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Friday, September 12, 2008

I Really Really Love New York.

Canal Street ©Nina Buesing

If you know me you know that I really love New York. I love lots of other places too, but New York is a big love. It's noisy, it's loud, it's expensive, it changes --but I still love New York. I can't help it.
Today I had to deal with some apartment issues (very New York) and this evening I headed over to Tribeca to Sasha Wolf's Gallery for an opening (also very New York), after chatting with Rona & Sasha (New Yorkers), I headed out to dinner with the husband (a native New Yorker also) and Pete (yup, New York is his home state) at Yaffa's (very old Skool New York). After dinner we walked and hung out some more with Pete (which is exactly what we also did seven years ago in New York)- and I took pictures of the beams. Which are a gracious memorial.
When I got back home I saw Emily's honest & right-on post titled 7 Years Ago & Years From Now.
We all know there is great suffering allover the world, and we know life goes on, but what happened seven years ago was still a major event. And if you worked or lived downtown (like me) it was traumatic.
The smell, a scratchy throat, the sounds, showing ID twice to get past the checkpoints to get home, passing another checkpoint to visit Pete at the hotel FEMA evacuated him to, waiting in front of St.Vincent's, bright blue skies the morning of, walking on a deserted Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn to retrieve medication with R., military cargo trucks going up the Bowery coming from Ground Zero, feelings of uncertainty & powerlessness, watching the news, listening to the radio, trying to dial out, incomprehension, confusion, my little nephews' processing the events, eventually loosing my job, seeing the smoldering 'pile', watching new wars unfold... all memories coming to mind when I think of that day and the months following.
Of course I put on a brave face. After all nothing directly happened to me. But I now know that it took me some time to be OK again. And when I see pictures of the towers and when I really think about it I get emotional. The other day the husband and I saw Man on Wire--and I could feel my throat close up when I was looking at the images of the towers.
I think that will never go away.
Just like I cannot think of Songha without feeling my throat close up.
When Rona and I interviewed Sasha Wolf for the Nymphoto blog Sasha said to us that she just wants to be nice person. And it so deeply resonated with me, because while it sounds so simple it is so profound.
It's all about causing the least amount of suffering, giving more joy and doing the right thing.
My neighbor lost her husband 7 years ago. And while I do not know her well, I know that she has resolutely decided to live life. She made friends with the widows of men that had worked with her husband at the World Trade Center and they gave each other support to go on (they even wrote a book about it). My neighbor subsequently found another love, married again and now has a beautiful daughter and continues to live downtown. Like Hank she chose love and positivity.
Yesterday, on September 11, I posted images of New York because I love New York and because I needed to acknowledge that it was September 11th. Emily's post however made me think I should elaborate and hence here is this rather personal and extensive post.
I leave you with some more images taken in the city I love, that is my home, the night of September 11, 2008:

New York September 2008 ©Nina Buesing

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Heart New York

New York City © Nina Buesing

A Conversation with Sasha Wolf

from the Provincial Japan series ©Guido Castagnoli

Rona and I recently met with native New Yorker Sasha Wolf at her Tribeca gallery and talked about what led Sasha to open her gallery, about her love for storytelling and much more.
You can read our interview with Sasha over at the Nymphoto blog as part of our Nymphoto Conversations series.
Tonight is also the opening reception for Guido Castagnoli's Provincial Japan exhibit at Sasha Wolf Gallery. A great reason to head downtown tonight.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Room of One's Own

Because space is scarce & expensive on our island, real estate seems to always be on New Yorkers' minds. I am no exception. Today the husband send me a link to a June 8, 2008 New York Times' article titled "Start in Neutral" by Teri Karush Rogers and I thought it excellent -- very helpful to homeowners (big & small). It did not tell me anything new but it confirmed to me that understood a few things about real estate in this town.
Real estate in New York is a pain in the butt (whether you rent or own), but it can also (if you can get your foot in the door & buy) be a great investment and/or become part of one's retirement plan. Maybe your laughing reading this, but I am very serious.
Especially for artists there is not much security in life and real estate can be a way to build some (and it is easier to get a grasp on than other markets).
Ed Winkelman had a great post on July 29, 2008 titled "Investing in Yourself". And I particularly liked the story an artist shared in the comments (comment #3) about his experience as an artist with real estate in the New York area. You can read it here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Conversation with Todd R. Forsgren

Magnolian Warbler© Todd Forsgren

When I first saw an image from Todd Forsgen’s Bird Banding Series via 20x200; it totally stopped me in my tracks because it was so original.
I wanted to know more about that image and the person that took that photograph. Upon visiting Todd’s website I became further intrigued as I found out that he was spending time in Mongolia on a Fulbright.
Todd kindly agreed to an interview from Mongolia(–don’t you love the internet?!), where he is continuing to photograph community gardens. A fascinating project that reminded me also of another artists close to my heart: Fritz Haeg.

Oranoponico Cubana de Bronce, Havana,Cuba© Todd Forsgren

In this interview Todd speaks about his investigative nature and how he became a photographer. I couldn’t help but smile when he recounted deciding to become a photographer somewhere between Katherine and Alice Springs in Australia. Alice Springs being the pseudonym of Helmut Newton’s wife June Browne Newton. I think the Photo-Gods were communicating with Todd ;)

Experimental Forests © Todd Forsgren

NC: Tell us about yourself.

TF: I grew up just west of Cleveland. I spent my youth between twelve years of Catholic school and running around the Ohio forests and coasts like a pagan when I wasn’t in class.

After that it was a liberal arts college education in the Northeast, focusing on using biochemistry to answer ecological questions. And then I discovered photography, since then I’ve been traveling around as much as possible to find pictures.

More from The Bird Banding Project © Todd Forsgren

NC: How did you discover photography?

TF: A lot of my interest in photography and art developed from interactions with the artists around Maine, where I went to college. I suppose at the time I was interested in asking questions that are tough to answer through the scientific method, so I was a bit frustrated with biochemistry and art provided the freedom I was searching for.

Most notable perhaps was Bowdoin’s retired photography professor, John McKee, athough I never had a course with him. I was working at a gourmet food and wine shop in town for the summer and John came in looking for 2cm of salmon-pesto pâté. He was impressed by my knowledge of the metric system and I was impressed by his taste in pâté, so that started a friendship that continues to this day. Though he never really told me to pick up a camera, it was because of John that I bought a Rolleiflex during my senior year.

After I graduated I took an ecology job in the Northern Territory of Australia that didn’t work out. I quit the job and somewhere between Katherine and Alice Springs I decided that I wanted to be a photographer when I grew up.

When I came back to the US I sought a bit more formal education in contemporary art and photography at the School of the MFA in Boston, and that opened a lot of doors for me.

Bird Banding & Mongolian Garden© Todd Forsgren

NC: Where do you find inspiration?

TF: Biology and ecology are still definitely on my mind. That’s probably my primary means of questioning and understanding the world… So that is certainly a source of inspiration.

Aside from that, art history and contemporary art inspire me. I love Japanese woodblock prints as well as Japanese gardens. Ornithological paintings are a huge inspiration for the bird banding projects, but certainly modernists such as Sol Lewitt also played a big roll in that work.

There are a slew of photographers whom I really admire: Joel Sternfeld, Barbara Bosworth, Simone Niewig, Emmet Gowin, Edward Burtynsky, Eirik Johnson, Scott Peterman, Victor Schrager, and Simon Norfolk to name a few contemporary artists.

Two Gradens in Mongolia, One in Cuba© Todd Forsgren

NC: How do your projects come about?

TF: I never know when or how an idea will hit me. Some of the ideas pop into my head at a moments notice during a morning jog while others develop because of the environment I am living in.

Others start with a seed of an idea and through research and luck develop organically into something that dovetails with what I’m looking for, like my work here in Mongolia...

Green Thumb Oasis, New York, New York ; Wilson's Warble © Todd Forsgren

NC: Where does your interest in Mongolia stem from?

TF: I have photographed urban horticulture projects across the United States and in Cuba and was looking for another interesting site to work with that would contrast the systems I’d seen. The more research I did on Mongolia the more compelling it became.

On the surface you have Mongolia’s history. The most famous Mongolian, Chinggis (Genghis) Khan, put together the largest contiguous land empire ever with a complex series of trade networks (i.e. the silk road). Now sandwiched between the big powers of Russia and China, Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country in the world. As I hope to include issues of globalization and isolationism in my work, this all seemed compelling. And then when I learned more about the gardens and culture I was hooked and decided I absolutely had to come here.

Like Cuba, large-scale mechanized farming collapsed in Mongolia when the USSR collapsed. However, the gardening in Mongolia has developed quite differently since then. In Cuba the organoponico gardens are state run with production quotas and the methods used handed down from the central government. In Mongolia the gardens are supported by a variety of governmental organizations, but also by international NGOs, aid organizations, missionary groups, and individuals. So there is really a huge diversity in the goals and approach that each garden is using and this creates a very different aesthetic.

Also contributing to this aesthetic is the landscape and culture. The traditional livelihood is nomadic herding (sheep, goats, yaks, camels and, of course, horses). As I’ve been a bit of a nomad myself over the past five years I was interested in photographing nomad’s garden and the transition from herding to a more sedentary ‘urban’ lifestyle.

As horticultural traditions are limited here, many times it is the first time people have ever grown vegetables. I really liked the idea of photographing a culture with such a broad understanding of the landscape focusing on a little garden plot for the first time.

Since the climate here is so challenging to grow veggies in, everything needs to be carefully and intimately cared for; in May they tuck their seedlings under thick yak felt blankets to protect them from the frost and in August they need to water several times a day to keep plants from drying out. Everything is simplified as much as possible, yet the gardens are so remarkable!

From The Bird Banding Series; FromThe Garden Series (Cuba)© Todd Forsgren

NC: What's next?

TF: That’s a very good question. Graduate school is certainly on the horizon, and I’m really excited to be a part of a community of photographers again. After spending the past ten months on my garden photographs here in Mongolia, I plan to spend a good portion of 2009 working on my bird-banding project.

Still, I don’t think my garden photo project is anywhere near finished. There are several gardening cultures I’m keen to photograph. I’ll be in Japan for two weeks this October looking at the gardening there, which has been an inspiration for my photographs for many years. Then there are European allotments gardens, yams farms in the mountains of Papua New Guinea with novel sustainable techniques, the new silviculture in Niger that has helped reverse the Sahara’s desertification, and poppy fields in Afghanistan.

I guess there are a lot of ideas kicking around in my noodle and now what remains is to find a way and the means to make them reality.

NC: Thank you so much!

To see more of Todd's work visit his website: www.toodforsgren.com (and make sure to explore the blog sectionof the site too).

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Newspaper & Magazine Readings

Things I have been reading: Gloria Steinem's opinion piece for the Los Angeles Time titled "Palin: wrong women, wrong message"; George Packer's "Drowing" piece for The New Yorker (accompanied by a photography by Christian Holst) and on a lighter note --also for The New Yorker-- a profile titled "Why Me? -- Alec Baldwin's disappointment, undimmed by success" by Ian Parker (accompanied by a portrait captured by Marin Schoeller)

This & That

More Camilla:
On inspiration boards.blogspot.com you can find an older interview with Camilla Engman. I also just added the Camilla Engman theme to my 'iGoogle'. Adding it brightens your day, just like her work and her blog. And the theme even changes depending on the time of day. Neat.

As mentioned before this coming Thursday Guido Castagnoli's show opens at Sasha Wolf Gallery in Tribeca. Rona and I recently interviewed Sasha for Nymphoto Conversations and the interview will go live Thursday.

Jeana Sohn's blog reminded me that another great show opens Thursday in New York as well:

Valerie Hammond Twilight....contes de fees
@ Garson Baker Fine Art
511 West 25th Street, Suite 401 New York, NY
September 11 - Oct 11, 2008
Opening Reception: September 11, 2008 6pm – 8pm

And via David from Primary Photographic I found out about Jesse Chehak's show (printed at Primary):

Bison ©Jesse Chehak

Western Views

@ Silverstein Photography
20th Street also in
New York, NY
through Oct 11, 2008

And last but not least there is a new group show opening on the 12, that features work by Cara Philipps and Will Steacy among others:

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Michael Mazzeo Gallery
526 E 26th Street #209
September 12-October 11, 2008
Opening Reception:September 12, 6pm-8pm