OjodePez Magazine - Issue #13: 'This Land Was Made For You and Me'. Published by La Fabrica (Madrid), June 2008, 114 Pages
In January 2008, I was invited to edit the thirteenth issue of the international photography magazine, OjodePez (http://www.ojodepez.org/). Entitled ‘This Land Was Made For You and Me’, the issue incorporates the photographic portfolios of nine contemporary photographers from around the world – Stephen Shore, Alec Soth, Tim Davis, Todd Hido, Colby Katz, Richard Mosse, Jessica Ingram, Kalpesh Lathigra and Ryan McGinley – and is intended to ‘promote an alternative, challenging, intelligent, informed and comprehensive understanding of America, and Americans’. I also invited several notable writers to contribute texts that either directly respond to or indirectly compliment the photo-essays, including Geoff Dyer, Robert Fitterman, Joerg Colberg and Michael Famighetti.
From ‘Editor’s Note’, by Aaron Schuman - OjodePez #13:
"…Several weeks ago, I attended a lecture by a British photographer, who presented various photo-essays he had made in and about America. Collectively, the images depicted a nation of obese, gun-totting, religiously fanatical hillbillies who were either high on methamphetamines, violence, paranoia or misguided idealism. Admittedly, this is not an entirely inaccurate portrayal of the country – these things do exist – yet it is an extremely exaggerated and stereotypical one which I have seen endlessly repeated on television, in the news, and in photography and film, much of which has been produced by Americans themselves. As much as I admired this particular photographer’s ability to find, examine and illustrate exactly what he was looking for, I became incredibly frustrated by the superficiality of this formulaic and pervasive viewpoint. Furthermore, I sincerely believe that such representations of America are not only naïve, but are potentially very dangerous. ‘Ha! Stupid Americans,’ we can say with a shrug of the shoulders and a smug smirk, no longer judging but instead simply dismissing. Such an approach encourages us to ignore the powerful position of America within the world, and to overlook both the complexity and diversity of the American experience itself.
"The photographic works published in this magazine are an attempt to promote an alternatively challenging, intelligent, informed and comprehensive understanding of America, and Americans. In Garry Winogrand’s 1963 application for a Guggenheim Fellowship – in which he proposed to photographically investigate the United States following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the commencement of the Vietnam War – he wrote:
"‘Since World War II we have seen the spread of affluence, the move to the suburbs and the spreading of them, the massive shopping centers to serve them, and cars for to and from…Our aspirations and successes have been cheap and petty. I read newspapers, columnists, some books, and look at some magazines. They all deal in illusions and fantasies. I can only conclude that we have lost ourselves, that the bomb may finish the job permanently, and it just doesn't matter; we have not loved life. I cannot accept my conclusions, and so I must continue this photographic investigation further and deeper. This is my project.'
"Forty-five years later – following 11 September 2001, the American initiation of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the escalation of both terrorist and nuclear threats, and the proliferation of paranoia and misinformation – I too cannot accept either my own or more general conclusions made about my own country. And so, as editor of this issue of OjodePez, I have also tried to investigate further and deeper; this is also my project."