© Amy Montali, Martin, Palmer and Nora, 2003
© Amy Montali, Erin in the blue room, 2004
“These portraits and narrative fragments are produced with a large-format view camera, which requires a slow and formal approach. However, I try to shoot spontaneously as though I am on the street or at a birthday party. I like to fuse the seductive power of studio photography with the energy and emotion of a snapshot.
The work is often collaborative and always improvisational. I choreograph scenes of varying complexity in order to explore real and fictitious relationships and to consider such subtexts as rivalry, desire, guilt, and redemption. I use the colors and shapes of my locations to illuminate and intensify, or invent, psychological states. Then, I wait for the picture.
The camera allows me to stare. In some ways content is secondary to my obsession with photography itself. I am particularly interested in how photography seduces its participants, including me, and how its power differs from that of painting, theater, or film.”
© Jessica Todd Harper, Self Portrait with Christopher, Papa and Ah-Choo, 2003
© Jessica Todd Harper, Self Portrait with Christopher and my future In-Laws, 2003
“I grew up copying paintings. My mother gave my sister and I first crayons, then charcoal, and finally pastels and watercolors as she plunked us down on the floors of local museums and directed us to pass the time drawing what we saw. Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent and Renoir were my heroes as a kid. When I went to college I became an art history major and fell in love with Vermeer, Memling, Pieter de Hooch and other Northern European artists who at first glance seemed to make paintings about nothing everyday-ness, but whose charged, quiet domestic scenes haunted me afterwards. I was impressed with the many seventeenth century Dutch painters who could at once make an image about an overflowing bowl of just-about-to-turn fruit and a metaphor for the beauty and tragedy of the human mortal experience. One could make the same observation about the children in Sally Mann’s photographs or the empty spaces in Andrew Wyeth’s paintings, both artists whom I also love.
My photographs reflect all these influences. They are about identity, familial relationships and the unspoken things that make up the inner stories of our lives. Sometimes that involves waiting for a “decisive moment” and other times I use Photoshop in a process analogous to combining different sketches for a final painting. In either case I strive to make pictures that rely on their intimacy and intensity to touch on the grander narratives of consciousness and what it means to be alive.”
Jessica Todd Harper
© Mikhael Subotzky, The Mallies Family, Rustdene Township, Beaufort West, 2006
© Mikhael Subotzky, Residents, Vaalkoppies (Beaufort West Rubbish Dump), 2006
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© Pieter Hugo, Rose Brand’s doll collection, 2006
© Pieter Hugo, Jan, Martie, Kayala, Florence and Basil Meyer in their home, 2006Messina/Musina series
“Musina is the northern-most town in South Africa. It lies on the Limpopo River on the border of Zimbabwe. The town was formerly known as Messina, and in 2002 its name was changed to correct a colonial misspelling of the name of the Musina people who previously lived in the region.Located in the heart of the bushveld with its hunting farms and diamond mine, on the major trucking route north, it attracts a conglomeration of disparate peoples. They are drawn to this town by the opportunities it offers, be it working in the mines or on the farms, policing the porous border, smuggling contraband and alien immigrants, or prostitution.In his photographs of individuals, families, interiors, landscapes and incidental details, Hugo reflects on the wounds and scars of race, class and nationality that persist here, on the border of Zimbabwe, a country in the process of self-destructing. The circumstances of Musina can also be seen as broadly reflective of any community that is confronted by transition.”
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to read an interview about this work click here