Happy Holidays Hot Shot readers! And cheers to the New Year! We took a little winter break but are getting back into the swing of things &mdash and just in time to get you primed for the opening of the Hey, Hot Shot! (volume iv, edition ii) exhibition at the gallery on Friday, January 30th. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll make sure you get to know a little bit more about each and every one of this season's Hot Shots.
First off is an introduction to Donald Weber. Weber's won a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lange-Taylor Prize and a World Press Photo Award; he's published a book, Bastard Eden, Our Chernobyl, with photolucida; he's worked as an architect for Rem Koolhaas. AND, as a photographer, he works hard to make work that he "owns" - his projects, his ideas, his terms. I caught this great, lengthy interview with Donald on Monday over on dvafoto and Donald was kind enough to oblige a few questions of my own before he hopped on an eastbound plane.
Well, Canadian, from Toronto, downtown, which may have influenced my outlook. Taking the subway at 12 years old to school everyday definitely gives an impression on a youngster, glad I was able to see what I did.
Formal and/or informal education and training:
My academic background is not so academic, I studied at an alternative high school that offered an intensive arts education, from the age of 16 until graduation in Grade 13, I studied art all day everyday. We had four hours of life drawing two days a week - that would be nudes, thus lots of people were jealous of us, plus an 8 hour day of art history and then we would major and minor in two artistic pursuits. I wanted to be an artist, not really sure what that was or how I would do it, but initially that was my goal. I then went on to study at art college, the Ontario College of Art & Design, where I majored in - I forget the complex phrasing of the subject, something like Art and the Environment. Basically, making massive intrusions into the public landscape. Great!
How you pay the bills:
Grants, and then when those are done, more! I have some assignments, but not too many, it's really tough, but I have faith and every time I'm about to drop off the planet, something comes along. I believe in looking at alternative methods to photographing what I want to do, no other way.
I have a very good friend who is a writer, and we are constantly looking at ways to getting work, either through corporate or government sponsors, NGOs, whatever. I am lucky as I am a member of the VII Network so with that comes a certain sense of prestige, and we are working towards doing something as a group project, something that we wouldn't be able to do on our own. Also, VII does a great job of selling the archive and stories, and made me realize that as photographers, that is our pension - the archive. So if VII can keep selling whatever I produce and mixed with grants, NGO's and other forms of sponsorship and assignments, I should do okay. But one day I just want to blow $4000 on a 52″ television and not have to save it for a photo project!
Best advice received (as a photographer and/or human):
As per my high school photography teacher who said, and I quote:
"You suck as a photographer!"
That taught me to never listen to authority!
Top 3 Favorite Artists:
Well, number one is Raymond Depardon.
Two - Norman Mailer
Three - Artist Number Three would have to be: Ukrainian Photographer Boris Mikhailov. Not to be confused with writer Boris Mikhailkov, whose son is the filmmaker Nikita, a Russian director of great epics investigating the same subject matter as myself, although Russians find him rather sentimental and too cheerful. In any good Russian film, all the protagonists should die a horrible death. Watch Burnt by the Sun.
Photograph (or other work of art) that you can't get out of your head, ever:
Does architecture count? If so, Rem Koolhaas' study of high rise buildings opposite the Maas River in Rotterdam. Not the architecture per se (it's just a study) but the thought and ideas behind the work, was one of the first pieces of anything to truly move me and make me ponder what we can do with our creative resources.
Photographically, I cannot pick just one photo from Depardon, for me he has to be viewed as a collective. But the photo of a Christian falangist soldier during the civil war in Lebanon stands out as the zenith of what photojournalism could and should be, a perfect blend of immediacy, intimacy in a very un-intimate place, depth and document.
The Great Terror by Robert Conquest, The Black Book of Communism, Let's Put the Future Behind Us, by Jack Womack. And I'll be saving The Road by Cormac McCarthy for my travels in Kazakhstan. (Thanks, Sara!)
Top 3 photo blogs/websites:
5B4 - after reading that, everything else just falls flat. Strong contenders I like dvafoto, and PDN for industry news. A little boring, but what the hey!
Top 3 non-photo blogs/websites:
BLDGBLOG, Strange Maps and Russia Blog