Deirdre Donohue’s Photobookcases


“The first couple of vertical rows are essays and theory and criticism, the next two are works on art movements and collections, then there are monographs generally by artist’s last name, but not exact because the shelves are varying heights, so they dance around alpha order a bit. After that, are books on photo books and other publications, and then cinema and, finally, a section on New York books [with a growing Harlem section]. Not everything fits in the living room shelves… Bookmaking, Japan, textiles and needlework are in my studio; cookbooks and philosophy in the kitchen; and Czech and Slovak art and history, literature, artist books, enigmatic books [mainly thrift store finds], and DVDs are in the bedroom. Cinema and New York will be moving out of the living room soon, as I need more shelf space!”

Read AI-AP’s full Q&A with Deirdre Donohue here



Maurice Berger writes for the New York Times Lens Blog on recent ICP-Bard MFA alumnus Kim Weston‘s work:

“…Seen, Unseen, Ms. Weston’s contribution to her class’s thesis group show, focuses on her mother’s family in Cheraw, S.C. The artist, who is part African-American, Native American and Irish, initially found the process of photographing her relatives daunting. “I was afraid of violating their privacy. I didn’t want to be seen as exploiting them.”

Though she completed the series in relative secrecy — she told no one at school about it — she ultimately embraced it as a celebration of “the people who made me who I am'”

Read the full article here.

Another history – A great week to go to the MOMA

Not only for photographers, this is a nice week to go to the MOMA as they have a some very interesting shows on display at the moment, as there is a lot of interesting work on display that allows to think about influence and underlying aspects in history in space and in language. And I strongly recommend to make a visit and look specially into the following three shows:

Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010″ // April 19–August 3

“A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio”// February 8–October 5

“Designing Modern Women 1890–1990″ //October 5, 2013–September 21


Here is why:

In “The Archeology of Knowledge” (published 1969) Michel Foucault requests to rewrite history and to include the everyday and the stories of the random and ordinary people into our archives of knowledge and cultural or national history.

The work of the German artist Sigmar Polke (who died in 2010) shows and interacts with this this kind of social-cultural specific everyday-ness and visualizes and works with the living circumstances and the media, the newspaper articles and the proverbs and street language of post war Germany.

The thoughtful curation of Polke`s work in this retrospective visualizes another part and history of the social cultural atmosphere and the social landscape of post war Germany. Polke’s work often comments or transforms the given material and gives an insight into what people were talking and thinking about in their homes and on the streets – and it uncovers how much certain specifics and habits of German culture are mirrored in the media and in street posters, signs, and daily newspapers and their advertisements and articles.

The show at the MOMA gives a sensitive insight to aspects of a habitual Germaness that is underlying in the culture and becomes more visible in Polke´s work. The curation shows how Polke’s work talks to those kinds of things that are some how there but unpronounceable about a country or culture – as all spoken or written words and explanations about those things could only maneuver into the dangers of being seen as stereotypes.

But here the underlying an the unpronounceable become a part of the art work and curation, which remembers me, that the work Unpronounceable (“unaussprechlich”) itself is a meaningful term in Germany with important meaning and reference to the German culture and history.

Even though the colors and free use of material might in Polke’s work might not be to everybody’s favor – his work and vocabulary is full of truthfulness and sensitive awareness of influence and nationalism inside of a culture.

The work of Polke is looking on that what is underlying and unpronounceable and visualizes and looks critical at the superficialness and boundaries of newspaper articles and their practice, his works talk with awareness and sensitivity about the leftovers of fascism and obedience to authority in the German language and history, and in the everyday.

But they although show and visualizes the atmosphere of hope and enthusiasm, the willingness to work on change and transformation and shows the beauty and meaning of certain infrastructures and characteristics such as the living close to nature and the self expression in alternative life styles in the German culture by using the everyday stories and materials of the culture. It is very interesting to see what kind of materialities mediums and vocabulary Polke uses to visualize this ideas of hidden things inside of a culture.


Staying with Foucault’s idea of reframing history and uncovering other kinds and parts of the history of a culture although the curation of some photographers photo studio produced images  “A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio” is worth a look.

The exhibition shows some very interesting photographs and studio works such as Fischli and Weiss “The way things go”, and it might make you think not only about the singular photographs but although a little more about photographic studio practice in general and think about what kind of things and subjects belong to the studio practice of photographers and what their dynamics are in different times and cultures.

It makes questioning if there are parallels in the subjects and work and where they came from. What were and are the subjects and motivations of the photographers? What were their interests and where they similar to other photographers motivations and interests at different times? One can think about the state of photography at different times in our history and ask what kinds of texts and ideas were circulating at the different times and now and what was and is the cultural atmosphere and influences at now and at the different times.


The third show I like to recommend to look at is ”the Designing Modern Women 1890–1990”, – not that the show itself is arranged as thoughtful as the two other shows, or one could ask which women designers are displayed in the museum with which message and which women designers or artists are not presented in the museum and why is that so… but the model of the small kitchen that by Charlotte Perriand designed with Le Corbusier (1952) from the Unité d’Habitation housing project is– even though its presented shamefully pressed very distantly from the viewer in to a corner inside of the show –  a wonderful in addition to the ideas of Foucault and the Polke Show,  and to think about how we inhabit space and how the space we inhabit forms and structures ourselves and our culture, the human psychology and social interactions we have and can have with each other inside of home and space. What does this kitchen say about the sate of the meaning of home and family or about thus of the working class  and conditions or about about individuality and which hints and information may it be giving about power structures as well as about enthusiasm and to the the underlying and to the unpronounceable? (



Responsibility for one’s selfie

I’d like to start this post off with my working definition for a few words:

Portrait: not just an image of someone, but rather a true representation of that person and their character, personality, and being.
Self-portrait: a considered portrait of one’s self.
Selfie: an image of one’s self typically created with the front-facing camera on the iPhone.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think selfies aren’t serious or considered, I just feel they have their own language and aren’t necessarily always a self-portrait. James Franco, the self-appointed selfie authority, recently had a show entitled New Film Stills at Pace Gallery in which he restaged Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills. Given his position, I would imagine Franco would be more responsible in his recreation of these images; they feel like a lazy interpretation of an iconic photographic project. After seeing Bound 3, his (better than the original) recreation of Kanye West’s music video Bound 2 he’s set the bar for how good his appropriation work can be that it makes me upset to see these Sherman recreations.

One image in particular and the impetus for writing this is posted below with the original from Sherman.


What is it about this image that bothers me so much? Franco didn’t recreate it. He wears a similar hat and gaze, but the essence of the photograph hasn’t been considered; he’s missing the thoughtful placement of the buildings in the background. In Sherman’s she is surrounded by buildings and is literary engulfed by the city whereas Franco’s is haphazardly composed. It may seem like a tiny detail to criticize, but the entire meaning of the photograph has been lost.

For a renaissance man and culture creator like Franco, missing a detail like this is problematic especially after seeing the precision with which he recreated and improved on West’s video. I applaud the effort in his continued interest in the representation and presentation of the self, but maybe the actor/writer/director/student/artist should stick to what he knows best, the selfie. That or apply the same level of responsibility to the creation of his work that he did in Bound 3.

Aline Shkurovich: ni de aquí ni de allá (neither from here nor from there)

Huevos Pinche Presidente (Fuck That Peña Nieto)

I was 14 on September 11th, so I grew up with our War on Terror.  As a New Yorker this meant going to anti-war rallies in the city for fun, and watching the city evolve into the police-heavy landscape that it is.  “If You See Something, Say Something,” replaced the AIDS and don’t-do-drugs public service announcements, and the rift between my young liberal friends and anyone that looked remotely pro-war was wide.  When those yellow “Support Our Troops” ribbons started appearing on storefronts, stoops, and suit lapels, we gave dirty looks.  To be patriotic was not cool, and voicing pride for our nation was a social death sentence.

Art, for a while, became a way to voice our opinions.  People in my high school were big into making Barbara Kruger-style anti-war paintings (“These Colors Don’t Run” read an American flag dripping with blood, as I recall), and I had some graffiti style “Ohio Fuck Tards” on my backpack over the 2004 Ohio Miscount.  I got into photography because of time spent looking at war journalism and marching with protestors in the Republican National Convention rally in NYC.  The art I made in college, by and large, was critical of our country, however I no longer make art like this, and if I do, the politics in my work are so subtle I hardly notice my own commentary.  Art and politics in my sphere is a rare combination, which is why it’s a refreshing dose of reality to spend time in the current show up at ICP’s Long Island City MFA studios.

Collaboration with Catherine Zuñiga, México City

Collaboration with Catherine Zuñiga, México City

Aline Shkurovich, a Mexican artist and my classmate here in the ICP-Bard MFA program (whose solo exhibition ni de aquí ni de allá [neither from here nor from there] will be on view at the MFA studios in Long Island City from Thursday, May 1st to Sunday May 4th), was at home cooking when she realized that the red, white and green of Mexico’s flag is reflected in her country’s food: the hot sauce, meats, beans, rice, tortillas, lime, and cilantro.  It’s these very colors you’re confronted with in Aline’s exhibition—a blood red wall by the entrance frames a printed internet meme of telenovela star Carmen Salinas flipping off the camera, declaring a bold Fuck You to both viewers and Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto; a white wall of corrugated fiberglass in an adjacent room is activated by projected polaroid’s of the backs of undocumented Mexican workers; a table with a bowl of limes next to a cutting board and knife (Limoncito Agrio [the lime-limon-crisis]) is nestled nearby.

Anafre Agrengado (Interior Safe Grill)

The socio-economic status and privilege of the artist is most present with Tortillas Hechas a Mano (hand made Tortillas), in which Flora Martinez, also Mexican, fries and serves homemade tortillas to viewers in a padded kitchen.  Bubble wrap surface-coated with a film of silver fireproofing material covers the floor wall to wall, and Flora works a grill in the center of the room that is erected above a steel foundation in the shape of an inverted pyramid.  Viewers can expect a variety of encounters with Flora based on their nationalities, social class, and language barriers.  Instead of telling us directly about Mexican cuisine, or immigration for that matter, Aline promotes the beauty of her culture and the crisis of Mexican society (the limes, for example, which can be sliced open and squeezed onto Flora’s hot tortillas), and acknowledges her relationship to working-class Mexicans both at home as well as here in NYC.  The work confronts racial segregation and class separateness without offering a manifesto.

Tortillas Hechas a Mano (hand made Tortillas)


Instead of telling us where exactly to have a conversation, and with whom, Aline points to a variety of options: we can interact with those who are next to us, across the counter, or above us.  In No a la Censure (They are censoring internet), a small webcam close to the ceiling monitors the photograph of Salinas giving the finger, live streaming the backs of the exhibition-viewers as they enter the space and confront the print.  Who could be watching the live footage is unclear, but the small eye of the camera lends further presence to President Nieto and his people.

On an individual level, Aline interacts with other Mexicans in vulnerable territory for both parties involved.  In Con el Sudor de Tu Espalda (wetbacks?), a looping one channel video projection that shows a grid of 23 Polaroid’s developing immediately following their exposure, the bare backs of anonymous restaurant workers glow on the surface of the corrugated fiberglass (titled Construccion de Muro [Labor of Wall]).  “I realized how important it was to be Mexican and talk about Mexican problems,” she told me.  “Being away from home triggered this need to talk about Mexico with cooks in restaurants, workers in bodegas,” and also Flora, who cleans the pre-school below Aline’s apartment.

While her first attempts to communicate with others were “clumsy,” Aline was interested in how quickly her conversations with workers became so personal.  “Soon I was being invited into their homes and leaving with the gifts they insisted I take,” she said.   In their workplaces, Aline would ask the individuals to take off their shirts and pose with their backs turned away from the camera, and almost everyone agreed to do so.  Aline would shoot video of the Polaroid’s developing and in exchange give the finished photos to her subjects.  In this way, these are documents of undocumented immigrants–documents owned by the pictured subjects.  The tragedy of Aline’s subjects lies in the reality that the individual who crosses national borders to search for opportunity can’t even have their face presented as a picture in public.  The artist walks away with video documentation and the subjects go home with Polaroid’s that have little value to them in the face of a Green Card.

“I’m not in a position to solve the problem.  My privilege is being a bridge between two worlds,” explains Aline.  “I found a curatorial voice in this program and I regained a love for my practice.  I have a lot to say and it’s amazing when you realize how to say it.”

-Daniel Terna (’15)


Aline Shkurovich Bialik

ni de aquí ni de allá

Opening Reception Thursday, May 1, 6:00pm–9:00pm 

El Guateke del Reyes (DJ Reyes Mexican Mix)

Mexican playlist by Oscar Reyes + Aline Shkurovich


ICP-Bard MFA Studios, 24–20 Jackson Avenue, 3rd Floor, Long Island City, Queens

On View

May 2: 3–7 pm

May 3: 3–5 pm

May 4: 11 am–3 pm

E and M trains to 23rd Street/Ely Avenue; G and 7 trains or the B61 bus to 45th Road/Court House Square.