DEAR DAVE,

Photography and language have been tethered throughout the history of the medium. Seldom is a photograph without text or context to anchor its content and rarely does an image appear without explanation. In a number of ways this issue explores various iterations of this relationship.

In the course of discussing, in a recent interview, his body of work Redwood Saw, Richard Rothman quoted Oscar Wilde: “America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.” In carefully constructed large-format images, Rothman contrasts the delicate beauty of an ancient natural landscape against the brutality of a stunted and itinerant social landscape. It is a poignant depiction of an unsustainable economic future, and of vulnerability and exhaustion, both human and physical.

Ina Jang makes playful, often figurative images that reference theater, fashion, collage, decoration, masquerade, and in subtle ways teases the obligation of photography to convert the three- dimensional world into two, and its paper-based character. In the process, identity is withheld, language is muted and secrecy is maintained.

In the portfolio Muddy, Emmeline de Mooij has created an eccentric and primal narrative—a gaseous subterranean primer on form and physicality that suggests a Beuysian notion of artist as obscure explorer, alchemist and shaman, seeking meaning and shelter.

Dear Dave, hosts an ongoing series of conversations in Manhattan between photographers and writers, and represented in this issue is an informative dialogue between the renowned photographer Thomas Struth and the writer and photographer Gil Blank. Struth discusses the lines of inquiry in his most recent body of work and its relationship to his past involvements, and his engagement with technology, social relations and the future.

With varied pictorial strategies, Masood Kamandy has responded to phrases he has solicited for illustration. Unlike more conventional exercises in photographic illustration, the project becomes an occasion where evocative witticisms of speech are enhanced by an often amusing photographic response.

The British critic Susan Bright offers a broad rendering of photography’s relationship to the domestic and its multiple tangents: family, identity, gender, sentiment; and its equally diverse photographic vocabulary. Using this theme, Bright provides a panorama of some of the overlapping preoccupations of contemporary photography.

Thinking of you,
Stephen