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Article

Francis Summers

(b Dallas, TX, June 24, 1951).

American photographer. Nicosia studied Radio, Television and Film at the University of North Texas, Denton, completing his studies in 1974. His early photographic work used a frenetic comic book style, with actors expressively posed in front of bizarre hand painted backdrops, as in Near (Modern) Disaster no. 5 (1983; see 1999 exh. cat., p. 51). Nicosia moved away from such cartoon-style work and began to make more considered, although still staged, portraits such as Danny & Conny (1985; see 1988 exh. cat., p. 54). With his Real Pictures series, Nicosia moved out of contrived studio situations and used actors outdoors, as well as black-and-white film in pursuit of greater realism. Works such as Real Pictures no. 8 (1989; see 1999 exh. cat., p. 55), a dispassionately framed image of a man threatening a clown from his car, showed Nicosia’s interest in a collision of the morbid and the absurd. Nicosia subsequently made works both in the studio, such as ...

Article

Gerry Badger

The term ‘photobook’ is of relatively recent origin and is used to make a qualitative distinction from the majority of photographically illustrated books. It may be seen as a ‘literary novel’ of photographic books, denoting a certain creative ambition on its author’s part. The American photographer, John Gossage, defined the four cardinal virtues of the successful photobook as follows:

Firstly, it should contain great work. Secondly, it should make that work function as a concise world within the book itself. Thirdly, it should have a design that complements what is being dealt with. And finally, it should deal with content that sustains an ongoing interest (Parr and Badger (2004), p. 7).

In Gossage’s view, photographic quality is the primary factor, and this generally pertains in the field of photobook literature. Most of the key works are by photography’s leading figures, and contribute to the overall development of photographic aesthetics. However, the bringing together of imagery, theme, and the physical book package is a complex art, and bad photographs do not necessarily make for bad photobooks if other virtues become apparent. Furthermore, photographers who may be relatively unknown in the canon of ‘great’ photographers can occupy an honoured place in photobook history. The photobook is both part of the overall history of photography yet also semi-detached from it....

Article

John B. Turner

[ Anna ] ( Jacoba )

(b Leiden, April 28, 1936).

New Zealand photographer of Dutch birth. Inspired by the Family of Man exhibition, which she saw in 1957 in Amsterdam, and Johan van der Keuken’s book, Wij Zijn 17 (We are seventeen) in 1956, Westra documented her classmates at the Industrieschool vor Meisjes in Rotterdam, where she studied arts and craft teaching. Holidaying in New Zealand in 1957 she was captivated by the relaxed lifestyle of the indigenous Maori people and stayed to photograph them. Encouraged by assignments from the Maori Affairs Department’s magazine Te Ao Hou (The New World) in the early 1960s, her work, at first romantic, became increasingly insightful as she documented contemporary Maori life. In 1964 Westra was at the centre of a public controversy when the government ordered the pulping of one of her primary school bulletins, Washday at the Pa (e.g. Wheeee! Baby Erua is all gurgles as… ). This essay on the life of a rural Maori family living in a dilapidated farmhouse was deemed by her critics, especially the Maori Women’s Welfare League, to reinforce stereotypes of Maori as backwards and unambitious....