Blanc et Noir: Masters of Noir 2

“Bangkok Shadow and Light”

A review by Joey Madia

A few months ago I had the pleasure of reviewing John Gartland’s Resurrection Room: Bangkok dark rhetoric, a complex, riveting piece that seamlessly blended sardonic autobiography and social commentary with fantastical leaps through time and subject-space.

Blanc et Noir operates as a companion piece and, although it showcases Gartland’s poetry (as did sections of Resurrection Room), it comes at its subject matter—Bangkok and environs and the myriad personalities who populate this space—from a series of different angles. It is no less (and at times more so) sharp and biting than its predecessor. Add in the stunning and at times disturbing photography of Mark Desmond Hughes and the written/visual cocktail is both potent and lasting.

Gartland knows Story, and talks of it often in his poetry and prose. The opening line of the collection is “That fantasy of a well-rounded life in three acts,” calling to mind Joseph Campbell’s oft-stated observation that, although our lives seem random, looking back at the end, they seem as well-crafted as the best of novels. Continue reading

The Glow of Paris

Ponts de Paris

Review by Grady Harp

Gary Zuercher reveals Paris as few have ever experienced. His luminous black and white photographs define the origin of the Paris’ moniker as the City of Lights. His subject – the bridges, after dark, glowing in the lights that make the night city live – Paris without people, without semblances of activity, simply a mystery of the paths where in his images only silence views the glow of the city.

While many famous photographers have captured the spirit, the romance, and that special indescribable magnetism of Paris, no one to date has concentrated on the bridges of Paris as the focal point of sharing the magic of this city. Why the bridges? The bridges connect the city, the people on both sides of the Seine, and serve as the foundation for a study of the history of a city from 1607 (Pont Neuf) to 2006 (the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir). Continue reading

Skeleton in the Closet: Eating Disordered Lives

Confessions and shared empathies

Review by Grady Harp

Fritz Liedtke is a professional photographer and artist whose museum quality work has gained him high ranking in the world of important contemporary artists. But Fritz Liedtke is also a humanitarian as this profoundly beautiful and sensitive book asserts. Before opening the windows on to the lives of the people he has studied, interviewed and photographed over the past eight years, each of whom is struggling with a life of eating disorders, he shares his own history of his conflict with anorexia – a brief though touching insight into the inner sanctum of people who share his dysfunction. The book then introduces a Foreword by Gina Ochsner who further elucidates the concept of eating disorders, providing an informed introduction to the pages that follow. Continue reading

WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images Armed Conflict and its Aftermath

Images that capture the extremes of human experience

Review By Grady Harp

What began as a ten year investigation and slow building of images and ideas from Anne Wilkes Tucker , curator of photography, Will Michaels, collections photographer, and Natalie Zeit, curatorial assistant in photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston resulted in this massive book of images of war that range from daguerreotypes from the mid 19th Century wars (the American Civil War, the Crimean War), when the camera was first used to document the tragedy of war, to the present. The book not only is overflowing with images of wars from every country around the globe over the past two hundred plus years, but it also is an homage to the war photographers who risked their lives to capture the horrors of war for posterity. Continue reading

Nude Men: From 1800 to the Present Day

The Decade of the Male Nude

Review by Grady Harp

The Leopold Museum in Vienna, Austria has just presented a controversial exhibition titled NUDE MEN: From 1800 to the present day, and this very handsome book mirrors the substance of that exhibition. Though this time around it seems as though Europe is lagging a bit behind the US in quality publications that address the artists who have had the courage to painting the male nude both in contemporary times and historically (the popular quarterly art journal The Art of Man, the books Powerfully Beautiful, 100 Artists of the Male Figure, Eros & Adonis from Firehouse Publishing to name but a few), this museum exhibition garnered great publicity not only because of content but also because of the huge photograph of a reclining male nude that covered the entrance to the museum. Continue reading