KARMA (Oscar Monzon) is like a shiny handcrafted razor blade you feel like swallowing

At an age where the world is being pictured in its entirety, from photos of our streets through the google street view eye to Belfies for a better look inside the mind of our beloved teens, there’s almost nothing you could not see by simply opening your daily blog roll.

Regularly checking blogs and photography sharing platforms allows one to distinguish trends and what makes the buzz’. Ask me what’s buzzing right now? Dreamy semi nude floating in the forest in vintage dress. Copies of copies of copies of them flooding the Internet, of course not even remotely matching the quality of Anni Leppälä’s work and the now age-ing Helsinki school of photography…
A common strategy consisting of presenting ‘controversial’ works to stand out of the crowd remains equally popular.

But can photographers still be controversial through this massive mess? How about feeling angry? Feeling like you want to shock someone? I guess there’s a tough link between the notion of controversy and the time and place the work is being presented. Sometimes the photographer is willing to provoke a violent crash and sometimes the photographer sees the F.B.I. seizing his materials without completely understanding why. The context of work presentation being a prime factor of reception for the audience.

(Above: Jock Sturges’ controversy over child nudity. Below: Piss Christ from Andres Serrano)

So, let’s talk business now. You want to shock everyone? First forget about porn, death or anything related, it doesn’t work anymore. Hot topics remain religion, or childhood. This fountain starts however to run dry. So? Any idea or suggestion? Oscar Monzon has one for you… But it’s rather subtle and part of the controversy lays in the fact it might even silently fly under the radar!

KARMA controversially addresses the people it pictures, the people appreciating the photos, the people flickering its pages and more importantly photography in General.
KARMA is punk in the old school way. Not the pink and fluorescent green raised hair, oh no nono… Like destroying an YVES SAINT LAURENT costume on purpose and wearing it just cause you are too lazy to raise your middle finger? Hell yeah…


KARMA is made of harsh light and ultra sharp dismantle collages of sneaky shots. It’s a war aimed to claim back what you thought was a private sphere in the public space. Oscar Monzon stands on on the roadside, sets his trap up and wait for you to admit defeat. Whether you are a car passenger or a photo book collector, you are all done.

The book presents no title, no essay, barely displays the name of the author (somewhere in the middle of the book, just like a statement “didn’t I tell you I can do whatever pleases me?).

The hyper sharp pics are superbly printed on a hyper glossy plasticized paper emphasizing over exposure and hard color saturation. It’s all about that YSL costume I told you about. The pics themselves brilliantly get rid of any kind of photographic conventions while remaining aesthetically mesmerizing and nervous.

Dalpine (The editor) says “Karma explores a range of unconscious human behaviours imprinted on our memory. In terms of the relationship we establish with the car, these forms of conduct materialise in specific ways: detachment, competition, aggressiveness.”

KARMA is like a shiny handcrafted razor blade you feel like swallowing

It is now time to reach a conclusion… The book was awarded with a first prize at Paris photo-aperture (go figure…) and is now hard to get. Actually pretty hard and the price already climbs up. Flickering through it makes me feel the same as when listening to good ole Rage against the machine, no more no less! Oh and to stay in tune with the topic, be aware that I have a copy… and you don’t 😛

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Back when only the photographer was the photographer

Hello everyone!

Talking about Bottrop-Ebel 76′ from Michael Wolf in the previous post and the sense for community that radiates all throughout the book, invites me to show you a little something more Please refer to the previous post https://arteodigest.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/bottrop-ebel/).

First thing first, I d like to tell you what happened to the village where my family comes from.
As you can easily guess the mines closed down, many families left for brighter mining horizons here and there leaving older people behind. Village population decreased of more than 2k individuals and now everything is being bought by cross-border workers from Belgium, Luxembourg or larger cities in France as prices there went mad.

On paper it sounds like another cultural mixing settlement cycle just like it was in the 30’s, things are fairly different though… People are not working together anymore, sparsely contact each other, barely know their neighbours and leave for the weekend.

What does this have to do with photography now? Well, I figure that photography evolved the same way.
If the actual village DNA changed this much, is there an actual way we could witness it through photography? In BOTTROP-EBEL 76′ Michael Wolf obviously was looking to communicate this sense for community through his pictures. Each frame of this book recalls the fact that the people had to live with each other, whether for killing the pig and share the meat, working at the factory being a link in the production chain or being the accordionist that makes the people dance in the cellar club.
Not exactly what you would call objective though, considering the socio-economical context of that area of Germany in the early 80’s. And the book format emphasises all this by connecting frames to each other, inviting the reader to naturally connect the dots between the pages. Photo book designers and publishers are curators!

A few years ago, while asking my dear grandma to show me her wedding pictures, she showed me a collection of photos she got from the whole neighbourhood.
That was back in the days where nobody was a photographer but the photographer (That kinda changed didn’t it?!).
Based on this material, I then composed my first postmodern ironic appropriation artwork and it is now here for you to see!


Ok ok those all were taken by the same photographer (mr. Pierrard) who did a stunning work in recording the first steps of a thousand newly formed families in that region. What does this work show up is clearly a sense for community. This should be put in the light of modern wedding photography.
I have been a wedding photographer myself and would always go to see the customers and ask them what they wished for. They would come up with a tablet or magazines filled with ideal wedding photos in the style they would want to be seen on their wedding album. They would from time to time even come to me because my style was different from x, y or z wedding photographer and would match with their personal taste (note the use of a bold font). Why this? Through the common act of marriage people just want to be uncommon. A way to shout out loud how unique the story of their love can be. The act of marriage being individualised, within the frame formed by the strict rituals and visual codes dictated through tradition.

When I look at this series of 16 vintage photographs I see a loud statement of a community welcoming newly married couple to become part of a the BIG PICTURE. The only affirmation of the self lays in the hand of the bride and her choice for a less or more conservative dress.
What made this switch possible? Well technique surely helped with an access to mobility, sensibility and reactivity through the evolution of the camera. Cameras being also more and more accessible also meant more and more people using them, exploring along a whole new set of visual codes.
Just like with music: back in the days you could pick among two or three genres and one radio station per country. Then jazz, then rock and roll arrived, with their set of styles and attitudes… Nowadays, claim something like “cool, I love this techno sound” someone beats you to death screaming “do I look like someone listening to Techno to you?! This is Northern Liquid drill&bass you idiot!”.
……….. Well……… Same happened to wedding photography.

(Those are a few photos of mine, I chose black and white photos only so you can concentrate on the essential)

Drawing conclusion on “what caused what?” would just be like trying to answer the question of who came first between the egg or the bride. Humm egg or bird sorry. By arranging a few photos together we can however have the viewer questioning what he sees. Different arrangements, different questions.
This is what the photo book does to us, by carefully arranging body of works creating new meanings that stand above the simple sum of a bunch of photographs, no matter how good they individually are.

All this said and back to our wedding business, it would be cheap to conclude this messy post with a conclusion like “That was all better before”.
So I leave that in the hands of Veronika and another serious writer with a quote:

‘The past is a foreign country,‘ goes the famous opening sentence of L.P. Hartley’s novel The Go-Between, ‘they do things differently there.’ But the photograph tells me to invert this idea; it reminds me that it’s my present that is foreign, and that the past is home, albeit a lost home in a lost city in the mists of lost time. It may be argued that the past is a country from which we have all emigrated, that its loss is part of our common humanity. The shards of memory acquired greater status, greater resonance, because they were remains; fragmentation made trivial things seem like symbols, and the mundane acquired numinous qualities. (-Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands)



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Bottrop-Ebel depicts your past, just the way you want it to be!

Collecting photography books is quite a demanding hobby. It requires time to browse the Internet in search of what’s new and coming, patience and perseverance to localise copies of the desired edition and tough muscles each time you need to move to a new flat.

Books are filling every inch of the weak and now distorted library and then comes that question: what does all this serve?………….

I always preferred the book form over the gallery print format for photographs. Not that the latter isn’t awesome, it just always seemed distant and arrogant to me. Think about it: you cannot afford a print in most of the cases and often, the one single print belongs to series that were thought as a whole despite the intriguing qualities of a single shot.

The book form offers you an unique opportunity to admire the series as a whole, it’s (most often) relatively affordable and in some cases is a form of art in its very conception. Bottom line: nobody to bother you when reading it, no annoying hip gallery assistant to engage you during your transcendental experience with the arts.

In short it makes photography accessible and unforgettable.

I keep on wondering what will ever happen to all my books. Ideally, one day a mini version of myself bearing half of my genes will pick a few of them to the bedroom and take on whatever journey the imagination and memories can create through the book medium (if that makes any sense to you). This said, if you ask me what my favourite photograph is, I will doubtless point directly at a family picture. This photo is a gem of a kind. Just to point out how photography and family can be linked and participate to one’s identity definition.

Photo (unknown) – my family, both sides for the twins baptism (Yeah ok they all look a bit too serious here 😛 )

My grandparents, all the four coming from Polish families arriving in France to answer the massive coal minors call were raised in France at the border with Germany/Belgium/Luxembourg. Entire families living in cloned houses in endless streets where meant to work and live together, at the mine, through the cultural differences and through the war. Call it fate or accident or chance, my two grandfathers were living in the exact same house, became first friends to each other and at 80+ when all are leaving us one after the other, remain last and oldest best friends. The photo above therefore unites two different families living under a one roof, two families who will later be united through my parents marriage and shortly after… Through my birth.

This photo above, belongs to the set of my family albums along with many other proofs of a past and are attached to the prolific familial tradition of storytelling. When I stare at it, I see what is there on the photo, recorded, but I attach to those pictures the many phantasies triggered by the memories of some stories told on Sundays around the family dinner table. Just as I am unable to tell what part is historical fact and what part was constructed over the years, I accept those stories as they are: the big story of my own family.

Bottrop-Ebel 76

Two recent events triggered the writing of this post. About a month ago or so, someone created a Facebook group dedicated to the people originated from the village where my grandparents grew up and still live. The group quickly was flooded with tons of black and white photos of the time when the heart of the village still was beating loud, deep in the mines. It’s oh so weird but so pleasing to watch all those people who lived their life along with my parents and their parents.


Photos: Michael Wolf

Second event was the appearance in my blog roll of some posts about Michael Wolf and the book above. I knew Wolf’s work through is Amazing and thoughtful series called Tokyo Compressions. I haven’t specified it before but I now live in Germany. What strucked me was to see how similar the world depicted in this book and the community described in Bottrop-Ebel 76 were similar. It was just as there was a copy of my “hometown” living a parallel life across the border.


Photos: Michael Wolf

Now consider the many stereotypes that French and German hold about each other’s, most often incomprehension at best and hatred at worse. Hard to understand for me, having a foot in both worlds. This appears however soooooooooo silly when flickering through the pages of this book. Michael Wolf talents lays in the way he communicates the relationship of intimacy he built with the city and the people living there. He makes me feel like I am a warmly welcome guest, invited to step in and participate to the local life of those people. By extension and due to the many similarities with my hometown, I feel like I can share a slice of my grandparents life as it was back in the days of their numerous tales of joy and worries.

Photo: Michael Wolf

Bottrop-Ebel 76 was Michael Wolf university project, the photos were taken before all the fame he acquired through famous series like Tokyo Compressions. I would like to imagine those photos reappearing after some years, out of a box, raising interest just like the photos people post on Facebook about their village. They radiate a sense for community and trust, inspire nostalgia for a time before Internet when neighbours new each other’s? Or is it what we are looking for when watching this book?

Whatever you are going to project in this book, every single frame from page one to the end is filled with awesomeness. The photos are stunning, the book is of a high quality paper and presented in a nice box. All in all super highly recommended!

Photo: Michael Wolf

Below, various photos obtained through the Facebook group “Si t’es originaire de Tucquegnieux”, family members, village where they lived and mines were they worked.

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04.03.14 digest – #babygiraffes the new Wednesday Adams, #heaven and #supermodel on #horse

Good morning!

It’s going to be a heavy pics loaded post today. I have been saving a few things in my folder for sharing later and later seems to be now. Meaning it’s not going to be freshly pressed juice but rather white wine.

First things first I know all the craze about miss Kerr (full nude editorial from Mario Testino released yesterday) or Cara twitting to her fan crowd what she thinks of Paparazzi… Sure they are cool but my heart goes for Codie Young for now.

Appearing in more and more editorials recently, she s completely unique and utterly strange in the best positive way. The only problem I could see hiring her as a designer would be that she completely eclipses anything but her on each frame. How cool is this?? Now if you ve been reading me for a while, you should know that we actually don’t really care about this.

Here you will find more on Visual Optimism:
sleepwalker: codie young by nhu xuan hua for nasty #4 the void issue winter 2014
Source: http://visualoptimism.blogspot.com/2014/02/sleepwalker-codie-young-by-nhu-xuan-hua.html



And a bit more on Fashionproduction:
nicolas valois
Source: http://fashionproduction.blogspot.com/2014/03/nicolas-valois.html


Posting anything about giraffe is probably as populist as posting about kittens, it’s just propaganda. You can sell anything with kittens, it’s unfair. I just wanted you to be aware of that before showing the following photos and if you jumped through the post without reading it, it’s your fault not mine!
Funny fact is that these appeared in my digest the day of the zoo craze,when everyone got nuts cause a baby giraffe would be killed (badbadbad)… But somehow Giraffe heaven seemed ok enough to me after seeing where the animal would end up enjoying some fruits in a basket:
prints charming: alana zimmer by liz collins for uk harper’s bazaar march 2014


…and talking about heaven, its animals and colour code… Here is a superb example of visual perfection. The frames and post processing are simply perfect, visual candy from the finest candy makers. With Karlie Kloss as a cherry on the cake.
ray of light: karlie kloss and sasha by mikael jansson for vogue april 2014



Finally, it seems that Instagram filter craze reached fashion editorial industry.
When it’s so well done I’m ready to pardon anything.
the laroache brothers
Source: http://fashionproduction.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-laroache-brothers.html



If you reached this point of the post you may be thinking there are a lot of links directing to fashioncopius? You are right. But they post so much and so good that I actually invite you to subscribe their feed. They also have the best quality pics upload which makes it easy for me when an editorial appears on several blogs.


Enjoy your day 😉


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04.01.14 digest is intended to make you smile

Hello everyone,

A funny post today!!!

What would you do if entering a party at Cannes festival everyone would mistake you for YouTube’s legend PSY (gangnam style)?
I would just do like Maciej and his friend, grab the fame and enjoy the 15 minutes of celebrity promised to me by Andy Warhol.

This book has a very funny concept with photos cleverly illustrating it. Just a slice of fun in your photo book collection who often looks dark and conceptual!


Life of Psy!
Maciej Pestka
Source: http://1000wordsphotographymagazine.blogspot.com/2014/03/maciej-pestka.html

On the other side of the world, there is a place with a motel you now definitely wants to sleep at.
To promote the facility, they publish a ‘standard hotel’ calendar illustrating comments left by the clients. Some of them are hilarious and you can see more at the following Internet location:

Photos From The Standard’s 2014 Calendar Bring to Life Oddball Comments From Guests
Source: http://www.featureshoot.com/2014/01/photos-from-the-standards-2014-calendar-bring-to-life-oddball-comments-from-guests/

AUGUST / Stayed here a few years ago and it is still beautiful! The only thing I recommend is…the TV is possessed. No matter which button you push: vol, channel up, etc, it just channels down—malfunction. Love from Vegas.

DECEMBER / Dear Standard Staff, You were the most hospitable bunch of people I’ve ever stayed with in a while. Thank you so much for making my time here in LA so nice. PS: Btw, someone installed the sign in your hotel upside down.

Finally, in his project “Strangers that look like twins“, François Brunelle takes you onto a journey where you will never feel alone anymore because your hidden twin is waiting for you, somewhere!
One must be very patient to complete such a photo project!

Strangers That Look Like Twins
Source: http://www.fubiz.net/2014/01/30/strangers-that-look-like-twins/


Enjoy your evening 😉


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03.26.14 Digest #back and blurring all those boundaries

Good morning! Long time no read 🙂

Art is what makes life more important than art” said a dude…
If you ve been reading the lines of this blog on a regular basis (which I totally doubt), you d be accustomed to the fact I’m in love with those projects blurring the boundaries of fashion, fine arts and reportage. Partly because those are titanium soldered “boxes” people have difficulties to mentally get rid of. There should not be a distinction and in fact if I push this way of thought through, I should not even talk about it… Fine arts / fashion / reportage…

In some rare occasions, one just creates this perfectly balanced precious alliance and I could keep on writing about the benefits it offers to the lucky viewer… Or I could just show you this and make you happy?

Digg in! ★ ‘Boarding Schools’ by Jamie Hawkesworth for Hot & Cool Magazine spotted on Fashion Copious.




Interestingly enough, the above mentioned balance isn’t only explored by fashion industry actors but also by artists or reporters. To make it more understandable, let’s simply group them under the banner of “editorial photographers”. Basically people not getting paid to shoot what they see but rather to shoot what they feel or what they want to feel.

I’ll never give you better advice than having a look at Rena Effendi’s body of work. I introduced her mesmerizing book called Liquid Land earlier in this blog. Liquid Land was a book paralleling her father’s passion for collecting butterflies and the nasty oil industry, all set up in the Azerbaijan’s death landscapes. She comes back now, and invites you to meet the people of “Transylvania, Romania”.

Follow the link: “Transylvania, Romania” Rena Effendi

Step by step, you mentally cruise with me in the regional express. Destination: workplace. One hour to kill? I keep on blogging!



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Top end portraiture and top end Fashion Nudes… What else?! #photography #vogue #portraits

Good morning everyone,

I have been gathering a handful of top end portraits for you the last few days.
As I read here and there within the blogosphere the past weeks:

Taking a photograph is easy, taking a great photograph is almost impossible.

So let’s focus on those who achieved to make the best portraits!

Now that they revealed Taylor Wessing winners, I thought that I should find a post doing a quick recap of what made it to the top selection… and here it is. Featured by Fubiz, the selection is very certainly flawless. No wonder for such a prestigious prize:
Taylor Wessing Photography Prize 2013

Feature Shoot people on their side focused on “selfies”. By the way did you know that the word entered the Oxford dictionary this year? Signs of changing times…
Nevertheless, the two projects below give a brilliant demonstration on how selfies can be creative!
Clever ‘Double-faced’ Portraits Use Simple Drawings to Distort Perception

Photographer Transforms Found Dolls Into Strange Self-Portraits

Finally TREATS! Wrote a post last week about the best of nudes in Vogue and offers a selection of about a hundred high end fashion nudes. NOT to be missed!!
Full of classics and contemporary shots, the best recap I ever came across online!
Follow the link:




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