya 7, Tri-X
Twilight Visions is an exhibition of more than 120 photographic prints, a number of video presentations, and a variety of additional exhibits related to the Surrealism movement in Paris in the late 1920′s up to the Second World War. The exhibition seeks to evoke the feel of the inter-war city that nurtured the surrealist movement, and also to demonstrate the considerable cross-pollination taking place between photographers, filmmakers, writers and painters during the era. Notable works by artists such as Kertesz, Brassai, Man Ray, Atget, and many others are included in the exhibition. The exhibition was guest-curated by Therese Lichtenstein, Ph.D.
The first room was, for me, dominated by the selections of Brassai’s night photography. Brassai published a book in 1933 called Paris de Nuit that broke new ground by capturing the dense, dramatic feel of this great city’s nocturnal form. Interestingly, Brassai’s remarkable image of the city as seen from the roof of Notre Dame, with a gargoyle in near silhouette in the foreground, was not actually a part of this book although it certainly fits in thematically. Brassai’s photographs evoke dreamscapes, and are clearly the spiritual cousins of the surrealist painters’ works.
Subsequent galleries explore the deconstruction and demystification of Parisian landmarks such as La Tour Eiffel, and then the female nude form. For instance, Ilse Bing’s images of the Eiffel Tower demonstrate the significant ambivalence that Parisians felt toward the huge structure for many years. In this image, you can see how Bing has truncated the bottom of the tower, and then confined it below the arch. Then, the lantern takes nearly equivalent precedence in the image due to the perspective chosen by the photographer. The composition is both striking and vaguely abstract, and it defies the conventional approach to venerating landmarks in photographs.
Ilse Bing. Tour Eiffel, vue du Pont Birk-Hakeim, Paris, 1932.
Kertesz went even further in his deconstruction of the tower, by focusing on its immense and intricate shadow, and upon the shadows of the people who pass underneath. The placard in the display makes the observation that the shadows in this image appear to be more real than the people themselves. This image again shows that even a less manipulated “straight” image may take on surrealist dream-like qualities.
Kertesz’s “Grotesques,” female nudes shot using fun-house mirrors, are an excellent example of the section dealing with the abstraction and manipulation of images of the female form. These images distort the nudes into fantastic, and sometimes discomfiting shapes.
A notable inclusion in this exhibit is a number of periodicals and publications that demonstrate the interplay between fine art and popular culture during this period, where the line between could become blurry indeed. Commercial work from many of the main photographers are included, and much of it is invigorated by their fine art pursuits. These printed works also serve to provide an additional layer of insight into the culture that surrounded the burgeoning surrealist movement.
One fascinating aside is the exhibit’s emphasis on the influence of Atget on Man Ray, Brassai, Kertesz, and many others. Atget was a relative unknown during his lifetime, who sought primarily to document the Paris that he viewed as losing its fight against modernity and homogenization. Atget focused primarily on long exposure images of details of the city both famous and obscure, and took a profoundly imperfect and personal approach to the imagery. His work was discovered by the art community (led by Man Ray) after his death, and was elevated to the pantheon of photographic greats. In many parts of the exhibit, the curator chose to place images by Man Ray and others beside Atget’s work in such a way to make the influence clear.
Much of the work in the exhibit, both still and video, featured the use of lens and darkroom manipulation to distort and stylize the subject matter. Images and films by Man Ray in particular demonstrate techniques such as the use of gel-smeared lenses and solarization to transform subject matter in the images to figments and archetypes.
One quibble about the exhibit is that some of the video display was of poor quality, and made it less watchable. La petite Marchande d’Allumettes was a 1928 film on projected display in the gallery, but much of the movie was so pixellated and blown that it was sometimes difficult to watch. It is possible this is due to the limits of the extensive restoration needed to bring this film to modern audiences, but much of the issue appeared to digital rather than organic degradation. In any case, I would have loved an introduction or more extensive explanation on the placard discussing the restoration of the film, and the challenges of reproducing it.
The exhibit flowed nicely, and featured the work of some of my favorite photographers. The presentation was excellent saving the video issues mentioned above. Be aware that some mature themes are presented in the photographs and films, so it may not be a suitable exhibition for all museum-goers. If you are in Nashville and have a few hours, I highly recommend checking this exhibit out!
The Frist Center – http://fristcenter.org
We did this engagement session in two parts: on the first day we drove down to Fall Creek Falls to get some great fall colors and beautiful vistas… but between us we decided that rather than pursuing the second part of the session when we were tired from a long drive, we’d do part two on another evening.
Josh is a photographer himself, and actually proposed by painting his proposal with light on a long-exposure night shot. How cool is that? So we decided that we should incorporate some night photography into their engagement photos as well. We did part two of the session in downtown Nashville last night, and got some really stylish pictures of the two of them. I love the shot where Jessica is pulling on Josh’s tie, because it captures some of her feisty personality (woe betide you if you’re a tardy Cracker Barrel server!!!).