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Archive for the 'books' Category

Rennie Ellis: Decade 1970-1980

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Rennie Ellis: Decade 1970-1980

Rennie Ellis (1940-2003) is one of those photographers who captured the urban Australian experience of the 1970s and 1980s. Vietnam, the fall of Whitlam, gay and female rights campaigns, the post-hippie push to legalise marijuana; an adventure from Sydney’s Kings Cross to the streets of Melbourne’s Prahran. Rennie Ellis captured the rebellion, excess and debauchery. Prostitutes, policemen, politicians and power trippers. The book Rennie Ellis: Decade 1970-1980 follows the meandering sunlight of Rennie’s camera across the party decade. He followed the never-ending party; the pictures are a result of his obsession with recording life as he experienced it in the raw.

This book was originally a dream project that Rennie had put together over a long period of time. He found funding to produce and a publisher to complete. Yet, despite his publisher admonishing him for the content, it was never completed. His mock-up of Decade sat unrealised. Rennie’s words from that mock-up are in Decade 1970-1980 along with his choice of photographs. The book was further filled out with photographs deemed to be iconic or important to the time and sourced from the “Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive and the State Library of Victoria Rennie Ellis Collection”.

One of my favourite photographs is that cover – Fitzroy Extrovert 1974. I’ve always loved looking at Mirka Mora 1973. And In a Hurry, Flinders Street Station 1980 depicts a young sailor that I recognise from my time in the Royal Australian Navy. He’s familiar, but I never knew his name. He stands with his mother waiting for that time he would have to say goodbye at the station.

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Carlo Mollino: Polaroids (Book Review)

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Carlo Mollino: Polaroids

The 288 page, 8.8 x 10 inches, 3.7 pound hardback copy of Carlo Mollino: Polaroids by Fulvio Ferrari and his son Napoleone Ferrari is an extremely well produced photobook. The cover is an opulent red fabric with a reproduced Mollino polaroid attached in the centre and the inside cover design at back and front smacks of opulent material to the taste of the photographer.

Carlo Mollino (1905-1973) was the son of an affluent engineer, Eugenio Mollino, from Turin, Northern Italy. Carlo was a successful designer, architect and photographer; an aviator and a trained engineer. He’d published Il Messagio Dalla Camera Obscura in 1949, republished under the English translated title Message from the Darkroom in 2007, with statuesque models and discussion about the nature of photography.

He owned a number of properties. The affluent large apartment he inhabited in Turin with antique furnishings and a housekeeper. He owned a 2 story house in the hills above Turin called Villa Zaira (purchased in 1960). And he had the use of his father’s prestigious studio in Turin for work – the place he made the first black and white polaroids of the project. However, Carlo Mollino also purchased, but never spent a night in, what is now known as Casa Mollino, an 18th Century house on the banks of the Po River in the historic centre of Turin. Carlo Mollino spent years and great expense reconstructing the Casa Mollino, calling it in his drawings “Warrior’s House of Rest”. Fulvio Ferrari, co-author of this book, is the current owner of Casa Mollino.

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Erotic Flashback (Book Review)

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

Erotic Flashback

My favourite bookshop in Hobart is Cracked and Spineless located in Collins Street. Mostly because they have great photography (and erotic photography) books for sale. My partner picked up a copy of Erotic Flashback by Michael Berkowitz and Adrienne E. Gusoff. The erotic photography of Berkowitz derives influence from a book of 1800s nudes titled Early Erotic Photography published by Taschen. This was the book that brought him around from being a painter, sculptor and performance artist focused on religious themes into the direction of shooting erotic nudes in his Manhattan studio on a 4×5 camera. He uses a standard portrait lens, Kodak Tri-X 400 film and a combination of natural and augmented lighting to recreate that 1800s French erotic aesthetic.

Michael Berkowitz took his first lessons in photography from Alfred Eisenstadt. But it wasn’t until reading the Taschen book he felt compelled to become a serious photographer. And this is where I admire his technical balls. He writes:

I was so taken by the images that I purchased a large format camera, built a set in my studio, hired a model and took some photos. I was so pleased with the results, and the reaction of others to the images was so swift and strongly positive, I became hooked on photography. It felt as if I was doing exactly what I was meant to do. I have never looked back. Michael Berkowitz

This 228 page hard cover measures a hardy 1.5 x 6 x 8.2 inches and fits comfortably in the hand. The card is high quality and the 4×5 images are reproduced at the size of the original negative in sepia. It’s also worth noting this is a true erotica book in the sense that some fingers may or may not on various occasions wander into the various vaginas being exposed. This isn’t a lingerie model photoshoot. These are real women between 18 and 50 years of age from real life without fake boobs or manufactured enhancement. All but a few approached the photographer and requested their images to be created.

We picked this copy up as either new, or possibly second hand in mint condition, from Cracked and Spineless for AUD$25. Another example that shows we don’t need to spend a veritable fortune bringing together a worthy photography book collection.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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