Category Archives: Journal

Morning Coffee – Dirk Braeckman, Sisyphe

Morning Coffee . . . Dirk Braeckman’s “Sisyphe” (published by Xavier Barral, 2014, in conjunction with exhibition at Le Bal, Paris).

Braeckman is a fine means to which escape an exhausted headspace. Always.

Dirk Braeckman, Sisyphe, Xavier Barral, Le Bal, photobook

Bedminster (Handmade Book, 2006)

Returning to Bucks County work from a decade and more past. Conscious of my home region’s changing landscape resulting from encroaching suburban sprawl, I applied an edit to my first attempt at a leporello book.

Michael Ast, leporello, Bedminster, Pennsylvania, Bucks County, handmade book, artist book, changing landscape, altered landscape, PA, artist photography book

Bedminster (Handmade Book, 1/1) © Michael Ast, 2006

Michael Ast, leporello, Bedminster, Pennsylvania, Bucks County, handmade book, artist book, changing landscape, altered landscape, PA, artist photography book, historical ruin

Bedminster (Handmade Book, 1/1) © Michael Ast, 2006

A Return – Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Nearly 2 decades have gone by, as was somewhat intentional, without paying much attention to this contained photographic work. The overarching theme, which I used these cameras to achieve (and a couple others), was a depiction of my home region of Bucks County, Pennsylvania and its changing landscape . . . . a vanishing rural area, finding itself long ago at the center crossroads of the Revolution, caught in the metropolitan outreach of Philadelphia and New York City. Another 2,000 slides and negatives sit in a closet, in safe darkness. It’s time for a return and output to come.

Michael Ast, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

The Month Before Trump, Harvey Benge

Exciting package from New Zealand, from the consistent, inquisitive photo eye of Harvey Benge. “The Month Before Trump”, self-published, 2017, edition of 50 (with 4×6 print). I really dig Harvey’s self-published works created in his own independent making. Always, he offerers up an existential, probing vision that navigates through the ominous nature of modern society, in city centers, delivering photographic juxtapositions and compositions that are enlightening and sometimes cinematically threatening. Here, Harvey is exploring the urban realms of San Francisco & New York City in the lead up to Trump’s election. Rightfully so, there’s a touch of the apocalyptic. Ultimately though, it’s entertaining and exciting color photography handled with austere attitude. Good stuff!

Harvey Benge, Trump, self-published, zine, The Month Before Trump, color photography, photobook

The Month Before Trump, Harvey Benge, © 2017

Squall, Spinnerstown

View from kitchen Window this morning . . . daylight savings time succeeded by 12 inches of hard snow.

squall, blizzard conditions, snowstorm, spruce, storm, windstorm, Spinnerstown, Michael Ast, flakes, flash

Squall / Spinnerstown © Michael Ast, 2017

27 Contexts by Mark Alice Durant (Saint Lucy Books)

I cannot put Mark Alice Durant’s book down. Evocative meditations and insight on photography that arrive poignantly in their telling through Durant’s intimate observation and acumen. The essays I’ve devoured so far, in one night, deliver their impact like a perfectly crafted short story. I looked up from the page at one point thinking “this is PG-13 Robert McCloskey!” Unlike the impersonal critical thinking too many books on art deliver, here we’re engaged with a trust and knowledge that entwines Durant’s immense smarts with a palpable curiosity that thrives on the personalities of great writing – courage, candor, humor, wonder, reasoning, with great sensitivity towards history and art. I’m trying not to devour it all in one sitting, but it’s proving difficult.

Mark Alice Durant, 27 Contexts, Saint Lucy Books, photography essays

The book can be ordered at Saint Lucy Books: “27 Contexts: an anecdotal history in photography”

Work Prints, Kinsey Series

Michael Ast, printing

Work Prints, Kinsey Series © Michael Ast, 2017

Walking at Dusk

Inherent sadness in the church bell tonight. Walking down Pond Road. Twilight in the puddles and the ravine on the dead leaves. Ambling along the mire, the crunch of stone and slush under my shoes, I stop to make a few pictures, pushing the ISO to a higher grain. Rain drops. Ice begins to patter the fence posts, the puddles, my jacket. Like mice feet scampering, the earth suddenly sounds like a snare drum concert roll, a soft symphonic dirge quivering in the dark from the pit. What is this sixth sense that stares back feral from the farm and field, where the late pumpkins rot? I reign it in. Seemingly befitting two days before this year’s end. I stand with it until dark in gratitude. To taste the failure of nature is utmost fortune. Turning back, it follows me home for a mile in the cold rain and veers off before turning down Dogwood, when the rain suddenly stops. Off. A fine pelting. I string the night walk onto my belt and hang my pants up to dry. December twenty nine.

Sintra, Portugal (Nov. 2016)

Michael Ast, Sintra, Portugal, doberman, overlook, wall

Sintra, Portugal (Nov. 2016 / © Michael Ast,)

Lisbon, Portugal (Nov. 2016)

Michael Ast, Lisbon, Portugal, Canon, Castelo de Sao. Jorge, Castel of Saint George, Moorish, moors, fortress, medieval, castle, Alfama district, Alfama

Lisbon, Portugal (Nov. 2016 / © Michael Ast,)