March – April 2020 The Back Page

    We asked Vera Lutter to tell us about a photograph that means something to her, and why. Vera Lutter: Museum in the Camera was scheduled to open at LACMA on March 29. When I first visited LACMA in early 2016, I was impressed with the collection of Oceanic art, and I decided immediately that I wanted to include it in my collaboration with the museum. Curator Nancy Thomas allowed me to work with LACMA’s entire Oceanic art collection. Through this unique opportunity, free to follow my own ideas, I was able to create a new arrangement of these mysterious objects. With the help of LACMA’s team and my assistants, I spent many days installing the art in front of my room-sized camera obscura. While…

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January – February 2020 The Back Page

We asked James Casebere to tell us about a picture that means something to him, and why. James Casebere: On the Water’s Edge is at Sean Kelly Gallery through January 25. After making a body of work devoted to the houses of architect Luis Barragán, in and around Mexico City, I tried to incorporate his aesthetic and spiritual ambitions into structures of my own making. Borrowing bits and pieces here and there, I found myself making structures resembling cabanas, changing rooms, lifeguard stations, and beach houses. In returning to the shore and the subject of climate change, I wanted to create an image of dauntless fortitude in the face of such change. I discovered that in order to make buildings of my own, even if…

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November – December 2019 The Back Page

We asked Simen Johan to tell us about a picture that means something to him, and why. Simen Johan: Conspiracy of Ravens is on view at Yossi Milo Gallery through January 4. When I was a kid, I saw a troll in this photograph. I couldn’t see my grandfather – this is actually a portrait of him as a young bachelor in Kirkenes, Norway. Instead, what I now know to be his white shirt looked to me like the opening of a cave. In the bottom left corner I saw the profile of a craggy troll wearing a hat, lurking in the shadows. I never could figure out what those two striped things were on the lower right, but they looked spooky and worm-like. I’m…

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September – October 2019 The Back Page

We asked Thomas Joshua Cooper to tell us about a picture that means something to him, and why. Thomas Joshua Cooper: The World’s Edge is on view at LACMA from September 22 to February 2, 2020.  Remembering My Father’s Tribal Grandparents…, is one of the most personal pictures I have made. I made it in an attempt to locate the homestead grounds of my Cherokee father’s tribal grandparents in the Cherokee nation in Oklahoma. My father described it to me as a “home-place” when, in 1953, we were living on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which bridges North and South Dakota. The name “Little Blue,” of the Little Blue River, which passes through the region, stuck in my memory. While on a field trip in…

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July – August 2019 The Back Page

We asked Tanya Marcuse to tell us about a picture that means something to her, and why. Her exhibition Woven is on view at the George Eastman Museum through January 5, 2020, and her new book Fruitless | Fallen | Woven (Radius Books) was published in July.  It’s 1982, and I’m in the lower level of the library at Bard College at Simon’s Rock,  where I started college early at 16. It wasn’t that I was precocious. Quite the opposite. I struggled my first semester, but I had begun to engage, to care.  Second semester I’d hoped to take a drawing course, but it was full and, disappointed, I took photography instead. A few weeks in and I’m changed. A pile of nails spills on the…

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May – June 2019 The Back Page

  We asked Lyle Ashton Harris to tell us about a picture that means something to him, and why. His work is included in Art After Stonewall: 1969-1989 at the Grey Art Gallery through July 20, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprisings.  Diary Entry, Sunday, March 17, 2019 It’s early in the morning. I’ve been wracking my brain. Was it the late 1990s or early 2000s? I believe it was before my fellowship at the American Academy of Rome…My grandfather had recently died, and I’d retreated to my family home in the Bronx to get sober. I was depleted and things could have turned out very differently. My South African step-father was in the final stages of alcoholism and I was…

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March – April 2019 The Back Page

We asked Dawoud Bey to tell us about a picture that means something to him, and why. Bey’s exhibition Night Coming Tenderly, Black is on view at the Art Institute of Chicago through April 14 and The Birmingham Project is at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., through March 24. I must have seen this Walker Evans photograph of an elegantly attired black woman in mid-town Manhattan sometime in the early-mid 1970s, when I was first getting seriously interested in making photographs myself. I can’t recall what publication I saw it in, but it stopped me in my tracks. I was in the midst of trying to figure out what my own subject matter would be, what I would turn my own sustained attention to now…

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January – February 2019 The Back Page

We asked Simon Roberts to tell us about a picture that means something to him, and why. Simon Roberts: Homeland was on view at Flowers Gallery in New York earlier this year. His photographs are also included in William Ewing’s new book Civilization (Thames & Hudson) and the accompanying touring exhibition, was on view at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, South Korea. A silent majesty. This is one way I would describe this wonderful photograph by Joachim Brohm, from his series Ruhr, made between the late 1970s and the mid-1980s. Brohm was interested in the cultural landscapes of the Ruhr District, an industrial region of West Germany, which at the time was in the midst of severe economic decline. The…

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November – December 2018 The Back Page

We asked Gillian Laub to tell us about a picture that means something to her, and why. A traveling exhibition of her series Southern Rites, organized by the International Center of Photography, is at Phillips Exeter Academy through December 15. My studio is filled with images by other artists that I love, that inspire and sometimes haunt me. One photograph that I’ve had hanging next to my desk for the past 15 years is an image of Buchenwald survivors, made in 1945 by Margaret Bourke-White. When I first saw this image many years ago, I was throttled. I understood for the first time what it truly meant to bear witness; and, as a photographer, to provide that opportunity to society. I looked at the face…

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