First things first: This is not a photo book, this is a learned tome on a variety of aspects of psychoanalysis accompanied by photographs of psychoanalytic offices. “Along with its presentation of images, this volume explores the powerful relational foundations of theory and clinical technique, the mutually vulnerable patient-analyst connection, and the history of the psychoanalytic office.”
Mark Gerald has spent “tens of thousands of hours in psychoanalytic offices,” mostly as a psychoanalyst working with patients but also as a patient. He is also a trained photographer. His background and credentials make him uniquely qualified to author this book that “showcases a diversity of analysts; male and female and classical and contemporary.”
Since I’m neither trained in psychoanalysis (of which, by the way, I know nothing) nor in photography (although I once penned a master’s thesis on documentary photography), I’ve decided to concentrate on the photographs, and on the circumstances in which they were taken. The author’s intention however was different. “Text and image here are intimate companions, which, taken together, may enlarge our perspective … I encourage you to see as you read and to read the book with your eyes open to the images.”
Had I not known that I was looking at photographs of psychoanalysts (a typical caption reads like this: Kimberly Leary, Ph.D. Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, Massachusetts September 21, 2004) in their offices, I would have never guessed it for the images are very varied, some analysts stand, some sit, some smile, some look pensive (or try to look so …), many are shown in front of their bookshelves. What they all have in common is that their academic titles are mentioned in the captions. Mark Gerald is quite obviously a great believer in formal trainings.
What struck me as remarkable, even as extraordinary, was that, and how, the author described his taking of the photographs. And, he does that in great detail. Here’s, for instance, how he got to Luis Feder’s office in Mexico City. “Getting to his home office turned out to be a fraught experience. I took a taxi from my hotel, where the concierge had warned me about the current crime wave in Mexico City. The driver took me to an upscale, suburban gated community outside the central city. The houses themselves looked like fortresses, and many were patrolled by armed guards beyond the gates. After the cab driver dropped me off, I could not find any house numbers and began to wander around with an increased sense of anxiety …”. I not only warm to such an approach, I truly love it. Because I look at photographs differently when I’m aware of what mood the photographer was in.
Mark Gerard does an excellent job in giving accounts of what is going on before, during, and after the photo shooting, including reactions after the photoshoot of the ones portrayed. This is rare and extremely rewarding for it documents the process of picture taking (a lot of photographers just throw pictures at you, often without any explanation) without which many photos cannot be really appreciated.
As always with photographs – we see in them what we bring to them. During the photoshoot with Sylvia Delgado, “an advanced candidate at the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute,” her office “became a space for free association” and Mark Gerald asks “How did her office provide room for us to freely associate? Do psychoanalytic offices create an anticipation for the release of pain? Like confessionals in Catholic churches, are they designed intentionally and unconsciously to welcome loss and disturbance? Although there is no Emma Lazarus sonnet on a plaque when a patient enters a psychoanalytic office, inscribed in the office design is a welcome for the tired, the wretched, and the tempest-tossed.” To me, this is clearly too much interpretation and speculation respectively. And, especially accompanied by this convincingly composed photo that, together with the one of Luly Casares, belongs to my favourites. Moreover, why not ask the designer what he or she had in mind?
Also in regards to Masha Borovikova I find Mark Gerard’s interpretation and speculation a bit far fetched. On the other hand, isn’t interpretation and speculation characteristic of the analysts job? Photography however means to show. “Although the office was not designed or furnished by her, the distinctive presence while there made it her own space.” How does that show?, I wonder for it seems to me that what he sees here cannot be shown.
One of the more intriguing chapters is entitled “Psychoanalysis, Death, and Photography”. Freud, I learned, “acknowledged to a patient that he thought about the possibility of death every day.” And Mark Gerald succinctly states: “In spite of our elaborate and elegant theories, we are conscious beings who must live with the continual knowledge of our own mortality.”
“In the Shadow of Freud’s Couch” is a deeply (and refreshingly) personal book. “Protected by a sturdy camera, I found a space to mourn and celebrate the marginality of being a loser, a validation of having experienced loss.” Unsurprisingly, the photograph I thought the most touching (and convincing) shows his wife Laini listening to a recording of Joan Baez.
This exhibition “presents over eighty portraits by the photographer, all drawn from Sander’s (1876-1964) monumental project People of the Twentieth Century, through which he aimed to capture a true portrait of the German nation and the times in which they were living. This exhibition draws from ARTIST ROOMS, a touring collection of over 1,600 works of modern and contemporary art by more than 42 major artists. The collection is displayed across the UK through a touring programme, supported by Arts Council England, Art Fund and Creative Scotland.”
National Museum Cardiff
Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP
This exhibition “brings together 225 photographs by the duo who spent 50 years documenting industrial structures across Europe, including Wales. This exhibition is the last show that Hilla selected prior to her death in 2015 and features photographs from the extensive series the Becher’s took exploring the south Wales valleys in 1965 and 1966. Selected archive material from the Becher studio will also be displayed, offering a unique insight into their research methods and creative process whilst in Wales.”
National Museum Cardiff
Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP
This exhibition “brings together, for the first time, a selection of Parr’s work in Wales from the mid-1970s to 2018, many of which have never been exhibited before. Parr has always been drawn to Wales, having lived just over the border in nearby Bristol for thirty years. In that time, he has undertaken several editorial and cultural commissions, covering subjects from working men’s clubs to coal mining. The photographs in this show explore different aspects of Welsh life and culture, from male voice choirs and national sports to food, festivals and the seaside.”
National Museum Cardiff
Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP
RECEPTION OCTOBER 24, 6:30-8:00 PM
“Velicescu’s project contrasts sparse flora against typical scenes of Southern California urban architecture. These images create an aesthetic both beautifully designed and with subjects comically and tragically at odds with one another.”
Ventura College (New Media Gallery)
4667 Telegraph Road
Ventura, CA 93003
Chicago-based photographer Jeffery C. Johnson’s photography has been prominently featured on the WGN-TV News, ABC-TV’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, BBC Travel.com, CNN Travel.com, Chicago Reader, Chicagoist, Gapers Block, and at ChicagoPublicRadio.com.
Johnson has worked as a dedicated photographer for the Scottish pop band Aberfeldy, captured the scene at the capitol building in Springfield, Illinois in 2007 when then Senator Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States. He also exclusively followed the Four Star Anarchist Organization during the Anti-NATO protests in Chicago in 2012.
Johnson has primarily photographed across the United States, but says his favorite subject has always been Chicago. Johnson grew up there and both his grandfather & father were photojournalists in Chicago. “And, of course”, he says on his website, “because the city is amazingly energetic, beautiful and bewitching, rough and raw, full of history, mystery, and punch. While I would have loved to photograph Churchill, I was given Blagojevich; but a photographer can only capture those within their time. I enjoy taking pieces and putting them together to represent a whole – whether it’s a city, a specific place, an event, or a person. I feel I am making portraits of whatever I photograph”.
We Shared this Time is a self-published collection of photos from Johnson’s work that spans different themes across his broader collection of reportage style photography. Whether it is a street image of a particular location, specific event being covered, or lucky happenstance – the direct style of Johnson’s work makes you feel like you were there. The unpretentious nature of some of his portraits transcend straight reportage, and speak to larger issues like gun violence, celebrity, and poverty. We see a teenager standing up in a crowd of people, pantomiming holding a rifle and taking aim. We see street musicians playing for tips in downtown Chicago, contrasted against professional actor and musician Steve Martin candidly playing his banjo in front of a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Naperville, IL. Johnson’s image of a Cubs fan hoping to catch a stray home-run ball, dressed in full catcher’s gear behind Wrigley Field, is in stark contrast to his candid portrait of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich – sporting a Cubs baseball cap while dressed in a business suit and tie.
Much like fellow Chicagoan Studs Terkel, Jeffery Johnson shared a moment or two with folks from all walks of life, and shared them with us. Rather, Johnson’s subjects are all of us. We Shared this Time shows different aspects of the larger picture and reveals that these disparate actors in the play of life are not so different in the end. We are all part of the play.
To learn more about Jeffery C. Johnson, please visit his website at https://jefferycjohnson.smugmug.com/. Links to purchase a copy of We Shared this Time can also be found there, or at Blub: https://www.blurb.com/b/9414851-we-shared-this-time
Opening Reception November 2nd, 2019 6 pm- 9pm
“The exhibition comprises two corresponding bodies of work: a selection of floor-based photo-sculptures made from both physical and photographed concrete infused with pigment, and a new series of cyanotypes that capture the imprints of intimate notes and memorabilia. Informed by Sprang’s ongoing excavation of the intersections of recorded sound, photographic processes, and language, these bodies of work simultaneously serve as memorials and tributaries, and call into question limiting modes by which blackness is seen, perceived, and surveilled.”
52-19 Flushing Ave, Maspeth, NY 11378.
Opening November 7 at 7 pm
“The photographic project Germany Übergestern (sponsored by the Federal Foundation for the Study of Communist Dictatorship in East Germany) investigates the stories of those people who did not fit into the new system after the fall of the wall with their previous professional biography, drastically change their job and career and they had to leave their former life behind.”
Fotogalerie Friedrichshain, Berlin
Ingrid Deuss Gallery
Opening Reception: Thursday, Oct 24 6-8 PM
Emmet Gowin: The Nevada Test Site, a presentation of aerial photographs surveying the uniquely scarred landscape of America’s primary nuclear testing location for over four decades.
540 West 25th Street