DEAR DAVE,

The desert as a place where identity is negotiated and, in the words of Joan Didion, “where it is routine to misplace the future,” has intermittently entered the narrative of film and literature. It is a component of Tanyth Berkeley’s extended portrait of the lives of two women, both on the cusp of invisibility in the Utah desert, braided together as a parable of banishment and atonement and redemption.

It is our pleasure to occasionally include forms of representation that are not photographic. Well-known as a virtuoso printer, photographer and photographic educator, Jerry Vezzuso has made a series of gregarious drawings in diners over the years, and these baggy and gestural notations correspond to an agreeable social setting. And as drawing, they permit us an occasion in which to consider another form of understanding.

Curtis Hamilton has written of his work: “My photographs are formed in the everyday: as trash piles up and spills over, as work is put to rest and function is lost…. Pictures accumulate as my car’s engine leaks oil into the driveway.” Here, the daily is unearthed in a craggy geological landscape and a relationship between debris and the topography—with the hand as an intermediary—is both visual and tactile. Metallurgy and scrap metal; extraction and embedding form an equation that is symmetric and symbiotic.

The enthusiasm that popular culture has brought to fame and celebrity, however cursory, continues its inexorable trot, and the communities of literature and the visual arts are not exempt from its seduction and spectacle. Indeed, the fabrication of a distinct persona of the artist has become a self-evident marketing strategy. As outlined by Glenn O’Brien, the collaboration between Salvador Dali and Philippe Halsman is a prescient creation of a recognizable branding of Dali as a mischievous and committed showman, but also as a pre-Photoshop illusion, an emergent translation of a surrealist language into photography, and a brilliant linkage of photography and mass media.

In imaginative prose, Lyle Rexer regards the work of a group of young photographers who share an affinity for the photographic generic and demotic, and whose understanding of how the colloquial and photography’s promiscuity conspire to nurture an endless spiral of imitation.

Chloe Sells divides her time between Botswana and London, and creates work that shares an exuberant and lush palate that moves towards a painterly abstraction, and an irregular edge that is contrary to photographs usual rectilinear contours.

The monumental influence of Chris Marker’s film La Jetée is merited by its infiltration of film and photography. Mark Alice Durant explores the intersection of politics, the predatory nature of the image and the matrix of desire and longing that underlie the work, and whose originality still startles.

Have just arrived in Salem and the summer feels long,

 With thanks and love,
Stephen