Column

1 Image 1 Minute

Micol Hebron, Spencer Mishlen, Stephen Berens, Jim Welling
Organized by Micol Hebron

Micol Hebron, Artist
Bartholomew Cooke, untitled, 2005
Copyright 2005 Bartholomew Cooke

I love this image because it is both polysemous and unique, because it is a paradoxical image, at once violent and graceful. It simultaneously presents a silence and a roar, and speaks to me on many levels. As a photo historian, I am reminded of Worthington or Edgerton’s iconic milk drop images. Or the photos of the atom bomb clouds at Bikini Island or Hiroshima. Or Stieglitz’s Equivalents. I think of Andres Serrano’s images of blood and piss and semen. I am seduced by the modernist formalism of the swirls of white ink. This image is referential and abstract at the same time. It’s a truly decisive moment, irreproducible, and entirely fleeting, for a moment later, the swirls would hold a different configuration. When I first saw this photo, I wanted to own it, knowing full well that one cannot really ever own an image. I just wanted to keep looking at it.

Micol Hebron is an artist who teaches the History of Photography at Art Center College of Design. If you are interested in participating in 1 image, 1 minute, please write to mhebron@sbcglobal.net.

 

Stephen Berens, Photographer
Earl Berens, 1946

When I look at this photograph of my dad, shot on his way home from a stint in the navy during the occupation of Japan at the end of WWII, I feel like I am looking at the photograph of a stranger. For starters, he doesn’t seem to look like the person I know. I was shown this photograph for the first time only a few years ago, and it really surprised me. Here is this young man, in uniform, smiling, and looking directly into the camera while sitting in front of a romantic, though somewhat forlorn, backdrop that I imagine must have been used mostly by couples on a special date in the 1940s. He seems oblivious to the painted flowers and the trash on the floor. This photograph was taken before he met my mom, before he decided to go to college, before he became a veterinarian, before he had children, before he did almost anything that I associate with him or his personality, just at that moment before he started to become who he is.

 

Spencer Mishlen, Photographer
Spencer Mishlen, Mom Holding Dovima with Elephants, 2006

The most famous photograph in my world is Dovima with Elephants by Richard Avedon. It is the oldest image in my memory of something that is not my own. Before my parents separated when I was five, they had a framed poster print up in the house that we lived in. I had always assumed my mother was the woman in the photograph with the elephants. I didn’t learn otherwise until I was about 14 when I found the print in storage and read the caption under the image. To this day I can still feel the love of my mother when I look at Dovima with Elephants.

 

Jim Welling, Photographer
Inge Morath, Calder With Maquette of Gwenfritz, Roxbury, 1965

This picture shows Alexander Calder walking with a three-legged table that holds a maquette of his sculpture the Gwenfritz, which is now installed outside at the Smithsonian in Washington. In the picture you see cows in the background and Calder is walking through the Connecticut landscape with hills behind. He’s wearing a fisherman’s sweater. There’s an old wooden palette in the foreground and some weeds, just kind of a funky studio side-yard location. What I like about the picture is that it’s almost as if he’s taking the sculpture for a walk; it’s on this bulky weird table with these very black, sharp, spiky things. In DC the sculpture looks like a gigantic bat with these big wings. It’s the most sinister, ominous sculpture. Calder has domesticated it in this photograph where he’s taking the sculpture out the studio. One of the things I think he’s doing, that I find myself doing, is when you make something that is as strange spatially as this sculpture is, or you make an abstract photograph, you want to walk around with it, take it with you, take it inside, take it to bed, because you want to always look at it to understand the space. Calder’s probably just moving the maquette outside to photograph it, but there’s the sense that he can’t be separated from it. The great pleasure of being an artist is that you are able look at your work in all sorts of conditions and sizes and scales; you can take it inside, take it outside. That’s what I like about the picture. There’s something truly wonderful about seeing these metal plates out in a landscape.

 

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