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Robert Frank

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By JAMES ESTRIN

Sid Kaplan never had the gifts of schmoozing or self-promotion, but his mastery of darkroom technique made him indispensable to generations of well-known photographers. Now, he has a solo show of his own work.

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Damaso Reyes has been following the changes wrought by immigration and the economy in Europe since 2005 for his project "The Europeans." He is going past the daily headlines - and stereotypes - in hopes of achieving a more subtle portrayal. "If everything was about reconfirming what I thought I'd find, why get on a plane?"

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In the digital age, touching the work of established photographic masters can be sensitive business. Recently a Swedish artist named Sanna Dullaway applied her colorizing skills to several historical photographs that included Dorthea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” and Eddie Adams’ harrowing image of an on-the-spot execution of a Vietcong on the streets of Saigon. The debate surrounding these modified versions was whether the interpretation was an improvement that could somehow be more powerful emotionally—due to addition of a color palette and the ability to reach newer generations who disconnect when they see black and white images—or simple vandalism.

The artist Pavel Maria Smejkal in his Fatescapes series took his appropriation of historical images one step further by digitally removing the people from images such as Nick Ut’s photograph of a young Vietnamese girl running from a napalm attack and the aforementioned Adams image. By leaving only the landscapes or streetscapes to play on our subconscious memory of historical places and events, he questions the limitations of a photograph’s accuracy at the representation of history.

Perhaps the most provocative example in terms of potential copyright infringement is when the artist Sherrie Levine re-photographed some of Walker Evans’ famous images from the 1930s Farm Security Administration project and presented them unaltered and with her name (the series was called After Walker Evans). Many viewers were outraged. Her act called into question many issues regarding a photograph’s author, copyright (Legally the FSA photographs are owned by the American public, which financed the project so there is no copyright infringement case that could be brought against Levine) and the portrayal of the poor. To some it was Art, but to others, it amounted to Blasphemy.

After Evans, Robert Frank may well be the most influential photographer the medium has seen. Frank’s book The Americans, published in the United States by Grove Press in 1959, was equally celebrated and reviled for its view of the U.S. and its citizenry. Today there is hardly a contemporary photographer who does not acknowledge that Frank accomplished greatness while photographing America for two years on a Guggenheim Fellowship.

The Americans hasn’t escaped its own touches with appropriation. In his newest bookwork Less Américains, London-based artist Mishka Henner takes his humorous title from the French Edition of Frank’s book Les Américains, published in 1958 by Robert Delpire in Paris. By scanning and applying Photoshop to Frank’s images, Henner has proceeded to remove most of the vital subject matter from all 83 photographs—leaving only small details hovering around the frame like background props on an empty theater stage.

Of course, as the title suggests, Less Américains does away with the “Americans” in Frank’s photographs so all that remains, for example, of the Hoboken City Fathers are a line of hats and some political bunting hanging on a two-by-four. And what has been spared in the most famous of all New Orleans street car picture which so perfectly expressed the implied race hierarchy of Jim Crow in the United States? A few vague, unidentifiable shapes that sit within the frame like mismatched puzzle pieces. To quote Jack Kerouac, who wrote an introduction to the American edition of Frank’s book, “The humour, the sadness, the EVERYTHING-ness and American-ness of these pictures (!)” linger like a ghost in these secondary elements.

Less Américains includes an introduction by the artist Elisabeth Tonnard that takes the form of a concrete poetry version of Kerouac’s prose. Tonnard’s approach was to systematically white-out the individual letters A.M.E.R.I.C.A.I.N.S. from Kerouac’s text, leaving an incomprehensible soup of vowels and consonants. His “…basketa pittykats…” becomes the even more cryptic “…B k t p tty-k t …”

Well, what can we make of Henner’s reworking of this masterpiece? I think Kerouac said it best: “What poem this is, what poems can be written about this book of pictures some day by some young new writer high by candlelight bending over them describing every grey mysterious detail.”

Less Américains was published earlier this year.

Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder of Errata Editions. Visit his blog here.

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Cocksucker Blues is an unreleased documentary film directed by the noted still photographer Robert Frank chronicling The Rolling Stones’ North American tour in 1972 in support of their album Exile on Main St.. The film was shot cinéma vérité, with several cameras available for anyone in the entourage to pick up and start shooting. This allowed the film’s audience to witness backstage parties, drug use (Mick Jagger is seen snorting cocaine backstage), roadie and groupie antics, and the Stones with their defenses down. One scene includes a groupie in a hotel room injecting heroin. The film is under a court order which forbids it from being shown unless the director Robert Frank is physically present. This ruling stems from the conflict that arose when the band, who had commissioned the film, decided that its content was embarrassing and potentially incriminating, and did not want it shown.

http://video.yandex.ru/users/lina-friebus/view/254

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Name- V.D. (Vincent Delbrouck)
Age- 35
Where are you from?- I am from Brussels (Belgium), but I don’t feel rooted here. Maybe I lived somewhere else in a previous life...a tropical place. There, this is my home and my light. I have been living one year in Nepal from 2009-2010. Now, I am back in the old and grey Europe (living in the countryside), but I hope not for long.
Your equipment- I used to work with a Rollei Afm 35 point and shoot film camera and a Polaroid (and sketchbooks, permanent markers, painting, tape,...) and I changed for a Leica Minilux 35mm (and small notebooks). I love film.
Influences and photographers you like- Film directors : Krzysztof Kieślowski, Pedro Almodovar, Michelangelo Antonioni, Kim Ki-duk, Anh Hung Tran,... Writers (I love especially short stories) : Raymond Carver, Charles Bukowski, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, Reinaldo Arenas, Ernest Hemingway, John Fante, Fernando Pessoa, Wendy Guerra, Marguerite Duras, Aimé Césaire, Duong Thu Huong, Junot Diaz... Photographers : (I started with Raymond Depardon, and other Magnum photographers), William Eggleston, Malick Sidibe, Robert Frank (from Mabou period), Wolfgang Tillmans, Juergen Teller, Mark Borthwick, Bertien Van Manen, JH Engström, Arno Nollen, Ed Templeton, G.P. Fieret, Takashi Homma, Araki, Masao Yamamoto, Paul Graham, Boris Mikhailov,...(and other friends photographers) Painters : Peter Doig, Luc Tuymans, Andō Hiroshige,... Jonathan Meese. Wise men : Ajahn Chah, Krishnamurti, Chögyam Trungpa,... Places : Centro Habana, Kathmandu, Lower Mustang, Gokarna, Veracruz,...
Some of the photographers I love today : Juan Carlos Alom, Viviane Sassen, Seba Kurtis, Chris Shaw, André Cépéda,...
A little about you- I am currently working on a new book about experience in Nepal and I am also studying and practicing shiatsu.
vincentdelbrouck.be 

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ALL PHOTOS BY VINCENT DELBROUCK

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Name- Olivia Malone 
Age- 27 
Where are you from?- Los Angeles, CA 
Your equipment- Contax G2, Contax T2, Mamiya 7, Canon 5d. 
Influences and photographers you like- Francesca Woodman, Rieneke Dijkstra, Yelena Yemchuk, Robert Frank, Guy Bourdin, Diane Arbus, Noguchi Rika
A little about you- I like adventures..said to be a travelling spirit, an old soul with a young heart + an observer in awe.
Flickr page
oliviamalone.com/
oliviamalone.wordpress.com/
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ALL PHOTOS BY OLIVIA MALONE

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