August 26, 2011
“Morgante” interweaves the personal stories of individuals linked by a common denominator: being dwarfs. “Morgante”, ironically nicknamed the Giant in the poem of the same name by Louis Pulci, was the most famous of the five dwarfs at the court of the Medicis in Florence. According to the codes of the time, the dwarf Morgante was portrayed as a “monstrum”. Thus dehumanized and stripped of his personality, he appears in paintings of Bronzino and sculptures of Giambologna. Progressively he becomes an idea, an archetype, and a looking glass through which “the human family” will regard diversity for centuries to come. Using the literary and artistic inspiration photographer Nicola Lo Calzo has created “Morgante”, a moving gallery of portraits depicting the universe of little people, a highly marginalized category in some African countries. Often associated with witchcraft, people with dwarfism live in a semi-clandestine state, subjected daily to all kinds of psychological violence. Lo Calzo photographed his models in private situations, at home, at work or in the street. In Lo Calzo’s photographs, Fidel, Kwedi, Babel are not victims of their size. On the contrary, they are the primary agents of their lives, protagonists of the scene represented. In these terms, the photographer questions the conventional representation of diversity, self-esteem and self-acceptance: his models gaze directly into the camera as if intentionally searching the eyes of their viewers. They fully assume the role of actors and directors of their own lives. In some African societes still deeply polarized around the concept of normal and abnormal, good and evil, tradition and modernity, “Morgante” is an invitation to break this archetype of “monster” and come to full recognition of diversity.
June 12, 2011
Photographs by Ruben Natal San-Miguel
Co-Curated by: Michael Hoeh & Leah Oates
Pricing begins at $1,400.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Euphoria, Curiosity, Ecstasy, Wonder, Enthusiasm, Anxiety, and Exuberance, these all are the emotions of the human spirit. But as image titles for Ruben Natal San-Miguel's portfolio Urban Water: Inner Child, they portray the feelings of a distinctly urban personal view on life in New York City.
Like the photos in Helen Levitt's 1965 iconic photobook, "A Way of Seeing" this portfolio too achieves that rare balance of sentiment without being sentimental, while always maintaining an objective distance. The casual observer of these photos is almost dazzled by their poetry, and can easily miss the harsher realities of inner city urban life masked by the surface warmth and joy. Here individuals play in water from sprinklers to fire hydrants and by doing so slow down for just a moment and become carefree.
In Natal San-Miguel's images people smile, leap and frolic in the water to cool down and to have enjoyment. In many images there is a feeling of intense emotion, joyful color and the exploration of how sun reflects on the figure in water at different times of the day. Artists dating back to the 19th century Impressionist movement derived from Claude Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise, have long focused their artistic eye on capturing the ever changing colors of water in light. Now, in the 21st century world, Natal San-Miguel continues this tradition with the use of silhouettes and shadow to create magical worlds where water ripples with light underneath changing colors of blue to alternating shades of yellow and green due to the time of day. Many of these photographs exude an emotion of intense happiness and show a different side of the urban jungle, one that is pleasurable, where people relate positively with one another and where straightforward items such as a fire hydrant can be an endless source of community amusement. Natal San-Miguel’s work appeals to our inner child, one that finds beauty and joy in a city environment of hot summer sun and the shimmering water’s light.
- Michael Hoeh
FINCH & ADA will be representing Ruben's work at ART HAMPTONS 2011!
July 7-11, 2011
Sayre Park, Bridgehampton, NY
Please visit the official Art Hamptons website for more information.
ABOUT THE CURATORS:
Michael Hoeh, a New York based art collector, is a member of the Guggenheim Photo Acquisition Committee, the IPC Library Committee, and was the Co-Chairman of the Aperture Foundation's 2010 Winter Auction. In the summer of 2010 he organized the critically acclaimed new art photography show, "American ReConstruction" at the Winkleman Gallery in Cheslea. He was recently featured in issues of Art+Auction, and Modern Painters Magazine as one of the "New Guard" of contemporary art collectors. Mr. Hoeh is also the author of the art collecting blog www.ModernArtObsession.com, which is listed by The Metropolitan Museum, The Walker Art Center, and The London Times as a top online resource for contemporary art. He has been widely quoted in the press, including, Art in America, ArtForum, the Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian Magazine, Black & White Magazine, and The Brooklyn Rail about the state of the contemporary art and photography market. Mr. Hoeh has also guest lectured or opened his collection to graduate classes at the SVA, FIT, NYU, UCONN, and The New School.
Leah Oates is the founder of Station Independent Projects, which is a Brooklyn-based freelance curatorial business that organizes exhibitions and events with a focus on artist advocacy and promotion. Station Independent Projects specializes in discovering new emerging and
mid-career artists that are not represented by galleries and organizes shows to connect artists to broader audiences.
Station Independent Projects has organized exhibitions in the New York City area with Asya Geisberg Gallery, The Scope Art Fair, The Bridge Art Fair, Peer Gallery,The Center for Photography at Woodstock, Chashama, Dam Stuhltrager Gallery, Visual Aids, Nuture Art Non-Profit, 111 Front Street Galleries, and The Kauffman Arcade Gallery and in the Chicago area at Randolph Street Gallery, The Peace Museum and The Noyes Cultural Arts Center. Shows by Station Independent have been written about in Fanzine, WNYC, The Brooklyn Rail, Crain's NYC, The Village Voice, ArtSlant, NY Arts Magazine, Chromogram, Heart as Arena, Tribeca Trib, New Art Examiner, Chicago Tribune, and New City.
Leah Oates has an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design and is a Fulbright Fellow for study at Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland. She is the recipient of numerous awards including a grant from Artists Space in NYC for a curatorial project and two Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Grants for book projects. As an artist, Oates has had fifteen solo shows and has been in over one hundred group shows around the world and is in the private collections of Julianne Moore, Lise Curry, Cesar Llacuna, Bill Groom, Laurence Asseraf, Natalie Domchencho and Mark Waskow and her works on paper are in many public collections including the National Museum of Women in the Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The British Library, The Walker Art Center Libraries, The Smithsonian Libraries and Franklin Furnace at MoMA.
Urban Water: Inner Child
Euphoria, Anxiety, Ecstasy, Curiosity, Enthusiasm, Euphoria, Wonder, and Exuberance (Fighter)
Photography Portfolio by Ruben Natal-San Miguel
Co-Curated by: Michael Hoeh & Leah Oates
Seven Unique Archival Chromogenic Kodak Prints, Metallic Finish
Edition of 10; six signed with Artists Initials
Each print is sleeved and stored in archival portfolio box
March 22, 2011
March 2, 2011
January 23, 2011
In your latest series, At the Hour of Our Death, you explore swatches of bedding, carpet and upholstery stained with traces of bodily fluids, resulting from traumatic and natural deaths. How did this project come about for you?
When I was 17 I lost a close friend to suicide. I visited his home the next day to spend time mourning with his family and a few other close friends. I remember sitting in the kitchen talking to his mother and seeing a clean up crew with an industrial vacuum cleaner walk down the hallway to his bedroom. After the crew had left I was allowed in to his room. Everything seemed eerily normal. As if the event had not really happened and it was just a terrible dream. However reality reminded me that indeed he was gone yet no evidence of this fact remained. The first time I got to see him was at the wake, dressed with makeup on laid in a coffin. I do not wish to have found him but witnessing nothing of the process and only seeing him again in a false and altered state did little to soften my grieving and shock of the loss.
Having lost your friend to suicide, was this project a difficult challenge to face?
Honestly, no. I think one reason is for the last 16 years I have thought of my friend and replayed that day in my head as well as the preceding months searching for answers. And unfortunately he has not been the only person I have lost to suicide, illness or old age in the last 16 years. However having a first hand knowledge of loss both natural and traumatic has enabled me to deal with the emotions that arise when working on such a project. Secondly the camera acts as a barrier or shield in some ways. I am present and aware of what I am photographing yet with the camera in front of my eye I am able to keep a certain distance or detachment from the material for a period of time. I am heavily focused on my process and making sure the exposure is correct and the image is in perfect focus. However, I can typically only shoot two hours at a time due the smell of the stained textiles and the emotional/psychological exhaustion associated with the project.
I love a brave photographer, and bravery seems to definitely play a role in your work. How did you get the opportunity to work with these fabrics and surfaces? How did you manage to obtain the cause of death and age of the victims?
While working on my long term project, Repository several avenues of interest presented themselves. One of them being medical waste–specifically the stains and the material which had been deemed a biohazard. I had also been thinking a lot about the death of my friend when I was in high school and how the event shaped my view of the world and my own mortality. These two pieces led me to contact crime scene clean up crews.
Originally I had intended to photograph the scene before the crew cleaned it and just after. I was thinking about juxtaposing the event with the absence of the event. I was told I may or may not get access to do this. Upon my initial visit, the crew had just brought back material from the scene of a suicide. I was shown an oval shaped section of mattress which had been removed from the whole. Visually these smaller more concentrated fragments of evidence grabbed my attention. The stains from this person's passing transformed the ordinary beige mattress in to beautiful hues of yellow and red. Artists mention a moment when all things become clear, or an Aha! moment. This was mine.
Since I was first trained as a photojournalist I am always interested in facts. I like to include text where appropriate. In the case of At the Hour of Our Death I decided early on I wanted to title each photograph in the manner in which the person died. I kept notes and every time I went to photograph I would ask someone what they new about the fragment or piece I was photographing.
Walley Films recently filmed you working on At the Hour of Our Death for a documentary. I would imagine it is typically a quiet and methodical photographing process for you when you are working in the warehouse? Did having a film crew there affect your image making at all?
It was certainly the first time Iʼve had an audience watch me work. Typically I repeat the same process for each swatch I am photographing–its slow and I imagine a bit redundant if anyone were to stand there and watch me. However with the crew filming me I worked slower than normal and had to repeat certain steps so they could catch it from different angles. I would have to say it was a distraction and certainly changed my flow however I it was well worth it to have the Walleyʼs capture it on film. The five minute film was released in late October. It has already received over 55,000 views on Vimeo. The Walleys and I are thrilled about this.
I have received numerous comments on Vimeo and personal emails from doctors, EMTs, mothers and everyone in between. For the most part they have all been extremely positive and heartfelt responses to the work. Unfortunately I did receive one threatening email from a photographer who said I was a disgrace to the profession and told me to f*** off. Iʼve considered reporting his threat to the authorities but have yet to do so. Instead I might post all the beautiful emails Iʼve received along with this gentleman's hateful response on my blog.
How has this project affected your life, as a person who has experienced loss, and as a photographer?
I do feel at times specifically with this series that I might be taking advantage of a tragedy. I know I had nothing to do with the events leading up to the personʼs death however I still find myself standing on and sometimes over my own moral line. Although I have made work about death is does not mean I am acting without an ounce of humanity. I sincerely feel for the families who have come home to find their loved one dead or dying. I also feel for the person who has passed on. I wonder who they were and what events lead to their death. I am more attached to the suicides and overdoses. I stand there half mesmerized by the stain left behind while the other half of me has to hold back tears as I think about how lonely and afraid this person must have felt in their final moments. I hope to finish the series by this summer. It requires tremendous logistical planning and Iʼve noticed it takes a mental and emotional toll on me. I do not know if what I am doing is crossing the line but something pushes me to continue making this hauntingly beautiful work.
January 6, 2011
"As photographers, we look for faces and expressions that tell stories. We look for character. We look for emotion. We look for the hook, that moment of being that creates a compelling portrait. A portrait tells a story equal parts subject and photographer in a single moment. This show is a look at a few of those moments, moments that make a person think..."