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Claudia Kunin On Her Debut At The Photography Space

by Claudia Kunin

I first visited the Annenberg Space for Photography during it's grand nighttime gala opening in March, 2009 and was truly wowed by its dedication to the exhibition of digital photography. Here was this eye-shaped gallery with gigantic digital displays in a darkened atmosphere. It was the first time I had ever seen a space like it. In fact, I don't think there is another like it in the world! For me, a dream was set in motion that night: I wanted to show my work in the Photography Space.

I didn't know how I would go about doing it.....as it seems that promoting one's own work is often times fruitless. It was in April of 2010 that I met Pat Lanza, the passionate genius, behind-the-scenes curator at the Annenberg Space for Photography, and she told me that my work would be perfect for an upcoming show she was putting together called "Digital Darkroom." Huzzah!

Now here I am, part of a fabulous group of 17 talented artists lighting up the walls at the Photography Space. Because I knew I was going to be part of the show, it inspired me to push myself further, beyond the technological boundaries I had previously been working in. I put my nose to the grindstone, learning how to animate my pieces so they could be projected at the Photography Space. I'm proud to say that my work will indeed be shown in that mysterious eye-shaped room - 3D animations and all. I am so very excited to have a long term goal come to fruition. Just another example of how the impossible can be made possible!

Claudia Kunin worked for years as a commercial photographer before experiencing a transformational moment and devoting her life to fine art photography. Her 3D photography is dedicated to exploring the past, making connections and expressing the inexpressible. See her work in "Digital Darkroom" which runs from December 17, 2011 - May 28, 2012.

Lauren Greenfield Returns To IRIS Nights

If you're one of the nearly 50,000 patrons who has visited Beauty Culture since its May opening, we're betting there's a good chance you've departed the Space electrified by filmmaker and featured photographer Lauren Greenfield's documentary of the same name. We were thrilled to learn more about Greenfield's career during her recent IRIS Nights lecture at the Photography Space, as well as the inspirations behind her photographic and filmed accomplishments.

Greenfield was all smiles as she and her husband (and documentary producer) Frank Evers, arrived at the Space. This was Greenfield's second IRIS Nights lecture. She was also part of the L8S ANG3LES lineup!

Just before showtime, IRIS Nights attendees wrapped themselves all the way through the exhibit hall anticipating the opening of our gallery seating for Greenfield's lecture.

One of Greenfield's first images in her retrospective was of Las Vegas showgirl Anne-Margaret. A note taped to the entertainer's mirror reads "I approve of myself." This is one of many Greenfield images involving women that address issues dealing with self-esteem and self-acceptance.

Greenfield also spoke about an image taken at a beauty pageant for southern belles. The photo captures the contestants in traditional gowns and poses, but juxtaposing these traditions--the girls also flash garter belts on all of their legs.

Greenfield talked the above image in which a young model walked down the street, while being ogled by three passing men - one of them a hard-hat wearing construction worker. While the audience laughed at Greenfield's retelling of the story behind the picture, she joked that we may be responding with the laughter, but the men's wives probably had a far less humorous response!

Greenfield's work obviously inspires much discussion with audience members and she was happy to address a number of questions from lecture attendees regarding the psychological and sociological issues behind her images.

Guest perused copies of Greenfield's best-selling and award-winning books including Girl Culture, Fast Forward and Thin before meeting her for a book-signing in our photography library.

Visitors had an incredible opportunity to chat one-on-one with Greenfield during the book signing.

Meanwhile, Evers engages guests in conversation while waiting in the book-signing queue.

Greenfield happily greeted fans as several photographers maneuver through the crowd to capture the best angle. Despite the often intense and emotional images that she captures, Greenfield and her fans had a delightful evening and we certainly did too! Thank you so much, Lauren!

You can watch the lecture on our site by clicking here.

(All lecture images by Unique for the Space)

Learn All About The Annenberg Audio Tour

We live in the Digital Age and it seems like a lot of kids (and adults!) alike are more likely to spend a Saturday swinging a Wii remote over their heads than spending a day looking at art. Don't get us wrong, we at the Annenberg Space for Photography are as guilty as anyone when it comes to our love of technology and this is most obvious with the Annenberg Audio Tour.

 

We designed the Annenberg Audio Tour— to give guests additional details about select photographs throughout the exhibit. Our audio tour is simple. It consists of a series of QR (that's short for Quick Response) codes printed on caption cards throughout the galleries, headphones and an iPod provided by the front desk at the Space. You can also use your very own smart phone.

It's very easy to use. If you're not using one of the devices at the Space, just download a QR reader to your own smart phone, scan the QR code on the caption card and enjoy! It's information about the exhibit's photographers and images you can't find anywhere else. Each QR Code leads you deeper into the exhibit, giving you information about numerous images, some of them very iconic, and their subjects that you never knew before. 

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Coming Soon At IRIS Nights: Amber Valletta

Here at the Annenberg Space for Photography, we've had the great fortune of many incredible photographers lecturing at our IRIS Nights for our BEAUTY CULTURE exhibit. One of our guest lecturers on Thursday, November 3rd will provide her own unique insight from her career in front of the camera. Model, actor and long-time humanitarian Amber Valletta (seen above during a visit to the Space) started modeling as a teenager quickly establishing a high-profile career by landing her first Vogue cover on the eve of her 19th birthday. Her success as a model would soon transition to television and film with Valletta taking over co-hosting duties from Cindy Crawford on MTV's House of Style followed by acting roles in Hitch and the current ABC show Revenge. Her increasing fame also provided an opportunity to work with multiple charitable organizations that focused on Valletta's childhood interest in social relations.

One of her most recent fashion spreads for the September issue of W Magazine has also been one of her most controversial. In an industry where youth and beauty are usually a prerequisite for success, Valletta inhabits a role in "One for the Ages" spanning 12 decades of life with a final lasting image of a decrepit, yet intimidating elderly woman of the future. Because aging is often the death knell for many models, the actual intent of the photo shoot is a rarity. In the issue, Valletta said of the layout.

"You see women who are getting older, and they're still thought of as powerful and sexy and sensual. Ten years ago that wasn't talked about nearly as much...My best advice for aging gracefully is probably going to be more of a spiritual or a psychological answer, which is just trying to find peace in life and being happy and sharing that with other people. Ultimately the insides never change. The outsides will always. And it's transcending that that I think makes a beautiful life."

We couldn't agree more, Amber! If you don't have a chance to see Valletta along with photographer Amanda de Cadenet at our IRIS Night on November 3rd, we hope you'll still find an opportunity to check out BEAUTY CULTURE here at the Annenberg Space for Photography until November 27th. You can check out her spread in W, shot by Steven Klein, here.

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Lauren Greenfield Comes Full Circle With BEAUTY CULTURE

While BEAUTY CULTURE continues to break attendance records here at the Annenberg Space for Photography, we thought now would be a good time as any to publish a post on one of featured photographers, Lauren Greenfield and the documentary film, also titled BEAUTY CULTURE, that accompanies the show. The 30-minute film was directed by the award-winning photographer herself.

Produced by her husband and producing partner, Frank Evers, Greenfield filmed the documentary over the course of several months in Los Angeles, New York and Paris. Her intent was to create a film that focused on the sociological and psychological perceptions of beauty from a cross-cultural viewpoint.

Regarding her work on BEAUTY CULTURE Greenfield says, "A lot of the things I photograph are interconnected: from the young girls and the kind of precocious sexualization of young girls, to the vanity of teenagers and the kind of struggle to establish your identity as a teenager, to women and older women facing the challenge of getting older in a youth-obsessed culture. So this project, BEAUTY CULTURE, allowed me to kind of bring the work full circle and look at all aspects."

The film has been met with resounding praise from many guests here at the photography space citing Los Angeles--with its Hollywood machine and incessant promotion of the billion-dollar cosmetics industry--as an ideal location for a film addressing warped ideals of beauty.

BEAUTY CULTURE is certainly not Greenfield's first foray into filmmaking. Her documentary Thin premiered on HBO in 2006, also screening at the Sundance Film Festival. A film dealing with eating disorders of young women, Thin went on to earn Greenfield an Emmy nomination for Best Director of Non-Fiction Programming. Her follow-up doc kids + money, also broadcast on HBO, won the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the AFI Film Festival among other honors.

The film, which features interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis, Tyen, Crystal Renn and many others, screens throughout the day at the Space. Make sure you come see it before the exhibit closes next month.

As for Greenfield, she will return to the Space as our IRIS Nights lecturer on Thursday, October 13, in what is sure to be a standing-room only event!

Recent Developments: Catherine Opie

If you haven't been to MOCA in downtown Los Angeles recently, you'd better hurry. Its current exhibit, The Personal is Political: Women Artists from the Collection will close on October 10.

We're particularly excited because MOCA's exhibit prominently displays an original chromogenic print of Catherine Opie's "Self-Portrait" (1993). You may remember that Opie was one of the 11 photographers who were part of our inaugural exhibit, L8S ANG3LES. In her work, Opie (who once described herself as "a kind of twisted social documentary photographer") intimately explores concepts of identity. Her powerful self-portraits and her documentation of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and transvestite community have received national attention. You can read more about Opie and see some of her work in our past exhibitions archive.

Of course, "Self-Portrait" fits in perfectly with the other artists' works in Personal is Political, who work in every media from oil paint to video installation, but share a common interest in body politics. But, we have to say, we've got a soft spot for the photography in the exhibit.

Leonard Nimoy Beams Into IRIS Nights

The one and only Leonard Nimoy stepped up on stage at IRIS Nights last night. He wasn't here to talk about his acting career but to discuss his life as a highly respected photographer.

Introducing Nimoy at the lecture was New York Times Lens Blog writer James Estrin. The two are seen here chatting in the green room beforehand. Looks like they've become fast friends! Nimoy started the lecture by recounting a story about a time he was walking in Los Angeles with Tom Hanks. The two encountered a man who wanted to have his photo taken with Hanks. When Hanks asked who would take the picture, the man turned to Nimoy and said "Oh, Mr. Nimoy, you're a wonderful photographer. Can you take the picture?" Nimoy, who maintained such an enviable sense of humor throughout the lecture, joked that it was that story that gave him "street credibility" as a photographer. We think he had street cred long before then! Nimoy spoke at length about his photography, including one of his most well-known works, "The Full Body Project." He explains how he became involved with the women in the above photo, all members of the Fat Bottom Revue burlesque  group. Nimoy revealed that he does not do photojournalism. He prefers shooting projects in a controlled environment. Nimoy's "Secret Selves" was the first time he ever used color in his photography. "Secret Selves" focused on people bringing out their secret, hidden or fantasy selves to Nimoy and his camera. Nimoy is a very prolific photographer.  Apparently there are thousands of photos that he's taken which have yet to see the light of day. Personally, we can't wait to see more! Nimoy stuck around after his talk to sign copies of his books The Full Body Project for fans. Were you one of the lucky few to get him to sign a copy of the book? Nimoy's wife was in attendance last night. Here she is, on the left, posing with him in front of one of the first images visitors come across in the BEAUTY CULTURE exhibit, his most well-known photo from "The Full Body Project." After expressing his gratitude to the packed room for attending his lecture, he signed off with this very familiar quote: "live long and prosper!" Thanks for such a thoughtful, entertaining and enlightening lecture last night, Leonard! You can watch the lecture on our site by clicking here. (All lecture images by Unique for the Space)

Announcing Our 100th IRIS Nights Lecture!

Hard to believe that we've almost made it to the big 100 considering we're still only 2 1/2 years old!

We couldn't be more excited that we're thisclose to celebrating our 100th IRIS Nights lecture. The momentous occasion takes place later this month on when David Fahey and Mark McKenna take the stage to discuss the life and body of work of Herb Ritts.

No need to wait until the week before to secure tickets. We're giving them away now and up until a couple of days before the lecture on September 29th. In order to win tickets you must participate in our IRIS Nights trivia contest, running on our Facebook page ("like" us here if you haven't already). We'll publish trivia questions about past IRIS Nights photographers on that page. The first person to respond with the correct answer in the comments wins a pair of tickets to the lecture on September 29th. Now is a great time to brush up on your IRIS Nights knowledge!

Thanks to all of you for making IRIS Nights the big success that it is each and every Thursday night! We couldn't have made it to 100 without you!

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Beauty Pageant Culture

You'll find an array of photos of beauty pageant contestants in BEAUTY CULTURE. From Miss Senior California, the one and only Pink Lady (you might recognize her Botox-injected lips from our exhibit banners throughout L.A.) to Susan Anderson's toothy-smiled, Beauty, age 4, which greets visitors in the Space's entrance hallway - we see these women prepping for the show and competing as well.

But what happens after the contest?

In celebration of the Miss USA pageant's 60th anniversary, Time Magazine recently asked Anderson (who lectured at the Space and signed copies of her book, High Glitz, on June 16) to shoot portraits of 31 of its past winners.  These queens still have some set ideas about pageant culture.

Miriam (Stevenson) Breckenridge (Miss USA, 1954) now 78, told Time: "...you don't want to be thought of just as the beauty queen. People only remember me for being Miss USA and Miss Universe even all these years later."

Meanwhile, 75-year-old Myrna Hanson (Miss USA, 1953) weighed in on artificial beauty: "At that time, you didn't dare put any pads in your bathing suit, but now I look around and see silicone everywhere. I don't think young people need silicone any place, any time anywhere. It's what you do with what you've got that counts."

To see all of Andersen's portraits in the Time piece, click here.

If you haven't yet seen BEAUTY CULTURE, come see it now before it goes away in November!

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