Sebastião Salgado :: The Hell of Serra Pelada

53-salgadoSebastião Salgado is likely the most eminent photojournalist working today.  Of Salgado’s many iconic images, perhaps the most famous is this picture of a dispute between Serra Pelada gold mine worker and military police taken in Brazil in 1986. It is the classic picture of tension with a twist–the authority is in the hands of the police on the right, but he earns much less than the miners thus infusing that facet of tension into the picture too.

“Serra Pelada was a large gold mine in Brazil 430 kilometres (270 mi) south of the mouth of the Amazon River. In 1979 a local child swimming on the banks of a local river found a 6 grams (0.21 oz) nugget of gold. Soon word leaked out and by the end of the week a gold rush had started. During the early 1980s, tens of thousands of prospectors flocked to the Serra Pelada site, which at its peak was said to be not only the largest open-air gold mine in the world, but also the most violent. Continue reading Sebastião Salgado :: The Hell of Serra Pelada


SUBMIT TO ME is underground filmmaker Richard Kern’s third film, from 1985. Featuring Lydia Lunch, Cruella DeVille, Phil Forrest, Audrey Rose, Lung Leg, Brian Moran, Margie, Margo Day, Chris, Clint Ruin, Tom Turner, Amy Turner and
Richard Kern.  Music by the Butthole Surfers.

“He (Kern) first came to underground prominence as part of the underground cultural explosion in the East Village of New York City in the 1980s, with erotic and experimental films like The Right Side of My Brain and Fingered, which featured underground personalities of the time such as Lydia LunchDavid WojnarowiczSonic YouthKembra PfahlerKaren Finley and Henry Rollins. Like many of the musicians around him, Kern had a deep interest in the aesthetics of extreme sex, violence and perversion and was one of the leading lights of the movement called Cinema of Transgression, a term coined by Nick Zedd.” – wikipedia



ALEX COUWENBERG :: beyond hard-edge abstraction


Alex Couwenberg’s images reflect the cultural trappings of his Southern California roots;

“From Los Angeles, Couwenberg’s work references and suggests the aesthetic associated with mid-century modernism, car culture, skateboards, and surfboards.  Not to leave out, paying homage to the historical styles of post-war art making associated with Los Angeles and southern California throughout the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s.  Couwenberg’s paintings give a nod towards the Hard-edge abstractionists, the finish fetish, and the light and space artists.  Not content to replicate, he uses the sensibility of Eames-era design and hard-edge geometric abstraction as points of departure for creating paintings.  His process, an additive and reductive series of moves and passes, creates multilayered environments that are deep and sensual.  He harnesses these ideas into harmonious results, reflecting the visual landscape of his environment.” -bio from mana, the film’s website

At The Claremont Graduate School, Couwenberg was mentored by hard-edge abstraction legend Karl Benjamin whose influence is apparent, albeit as a point-of-departure.  Couwenberg has built an dense and extensive vocabulary on the bedrock of the clean, pure and reductive geometric language that Benjamin and his peers utilized during their mid-century era.

ELLIOTT ERWITT: NEW YORK CITY, USA, 1953 Transcending the Personal into the Universal

20110202-km-showcase-erwitt‘The photograph that Elliott Erwitt made in 1953 of his newborn daughter and her mother in the family’s modest Manhattan apartment is among the most widely reproduced of its time, having appeared in venues as different as Edward Steichen’s seminal 1955 photography exhibition (and book) “Family of Man,” and in magazines, on postcards and even in drug company advertisements. But if Mother and Child is a mainstay of modern photography, to the mischievous Erwitt, 74, it’s just “a family picture of my first child, my first wife and my cat,” he says. “I still see it as a snapshot. But it happens to be a pretty good one.” -Adriana Leshko, Smithsonian Magazine, August 2002″

Continue reading ELLIOTT ERWITT: NEW YORK CITY, USA, 1953 Transcending the Personal into the Universal


In 1985, the late Chris Burden created a piece entitled Beam Drop for Art Park in New York.  The piece, involving a ‘performance’ of sorts while ultimately producing an art object as well, signals Burden’s transition to sculpture.

“Sixty enormous steel L-beams fall a dizzying 100 to 120 feet from a crane into a foundation of wet cement. They stick up like awkward, hostile pillars, clanging as they crowd together in a bulky clump. “Using chance as an integral element in art-making has historical precedence in the works of such renowned artists as Jackson Pollock, Marcel Duchamp, and John Cage,” wrote Burden in a statement on the piece. “However, most artists of monumental steel sculpture have not embraced randomness as the essential component of their work.”-Interview Magazine Continue reading CHRIS BURDEN :: BEAM DROP

AN INTRODUCTION TO SEMIOTICS & STRUCTURALISM, a lecture by Paul Fry, Yale University

In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry explores the semiotics movement through the work of its founding theorist, Ferdinand de Saussure. The relationship of semiotics to hermeneutics, New Criticism, and Russian formalism is considered. Key semiotic binaries–such as langue and parole, signifier and signified, and synchrony and diachrony–are explored. Considerable time is spent applying semiotics theory to the example of a “red light” in a variety of semiotic contexts. Continue reading AN INTRODUCTION TO SEMIOTICS & STRUCTURALISM, a lecture by Paul Fry, Yale University