How would you describe the specific flavour and interests of your blog?
MF: I started the blog for two reasons: to try and raise awareness of some of the excellent work that is coming out of Asia which is under-represented on English-language blogs; and as there seemed to be a bit of a void in the blogosphere around the Parisian photography scene. Aside from trying to draw attention to photographers whose work I find interesting, I also review exhibitions, photography and art festivals, and photo-books. One pet peeve of mine is the proliferation of overly positive reviews, whether on blogs or in the art press, so I try and be opinionated when it is called for. Eyecurious is also intended to be a forum for engaging more critically with questions ranging from the current state of photo-journalism and arts criticism to the changing use of photographic images in the media.
Are comments allowed?
MF: Yes, comments are allowed and even welcome. But if you are trying to sell me car insurance, Viagra or return the $17 million that my long-lost Nigerian ancestors put aside for me, you most likely won't make it past the moderation.
Describe your own background in relation to photography and why you decided to start a photography blog?
MF: I don't have an academic background in photography or art history, but I stumbled into the world of photography as an author with the book Japan: A Self-Portrait (Flammarion, 2004), a photographic anthology of postwar Japan. Since then I have continued to write on photography and have curated several exhibitions in collaboration with museums and galleries in France, the UK and Japan. Blogging seemed like a natural extension to the writing and curating and also a way of doing something with the random thoughts on photography that keep appearing in my brain.
In your experience what have been the highs and lows of blogging? Are there any particular pitfalls to owning a photography-related blog?
MF: I started out with a tumblelog actually as I wasn't sure whether I would be able to make the time to blog on a regular basis. I moved onto fully fledged blogging as I found that tumblelogs are too often just a dumping ground for 'cool' images without any meaningful dialogue (and often not even the name of the photographer) attached to them. Eyecurious is not supposed to be a repository of my favourite photographs but an attempt to engage critically with what is going on in the world of photography.
The highs of blogging have to be the conversations and discoveries from the other side of the world... or of the street for that matter. I have only been going for a few months and have already had many interesting discussions with people from all over the place. The biggest high, however, has to be getting an email from a photographer and discovering a great body of work that you just never would have otherwise. As for the lows, there haven't really been many so far, but I do get fed up pretty quickly trying to pretend to myself that I really understand this html, css and php stuff.
What are your top three picks from the world of photography in the last 12 months?
MF: (1) My greatest recent discovery has got to be Hiroh Kikai. Although he has been taking photographs for close to 40 years, he has somehow remained under the radar, even in his native Japan. He is finally getting the recognition that his work deserves. His Asakusa Portraits (Steidl: 2008), a series of portraits taken at the Senso-ji Temple in Tokyo over more than 30 years, was deservedly on quite a few 'best-book-of-the-year' lists last year. I would also highly recommend India (Misuzu Shobo: 1992), if you can manage to get your hands on a copy.
(2) Naoya Hatakeyama has been producing consistently thoughtful and beautiful photographs often centering on human interaction with the landscape. One of his best known series, Underground, was inspired by a group of photographs that he had taken in Paris's catacombs. He recently returned to Paris to shoot further underground, which led to the series Ciel Tombé (Fallen Sky). He is currently working on the production of a two-volume book of this work: one volume will contain his photographs and the other a short piece of fiction written by the French author Sylvie Germain based on his photographs. I have had a sneak preview of the book and the text and images resonate beautifully together. This promises to be a title to look out for.
(3) My most recent discovery would have to be the young Slovakian, Magda Stanova, who I came across at this year's Rencontres d'Arles festival. Her work uses photographs, video and other installation pieces for some very thoughtful questioning of this thing that we call photography, managing to be both wonderfully simple, provocative and funny.
If you could only subscribe to one blog (other than your own of course) which would it be and why?
MF: That's a tough one, because I think the point of the blogosphere, as opposed to traditional print media, is the multiplicity of voices. In particular, although the US is still way ahead in terms of blogging activity, I'm interested in getting views from as many different places as possible. I'm going to cheat a little and choose three blogs from different regions: for the US, it would be DLK Collection both for the quality and diversity of the posts, but also as it is a great insight into the considerations in building a serious photography collection; for Europe I would go with Mrs Deane who always seem to be uncovering excellent material from under the radar while managing to also be frequently hilarious; for Japan, Japan Exposures, one of the best, and only, places to go for English info on what is happening on the Japanese photo scene; and, finally, I would have to add a healthy topping of Jeffrey Ladd's 5b4 incisive and opinionated photo-book posts for good measure.