Firstly I have to admit I haven’t read Proust. I do know a little about the themes (which I suppose makes this is a bit like “How to talk about books you haven’t read“) but his ideas of memory seem to apply somewhat to my feelings towards photography. The photos that resonate for me and draw an emotional, often visceral response and transport me to a place from my memory. However, memory is unreliable and sometimes maybe I am responding to something imagined, a dream or a nightmare.
So yesterday I got out a few books, Laurence Aberhart’s ‘domestic architecture’ and “Contemporary New Zealand Photographers” and also a video about Annie Liebowitz. The South Bank Show episode on Liebowitz was a disappointment as it was made at the height of the celebrity Hollywood portraits, although it did look at the Rolling Stone work and had an interesting interview with Hunter S Thompson. I remember an exhibition of her work at the City Gallery some time ago (1997!) that seemed much broader and her book “Women” is excellent. Also just take a look at this portrait. I personally think it says a lot. There is a good commentary about this photograph here from the Guardian.
Mind you, to me you couldn’t better the Mapplethorpe exhibition at the City Gallery in 1996. I don’t why I like his photographs so much when they are simply a different world. Maybe it appeals to my voyeuristic nature?
So back to the New Zealand photography. Aberhart’s house’s are great and appealed because I also love what I call “wedding cake houses” the Art Deco flat roofed NZ style that features largely in the book. I used to live in a ‘nest’ of them in historical Savage Crescentin Palmerston North. That development is quite amazing in itself. Ernst Plischke was one of the architects.
Anyway that reminded me of a book I have “Images of a House” by Robin Morrison, another NZ photographer that I am fond of. His ‘Sense of Place’ was exactly that for me and many of his photos capture the South Island of my childhood memories.
The slighty sepia toned photos in “Images of a House” capture something I can’t quite put into words. Even though the house is occupied there is a late afternoon, dusty loneliness.
Another photograph that caught my eye recently was this (on trademe!) :
JAMES K. BAXTER HAVING BREAKFAST AT JERUSALEM ON THE WHANGANUI RIVER
This image appeared in the book “James K. Baxter: A Memorial Volume 1926-72” with text by Michael King, Maurice Shadbolt, Tim Shadbolt and others. Its says photographer unknown.
For a more recent view of photography the Contempoarary NZ book was great. Many of the images entered into the dream/nightmare category for me for example Yvonne Todd.
Speaking of Todd, nice to see a partial(?) list of proposals submitted to CNZ for the 2008 Venice Biennale at Over the net. I cannot understand why an official list cannot be made available. Its public money surely? Lots of analogies have been made but you wouldn’t see his kind of thing happening with the major book awards.
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