The photographic series Faraway Brother Style by Walterio Iraheta parodies the international publications by Taschen concerning architecture entitled New York Style, London Style or Paris Style, focusing on the emigrant architectural style in El Salvador: Faraway Brother Style. The term hermano lejano [faraway brother] refers to a friend or relative who emigrated from El Salvador, generally to the United States, and who sends back money that helps the family finances of the Salvadorans. Iraheta resorts to a photographic series to identify certain recurrent patterns in this new style. He calls attention to substantial changes in the architecture of the rural zones, where among modest houses there now begin to sprout “small-scale castles or palaces” with various floors, built in an eclectic style that freely blends columns, decorative elements, colors, arches and ceramics of classic, baroque and kitsch style or even the North American style of the shingled roof sloped for snow, transplanted into the hot climate of El Salvador. Iraheta’s series identifies the way of life of the Salvadoran emigrant as a particular style in its own right, like that of one of the metropolises, approaching the concept of style more in terms of a way of life than frivolous and arbitrary connotations of elegance or good taste.
What did you have in mind as you put this series together? “I was working in Lagos, Nigeria, and somehow I found out about the huge number of wrecked and dead ships beached in the backwaters of the harbor. I’ve always been fascinated both by ships and by images of wreckage and dissolution, so I was very interested. I found a boat and a boat guy, and made many trips all over the harbor over a period of several months—I probably saw more of it than any other foreigner in quite a few years.
“On the way out to the backwaters and the wrecks we would pass these vessels tied up at the piers unloading cargo. I was really taken with the photographic possibilities of the hull sections right at the water line, so I shot quite a few of them. However, that series in my mind was never more than an afterthought to the pictures of the wrecks, which I still think are more interesting. The public in general though totally prefers the hull close-ups.”
Hulls is markedly different from any of your other projects. There is an abstract, almost painterly quality to these images. Can you talk a bit about that aspect of this work and how it relates to some of your other major projects like RV Night and Ethiopian Beauty Salon? You are clearly not a one-trick pony. “The Hulls series is a small subset of a huge body of work on sub-Saharan Africa. They were all photographed in Lagos, Nigeria or Douala, Cameroon. They do make sense in that context, with the emphasis in many of the images on things falling apart and imports from the West falling by the wayside and going awry. The shipwreck pictures are more obviously about that, clearly, and quite a few of the hulls are primarily aesthetic. This series is one of the most aesthetically oriented series I have done.”
You have projects that were photographed in disparate locations like Baltimore, Berlin, Pakistan and Africa. Tell me a little about your background and how you ended up in some of these places. “I was a U.S. diplomat for many years, and all during that period I was shooting seriously and having shows. So I took advantage of wherever I happened to be. I also travel just to do photo projects.”
Any upcoming projects? “What’s next is a series of work from Thailand—technically difficult, all at night, and involves getting chased by packs of wild dogs in small towns—a thrill a minute. I’ll post the results in late Spring. I will say it explores in a very loose, general way the clash between spiritually oriented traditional culture and modernity, a theme heavily explored in the Africa work.”
What gets in the way of artists’ making substantive political contributions? The collection’s title essay proposes that artists’ class position opposes their interests to those of typical protesters, even when both are concerned with economic survival. Because artists, unlike wage laborers, have a direct stake in what they produce and face no workplace discipline other than what they impose on themselves, their political attitudes are structurally different from those of the working class, who know they are interchangeable parts in the machine of capitalism and must organize collectively to resist it. “The predominant character” of the contemporary art scene, on the other hand, “is middle class,” Davis contends, referring not to a particular income or earning potential but rather to artists’ relation to their labor. Artists work for themselves, own what they make, and must concern themselves with how to sell it. Though art has often made a mission of shocking middlebrow taste and artists have often congregated in urban Bohemian enclaves in working-class neighborhoods, they are less vanguard proletarians than petit bourgeois.
This makes artists inescapably individualistic, concerned chiefly about differentiating their product. As Davis notes, “an overemphasis on the creation of individual, signature forms—a professional requirement—can as often make it a distraction from the needs of an actual movement, which are after all collective, welding together tastes of all kinds.” Artists must produce their reputation as a singular commodity on the market, which makes their chief obstacle other would-be artists rather than capitalism as a system, regardless of whatever critical content might inhere in their work. When artists patronize the working class with declarations of solidarity, their vows are motivated less by a desire for social change than by the imperative that they enhance the distinctive value of their personal brand.
In the context of artists’ fundamentally personal ambitions, “the trope of anonymous teamwork” can “seem wildly radical,” Davis observes in “Collective Delusions,” though such working conditions are routine for nearly everyone else. Mistaking the achievement of collective purpose as the accomplishment of collective aims, artists arriving at the scene of activism promulgate a politics of “carnivalesque street parties” in which participation is sufficient as a goal. But carnivals are the tolerated states of exception that support the ordinary operation of power. As Davis puts it, artists’ eagerness for “temporary autonomous zones” is a “perfect recipe for displacing the goal of struggle from enduring material change that could benefit large numbers of people to a spectacle that is purely for the amusement of those who take part.” In other words, artists turn protest into an aestheticized experiential good, something consumed by individuals who can then disaggregate from the collective with a distinctive, treasurable memory.
Thomas Rousset was born in 1984 in Grenoble, France. In 2009, he received a BFA in Visual Communication, Photography from Ecole cantonale d’Art de Lausanne (ECAL). Of this series, Prabérians, he writes, ‘Prabérians takes roots in a dialogue between my rural origins and my creative process as a photographer. These images came out of a fantasy; that of a fictive rural community, lost in space and time, evolving in a dream-like French countryside. My photographs are not following a defined narration; every mise-en-scène rather tries to rebuild my memories of a rural world where the farmers’ routine is confronted with the most exotic archetypes of the peasant life. The real world is my inspiration. I make photographs with the inhabitants of my village and their animals and re-locate them in a floating reality that is timeless, unlikely and intriguing; a reality that is a blend of a raw normality and absurd exuberance’. Rousset is co-founder of the blog, Moodwrestling.
The Lickets are an American experimental folk music group based in San Francisco. The Lickets sometimes perform in almost total darkness. No charts, no modes, just instinct, inspiration, and, with all hope, the indefinable quality of experience that our culture sometimes calls serendipity, intuition, or magic. Once they are ready, the lights go completely out, and then they only have the sound of emotional resonance coming through the darkness: like a call and response with each other, the audience, and the world around them which, in complete and total blackness, can be anywhere. The spaces they play are then no longer a stage, a club, or a space. It was simply and indefinably an emotional center of swirling, resonant sound.
The trio developed a style of constantly shifting the emotional and compositional dynamic between the three musicians during a trance-like improvisational performance. It focuses on a stripped down set of instruments – harmonium, cello, upright bass, acoustic guitar, and woodwinds - used to create delicate, muted sounds as well as vast noise by using extended technique with minimal signal processing. Simplified instrumentation is used not for austerity or in a pursuit of purism; three instruments are simply all The Lickets need to create their empyrean, swirling, and, at times, vertiginous masses of sound. Though the style is an extension of ideas explored in previous recordings by The Lickets as a duo (Mitch Greer [guitar, cello, vocals, electronics] and Rachel Smith [guitar, flute, harmonium]), as a trio the band becomes something much more dynamic and expansive--the musicians fall into group rhythms and work in a way that is similar to improvisation but much closer to concepts of music that are pre-modern and ancient. It’s a process that the performers do not fully understand or have a name for, a view shared by critics.
One blog review of a performance noted: “They create these long-form, ever-evolving beds of tonal textures. Looping riffs from a variety of classical, acoustic instruments and muddled voices carry along, changing and moving in a style that truly defies category… I won’t even attempt to come up with some clever sub-sub-category in which to place them. Why does music need to be defined anyway? That gift of avoidance while still grasping at the imagination is what I look for in music. It’s what I dream of. It’s what makes something worth listening to… more than just entertains or amuses, it captivates.” Another said, “the closest analogue I can think of would be a band like Dead Can Dance; what they did for mediaevalism, the Lickets do for, well, the Lickets. It’s an original, almost entirely fresh sound, and I love it.”
The collective is described as a "transcendental mini-orchestra", and their work has been called "empyrean, luminously beautiful"( Lost at E Minor) "Haunting, eerie, and altogether unique"(Music Emissions) and "Truly something magical. Its bizarre classical music that's repetitious and hypnotic in the way that Phillip Glass can sometimes be. Its also occasionally elevating. It feels like music made by magical lord of the rings elves and its worth listening to. Among other things, it is deeply enchanting."( H Magazine) The Fly described them as "Think following the Pied Piper in 2022 across all lands and gradually building up a band of all sounds with an aim to drive out the mechanical rats."(THE FLY) made with "hypnotic, aggressively thrusting streams of acoustic guitars, whispered vocals, vibes, and cellos."(TEXTURA)
Since late December 2008, The Lickets, in its newest incarnation, have traveled the West Coast of the U.S. performing at The Echo (Los Angeles, CA), The Story Happening, a showcase of the best and brightest in new psychedlic music and modern folk, at The Hemlock Tavern (San Francisco, CA), and the reopening of the Towne Lounge space under its new name, the Ella Street Social Club (Portland, OR). Most recently, The Lickets headlined the final night of the 15th Annual Olympia Experimental Music Festival (Olympia, WA). Far from being just random performances, The Lickets’ performances have often been as experimental and exciting for the performers as the audience, with discoveries, new songs, and inventions created during performance.