The first image by Chantal Elisabeth Ariëns I ever saw was a photograph of clouds. The thing about a good cloud photograph is that it can’t just replicate the “airy nothing” over our heads. “The [photographer’s] eye, in fine frenzy rolling” must “glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven” and give “to airy nothing / A local habitation and a name.” The image must become a dwelling, as in a place in which one tarries or delays before moving on, a place in which one lingers over a thought, sustains a fleeting idea, remembers. In Mixed Memories, designed by Roy Kahmann (Kahmann Gallery) and sold by Artibooks, Ariëns dwells on the subtle grandeur not only of clouds—those tranquil immensities—but of bodies in repose or in mid-movement, caught at angles both elegant and unassuming.
Das Auge des Krieges(The Eye of War)Dieter KellerBuchkunst Berlin, 202024 × 20 cm, 118 pages$60Reviewed by Evan Leake Two years before Walter Benjamin was forced to flee from the Nazis and leave his home country, he published “A Short History of Photography,” in which he concludes that the increasing portability of cameras would better enable photographers to capture “transitory and secret pictures” of humanity’s worst crimes and catastrophes. These images, however, would prove so shocking that public audiences would be at a loss for how to mentally process what they were seeing. “At this point,” suggests Benjamin, “the caption must step in” to clarify the contexts of these unsettling photographs and explain their significance to unwitting viewers. Benjamin never so much as hints at what, exactly, these photographs might depict, but nonetheless
Inside Out:On the Photography of Elizabeth Claffey Christoph Irmscher The Indiana-based photographer Elizabeth Claffey began her career in print photography, working for a variety of newspapers in New England and Texas and at Universal Studios in New York, where she participated in studio shoots, making and editing images for websites and media use. Maybe this is where she acquired the interest in storytelling that pervades her art. Yet Claffey’s training in women’s studies (a field in which she obtained a graduate certificate at Texas Women’s University, where she also completed her Master of Fine Arts) has no doubt added depth and understanding and a political edge to the stories her camera captures—stories about herself, her family, and her children; other women; people living, due to disease or poverty, on the margins
Karl Blossfeldt: VariationsUlrike Meyer StumpLars Müller Publishers, 20216.5 in × 9.5 in512 pages, 205 illustrations€45Reviewed by Evan Sennett Ulrike Meyer Stump’s Karl Blossfeldt: Variations (2021), just published in German and English, offers a new approach to the classic series of photographs. Contemporary approaches to Blossfeldt’s work have displaced his images from their original context as decorative tools. As Stump argues, reproductions of Blossfeldt’s images in museums, books, posters, and advertisements, have “spiraled out of control,” far beyond their intended use. We have, in a sense, forgotten that Blossfeldt’s study of botanical motifs originated in more practical settings. To him, they were pedagogical and decorative templates. Stump’s Variations traces the critical evaluations and public perceptions of Blossfeldt’s work over nearly a century of circulation. She gives an historicist’s reading of works contemporaneous