Book Review: Archiving Eden by Dornith Doherty

Seedling Cabinet I,II,III © Dornith Doherty

Since 2008, Dornith Doherty worked in collaboration with renowned biologists at the most comprehensive international seed banks in the world. Serving as a global botanical backup system, these privately and publicly funded institutions assure the opportunity for the reintroduction of species should a catastrophic event or civil strife affect a key ecosystem somewhere in the world.

Spurred by the impending completion of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Archiving Eden explores the role of seed banks and their preservation efforts in the face of climate change, the extinction of natural species, and decreased agricultural diversity. Serving as a global botanical backup system, these privately and publicly funded institutions assure the opportunity for the reintroduction of species should a catastrophic event or civil strife affect a key ecosystem somewhere in the world.

I was immediately drawn to the beautiful, calm, blue images on the cover and the nostalgic pull of cyanotype printing evoked by it. Doherty features many images within Archiving Eden of various seeds, roots, starts, and plantlets in hues of blue, green, gold, amber – as well as full color images of the vaults she visited over the years for this project. Use of the color delft/indigo blue evokes references not only to the process of cryogenic preservation, central to the methodology of saving seeds, but also to the intersection of East and West, trade, cultural exchange, and migration. This tension between stillness and change reflects her focus on the elusive goal of stopping time in relation to living materials, which at some moment, we may all want to do.

Doherty is a researcher as well as a photographer. She spent years traveling and researching the vaults visited for this project. Her sensitive images are counterbalanced by detailed descriptions with location information for the samples on display. Interspersed within the book are personally written segments which give the reader insight into what Doherty thinks and feels about the project as well. In her poetic entry, ‘Stow’ she writes,

Stepping into a seed vault takes my breath away.
Bitterly cold and filled with he sound of forced air
rushing through the shelves, I am surrounded by
seeds resting in a state of suspended animation,
preserved for a distant and unknowable future.

Other entries are more journal-like in nature, yet still reinforce the personal investment Doherty makes for the work. Amid the themes of hope and uncertainty is optimism and respect for the history of how and why seed vaults exist. Whether it is the story of Nikolay Vavilov who, during the siege of Leningrad, holed up in a secret vault with a group of Russian botanists who ultimately starved to death rather than eat the collection of seeds they were guarding for a post-apocalyptic world, or the seemingly-quaint specimens from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center which made their way into the Millennium Seed Bank Collection – the urgency and immediacy of the concept for re-birth or nurturing the Earth’s ‘botanical backup system’ is palpable.

Images of seeds arranged in circular patterns or mandala-like repetitive folds evoke the idea of reproduction, insemination, and (dare I say) spiritual vibe to the origins of life and the crux of the universe itself. Ultimately Doherty’s visual documentation gives way to the spiritual and reflective nature her work captures. In a philosophical way, her images afford us the chance to look both forward and backward in time. It takes collecting and storing thousands of seeds by thousands of people over hundreds of years, in order to ensure the chance of success in the future for those seeds to germinate and restore/replenish a potentially exhausted future ecosystem. We are creators contemplating creation. Doherty’s work shows us a path that leads to hope that we’ve given meaningful consideration to the continuation of humanity.


Svalbard Seed Vault Exterior © Dornith Doherty


Seed Vault, Kuban Experimental Station Russia © Dornith Doherty


Seed Head II © Dornith Doherty


Corn © Dornith Doherty

Black Wattle © Dornith Doherty


More Than This © Dornith Doherty


Acacia Long pods © Dornith Doherty


Columbian Exchange III © Dornith Doherty


Kangaroo Grass © Dornith Doherty


Banksias © Dornith Doherty


Archiving Eden by Dornith Doherty
Essay by Elizabeth Avedon
Published by Schilt Publishing
24 x 29 cm
Half-cloth hardcover
180 pages with 95 photos in full color

About Dornith Doherty: She is a 2012 Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, and an American artist working primarily with photography, video, and scientific imaging. Among her chief concerns is to actively visualize the philosophical, cultural, and ecological questions that are often left invisible when considering human entanglement in our rapidly changing environment.  Doherty was born in Houston, Texas and received a B.A. cum laude from Rice University and a MFA in Photography from Yale University. She currently resides in Southlake and is Distinguished Research Professor at the University of North Texas, where she has been on the faculty since 1996.

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Trieste Photo Days 2020

URBAN Photo Awards 2020 edition ceremony


Italy is a country that has a unique artistic tradition and a photographic tradition perhaps not at the same level as some European countries but, nevertheless, interesting and rapidly growing in terms of quality and public.

Trieste is an Italian city that has a unique architecture and history involving Latin, Greek, Germanic, Jewish and Slavic cultures. It is the meeting place between Central Europe and the Mediterranean and is, therefore, a perfect place for a photography festival that represents the meeting point between the photographic cultures of the Mediterranean and those, sometimes more deeply rooted, of Central Europe. Trieste is an intellectually very active city and dotART is a Trieste cultural association that since 2009 has been promoting projects aimed at providing support and visibility to professional and amateur photographers, both locally and abroad. It is precisely from an idea of dotart that an international festival dedicated to urban photography was born which, since 2014, has explored contemporaneity through all forms of photography set in the urban fabric: Trieste Photo Days.

The aim of the festival is to promote a type of photography that bears artistic, documentary, ethnographic and sociological value, which offers evidence of today a cross-section of urban contemporaneity capable of talking about the social changes that take place in the big city as well as in the small village.


URBAN Photo Awards 2020 exhibition


A collaboration with dotArt was born from a call from F-Stop Magazine, which has always distinguished itself from other magazines for the desire to confront and promote collective works: the issue #102 STAYING HOME TOGETHER. The purpose of the call was to explore the current global experience shared by photographers who portray their own experience. Feelings such as joy, boredom, hope, anxiety turned out to be universal and shareable as well as the photographic language and its narrative capacity and its historical value. The result has been a wide range of artistic responses to the pandemic, ranging from isolation (even if in the family) to the need for connection, grouped by approaches that have allowed us to determine real macro-categories of artistic response to the pandemic.

Staying Home Together is also a limited-edition publication with more than 5000 photos and 248 pages for a unique historical value and a multidisciplinary selection operation never performed by dotART and F-stop magazine on a global scale.


STAYING HOME TOGETHER book presentation (Walter Borghisani)


The photographic project was exhibited on October 17 at Palazzo Meizlik in Aquileia (UD). The presentation of the book, which had an Italian premiere on October 25 at the Sala Xenia in Trieste, was an opportunity for discussion between me and the artistic director of the festival, Angelo Cucchetto, which included talking about how photography has changed following the pandemic. The event has sold out (obviously respectful of anti-covid prescriptions).

URBAN Photo Awards 2020 edition ceremony with Alex and Rebecca Webb


It was a pleasure to meet with Stefano Ambroset and Mara Zanette, organizers of the festival, and with WPF winner Alain Schroeder as well as to listen to Alex and Rebecca Webb (presidents of the 2020 edition). It was nice to participate in the enthusiasm of those who believe in the dissemination of culture, especially photography, and to have represented F-Stop Magazine in this internationally important and continuously improving event.

Trieste Photo Days is the festival you would not expect in a city with a truly unique air.

To buy the book:


CHROMANTIC exhibition (The Chromantic project is a tribute to Alex Webb, president of the jury of the 2020 edition of the festival)


Sartorio museum exhibition (the picture show details of “Requiem pour pianos” project of Romain Thiery)


Belgian photographer Alain Schroeder, winner of the World Press Photo 2020 presents himself at the Trieste Photo Days


CHROMANTIC exhibition


URBAN Photo Awards 2020 edition ceremony


Meizlik Palace in Aquileia (UD)


STAYING HOME TOGETHER exhibition Meizlik Palace in Aquileia (UD)


STAYING HOME TOGETHER exhibition Meizlik Palace in Aquileia (UD)



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Hiroshi Sugimoto @ Rolla

Hiroshi Sugimoto, South Pacific Ocean, Waihau, 1990

Hiroshi Sugimoto: ​with your back to the earth
21.11.2020 – 11.04.2021

“The eighteenth Rolla Foundation exhibition features the famous Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto (Tokyo, 1948) and his remarkable Seascapes. Active since the mid-1970s, he took the first picture in the seascape series in 1980 and continues to photograph seas and skies the world over. ”
Stráda Végia (ex via Municipio)
6837 Bruzella, Switzerland

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Congo In Conversation @ Outdoor Exhibition on the Gates of Tour Saint-Jacques, Paris

Kinshasa, DRC, August 23th 2020 © Justin Makangara for Fondation Carmignac

Congo In Conversation – Finbarr O’Reilly
January 6 — 27, 2021

Arlette Bashizi | Dieudonne Dirole | Charly Kasereka | Justin Makangara |
Guylain Balume Muhindo | Guerchom Ndebo | Raissa Karama Rwizibuka |
Moses Sawasawa | Pamela Tulizo | Ley Uwera | Bernadette Vivuya

“The 11th Carmignac Photojournalism Award—which, this year, focuses on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—was awarded to British-Canadian photographer Finbarr O’Reilly. His reportage started in January 2020, before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Due to the swiftly worsening global health situation and the gradual closing of international borders, finding a different way of working became essential. Finbarr O’Reilly and the Award team—in close collaboration with the jury of the 11th edition—reframed their approach to this work. One laureate’s project turned into “Congo in Conversation”, a collaborative reportage with eleven Congolese photographers and journalists, who documented for six months the human, social and ecological challenges that the Congo faces today, within the context of the current global health crisis. First published on a dedicated website and social networks, “Congo in Conversation” provided an uninterrupted and unprecedented stream of articles, photo reportages and videos, which visitors can consult by theme or by contributor. The collaborative reportage is now published in a bilingual monograph and will be exhibited in a collective outdoor exhibition in Paris in January 2021.”

Outdoor Exhibition on the Gates of Tour Saint-Jacques, Paris

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Mark Cohen, Headless Horseman, 1968, 16 x 20″


“David Campany was an undergraduate student when he met Susan Sontag. During a friendly discussion about her groundbreaking and influential book On Photography, Campany asked about her assessment of photography without including specific photographs. “My book is more about photography as a phenomenon, social and artistic,” she replied. “Perhaps one day you will write a book titled On Photographs.” Campany has accomplished the goal Susan Sontag set out for him with On Photographs, published this fall by MIT Press.

In the spirit of the book—exploring the meaning of photography and its history by focusing on specific images—the exhibition On Photographs surveys 20 images from 18 leading 20th century photographers including Eugene Atget, Ilse Bing, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mark Cohen, Walker Evans, Mario Giacomelli, Ralph Gibson, Bill Jacobson, György Kepes, Andre Kertesz, Helen Levitt, Man Ray, Aaron Siskind, Jerry Uelsmann, Edward Weston, Francesca Woodman, and Masao Yamamoto. The exhibition presents an opportunity to commemorate Robert Klein Gallery’s 40th anniversary as most of the photographers in On Photographs have been in multiple exhibitions at the gallery.”


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Images by Jess T. Dugan

TO SURVIVE ON THIS SHORE: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults
January 14–April 15, 2021

This interdisciplinary project is a collaboration between Jess T. Dugan, photographer, and Vanessa Fabbre, social worker and assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis, whose research focuses on the intersection of LGBTQ issues and aging.

900 12th Ave Seattle, WA 98122

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Erik Madigan Heck: The Garden @ Jackson Fine Art Gallery in Atlanta

Erik Madigan Heck: The Garden
November 13, 2020 – January 23, 2021

“The Garden is an ongoing body of work depicting Heck’s wife and two young sons in a variety of richly colourful surroundings. The photographs draw upon Catholic iconography and other mythic pictorial traditions to develop a color-based narrative evocative of spiritual archetypes and the processes of dissolution and rebirth.”

Jackson Fine Art Gallery
Atlanta, Georgia

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Miami, FL. August 23rd 1972.Outside of the 1972 30th Republican Convention, during President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, demonstrators wearing costumes and makeup perform scenes of death and suffering in opposition to the Vietnam War. Several thousand Women’s Lib protesters led by Jane Fonda, having just returned from her North Vietnam tour, and the Vietnam Veterans also protested. No clashes with police were reported.


“For more than three decades, starting in 1964, Jean-Pierre Laffont travelled all fifty states seeking to document as wide of a range of compelling American stories, and he also photographed celebrities both French and American along with all the politicians of the times. He spent eight years at the White House as a foreign correspondent and photographed several presidents. He produced in-depth photo essays of the rise of the World Trade Center, the gangs in the Bronx, and the violence on 42nd Street.”

Sous Les Etoiles Gallery

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Laia Abril @ Foam

Chastity Belt, 2019, On Rape © courtesy of Laia Abril & Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire

Laia Abril – On Rape: A History of Misogyny
6 November 2020 – 10 January 2021

“Spanish artist Laia Abril (1986) won the fourteenth edition of the Foam Paul Huf Award this year with her long term project A History of Misogyny. This prize is organised by Foam and annually awarded to a talented young photographer, by an independent, international jury. It consists of a cash prize of €20,000,- and a solo exhibition at Foam. The multidisciplinary artist uses photography, text, video and sound to tell intimate stories that evoke uncomfortable and hidden realities and often deal with inequality between the sexes and oppression of women.

With her project A History of Misogyny Laia Abril wishes to bring attention to current social-cultural topics. In 2016 her first chapter in this Series On Abortion was published. With On Rape – A History of Misogyny, Chapter Two, the artist presents a series of conceptual portraits and testimonies that together symbolise the current impunity of institutional rape. ”

Keizersgracht 609
1017 DS Amsterdam
The Netherlands

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Book Review: All of Us: Portraits of An American Bicentennial by Richard Beaven

Blanche Hotaling, 19 years.

In All of Us: Portraits of an American Bicentennial there are only two portraits which don’t show us the entire person being photographed. The approach Richard Beaven takes to include the whole person in his his project photographing the community of Ghent, New York allows the viewer to get a feel for who each person is, how they hold their hands, how they stand alone within the frame he has placed around them. There is a sense of place and person in these portraits. The palpable feelings of these specific people and their community, and in a greater sense all of us, is a key to what makes this work so strong.

“I think my view of human life is how brief and curious most people’s lives are. Yet when you come to talk to them you realize how strong they are and how unbelievably rich their lives are; and how subtle and various.” Ronald Blythe, Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village

The quote above is from the first few pages of the book, and appropriately sets the tone for the following 140+ pages. Beaven, who is originally from Exeter in the county of Devon, England, has made Ghent, New York his full time adopted home since 2011. Inspired by his town’s bicentennial in 2018, Beaven spent the 200th anniversary year meeting with and photographing the community of Ghent, crisscrossing back and forth over the 149 miles that comprise the town area. The individuals he photographed range in age from infant to elderly; and have lived or worked in Ghent from just five days to over ninety years. The portraits in the book list both their names and their time spent living in Ghent.

Richard Beaven says this about the project and the driving force behind it: ”…my long-term approach is to use my photography to create a wide-ranging survey of our time that examines cultural and socio-political themes. My goal is to contribute meaningfully to the broader archive during this challenging, divisive, and transformative time in American history.”

Challenging, devising and reflective are just a few words to capture where the United States finds itself in the Fall of 2020. This book arrived just in time for election week in November, and it is a comfort in the omnipresent swirling maelstrom of politics and everyday life. Beaven’s portraits grounded me in a way that felt soothing and reassuring. The viewer can see themselves in the faces of these strangers, the viewer can see their family members and their own community reflected back at them. Through making this work, Beaven came to know his community on a more profound level; enabling him to connect its residents from all walks of life with each other. Creative director Kira Pollack addresses this aspect in her foreword, ”Never before have we so needed to be reminded of community; of that which unites us, not divides us,” she writes.

Professor and writer Tom Lewis contributed an essay for the book’s afterword, and he also recognizes the intersectionality of people and place, and the way each connect to and inform the other. “These men, women, and children appear as the latest generation of those who have come before, those who have lived on the land and with it,” he writes. Lewis also points out Beaven’s ability to reveal emotional tethers to land, and how his composition elevates ordinary moments and gestures and expressions. “Some seem at peace with the land, others perhaps not. A young woman stands in a harvested field, her shadow lengthening out across the corn stubble. Another holds her bass clarinet against a background of mullein, wildflowers, and forest. A widow lovingly cradles a framed photograph of her husband as he stands beside a calf.”

More than 80% of the people Beaven met with were “strangers” to him at the beginning of the All of Us project. By the end of the project, Beaven had created a visual narrative of a small, rural town through the resulting 276 portraits (60 are reproduced in the book), and paid homage to a specific time and place in American history. Through the making of this work, Beaven came to know his community on a more profound level enabling him to connect its residents from all walks of life with each other.

In difficult times, we find strength from the aspects of life and those around us who help us recognize how interconnected we truly are. It may not feel like it at times. To paraphrase, a smarter person than me once said, ‘A divided nation cannot stand.’ Beaven’s portraits admirably show a town, a community, and a slice of our collective nation – standing together.

Denise Davis, 25 years.


Steve McCagg, 36 years.


Stephen Gitto, 70 years.


Aidan Brennan, 10 years.


Daryl Lee, 9 years.


Brianna Martin, 7 years.


DeWayne Powell, 11 years.


Kate Lippert, 7 years.


All of Us: Portraits of An American Bicentennial by Richard Beaven
Essays by Kira Pollack and Tom Lewis
144 pages; 60 Color Photographs
10 1/4 x 8 1/4 inches
Published by Daylight Books

Richard Beaven (b. 1966) is a British documentary portrait photographer. whose work centers on communities and cultures around his home in The Hudson Valley, New York where a rich history of European settlement exists. His work specifically investigates senses of identity and belonging informed by personal experiences as an immigrant and observations, simultaneously, as both insider and outsider. His work has appeared in National Portrait Gallery (UK), International Center of Photography (NY) and has been awarded by American Photography and National Press Photographers Association.

Kira Pollack is Creative Director of Vanity Fair magazine, Former Director of Photography Visual Enterprise at TIME magazine, and Deputy Photo Editor at The New York Times Magazine.

Tom Lewis is Professor Emeritus of English at Skidmore College. The author of five books, including The Hudson, he lives in Scarborough, Maine.

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