Journal 20160509 Ballen in the Sat Paper - Saturday Paper

Richard Cooke has run a solid piece in the Saturday Paper on the photographer Roger Ballen. I grabbed the paper yesterday when waiting in Melbourne for another connection.

I’ve become a bit of a sucker for the SatP… the longer form and talented writers… and hey if people want to whinge about its particular political preference then have at it.

Sooooo anyhooo there’s a whole two pages dedicated to Ballen… with two reasonably tight portraits of him… WHY NOT USE THAT LEFT PAGE TO REPRODUCE ONE OF HIS PHOTOGRAPHS? Why use his endeavours, his output, his work, the thing that is the reason for the article, the kind of work that lives so so well on the printed page (unlike many art forms) as a blurry background for his face?

Journal 20160428 interpretation - image1

Prison Photography ( has for a long time been a fantastic place for digging into pictures; a place to consider approach, use, intent and engagement… advocacy and document.

A few months back they pointed to a fascinating interpretation project that Professor Nigel Poor has been working on with inmates in San Quentin.

The little elves here at KisimP can’t give enough encouragement for you to get on over and have a little look, read and further explore. It points out further and the rabbit hole sitting there ready to accept your fall is wonderfully confusing and marvellous.

Check it here!

Journal 20160428 interpretation - image2

(c) Justyna Mielnikiewicz

Sara Terry sent around the email this week announcing the winner and finalists of the 2015 Aftermath Project Grant.

So a huge congratulations goes to Justyna Mielnikiewicz for her win – fantastic – hope it brings more pictures, more time, more effort!

The Aftermath Project is one I watch each year… it’s always interesting to see what goes through.

The website won’t be updated till early in 2015 (I don’t know why they do that…)… so you can roll over there for the archive or check out Mielnikiewicz’s pictures on her own www.

the murder of James Foley

Travis Mushett made me paaaauuuussssse when I came across Thirteen Ways of (Not) Looking at a Crime Scene… so of course I place a little pointer here on KP (my usual little effort) out to the thing… to the little glint that made me shade my eyes and go closer to look.

From his piece:


Remember the Iraq War? Remember the pictures of dead soldiers? The blood and flesh and busted bone? The cost of war? Me neither. We never looked. A survey conducted at the height of the war showed “that over a six-month period, no images of dead American troops appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Time or Newsweek.” When you’re trying to end a war, it’s better to wield a blunt instrument than show up empty handed.


Show a severed limb. Show a woman’s nipple. Show the word “shit.” A gang of Helen Lovejoys will rise up, gnashing teeth and barking to the heavens: “Won’t somebody please think of the children?!” They demand that we conduct discussions of the adult world’s adult problems in terms that won’t frighten a toddler. Baby might look, so no one can look.


Images are better at capturing specific instances than complex systems and shifting climates. After decades of global warming activism, we’re still recycling the same clips of polar bears on ice drifts. 400,000 people take to the streets of Manhattan, and it’s powerful, but the images are interchangeable with any other big protest march. The nation barely looks. We’ve seen this one before. The Sunday talk shows talk about other things. Everyone is too busy opining on videos of women beaten, on pictures of women without clothes, on how best to annihilate the purveyors of desert snuff films.


Read it here


(c) Nicholas Nixon

The two or three clowns who read this pokey blog will know that I’m a bit of a fanboy of Nicholas Nixon. His ‘porch pictures’ rock my world… and of course the cities from up high… the sisters… family… it goes on and on.

One of his prints hanging in the MoMA knocked me over years ago when I skipped through the galleries.

So it is exciting that the entire ‘Brown Sisters’ series is up on the NYT website to enjoy. To look at a project that has been running for forty (40!) years. Something that is ‘live’… that continues… that is shown as it evolves (to see the thing hung now as opposed to fifteen years ago is an entirely different proposition).

Check it here: Nixon in the New York Times


(c) Tyler Hicks

An entry over on the duckrabbit blog caught my eye the other day and I’ve returned to it a few times. Given some of the questionable flapping about over Tyler Hick’s coverage in Gaza recently it comes as an interesting little aside.

The piece wanders about (hell… brainwaves?) but on the whole I find some concepts within it quite fascinating. The sense of ‘objectivity’… not particularly… but the claim of witness and its danger of proof through technological fingerprint… scary, possibly overblown, interesting to mull over.

(c) Gilad Lotan

““Where does all this leave us? Well my ‘big stick’ example still holds I think, but today its digital, and specifically ‘metadata’. In a mess of confused and confusing sentiment, some of it fact, some fiction, much of it used as propaganda of one sort or another, metadata has the potential to provide a very basic yardstick to underline the “I was there” “It was this time” “I saw this”, and perhaps also as represented in the Lotan ‘image’ above “This is where my sympathy lies”.

And therein may lie a huge problem.”

Find the entry here

Jimmy Savile

Andrew O’Hagan’s piece Light Entertainment is disturbing in its content and brilliant in its clarity.

Not a quick page turner to fill in the time on the bus… more something to sit quietly with and read through without interruption.

You can find it here at the London Review of Books

(c) Adam Ferguson

Adam Ferguson (the young Aussie photog) was lucky… very lucky. So absurdly lucky.

In all the lunacy that’s engulfing parts of Iraq… the chopper that he was riding in flopped into the dirt… the pilot was killed along with a few others injured (including Ferguson’s colleague). Not a lot holds those whirlybirds in the air.


“But now that I’ve escorted two e-partners to the edge of the grave, I’m wary of this brave new world of digital publishers and readers.”

Writer Tony Horwitz has written an interesting piece in the NYT about an online publishing deal that went pear shaped as two players in the digital sphere either went belly up or ‘restructured’ and left him holding the can for a while… a lucky outcome but one that has left him bruised.

This is not a tale of whinging-dude-left-behind… he made the leap and got burned all the same…

It’s a good read… not a prompt for anyone to turn their back on the digi opportunities…

Read it here

(c) Terry Richardson

This is the stink that continues to waft in… and really each ‘controversy’ adds little to the conversation and issue at hand. That is not to diminish the seriousness of the claims – for they are frightening in their number and details… but rather to point to the stagnant, stalled position the truck seems to be jammed in…

And really there doesn’t seem to be a resolution in sight… a whole heap of back-and-forth…

Richardson has been accused of some pretty serious and super-questionable conduct by a number of women over a number of years…

He has also been praised and supported and commissioned by a large number of incredibly influential editors, brands and celebrities…

Richardson has publicly denied the claims against him (and that must be acknowledged)…

And still we’re at a point where (with ongoing questions) there’s really no further meat in the sandwich…

The NY Magazine just recently put him on the cover and asked the binary question “Artist or Predator” (hmmmmmm… why “or”?)… and there are questions regarding the loose qualifying info regarding certain interviewed parties within it (the young lady above being one of them…)… but I disagree with many commentators who are labelling it a puff piece because it didn’t go for the jugular… that’s unfair and off at the edge of preparing the bonfire… there has been no test of much of this yet (other than some quiet settlements for past claims being made). The question remains if there ever will be…(?)…

So we ain’t rehashing it all here at KP… we’re not exhaustively and breathlessly listing the claims and counter claims… an quick www search will spew up enough reading to keep you going for many many hours… we’re just making a nod to claim & counter-claim, consent, power, revisionism, silence, $$$, influence, coercion… and feeling a little lost & bemused because this truly involves hundreds of people (at the very least) who have been involved and even present during the creation of this large body of work over decades… so ‘complicit’ could be a tough word to say, spell or swallow…

Stay tuned for more of the same… though who knows; maybe the truck just might drag itself out of the swamp and roll down the highway (in which direction we don’t quite know yet)…


Just sending my best to all the members of the squad for what will no doubt be a big game tonight…

10:30pm kick-off on Yangon time… that’s super sweet timing!!!!! Almost civilised…

25 Years ago Public Enemy laid this on the Do The Right Thing soundtrack.. and a year later ran it on Fear of a Black Planet… brilliant.

believer mag

Believer and Mike Slack put a great back and forth down for all to read. It examines the reading and ingestion of the photograph, book, sequence and effort.

“We have this lemon tree in our yard in LA, and in the springtime I watch the bees maneuvering from flower to flower, completely in their zone, burrowing in for the nectar, seemingly unaware of anything else. Making pictures can be like that—a biological impulse, a state of heightened attention, with the camera as a proboscis/prosthesis, extracting all these pictures and letting them cross-pollinate over time. I don’t really intellectualize this until later. Not that it shouldn’t be intellectualized, but much of the content of the pictures is chosen and composed almost unconsciously, without intention, and later communicated to a viewer wordlessly. It’s more about the sensation of having thoughts than the specific ideas contained in or attached to the pictures. The structure of a book provides a few clues or suggestions, and a viewer (consciously or not) decodes a syntax, a potential encoded message in, or between, the photographs. Is this like language? A pamphlet about Marcus Schaden’s ambitious new PhotoBookMuseum project describes photobook as “a type of visual Esperanto.” I don’t know if that’s exactly right, but there’s something to it.  Reading photographs may be like reading language, but only up to a point. I would say that cameras, as ubiquitous as they are now, still feel like a futuristic technology, but the impulse to use them is very primitive and ancient—people have been depicting their surroundings for a very long time. Didn’t most alphabets evolve out of simple pictures drawn from everyday life? “

Check it here