“Ballen began by taking traditional photographic documents in the poor rural areas of South Africa. But gradually he began to work less as a documentarian and more as a stage director by encouraging a collaboration with his subjects in creating a persona, tableau or still life. Montaigne would approve, having written: ‘fabulous incidents are as good as true ones, so long as they are feasible.’ Ballen’s entry into a more theatrical mode gained clarity fifteen years later in his 2001 book Outland. Four years after that in Shadow Chamber, he re-enforced his commitment to his new direction of exploring his own thoughts rather than dutifully recording the facts of the subject. Initially, it was in those remote places in the outlying dorps, or villages, of the bush country where he had gone to scout and survey professionally for what might be beneath the surface of the earth that he discovered this other vein. In those tiny villages, lives disconnected from the wider society and within the sparse materiality of their houses, Ballen saw a different territory and beyond that yet another world beneath its deteriorating surfaces.” —David Travis
Samuel Fosso, Untitled (1977)
“One version of the ‘parallax vision’ that brings together race, class and sexuality in order to look towards the future, rather than resuscitate the past can be seen in the photography of Samuel Fosso (b. 1962). Fosso was born in Cameroon but lives and works in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. He began work as a photographer’s assistant at the age of 13 and began his remarkable series of self-portraits in 1976, which began to attract international attention from Mali to Paris and New York in the 1990s. He chose the backgrounds, costumes and accessories, sometimes adding captions with Letraset. In one shot he appears in white singlet and briefs, standing in front of a fabric curtain with a clothes-line hanging above his head. Around the curtain are festooned numerous examples of standard portrait photography. He looks away to his left, one foot posed on the other, seeming both assured and nervous at once. The photograph as a whole is disquieting. It is as if we see a film still from a movie whose plot we do not know. In other images he seems more assured. He stands in from of what seems to be a theatrical curtain, in a suitably dramatic pose, hands on hips and one foot arched above the other, showing the whiteness of his soles [ABOVE]. He wears only swimming trunks, striped with white, giving a suggestive air to the image that is disrupted by the fact that he is wearing large gloves, a detail that pushes the photograph from cinematic realism towards the surreal. There is a rhythm between the black and white tiled floor and the alternating white and slick skin and clothing. We rarely meet Fosso’s gaze. In one shot he faces the camera directly, only for hear-shaped patches on his large sunglasses to obscure his eyes altogether. From reflections in the lenses we can deduce that he seems to be looking at an array of newspapers, magazines or photographs. Again, he wears a bright white shirt, open at the neck. These photographs place the (black and white) photographic print in tension with the sexualized European/African divide quite literally across the body of a young African man exploring his identity. As a citizen of postcolonial Africa, he refuses to appear in the guise of the ‘native’ or any of the other received photographic clichés of Africans. His work was amongst the first to use photography to challenge received notions of identity that has since become famous as the postmodern photographic style associated with Cindy Sherman and other American artists.”
-Nicholas Mirzoeff, An Introduction to Visual Culture (second edition)
A double exposure shows Dali with different expressions in 1965. “Take me, I am the drug; take me, I am hallucinogenic,” he said. He was born on May 11, 1904, in nearby Figueres, the son of a strict lawyer father and an indulgent mother. Dali claimed he was descended from the Moors.
There’s nothing else quite like it — 20 Dali Portraits: Odd & Amazing
by Sally Mann.
Chorus girls in Dancing Lady (1933, dir. Robert Z. Leonard). Photo by Ted Allan.
Concert Mayol, Paris, 1979
Villejuif, Paris suburbs, 1975
Cemetery in New York. Fall 2010.