Aperture Spring 2021

Founded in 1952, Aperture is an essential guide to the world of contemporary photography that combines the finest writing with inspiring photographic portfolios. Each issue examines one theme explored in “Words,” focused on the best writing surrounding contemporary photography, and “Pictures,” featuring immersive portfolios and artist projects.

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in this issue

3 min

Shirin Neshat In 1975, the artist Shirin Neshat left her home of Iran to attend school in California. She didn’t return to her birthplace for another fifteen years. During her time away, the Islamic Revolution and then the Iran-Iraq War shifted the country’s face past Neshat’s recognition. That cultural dislocation is the thematic heart of an exhibition of three decades of Neshat’s photography and video at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, in Texas. Shirin Neshat: I Will Greet the Sun Again—featuring more than two hundred of her works from her iconic early projects such as Women of Allah (1993–97) to her recent series Land of Dreams (2019)—considers themes of immigration and exile. “Her work is so important for what it says about gender and ideology and the complications of…

3 min
day jobs

Last fall, from his studio in Northern California, where the skies were orange with wildfires, Jim Goldberg rattled off a photographer’s résumé: “Oh, I worked at Burger King. I drove a laundry truck. I was a tree planter in a forest collective. A housepainter. I worked in a Clairol factory making curlers. I worked as a cook. I was a camp counselor. I worked a lot of jobs, like everybody. Never a waiter though.” A work-study gig in the early 1970s at a university-run children’s day care was the job that took hold. Goldberg had dropped out of theology studies at Hofstra University and moved cross-country, joining a friend in Bellingham, Washington, where he transferred to Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Washington University (“a real hippie, Ken Kesey kind…

4 min

James Barnor’s deeply personal artistic practice has traversed cities, continents, and genres over six decades, all in reverence of the African diaspora. Barnor is a newsman, studio photographer, and fashion image maker. But the too common neglect of Black artists in the art world means his genteel images have been presented only on a handful of grandstand stages, beginning with exhibitions in London, in 2010, and Ghana, in 2012. Now, art history is finally catching up. Barnor, who was born in Ghana in 1929, was pronounced a 2020 recipient of the Royal Photographic Society Awards, and his work will be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries this year. The result of cataloging tens of thousands of photographs, the eponymous exhibition James Barnor will be the most comprehensive…

4 min

With her poetic meditations on the textures of daily life, Rinko Kawauchi has for two decades honed and evolved a startlingly fresh way of seeing the world. Her first photobooks, with their methodical sequencing, harmonize cycles of life and nature’s formal beauty, proving that small miracles of vision can be found in unexpected places and objects—an illuminated spoonful of fish roe, a hole carved into a sandy beach, a cracked watermelon. Shifting light, an encroaching shadow, or a sudden gust of wind often transform what is before her lens. “Whenever I’m taking pictures,” Kawauchi says, “I need to discover something. I want an impression from the object.” Leiko Ikemura The first time I met Leiko Ikemura was at her atelier in Cologne. I had been commissioned to photograph the artist as she…

1 min
new york

The urbanist Jane Jacobs, who famously made the case for the life of New York’s sidewalks, believed that New Yorkers are foot people. That may be why photographers, the ultimate foot people, thrive here, finding endless visual pleasure and contradiction in the city’s frenzied theater of the everyday, whether along crammed sidewalks or down below in the aging, often-delayed subway that everyone loves, and loves to loathe. New York is a town of improvisers—and there has been no shortage of creative solutions to adapting and to weathering the trauma and challenges of the pandemic. Photographers who would usually be on the street making pictures have instead been busy organizing their archives, finding new meanings in indelible images. As they rediscover previous versions of the city, their efforts underscore that the…

3 min
rosalind fox solomon’s new york

Rosalind Fox Solomon found her calling, photography, in her late thirties. Solomon’s teacher, Lisette Model, encouraged her daring and self-confidence. With a camera, Solomon could view life from her own angle, her distinctive vision. Solomon has traveled widely, photographing in Peru, the American South, Israel, and the West Bank, to name a few places. But, she tells me, “I did not find myself shooting in New York City in a different way. I made portraits of people and imagined their concerns. As I shoot, there is always inner tension, a trance-like state that contrasts with a nice-girl smile. That’s how I work everywhere.” Over the last five decades, Solomon has pictured New York through its events, inhabitants, and objects. Her commitment to social justice animates her choice of subjects, and her pictures…