Archives for category: documentary photography
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Freefall, c. 2017

In the spring of 2016 I was invited along on a civic business trip to Washington D.C. Finding myself deeply dismayed by the profoundly unsettling dialogue engulfing the presidential election, I decided to make the trip with the intention of beginning artwork for a possible book project.

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Out of Balance, The Rayburn House Office Building, Washington D.C., c.2016

My curiosity as an American was coupled with a growing unease as a country built in the most beautiful language and lofty visions was immersed in denigrating the best president of my lifetime. While President Obama led the country out of seemingly insurmountable calamities with a dignity, intellectual vigor, commitment to diplomacy and respect for all the country’s people, the extremists raged. Leading a swath of America backward onto itself to wallow in its lowest traditions of prejudice, ignorance and obstruction, the Republican leadership barely masked a glaring desire for self-enrichment.

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The President’s House, The White House China, c. 2016

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Reflections with Washington, The White House, Washington D.C., c.2016

I had never been to Washington and given the effort the Obamas invested into increasing access to the government by its people, I couldn’t imagine a better time to visit. Through my invitation I had additional invaluable access: conferences and receptions at the House of Representatives and Senate office buildings; a private Congressional tour led by my Congressman’s staff; a tour of the White House as well as dinners in storied old buildings with people who hold high sway, elected and not, in my city. It was a privilege and I was hooked.

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The Contradictions of Jefferson, The White House China, c. 2016

Revolutionary Wall Paper, c. 2016

My interest was to explore the vision, architecture, language and idolatry of significant American figures in our early years – the lofty goals of our founders versus the harsh contradictions of slavery, slaughter of indigenous people and profiteering land grabs. I thought a lot about the elegance of thought and language and debate, which furthered the country’s laws and protections for lands and citizenry. I thought a lot about the caustic knee-jerk, childish rhetoric and gang-bang mentality sweeping through contemporary America. I did not expect by year’s end to be dealing with fascism and a thuggish plutocracy, aided and abetted by foreign intervention and a complicit, regressive government.  What has ensued in this new regime is a disgrace on all counts.

What’s Become of the Grand Old Party, The White House China, President Wilson Dinner Plate, c. 2016

Bracing Ulysses, United States Capitol Rotunda, Washington, D.C., c.2016

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The Kompromat, c. 2016

Concurrent with exploring and making images for The Republic, my family began to delve more deeply into our own history, uncovering a lineage going back to the Mayflower, Jamestown and beyond. It looks as though I may descend from John Rolfe, who set sail in 1609 for America on the Sea Venture, a ship and it’s wreckage near Bermuda that informed Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Having located desirable strains of tobacco while rebuilding a sailable ship, Rolfe is credited with bringing the first commercial tobacco cultivation to Virginia. He is also known primarily for marrying the daughter of the Chief of the Powhatan Indians. Her name was Matoaka, but we know her as Pocahontas.

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The Sea Venture, c. 2017

Searching for Pocahontas, c.2016

As intriguing as all that is, it came with the whiplash realization that my forefathers were directly complicit in the birth of the plantation culture in the South.  I shouldn’t have been surprised, but when research led to several of my direct ancestors who owned slaves, I felt a shudder of responsibility I’d hoped to never feel. A lifetime of liberal politics and egalitarian beliefs did not prepare me to hit that wall.

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A Revolt Suppressed, George Washington Dinner Plate, The White House China, c.2016

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Federal Self Reflection, c. 2016

In exploring my full ancestral lineage, the trail has led not just to the aforementioned historical figures but also to officers in the Revolutionary War, to soldiers in both the Union Army and the Confederacy, to the struggling and the well-heeled, pioneers, farmers, and women who died of influenza and in child-birth. My family’s evolving story coupled with a fascination kindled from the trip to Washington quickly developed into an obsession with image making, learning and thinking about The Republic.

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Abundance and Sacrifice, Number 2, c. 2016

Hallowed Ground: The Lincoln Memorial, c.2016

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Jim Crow Segregation, Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, California, c. 2016

How does one reconcile a heritage built both by Native Americans and the Colonists? Does one feel pride in the immense struggle it took to create such a complex and elegant governmental system while being mortified at the methodology employed for its success. Patriotism is a complex thing.

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Sacrilege: Bill Cody’s Jacket, c. 2017

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The Supreme Court, Washington, D.C. c.2016

Before the election of 2016, I thought I might be at this project for years given the abundance of information I struggled to digest. At the time, I thought the election would go differently and I could focus my work on the founding first few hundred years.  I thought I’d be able to stop short of the now, as a full United States history would be an unrealistic undertaking.  But ignoring the now and all that went before it would be to turn a blind eye on all the good we’ve done and just as significantly, all the bad.

from the series The Republic

Liberty, c. 2017

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The Greatest Generation: Franklin D. Roosevelt, c. 2017

I realized early on that I needed to employ a variety of working methods to better serve the vast array of subject matter, even if those methods might typically be at odds with one another. Unlike a more common single narrative, The Republic is a massive story requiring a broad range of interpretations.  Some work is environmental, some simple landscapes, environments and still life photographs.  Other images are conceptual constructions.  I began to make props so that I could photograph the objects and ideas that I wanted to see and convey. Those ideas punctuate a timeline threaded by more typical images that serve at least partly as establishing shots.

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Nixon’s War, c. 2017

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Impasse at the House, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C., c. 2016

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Abu Graib, President G.W. Bush Dinner Plate, The White House China, c.2016

The Republic is an ongoing project, as much activism and self-education as art and personal historical exploration.  As such, some images stand alone more profoundly than others and there are many gaps that I intend to fill over time.  As an editor, the content is overwhelming. As a maker, I find the discovery of both information and ways of translating that information creatively, to be immensely challenging and ever intriguing.

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The White House Portico, c.2016

My country straddles a morality stuck between what many of us thought was a progressive future and the strong and persistent gravitational pull of an extremist past, intent on continuing to rear its ugly head. In creating works for The Republic I wrestle with all of it – a baptism by fire. We can’t get over it. We must go through it.

 

 

All rights reserved, c. Kathleen Clark, 2016-2017

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Spot will be located at 6679 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles at Crossroads of the World.

Spot will be located at 6679 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

 

Friends,

You have been kind enough to read and look at images here over the last few years and I appreciate it. I just wanted to post a quick update to shine some light on my silence over the last months.  I’m embarking upon a new gallery project – a collaboration with my friend, master printer Russell Adams of Schulman Photo Lab in Los Angeles (Hollywood). Together we are opening a contemporary photography gallery called SPOT Photo Works, located right next door to Russell’s lab in the wonderfully vintage Crossroads of the World complex. News will come soon of our inaugural exhibition but in the meantime please feel free to “like” our page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/spotphotogallery and I’ll make sure you hear of upcoming programming. We’ll also have a blog page for more in depth information, so join us if you like:  http://spotphotoworkslosangeles.wordpress.com. I haven’t posted much there yet as it’s a bit early, but it won’t be long.

I hope to see you in August.

Warm regards,

Kathleen Clark

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Armstrong’s Lunar Glove, July, 2012 (c) Dan Winters Photography

As a photography editor, I’ve met many photographers I enjoyed or learned from and many who are still my friends today. In the evolution of my working relationship with Dan Winters, the underlying quality was a sense of old connection, like we’d known each other forever. With each project we worked on together, there was a deepening awareness of substance, humanity and mutual trust.

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Rubber Stamps, 2012 (c) Dan Winters Photography

A lot of people love working with Dan Winters, so in that I’m not unique. He is one of the foremost editorial photographers of our time for good reason. For me, there was always something about him that made me feel at home, a shared origin rooted in art, orchards, the West and the understated.  It had nothing to do with magazines or the politics of publication so I often felt that we “got away with” making art in a context that’s not always accepting of art. When an artful being raises from the drought that publishing plus commerce creates, it’s a thrill. It is especially so when that artist has the tools, aesthetic, and craftsmanship to convince editors of their gifts, allowing art to thrive and excel even when sandwiched between the aspirational ads for jewelry and furnishings.

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Apollo Mission Control Console, Houston, 2012 (c) Dan Winters Photography

When I call Dan Winters a friend, I should explain that I never shared dinner with him or his wife and manager Catherine, though with both we shared enough thoughtful conversations to place them in a respected place in my world. We spent time together as he photographed beloved vintage robots and science fiction movie props at a collectors cluttered house in North Hollywood and I watched in admiration at the comfortable way he photographed Anthony Hopkins in a hotel room turned studio in Santa Monica. He skillfully executed my concept of still life top hat and cane for a classic Hollywood feature in a way that was fascinating to observe and stunningly beautiful.

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Endeavour on her pad, May 15, 2011 (c) Dan Winters Photography

A few years ago when I was in Austin, Texas for SXSW, I had plans to visit Dan and Catherine at the studio where he made so many of the still life photographs that we spent our phone conversations working through. I wanted to see for myself the studio where I’d shipped him orange trees and crates of a range of citrus fruit for the California Citrus series that now sits on my mantle – the studio he said smelled absolutely amazing. Ultimately my schedule didn’t end up allowing the visit so when I found Dan by chance sitting across from me in the airport as we both were leaving town, it felt like kismet.

Endeavour Passes Through the Clouds, May 16, 2011

Endeavour Passes Through the Clouds, May 16, 2011                              (c) Dan Winters Photography

All this is to say that it’s probably impossible for me to critique Dan Winter’s work objectively, so I won’t even try. I will urge you to go see his exhibition Last Launch at Fahey Klein Gallery in Los Angeles through August 31. Winters received close-range access from NASA to photograph the last launches of the space shuttles Discovery (February 24, 2011), Atlantis (May 17, 2011), and Endeavour (May 11, 2011). With multiple automatically controlled cameras, bolted into place for stability, Dan Winters records the dramatic launches of the last flight of these shuttles as they were sent hurtling into space. The resulting launch photographs are breathtaking, whether one has an interest in space travel or not.

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Discovery Flight Deck (aft view with robotic arm controls), Cape Canaveral, 2011              (c) Dan Winters Photography

The exhibition depicts far more than the launches alone however, and large-scale “portraits’ of the shuttles, lunar rovers and elite fighter planes, cockpits and mission control panels remind those familiar with Dan Winters’ work just how good he is at photographing gadgets, machines and all things science. My personal favorites were the detail shots of the astronaut’s gloves, as well as the full-length flight suits. Neil Armstrong’s Lunar Glove is much more than just a discarded piece of a uniform. In Winters’ hands, the glove appears to be fully inhabited. In my mind it is filled with all the dreams of everyone who once huddled around a television set to see Armstrong’s fuzzy apparition, as he was the first to put a boot down on the surface of the moon. Last Launch is as close as many of us will get to experiencing the historical space program and a rare opportunity to see work by the gifted Dan Winters.

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Neil Armstrong’s Lunar Suit, Smithsonian Institute, July, 2012              (c) Dan Winters Photography

Last Launch: Discovery, Endeavour, Atlantis is also a book published by the University of Texas Press.  His other books include Dan Winters’ America: Icons and Ingenuity (2012), and Dan Winters: Periodical Photographs (2009). Dan Winters is a regular contributor for Vanity Fair, New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Texas Monthly.

Self Portrait (c)Dan Winters Photography

Self Portrait (c) Dan Winters Photography

Fahey/Klein Gallery is located at 148 North La Brea Avenue, between First Street and Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. The gallery is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, Tuesday through Saturday, 323 934 2250.

Sankore Mosque rises above the eponymous surrounding neighborhood. Together they formed the famous "University of Sankore," which gave Timbuktu its reputation as a center of Islamic scholarship; it was not a formally incorporated university, but rather a collection of highly respected scholars who each held their own majlis. In the sixteenth century, the golden age of Islamic learning in Timbuktu, subjects ranged from Arabic grammar, literature, and poetry to mathematics, magic, medicine, history and law.

The 16th century Sankore Mosque rises above the eponymous surrounding neighborhood. Together they form the “University of Sankore,” which gave Timbuktu its reputation as a center of Islamic scholarship; it was not a formally incorporated university, but rather a collection of highly respected scholars who each held their own majlis.

Several years before I met Alexandra Huddleston she began her ten month research and photographic residency in Timbuktu, Mali.  The recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, Huddleston created “333 Saints: a Life of Scholarship in Timbuktu,”  the story of a rich and beautiful African intellectual culture that remains largely unknown in the West. As all documentarians know, it is a rare talent to photograph as if one is a fly on the wall.  Perhaps her birthplace in the nearby country of Sierra Leone gives her a regional instinct.  Even so, I found it striking what a light footprint she wielded in her images of a community in love with books – scholars of all ages who seek knowledge and wisdom. Huddleston’s beautiful photographs and informative text reveal a city that has built its identity around a culture of scholarship.

With foreheads pressed against the outer wall of the great mosque of Djingarey-Ber, celebrants of Mawlid pray for their hopes in the coming year. Islam In Tibuktu is highly influenced by Sufism.

With foreheads pressed against the outer wall of the great mosque of Djingarey-Ber, celebrants of Mawlid pray for their hopes in the coming year. Islam In Tibuktu is highly influenced by Sufism. (c) Alexandra Huddleston

Huddleston writes of her experience “I gained a deep respect for the history and traditions of Timbuktu and a healthy skepticism for one of the most sinister truisms of the twentieth century: that tradition and social and economic development are incompatible. I saw that it was love and respect for one’s own culture that gave the greatest strength, adaptability, and creativity in the face of change.”

Two women study Arabic.

Two women study Arabic. (c) Alexandra Huddleston

Utilizing her new imprint The Kyouda Press, Alexandra Huddleston has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds needed to self-publish a book version of this extensive photographic series. The photographs in the book were taken several years before the turbulent current events that have transformed Mali’s political and cultural life. However, they show the culture of moderate Islam that has been under direct attack: a deeply rooted, ancient Islamic tradition of tolerance, erudition, and faith. Photographs from the body of work have been acquired by the US Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Museum of African Art.

Several of the 9,000 ancient manuscripts in the Mamma Haidera Library.

Several of the 9,000 ancient manuscripts found in the collection at Timbuktu’s Mamma Haidera Library. (c) Alexandra Huddleston

Alexandra Huddleston holds a BA from Stanford University and an MS in broadcast journalism from Columbia University.  Her work has been published in The New York Times, Zeit Magazine, National Geographic Explorer, and exhibited worldwide. To contribute to her book project:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1101472817/333-saints-a-life-of-scholarship-in-timbuktu-book

Alexandra Huddleston

Alexandra Huddleston