Remixed, a New Take on Aperture Classics

3 minute read

Throughout its 60-year history Aperture has never turned away from its hallmarks: an abiding respect for photography as an artistic medium and a tireless encouragement of the free exchange of ideas. From its founding in 1952 through the present, the foundation has always attracted the leading image-makers of the day, and it is only fitting this anniversary serve as a time to reflect on the past. In the celebratory exhibition Aperture Remix, this instinct towards nostalgia is focused on a reflection of photographic influence.

Curator Lesley Martin invited ten contemporary photographers to look back on past Aperture publications, choose a personally influential example and pay artistic homage through appropriation and modification. Martin went to great lengths to select artists explaining, “I was looking at a range of people who could represent the directions that photography is moving in now, the way documentary is shifting, and the way digital is being incorporated into photographic practice.”

The diversity is apparent, and artists selected span both space and time. Japanese artist Rinko Kawauchi drew inspiration from American photographer’s Sally Mann’s Immediate Family, created more than a continent away. Meanwhile, Alec Soth selected Robert Adams’ Summer Nights, which he reinterpreted into a video, Summer Nights at the Dollar Tree, 2012. When explaining his reasoning for working with Robert Adam’s past publication he says, “Over time, you begin to understand influences and the nuances of what makes your own work different.” The other artists commissioned to create work include Vik Muniz, Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs, Martin Parr, Viviane Sassen, Penelope Umbrico, James Welling and Doug Rickard, who chose to remix Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places.

While the initial assignment could be read as encouraging passive appropriation, Rickard’s approach to Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places is an example of how remixing encouraged unexpected results. Instead of physically intervening with the publication, Rickard decided to analyze the influences that affected it to create his expansive homage. After reading several interviews and text on Shore’s work, Rickard honed in on postcards as a source of inspiration for Uncommon Places through their unique and plain depictions of America. Reminiscent of the great American road trip, Rickard took a digital road trip on eBay to scavenge hundreds of thousands of postcards for his re-imagining. From this wide edit he narrowed down to a smaller set of candidates he felt had the appropriate ingredients that would yield imagery most reminiscent of the original 8 x 10 photographs in Shore’s publication.

“I spent hundreds of hours doing it because his book is so iconic, and I felt homages or anything that is connected to something iconic is always tricky,” Rickard says. “It was important that I did something that was worthy—and fitting of this era too—which is the digital era.”

Although the outcomes are decidedly mixed, the assignment uniformly challenged each artist to wrestle through the issue of influence. In an age of image abundance, it may seem easier to ignore icons for fear of looming too close to previous concepts—but to process and pay tribute is equally demanding. The moral of the story could be “don’t try anything ever,” but figuring out how strong each contributing artists’ voice is within all their layers of consideration is what makes Aperture Remix such an engaging exhibition.

Aperture Remix is on view at Aperture Gallery in New York from Oct. 17—Nov. 17. See more information here.

For Aperture Remix, contemporary photographers re-interpreted images from iconic Aperture publications. Sally Mann's Immediate Family, published in 1992 Immediate Family contains some of Mann's most iconic work. The book includes intimate photographs of her children against a rural Virginia backdrop.Aperture
Untitled, 2012 Rinko Kawauchi responded to Mann's book by photographing her own cousins and nephews. Rinko Kawauchi
Untitled, 2012Rinko Kawauchi
Untitled, 2012Rinko Kawauchi
Edward Weston's The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Vol. I, Mexico, published in 1973. The book contains more than 15 years of the renowned photographer's journals, providing insight into his personal struggles in life and art. Aperture
The White Iris, 2012 Vik Muniz tore fragments from the first edition of Weston's book to create a print in the image of a portrait of Tina Modotti taken by Weston. Vik Muniz / Coutesy Sikkema, Jenkins & Co.
Aperture magazine, Issue 103, 1986 The theme of this issue was 'Fiction and Metaphor.' Aperture
Greens Cafe, Tynwald, St. Johns, Isle of Man, 2011 Martin Parr isolated three images from Issue 103 of Aperture magazine to focus on, then added notations and copies of three of his own photographs into the original text. Martin Parr—Magnum
Venice, Italy, 1990 Martin Parr—Magnum
Robert Adams's Summer Nights, 1985 An expansive collection of nightscapes taken close to Adams's home in Colorado between 1976 and 1982. Aperture
Video still from Summer Nights at the Dollar Tree, 2012 Alec Soth created this video in response to Adams's Summer Nights.Alec Soth — Magnum / Aperture Remix
Video still from Summer Nights at the Dollar Tree, 2012 Soth was inspired by the domestic scenes and dusk light in Adams's images and used these as themes in his film. Alec Soth — Magnum / Aperture Remix
Steven Shore's Uncommon Places, 2004 Stephen Shore turns his eye on the American experience in Uncommon Places, with photographs of banal landscapes, main streets and other places that make up American mythology. Aperture
South of the Border, Highway 301 & 501, Dillon, South Carolina, August 7, 1968, 2012 Doug Rickard sourced thousands of vintage postcards on Ebay and digitally manipulated them to be reminiscent of Shore's original photographs.Doug Rickard—Yossi Milo Gallery / Stephen Wirtz Gallery
The Lloyd Center, Portland, Oregon, August 11, 1966, 2012Doug Rickard—Yossi Milo Gallery / Stephen Wirtz Gallery
Little Mac’s Motel, East Highway & 26, John Day, Oregon, October 15, 1968, 2012Doug Rickard—Yossi Milo Gallery / Stephen Wirtz Gallery
El Capitan Lodge, Hawthorne, Nevada, October 9, 1971, 2012Doug Rickard—Yossi Milo Gallery / Stephen Wirtz Gallery
Mallard Cove Resort, Lake Sutherland, Port Angeles, Washington, August 27, 1973, 2012Doug Rickard—Yossi Milo Gallery / Stephen Wirtz Gallery

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