“Natural Selection” … survival of the digital photograph

February 22nd, 2014

SVA and Calumet challanging the notions of body, cityscapes and the ever changing human condition. This show is a group show of sixteen emerging artist from SVA MPS Digital alumni group of 2013. Currently on view at Calumet Gallery, Located on the second floor 22 West 22 Street, showing through February 20 – 28. Each artist shown here attacks the notions of the ever evolving world we currently live in. My top pics are the following: Hsin Wang, Masha Ermak, Clay Patrick Mc Bride

Hsin Wang  deals with body and the commodities that surround us. Inserting the physical presence of the female body you see the struggle of fashion and identity in each of her prints. Beautifully composed they allow the viewer to approach the image. Yet its content is disturbing. Something alluring yet dark are present and one is left wondering if we are eliminating our own species with over consumption.

Masha Ermak – (Series called “The Strangers”) is the photographer that is on the cover of the invite and I do have to say uses a dark humor and commercial photography to create a serious conversation about society. website  Her usage of food creates in relation to the body creates a great dialogue of desire, want, and pleasure. Yet at the same time the removal of any identifiers such as heads, fingers, and photoshoped skin brings into question body image . The placement of these objects bring into mind surrealist compositions and Freudian practices into a more contemporary dialogue.

Clay Patrick Mc Bride (Series titled Underworld)

There are many, many, many photographers who attack the subject of the underground railroad system. And to tell the truth I never really see anything original. However the way Clay approached this subject was simply … fantastic. Using elements of fantasy and magic he created creatures of the underground world bridging in some cases what was reality and what was not. These large Prints were on some sort of acrylic box making them objects themselves. Personally I don’t think he needed to go that far, seemed a little to “arty” but the images themselves were impressive and evoked dreams, mystery and a world that I wish to find in the hours of 4am……





“Lets get awkward and make pictures about it” Interview with Tommy Kha

January 30th, 2014

When checking out my colleagues web site on the homepage it reads  “Lets get awkward and make pictures about it” and I think that describes Tommy very well ! This Saturday despite the polar vortex weather I went to visit him in his new studio in Dumbo. He was excited to show me his space since he really hasn’t had a “real” studio for a while because he works mostly from his own life experiences. I asked him about his studio practice and he said “Well you know ,like over the winter break I travelled home to Memphis, spent some time there. Mediated. Smoked at the bar, had a drink, and during the day I go out and walk. I take everything in and then figure out what I need to do”.  That’s what is so great about Tommy’s work is that his life … this life of taking things in from everyday existence is filled with complex moments and awkward encounters. Whats so great about Tommy’s work is that his life … this life of taking things in from everyday existence is filled with complex moments and awkward encounters. Tommy went to Memphis Collage of Art  which was more fine art based, and directly got into Yale for his Masters. When asked about how he got into photography, he exclaimed that the “story always changes”. It could have been when his sister asked him to do head shots for her modeling career. Or when his sisters boyfriend had a camera Tommy liked; so he got one too and then realized that he “liked” the guy. Whatever the story is he just liked taking pictures, a lot of bad pictures (which he claims he still does) but he just had to take them. He remembers taking a series of images in which he got all his friends naked, the accomplishment was that they actually didn’t mind him taking the nude pictures with him not so much the pictures themselves. And that’s what I enjoy about Tommy, that fearless way of approaching his subjects, there is no fear of making that “perfect” image its the experience and the nuances that count. He finds that sometimes the best images happen when you are not expecting them. Most of the time he has an idea, sets things up , the model, location, only to find that the best shot was the one that was unexpected.  We talked a lot about editing and sequencing while looking at his various series on his web page and some small images on his studio wall. Each individual image is strong enough to stand on its own yet the way his “gut” tells him to arrange them feels almost like a entering a lavish novel filled with antiheroes and shady bedrooms. Tommy uses appropriating videos as a strategy to talk about Asian male stereo types . Looking at the body and how the media can easily disregard the asian body especially the gay asian body. He addressed the issue of the lack of representation of the LGBT community in the media and how that even when there are represented there is a lack of diversity in race. It’s always white male that is standing in for roles that perhaps could be better represented, and that the characters could be more developed. The best asian representative is the guy from Walking Dead “Glen” who is a male Asian. His character in the show is  treated the same way as all the other characters he shoots a gun and that invalidates the Asian mystique. I asked him about how he felt about Jackie Chan.  Tommy said that “ it doesn’t work either, because it’s still seen more as comedy and although he may be a main character he is still marginalized by humor. He likes to insert himself in the videos and challenge these “roles” that are portrayed. As you can see in “How to Quit Me” 2013 he inserts himself into the movie “Brokeback Mountain”. How to Quit Me In one of his videos Tommy actually shoots a gun. This piece was right after the Sandy hook massacre and obviously him being from the south this was a big conversation in his home town of  Tennessee . “They are really about their gun laws and they want to keep their guns. I wanted to get bullets and they were sold out, so had to borrow some from a friend. It was the first time for me to shoot a gun and it was me just documenting it and what the experience brought to that. Just having this experience with them and hearing them say things that perhaps were not politically correct,just the state of things. Being from the South you have to have a thick skin, they are really open about racism” (quote from interview). Borrowed Bullets Not only does he like to insert himself in videos but Tommy likes to insert centerfolds into his new project that are Photo zines. These are a color copy pictures that are placed together that really aren’t “part of anything”. Re contextualizing the past photographs and a different practice of sequencing. (Please visit website for more info coming soon).His first one is called “Fathers and other Strangers” because we all know we have daddy issues.  He wanted to make sure I knew these were not black and white images because they are COLOR prints of his work. His obsession with color can be seen in each of his pieces. He loves color just in case you didn’t know!! When getting one of these zines he wants to have the centerfold not have to do with anything in the series of the zine, just an amazing disposable insert that can be taken out and placed on your wall. There are a lot of things Tommy is working on but he can’t really say much, because, well….. its a secret. So make sure to check out his website for updates for more info on his work. www.tommykha.com

The Art of the Every Day – Review of Israel Martinez at the MUCA

January 15th, 2014