The only Retreat of its kind, THE PHOTOGRAPHY MASTER RETREAT is a unique one-week professional retreat with four renowned mentors in the south of France which takes place every year in July after Les Rencontres d’Arles. It is designed for professional or aspiring professional photographers in any genre – fine art, conceptual, or documentary – who are passionate about their existing work and committed about taking it to the next level. Four internationally acclaimed mentors will guide, advise and inspire 16 participants. Not so much a shooting trip but a rare chance to pause and reflect, it is a career-enhancing opportunity for professional critique and artistic introspection.

The Photography Master Retreat, July 11-18 2015

La Bastide d'Esparon is a special place to stay in The South of France for friendly gatherings in an untouched medieval hamlet.: a Haven with breathtaking views for up to 14 guests.

La Bastide d’Esparon is a special place to stay in The South of France for friendly gatherings in an untouched medieval hamlet.: a Haven with breathtaking views for up to 14 guests.

La Bastide d'Esparon. A special Place to Stay.The Retreat helps each of the select group of 16 students REFLECT on their trajectory, RETHINK their projects and REFOCUS on a clearer course.  The four mentors are committed to taking individual students to their highest photographic potential in a creative, supportive, and enjoyable environment.


Elisabeth Biondi, New York: Visuals Editor, The New Yorker, 1996-2011; Independent Curator, Writer and Teacher

Katharina Bosse, Germany: Artist and Professor of Photography, Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences

Martine Fougeron, New York: Photographer, Artist and Faculty at the International Center of Photography

Lyle Rexer, New York: Critic, Curator and Faculty at School of Visual Arts

La Bastide d'Esparon is a special place to stay in The South of France for friendly gatherings in an untouched medieval hamlet.: a Haven with breathtaking views for up to 14 guests.

La Bastide d’Esparon is a special place to stay in The South of France for friendly gatherings in an untouched medieval hamlet.: a Haven with breathtaking views for up to 14 guests.

A retreat is a refuge, a safe place, a sanctuary, a hideaway, an abode, an hermitage, a haven, a place of rest, shelter and protection. A retreat is also a departure, a different approach, an adventure, a leave-taking, the beginning of a journey, a change from the usual or expected path, a definite time spent away from one’s normal life for the purpose of reflecting and reconnecting at a higher level.

“Use only the best regional ingredients in season and keep it simple.”

“Use only the best regional ingredients in season and keep it simple.”
James Beard said that, and it’s also the philosophy of our chef, Caroline Bessey. During the Photography Master Retreat, Caroline lives and cooks on the premises, buying only fresh produce from the local markets, cooking for the students and mentors as if we were her extended family. Everything is served on Provencal table clothes and dishes, out on the big terrace. Add local wines, and it’s an experience ripped straight from a Provencal cookbook.


THE PHOTOGRAPHY MASTER RETREAT 2016 will be held from Saturday July 9 to 16, 2016. Photographers are invited to submit an application and 16 participants will be selected by the mentors. Applications are due December 1, 2015.

Photos by Daniel Levine, Rene Monrose, Sharon Draghi, Gianluca Calise, Rosemarie Zens, Magali Couffon de Trevos, Smith Galtney, Jeff Weddel, Monika Barth, Uschi Becker, Brenda Biondo, Cathryn Griffith, Elisabeth Scheder-BIeschin, Malika Squali and the Mentors.

The Space Age of Photography: An Interview with Elisabeth Biondi by Theresa Ortolani 

Challenges in the Space Age of Photography: Elisabeth Biondi, Moderator by Theresa Ortolani

Pradeep Dalal (ICP-Bard MFA alum + co-chair, photography program, Bard MFA ) in group show “I need my memories. They are my documents.” sepiaEYE

I would love to see the ICP-Bard MFA cohort at the walk through I’m giving of the group show, “I need my memories. They are my documents.”,  this Saturday, Oct 30th at 2 pm.

The exhibition has photo based works, drawing and videos of five non-western artists who work with existing material (repository) in unique ways. Here is a link to Pradeep Dalal‘s interview published by ICP

More information about the exhibition here

The Bawa Letters (1982), 2005

The Bawa Letters (1982), 2005


On view for twenty-four hours at 156 Freeman Street, July 30th-31st 2015.

Featuring the work of: Katherine Akey, Bobby Davidson, Magali Duzant, Laura A Gonzalez, Kasia Gumpert, Karolina Gumpert, Alexander Harrington, Xavier Lujan, Emilie Lundstrøm, Nina Méndez-Martí, Marie-Louise Omme, Juana Romero, Jahi L Sabater, Aline Shkurovich, Daniel Terna, Cary Tijerina, Kkory Trolio, and Kim Weston. Curated by Laura A Gonzalez and Kasia Gumpert.


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A Response to Post-Photography, Yola Monakhov Stockton’s Series at Rick Wester Fine Art

Sasha Bush

Yola Monakhov Stockton was trained as a photojournalist early in her career. Even as she’s moved onto abstract concepts, she has continued to use this discipline’s framework. Keeping this in mind, her description appears especially curious as she applies it thematically and stylistically to a new series entitled Post-Photography.

Data relating to Monakhov Stockton’s personal and professional life are enlisted as specific examples that have influenced her work. She confines herself to a discipline that prizes specificity and accuracy as the ultimate means by which to communicate with an audience, possibly to excess. Highlights include the physical and conceptual boundaries of new motherhood and academia. The camera itself as an object accompanied by its etymology are also explained as a thematic limit within the images.

Within her photographs, Monakhov Stockton has seemingly abandoned the framework she proposes in her statement of accurate definitions and careful historical context. In sending her homemade cameras through the post office, she has given up some control. Imprinted onto the photograph, this choice reveals itself in the dynamic energy and movement that disrupts the formal aesthetics of geometrical forms. I wonder about the pinholes as they were turned upside down in transit. I imagine her surprise, similar to mine last Friday, after seeing these prints for the first time. Reproduced in their original form as silver gelatin prints they retain their uniqueness. This leads me to consider the tactile and sensory nature of the image making process associated with traditional photographic methods.

A description provides a useful understanding for why the geometrical shapes along the focal plane appear to be off kilter. Even for someone who understands the skills involved. This need for a clear understanding applies to my own work as well. My photographs might not communicate the tactile and sensory joy of the darkroom techniques I invest in them. But Monakhov Stockton’s images do powerfully and clearly.

I’m left wondering why Monakhov Stockton seems to be fitting her newly expressed abstraction into the confines of a photojournalistic critique. My response to her photographs relies not on the facts she outlines but on the overall conceptual leaps that she has taken. After all, specificity is not given to the photographs that remain untitled with no geographical information regarding their locations. This tension between two disparate disciplines might suggest her ambivalence towards both. Regardless of her decision, I respect her efforts. However, I especially admire Monakhov Stockton’s willingness to be surprised and wish she would apply the same risks in interpreting her own work.

Sue de Beer: “The Blue Lenses” at Marianne Boesky Gallery, on View September 9 – October 25, 2015

Sue de Beer’s The Blue Lenses at Marianne Boesky Gallery in the Lower East Side is a new two-channel film screened within an immersive sculptural environment. This experimental video sets out to make a Daphne du Maurier inspired film noir set in
 a fictional version of the Middle East. De Beer constructs images together through overlapping, fragmented, and kaleidoscopic shots where scenes are flooded with sharp greens, bright reds, and blues. The title is taken from the du Maurier story where a woman, upon having the bandages removed after surgery to restore her vision, finds that through her 
new eyes, the people around her frighteningly bear animal heads on their human bodies. In her film, de Beer continues to play with the ideas of looking, seeing, and distorting through the lens, where altered perceptions and experiences of the film’s main characters present a multifaceted picture with a sense of suspense and intrigue.

Over the course of 20 minutes, we learn more about Daniel, the mysterious character who switches between being a salesman, a connoisseur of fabric, a drug user, a magician, and a thief. Clips of disparate and unrelated scenes and snapshots of Abu Dhabi are shown between his fragmented narrative, told to us by either Daniel himself or by a young Arabic woman he meets whose voice we first hear at the beginning of the film. Shots go in and out of focus, the lens flickers, the camera is unsteady, and subjects are cropped at disorienting angles. Interruptions of the narrative, divided by five vaguely titled chapters, come in the form of a burlesque dance performance and eerie stills of the indoor ski slope located in the Mall of the Emirates. We are captivated and our attention is held throughout the film, nevertheless, and is carried along with the rhythm of a hypnotic drumbeat that plays midway the video and continues through to the end.

The gallery is also transformed into a sculptural installation where patterned, lacelike screens mirror the architecture seen throughout the film. The windows are tinted with jewel-toned cobalt blue, which is inspired by the film’s title and included to invoke the color that is associated with the power and beauty in Islam. This constructed environment, together with the film, propels us to question and examine what we consider foreign and strange. Through all these distortions and layered realities shared via memory, imagination, and the illuminating words of the main characters, The Blue Lenses ultimately asks us to defy preconceived expectations, make us question what we read and see, and determine what is real or true from what is invented or fictional – perhaps getting lost along the way when attempting to decode and unravel the given information. Although we are unsure as to what exactly takes place in this intriguing, ambiguous, and plotless story, it is powerful in the way it positions us to make a choice between accepting everything as is, or confront the “facts” with which we are presented.

-Nechama Winston

A Review of Yola Monakhov Stockton’s “Post-Photography” Series at Rick Wester Fine Art, on View September 12 – October 24, 2015

Yola Monakhov Stockton’s unique gelatin silver prints in Post-Photography at Rick Wester Fine Art are marked with an ethereal and ghost-like aesthetic that continue to haunt each time you return to the work. The artist’s untitled pieces were created via handmade pinhole cameras and sent through the U.S. Postal Service, as well as other parcel services. The exposures we see in the gallery are records of the camera’s journey through transit – beneath the ceilings of sorting facilities, inside delivery trucks, and along neighborhood deliverymen’s mailing routes.

Stockton’s black-and-white prints contain formal shapes that range among rectangles, triangles, squares, and circles. These objects float around in spaces that are somewhat identifiable, such as a post-room or a tree-lined block, while some exist in ephemeral white or gray netherworlds, filled with hand written scribbles, silhouetted shadows, stains, film negative exposures, and swimming lines that resemble seismograph readings.

Each exposure represents its own universe – a utopic, perhaps even purist, bubble – a world that extends beyond the physical coordinates of time and space. This effect is contrary to what is actually happening in the making of these objects – a subversive penetration into rooms and institutions that are off limits to the public. They are abstract documentations that break all rules and boundaries, and allow viewers access into operations and systems that are part of the everyday and mundane, yet regulate and maintain the quiet stability of our daily lives and routines.

In a way, Stockton is observing and accumulating information for no purpose but to create sublime works of art that blur the lines between public and private space. This ongoing project makes me think about the traditional photographic practice and the nature of photography – one that has been turned over on its head. Stockton is certainly involved in the post-processing of these photos, but happenstance and serendipity are the true authors of the works we see, which in no way takes away from the effervescent brilliance of these 14”x11” and 24”x20” dreamlike, X-radiation-esque skeletal treasures.

The involved procedure and concept of remote, migratory picture making is part of the artist’s larger vision that continues to evolve and grasp meanings and implications she herself is still uncovering. As a young artist who is only beginning to accept and appreciate the implications of engaging with the photographic practice and take ownership and agency in creating the things we see – contributing to the dialogue through visual language – I admire the trust and freedom Stockton displays in sending out each parcel she makes. Each work bears the markings and trajectories of a collection of happenings and memories as they get handled, moved, and passed-on in spaces that are located in the “between” – an unsure, vague, and diffuse state of existence I think we all find ourselves in at some point or another, and is another reason why I gravitate towards Stockton’s Post-Photography series.

-Nechama Winston

Endless Tillmans (PCR at David Zwirner gallery Sept.16 – Oct. 24)

Endless Tillmans

by Sam Margevicius

Wolfgang Tillmans humongous show “PCR” is difficult to digest, until you realize that he’s just drinking tap water: so you do too; then it slips down your throat and tastes good forever. I didn’t even read the press release when I walked into the show, I’m interested by the cryptic vs. the accessible and wanted to see if I could put the pieces together myself. Walking around in a haze of inspiration, I wanted to run out the door, find some recent photos, print them huge, live with them, and smile. What difference between his work and mine, his work and anyone’s? We are always being told to think critically, so I stepped back and wondered…I wanted to believe that it was not art for art’s sake, that he has not been elevated due to longevity and social hierarchy. I wanted to remember that I am not yet fully formed, that I can reach some higher level of worthiness, that it will open up to me if I learn how to see it.

After the first visit I left with little more than a feeling of having been inspired. When I got home I didn’t print a photo so big that I would feel like a king, but I decided to go back less than a week later to look in books for a deeper key to Tillmans’ work. I stood at the bookshelf in David Zwirner, and read through his conversation with Hans Ulrich-Obrist (2007), until it led me to his own writing in “Manual” (2007). Tillmans in conversation with Obrist was all over the place, he could pick up any thread and apply it to his work. Tillmans’ own text was concise, some 300 words, but he spoke about the idea of truth. He said there are a few fundamental truths that he’s on-board with, but most other things considered “True” are difficult to reconcile. He believes that “homosexuality is a reality”, which feels a little bit like saying that alternate truths are true. Tillmans seems to refuse confining himself to a subject, he is completely open to what is.

Now I knew what was going on, I walked into the rooms and my jaw dropped in amazement. The tables he had used for “Truth Study Center” (2005) were now filled with blank pieces of paper differentiated by size and color tone. One of the biggest photographs was the most mundane, an outside flower pot with no flowers; I saw aging shrubbery getting browned, and ripe young stems working their way out of the indefinable darkness of the dirt. Then more tables, this time with photographs on them as well as text. “1969 was 24 years away from 1945, 24 years back from now is 1992.” This statement is unbelievably simple, the kind of sentimental feeling one gets on their birthday, the bizarre sense of the importance of this very present moment. Then on that table I found two photographs that spoke to me most of all; they were 4×6 prints, one above the other, each depicting an open book framed by a few centimeters of grass. The setting sun cast shadows of the blades of grass across the blank pages. This is it: the temporality of the moment, the sun is always setting, diary entries and notes to be remembered, bodies of light to play with, arrange, and create new bodies.