Karin + Raoul a morning read that is when i have one


i’ve been very busy these past few weeks planning  trips to alaska and another one to hati so i’ve not had much time nor energy to write anything. this is  a reblog from my sometimes morning read from a couple of togs Karin  and  Raoul  who’s work  i find interesting and i might learn from, if only i had a budget to work with. most of my works budgets are under $100 to below. not much to work with for sure.

maybe you’ll find their blog interesting enough to follow it yourself. i’ve always been a newton fan especially since seeing a doucmentary on PBS about his life and work, but today i can’t find the link, as Phoo would say i have a very small brain.

HELMUT NEWTON – AWKARDLY TWISTED AND STRETCHED, MANIPULATED AND RAW AND SEXY – WRITTEN by {HEIDI SHAPIRO}

Posted by Hassan Kinley | Filed under Literature | Book Review

Heidi Shapiro  – Photographed by Hassan Kinley

Defeat is never a wise opening for a writer, although I begrudgingly begin from this cornered position.  If it helps, think of me as the six-foot-tall -model that I am, naked and tense and faced – as many a model has been – with the gaze of Helmut Newton’s authority, overshadowed and unable to assert myself except through his lens.

This… this is supposed to be tribute to Helmut Newton, in words.  The laughable quandary is that such icons have already surpassed this stage of reportage.  A cacophony of language – awkwardly twisted and stretched, manipulated and raw and sexy – might be the only path left to honestly travel.  Yet it would make for an odd piece indeed, and one in which you’d only see Helmut through the fetishized spaces if you knew to keep a keen eye out for him.

The fact is, tributes to Helmut Newton are already rank.  Ask any established or aspiring photographer of women to list his/her influences, and you’re bound to hear Helmut’s name gurgled out in wave after wave of husky admiration.  If you resist this urge to inquire and rely instead on your eyes, you’ll see the etched outlines of Helmut far, far more.  Newton’s must be one of the most prolifically imitated styles in photography, and glimpses of his iconography ooze from nearly every corner of the fashion industry.  The man’s mark is a meme, replicating rabidly throughout the generations of artists who have come after him and have been unable to escape the insidious weight of his influence.  When it’s not a clear case of compliment through imitation – and certainly those abound – Helmut’s presence is often still felt in his absence.  If you are not acquainted with the breadth of his work, you risk replicating it.  And when you have diligently done your homework in an attempt to seek a niche of originality, Helmut’s shadow hounds you yet, concentrated as you must be on ensuring non-Helmutian styles or ideas.  In this way, the postmodernists had it right; Newton is the unspoken absence who permeates our presence, that which is inescapably linked, if only subconsciously, to the whole symbolic system.  We can no longer extricate him from the photographic discourse even if we wanted to.

I have – unsurprisingly – mixed reactions to Newton’s work.  On the one hand, I’m unapologetically smitten with night photography and beautiful, powerful women.  And without question, I fall into the camp of the voyeur.  But what makes Newton’s photography so powerful and influential, I believe, is the repulsive tension it exudes.  Yes, yes, there was an “edginess” to his work, a pushing of boundaries into the fetishistic and erotic; all old hat by now.  And yes, he has a flare for the decadent – photography reeking of wealth and sex.  What fascinates and disturbs me is the hint of cold cruelty in some of his work.  While Helmut was drawn towards statuesque and powerful women, the lure seems less in the women themselves and more in his power over them, in his ability to manipulate their bodies to his asserted desire, to subjugate, to manage, to control.  His seems like the desire we models encounter in many a male photographer: a playing out of dominance over apparently untouchable beauties, that if you cannot have them in the real world, you can seek some satisfaction (and revenge?) by bending them to your camera’s will. If what you voyeuristically desire in a photograph is a sense of some intimate insight into a woman’s character, you will not find it in Newton. But again and again, you will find Newton himself.  His skill is largely in his ability to self-reflect.  Nothing about his work conveys any desire to produce a picture that will sate the vanity of his subject.  Newton could seemingly care less about her desires; she is a tool to manifest his vision alone.  I suspect this quality of his art is indicative both of brilliant talent and unshakable egoism.  But then, you don’t break into the highest echelons of the fashion industry without precisely those two characteristics.

Similarly, if you seek in a photograph a sense of authenticity, some real moment captured and undirected, you will not find it in Newton.  His staging is screamingly apparent, his style defined by his mise-en-scenes.  Perhaps Newton intended his conspicuous posing as caricature to the fashion industry, as critical commentary, even as satire (disposable clothes, indifferent clothes, desired clothes; disposable women, indifferent women, desired women).  But if that’s the case, it’s just as apparent that his satire-as-documentary style has secured itself as a staple of the industry, an unshakable totem.  The Newtonian fantasies of his photographs use sex as a commercial tool – and though hardly his invention, Helmut realized this marriage so successfully that I have trouble seeing any way of rescinding the associations.  From the standpoint of human psychology, I’m not even sure such a reversal is possible or desirable.  But it does have me recognizing that some element of both my praise and critique lies not in Helmut’s lack of skill, but in the recognition of his utter and unquestioned efficacy. – Heidi Shapiro

their blog has some interesting links to photographers and some new york shows. i like karin’s photography, very sensual but some women are built that way.

jene

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