Thursday, January 8, 2009

Mark Klett - Saguaros

Mark Klett
Saguaros - Book and print, 2007

To continue on the Polaroid theme, this beautiful book from Mark Klett, hands down one of the masters of the b/w Polaroid material, is one of the earliest books from RADIUS publishing house. Mark has quite a few beautiful projects, not always using the type 55 film, but the gummy, cruddy frames at the edges of his prints have become almost a signature element on his landscape works in the deserts of the southwest. There is often a danger of such an element become decorative, but with Mark's work it adds to the  underlying theme of a photograph as an "artifact". Mark's work, for me,  has always been a contemporary reflection on the history of the medium, it's working processes  and it's aesthetics. The images would be just a strong if the polaroid evidence were cropped away, but by being there, they don't let us separate the print from the process of a man being "out there" with a tub of sodium thiosulfate, balancing on that thin line between idea and craft. 

For years, Mark Klett has been photographing the deserts of the American West, in particular the beauties of the Sonoran desert landscape, a desert that sprawls across southern Arizona and the northern Mexican state of Sonora. Along with coyotes, the full moon, and tumbleweeds, saguaro cacti are one of the most recognizable (and stereotypical) features of the Sonoran landscape. His portraits of these giants cacti, made from the beginning of his career to the present, are straightforward and frontal, objective yet inspired. Klett is known for teasing out the implications of man’s presence—both historical and recreational—in the landscape. In this case, vital young saguaros, middle-aged contenders with gunshot wounds, and wizened elders are treated as wise inhabitants. This handsome, oversized book presents a selection of these portraits, coupled with an essay by an acclaimed writer, Gregory McNamee. RADIUS

According to the Radius homepage, there are still various special editions available. 

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