DEAR DAVE,

The socialite Nan Kempner’s observation that “Fashion design is, after all, architecture for the body” comes to mind when contemplating the photographs of Paul Jung. In brittle chiaroscuro, clothing is a husk that encloses gesture and angle in these elegant and indelible images.

Long before graffiti prompted a debate about its aesthetic merit and its status in visual culture, Helen Levitt was documenting its modest appearance on the streets of New York as part of a depiction of the lives of urban children. Presaging our absorption with social networking, these “posts” (or even “rants”) disclose economic activity, amorous enthusiasms, secret intelligence, and various neighborly declarations to a very local community—ghosts of a conversation long past.

Kanye West’s “Bound 2” video might easily be dismissed as predictable flotsam from popular culture, a pinnacle of narcissism and self-aggrandizing that will soon be eclipsed. It was, however, directed by the British photographer Nick Knight.  Although renowned for his technological innovation, originality and imagination, Bound feels deliberately like gonzo caricature—flattened and cornball and low-balled. The various facets of this project and its relationship to contemporary life are parsed in an insightful essay by Rebecca Roberts.

Cedric Gerbehaye’s work continues in the tradition of the documentary photograph as motivated by social concern and a belief in the ability of the image to confront injustice. Taken in the West Bank, the photographs—dense and claustrophobic-- share the texture of conflict and chaos as it slams into daily life.

Despite their nostalgia and sentimentality, family snapshots from the second half of the 20th century are held with affection and continue to influence pictorial style.    Snapshots of the life of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer contain all the familiar templates and are equally banal and joyful. Yet as a same sex couple whose life together was considered criminal, and whose legal gesture has created landmark civil rights protection, the poignancy and contentment in these visual souvenirs are amplified by their courage.

Christopher Anderson is a formidable photojournalist whose images have enlivened several genres of photography-portraiture, conflict documentary and political reportage.  In excerpts here from his newly published Stump, a familiar political cohort is depicted as a nightmare grotesquerie: bilious and bloated, feral and ruthless.

The images of Anna Orlowska are gathered from several bodies of work, but together create fragments from a lucid and feverish imagination, perhaps rooted in the cultural narrative past of her native Poland, somnambulant and musty.

Writing from LHR. 

With thanks and love,

Stephen