1969 Born – Warsaw , NY . Currently lives and works in New York, NY
Justine Kurland practices a style of photographic mannerism that exploits staged realities in order to explore the social landscape of girlhood. The adolescents of Kurland’s pictures move in groups through open vistas and sheltered areas, bold adventurers seeking and sometimes finding havens in hostile environments. The landscapes themselves are majestic, and the postures and activities of the girls often create a mysterious, even foreboding tone. In Slumber Party (Denver, Colorado), for instance, girls in sleeping bags lie scattered across an unprotected expanse. The result is epic imagery, where isolated figures braving elemental situations are wrought in a narrative style of photography that is inventive, dramatic, and fragmentary. The stagecraft of Kurland’s art is achieved through a collaboration between the artist and her models, who are very real girls in real life. Upon the selection of a location, usually a place important to locals and sometimes suggested by the girls themselves, Kurland talks about certain themes and scenarios – the runaway, the road, a shared paradise – which her models respond to and interpret for the camera.
Justine Kurland was born in Warsaw, New York in 1969. Her MFA in Photography is from Yale University (1998). She has had solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2003); Columbus State University, Columbus, Georgia (2003); Artspace, Auckland, New Zealand (2002); Gorney Bravin + Lee, New York (2002); the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2002); Torch Galerie, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2001); Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels, Belgium (2001); and Módulo, Lisbon, Portugal (2001).
Introduction / Bathtubs, couples, love and challenge are strong themes throughout this artist’s work with other key elements including individuality, style, communication and intimacy.
Photographer Hal brings complete strangers to his confined, crucible like spaces only to convey his continuing theme of ‘love of the couple’. The initial title Pinky & Killer used a small space or room to capture the willing couples, soon followed by the title Couple Jam which brought the focus even closer to the subjects who were placed in a bathtub together. “I am currently seeking new dimensions in portrait photography by challenging the majestic theme of mankind, defined through love.” Photographer Hal’s latest project is called Fresh Love, which captures the many varied and fresh couples in vacuum sealed package.
Background / Born, educated and currently residing in Tokyo. “Living through my university days I was starving for encounters with different people from other cultures around the world. As soon as I had the opportunity I left Japan and began my travels with a special focus on the Middle East and India. It was here that I first became aware of my passion for photography. The camera became the key to overcoming shyness and limited local language abilities and I could in some way communicate with the people I met. After graduating from university I joined an advertising production company in Tokyo and this enabled me to acquire a much wider set of photographic skills. The assignments were varied and unique including celebrities and established fashion icons. It was the crucible of my technical ability and the focus in my work soon became the people.
“I want to capture love as it really is and the bathtub is an ideal vehicle to encapsulate the vivid reality in my images. A grand theme in mankind is Love, and I, Photographer Hal, am challenging the majestic theme!”
“Those in power are continually guilty of segregation and discrimination, can we realize peace under such conditions? You who are standing on the earth, no matter where you are, love the person in front of you. From two people to a group, a town to a community, a city to a country, from border to border, the ring of love shall prevail. I have started to create my ring of love in the city of Tokyo, believing that some day a world peace without segregation and discrimination will come true.”
Through the medium of photography, the couple has become Photographer Hal’s chosen vehicle to express the principle theme of world love, this will of course require a search to find subjects who are willing to participate. “I go to Kabukicho in Shinjuku, underground bars in Shibuya and many other places which are full of activity like luscious night time bee-hives.
When I see a couple of interest I will begin to negotiate. I’m sure that many people initially think of my proposal as unusual or even look through me like I am completely invisible, but I always push forward with my challenge to them. The models appear from all walks of life and individually have included musicians, dancers, strippers, laborers, restaurant and bar managers, photographers, businessmen and women, unsettled and unemployed, et al. As a couple, I have photographed a wide variety of variables which include being young and old, from the same or opposite sex, of different race, having different styles, girls from the north and men from the south and many others who have been willing to participate. There have been occasions when the situation has become complicated, for example if a couple have disagreements, begin to argue or even fight! There are also the inevitable no-shows and the couples who split up before I can complete the images. On one assignment I had to visit a prison later to obtain permission for the final print. Happily though, for the most part I’ve had many joyful moments with many interesting scenes to capture. There was even a couple who married soon after one event, and it all began in a bathtub!”
“In my early explorations I used to capture the models in a small room or enclosed space, these images can be seen in the photo books called Pinky & Killer, and Pinky & Killer DX.
During the photo session I often prompt the couple to pose as if they’re in a sticker photo booth, an extension of the regular passport type which cause friends to pose in many alternative and fun ways. The focal point of the concept was then extended for the publication Couple Jam to include the use of the models bathtub, usually in their own home. I think of the bathroom as being one of the most private and intimate place in anyone’s home, this provoked a shyness in the models, and created a unique excitement and inspiration in the scene. In my most recent project I have applied the use of the vacuum sealed package, used to store futon covers in everyday life, I found that the couple can be sealed in, with the appearance of being freshly wrapped I have called this event Fresh Love.” …. PHOTOGRAPHER HAL
Bear Kirkpatrick lives and works in Portsmouth, NH.
Bear Kirkpatrick is an American artist who began taking photographs at age 13 with a pinhole camera he made from a shoebox. This device and pursuit became his first means of exploring the mystery of the world through art. Although in the years since he has published short stories, had a screenplay produced into a full-length feature, has made custom furniture for Bono and Adam Clayton, has exhibited furniture, jewellery, photography and sculpture throughout the United States, including the Society for Arts and Crafts in Boston, and the Rogin Gallery in New York, photography continues to be the primary focus of his artistic pursuit. Presently, he works work with the American artist Robert Wilson as the chief installer of his video portraits in private residences, museums, and galleries around the world.
The focus of Mr. Kirkpatrick’s work is to create a framework that explores mankind’s relationship to himself and to his animalness by developing narratives that attempt to create an image of man that is simultaneously primal and fully modern. Through this juxtaposition he posits that the basic tenets of the human condition have not disappeared beneath the flash of our contrivances or been abolished by any contemporary idea of progress. By viewing mankind with the same lens through which he or she examines the natural world, and by swapping the object for the subject, he reveals the eternal struggle to define for ourselves an understanding of our place within a contemporary social relationship to the sacred and the profane.