Aperture Summer 2017

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
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in this issue

3 min

Radical Women at the Hammer Museum As part of the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, which will involve dozens of museums across Southern California, the Hammer will open a survey of more than one hundred female Latin American artists. Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985 focuses on a turbulent twenty-five-year period when much of Latin America suffered under forms of military dictatorship, and the emboldened work of female artists, in particular, challenged the status quo. While the work ranges across a wide variety of practices, a number of important artists celebrated for their photography, including Liliana Porter, Regina Silveira, and Paz Errázuriz, will be featured. Walker Evans at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art A major retrospective of Walker Evans’s vernacular style comes to San Francisco this fall and will include more…

3 min
rediscovered books and writings

At a time when new modes of photographic history are urgently needed, we would do well to revisit the histories written in the 1960s, when a certain freedom of expression was allowed to manifest itself. Of those, perhaps the most remarkable is the one produced by French author Michel François Braive. Published in Belgium as L’age de la photographie: De Niépce à nos jours in 1965, it appeared in English in 1966 as The Era of the Photograph: A Social History, translated by David Britt and issued by Thames & Hudson in London. There had been “social histories” of photography before it, notably those written by Gisèle Freund and Robert Taft in the 1930s, but here the phrase seems to encompass a singularly eccentric perspective, given to much rumination and…

2 min
irving penn

In the late 1940s, when Irving Penn turned to fashion for Vogue, fashion photographers generally shot in an elegant setting— a paneled drawing room with a satin chaise, for example, or a set that simulated the equivalent. Penn had no experience of such rooms, nor of the lives lived in them, and looked for expedient alternatives. He wanted a neutral environment that would enhance the subject without drawing attention, and so he tried various ways to tamp down the specificity of the setting while imbuing it with atmosphere or painterly texture: he posed subjects against mottled stucco walls in Rome, used paper negatives to cast a softening aura, and threw the back wall of his New York studio out of focus. While preparing to photograph the 1950 collections in Paris, Penn…

5 min

Saturated with references to the lives of African Americans, Leslie Hewitt’s work explores the poetics of visual history, its absences, and its mysterious narratives. In her series of constructed images Riffs on Real Time (2006–9), Hewitt overlaid found snapshots of everyday people onto ephemera, including pages from Ebony magazine. Her photographs, often presented in sculptural installations, function as portals into memory, where historic scenes mingle with personal lives. Eva Hesse: Diaries, 2016 Mon. Be stronger—say no. —Eva Hesse, 1964 Each entry from the beautiful object that is Eva Hesse: Diaries is a strange yet paralleling space between a finished and unfinished thought. Her objects and drawings in a similar way give room to the viewer, inviting a proximity of intimacy and engagement. How much to reveal and what should remain a mystery (yet…

3 min
platform africa

“How do we create a meaningful photographic experience on this continent?” the photographer Nii Obodai asked last year at Addis Foto Fest in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “We have to map the network.” Across this issue, from Johannesburg to Lagos, Dakar to Algiers, the points of connection—schools, workshops, biennials, festivals, project spaces, and artist-led initiatives— form a network of exchanges and dialogues around image-making. While there may be no such thing as “African photography,” there is an essential set of platforms for critical engagement with the medium. Three guest editors, working within the sites where artists present their work and build community around photography, have contributed to “Platform Africa”: Bisi Silva, founder and artistic director of the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos; John Fleetwood, former head of Johannesburg’s Market Photo Workshop…

13 min
lagos khartoum dakar cairo addis ababa

LagosPhoto There’s a character in “Lawless,” a short story by the Nigerian author Sefi Atta, who asks, “Who was I to think that art could save anyone in Lagos?” Azu Nwagbogu might have wondered this a decade ago when he founded the African Artists’ Foundation, an organization that coordinates the LagosPhoto Festival. Every year since 2010, Nwagbogu has organized the monthlong festival in Lagos, Nigeria. The photographers invited and the images exhibited are of an international scope, and the approach and attitude is pan-African. The festival’s themes are determined yearly by a curatorial team— a “factory of ideas,” he calls it—who are joined by guest curators. “It is a platform that relates especially to showcasing a new way of negotiating African contemporary visual history and culture,” Nwagbogu says. Through its exhibitions and…