Lisa Kereszi

Inmate with towel by Melinda Hunt

Like many other photographers, I first became aware of the existence of Hart Island via the 1998 Scalo book of Joel Sternfeld’s photographs and Melinda Hunt’s collage pieces in the book, Hart Island. It is one of the off-limits places in NYC, a bit like Governors Island once was, but even moreso. Located near City Island offshore of the Bronx, Hart Island is only about 100 acres, and has lived a few different lives. It was purchased from Native Americans in 1654, and since then has hosted a game preserve, an amusement park, a workhouse, a hospital, prisons, a Civil War internment camp for Confederate prisoners, a reformatory and a Nike missile base. It currently is home to ruins of a couple of these previous uses, plus the city’s Potter’s Field, which contains the remains of 850,000 people. Burials are in mass graves, but with a lot and number system to locate the dead who might later be claimed by family.

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27th September - 3rd October 2010

The Gallery Soho, 125 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0EW

Private View: Monday 27th September, 6pm till 8.30pm

 

The fine line between sculpture as an object and as a form of socio-historical interpretation is explored by Liane Lang in her new exhibition Monumental Misconceptions. 

 

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" -- And Daniel Boone Comes to Life on the Underwood Portable" (1923)

It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas collect the paintings of Norman Rockwell, but who knew? A current show at the Smithsonian highlights their holdings. (For the record, Spielberg is winning, with 50 pieces to Lucas’ mere 30.) The painting reproduced with this post was commissioned in 1923 as an Underwood Typewriter ad. It was Spielberg's very first Rockwell purchase. He said in the NY Times, “I hung the painting over my desk... It was my deblocker. Whenever I hit a wall or couldn’t figure out where a story was going, I just looked up at that painting.” It all makes sense – the three of them and their love for drama and Americana and story-telling. Spielberg was quoted as saying, “He was always on my mind because I had a great deal of respect for how he could tell stories in a single frozen image.

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Console courtesy Peter Mauney Collection

I first met Pete Mauney when I started taking photography at Bard College in the early Nineties. Pete was one of the older kids, been around the darkroom for a couple years; he had long hair in a ponytail and shot 8x10. He owned an old house in the nearby cool, little village,  and knew where all the best photo spots were, like the old cement factory and the quarry. We looked up to Pete. He also had one of the best collections anyone had ever seen, the things displayed all over his house. (Come to think of it, a bit like how my house is now…) He collected photography books and quirky old pictures. He scoured flea markets and junk shops for discarded religious items and outdated medical devices, and even placed one of the the more rugged of the latter (a dental school practice head) on the front porch to scare off the bad neighborhood kids.

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David Kirby, copyright Therese Frare

A familiar image popped up via Huffington Post today. It was a link to a LIFE Magazine page about the famous photograph of a dying, Christ-like AIDS patient and activist,  David Kirby, in his last moments, being desperately comforted by family and friends. It ran famously in a Benetton ad, and was instrumental in spreading the word about the crisis. The picture was made by a then-grad journalism student, Therese Frare, who said, "I asked David if he minded me taking pictures, and he said, 'That's fine, as long as it's not for personal profit.' To this day I don't take any money for the picture. But David was an activist, and he wanted to get the word out there about how devastating AIDS was to families and communities. Honestly, I think he was a lot more in tune with how important the photos might become." Frare pauses, and laughs.

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copyright_lisa_kereszi_gemini_sunset

Two summer group photography shows open this coming Thursday in NYC:

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Summerland, copyright Benjamin Donaldson

Benjamin Donaldson is one of the artists in a previously-posted show, HOUSED. His picture in the exhibition, of a trailer loaded up with wood stoves, randomly parked on a Hampton, New Hampshire lawn, fits in with his general oddball take on the world we inhabit. It is from a series entitled Terrain, sort of a catalog of the left, lost and discarded in urban and suburban locales. He has work from other projects online, though, that not only show that sense of humor, but also betray a darker sensibility, dealing with themes like death and loss, faith and reason, shock and awe, and daydreaming versus reality.

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Housed invite

Next weekend, make the trip out to Staten Island to visit the Alice Austen House, a waterfront old home-turned museum on a park overlooking the NY Wayerway and across to Brooklyn. Alice Austen was an early American female photographer, and the home was saved by preservationists: Clear Comfort (a.k.a. The Alice Austen House) was built in  1690. In 1844 it was purchased by John Haggerty Austen, Alice's grandfather. She moved there as  a young girl in the late 1860's with her mother, Alice Cornell Austen, after the two were abandoned by Alice's father. She  went on to spend most of her life there, until financial problems  and illness forced her to move in 1945. In her absence, the  house fell into disrepair until a group of concerned  citizens  saved it from demolition in the 1960's. The house successfully  gained status as a historic landmark, and was restored in  the mid 1980's.

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wound photo

Former forensic photographer and current artist and gallery preparator, Luke Turner, (who I have had the good fortune to work with) is giving a lecture on July 13th, and will present images from the history of forensic photography, slides from cases that he has photographed, and documentation of modern and contemporary art works that engage the viewer in the reconstruction process. Some relevant concepts explored by artists are crime scene reconstruction in Pierre Huyghe’s “Third Memory”, entropy in the work of Robert Smithson, accumulation in Barry LeVa’s pieces, the logic of sensation in the painting of Francis Bacon, something about that guy that had himself shot in a gallery, and many more. He will also discuss the curatorial work of Ralph Rugoff, and Luc Sante who have both made important connections between art and the forensic image.

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Robin Williams One Hour Photo Poster

My colleague, Sarah Stolfa, opened a center for photography in Philadelphia, and hosts classes, workshops, screenings, exhibitions, as well as a digital darkoom for rent. This Summer, they have lots of things planned, including workshops in digital basics and also RAW file management, a screening of the creepy Robin Williams' film One Hour Photo, and a potluck and slideshow event: Slideluck Potshow, a New York City-based, non-profit arts organization that provides an opportunity for artists and arts-appreciators to gather around food, friends, and artwork for an unforgettable night. This event, which began in a Seattle backyard ten years ago and regularly draws crowds of a thousand people in NYC, is finally coming to the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center.

 

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