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Book Review: The Moor by Robert Darch

A quote from Cormac McCarthy’s dystopian novel, The Road, sets the stage for The Moor. Robert Darch’s photo book depicts a fictionalized dystopian future situated on the bleak moorland landscapes of Dartmoor, England. Darch explains that the project draws on childhood memories, and influences from contemporary culture to create a narrative that references local and universal mythology; all of which gives context but suggests something altogether more unknown. Darch further explains that the realization of this dystopian future is specifically in response to a perceived uncertainty of life in the modern world and a growing disengagement with humanitarian ideals. The Moor portrays an unsettling world that shifts between large open vistas, dark forests, makeshift dwellings, uncanny visions and isolated figures.

‘He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.’ (Cormac McCarthy, The Road, 2006)

I came across the accompanying text on Darch’s website after having already paced through the book, which caused me to reconsider the underlying psychological pull of The Moor. The feel of an on-going narrative is reinforced by reappearing characters, often appearing on edge, in peril or distressed. The inherent wildness of the landscape heightens this fragile sense of existence, with the suggestion of an unseen presence adding to the isolation and tension. Darch uses constructed documentation to create dramatic narratives. Shifting between quasi-documentary and staged photography, The Moor transcends into narrative fiction, even if all the people and places are based on a real place.

The book left me with an eerie feeling; I felt the drawing power of inaudible whispers possibly luring the characters into the wilderness of the Moor, truths are tested, madness and hallucinations ensue, and a bit of ghost story is thrown in for good measure. Whether real or imagined, ultimately Darch created a palpable vision: The Moor depicts dark reflections of real world landscapes, mythology, and memories to create compelling storytelling.

The Moor is published by Another Place Press and was launched at the Martin Parr Foundation in December 2018.

 


The Moor by Robert Darch
54 pp / 235 x 190mm
Includes 3 foldout spreads
Softcover, threadsown
Fedrigoni & GF Smith papers
350gsm Colorplan cover
170gsm Uncoated text
Edition 500


Robert Darch is a photographer, educator & curator based in the South West of England. He holds an MFA with distinction in Photographic Arts and a MA with distinction in Photography & the Book from Plymouth University. He also has a BA with honours in Documentary Photography from Newport, Wales. To see more of his work, visit his website: https://www.robertdarch.com/


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Joel-Peter Witkin @ Catherine Edelman Gallery


Joel-Peter Witkin: From the Studio
May 3 – July 3, 2019

OPENING RECEPTION WITH THE ARTIST: Friday, May 3 5:00 – 8:00 pm

“For more than 60 years, Joel-Peter Witkin has stayed true to his mission: to create photographs that show the beauty of marginalized people by placing them into art referential tableaus, often laced with Catholic overtones. His work features hermaphrodites, post and pre-op individuals, and people born with physical abnormalities. In his eyes, all people are beautiful, regardless of societal norms.”

Catherine Edelman Gallery
1637 W. Chicago Ave. – Chicago, IL 60622


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GRACIELA ITURBIDE @ THROCKMORTON FINE ART

Graciela Iturbide Lord of the Birds 1985 vintage gelatin silver print 11 x 14 susan@susanpr

GRACIELA ITURBIDE: Fifty Years of Photographic Treasures
March 28 – May 18, 2019

“Poignant images taken by Iturbide over the last fifty years in Mexico highlight the exhibition, as well as a powerful collection of gelatin silver prints shot by Iturbide during long stays in India, Italy, the United States, Madagascar and Spain. It is the empathy expressed by Iturbide and the deft juxtaposition of locations and subjects that makes Iturbide’s work so fascinating to view. ”

THROCKMORTON FINE ART
145 E. 57th Street, 3rd fl. New York, NY 10022


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Book Review: Upstate by Tema Stauffer

Combining poetic landscapes and interiors with portraiture, American fine art photographer Tema Stauffer explores the visually and historically complex community, culture and architecture of one of the oldest regions in America in her beautiful new monograph, Upstate.

The foreword and essay included in Upstate compliment each other and Stauffer’s photographs like a matched set. The pacing and layout of the book feels just right. Maybe it is the quiet, snowy morning in mid-March when this review is being written, but a quiet contemplative air about the book comes across without trite stereotype.

Stauffer’s color photographs leave the viewer with a sense of being there. Shot in natural light, taken over a long period of time, depicting scenes in different seasons – her portrait of the Hudson River area is an honest one. Some images evoke a quiet beauty and mystery emanating from the local architecture and artifacts. Scenes of urban and rural areas reflect upon the overlapping industrial and agricultural economies of upstate New York. Xhenet Aliu highlights in her foreword how in recent years the city of Hudson has revitalized itself as a tourist destination, the primary draw being its close proximity to New York City and its architectural charms. But we don’t see charming little antique shops, no baristas in sight. Stauffer shows us triple-decker houses and a diner scene, quietly preserving the historic energy of the authentic. 

… Tema Stauffer has produced an original body of work while acknowledging the histories and capabilities of her medium. Her treatments of the area’s landscapes and modest buildings often employ a dark and moody palette … The impression this produces is hushed, meditative, and nostalgic, suggesting a degree of timelessness, even as the precise detail made possible by the necessarily slow employment of large and medium-format film insists on the specificity of a particular moment in a particular place.” -Alison Nördstrom, photo historian and curator

Many ruins of post-industrial America have been photographed and written about, and an entire genre of “ruin porn” exists. Set aside that preconceived thought when taking in Stauffer’s evocative images. Upstate is a portrait of a place and a time; it just so happens to be in a rust belt state with a tremendous backstory. In her essay, Alison Nördstrom writes, “Even without people or buildings in them, the quotidian actions of people are evident in these images; their marks, and Stauffer’s respect for them, are essential to her humanistic approach.” She also remarks, “This is not “ruin porn,” nor does this series maroon us in the past. Stauffer’s earlier work concentrated on portraiture as a way to know a place, and both Paterson (2009-2014) and Ballad of Sad Young Men (2008) manifest the artist’s ability to connect with her subjects in a deeply human way… As we turn the pages of this strong and quiet book, it is Reggie, Mike and Peter who look back at us, and (it is) through them that Stauffer turns our gaze from the nostalgic past to the living present…”


Upstate
Photographs by Tema Stauffer
Foreword by novelist Xhenet Aliu
Essay by photo historian Alison Nördstrom

Hardcover: 84 pages
33 color photographs
ISBN-13: 978-1942084594


Tema Stauffer is a photographer whose work examines the social, economic, and cultural landscape of American spaces. She received a 2014 CCNY Darkroom Residency for her documentary portrait series, Paterson, depicting residents of Paterson, New Jersey during the years following the economic crisis. She received her BA from Oberlin College and her Master’s degree in photography from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Stauffer is currently an Assistant Professor of Photography at East Tennessee State University. For more information, go to: http://temastauffer.com

About the publisher: Daylight is a non-profit organization dedicated to publishing art and photography books. By exploring the documentary mode along with the more conceptual concerns of fine art, Daylight’s uniquely collectible publications work to revitalize the relationship between art, photography, and the world-at-large. For more information, visit www.daylightbooks.org


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Foam Talent @ Red Hook Labs, Brooklyn, New York

Black boys I knew who could self-reflect, from the series Frères d’une île pas très proche, 2018 © Durimel

Foam Talent | New York
22 March – 10 April 2019

Opening party Thursday 21 March 6-9 pm

“The annual Foam Talent Call is an international search for exceptionally talented photographers under the age of 35. For this twelfth edition, a total of 1.853 artists from 74 different countries submitted their portfolios. The twenty selected photographers give us insight into the state of contemporary photography. This generation crosses the borders of the photographic medium with remarkable ease; installations where the immersive quality of the work nowadays is as important as more traditional two-dimensional photography. In this digital age, there seems to be an increasing interest for geological time and the cycle of time expressed in projects around the themes of night fall, processing grief, nostalgia and homesickness. Archival material continues to play an important role, as well as complex and lengthy research in pervasive socio-political factors that influence our everyday life. Altogether the selected projects show us how essential authenticity, intrinsic quality and the visual power of expression are.”

Red Hook Labs
133 Imlay Street, Brooklyn, New York


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Y. Kawashima @ The Empty Quarter

©Y. Kawashima, Sankei Shimbun, 1962, Souq Al Kabir

Y. Kawashima
March 18th , 2019 – April 18th, 2019

Opening Reception: Monday 18th March, 2019 – 7:00 pm

“It was in November 1962 when a Japanese photographer Y. Kawashima set foot in the Trucial States, today’s United Arab Emirates. Along with his fellow journalist, he was on a mission to report on the wider Middle East for the Sankei Shimbun Newspaper, as Japan’s interest in the region had been fuelled by the arrival of first shipment of oil from Khafji on Saudi/Kuwait border in the previous year. Having landed in Sharjah’s RAF airfield, the pair of journalists made their way to Dubai on a Land Rover taxi to stay in Airlines Hotel near the Creek, the first and only lodging there.”

The Empty Quarter, Gate Village, Bldg 02,
DIFC, Dubai, UAE,


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ODETTE ENGLAND @ KLOMPCHING GALLERY

Punched, #76 from Punched (2018–ongoing)

ODETTE ENGLAND: THE OUTSKIRTS, EXPOSED AND PUNCHED
March 21 – May 11 2019

Opening Reception: March 21, 6pm–8pm

“Home is the center-weight of England’s artistic practice, with memory and forgetting being the counterbalances. Her photographs are fragile, contemplative and temporal spaces. The Outskirts is a re-presentation of the artist’s family album; original vintage snapshots enlarged and obscured by the original photo album pages from which they were excavated. The meaning of the photographs are thus transformed, with the focus being on the peripheral and the edge.”

KLOMPCHING GALLERY
89 Water Street, Brooklyn NY 11201


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SHEN WEI @ Flowers Gallery


SHEN WEI
3 May – 22 June, 2019

“Responding to his conservative upbringing in Shanghai, Shen Wei’s self-portraits, nudes and sensuous landscape photographs explore notions of identity, memory and sexuality. This exhibition draws connections between the influence of Chinese culture and his own personal process of self-discovery.”

Flowers Gallery · 82 Kingsland Rd · London, E2 8DP · United Kingdom


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ESTHER TEICHMANN @ Flowers Gallery


ESTHER TEICHMANN:ON SLEEPING AND DROWNING
3 May – 22 June, 2019

“On Sleeping and Drowning transforms the gallery space into a layered liquid montage of photographs, painted backdrops, moving image, sound and objects. Cyanotype seaweed creatures are juxtaposed with painted photographic backdrops of caves, a boat with cloud sails, and photographs of women sleeping, dreaming and swimming through otherworldly spaces.”

Flowers Gallery
82 Kingsland Road, E2 8DP
London, E2 8DP · United Kingdom


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Valerio Spada @ Benrubi Gallery

Valerio Spada: I Am Nothing
March 14 – April 27, 2019

Opening reception: Thursday, March 14, 2019 from 6-8pm

“In 2011, Spada produced a photo series called Gomorrah Girl, where the story of the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra, is told through the lives of young women. Since this success, Valerio Spada has continued researching organized crime, focusing on the Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra. The result is a project based on a narrative approach that differs from the traditional canons of reportages, combining different subject matter and media. As a result, in this exhibition you will find: scenes of everyday life, which convey how deeply this phenomenon is involved in everyday behaviors; carefully posed portraits, which allow us to come close to the leading figures in this universe in a moment of dialogue; a video of the capture of long time fugitive Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano, filmed by the police; a large image of Giovanni Brusca giving evidence in a high-security courtroom at the Milan courthouse; the photographic documentation of the Bible found in Provenzano’s hideout, full of codes which the FBI and eminent theologians believe could conceal the last secrets of the mafia.”

Benrubi Gallery
521 West 26th Street, Floor 2


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