About the Contributors #4

July 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

Our first monograph New York, with poems by Walt Whitman. We followed this classic with another, William Blake’s Songs of Experience & Songs of Innocence. And later on the interest in Blake continued with The Prophecies of William Blake, wonderfully paired with Mitch Dobrowner’s storms.


Broadway

BY WALT WHITMAN

WHAT hurrying human tides, or day or night!
What passions, winnings, losses, ardors, swim thy waters!
What whirls of evil, bliss and sorrow, stem thee!
What curious questioning glances-glints of love!
Leer, envy, scorn, contempt, hope, aspiration!
Thou portal-thou arena-thou of the myriad long-drawn lines and groups!
(Could but thy flagstones, curbs, faÇades, tell their inimitable tales;
Thy windows rich, and huge hotels-thy side-walks wide;)
Thou of the endless sliding, mincing, shuffling feet!
Thou, like the parti-colored world itself-like infinite, teeming, mocking life!
Thou visor’d, vast, unspeakable show and lesson!

Metzner6

From the Introduction for
Songs of Innocence and Experience  
BY JOHN WOOD

The Songs of Innocence and of Experience are the most well-known works of William Blake, the greatest mystical writer in the English language. They were his only poems that had even a limited popularity in his lifetime because they were far more accessible than his “prophetic books,” several of which are epic, both in length and in the complexities of his unusual narratives. The majority of the individual Songs are, indeed, quite accessible. Many of them, especially in Innocence, are straightforward, simple even; however, Blake’s notions of innocence and experience are anything but simple…

There was certainly no other artist in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries like William Blake, and there has been no other artist in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries like Joel-Peter Witkin, whose prophetic claims are similar to Blake’s. “Christ is my life,” he has written. “I photograph the living and the dead. My work is a prayer. Photographing makes me the possessor of sanctified and secret wisdom. And for that, I will be judged, not by man-but by God.” Both Blake and Witkin are unique to their own times, yet there is a similarity within their visions because sacred knowledge such as theirs can only come from an intimate dialogue with the boundless, non-corporeal part of the soul.

IncExpTrade

The Little Boy Lost
BY WILLIAM BLAKE

Father, father, where are you going
O do not walk so fast.
Speak, father, speak to your little boy
Or else I shall be lost,

The night was dark no father was there
The child was wet with dew.
The mire was deep, & the child did weep
And away the vapour flew.
The Little Boy Found

The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
Led by the wand’ring light,
Began to cry, but God ever nigh,
Appeared like his father in white.

He kissed the child & by the hand led
And to his mother brought,
Who in sorrow pale, thro’ the lonely dale
Her little boy weeping sought.

MitchDobrowner_withCloseup

from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
BY WILLIAM BLAKE

Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burden’d air;
Hungry clouds swag on the deep.

Once meek, and in a perilous path,
The just man kept his course along
The vale of death.
Roses are planted where thorns grow,
And on the barren heath
Sing the honey bees.

Then the perilous path was planted:
And a river and a spring
On every cliff and tomb:
And on the bleached bones
Red clay brought forth.

Till the villain left the paths of ease,
To walk in perilous paths, and drive
The just man into barren climes.

Now the sneaking serpent walks
In mild humility,
And the just man rages in the wilds
Where lions roam.

Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burden’d air;
Hungry clouds swag on the deep.

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About the Contributors #3

July 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

Highlights from Volumes 5 and 6 of The Journal of Contemporary Photography. Volumes 1, 2, 5, and 6 represent the complete anthology set which is available online here.

Bounding
BY PAUL ZIMMER

Macku circles himself
explodes his own head
blowing himself into
a dozen supplications

Macku grapples with Macku
tears his own face away
hurling himself against
his cornered shadow
medieval and naked
bounding for the Lord

Michal-Macku

Michal Macku from Volume 5

THE AURA OF RELIC:
Stephen Berkman and John Metoyer
BY PAUL LAROSA

The vanguard of photography is sometimes rooted in the past. A growing number of contemporary photographers have turned to early processes in recent years: calotype, tintype, cyanotype, daguerreotype. What these “types” represent, besides formal challenge and an opportunity to extend one’s technical mastery, is essentially a lure of experimentation within tradition, as well as a sense of homage and respect for the artform. And one suspects even more than the technical is at play: perhaps a longing for antiquated forms that exist outside the digital domain, and for a spirit of individualism – perhaps even a kind of sentimentalism, a nostalgic yearning for a simplicity of approach harmonized with a simplicity of form: the exquisite floral study, the painterly still life, the academic nude. For some the results are wan and predictable, too mimetic and derivative, not elevating the possibilities of the form; they succeed only as authentic flatteries, flirtations with the archaic. Those who overcome imitation seem to follow Rimbaud’s edict that “one must be absolutely modern,” by working within the form as well as with it, returning not only to recreate but to re-embark. Within that group we find the distinctive work of Stephen Berkman and John Metoyer…

Stephen Berkman and John Metoyer from Volume 5

Stephen Berkman and John Metoyer from Volume 5

Carol Munder’s Voiceless Tales
BY ANNIE DILLARD

“I look for the figure,” Carol Munder says.
“I look for images to represent mankind.”

Here they most existentially are: two assemblages of small Etruscan bronzes, one other not Etruscan, and two big, damaged male and female Greeks.

THE GREEKS
The feet of Dionysos have come a long way. They are paralyzed nubs of the human journey. What a pity the journey counts so much more than the humans. The photograph is a tour de force of middle tones.

The bashed woman whose fingers curve is what you might call a knockout, with or without her story. The life-sized hollow bronze sculpture depicts Julia Manaeo, an upper-class woman of Alexandria. The sculptor is unknown. After Julia Manaeo died, a ruler, for reasons now lost, declared her “damned in death.” Someone obligingly smashed the sculpture’s face. Those elegant fingers could not fend off the blow. The sculpture’s beauty remains, and perhaps deepens, alongside her disfigurement. Neither rage nor damnation disrupts her calm.

Carol Munder_Portrait of Manaeo

Carol Munder from Volume 6

The Art of Don Hong-Oai
BY FANG JING PEI

Connoisseurship in Chinese art is as complex a subject as the understanding of Chinese art in and of itself, the most complex of all, in my estimation, being that of Chinese painting. To the Westerner much of Chinese art is defined by the limiting but unsubstantiated words… beautiful, watercolor, repetitious, old master, Ming, Song, etc. Not to fault the use of such terms and certainly not to fault the lack of understanding of Chinese art by Westerners, it is only within the past half century that Chinese art has been truly studied with attempts at understanding its meaning, style and, yes, its connoisseurship. There are those who would argue that this is not true and that Chinese art was collected and appreciated in the West since the eighteenth Century; however, one need only look at the appreciation of Chinese paintings during the past fifty years by the major museums to see the change in its appreciation, both monetarily and substantive quality not to mention the highly influential auction market. But even today, a master painting by a Western artist of, for example, the sixteenth Century would command a much higher value than a master Ming artist of the same period. There are those who would counter that Chinese paintings are unappreciated in the West because of “forgeries,” copies and the fact that the now famous deceased artist Zhang Daqian deliberately reproduced paintings signing the signatures of the old masters only to foist them upon Western museums and collectors thereby, in part, destroying the market for such works in the West. While there is some truth to all these statements, an underlying truth also is present in the fact that Chinese paintings remain misunderstood by many in the West. The similarities between Western and Eastern art have roots which are distinctly different. These are but a few . . .

Don-Hong-Oai from Volume 6

Don-Hong-Oai from Volume 6

Contributors in Volume 5:
Ann Beattie, John Bennette, Neil Connelly, Morri Creech, Paul Larosa, Susan Ludvigson, Gerard Melanga, Raul Peschiera, Lance Speer, John Wood, and Paul Zimmer.

Contributors in Volume 6:
Edward Albee, Ann Beattie, Pierre Borhan, Robert Olen Butler, Morri Creech, Annie Dillard, Fang Jing Pei, Lee Fontanella, Brad Goins, Paul Larosa, Susan Ludvigson, John Metoyer, Ann Patchett, Lance Speer, John Stauffer, Daniel Westover, Edmund White, Dafydd Wood,  and John Wood.

Volumes 5 and 6 Trade Editions

Volumes 5 and 6 Trade Editions

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