Angela Strassheim / Cara Phillips – revealing invisible traces past / present / future

Angela Strassheim – from the series “Evidence” –  see a wonderful – beautiful “e-catalogue”

Cara Philips – Untitled #40 – from the series “Ultraviolet Beauties”

Two “new” bodies of work by two women photographers I greatly admire share an interesting coincidence revealing that which you can not see alone with the naked eye – but is none-the-less right before us.

Angela Strassheim’s work from the Evidence Series – reveals (potentially) hidden violence of past events through a forensic technique where by blood stains are made visible under special chemical spray. See the exhibition shots / photos here at the Marvelli Gallery.

Cara Phillips’ work from the Ultraviolet Series reveals (potentially) hidden damage beneath the skin as revealed through UV light photography of human skin.

Both sets of images are quite nice.  Of course I’ve admired Strassheim’s work before when I’ve seen it at the Faulconer Gallery,  Grinnell, Iowa.  Strassheim’s Evidence Series is scary beautiful and a bit creepy but also for me  touches upon how we tend to have to “cover it up” and forget the past sometimes in order to move on – haunting and mysterious.

Philips work is also scary beautiful (but not creepy) touching upon themes of beauty (or perhaps just what is considered beautiful these days) in human form and surface.  What will those “blotches” become in the future? Both record a series of invisible scars under the surface so to speak – yet one clearly points to things in the past while the other points to things in the “here and now” or even – one might imagine – a horribly scary future….

Wouldn’t it be great to see these (and other “invisible” work like this) together ?

UPDATE: – sidenote…  a funny coincident tangential post about “retouching before the day’s of photoshop” over here on Conscientious “…the photographic lens is an instrument of great precision, but it does not discriminate between the essential and the unessential…” source – page 6.

“The purpose of…”

Shed with blue dotted lines, Penland, North Carolina - June 1975 by John Pfahl

Shed with blue lines… by John Pfahl – series from Altered Landscapes

“There’s a great quote by Rauschenberg, who said: “If you’re in front of a good work of art, and you don’t change your mind about something, you’re a fool.” And so it’s similar, that if art just underscores that which we already know, then it’s not doing anything for you. It should present something new, some new frontiers for you, or open up some new ideas of thought, even if it’s a dumb reaction and you say, “I could have done that.” Just acknowledging the fact that you didn’t do it shows, at least, that you’re open to that kind of thinking.”

John Baldesari:National City – interview conducted by Hugh Davies and Andra Hales, Nov. 14, 1995 –

I often question if my “art” antennae is tuned in enough to receive a signal.  It’s frustrating when I find myself trying to convince myself that “this or that” must be something worth looking at, or alternatively, something worth trying to make – as if there might be a “standard” for appreciation… or the ability to decipher a “communique” in art.  This is especially apparent to me when I don’t appreciate a “sanctioned” work – what does that mean – am I really a fool?

The book, John Baldesari:National City is a good example – having looked it over, I appreciate the conceptual works – a challenge to conventions – the effort of the artist to convey a kind of information about how one might encounter art, judge it by conventions and “get something” from it. But after that, I’m done with it. National City seems to be too laborious and focused on “getting it” – after which I don’t think it’s something I’d want to or need to come back to. In short,  it doesn’t seem to stick with me. So I ask myself what’s missing?

I think I’m realizing this partly in contrast to looking at the recently discovered (for me anyway) work by John Pfahl – specifically in his series of Altered landscapes.  I think I appreciate this sort of work by Pfahl more because it evokes a mystery that I can’t quite understand. The best ones embrace an odd characteristic of photographs that transform spatial conditions which look very different “in real life” onto flat planes  which is interesting to me – that is part of the mystery for me. This coupled with the obvious added touch onto (or into?) the photograph seems just the right thing to do…

Michael Marten – Sea Change

Michael Marten_Grain_Kent

Grain, Kent – Michael Marten

Sea Change – by Michael Marten – on view at Blue Sky Gallery here in Portland –

I think because I grew up in the cornfields of the Midwest – the views offered by Marten of seaside edges at various tides – low and high in close comparison  – are for me quite interesting and somewhat foreign.   Of course I’ve visited various shorelines along the way, but there is something important about spending enough time in one place in order to see the influences of the natural environment (or manmade for that matter) on the shape of the landscape. Perhaps it is an issue of slowing down enough to internalize it in a way – to come back time and again is the key.  One can do this in any number of places of course at different time scales, but the regular contrast and steady rhythm of high/low tides is a wonderful opportunity to do so in a predictable way.

Michael Marten_ Bedruthan Steps_Cornwall

From Marten’s statement:

“… Natural processes have lit, watered and shaped the world since time immemorial. Paying attention to their rhythms and effects may help us to reconnect to the fundamentals of the planet, which we ignore at our peril…”

Indeed.  All it takes is to be reminded in a serious way – how quickly you can be come isolated – at the mercy of nature’s way.  Perhaps that is the element missing for me in these pictures which are striking on their own terms – but for me an element of risk would be an interesting additional dimension in the series…. I like the series though – it is a good start on any number of possible ways to look at our world around us.

More of Marten’s work here on his website.

Jurgen Bergbauer – Houses and other objects…


untitled (Häuser no. 5) – Jurgen Bergbauer
60 cm x 155 cm (24” x 60”) lambdaprint on aluminium / diasec face matt , 2003

42 Studien (Print Detail) – Jurgen Bergbauer
Installation virtual 2008


Natur IV – Jurgen Bergbauer
180 cm x 240cm (71” x 95”) lambdaprint on aluminium / diasec face matt, 2008


Natur – Jurgen Bergbauer
Installation virtual 2008 –

Quite nice work by Jurgen Bergbauer (artist website here)found via post by 5B4 Photography and Books (written up nicely as well….) – here’s some more hinting at the “construction” of the book by Jurgen Bergbauer.

There is a tight consistency and pattern of study or inquiry that appeals to my aesthetic sense and architectural interest which draws me to these wonderfully rich photographic images of Bergbauer’s.  The exploration of natural forms and resulting patterns or “structure” resonates for me in the direction of a “quell the clutter” approach…  Jurgen Bergbauer is an artist that I am to watch for upcoming work for sure….

Gerhard Richter’s “Kugel”


Originally published:  March 29, 2005

Note: This is not a photo that I took – it is a web image from the resource (collection) on Gehard Richter’s Paintings, Watercolors and
Multiples for which proper credit maybe found and attributed here:

My comments…..the orb is particular in capturing the moment (trace?) in this picture of the art piece. The reflection in the all seeing – the instant of recording – context, photographer and apparatus.  The picture preserves a trace of the subject/viewer relationship that in “reality” is always shifting and requires that  you be present in the now to participate…

I love how the photo provides another space for interpretation of the piece.

The photograph provides a separation distance between you and the orb – more precisely, the presence of an image in your likeness which can only occur obviously given the situation “in real time” between you and the orb…    You see your likeness in the mirror… Here through the photograph – the separation distance is quite apparent as it offers a glimpse of the relationship to the moment when a photograph was taken….

Gerhard Richter
Diameter: 8 cm
Ball of high-grade steel
signed, dated and numbered by engraving “A.P. 5/5 Richter 1989”


What does this have to do with “modern photography”?  …  The work by Matthew Jordan comes to mind…

Untitled 2008, Matthew Jordan – From his series “half empty“… more here….

Ways of Seeing… Stationary images or a flow of informational bits…

Earlier, I posted about Bill Viola’s work – primarily thinking about the important effect of creating a “context” with in which to experience “art”…  Thinking further along the lines of the influences of the web and the potential collapse of context….   this series on youtube is worth watching…

From "ways-of-seeing"


From "ways-of-seeing"

The clips are worth seeing for yourself in your own context…

Don’t miss an interesting passage in the first series – an the example of the stationary image – one that you might make a pilgrimage to see – the image embedded in the walls of architecture…

Daniel Shea – Removing Mountains / Coal River – Newspace Center – Portland

by Daniel Shea - from the series Removing Mountains, 2007

West Virginia, by Daniel Shea from the series Removing Mountains 2007

Removing Mountains and Coal River

March 6th through 29th
Opening Reception: Friday, March 6th 7-10pm
Artist Lecture: Saturday, March 7th, 12pm

Newspace Center for Photography
1632 SE 10th Ave. Portland, OR 97214

I’m hopeful to get to see / hear about Daniel’s work – been watching it for some time and to find out it’s coming to Newspace is wonderful news.  Get out and see it!

Here’s a previous post of mine again in the category of “handsome” aesthetic…

Shea’s images flirt with his stated interpretation in the vein of a social documentary narrative and at first glance for me are simply quite beautiful photographs. It will be fun to see the group of photos in context and in print.

It’s an interesting consideration and challenge to pursue making contemporary pictures with a strong sense and execution of a current contemporary aesthetic to convey a sense of place and people.