Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Smile
'Smile' Overland Park, KS

Happy New Year to all!

A toast to all those sudden, amazing, unexpected, strange and wonderful chance meetings and encounters with the world (photographic and otherwise) which inspire us each day. May the new year bring many more. Much love and Cheers!

Simon

Thursday, December 17, 2009

'States of Grace' series now posted at 'Get the Picture'.

Carthage, MO
Recession, Carthage, MO



Back Surgery
Back Surgery




Hero



Yellow Brick Road, KS
Yellow Brick Road, KS


Part one of my new body of work 'States of Grace' has now been added to GTP's website. Part Two and Three are presently being edited and will appear on this website when they are ready.


Extract from a letter to my friend and photographer Llorenc Rosanes.

“… this work was made between two dates in time and I suppose the subtext to the series is that it explores my experience of being both an outsider and alien going though the long, stressful and intrusive immigration process. It records my observations and experiences of and in the USA during this time period – symbolically and psychologically, rather than literally - my own 'States'. This series also takes into account too (mainly un-intentually) contemporary present day life in America - recession, election, national pride, myth compared to reality and my own fragile ‘American dream’. Which will, I hope, be revealed in more detail in Parts Two and Three, (which I am presently editing). Whist making this series I felt, at times like my own anxiety and hope was an echo of the anxiety and hope of the nation I arrived in.
It is a mosaic piece and purely personal in vision yet universal too, I would hope…”

Llorenc's wonderful work can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/llorensot/

Needed/Wanted
Needed/Wanted

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Motels: The most haunted places in America


Holbrook, AZ
Motel, Holbrook, AZ



Motel, Santa Fe, NM
Motel, Santa Fe, NM



Williams, AZ
Motel, Williams, AZ



Motel
Motel, Holbrook, AZ



Williams, AZ
Motel, Williams, AZ


When I'm traveling I like staying in cheap motels. There's something about them which captures my imagination. I love the atmosphere, the dated and crumbling decor, the buzzing neon signs, the musty smell of the rooms and the people that use them. I love to listen to the stories of those that work in the office. I love the plastic dusty flower displays, stale coffee, the old TV's and faded pictures hanging on the walls. I love the cracked cement parking lots, the broken coke machines and the Bible in the bedside draw with the broken back.

What I love most of all are the dreams I have in the bumpy uncomfortable beds after a day of driving. Laying in the darkness listening to the trucks thundering past on the road outside I think about all the people who have stayed in the very room I am in. I imagine all the things that could have possibly happened and feel the fleeting ghosts of their presence echo around me. In the darkness I contemplate my own flickering sepia place in it's transitory history.

For me they are the most haunting and haunted places in America.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Victims Exhibition



An exhibition of my 'Victims' series opens this Friday December 4th at B-Studio 2016 Main St, Kansas City, Missouri, 65108.

This show will be part of the 'First Fridays' art event in the crossroads district of downtown Kansas City and will open at 6pm.

Anyone in the area at this time are welcome to come and see the show and say hi.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Scattered Self. Part 2 - Finding Myself on the Road

Self (with Cousin)
Self Portrait (with Cousin) Lawrence, KS



Self (with Feminine Side)
Self Portrait (with Feminine side) 39th st, KC



Self (with Child)
Self Portrait (with Child) 39th st, KC



Self (with Shelf Life)
Self Portrait (with shelf life), KC, MO


Part 2 of my series of occasional Self Portraits: Scattered Self (finding myself on the road).

This series began last year after JPG magazine.com ran a 365 day portrait theme and asked members to make a self portrait every day for a year. I took up this challenge, but unfortunately I only managed to make an average of 1 or 2 images a week. Here are just a few of the images. I will still continue this search for myself - as, when and where ever...

Part 1 can be found here:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

States of Grace




Southwest Blvd, KC
Southwest Blvd, KC


Waffle House, KS
Waffle House


Ellie, Lebonan, MO
Eli

Here is another small selection from a new series I am working on called States of Grace.

STATE:

1. the condition of a person or thing, as with respect to circumstances or attributes: a state of health.

2. a particular condition of mind or feeling: to be in an excited state.

3. an abnormally tense, nervous, or perturbed condition: He's been in a state since hearing about his brother's death.

4. a politically unified people occupying a definite territory; nation.

GRACE:

1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.

2. favor or good will.

3. mercy; clemency; pardon: an act of grace.

4. favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity.

5. an allowance of time after a debt or bill has become payable granted to the debtor before suit can be brought against him or her or a penalty applied: The life insurance premium is due today, but we have 31 days' grace before the policy lapses.

6. the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.

Las Vegas, NM

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Permanent Resident (States of Grace)

Event
Welcome (Event)



Immigration Lawyers Office
Immigration lawyers Office



Suite 300
Suite 300



Overland Park, KS
Overland Park, KS



El Reno, OK
El Reno, OK


This morning I had my interview with U.S. immigration. After a year of preparation I was finally given the status of Permanent Resident and given a Green Card.


These images are part of a body of work I have been working on over this past year which explore both the immigration process and my personal experience in the United States during the recession. The series as a whole is called 'States of Grace'. When completed the work will contain apx 200 images, divided into four seasons/chapters with a text to accompany it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

White House

White House, MO
White House, MO


White House, KS
White House, KS


White House, OK
White House, OK


White House, NM
White House, NM


White House, KS
White House, KS


This is a small selection of photographs from an on-going series called 'White House'. I began working on this project last year. The images were made on several road trips I took at this time, between New York and Arizona.

This photo essay has just been published in JPG Magazine, Issue 20


WHITE HOUSE:

With the world economy sliding into depression. An astronomical national debt. War and environmental issues reaching crisis point it makes you wonder what kind of White House the new U.S. President will be moving into. These images of White Houses made in the American heartland are a metaphor and meditation on this serious state of affairs.

A slideshow of this series can be seen here:


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Voyage of Small Discoveries: Simon Kossoff at {:m Momentum Gallery. An exhibition review.


Lost Boy II
Lost Boy (II)


Bear, Lawrence, KS
Bear, Lawrence, KS


Wellsville, KS
Billboard, Wellsville, KS


Writer and artist Steve Brisendine wrote a review of my recent Running on Empty show for Re-View Magazine (Mid-America's Visual Arts Publication) as part of his excellent and energetic KC Art 365 column: http://ereview.org/category/all-articles/artkc365/

Simon Kossoff
Running on Empty

{:m Momentum Gallery
2014 Main Street
Kansas City, MO
816.560.1450

Hours: First Fridays, 6-9 p.m., Monday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and by appointment.

"Not to sound the urgency alarm or anything, because Mondays exact a toll as it is, but if you don't get to the {:m Momentum Gallery today, you'll miss the second half of Simon Kossoff's Running on Empty and miss a chance to see this city, this region, this country through the eyes and lens of a recent arrival.

Kossoff, a native of England who now lives in Overland Park, came to the U.S. just in time to see history in the making. Not long after he got here, he started exploring the country.

Instead of presenting the landmarks of America, the things in which we take national pride, Kossoff captured images of kitsch (as in Hobby Lobby, Kansas, today's featured piece). He turned his lens toward our culture of disposability and the chase for easy money. He recorded all of it with an observer's dispassionate eye and an artist's gift for composition that elevates his subject matter above the commonplace.

This is not a show of "pretty pictures". Nor is it an exhibition of in-your-face images chosen for shock value. If there's confrontation in Kossoff's work, it's because he shows us as we are (which is not always how we want to see ourselves). And if there is beauty, and there is, it is not necessarily in the things Kossoff photographs, but in the lines and colors and light that define, outline and shape those things.

These are postcards not from an extended vacation, but from an ongoing quest. And if you get to the gallery before three this afternoon, you can go along for the ride.

By Steve Brisendine August 31, 2009

A link to the published review can be found here. Many thanks Steve. :
A slideshow of the Running on Empty series can be seen here:



Saturday, October 17, 2009

First Solo Road Trip Part 7. Virginia/Kentucky


Somewhere South KY


Somewhere South KY


Bridge, KY


Bridge, KY

I spend much of the day driving though and passing close to places called: Glade Spring, Marion, Wise, Grundy, Big Stone Gap, and Hazard county (Of the Dukes of Hazard fame, perhaps.) and other villages, which I cannot find on my map. Somewhere on these winding roads, I make a wrong turn and end up underneath an enormous and very impressive iron rail road bridge which straddles a ravine with a wide river at its base. Very picturesque. I sit with ahead of me a folk in the road which turns into narrow dirt tracks that quickly disappear into the thick forest and I wonder if I have reached the end of the road? I pull over looking for the River and bridge on the maps but cannot find either. I sit smoking and sweating in the suffocating afternoon heat, dazed and dizzy with driving these endless twisting roads when a pickup truck speeds up from one of the dirt tracks out of no-where and skids to a halt next to me. The window immediately winds down and I am met with the smiling dusty face of a weathered man in his fifties with a wild nicotine stained beard. 'Lost?' he says, laughing, which sounds like escaping air and showing a wide smile of yellowed teeth. 'Yeah, I reply' and he immediately recognizes in my accent that I am not from around here. He asks and I tell him I am English and he goes on to tell me I really AM lost, laughing hard all over again! He then turns off his engine and I begin telling him about my trip and how I arrived at this bridge. He is curious and asks lots of questions, smiling broadly all the time and then starts telling me about this place and this bridge and that it was the biggest of its kind in America when it was first built: ‘God in Hell knows when”. He tells me too that the ferry, which used to cross the river taking cars, linking up the road, hasn't run for twenty years and I will have to backtrack some miles to get across. He then goes on to tell me that over the years he's seen hundreds, just as lost as me, scratching their heads at this very spot. 'When I was a kid', he says, ‘this is where we brought our dates. I was up here one time (a friend of his), who had just signed up for the army and shipping out the next day to Vietnam, was dangling some blonde girl over the edge, by her ankles, telling her she ain't no damn good and I told him to put her down or he'd be going away for a long time and it won't be with the army neither..' He tells me also about his childhood and when he was a baby he was real sick and couldn't drink nothing 'cept goat milk’ and has drank it ever since. Slept on ‘nothing but a pillow’ for the first two years of his life.. He talks about his family and of one of his cousins went to live in Italy to play in the Milan orchestra and how he sent musical instruments - small tubas, back to his boyhood school, a few miles away, to replace the ones that were stolen. All the while he is talking he is smiling and shaking his head in a constant kind of amazement and disbelief at what he and I are saying. We are there for almost an hour when he suddenly says he's gotta go check on his sister and he is gone as quickly as he arrives, without a farewell..

Friday, September 25, 2009

Victim (A series in progress)


Victim IV


Victim III


Victim II


Victim I


Here are a few images from a new series I am working on.

Victim:

1. A person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency: a victim of an automobile accident.

2. A person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others, or by some impersonal agency: a victim of misplaced confidence; the victim of a swindler; a victim of an optical illusion.

3. A person or animal sacrificed or regarded as sacrificed: war victims.

4. A living creature sacrificed in religious rites.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First Solo Road Trip Part 6. Foam Henge, Natural Bridge, VA


Foam Henge, Natural Bridge, VA

Further down the same road I see a road sign almost hidden in the trees for 'Foam Henge' one mile ahead on right. I can't believe my luck and when I suddenly see the familiar monoliths in a clearing perched on a small hill I pull over immediately. It is exactly what it says it and I am in mute amazement to see this familiar landmark from my childhood home in Hampshire way out here in deepest darkest Virginia. It is a strange and deeply surreal sight. I immediately think too of the ending of the original Planet of the Apes movie and the line: “I’m home. All this time, I was home” are words which ring over and over in my head until finally I am compelled to whisper them to myself out loud in the car. These are the first words I have spoken all day too and my voice sounds remote and alien. I pull off the road into a small empty car park and see a track leading up the hill to where the stones/foams are dramatically silhouetted against the late afternoon sky. At the bottom of the track is a small plaque staked into the ground which reads:

Welcome to Foamhenge. Completed in 6 weeks using beaded Styrofoam blocks weighing over 420lbs. Delivered on 4 tractor trailer trips from Winchester VA 100miles north. Taking 5 Mexicans and one White Man to construct.

I clamber the path to the top and walk around the structure which is impressive in a totally eccentric way and, very carefully smoking, I begin to contemplate, in much the same way I would contemplate the original Stonehenge -considering deeply the mysteries of its purpose and also its makers. Finally, feeling weary from driving and overcome with childhood memories and emotions, I sit on one of the realistic gray painted now flaking fake fallen foam stones, which are quite comfortable, with a sense of peace and strange relief, until the sun goes down..

Monday, September 21, 2009

First Solo Road Trip Part 5. Natural Bridge, VA


Natural Bridge, VA
Natural Bridge, VA


On the way through a no-place called Natural Bridge I pull over at the sight of two strange spectacles. The first is an old boarded up lot covered in bright blue peeling paint, which first gets my attention with it having the Ten Commandments nailed to the heavily chained up gates. I get out, photograph, and peek into the enclosure. Inside it is filled with dozens of life size replicas of real, mythical and prehistoric animals. It is a storage facility for a closed down leisure park of some kind called and according to the faded sign inside: The Enchanted Kingdom.

It appears to have been closed a long time ago and the forest has again begun to reclaim it, like everything else left, lost and abandoned around here. The fibre glass animals are scattered, shattered, lame, limp, fractured, limbless and broken about the entire lot: A herd of Elephants in a petrified parade are lashed down with ropes between two outhouses. Two faded and peeling Tigers tied to a truck bed next to a decapitated Giraffe. A glowing green Brontosaurus which stands on three legs frozen in an eternal topple. Cattle and Deer lay sideways in the undergrowth stiff with plastic rigamortis. Giant crumbling Pharaohs stand as sentinels against the fence looking inwards. Raptors fossilized between empty corroding cars husks. A massive and horrific blue hand reaches up from the weeds with screaming faces on the ends of each of its fingers. I am astonished by this sad amazing and weird beauty and begin photographing as best I can between the small gap between the gates.

I walk around the perimeter. Its late afternoon and the sun is hot and the air thick with insects. Around the back of the lot, trampling down thick undergrowth, I am acutely aware I am now trespassing and also watching for snakes or other nasty's - (like the person who owns this strange space). Suddenly I am shocked still in my tracks as I stumble into a giant fibre glass Tic, right there in front of me. It was once a vivid blue, but with time it has lost most of its colour, looking now like it was made from bone. It stands ten feet tall in the grass with a nightmarish life size tortured human face frozen in a dreadful pain filled grimace. Its legs still lifting it above the grass, which has now gone yellow beneath it. On the Tics huge bulk it looks as though a man were trying to climb out, though trapped once on the inside of it, but had been quickly petrified in mid-motion - weathered hands reaching into the air with splayed fingers. It is a shocking wonderful and exciting site and I begin laughing out loud with its absurdity.

My photographs though are disappointing. The bright afternoon sun frazzling the strange mystery which I see with my mind. It is here I become aware of the sometimes vast space between writing and photography.