“Fashion” can be characterized as many things: a business, a craft, a lifestyle. At its core, though, it’s a visual culture that embodies one very important quality: transfiguration.
From 2007 to 2013, New York–based photographer Richard Renaldi approached strangers across the United States and asked them to pose together, close, as if they were friends or lovers.
Compared to, say, the over 40,000 year history of painting, the two centuries that people have been experimenting with photography is a blink of an eye for a medium, yet its rapid proliferation and dense, evolving culture have partially made up for lost time. Aperture magazine, which recently relaunched with its Spring 2013 issue, makes an ambitious effort.
Distilling violence into art is a tricky alchemy. Even when done carefully, it can result in a strange brew, leaving some intoxicated and moved by its heady ascetics, others feeling sick and hung-up on its inherent horror, sadness, and trauma. In On Photography, Susan Sontag famously enunciated that photography depicting violence and suffering can “corrupt” the viewer, discouraging their engagement and activism. The more images of this type that are disseminated and seen, the further this corruption unfolds and pervades the apprehension of photographs of suffering. “Images transfix. Images anesthetize,” she wrote.
The Aperture Foundation publishes beautiful photography monographs that are designed to look more like a portfolio than a book; such is their emphasis on image plates over explanatory text. The Factory of Dreams: Inside Televisa Studios, one of Aperture’s recent publications featuring the Brooklyn-based photographer Stefan Ruiz, is a monograph that presents a single body of work. The Factory of Dreams is a collection of photographs Ruiz began working on eight years ago, depicting one of Mexico’s largest exports: televised fantasies of “love, wealth, and betrayal.”
The Aperture Foundation, created in 1952, did much to alter photography’s reputation at a time when it was not yet considered art. Sixty years later, for the current anniversary exhibition, Aperture Remix, the foundation commissioned ten photographers — Rinko Kawauchi, Vik Muniz, Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs, Martin Parr, Doug Rickard, Viviane Sassen, Alec Soth, Penelope Umbrico, and James Welling — to revisit and respond to one of its publications, an issue of Aperture magazine or a photography book, that inspired their own work.
It’s not often that we get to be present for a posthumous lecture given by the deceased being honored. An Evening with Diane Arbus and Marvin Israel, presented at the School of Visual Arts in collaboration with the Aperture Foundation, was just that. Out of the pure darkness of a hushed theater came the crackling sound of Diane Arbus’ voice, saying cheerfully as a slide machine started to whirr, “Let me show you some pictures.” What proceeded was a shy, stumbling, incredibly humorous and deeply meaningful lecture by the infamous and famous artist herself. On the 40th anniversary of the artist’s suicide in the summer of 1971, this presentation is a recording of a lecture Arbus gave about her artwork, interests and motivations as she saw them in 1970