Day in Ellis Island, 1951: Erika Stone Portfolio

Day in Ellis Island, 1951: Erika Stone Portfolio

Posted by on Sep 27, 2015 in Patricia Silva | No Comments

Erika Stone doesn’t remember the exact day but in 1951 the adventurous photographer spent a day at Ellis Island. A German immigrant whose father was held at Ellis Island briefly, before he moved the family to New York in 1936, Stone didn’t photograph Ellis Island with the gaze of a passerby, but with the awareness of a passer-through. This previously unpublished portfolio of Ellis Island photographs shows a glimpse of how Ellis Island functioned before its closing in 1954. On its first day of operation 700 immigrants passed through Ellis Island in 1892. Before the first immigration station opened in 1855, at what is now Castle Clinton, immigrants arrived directly at Manhattan’s various harbors and entered without being monitored.

Discovering how people lived, survived and thrived in urban conditions was Stone’s primary photographic direction. In the vast archives of Stone’s work we find sophisticated street photography compositions, casual glances of lovers in the park, exuberant neighborhood personalities, and the playfulness of children. A street photographer making frequent trips to the ethnically diverse neighborhoods of New York City’s boroughs, Stone photographed people from various walks of life, unimpeded by racial and economic divides marking the times and places in which Stone worked. Born in 1924, Stone studied photography at the New School of Social Research with Berenice Abbott and George Tice. A member of the New York Photo League and a stringer for Time and Der Spiegel in the 1940s, Stone made hundreds of photographs before, during, and after raising two boys in New York City.

Home to the world’s largest immigrant population, the US counts 41 million New Americans among its population. As conservative political conversations point to strategies for thickening walls of separation, a recent Pew study shows that US population is more accepting of New Americans, although it’s really by a small percentage. During its first year nearly 450,000 immigrants passed through Ellis Island, while this year alone 300,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece, trying to reach other EU countries.

As we live through the world’s largest refugee crisis on record, will European Union countries ever view migrants as “New Europeans”? Are the processes of immigration reform in the US transferrable to the EU? Are the motivations for building Hungary’s razor wire fence really so different from “The Great Wall of Mexico”? I’m using the term migrant in reference to displaced people with uncompleted legal processes of claiming asylum, fleeing war-torn countries, and economic migrants. I pose this question because the value we place on migrant and refugee lives changes how we talk about them, how we choose images to portray this urgent humanitarian condition. David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, asserted that Britain was doing “enough” for migrants and refugees, but quickly moderated his position after being “deeply moved” by seeing photographs of Aylan Kurdi. To look at photographs of people in crisis without establishing a social value for such lives is a grave mistake.

The Nov. 13, 1950 issue of LIFE featured an editorial on Ellis Island with photographs by Alfred Eisenstaedt and a text describing the Island as a “…gray and gloomy place suddenly full of bewildered people who have become victims of American politics.” Stone’s focus on the Island was not limited to the concerned photography ethos of the ‘40s and ‘50s New York: Stone takes us through the daily rituals of living in limbo: sleeping, eating, socializing, grooming. What we see in Stone’s photographs of Ellis Island is very a different view from Eisenstadt’s in 1950, and from Lewis Hine’s longer series. Both Eisenstaedt and Hine focused on people and their physical markers of displacement, while Stone captured unexpected daily contexts, such as two men walking to the dining hall, a flood of light illuminating the back of a neck close to the blade.

When Erika Stone made these photographs in 1951, one million people had yet to find settlement, due to the migrant crisis of WWII, according to a UN report. Revisiting Stone’s photographs in comparison to today’s images of immigration control and containment brings us closer to the larger history of photography centered around the human experience of crossing borders in order to live.


Day in Ellis Island, 1951

An unpublished portfolio of photographs by Erika Stone


Erika Stone, The Barber, 1951. Photograph courtesy of Erika Stone.


Erika Stone, Boys Reading, 1951. Photograph courtesy of Erika Stone.


Erika Stone, The Dining Hall, 1951. Photograph courtesy of Erika Stone.


Erika Stone, The Dining Hall, 1951. Photograph courtesy of Erika Stone.


Erika Stone, Entrance to the Dining Hall, 1951. Photograph courtesy of Erika Stone.


Erika Stone, A Family Room, 1951. Photograph courtesy of Erika Stone.


Erika Stone, Arriving at Ellis Island, 1951. Photograph courtesy of Erika Stone.


Erika Stone, The Library, 1951. Photograph courtesy of Erika Stone.


Erika Stone, Single Beds, 1951. Photograph courtesy of Erika Stone.


Erika Stone, Luggage, 1951. Photograph courtesy of Erika Stone.

Summer Seeing: 10 Must-See Photos in September

Summer Seeing: 10 Must-See Photos in September

Posted by on Sep 9, 2015 in Patricia Silva | No Comments

As mentioned in my first post, this summer I joined Baxter St at CCNY to present a monthly selection of ten not-to-be missed photographs in New York City.

Observing how social movements shape themselves around photography is often rewarding study. This list presents several works linked to modern movements supported by visual shape shifting: Soviet era optic tactics, Japanese avant garde, American experimental culture, Mexican revolutionaries, the aftermath of colonialism, and two first shows by European women in the US.

Images function both within and outside a matrix of contexts, reading photographs requires more and more attention to nuance. What people define as the digital revolution is only a natural continuation of a medium that, despite it’s historical dependence on this word, has never been “fixed.” Contemporary digital imaging has grown from strong conceptual legacies in photography that raises expectations of, and contextualize, our visual potentials.

With so many excellent shows going on this month, I’d like to highlight a few artists/curators part of the CCNY community at large who continue evolving with the social roles within image cultures: “I need my memories. They are my documents” at Sepia EYE, curated by Nandita Raman; Marvin Heiferman organized an excellent show closing this week, “Watching You, Watching Me;Nona Faustine has an upcoming exhibition and panel discussion this weekend, co-curated by Qiana Mestrich; Christian Erroi has an upcoming show at Duvernois Gallery.

Much to see and explore.
Hope you enjoyed this “Top 10” monthly series!



01_RodchenkoYakov Khalip, Large-Bore Cannon, Baltic Fleet, 1935.
Currently showing in the “Soviet Photography 1920s-1930s” group show at Nailya Alexander Gallery.
September 9 October 30, 2015

Artists in the 1920s were still processing ideas from the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, maintaining that a new era required new ways of seeing, new tools, new constructions.


02_GreyHiroshi Yamazaki, Heliography, 1978.
Currently showing in the “Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968-1979” group show at Grey Art Gallery.
September 11December 5, 2015

A not-t0-be-missed exhibition in general, Yamazaki’s series of photographs of the sun’s travel are a luminous treat. As we prepare for the upcoming Supermoon Eclipse that will most likely dominate our social media feeds, it’s a good time to experience how pre-digital photography recorded such events.


03_Monakhov_Stockton_7336_P93Yola Monakhov Stockton, Untitled (Post-Photography)[P93], 2015
Currently showing Rick Wester Fine Art.
September 12 October 24, 2015

Fusing the dominant subject matter present in the last two photographs (disorienting space, travel around the globe), Monakhov Stockton shows us the strange orbit of pinhole photographs made en route, from photo boxes mailed to herself.


04_Schwalbe_SeeLake_2008Anne Schwalbe, See/Lake, 2008.
Currently showing in “The Life Within” at L. Parker Stephenson
July 1 – September 12, 2015

The first solo show of this German photographer who makes their own C prints.

05_Frida_ARTEMOISLOAD-38Juan Guzmán. Frida holding a mirror in the hospital, ca.1951
Currently showing in the “Frida Kahlo, Mirror Mirror…” show at Throckmorton Fine Art.
Closes September 19th.

Combined with a small exhibition of Kahlo’s paintings at the Haupt Conservatory of the New York Botanical Garden, New York City art goers can now examine the importance of mirrors in Kahlo’s process: From seeing her representation in photographs by her father to relying on mirrors as a tool for painting. Notably absent in both shows are images by photographer Tina Modotti.


06_VisualAidsJoseph Modica, A Night at Danceteria (Ethyl Eichelberger, Keith Haring, Cookie Mueller & John Sex), 1984.
Currently showing in the “Party Out Of Bounds: Nightlife As Activism Since 1980” group show at La Mama Galleria.
September 18–October 10, 2015

Not quite holding court from the bed as Kahlo was known to do, Modica’s photograph of Ethyl Eichelberger at Danceteria registers the heightened emotions of a time when nightlife in the East Village belonged to artists and friends, famous or not, who knew how make an art event also a site for political awareness—social media experts, do take note! As the next artist, Bill Beckley, said: “We didn’t call it ‘Soho’ it was just ‘downtown’.

07_BillBeckley_Deirdres_Lips_cibachromeBill Beckley, Deirdre’s Lips, 1978.
Currently showing in Beckley’s solo show “The Accidental Poet (The Avoidance of Everything)
Bill Beckley—1968-1978″ at Albertz Benda.
September 10 – October 3, 2015

Beckley has been engaging conceptually with photography, and through impeccable mastery of color, since the late sixties. Seeing this show in relation to #2 on this very list, “Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968-1979” shows us a variety of experimentation when photography as an art form wasn’t yet institutionally considered an art form.


08_Helen_KellerHelen Keller at home in Forrest Hills, circa 1920s. Courtesy of the American Foundation for the Blind.
Currently shown in the group show “Leading the Way: Six Outstanding Women of Queens” at Queens Historical Society.
Closes May 2016.

Found in a small exhibition big on community engagement, Keller’s gesture demonstrates the importance of touch as another form of seeing, reading, and communicating.


09_Encouble_Delphine_Burtin-12Delphine Burtin, Encouble.
Currently showing at Benrubi Gallery.
September 10October 24, 2015

The first solo show of a Swiss photographer continuing in the photographic tradition of abandoning expected perceptions of physical space.



Jo Ractliffe, Details of tiled murals at the Fortaleza De São Miguel, depicting Portuguese explorations in Africa, 2007.
Currently showing in “The Aftermath of Conflict: Jo Ractliffe’s Photographs of Angola and South Africa,” the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Closes March 6, 2016.

Ractliffe’s continued engagement with Angola’s post-colonial complexity has led to a body of work focused on restoring “a place for memory” in sites marked by conflict, erasure, and displacement. Photographs from this series are featured in the South African pavilion of this year’s Venice Biennale.



Grey Art Gallery, 100 Washington Square East, New York, NY
La Mama Galleria, 47 Great Jones Street, New York, NY
Albertz Benda, 516 West 26th Street, New York, NY
Benrubi Gallery, 521 West 26th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY
Rick Wester Fine Art, 526 West 26th Street, Suite 417, New York, NY
Nailya Alexander Gallery, 41 E 57th Street, Suite 704, New York, NY
Throckmorton Fine Art, 145 East 57th Street, 3RD floor, New York, NY
L. Parker Stephenson, 764 Madison Ave #4f, New York, NY
Queens Historical Society, 143-35 37th Avenue, Flushing, New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York, NY

Lower East Sides: Elsewheres Around the Corner

Posted by on Aug 29, 2015 in Patricia Silva | No Comments

Lorenzo Masnah and Alex Seel, Entre La Guardia y El Dorado, 2015. Installation at XY Atelier Gallery.


Every summer, many expect the art world to hibernate, in cool temperature-controlled repose, remerging with a roar of high sales in the fall season. And every year, I stumble upon some fantastic independent shows in New York’s humid season, usually just strolling by, or in this case, at the recommendation of a friend. Not just any friend, but someone who has lived in the Lower East Side since the mid 1990s and has watched its culture change dramatically, from a multi-ethnic enclave where English was a minority language, to another frightening model of how rampant gentrification and predatory capitalism combine to erase and displace. Many New York avenues and Squares have been transformed to function like any other domestic mall. The global problem of economic displacement creates unlivable conditions that are increasingly looking like one another, especially among places with existing patterns of immigration.

That was how the Columbian-born Masnah began to describe this work: the street language of marginality is disappearing in ways that reflect the sameness of rampant corporatization. Entre La Guardia y El Dorado, is a collaborative installation by Lorenzo Masnah and Alex Seel, in which photography plays a key role in demonstrating these cycles of sameness across borders. In fact, the idea of a border is rendered null because our social poverties are increasingly looking like, or referencing, one another. The use of photography in Masnah and Seal’s installation is key: the repetition of images present a cycle. Seel’s photographs are shown as pictures, then shown again after Masnah has drawn on them and made outlines to emphasize certain qualities. Allan Sekula has warned us of the problematic power dynamics and the constant othering present in the “find a bum school of photography” approach to representation. Without betraying that warning, Masnah and Seel have assembled a collection of what is at stake: the objects and lives that become discarded, and the displacement that is activated when public policy ignores the harm of gentrification. Photographs are shown in a cycle of constant modification, mirroring the subject matter of the installation, which is that in this global climate, the marginality present in Loisaida can feel interchangeable with similar living conditions in Bogotá. And elsewhere.


Kari Soinio’s A Way By  Numbers, 2014. Installation at Station Independent Projects.


Not too far from XY Atelier where Masnah and Seal are exhibiting, is another work referencing the disappearing street language of urban life. Kari Soinio’s A Way By  Numbers on view at Station Independent Projects, is a conceptual mapping of building markings from the Bronx through Crown Heights, including all five boroughs of New York City. Much like an accidental continuation of Zoe Leonard’s Analogue series, Soinio looks the numeric language that sets one building apart from another, buildings we can expect to be demolished in the near future. Capturing urban space with an eye on its “highly contested air space”  and making a visual record of the soon-to-be lost language of building identification, Soinio makes the human passage clear. Bodies are still moving through these spaces and inhabiting spaces that instead of remaining neighborhoods, become sites of unaffordable transition.


Entre La Guardia y El Dorado: Lorenzo Masnah and Alex Seel
XY Atelier Gallery
81 Hester Street at Orchard
Closing August 30th, 2015

(Un)livable: Janet Biggs, Kari Soinio
Station Independent Projects
138 Eldridge Street, 2F
Closing Sept. 6, 2015

IM Heung-soon: “Reincarnation”

IM Heung-soon: “Reincarnation”

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015 in Patricia Silva | No Comments

The dual-channel projection begins with a female figure looking out to sea. From the first moments of the video, the viewer is aware that the artist has placed the audience between two points of dialogue, and our body is not passive in the space.  Viewers shift attention from one wall to the other, keeping up with what seems like a disparate conversation across cultures, but it’s all quite connected. The residue of historical events is examined through place, through the human vestiges that remain pulsing in the air despite being unspoken in public dialogue.

IM Heung-soon’s Reincarnation, 2015, the South Korean artist’s most recent film, is currently on view at PS 1 in Long Island City. At this year’s Venice Biennale, Heung-soon was awarded the Silver Lion for Factory Complex, a work about the oppression of female factory workers. This is the highest award ever received by an individual Korean artist at the Venice Biennial. Effectively editing seemingly incompatible sequences of archival footage with the poetics of art history, Factory Complex and Reincarnation are both focused on female experience, each work presenting historical information not usually discussed in the West.



IM Heung-soon, Reincarnation, 2015. Two-channel HD video; color, sound 23:44 min. Image courtesy of the artist, Sharjah Art Foundation and MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez.


In the early years of the 70s, before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the rapidly modernizing Tehran was an alluring destination for Korean immigrants seeking economic stability and opportunities. Knowing this history, Heung-soon became interested in a group of Korean women who lived through the Korean war in their youth, the Vietnam war (as entertainers, part of the foxhole circuit), and eventually experienced the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988 after settling in Tehran in the 70s. As a viewer seated between three shifting worlds—a woman in a chador wailing in Farsi; a Korean domestic scene; a Vietnamese landscape—it is not obvious how each site is connected historically.  Heung-soon focuses on the subtle casualties of war’s aftermath and created a dual-screen installation that places a Western audience between these shifting points of reference that are connected, but unannounced. The viewer experiences confusion, but a steady view into the states of disconnection that contradict normalcy.



IM Heung-soon, Reincarnation, 2015. Two-channel HD video; color, sound 23:44 min. Image courtesy of the artist, Sharjah Art Foundation and MoMA PS1. Photo by Pablo Enriquez.


Those who have not lived through war, or with a veteran, know that violence does not end when wars end. Political conflict may end at national level, but individual survivors of the trauma may continue living and processing their experiences. Heung-soon stages some of these disconcerting moments: a leg shaking while sleeping, a mother praying for her son’s return. The disorienting image of human black hair blowing in the desert wind and sand is a stark reminder of just how buried these histories feel to those who carry them, and how faceless these stories are to most of the world.

“Pain slowly reappears when we try to escape from memory and oblivion. ‘Reincarnation’ does not seek to signify the emergence of an unprecedented phenomenon, but suggests a way of remembering the deceased and the suffering, as well as restoring conscience, morality, empathy, and justice.”—IM Heung-soon

A timelapse of the sea at twilight is particularly beguiling, especially when the camera lingers at the moment where the sky is not yet at its darkest but cerulean steady, and the waves’ foam absorbs an orange hue from distant street lamps. The video thrives on the movement of juxtaposition between screens. In one segment, a sequence of toy soldiers is shown while on the other screen a bonfire is burning in the middle of the woods. When a woman piles $100 dollar bills on a burning offering, the other screen shows Iranian women lighting candles. A strobe of light bouncing off a polished tombstone with arabic script faces a puddle in a tropical setting, reflecting clouds and sky between inverted palm trees. IM Heung-soon’s Reincarnation takes these lesser known histories and presents them in lyrical structures, showing the intense connection between people and place, in the act of coping with the enduring legacies of conflicts without resolution.


Mickalene Thomas, “Untitled” 2015

Mickalene Thomas, “Untitled” 2015

Posted by on Aug 12, 2015 in Patricia Silva | No Comments

Mickalene Thomas, Untitled, 2015.
Installation at the Queens Museum, on view until March 31, 2016


This past June, the Queens Museum premiered a new installation by Mickalene Thomas. Painter, photographer, and video artist, Thomas is hyperprolific across media; expertly adapting each medium into the sense of beauty and complexity Thomas works from. Museum goers might recall seeing a mural installed outside of MoMA’s restaurant, and maybe even the 2012 piece at Barclay’s Center.  New York City’s grid system is a prominent form in Untitled, 2015, also echoing the structure of the 1964 World’s Fair globe, also on  museum grounds and easily glimpsed while viewing Untitled.

Inspired by the New York City panorama at the Museum, Thomas culled from a studio archive of “natural imagery from the five boroughs, [advancing] my investigation of collage’s potential to represent specific locations and communities.” Communities are central to the greater identity of the borough: at least 160 languages are spoken in Queens, some of them extinct in their place of origin. In addressing the unique and exquisite collages of human diversity, Thomas reframed the space that brings people together, or at least where inter-cultural encounters first happen: out of doors, in a public setting.


Mickalene Thomas, Hudson River On My Mind, 2009.


The public world and its charged perceptions aren’t new themes for Thomas. Reclaiming traditions is an important process, especially from the relationships and tensions between painting and photography. In photographs, landscapes have been an extension of  the subject’s personae, but in works without a figurative presence Thomas reshapes angles and modulates the spatial experience directing the eyes to all the movements and textures convincing the eyes with their impeccable beauty. Hudson River On My Mind has its own form (of wind? of water? of watching fauna sway by the river?)  just as Monet’s Kitchen shows a play with linearity that, instead of flattening space, gives a feeling of 3 dimensionality.


Mickalene Thomas, Monet’s Kitchen, 2014


Mickalene Thomas, Untitled, 2015.
Detail view: installation at Queens Museum, on view until March, 2016


The photographs composing the mural show a natural world uncrowded and overpopulated—patches of calm within the urban framework. In a very open manner, Thomas activates the details of public spaces where festivals happen; where people meet and picnic; play sports; or just enjoy the sun. Thomas shows us a grid where the positive and negative space, although far from interchangeable, are in constant play with each other. Untitled, 2015 inverts the cityscape, highlighting the predictability of well-cut paths, and frames our upward glances at wide skies, glances at the park. Living in such a compressed environment that already feels like a collage, Thomas renders elements of the five boroughs with an understated attention to the spaces between crowds, the spaces  enabling movement of a different kind—connection between communities.


Summer Seeing: 10 Must-See Photos in August

Summer Seeing: 10 Must-See Photos in August

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Patricia Silva | No Comments

As mentioned in the first installment of this summer series, I am joining Baxter St at CCNY to present a monthly selection of not-to-be missed photographs in New York City.

This month’s photographs are showing in the Bowery, Chelsea, the Upper East Side, and in two shows that can be seen on the same day: one in Staten Island and another near the Staten Island ferry at Bowling Green. Some works are in shows closing by the end of this week, do not wait an extra minute to view them in person.
Enjoy the second of three installments this summer!



Willa Nasatir, Green #1, 2015. Courtesy Company Gallery.
Currently showing in the “Close to the Skin” group show at Company Gallery.
Closes August 8

One of the most beguiling works on view this summer.



Benny Merris, An Other Another 76, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist and Murray Guy New York.
Currently showing in the group show “The Secret Life” at Murray Guy.
Closes August 7

Merris has two works of gorgeous colour on view at the ever tasteful Murray Guy, but this one humorously and bluntly interjects photographic space with the gesture of painting.



Alice Austen, The Grounds at Clear Comfort, ca.1900s.
Currently showing in the show “Becoming Clear Comfort: History of a Landmark” at the Alice Austen House.
Closes August 30

Clear Comfort, the home where photography pioneer Alice Austen lived for 78 years contains an exquisite archive of early street photography, unique New York photographs, and of course, Austen’s social circle. In a show celebrating the 30th anniversary of Austen’s private home becoming a public museum, this photograph shows the grounds of Clear Comfort relatively unchanged, the expansive and remote characteristics Austen valued in Clear Comfort. Renwick, the well-known New York architect, was responsible for one of its additions. An affluent woman breaking gender roles at the turn of the century, Austen would have passed away penniless in a shelter had it not been for the rediscovery of her work.



Abelardo Morell, Upright Camera Obscura: The Piazzetta San Marco Looking Southeast in Office, Venice, 2007
Currently in the summer group show at Edwynn Houk.
Closes August 14

It may seem ineffectual to look at photographs taken within a camera obscura when the joy of the camera obscura is in rendering photography as a full-body experience. In looking at photographs such as these, in a flattened format, we face the the other optical qualities that in real-time our eyes can’t keep up with, or detect.


Glenn O’Brien, TV Party. Video Installation
Currently in “The Last Party” at WhiteBox.
Closing August 23

A fantastic archive of the Lower East Side’s creative scene from the late 70s to the 90s, “The Last Party” is an oasis of rebellion and individuality in an otherwise and regretfully gentrified neighborhood. Glenn O’Brien’s public access video is one of the many gems of the show, but important to review and enjoy its charisma and spontaneity in an era of visual quickies.


Leslie Hewitt, Untitled (Geographic Delay), 2009. Image courtesy Yancey Richardson.
Currently showing in the group show “A Room of One’s Own” at Yancey Richardson.
Closes August 21

Taking its cue from the unset energy that artists’ studios contain, Hewitt’s arrangement plays with media histories as a subject for arrangement.



Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Self-Portrait Study with Two Figures (1506), 2015.
Currently showing in the group show “A Room of One’s Own” at Yancey Richardson.
Closes August 21

Working with the “studio portrait as a site of exchange,” Sepuya’s photograph is a dynamic take on the accumulation of angles that form a self.



Meryl McMaster, Meryl 3, 2010.
Currently showing at The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
Closing December 11, 2015

Why wait until the last possible day? Close to the Staten Island ferry, this is the perfect show to see after spending a good portion of the day at the Alice Austen House. What Countess Castiglioni did with the idea of the frame in photography, McMaster revisits with an approach that is all construction and modular.


Ladislav Postupa_HowardGreenberg

Ladislav Postupa, Untitled, 1968.
Currently showing in the “Land Lines” group show at Howard Greenberg.
Closes September 4

From the little that I know and have seen of this photographer’s work over the years, this photograph is unusual for Postupa because of its stark composition and blunt lack of pathos. And yet, for the time in which it was taken, and in the context of photography, I find it just riveting that it references, either consciously or unconsciously, the mechanism of portable bellows, and relationships of distance and weight in the tools of photography.


Stephen Somerstein, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Looks out at crowd in Montgomery, 1965.
Currently showing in “Freedom Journey 1965: Photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March by Stephen Somerstein” at the New York Historical Society Museum.
Closes October 25

Days away from the one year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, we know that 683 individuals have been killed by police in the first 7 months of 2015. Discussing and evaluating the varying levels of embedded racism has always been relevant, and now more than ever. Despite video evidence to the contrary, Brown’s actions remain described as robbery (rather than shoplifting). Trayvon Martin’s death led to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement, Eric Garner magnified the importance and risks of citizen media, and social justice organizers honoring Michael Brown didn’t take either of those social tools for granted. Citizen-driven still images and smartphone-generated videos have played a crucial role in the discussion of each of these cases. Somerstein’s photograph was made with the same urgency and similar level of access in a time of critical upheaval—one of many points of heritage for the digital media shaping today’s dialogue on racial and social disparity.




Alice Austen House: 2 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10305
The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian: Broadway, New York, NY 10274
WhiteBox: 329 Broome St #1, New York, NY 10002
Company Gallery: 88 Eldridge Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10002
Murray Guy: 453 W 17th St # 3SW, New York, NY 10011
Yancey Richardson: 525 W 22nd St, New York, NY 10011
Edwynn Houk: 745 5th Ave #407, New York, NY 10151
Howard Greenberg: 41 E 57th St Suite 1406, New York, NY 10022
New York Historical Society Museum: 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024


Wolfgang Tillmans’ Book for Architects

Wolfgang Tillmans’ Book for Architects

Ten years, 37 countries in five continents, 450 pictures. Shown for the first time since its premiere at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, Tillmans’ Book for Architects shows us the patterns of homogeneity in contemporary global architecture. Free from the discourse of individual significance, photographs of each building play off each other, making rhythm out of repetition.

The 450 photographs are shown in a two-channel 4K video projection, onto perpendicular walls, with a bench for seating. Tillmans has installed Book for Architects in a manner that places the viewer in the fold of a social experience. Although we now walk around with digital tablets, or smartphones,  containing our reading material, books were initially mobile: tablets with wax that people scribbled and tallied on. Because of their natural stickiness, papyrus leaves became the precedent form for the printed book as we know it today. Book for Architects gives us the book form we know so well but installed to be experienced large scale and not handheld, as a private act of consumption. The relaxed informal setting can be used to sit, lie down, recline while photographs flip through their order.




Where as the photographic slideshows has one coordinate for fidelity—the image—Book for Architects as an installation has a different priority: that of space, edges, and the shapes that cut through the expanse of skylines. The cinema traditionally also relies a single coordinate for final presentation: the flat horizontal surface onto which the image is delivered. With Book for Architects, Tillmans takes two perpendicular walls and changes the scale of the book experience, making it social and public: themes present in each photograph and often contested in architecture.  Tillmans places viewers in the very middle of that conversation, using space and scale to show us the commodified structure of many spaces, and many scales.



All images: Wolfgang Tillmans, Book for Architects, 2014. Two channel video installation. Book for Architects installed as part of the 14th International Architecture Biennale: Elements of Architecture at the Central Pavilion, Giardini, Venice, 2014. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York, Maureen Paley, London, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris, Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin.


Wolfgang Tillmans, Book for Architects
Metropolitan Museum of Art
January 26–November 1, 2015

Summer Seeing: 10 Must-See Photos in July

Summer Seeing: 10 Must-See Photos in July

This summer I am joining Baxter St at CCNY to present a monthly list of not-to-be missed photographs in New York City. That’s right: photographs, not shows. As photography continues reaching across social, aesthetic, and political arenas,  it’s increasingly possible (and most enjoyable!) to encounter disarmingly excellent photographs in situations having nothing to do with photography as a theme. Experiencing a photograph next to a painting, an audacious distant cousin (such as a heliograph), a sculpture, or even within much-debated sets of social obligation (journalism)—each of these scenarios expands the conversation around how photography functions in specific contexts, both inside and outside gallery spaces.

This month’s list features photographs currently on view until the end of the month in the Bowery, Soho, Chelsea, the upper east side, and two significant shows in the Bronx within close distance of each other.

Enjoy the first of three installments this summer!


Jeff Whetstone, Banff Sun Spot, 2015. Pigment print.
Currently showing in the group show “Photography Sees the Surface” at Higher Pictures Gallery.
Closing August 7


Linda Connor, August 16 1895, 1996. Gold toned printing out paper from original glass plate negative.
Currently showing in the group show “Photography Sees the Surface” at Higher Pictures Gallery.
Closing August 7

Also of interest in this show is a beautiful 1899 heliogravure of the moon’s surface, by Loewy and Puiseux.


Sarah Sieradzki, Untitled (Arrangement #08), 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Jackie Klempay.
Currently showing in “Space and Matter” at Sperone Westwater.
Closing July 31

A young emerging artist living in Brooklyn, Sieradzki’s photograph is too delightful to avoid, try and peel yourself away.


Burk Uzzle, Dead Bird in Mirror, Florida, ca. 1975. Vintage gelatin silver, printed ca. 1975. Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York.
Currently shown in “Burk Uzzle: American Puzzles” at Steven Kasher Gallery.
Closing July 31

Uzzle’s solo show is filled with the found geometries and blunt spatial engagements that street photography renders so well.


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Maximo Colon, Untitled, c. 1970. Digital print.

Currently showing in the group show “¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York” at Bronx Museum of the Arts, one of three Bronx venues focusing on different aspects of the movement’s history.
Closing October 15, 2015

Although this exhibition is up until October of this year, you should see it immediately, and make time to see the rotating films. “The Young Lords had a defining influence on social activism, art, and identity politics, but the lasting significance of their achievements has rarely been examined,” said The Bronx Museum’s Executive Director Holly Block.


Giovanni Troilo, Gharleroi, Belgium, 2014.

Currently showing in “Altered Images: 150 Years of Posed and Manipulated Documentary Photography” at the Bronx Documentary Center.
Closing August 2

Part of a series titled “The Dark Heart of Europe” this staged image of a couple having car sex (the photographer’s cousin and his girlfriend) won the 2015 World Press Photo Prize. Like several other images in this exhibition, the WPP rescinded the award. Shown along side a larger context of image manipulation in contexts of journalism—from Roger Fenton’s Civil War photographs, to media outlets misrepresenting the Baltimore uprisings earlier this year by using a 2014 image taken in Venezuela—this show charts the of nuanced fields of responsibility and fallibility present in, and inseparable from, the history of journalistic practice.


Nobuyoshi Araki, Untitled, (Eros Diary, 2015.
Currently in “Eros Diary” at Anton Kern.
Closing August 7

A collection of 77 new black and white photographs by Nobuyoshi Araki: a diaristic engagement with the twists and turns of emotion while playing with time and time stamps.



Derek DeWitt, Stella Rose Saint Clair, 2013.

Currently showing in the group show “Interface: Queer Artists Forming Communities Through Social Media” at the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.
Closes August 2

In an amazing show of well-selected and intellectually rigorous works, DeWitt’s print of a polaroid is a refreshing surge of photography’s ability to arrest the eye, through high glamour and an economy of means. A wonderful juxtaposition with the selections at Higher Pictures right now: photographs made to highlight photography’s ability to convey surfaces. DeWitt’s image is seemingly devoid of texture, but the nuances of emulsion are exceptionally present, a red-lipped whiplash pushing and pulling at the subtle qualities of image reproduction.


Toshio Shibata, Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, 2006.

Currently in the group show “Land and Sea” at Danese Corey.
Closing July 31

A stunning image made with no technical gimmick, just pure eye (much like DeWitt’s approach too).



Sperone Westwater: 257 Bowery, New York, NY 10002
Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
: 26 Wooster St, New York, NY 10013
Anton Kern: 532 W 20th St, New York, NY 10011
Danese Corey: 511 W 22nd St, New York, NY 10011
Steven Kasher: 515 W 26th St, New York, NY 10001
Higher Pictures: 980 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10075
Bronx Museum of the Arts: 1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10456
Bronx Documentary Center: 614 Courtlandt Ave, Bronx, NY 10451