When I left the house that morning, my wife said to me: think of Saul Leiter when you shoot today.
Photo by Saul Leiter
When I first came to New York, I took a paid internship at Howard Greenberg Gallery. Among my duties were tracking down and organizing images which were being pulled for collectors or considered for upcoming exhibitions. This meant spending hours going through the archival boxes where the prints were stored. It was a quiet and intimate way to discover the New York School photographers, which I hadn’t know about until then. This was my first encounter with photographers like Sid Grossman, Louis Faurer, Leon Levenstein, Ted Croner and Saul Leiter. There were also wonderful works by William Klein, Diane Arbus and Lisette Model.
Although Leiter walked the same streets as the rest of his generation, his work seemed to operate on an altogether different register. For one thing, his images of city life seemed more abstract, oblique and intensely private than others. For another, they were in color. Where his contemporaries brought so much of the sound and fury of the city into their photographs, looking at an image by Saul was like suddenly catching hold of an errant string of piano chords drifting out of an open window high above the street’s heavy traffic. His work elevated the experience of living in New York City and educated me to its subtle charms and revelations.
Many years later, when I enrolled at SVA for a Masters in Digital Photography, one of my instructors Amy Stein asked us to buy a photography book we admired. We would then share the books in class, with each student making a short presentation. When it was Hye-Ryoung Min’s turn to present, she brought out a copy of Steidl’s Saul Leiter monograph and with great composure and eloquence she proceeded to talk about the work. My heart skipped a beat. It was like a secret handshake in a crowded room; a moment of shared complicity. Three years later we would be married.
The rest is history.
Saul Leiter, rest in peace.
I arrived back in NYC yesterday after a wonderful week in Mexico City. The sprawling, beautiful monster of a city is one of my favorite places in the world. While I was there, I was thrilled to present YONKEROS to a local audience. The Book Signing was hosted by the very hip photography space Gimnasio de Arte, where I also taught a three-day intensive workshop in Project Management for photographers. Here's a few snaps from the event.
This work, which was originally exhibited at MASS MoCA in the context of the exhibition "An Exchange with Sol Lewitt" (2011) is now in the collection of Fondazione Benetton.
"Early Works is an exhibition that examines the naive imagery made by contemporary photographers when they were children. These early images often reveal surprising talent, visual intuition, and honesty. Kept for many decades in shoeboxes and faded albums, the images are often cherished belongings that play a key role in defining the self as artist."
Proud to have a piece in it:
Next month I will have an Artist Talk and Book Signing for YONKEROS at Gimanasio de Arte in Mexico City, where I will also be conducting a three-day instensive workshop in Project Management for Photographers.
is life playing for an audience of one.
Photographs taken on June 30th by my 9 year old niece, Yael Sabbagh PermuthRead More
Momentum keeps building behind YONKEROS! This review in photo-eye Books is especially gratifying.
Photo courtesy Alejandro Cartagena
The exhibition at Ryugaheon Gallery marked my fifth trip to Seoul in as many years. The gallery itself is known to photographers but not always to a larger audience. It sits tucked away in a little alley that is reached after a fairly labyrinthine walk through the back streets behind the old Imperial Palace.
When you arrive, you enter into a tiny zen garden with gravel underfoot and rough hewn wooden benches. Built in the traditional hannok style, the gallery itself feels more like a modest temple or a forest shrine than an art space per se. Clusters of tiny yellow flowers sprout here and there on its tiled roof. On one side of the garden is a bookstore and café. Beyond that, there’s an office and a workshop. On the other is the entrance to the exhibition area.
Having this show in Seoul changed my relationship with the city in an essential way. It’s hard to describe the feeling of belonging that comes from having your photographs on display and being able to bring friends to visit day after day. It’s like welcoming them into your house. As if you’ve set up residence there. Not only that, but friends bring friends and -before you know it- your circle has expanded dramatically to include all kinds of interesting people.
But of course, the greatest pleasure is seeing the work in a new context and hearing back from local audiences. It was a long journey indeed for the Latin American mechanics to make: not only from Willets Point -but from their countries of origin. Perhaps because of Korea’s Buddhist roots, many people remarked on the passing of the seasons in these photographs and the way the light and the elements redefined the landscape depending on the time of the year. Others compared Willets Point to neighborhoods in Seoul, which have –or perhaps more interestingly once had- a similar feel. One particularly perceptive man noted that the passing of the seasons underscored the useful life of machines and how everything in the world has a cyclical duration.
On two separate occasions, my Korean mother in law organized a large group of friends to come and visit the exhibition. I especially enjoyed these visits because the ladies dressed up in their finest and made a day out of it. They really enjoyed themselves. And as such, they lingered, spoke from the heart and felt free to reminisce. One woman responded to an image of a small stack of tires covered in snow with a childhood memory of her own, remembering the large earthenware jars of kimchi sitting in her mother’s yard during the winter months. Hearing that was a modest epiphany; I felt like the image had translated beautifully and poetically in a most unexpected manner.
Three works from YONKEROS are included in the exhibition "I Want More" which examines consumerism and waste.
Installation views of my YONKEROS exhibition at Ryugaheon Gallery in Seoul, Korea.
Gwyneth's on the cover, but I'm inside!
Perfect timing with my solo exhibition in Seoul.
Possibly my favorite moment from last night's opening at Ryugaheon Gallery was when my niece Shiwoni pointed out her favorite photo in the exhibition. She then made a heart shape - hands over her head - to show her approval.
My exhibition YONKEROS opened yesterday night at Ryugaheon, one of my favorite photo galleries in Korea.
The exhibition was curated by Joanne Yang and includes 23 images from the series.
Tired and jet-lagged from the long haul flight from NYC -but also super excited- I arrived yesterday at Ryugaheon Gallery in Seoul.
This is curator Joanne Yang's blueprint for the exhibition. It's gonna be an amazing exhibition!