Sunday, April 25, 2010


It was just your average night talking about transvestites and movies with German/Iranian film critic Amin Farzanefar and the talented Govinda Van Maele when the two subjects magically became one.

Amin, a veteran of Middle Eastern cinema and transvestites recounted his experience of meeting the Turkish 'Rambo' in a tranny bar in Istanbul. He went on to describe the wave of Hollywood movies that were remade by impoverished Turkish filmmakers from the 1970's onwards.

I'd heard of Bollywood naturally and of course Nollywood and even bizarrely Taliwood but had never so far heard of the Turkish Hollywood from ever hence to be called: Turkeywood.

It seems the movement was started after the success of a film appropriately titled 'Hope' made in earnest by a young and ambitious Turkish actor named Yilmaz Güney. The film's success saw a Turkish New Wave take off which saw the hometown industry boom, producing over three hundred pictures a year at it's peak.

As every savvy film producer knows what audiences really want is not films called 'Hope' that deal with 'issues'. What audiences really want is straight up action. And the more money minded of this Turkish new wave knew exactly where to get it: Hollywood.

Beginning with the 1971 remake of The Wizard of Oz, the Turkeywood classics really began to hit their prime at the same time as the American Blockbusters became ever bigger at the box office.

Lacking the resources of the real Hollywood however, as good as Star Wars, Superman and ET were, the Turkish versions were bad. Really really bad.

Made for nothing and with plots only loosely approximately a story, the Turkish Hollywood movies, celebrated at their time in Turkey but buried internationally have recently become objects of fascination and reverie that fill the late night schedules of obscure film festivals and trash programming around the world, gaining a cult following among film nerds and trashaholics everywhere

Here's some of the Youtube gems that are out sure to delve further into the world of Turkeywood and check out the youtube mashups as well...





West Side!!! Colony in San Francisco

Colony will be screening at the San Francisco Film Festival next week so for all the West Coast crew we'd be delighted to see you there. Myself and dashing co-Director Carter Gunn will be in attendance for Q&A sessions for all of the screenings April 29th, May 1st and May 3rd at the Kabuki Cinema so get your tickets and come on down.

Istanbul I'll Be Back

"Fear not, the crimson flag, waving in these dawns will never fade."

Istanbul. Constantinople. Byzantium and all of those other cities. My first time.


A few days to go to the film festival. To show a movie. To go to movies. To spend time with family. To keep appointments. To go to parties.

Less time to make pictures. To walk with the camera. To spend time in one place and know it's people, to feel a part of that city.

Istanbul, I'll be back.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Website!

Delighted to announce that my new portfolio site is online at Check it out when you get the chance and kudos to the guru Jeff Stultz for putting it together.


Do It Now!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Brooklyn: Strange Days I

Monday, April 19, 2010


While attending the Istanbul Film Festival with our documentary Colony I was delighted to catch the film 'Bal' or 'Honey' by Turkish Director Semih Kaplanoğlu. Patient, poignant and immensely beautiful it's the final film in a trilogy following on from 'Milk' and 'Egg'. The titles themselves allude to the quiet minimalism of his work and this film witnesses the director at the proverbial 'height of his powers'.
'Honey' was deservedly honored with the People's Choice Award, the Special Jury Prize and the award for Best Cinematography for Cinematographer BARIŞ ÖZBİÇER at Saturday's ceremony in Istanbul.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Photographers: Magnum Emerging Photographer Grant

April 15th is the deadline for the Magnum Photos Emerging Photographer Grant 2010. With $15000 a wide open brief and some of the most prestigious names in the industry sure to come on board as judges it's a great opportunity for all.

Kudos to David Alan Harvey and the crew at Burn magazine for all their hard work in supporting young and emerging photographers.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Miroslav Tichy

Since my post on G.P. Fieret I've been meaning to write up something about another favorite but eccentric photographer Miroslav Tichy. The retrospective currently on show at the International Center of Photography gives me the perfect excuse.

Much like Feiret's story, Tichy was a reclusive, hermetic man almost eighty years old when he was 'discovered' by the art world in 2004. His first exhibition was staged at the prestigous Kunsthaus in Zurich. As written by his friend and biographer Roman Buxbaum it was "one of those fairytales that shouldn't be possible in our globalized art world."

Tichy's story is the epitome of that cliched line between genius and madness and one that is in equal parts tragic, incredible and inspiring. Born in Moravia, Czechoslovakia in 1926, Tichy was a talented young artist, studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. When the Communist regime took over in 1948, Tichy's story began to twist and turn, first in defiance of the new political order that forced artists to paint what was dictated to them and then through a cycle of mental illness that saw Tichy withdraw from normal society and become an increasingly eccentric and erratic character.

Shunned by a regime that was based on oppressive conformity, Tichy spent much of his time in psychiatric institutions in the late 50's and early 60's and was treated by a friend, psychiatrist Harry Buxbaum, biographer Roman's Uncle.

Upon his release he returned to his hometown of Kyjov where he appears to have been a kind of bogeyman for local kids and the authorities alike, unshaven and ragged and living a feral existence. He maintained a studio (in the home of Roman's grandmother) where he painted and drew and associated with local artists.

By all accounts he seems to have reveled in his outsider status taking on all comers with an air of manic defiance...

"People ask me, What are you, Mr. Tichý? Are you a painter, a sculptor, or a writer? I reply: Do you know who I am? I am Tarzan in retirement."

Tichy was evicted from his studio in the early 70's, the state having nationalized the property and his work thrown into the street. It was a trauma for Tichy who had little else in the world but his paintings and drawings, however it was also the catalyst for Tichy to begin his journey into photography.

He recalled:

"The paintings were already painted, the drawings drawn. What was I supposed to do? I looked for new media. With the help of photography I saw everything in a new light. It was a new world."

A new world is an apt description and one that puts into context how special the work of Tichy is. He is a rare photographer that has existed outside the photography world and almost outside of the process of photography itself. Hand manufacturing cameras and lenses, enlargers and splicing film by hand to fit them, the unique beauty of Tichy's work seems all the more powerful.

"Tichý has photographed people in the park and on the balconies of the tower blocks all around. That requires a powerful telescopic lens with a focal length of between 300 and 500 mm. He made one himself out of materials he found lying around. He made a system of lenses out of old eyeglasses and Plexiglas. The way he works almost brings to mind the Stone Age, but he wouldn't have managed without an intimate knowledge of the laws of optics. As Tichý relates: With a knife I cut a lens out of Plexiglas and then I sand it with sandpaper. When I asked him in amazement whether it worked, he replied: Of course it worked. When I do something, it has to be precise. Of course it worked imprecisely. That was perhaps the art, he added, laughing. Then I grind the lens with various sandpapers: first, course sandpaper, then finer and finer, until you can see through it beautifully. And then what? It needs to be polished. That isn't a problem: you take toothpaste, mix it with cigarette ash, and then you polish it. And that's what I photographed with."

Pretty amazing stuff.

Tichy's pictures, almost exclusively of women, taken surreptitiously and shot from the hip or from under the safety of his jacket are an analysts wet dream. To delve into his years of primitive psychiatric treatment in a Communist state, his obsession with photographing women, the what's and the why's of the Tichy story are not for me to begin to pick apart but there's some excellent articles that I raided for this little piece by Roman Buxbaum on Tichy here and here. He also made this documentary which in it's final version is being shown at ICP as "Tarzan Retired"

Saturday, April 3, 2010

NEWSFLASH: Soth Crisis Deepens...

Mounting evidence emerging this week that Alec Soth has gone further into the ever-perilous spiral of the 'mid-career crisis' with his first post for The New York Times: 'Ash Wednesday, New Orleans'.

The first signs of danger came with the now infamous 'Las Vegas Birthday Slideshow' where Soth lived out his 40th birthday trip in digital, joining the ranks of hipster youth, taking self-reflexive images laden with irony.

Only Soth is not having sex with teenage girls or taking hard drugs.

Viewers and pundits at the time wondered: 'What kind of snapshot photography is this??'

The low point of the Vegas debacle came in a moment of sheer madness with Soth photographing his own legs, glued to his hotel room bed, the TV on in the background and his droll voice recounting how: "the last time I watched 'The Graduate' I was the same age as Dustin I'm the same age as Mrs. Robinson."

Las Vegas Birthday Slideshow, Copyright Alex Soth

Critics and commentators alike assumed that this was a one-off incident and that Soth would either make a Tiger Woods-like apology for his behavior and return to his 'A' game with new work that would be...well... more or less exactly the same as the old work.

Prominent art photography lovers were questioned on the crisis, saying how they: "just wished for more of his large-scale images laden with wistful visual poetry, gentle melancholy and pillow-soft color palette."

But to their horror, like some sick April Fool's Day joke, Soth confirmed his mid-career rebellion is in full swing with his 'Ash Wednesday' piece. Some in the industry are calling it a 'video'.

Scarily for many, in the piece, Soth again decides it's easier to stay in his hotel room photographing his own aging body than go outside into the real world.

'Ash Wednesday, New Orleans' Copyright Alec Soth for The New York Times

Soth first emerged onto the world stage with his now famous monograph 'Sleeping by the Missippi' in 2004. Using almost the largest camera available to man, he seemed to carry, Atlas-like, the documentary photo world on his shoulders, with luminaries such as Joel Sternfeld confirming that: "Alec Soth has done something that has changed the course of the medium that will be followed."

And follow they did.

As Soth's crisis appears to deepen and he continues to create stories digitally, many so called 'copycat photographers' are wondering why they have re-mortgaged their homes to 'shoot like Soth.'

One such image maker complained: "I thought if my prints were really really big, they would be really really know, like Alec Soth's."

Soth photographing large format circa 2002

Soth's management have remained silent on the issue so far with no official statement
answering the question of whether or not the artist will 'return to the fold' or not but editors and curators alike have already begun to fear the worst.

Las Vegas Birthday Slideshow from Little Brown Mushroom on Vimeo.

David Byrne and the Rule of Three

And you may find yourself...finally reading the 'Bicycle Diaries' that your ever-cool mother bought you for Christmas...

And you may find yourself...watching the trailer for the new documentary Ride, Rise, Roar

And you may find the party and taking the advice of the girl to put your camera down and have a dance with her... they're playing 'Once in a Lifetime' after all.

Girl dancing at The Factory party, Good Friday, 2010

Coincidences, coincidences.

The silver haired soundster seemed to pop up across all sectors of my radar this week. So much so that I'm tempted to name the week 'David Byrne Week' here on Milky Blacks but what with it being Easter and all someone's already stolen the thunder...

Perhaps comparisons with the almighty might going a little bit too far but Byrne's output across so many artforms over so many years is pretty awe inspiring. Be sure to follow his antics and collaborations with the likes of Stefan Sagmeister, Fatboy Slim and Hillman Curtis over on his website.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bare Bones Innit

If you happen to be in Laaaandan town today, the latest installment of mercurial scribbler Harry Malt's 'Bare Bones' magazine and gallery get down is opening at the Neu Gallery tonight at 6PM.

'S on Redchurch St. 'innit.

Be sure and bring your face so Harry can draw it. Live.

Already banned by the V+A, Bare Bones is a show and a limited edition magazine on newsprint, staged and published on a quarterly basis, each one drawing artists, photographers and hangers on from all over the globe to publish and exhibit.

Artists? Doin' it for themselves? Yes we can!

It's the kind of self-determination Obama himself would be proud of. Harry for President!

Big props to Niall O' the BB crew for selecting this print for the show.

Ross McDonnell, 2006