Friday, March 30, 2007

Paradigm Lecture Monday April 2nd, 2007

In town at 1 PM on Monday? Don't miss this!
Not in town? Get the hell in!

The Media Arts Department is pleased to present the next Paradigm Lecture:

Zoe Strauss Photography Lecture

Monday April 2, 2007 / 1pm / CBS Auditorium / UArts / 320 S. Broad St. / info. 215-717-6300


I will be lecturing on a variety of topics including why I have chosen the image below as my greatest achievment.

For real, if you're coming get ready to ask A LOT of questions. Be prepared with questions. Do not make me call on random people in the audience.


Zoe Strauss' latest project is the 10-year long I-95 Project, an annual installation underneath I-95 in South Philadelphia.

Strauss received a Pew Fellowship in the Arts in 2005, and her work was featured in the 2006 Whitney Biennial-Day For Night exhibition in New York.

From April 13 to May 4 her work will be featured in Gallery 1401 at the University of the Arts, in an exhibition entitled If You Break the Skin, co-sponsored by the Equality Forum.

A recent documentary about Strauss will be included in the multi-media exhibition that will contain both printed and projected imagery.

The lecture is free!
leos mantle with medications 2 web

leos mantle with medications day after death 6-2web

I have always sided with the no flash in this one, but now I'm reconsidering flash.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Justin James Reed

He is a force to be reckoned with.

New Cities
Temple Gallery
259 N. 3rd Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

April 4 through April 7
Gallery Hours:
Wednesday - Saturday, 11 am to 6pm
First Friday Opening April 6 open until 9pm

I am way overdue on writing a long something about Justin's new body of South Philadelphia photographs, but let me just say that he's killing it with great work. I first saw Justin's work a few years ago and my first impression has held up since then; he manages to imbue his own sense of calm and beauty into images that are made in both rural and urban spaces, and the color choices are so distinct as to know his work on a glance.

He has a new photo blog; I recommend that you click on his name at the top.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Comments, Questions, Raves, Pans, Critiques and Suggestions for If You Break The Skin...

Leave them here in the comments section. There weren't enough surveys and people said they wanted to comment. Put your money where your mouth is folks...START TALKING!

All of the surveys returned were positive...people loved it. Well, look who it's about, I mean really.

I think the film accurately reflects what a great project this was, and is. But as a subject of the film, and not a filmmaker, there are a few things I would like edited. That doesn't mean I don't think it's a great film. I think it's an amazing film.

I only have one specific question for you, my friends. Did you realize that all of the interviews were conducted by the young filmmakers? Please tell.

At the end of the night Phylicia said she wished she could do it again this summer and despite that so much of this process has been similar to the sensation of having scalding oil poured on me, I do too.

A "don't miss" Manuel Dominguez, Jr. show!

Behold the prodigal son! I love Manny and think his work is great. Don't miss this show.

This Saturday March 31st @ 4pm

FREE and Open to the Public

The 8th Robert F. Looney Memorial Event and Exhibition

"Continuum: Photography In Philadelphia - Past, Present and Future"

Photographs and Panel Discussion

Featuring the work of:
Paul Runyon, Mike Froio, Karen Lefkovitz, Cori Crowley, Martha Madigan, Jim Robinson, Alida Fish, MANUEL DOMINGUEZ, JR., Gabriel Martinez, and Brent Wahl.

Montgomery Auditorium - Central Library - 1901 Vine Street - Philadelphia

more info:

Sunday, March 25, 2007

If You Break the Skin, You Must Come In

This last week has been a long week and I am certain the next couple of weeks will be equally as long.

if you break the skin, you must come in-1web

I made this photo in the summer of 2005 while I was driving around SW Philadelphia. The trailer was on the other side of railroad tracks that run toward east/west toward the Schuylkill River and could only be seen from a very small street that faced the drop off to the tracks and the huge lot of used trailers on the other side. I have no idea what "If You Break the Skin You Must Come In" could mean in the context of a vinyl banner facing railroad tracks; I guess it could have something to do with the plastic covering on the side of the trailer...I really don't know. At the time I made this photo, I thought maybe the text was too cryptic for the way the photo was structured. The architectural components aren't that strong in this photo (I never love cyclone fencing and always try to avoid it in my shots) and when the text is the crux of the photo I want to make sure the text is read as a part of the entire photo, not as an independent statement.

However, I kept coming back to this photo to help with the ordering of the I-95 images based on the text in this photo, even with the inclusion of the new Katrina images for 2006. When I was having the ICA show it was something I referred to in placing the wall images and I included it in the projected was in keeping with the idea of "looking at" and "looking through" the main image and my desire to have viewers carry the images further than the initial viewing.

When David Kessler suggested that "If You Break The Skin..." be the name for the documentary, I was certain that there couldn't be a better name.


Last week there were 2 deaths that will have a long-lasting impact on my life; one was a friend who I had known for about 18 years, and the other was a woman who I'd met 3 times and I hadn't spent more than 15 minutes total with in my whole life.

Our friend Ray shot and killed himself. Lynn and I lived with Ray for about 10 years. When I met Lynn Bloom she was in a band with Ray and he was always Lynn's friend first and foremost. When I move into a different part of the grieving process, that will always allow me a little anger toward him for hurting her. I think that's healthy for me. Of course, I will always be indignant on Tina's behalf. And on my behalf, too. But who knows? It's going to be a lifetime dealing with this.

The memorial at Morning Glory was this last Friday...I was really ready to get my grief on in the morning and then have all day to prepare for the celebration of showing the film that night. I guess that's what you call a full life. Christ.


Three days after Ray's death I got this email,

"My name is Gina Carbone ,You don't know me but I know you , You had taken a picture of my Daughter Monique a few yrs ago she was pregnant ,You took the picture of her tatoo that said Daddy and she was in a magazine called ELLE , I am sorry to say that Monique has passed away , My heart is so broken , But I want to thank you for taking that photo, She was so excited about hearing that she was in a magazine , Thank you Sincerely Gina Carbone."

The photo Gina Carbone is talking about is below.
daddy tattoo womanemail copy

This photo is one of my favorite portraits and one that I think will hold up over time. It's also an image I look at almost daily.

I sent this reply back to Gina.

"Dear Gina,

Thank you so much for writing to me, I am so, so sorry to hear about Monique. Please accept my deepest condolences and extend them to the rest of your family as well. I had only met Monique 3 times, and the second was when I made the photo that ended up in Elle. I will never forget that moment.... despite the great difficulties that she was going through, she was incredibly beautiful and self-possessed. I look at that photo almost every day and think about how she had great beauty and strength in that moment.
And I am so happy to hear that she was excited about being in Elle.

Gina, if it's not too much, could you send me Monique's date of birth and the date she passed away? I would like to put a memorial up on my web page.

Again, thanks so much for taking the time to write to me and please accept my sympathies. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Zoe Strauss"

I meant every word of that email.

Gina replied with this,

"Dear Zoe Thank You so much for writing me back ,And thank you for your condulison. and prayers .Monique's Birthday was AUGUST 22ND 1983 She passed away September 9th 2006.Monique has a son Shawn my grandson who now is almost 2 and a half he is a healthy happy boy and he is so truly loved . We have had him since he left the hospital .Monique would come and visit him from time to time ,and he knows Monique is his mommy .I am just so glad you to saw the beauty in Monique .It was also inside of her ,I always told her this .she could not see it . Thank you again I am going to send you a picture of monique , and also when you do this memorial please send it to me . Sincerely Gina Carbone."

photo by Gina Carbone

We exchanged a few more emails and I put up a memorial for Monique and found myself thinking about how I was really invested in the "Daddy Tattoo" and the "Showing Black Eye" photos . And did being invested in the photo mean that I was invested in the life of Monique Carbone? Who could tell with the initial shock and mourning of Ray's death? I didn't know her first name when I made the "Daddy Tattoo" portrait and I didn't know her last name when I made the portrait below 2 years later.
monique showing black eye web

I do know I thought of her often and wished that she was safe and healthy. I know that I refrained from asking Gina Carbone to call me although I really wanted to talk to her because of my strong affectionate feelings for Monique and I wished that I could offer something more comforting than an online memorial. But I don't know what I could say except that I'm sorry. The last time I saw Monique she was in a bad way, but she still had a strength, resistance and defiance that came through in her decision to show me her beaten face so I could photograph it. I am sending you my love, Gina Carbone. And my love to Shawn.


The film "If You Break The Skin..." premiered on Friday night to a packed auditorium of folks who came on less than a week's notice. Later, I will write a much longer review of the evening, which was a great success in my opinion. David Kessler make the film from unstructured footage of all of us fumbling our way through a project that kept getting bigger and more complex and more intimate and more invested and more contentious. Right. and then the project kept getting bigger and more complex and more intimate and more invested and more contentious after the filming was done.

The "youth" filmmakers were proud of the film and I love those guys. Here's to Diane, Tracy, Meme, Charday, Phylicia, Shante, Misha and Daliyl. You guys are the best and I am proud to know you. There is a much longer story about DHS and how they have tried to derail this project and how they haven't paid Tracy and Diane and a billion hideous things that I will attempt to address after the end of May. As of right now, all involved in the making of the film will mull over what will happen with the future of "If You Break The Skin" and there's no need for immediate jumping.

During the course of this increasingly complex and convoluted project I, of course, became emotionally invested in all the's Charday laying on the floor of my studio during one of the last days of filming. We were all this tired.

I talk to all of the filmmakers, some more than others. I talk to Charday a few times a week. Recently Charday said she wanted to join the Air Force, and gave reasons that I could really understand; I could see why she wanted that kind of structure...EXCEPT IT'S WAR TIME AND SHE WOULD BE JOINING TO GO TO WAR. I was waking up in the middle of the night a nervous wreck about it. I begged her not to join. BEGGED! She's not going now, she's got another plan and I am thrilled. Yeah, try and get me to "close the goddamn door!" Nice try, Charday. I'm going to be bossy to you FOREVER! Ah ha ha ha!

My GOD though! Did I need this? No. But what am I going to do? I love her and I'm concerned for her. The end. I'm in for the long haul with all of them. At the beginning of this project, which began about 9 months ago at this point, Lynn said she was worried I would become too close and too invested. Sorry, honey! Too late! Oy, patience of a saint, that Lynn Bloom.


In the version of the film that was shown on Friday, Ray's briefly in the footage of last year's I-95 show. He's at the table and at one point he's holding up 2 photos. And Monique's in it too...Meme asks about the black eye photo and I talk about my interactions with Monique.


At one point in the early in the film I say, "I'm gay and I'm Jewish" and my niece Katie turned to my sister-in-law Kim (you may know her from "One Station Square" fame) and said in a shocked voice "Aunt Zoe's Jewish?!?!" All of my nieces that came (Maggie, Katie and Kellie), Lynn's older sister's girls, wore shirts that they made with things written on them like, "I Heart Aunt Zoe" and Katie had "You Know Her as Aunt Zoe but I know her as Adiah!" and "PAP!"

And it was GREAT that Elle was there and her mom, Marion. I love Madielle! I saw her earlier at the memorial, Elle knew Ray for a long time, too. I could have a long speech about how I love Elle so much and I hardly ever see her and we've been friends since grade school...Greenfield Class of '83. Let me tell you this about Marielle Cohen; she introduced me to Lynn Bloom.

There were a number of people at the film who were at the memorial...I was really happy to see Jim Sweeney at the film (thanks for coming, it meant a lot)...he told a great story earlier in the day at Ray's memorial, one I'd never heard before.

At the end of the night my mom gave Tracy and Diane, two of the youth filmmakers, and Brent, a new friend and the writer of the great Heart as Arena blog, a ride to 30th St. And my sister went out with friends, the old and best friend Darla and the new friend Nick, and Lynn and I went home and I laid on the sofa and Lynn watched college basketball. For real, it's been a long, long week.


While writing this I have been listening to "To Sir, With Love" over and over. I've often get in a way when I have to play the same song consecutively for about a billion times. I have always loved "To Sir, With Love." I don't think it means anything, it's just what I like.

To Sir, With Love

Those schoolgirl days, of telling tales and biting nails are gone,
But in my mind,
I know they will still live on and on,
But how do you thank someone, who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn't easy, but I'll try,

If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters,
That would soar a thousand feet high,
To Sir, with Love

The time has come,
For closing books and long last looks must end,
And as I leave,
I know that I am leaving my best friend,
A friend who taught me right from wrong,
And weak from strong,
That's a lot to learn,
What, what can I give you in return?

If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start,
But I, would rather you let me give my heart,
To Sir, with Love


if you break the skin, you must come in-1web

Say this name aloud

Nancy Anne Cianci
buffet_2 web

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Trip to the Final Four!

Here is the bracket we've all been waiting for... CHAD MUTHARD'S PHOTO MARCH MADNESS! 64 photographers ready to battle for one shining moment.

I have myself being taken out in the Sweet 16 this year, but I swear that by 2010 I will be killing it in the final four. And if you note, I am up against Nan Golden in the first round. You can also note that I am confidant that I can win. Mental? Yes.

I'd like to thank Chad Muthard for providing this hysterical was much needed. Here's to Chad!

photo bracket tournament

The power of myth

Anselm Kiefer

(die Milchstrasse) The Milky Way
1985-87; Emulsion paint, oil, acrylic, and shellac on canvas with applied wires and lead, 12 1/2 x 18 1/2"

1982 (320 Kb); Acrylic, emulsion, and straw on canvas, 280 x 380 cm (110 1/4 x 149 5/8 in)

Lilith 1987-9


Diving into the Wreck

Adrienne Rich

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
thewreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and away into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.


Joseph Campbell: The reference of the metaphor in religious traditions is to something transcendent that is not literally any thing. If you think that the metaphor is itself the reference, it would be like going to a restaurant, asking for the menu, seeing beefsteak written there, and starting to eat the menu.


camera lucida

If You Break the Skin Showing Friday

If You Break The Skin, You Must Come In

The new blockbuster feel-good romantic comedy of the year!

March 23rd, 2007
7:30 PM
Philadelphia ICA
118 S 36th St

Friends, please come to this.


Apparently DHS is not giving the young filmmakers tokens to get to their premier, and they will not promote the event in any manner.

The film will be shown with this disclaimer...

"This film was produced by The Big Picture Alliance Youth Media Center
and the Institute of Contemporary Art of the University of

The City of Philadelphia and its Department of Human Services have not
approved or endorsed this film and are not responsible for its

I am insisting on this disclaimer...

"The Philadelphia Public Art Project takes no responsibility for the inability of the Philadelphia of Department of Human Services to pull their head out of their ass"


Sunday, March 18, 2007


March 23rd

If You Break The Skin, You Must Come In

March 23rd, 2007
7:30 PM
Philadelphia ICA
118 S 36th St


if you break the skin, you must come in9-2web
Friday, April 13 through Friday, May 4

At University of the Arts (and I will never get it together to not call it PCA)

Zoe Strauss: If You Break The Skin, You Must Come In
Friday, April 13 through Friday, May 4

Part of the Equality Forum 2007. Equality Forum equals full-blown lesbionics and faggotry, which makes sense since I am super gay. I am proud to be participating in this year's Equality Forum with equally gay Gabe Martinez.

Philadelphia-based photographer and installation artist Zoe Strauss exhibits work related to a phrase seen in one of her photos as part of Equality Forum 2007.
Gallery 1401
University of the Arts
Terra Building, 14th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Presented by University of the Arts

Sunday, May 6th


Sunday, May 6th.
Front and Mifflin Sts. Under interstate 95.
Rain or Shine

Saturday, May 19th opening

Show open from
May 17th-June 23rd

Silverstein Photography

"If You Reading This"
Zoe Strauss Solo Show


Show open from
May 17th-June 23rd

Silverstein Photography
535 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011


And For Friends of Ray Doskus

Friday March 23rd, 2007


Morning Glory Diner

735 S. 10th St
Philadelphia, PA

Well, I'm not able to work. I'm going through the list of photos for the Silverstein show and working out the ordering and I'm just staring at the computer. I'm taking Ativan, but it's not helping me focus.

I'm not upset, but I'm obsessively taking inventory of the events of the last few days over and over. I have a rough list of photos that will be included in the Silverstein show which has stayed the same for the last couple of months. Because of the way I edit and my overall process, I prefer to make the final decisions as close to the showing as possible; so much of where I place the images is based on intuitive feeling and although the changes in order are always fairly minimal, I can only be certain of the final placement in the 11th hour. Since I'm having this obsessive internal listing of moments, it's been very difficult to work on the final image choices and the sequencing of the images.

Let me be direct about what's happened. A good friend, Ray Doskus, shot himself in the head a few days ago, on Wednesday.
Here is the truncated list that I keep going down-

1. The phone call saying he's dead and to come to his house
2. A detailed account of what he looked like on the floor. His face, his wound, his right arm position, his clothing. He was dressed in a dark gray t-shirt and jeans with a white belt. Who puts on a belt to kill themselves?
3. Lynn arriving
4. The trip to the police precinct

I just keep listing the order of events. There are a million more things that slip into this brief outline but the listing ends with waiting at the police precinct and then restarts with the phone call. This is not to say that I'm losing my mind, it's just that I feel a little foggy and if I slip from full concentration I go down the list of events again.

And why am I putting this up in a public forum where anyone can read it? I don't know. Despite openness about all things in my life, I often think that we could use more restraint and dignity in this relatively new culture of constant exposure of private lives. In this blog I sometimes address very private and weighty things along side very frivolous things. This is how I am, these things are all happening at the same time and I have a desire to share them with whoever. But where does this information fit into the day to day shit that I put up? Again, I don't know.

And why do I have a desire to share this intimate and private information with strangers? Is it a genuine need to share difficult moments with others who might take solace in knowing that we all have tragedies? Or is it purely self-involved, asking people to look at a trauma so close to me and my friends and family to generate sympathy and pity? Or is it both?

It's too soon to know what's happening, but I am trying to work through the beginnings of the grieving process with actual work, just like my lady.

Final Notations
Adrienne Rich

it will not be simple, it will not be long
it will take little time, it will take all your thought
it will take all your heart, it will take all your breath
it will be short, it will not be simple

it will touch through your ribs, it will take all your heart
it will not be long, it will occupy your thought
as a city is occupied, as a bed is occupied
it will take all your flesh, it will not be simple

You are coming into us who cannot withstand you
you are coming into us who never wanted to withstand you
you are taking parts of us into places never planned
you are going far away with pieces of our lives

it will be short, it will take all your breath
it will not be simple, it will become your will


Haiku Ambulance
Richard Brautigan

A piece of green pepper
off the wooden salad bowl:
so what?


The New Poem
Charles Wright

It will not resemble the sea.
It will not have dirt on its thick hands
It will not be part of the weather.

It will not reveal its name.
It will not have dreams you can count on.
It will not be photogenic.

It will not attend our sorrow.
It will not console our children.
It will not be able to help us.


Langston Hughes

Early blue evening
Lights ain't come on yet.
Looky yonder!
They come on now!

Memorial for Ray Doskus

March 23rd, 2007

Morning Glory Diner

735 S. 10th St
Philadelphia, PA


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Honestly, what is there to say about this? And when I say "this" I mean Ray shooting himself in the head. I can't work or think, I'm sleeping and watching TV, Lynn's sleeping and watching TV. Christine stayed over the last few nights and was sleeping or watching TV. I'm just livid about this. Really? Shooting yourself? You fucking asshole.

This is just bullshit. Because it's a joy to be alive. IT'S A FUCKING JOY TO BE ALIVE, YOU STUPID FUCKING DICK!

In Loving Memory of Monique Carbone

74 daddy tattoo woman.jpg

August 22 1983 - September 9 2006

"My name is Gina Carbone ,You dont know me but I know you , You had taken a picture of my Daughter Monique a few yrs ago she was pregnant ,You took the picture of her tatoo that said Daddy and she was in a magazine called ELLE , I am sorry to say that Monique has passed away , My heart is so broken , But I want to thank you for taking that photo, She was so excited about hearing that she was in a magazine , Thank you

Sincerely Gina Carbone."

Photo from Gina Carbone

"I am just so glad you too saw the beauty in Monique. It was also inside of her, I always told her this. she could not see it."


Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us
and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

Rest in peace.
Oh Christ, this has been a fucked up week.

If You Break the Skin Showing Friday

This is great news. I sure wish I was able to be excited.

Dear Friends,

There is a showing of the If You Break The Skin, You Must Come In this
coming Friday. I encourage everyone to attend.
I realize this is phenomenally short notice, but this is the first I was
able to get out the word.

With Love,

For Immediate Release
March 14th, 2007

Contact: Zoe Strauss


PHILADELPHIA – The controversial new documentary If You Break the Skin, You
Must Come In will be shown as a one-night only pre-release public screening
at the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art on March 23rd, 2007 at

In 2006, The Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art, The Big Picture
Alliance, The Achieving Independence Center and The Philadelphia Public Art
Project came together to create an intense summer program in which 8 young
adults from the Achieving Independence Center were hired to create a
documentary about photographer and installation artist Zoe Strauss. If You
Break the Skin… is the documentation of this ambitious project: a
multi-layered film about Zoe Strauss’s life and work, about the lives of the
8 youths who participated in this summer project, about the relationships
that formed during the course of the project and the young adults views on
contemporary art, including their opinions about Ms. Strauss’s work.

If You Break the Skin…
Directed by David Kessler.
Structured and filmed by Phylicia Allen, Daliyl Burton, Tracy Curtis, Shante
Davis, Charday Laverty, Tameme McQueen, Misha Sims and Diane Woodlyn.

If You Break The Skin, You Must Come In
March 23rd, 2007
7:30 PM
Philadelphia ICA
118 S 36th St

if you break the skin, you must come in-1web

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Due to the death of a close friend, Raymond Doskus, Jr, I will be incommunicado until Mon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Stardust Imploded

stardust sign coming down 2 web.jpg

Video Here

Thanks for nothing, Guggenheim!

I did NOT get the Guggenheim and I was MISERABLE when I received the letter. Right, FUCK YOU! Then I realized that I was out of my mind. As I was cleaning earlier this week, I found the paperwork for the 2004 discontinuation of my welfare benefits. So if I'm not getting the Guggenheim 3 years from getting off the dole, I should be ok with that. Within the time frame of the 95 project, I've done pretty well, I need to simmer down. But then... I just sit and stare straight ahead...why wouldn't I get it this year? What the hell? And then I've moved into, did I think I deserved the Guggenheim based on my recent accolades, or based on my work? Well, of course based on my work, I'm totally full of myself! But did think I had a better chance based on my sudden entrance into the commercial and academic art corridors. Now, that's yes. It's embarrassing but true. And I think that's fairly dangerous, considering that I judge my work to my standards without taking any institutional input into account. Also, I don't take rejection well AT ALL and I feel things deeply, good and bad, which means I've got to pay attention to expectations based on product and not on laurels.

It's now brought me to "what are my expectations?" Guess what? I'm shooting for the motherfucking stars like I'm riding Voyager 1 bareback! I will risk endless disappointment, with great ambition and hope. Unstoppable, baby!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Etc. Gallery Prague

Hey Friends, if you're in Prague, stop by to check out my show there. I heard the opening was a great success. Thanks so much to Christina Vassallo for hooking up this show and to Jiri for his patience with my lack of Czech.

Zoe Strauss, I-95 WORKS

Galerie ETC, JaromĂ­rova 18, Praha 2
05.03.2007 - 29.03.2007 , opening 5.3.2007 19:00

Opening days mo-fri 10:00-18:00

etc. gallery
and Zoe Strauss
invites you to the opening of the exhibition
I-95 Works in Progress
on monday, March 5th from 7 p. m.
Exhibition opens from March 6th till March 29th
etc. galerie
Jaromírova 19
Nusle 128 00

Here's the text from the show by Christina...

Zoe Strauss’ art career began earnestly: she picked up a point-and-shoot camera when she was 30 years old and took pictures
of her South Philadelphia neighborhood. Every year since then she has displayed her photocopied prints on the concrete pillars of the I-95 highway and sold them for $5 each. After receiving a variety of prestigious grants and having a project room in
the 2006 Whitney Biennial, Zoe Strauss continues to sell her photocopied prints for $5. Her career and outlook on life remain
refreshingly earnest.
It is unnecessary—even impossible—to discuss Zoe Strauss’ work and identity separately. She is an artist, a documentarian,
an activist, a humanitarian, and a neighbor; these roles inform her art and are also affected by it. In late 2005 Strauss traveled
to the Gulf Coast to volunteer in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Not only did she document the human suffering that was prevalent in the vicinity through a series of hauntingly descriptive photographs, but she also gave her time and resources to those living in desperate circumstances. More recently, Strauss has found herself embroiled in a legal battle over a film that
was made about her artistic practice. As part of an educational summer project, a group of eight high school students were
selected by the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art to help make a documentary about her. Presently the release of the film is being contested due to the students’ exposure to the graphic nature of Strauss’ photographs.
Strauss’ involvement with pressing social issues such as the US government’s lack of expedient relief for hurricane victims,
inner-city poverty, drug abuse, violence, her own freedom of speech, and a student’s right to artistic expression comprise
a major component of her artwork. Such issues are addressed explicitly in her photographs, as well as in her online journal
( Strauss’ process of capturing the contradictions of everyday life through a camera lens is
detailed in the extensive entries on her blog. It is clear that she has a genuine interest in her subjects for their photogenic
qualities and the universality of their situations.

Strauss’ art is constantly a work in progress. This exhibition, which contains printed and projected imagery, is the result of her
shooting images over the course of the past year for her annual public display. A slideshow is accompanied by photocopied
prints similar to the ones exhibited under I-95 in Philadelphia every May. She plans to continue the I-95 project through the rest of
her third decade and when she turns 40 she will start a large-scale public project in the form of billboards.
The photographs included in I-95 Works in Progress at Etc. Galerie attest to Strauss’ uncanny ability to ask strangers if she can take their picture, as well as the spontaneous and stirring results.


Zoe Strauss is a photography-based installation artist living in Philadelphia. Strauss uses her neighborhood as the backdrop
of most of her work. She spends time getting to know her subjects and often details her interactions with them on her blog.
Strauss is the director of the Philadelphia Public Art Project, whose mission is to make art more accessible to the public. In
2005 she received a Pew Fellowship and in 2006 contributed to the Whitney Biennial and had a one-woman exhibition at the
Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.

Christina Vassallo is an art writer and curator based in New York City, where she is currently finishing her Masters in
Visual Arts Administration at New York University. Vassallo is also the director of ART&IDEA gallery, and has co-curated
exhibitions as ‘MatCh-Art’, a curatorial collaborative.

I—95 Works in Progress
Zoe Strauss
etc. gallery
05 03 2007
7 p.m.

Start Snitching: an ode to whistleblowers

Mark Felt

Anita Hill

Jeffrey Wigand

Karen Kwiatkowski

Karen Silkwood

Lois E. Jenson

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A photograph made by Emmet Gowin that I love and am deeply inspired by

Emmet Gowin: "Off road traffic pattern along the north shore of the Great Salt Lake, Utah, 1988"

Friday, March 09, 2007

For the moment, the last thing about portraits

I have been thinking a lot about traditional portraits while I've simultaneously begun editing in earnest for this year's I-95, and for the Silverstein gallery show, and because of the many other projects I've had going on this year my work from 2006-2007 is way less than usual. I have two new portraits that I'm certain will make into 95 this year but this is the first year that they are so few and far between.

vanessa 2_web.jpg

monique showing black eye web

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Miller Time!

Allright, I am lying in my bed in the Lancaster Arts Hotel after a long day of talking with students and giving a lecture at Millersville University. The lecture seemed as if it went well, but what do I know? I mean it seems good to me because I was just rambling on and on about myself! I don't consider myself a very good public speaker. One, I often yell into the mike. I also yell into a cell phone. I swear to GOD that if you were just talking to me on a cell phone you would think I was about 90 years old. I just yell on the phone as if I was talking on a party line. This is the same with a microphone.

Two, I ramble on and on AND often have long pauses because I'm trying to come up with a word and then I just come up with "like, it's like (guttural noise that I make to describe the thing I couldn't find the appropriate word for)" Yeah, hope that answers your question!

One thing for sure, I love Millersville...the students that I've met are unpretentious, articulate, interested and interesting. Keep on, keeping on MU.

Last, but not least, a shout out to 2 superb MU alum...

1. Mr. Colin Black, Jr
2. Mr. Brent Burket, of the great Heart As Arena blog

I love these two.

And I will be giving Brent's blog as a reading assignment tomorrow. I have no idea if I can give an assignment but I don't care. I'm presenting it like it makes perfect sense for some random lady to give you an assignment over spring break. Look, I don't give a shit if you're going to be busy making the cut for "Cancun ----- Gone Wild," you kids will be also be reading MU's finest alumni produced art blog this week.

Good Night!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ha, ha, you asshole: Libby Guilty of Lying in C.I.A. Leak Case

The appeal: The chief defense lawyer for Scooter Libby, Theodore V. Wells Jr, calls Philadelphia local television personality, Lynn Doyle (of It's Your Call with Lynn Doyle fame), to the stand claiming she told Scooter Libby that Valerie Plame works for the C.I.A.

The defense is claiming that Lynn Doyle first heard about Valerie Plame-Wilson in an-off air moment during the "It's Your Call" taping with Michele Livingston, Spiritual Visionary. Apparently, Lynn Doyle called Scooter Libby immediately following that taping.

click to enlarge

Seriously, why does Lynn Doyle say "since 1978"? Am I missing something?
Michelle Livingston on "It's Your Call" with Lynn Doyle

P.S. I'm almost 100% certain only John Powell will think this is funny, but I love him so much I will most certainly cater to his tastes.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I'm not sure why, but the 1970's seemed resplendent with popular culture references to the Bermuda Triangle, Stonehenge, the Yeti (aka "Bigfoot"), Easter Island, UFOs, "mysteries of the Egyptian pyramids", androids, the Loch Ness Monster and bionics. This was a shift from the 1950's and early 1960's atomic age popular culture sci-fi. The 50's and 60's had a underlying idealization of the future despite the many representations of man-made automation gone wrong, e.g. robots. Not to mention monsters galore, many of which were man-made; they often came from labs directly or grew out of nuclear waste or fallout. There's a kind of xenophobic feel to many of the 50's and 60's sci-fi culture; an us vs. them. In the 70's it seemed as if there was a shift in science fiction... first, many science fiction theories were put forth as true, I mean just look at that super 8 footage of Bigfoot coming out of the woods. These "supernatural" objects, events or "animals" could easily be among us, literally or figuratively, and were to be viewed with wonder and awe in addition to fear. The quandaries presented in 70's sci-fi were often about a human connection to the supernatural or actual human connections to technology in which the body becomes technology, such as "bionics." The popularity of cyborgs, as in "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "The Bionic Woman," are of particular interest to me...these shows put forth the idea that we are the solution and the problem simultaneously; our culture was looking at and thinking about how to navigate that dichotomy at the time these shows were so popular.

It's obvious that the cold war had a direct effect on science fiction, in literature and film. But I can't help but wonder if the shift in popular culture science fiction had something to do with figuring out American identity in such a young nation. The 70's were a time of reflection and upheaval in many ways and it seems as if there was a focus on how we must be responsible for our own great strength, there can't just be flexing bionic muscle all the time. Or am I just reading into this like an crazy person? I don't know.

2 candles at mafia mikes web.jpg

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The continuing saga of One Station Square

OK, first, the pressure to put this post up was ENORMOUS. Christ! My sister-in-law called me twice to complain that it wasn't up yet. I know my public is dying to know about my intense connection to my dentist's office but please!

On my most recent visit to the great Chris Maurer's office I did not have an appointment, my lady did.

LB preparing for a great moment, a visit with Chris Maurer.

And here was that great moment...look at Chris "Dr. Vogel" Maurer working so lovingly on my lady's teeth.

Now, last, but not least...

Claire, the #1 Dental Hygenist. Recently, Claire cleaned my teeth and I swear that they were clean as the day I cut them.

Seriously, I couldn't wait to get to the dentist's office on the day my lady had her appointment. I know, I know, I'm out of my fucking mind.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Henry Kissinger's portrait by Richard Avedon

Because this beautiful essay by Richard Avedon is such a near-perfect summary of the mystery and art of photography, I don't see the need to read anything about photography ever again.


Henry Kissinger's Portrait
by Richard Avedon

I once went to Washington for what they call a "photo opportunity" with Henry Kissinger. As I led him to the camera, he said a puzzling thing. He said, "Be kind to me." I wish there had been time to ask him exactly what he meant, although it's probably clear. Now, Kissinger knows a lot about manipulation, so to hear his concern about being manipulated really made me think. What did he mean? What does it really mean to "be kind" in a photograph? Did Kissinger want to look wiser, warmer, more sincere than he suspected he was? Do photographic portraits have different responsibilities to the sitter than portraits in paint or prose? Isn't it trivializing and demeaning to make someone look wise, noble (which is easy to do), or even conventionally beautiful when the thing itself is so much more complicated, contradictory, and therefore fascinating? Was he hoping that the photograph would reveal a perfect surface? Or is it just possible that he could have wished - as I would have if I were being photographed - that "being kind" would involve allowing something more complicated about me to burn through: my anger, ineptitude, strength, vanity, my isolation. If all these things are aspects of character, would I not, as an artist, be unkind to treat Kissinger as a merely noble face? Does the perfect surface have anything to do with the artistic integrity of a portrait?

A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he's being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he's wearing or how he looks. He's implicated in what's happening, and he has a certain real power over the result. The way someone who's being photographed presents himself to the camera and the effect of the photographer's response on that presence is what the making of a portrait is about. The philosopher Roland Barthes once said a very wise thing about photography. He said, "Photography is a captive of two intolerable alibis. On the one hand, 'ennobled art pictures.' On the other hand, 'reportage' which derives its prestige from the object. Neither conception is entirely correct." He said, "Photography is a Text, a complex meditation on meaning."

What Barthes recognized is that we need a new vocabulary to talk about photography. Not "art" versus "reality," "artifice" versus "candor," "subjective" versus "objective" - photography falls in between these classifications, and that's why it's so impossible to answer questions like "Is photography really art?" and "Is this an accurate picture of your friend?" As I have said on other occasions, "All photographs are accurate. None is the truth."

I don't think pictures have to justify their existence by calling themselves works of art or photographic portraits. They are memories of a man; they are contradictory facets of an instant of his life as a subject - and of our lives as viewers. They are, as Barthes said, texts, and as such they exist to be read, interpreted, and argued over - not categorized and judged.

So who is Henry Kissinger? And what, or who, is this photograph? Is it just a shadow representation of a man? Or is it closer to a doppelgänger, a likeness with its own life, an inexact twin whose afterlife may overcome and replace the original?

When I see my pictures in a museum and watch the way people look at my pictures, and then turn to the pictures myself and see how alive the images are, they seem to have little to do with me. They have a life of their own. Like the actors in Pirandello, or in Woody Allen's movie The Purple Rose of Cairo, when the actors leave the screen and join the audience. They have confrontations with the viewers Photography is completely different from every other form of art. I don't really remember the day when I stood behind my camera with Henry Kissinger on the other side. I'm sure he doesn't remember it either. But this photograph is here now to prove that no amount of kindness on my part could make this photograph mean exactly what he - or even I - wanted it to mean. It's a reminder of the wonder and terror that is a photograph.