A column of special features and reports by contemporary photographic writers and critics. Contains special conversations, reviews, essays, profiles, and more.

I first encountered Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s work when I walked into his 2017 solo exhibition at Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York City.  I didn’t so much view his pictures as I did stare at them, trying to reconcile the spatial constructions, to untangle the delicate knots of reference and self-reference, seeking to decode anonymous flesh of male forms, and trying to figure out where any given picture starts or ends;

We all know the criticisms. Overly commercial. Too conservative. Unrepresentative of what’s important about art. Superficial and pretentious crowd. And beyond all that, in photography specifically, there appears to be a predictable roster of blue-chip artists whose work is prominently featured in one booth after the other creating a déjà vu effect throughout the fair.

I imagine Geeting as a kindergartner willfully coloring outside the lines, scribbling with glee, delighting in breaking the rules and not giving a F. In an image saturated world that is burdened with homogeneity, with photographers getting A’s for adhering to conventions, or even bending them mildly, Getting does the wrong things in all the right ways. 

Ben Alper’s A Series of Occurrences portrays situations whose causations are mysterious and whose futures are unknown. The pictures seem like fragments; the narrative a chain of islands bound together by proximity but containing unique presence unto themselves. The book’s well realized sequence provides easy transit from one to the next.

On November 7, 2017, South Korean President Moon Jae-in extended a “heartfelt welcome” towards US President Donald Trump as he arrived in South Korea for a two-day summit to reaffirm the Korea-US alliance. However, his stay did not pass without criticism. Labeling the US president a warmonger, the “No Trump Joint Action Task Force” organized rallies against his visit. Made up of 220 left-wing political parties, civic groups, labor unions and student groups, the association claimed his impulsive remarks towards North Korea heightened military tensions on the peninsula.

My work in progress, Masculine Decoys, consists of portraits of Navy sailors silkscreened with decorative floral patterns. These patterns act as a form of camouflage, concealing the decoys with a lattice of navy blue flowers. The silkscreens also incorporate designs from naval signal flags and pennants, an alphanumeric code that was used to create unique visual communications. Even in the days of radio and satellite communication the U.S., Navy relied on alphanumeric signal flags and pennants for visual signaling; these signal flags allowed vessels to communicate while maintaining radio silence.