Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Society for Photographic Education National Conference: Chicago

 Valuable information learned at this year's conference:

1) The Photobook: A History Volume 3 will be published next year! I am a big fan of volumes 1-2 as envious as they make me of Martin Parr's book collection. Who wouldn't love a publication that prints photographs of opened books like this:

Daido Moriyama, Bye Bye Photography, 1972

2) Speaking of Mr. Parr, he is an endearing lecturer (by far my favorite talk of the conference). He showed his undergraduate school installation of photographs displayed in a living room, discussed Bad Weather at length, and his infatuation with collecting political ephemera, Saddam Hussein watches (he owns 85) and Osama bin Laden paraphernalia. So Long Osama Blood Orange Soda was the biggest oddity. Throughout most of the lecture, I dreamed of where Martin Parr stores all his objects (what does his house look like? how does he organize them? does he have room for more?).

 Martin Parr from Parrworld: Objects and Postcards

He also stressed that he is photographing fictions not realities as he intentionally captured litter at its worst in the image below.

Martin Parr from The Last Resort, 1983-85

I immediately placed Autoportrait on my interlibrary loan list when returning. Ending his lecture standing under a photograph of his head superimposed on a muscle man's body was the perfect conclusion coming from a soft spoken Englishman who excused himself for "having a frog" in the middle of his lecture.


Martin Parr from Autoportrait

3) Garry Winogrand is on everyone's mind since his first retrospective in 25 years opened at SFMOMA. I tend to love the photographers who make/made work vastly different from mine and he is no exception. Cass Fey and Leslie Calmes delivered an informative lecture on his archive at the Center for Creative Photography. His contact sheets are labeled PD if they are posthumously developed. If a print is made from one of those thousands of undeveloped rolls of film he left after he died, it can never be sold or de-accessioned. It exists only in the CCP archives. Small facts about printing work posthumously that I had always wondered about.

Garry Winogrand's Women are Beautiful on view at the Art Institute

4) Why or why wasn't Kate Palmer Albers teaching the history of photography at University of Arizona when I was in graduate school? Her lecture Abundant Images and the Collective Sublime resonated with me on so many levels. She discussed one of my favorite contemporary photography installations:

Erik Kessels, printing every photograph uploaded onto Flickr in a 24 hour period (image via)

Kessels piece, Penelope Umbrico's millions of sunsets, Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe's 100 Setting Suns at the Grand Canyon, and Gerhard Richter's Atlas were her primary examples of artists establishing mass.

Penelope Umbrico, Suns from Sunsets from Flickr, 2006-ongoing

These artists obsessively mark time with photography. She also stressed that the "self-archive is rapidly gaining headway" as a viable form of art. Albers' talk validated my current interests in masses of objects and introduced me to new artists like Hasan Elahi who explore surveillance and tracking in a contemporary way.

5) Richard Misrach's keynote lecture reminded me that I have to watch Spike Lee's follow-up to When the Levees Broke - If God is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise. I've refrained for a few years but after hearing Misrach discuss his latest photographic series, Petrochemical America, the time has come.

Richard Misrach, Untitled, February 14, 2012, 6:19 PM

Misrach is getting closer to making portraits of people as he zooms in on the faces of swimmers. He returned to the same hotel room where he photographed On the Beach (above) with a digital camera and telephoto lens. I don't know how I feel about those and am looking forward to seeing how they are received when he publishes them soon. I am so enamored with the vulnerable human surrounded by the sea (substitute me), I am not sure I want to know their identity.

6) SPE brought so many of my wonderful photo friends to Chicago some of which are pictured below.

 James Luckett, Laurie Blakeslee, and Amelia Morris

Adam Neese in the Empire Room

Mark A. Lee after winning the Richard Misrach raffle photograph

Sneaking an image of a famous photographer...

the back of Jerry Uelsmann's head.

Wishing I had a photograph of...

me talking to Richard Misrach about our meeting in 1996.

7) The biggest surprise I received will be featured in a post next week. I am not opposed to a sneak peek however:

Chris Toalson's A Long Overdue Artist's Book, 2011-2013

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