Posts by: John Veldhoen

Photobooks at TCS in 2020

 By John Veldhoen

 

Photobooks at the Camera Store in 2020 were fewer than in previous years. I curtailed purchasing new titles as COVID-19 limited browsing. The physical transfer of photography in our favourite medium, the book, unlimited by surveillance and power, lasting and sensual, was a victim of COVID. The silver lining, if there is any, is that my purchasing focused on local books, and personal passions. I argued years ago in school that publishing is best when it follows a bottom-up model. This year, we had the honour of keeping stock of books made locally that are thrillingly world-class offerings, by young, exceptionally talented, sensitive photographers. So, in that light, this is my favourite list of books that I have published in the last seven years. 

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Aby Warburg’s Lost Atlas of Memory

 By John Veldhoen

 

Let me tell you a story: In 1910 there was a historian named Aby Warburg. He described himself as a “Hamburger at heart, Jew by blood, Florentine in spirit”; He collected an art legacy, assembling thousands of years of human history in photographs, and on postcards produced from throughout Europe. He combined these images on panel boards, looking to devise a way to see how images bleed past eras, and into each other as works of creation. 

He worked to shape a system to observe the themes in art, and how they function psychologically. In essence, an object lives on in culture, it seems to have an afterlife. It continues to speak well after it has disappeared from immediate view. 

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Ten Thousand Cups of Tea

 By John Veldhoen


Louie Villanueva’s “Ten Thousand Cups of Tea” links a considerate grammar of image-making to his pleasing aesthetic, self-assuredly defying reduction. His photographs excite me, probably because I don’t exactly understand them. I am far too literal, Louie is subtle and complicated, confident, and his pictures exhibit a range of emotions that an elder voice in our community referred to as poetic. I am challenged by a picture of a bumper sticker in this book that asks the witness to “honk if you know that you don’t exist”. The dyad of possibilities puts me at odds with what may be Lou’s way of looking at things, given that I am hard as stone on the issue, like Dr. Johnson’s famous “appeal to the stone” (big fan). All’s that I know is I sure as heck love these photos, and I am proud to sell this book at the store. And I own a copy of it. I am privileged to be able to ask Louie some questions about this work. So, I sent some questions: 

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Transparencies: Steven Shore’s Early Camera Work

 By John Veldhoen

 

On July 22nd MACK Books will present an exclusive and in-depth conversation between Stephen Shore and LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) curator Britt Salvesen discussing Shore’s photographic work in the new book “Transparencies: Small Camera Works: 1971-1979”.

Stephen Shore and Britt Salvesen in conversation will be on July 22nd, at 4:00 PM MDT/ 7:00 PM EDT! Just tune in to https://mackbooks.co.uk/live to view! 

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Calgary Film and Analog Printing Services

 By John Veldhoen

 

If you are looking for local film development or analog printing services, I recommend Calgary based Carla Fedje Studio. Carla has recently come into possession of a fine Zone IV enlarger and some exquisite lenses that can make prints from negatives up to 4×5 inches. She has built a darkroom with a Skil saw, a power drill, and sheer will.

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Civilization

 By John Veldhoen

 

I’m reading a book that I have out on what looks like an indefinite loan from the Calgary Public Library called “Native Art of the Northwest Coast: A History of Changing Ideas”. It’s a historiographic collection of materials and essays; one, in particular, has held me in sway. The essay is entitled “Thresholds of Meaning: Voice, Time, and Epistemology in the Archaeological Consideration of Northwest Coast Art”. It illustrates a new set of methodologies that parallel ways of thinking from Ancient Greece. Ideas about continuing time versus the instant moment, as expressed in the differential between Chronos, and Kairos. Heady stuff, ok, but what I love about this book is it caused me to hold my ideas up to a lens I am unfamiliar with. 

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Notable Books 2019

 By John Veldhoen

 

In my time, taxon has moved towards complexity. Class has turned into identity. It is harder and harder to generalize or predict on the basis of common ideas. Critics and writers are hard-pressed to focus on a rising tide, and curatorial influence has ebbed over what the crowd will see as beautiful, or meaningful. The effort to influence, when accomplished, makes one think the victory is pyrrhic, at best. Nevertheless, I wanted again this year to show the books that affected how I think about photography.

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Real Photography: Five New Books

 By John Veldhoen

 

Talking with photographers reveals much, and it is a privileged position I have to be able to do so. One of the most illuminating discussions I have had is with the great Terry Munro about his time under instruction with Henry Wessel in California. 

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Old Fields, New Feels

 By John Veldhoen

 

Have you ever read anything that seemed to come to you at a critical time, so that it felt rather like it had been written for you? That page after page, you find confirmation? “Old Fields” by John Stilgoe is a transformational book. I’ve read nothing else like it.

If you want to make your pictures fit into the flow of words that go along with the prestige of photography, you will find someone to write something to relate the pictures you have made with one of these essays. There is a weird effect to this, it feels echo-chamber-y, as though there is an institutional confirmation bias in critical outlooks on photography. “Old Fields” stands out as a completely independent piece of sustained writing and thinking. Despite the title, I think many readers will feel the shock of the new. Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, “A Little History of Photography”, Roland Barthes “Camera Lucida”, and Susan Sontag’s “On Photography” make up the repeated titles that you come across in essay after essay that begin photography books. 

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Stampede Photo Walk

 By John Veldhoen

 

On July 6, I went out with Scott Malo and Alvin Paringit to photograph the streets of Calgary, and the exhibition grounds of the Calgary Stampede, along with a group of others who were interested to learn, and go out in a group to shoot. We started out stymied by a voracious Alberta storm, so in good spirits tucked into a neighbourhood pub for an excellent butter chicken, and a good talk about street photography. The photographers began first in our shop, showing images that they have produced at the Stampede. Both using many of the same techniques to capture, they went quickly through their images, concentrating less on the varieties of different cameras, lenses, or shooting styles, but focusing more on editing, and selection. 

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