Upended, Dec. 5, 2017

I have been incredibly distracted by late Autumn’s treble of light, lost deep in the woods of mind and briar.
This gray day comes on and upends all discovery. I feel stunted and dumb, dragged out from the underbrush, bungled.

bungled, gray day, late autumn, tree carvings, woods, melancholy, upended, journal, prose

Green Lane, Nov. 2017

If You Have a Secret – Irina Popova

Irina Popova, If Ypu Have a Secret, photobook, Russian photographer, Dostoevsky Publishing

If You Have A Secret by Irina Popova © Dostoevsky Publishing, 2017

I don’t even know where to begin in spotlighting the brilliance that is Russian photographer and publisher Irina Popova (Ирина Попова). I can say this – the newly released, 2nd version publication of her ambitious body of work If You Have a Secret embodies all the courage and intellect of the young artist. I had the great pleasure of meeting and spending some time with her in Lisbon last year during the Lisbon Photobook Fair. Her active mind and doings are ever present. Where does such ambition come from at such an early age, with immense experience and execution of it already present in the foreground? If You Have a Secret exemplifies her intensity. Demonstrated again in this elaborately designed book, we see Irina in a league all her own, an absolute original, with not one trope, but her own brave, authentic gaze into the world, and her point-blank exposure of it. The book is both elaborate and intimate at the same time.

Printed in an edition of 400 English copies and 100 Russian copies, under her imprint Dostoevsky Publishing (August, 2017). If You Have a Secret arrived in my mailbox last weekend. A week already with it, I’m understanding there’s a life of secrets inside its covers. The design alone, incorporating double-folded pages and translucent broadsides, with “ghost text”, commands forensic-like investigation and uncovering. A major feat, this book!

Every Day in October . . .

Every day in October I set out to make photographs that were as much inward looking as outward. I visit the same spots year after year in close proximity to my home. They are little corners, paths, intersections, back lots, woods, groves, pastures of dying meadow grass. The locations are of no particular importance but for the magnetic pull they perform on my psyche. I love making these pictures year after year in these same spots of inexplicable allure.

What is it, the human condition, that makes it fragile and pliable to such thickets?

Green Lane, October, thicket, prose, hike, woods, Autumn, Michael Ast

Green Lane © Michael Ast, 2017

New Moleskine / Oct. 2017

moleskine, collage, black walnut

New Moleskine / Oct. 2017

The First Shed Skin of Autumn

(Sept 17)

Today in Clinton my children stepped on the first shed skin of Autumn.

She’s around now. In the evening you can hear her gown dragging across the grain. I swear my wool sweaters crawled into the bedroom armoire yesterday when we were at Emmett’s ballgame. I did not see them in there all Summer.

How lovely the word senescence sounds on the tongue when I utter it to myself. How the temple scatters its failure to better enshrine the entrance.

The brown filigree turns to ash under the children’s shoes. It disintegrates into dust on the concrete sidewalk, nearly resurrected in their autumnal joy.

Living Image Exhibition Catalogue, Exhibit Through October 29th, 2017

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Living Image Exhibition Catalogue © Halide Project, Oct. 2017

Immense gratitude to Philadelphia’s Halide Project and coordinator Frank C. Barbella. The respect shown to the selected photographers in the Living Image exhibition is something many organizations fail to demonstrate. It’s really an honor to be showcased by such passionate folks for the medium.

The juried analog photography exhibit is up through October 29th, 2017 at Gravy Studio & Gallery, Philadelphia.

New Zine Release – These Windows Are Tinted To Help You Sleep, Michael Ast (Sept. 2017)

Happy to announce the publication of my zine These Windows Are Tinted To Help You Sleep, printed in an edition of 50. Now available.

Info & Ordering

These Windows Are Tinted To Help You Sleep, Michael Ast, zine, Cuba, Vinales, road trip, low-fi, self-publish, photozine, black and white photography, visceral, stream of consciousness, driveby, tinted windows, zine cover, cover, front and back, retro car, chevrolet, Ford, Chevy, Pontiac, michaelast

Living Image Exhibition, Oct. 6 – 29, 2017, Gravy Studio (Philadelphia)

Excited to be one of the selected artists for this upcoming exhibition, showcasing my photo etchings at Gravy Studio & Gallery, Philadelphia.

Living Image, Halide Project, Gravy Studio, Gravy Gallery, Philadelphia, philaarts, analog photography, analog, printmaking, photo etching, photopolymer, photogravure, Michael Ast, photo exhibition, call for entry, The Print Center, John Caperton

“Juried from an international open call by John Caperton, the Jensen Bryan Curator of The Print Center, the works on view in Living Image demonstrate the breadth, depth, and delight of contemporary analog photography. Showcasing an array of traditional and alternative photographic methods, Living Image brings together artists from the region, across the county, and beyond.” (Halide Project)

Opening reception & juror talk on Saturday, Oct. 7, 5:00 – 9:00 pm. Exhibition runs from October 6 – Oct. 29, 2017.

These Windows Are Tinted To Help You Sleep – Proof Approved, Michael Ast

These Windows Are Tinted To Help You Sleep, zine, self publish, self-publish, Michael Ast, Vinales, Cuba, Havana, low-fi

New zine / proof. Some small changes made and the go ahead to print an edition of 50 on 100# smooth Mohawk paper has been approved. The images in These Windows Are Tinted To Help You Sleep were made during a bus trip to Viñales, Cuba, out a dark window, in an R.E.M. state of consciousness, after 4 long, hot Havana days and nights. An 85mm lens pressed against the window at f1.2. I like exploring and illustrating the psyche amid landscapes unknown.

More info and portfolio to come in coming days.

Cuban Spirit – A Week of Surprises in Havana (Aug. 2017)

Habana Vieja, old Havana, Havana, Egrem Studion, Cuba, cabaret, dancer, fan, yellow, Afro Cuban, Cuban, Estudios Areito, Michael Ast, journal

Dancer / Habana Vieja © Michael Ast, 2017

I miss the surprise and energy of what I experienced last month in Havana so much. I won’t go into a tirade on my boredom with the U.S. and its overarching dismal character pervading the airspace. We all know, this ship is anchored in mire. Instead, I’ll tell a story.

We had just gotten downstairs after witnessing a Cuban jazz recording at Egrem Studios, notorious for the multitude of international acts from Josephine Baker to the consummate sessions led by Ry Cooder, producing his all-star Buena Vista Social Club cast of ambassador musicians. It was to be a surprise like so many that spontaneously occur in the beat of a second in Havana. Tony Leal Rodriguez, current trombonist of the Buena Vista Club, had invited us the night before at dinner to come watch how things are done. Feelings of being in such a sanctuary are inexplicable. In any case, the gentleman at the bar next door, who unlocked the door to let us in earlier, and up the 3 flights of stairs, was now gone. No trace of anyone to let us out of the building. Vira wandered off in search of assistance down a circuitous hallway. A couple minutes later, “I found someone! I found someone!”, she exults from down the hall. She rounds the corner. “Wow!!! You really found someone!”, I blurted. Urszula, Britt and I erupting into praise of beauty. Another surprise. The radiating dancer of course is happy to strike a quick pose for some pictures. She was in the middle of a cabaret performance. She hailed the club manager. He comes. He motions to follow him. We pass nondescript doors, seemingly apartment efficiencies. He unlocks a door. There’s a crowd in a dimly lit room around small tables mesmerized by the choreography of dancers. The four of us stay with the lady in yellow and the manager, cutting through the performance, and led to another door behind the stage. Bright light. Rum, beer, drizzle, afternoon locals on the bar terrace, where we first began our dip into Egrem. Salida. Entrada. A microcosmic moment of the Cuban way. How one doesn’t long for more of such to escape the daily muck? I plot already my return.