Friday, 30 October 2009

Roe Ethridge

I can’t quite work out photographer Roe Ethridge’s work, which I like. He takes some unexpected shots, he’s not always technically precise (he makes no bones about showing pixellated, blurred or re-photographed prints in his gallery shows) but there’s something fascinating, weird and ‘off’ about his vision which really appeals. With his recent Rockaways project and his editorial shoots for titles like Art Review, the now sadly defunct Tar, and Proenza Schouler’s edition of A Magazine, he’s one of the coolest young photographers working today, who has a somewhat skewed individual vision.

His images can be nostalgic, often irreverent and disconcerting, and whilst they're often downbeat they’re never morbid or sinister; he captures a real feeling and mood with his work. The portraits are particularly odd - the sitters often looking away, or blinking or seeming confused in the frames Ethridge chooses to show. And yet they work as strong images because of this very weirdness. The influence of Paul Outerbridge Jr is unmistakeable, and I see parallels with the painter John Currin too (who he has, incidently, photographed), but Ethridge himself is now influencing a whole raft of younger photographers, particularly in New York. As disconnected as many of the images shown here are, when you see a group of them together they do form an offbeat narrative, and you get a real sense of Roe’s World. As Ethridge himself says “One of the reasons I've been so interested in this kind of displaced, broad scope approach is an effort to embrace the arbitrariness of the image and image making. For me serendipity and intention are both necessary.”

For his latest project for Vice magazine he’s teamed up with perfomance artist Miranda July to shoot a series based around incidental characters who appear only fleetingly on screen in some cultish films from the last 30 or 40 years. How they decided on these minor characters I'm not sure, but there's a sense of calculated obscurity to the project. The series seems like a smart progression from the deliberately uncomfortable studio fashion work Ethridge had been producing, and although July comes dangerously close to Cindy Sherman territory in this work, Ethridge’s photography, with its sombre lighting and uneasy composition, moves the images away from this and makes for a fresh take on editorial fashion.

Below is the new series working with Miranda July and stills from the films they’ve referenced, followed by an overview of Ethridge’s work from the past few years.

Apple and Cigarettes, 2004

Untitled, 2006

From 'Missy and the Little Elephant', 2007

Tankers, 2008

Accident, 2003

Proenza Schouler campaign image, 2009

Rick, 2005

Sunset #3, 2008

Still life, date unknown

Sneaker, 2006

John Currin, for Art Review, 2007

Myla with Balloons, 2008

Beach Scene (Louis Feraud), 2008

Cappy, 2008

Oysters, 2005

Moon, 2003

Girl with Pipe, 2005

From 'Missy and the Little Elephant', 2007

Dawn Patrol, 2008

Missy from A Magazine, 2009

From A Magazine, 2009

All images © Roe Ethridge

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Laurent Bochet

Imagine the smell! In February 2008, Deyrolle, the two hundred year-old Parisian taxidermy institution on Rue du Bac, was virtually destroyed by a fire, and although nobody was hurt the store’s antique stuffed menagerie was decimated. Curious to see what had happened, photographer Laurent Bochet contacted the owner - a friend - and discovered a surreal, apocalyptic scene at the shop. Seeing an opportunity too good to miss, he photographed the charred, maimed specimens in the burnt-out location, and the resulting series is something pretty unique. Below are a selection of Bochet’s shots, which will appear in a forthcoming book, 1000ยบ C, published by Assouline.

All images © Laurent Bochet

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Alfred Gescheidt

In an age when Photoshop seems to be a de facto part of nearly every photographer’s creative process, the ways of in-camera and darkroom trickery - montage, collage, double exposure, hand-retouching and re-photographing - are in danger of becoming a lost art. Alfred Gescheidt was a master of all these techniques and more, although his name has, rather unjustly, become largely unknown in recent years.

Once described by former New York Times photo editor John Durniak as “the Charlie Chaplin of the camera”, Geischeidt amassed a rich body of photographic work that was unique, satirical, idiosyncratic and at times even hallucinogenic.

Born and raised in New York City, at the age of nineteen Geischeidt was drafted into the Navy in 1945, towards the end of the World War II. After completing military service the following year he enrolled at the University of Mexico in Albuquerque on the GI Bill, where he was introduced to the work of Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Paul Strand, and decided photography was the career for him. He subsequently transferred to the Art Center School in Los Angeles where he studied under Will Connell and George Hoyningen-Huene, who introduced him to more experimental work and techniques, and it was here that he created some of his first photo collages.

After graduating, Gescheidt returned to New York and tried his hand at photojournalism - getting his work published in Life - but found it ultimately unfulfilling, so in 1955 he opened his own studio and focused on shooting advertising photography for leading agencies, and developing own style. Here he was able to use his education and imagination, and played around with all manner or experimental techniques to realize complicated and original photographs. His grasp of camera trickery and technical prowess left many of his fellow professional photographers baffled, and looking at some of the images here it’s not hard to see why. In the 50s and 60s, as the whole ‘Mad Men’ advertising agency era was booming, no one came close to Gescheidt for innovative photography, and he created numerous campaigns, magazine, book, and album covers. His images often both flattered and mocked American sensibilities, and his ’30 Ways To Stop Smoking’ series from 1964 remains a landmark in satirical conceptual photography.

Untitled (30 Ways To Stop Smoking), 1964

Untitled, 1975

Untitled, 1970

Untitled (30 Ways To Stop Smoking), 1964

Untitled (30 Ways To Stop Smoking), 1964

Untitled, 1948

Untitled, 1968

Untitled (30 Ways To Stop Smoking), 1964

Untitled (30 Ways To Stop Smoking), 1964

Untitled, 1949

Untitled, 1973

Untitled, 1965

Untitled, 1951

Untitled, 1948

Untitled (30 Ways To Stop Smoking), 1964

Untitled (30 Ways To Stop Smoking), 1964

All images © Alfred Gescheidt