Aperture Fall 2016

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.

United States
Aperture Foundation
$9.99 per month after trial

in this issue

2 min

While William Eggleston’s off-kilter photographic compositions and revolutionary use of color have been discussed for decades, for many fans his piano compositions will be a revelation. In this issue investigating photography and sound, writer John Jeremiah Sullivan recounts a recent visit to Memphis to meet with the photographer, during which Eggleston serenaded Sullivan and spoke about his passion for classical music (Bach in particular) and his interest in audio recording. Considering that Eggleston is an audiophile, and a denizen of an American music capital, it isn’t surprising that music plays a frequent cameo in his images, many of which have graced album covers. Compulsively abstract and addictive, an Eggleston plays like a good hook. A photograph of Eggleston’s from 1985 featuring a Leica resting near a reel-to-reel encapsulates two means for…

4 min
collectors the activists

Alicia Garza This photograph was my profile picture on Facebook for quite a few months, during a period when I went through a strange obsession with Grace Jones. I discovered the picture while browsing her images on the Internet, and it really spoke to me. This was in 2010, a particularly challenging time—I felt overwhelmed, unfairly branded, exposed, and vulnerable. I’d just become executive director of an organization I’d been with for several years; there was some turbulence in my relationship; and everything around me seemed unsure and unstable. The intensity of the image appealed to me because it captured what I was feeling and likely projecting into the world—a caged and wounded animal, ready to strike at any gesture of violence or kindness. Grace Jones has always been brilliant in…

5 min

His subjects are judges, men who train hyenas, Liberian Boy Scouts, Ghanaian trash collectors, denizens of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, and himself. With unsparing detail, Pieter Hugo—who was born in Johannesburg and graduated from high school in 1994, the year of South Africa’s first democratic presidential election—has pushed photojournalism into the realm of trenchant social critique. Known for Nollywood (2009), a glossy send-up of Nigeria’s film industry, his recent series, Kin, published by Aperture in 2015, turns to communities close to home with a steady, psychologically curious gaze. “I think it comes out of living in such a strange and peculiar place as South Africa,” Hugo has said. “So much of it is about trying to figure out where to situate yourself in your environment.” J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace, 1999 I read…

3 min

Ed van der Elsken’s factory girls Hinde Haest Ed van der Elsken was a master of subtle paradoxes. His debut photo-novel, Love on the Left Bank (1956), about the nightly escapades of Parisian bohemians, earned him instant fame—and status as an enfant terrible of Dutch photography. A lesser-known fact is that Love on the Left Bank also stars his first wife, Ata Kando, with whom he lived in Sevres at the time. Van der Elsken published reportage of their family life—including endearing photographs of Kando’s daughters’ ballet lessons—in a special Christmas 1954 edition of the graphic journal Drukkersweekblad. If it seems hard to reconcile the rogue photographer with the family man, it may be even more surprising to imagine the leftist free spirit as a commercial photographer. Celebrated for the photobooks Bagara (1958),…

3 min

On the rooftops of Egypt’s capital, photographers reclaim the urban landscape Ismail Fayed Setting: A rooftop that looks like a spacecraft. A glowing staircase with orange light. A repository of clutter. A jungle of satellite dishes. Figures appear. Women dressed in black pose within scenes of their own creation. They are the Cairo Bats, a collective of female artists who gather to create staged photographs. For Act 1: The Roof (2015), their recent project at Cairo’s Contemporary Image Collective (CIC), the Cairo Bats presented a sequence of performative interventions that tackled the multifaceted potential of urban structures. It’s not the first time that artists working in Cairo chose the city and its landscape as points of departure. Since the early 2000s, with the rise of independent art spaces such as Townhouse Gallery and…

4 min
on portraits

In this regular column, Dyer considers how a range of figures have been photographed. Here, he reflects on Roy DeCarava’s photographs of the jazz musician Elvin Jones. There are two well-known photographs by Roy DeCarava featuring drummer Elvin Jones. As in any duet or diptych each is subtly altered and enhanced by the other. The first, taken in 1960, is primarily a picture of John Coltrane. The saxophonist’s familiarly impassive face is in profile, clearly focused but perhaps not fixed quite as sharply as the harsh, metallic intricacies of the horn. (That saxophone might even be the most sharply observed detail in the whole of DeCarava’s repertoire.) The title explains that the blurry shape in the background is Elvin Jones, but if we had only the blob of a head and…