Art Talk about Architect/ photographer Dr. Fred Block
PRESS RELEASE - FOTO FORUM SANTA FE a Talk by Susan Morgan about Architect/ photographer Dr. Fred Block from 5:30-6:30pm Thursday December 14th, 2017 at 1716 Paseo de Peralta Santa Fe, NM 87501. A five dollar suggestion donation is recommended but no one will be turned away
Writer Susan Morgan first came across a reference to photographer Dr. Fred Block in a 1945 exchange of letters between Austrian born/ Los Angeles-based architect R.M. Schindler and Elizabeth Mock, then curator of architecture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Schindler—who was always at odds with any one who photographed his work – highly recommended that she look at “Dr. F. Block’s colored slides” to get a true picture of the significant modern architecture that was being created in the West.
Although in recent years, there has been a steady stream of illustrated books focusing on mid-century modern design, none of them mention Dr. Fred Block or credit his photographs.
As Morgan began to search for Block’s work, she learned more about his life and unearthed a trove of neglected, unprocessed archival material. Born in Germany in 1889, Block had been an architect/partner in the Hamburg-based firm Block and Hochfeld and editor of Probleme des Bauens/Problems of Building, a 1928 anthology addressing modern design issues and including contributions from Richard Neutra and Walter Gropius, and an amateur photographer. Inspired by the earliest Leica camera, Block traveled the world photographing for Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, the weekly picture magazine that provided the prototype for LIFE.
Fleeing Germany in 1938, Block and his wife re-settled in Los Angeles where they established a new business venture: Dr. Fred Block's Color Productions company produced 35 mm Kodachrome slides of art, architecture, nature, crafts, and industry for clients that included designers, major museums, and academic institutions.
Curator Elizabeth Mock purchased his slides for MoMA, championed his work, helped with distribution, and commissioned Block to document the museum’s design collection.
His photographs were also included in MoMA’s first color photography exhibition in 1950.
Dr. Block died in 1955. When Morgan discovered a cache of his slides about to be discarded by a library, she set out to preserve the images, write about Block’s work, and recognize a vanishing moment in photography.
Susan Morgan has written extensively about art, design, and cultural biography. Her work has been featured in specialist periodicals and mainstream magazines—publications as diverse as the Archives of American Art Journal, World of Interiors, and the New York Times.
With artist Thomas Lawson, she co-founded and edited REAL LIFE Magazine, a non-commercial publication that looked at art and ideas while speculating about culture and questioning politics. Produced throughout the 1980s and funded annually by the National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts, REAL LIFE Magazine addressed both content and context. Now recognized for articulating the cultural turn of art in the 1980s, the magazine introduced important work by or about such artists as Sherrie Levine, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, Richard Prince, David Hammons, Critical Art Ensemble, Kim Gordon, and Adrian Piper.
A longtime writer and contributing editor for the photography quarterly Aperture, Morgan’s reviews and articles have considered a wide range of photographic practice from 19th century geographical surveys to formal portraits of contemporary sub-cultures. In addition to authoring monographs-- Martin Munkasci (Aperture, 1992) Edward Weston: Portraits (Aperture, 1995), Joan Jonas: I Want to Live in the Country And Other Romances (Afterall Books, 2006), As Is: Noah Purifoy, Joshua Tree (photographer Dominique Vorillon, East of Borneo Books, 2016) – she is editor of For the Wild (photographer Kelly Poe, LAX/ART, 2012) and Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader (East of Borneo Books, 2012).
Morgan’s on-going project about Esther McCoy (19041989), the writer and social critic widely recognized for putting West Coast modern architecture on the map, has received support from the Graham Foundation for the Advancement of Art and Architecture, the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. With Kimberli Meyer, Director of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House, she co-curated Sympathetic Seeing (2011), a critically- acclaimed exhibition about McCoy’s remarkable life and groundbreaking work.
Currently a scholar in residence at the Women’s International Study Center, Santa Fe, she has been an Ansel Adams Fellow at the Center for Creative Photography, Fletcher Jones Foundation Fellow at the Huntington Library, Research Fellow, Provisions Library, Washington DC, and a Research Scholar at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center.
Web site: fotoforumsantafe.com Contact: Sage Paisner
Address: 1716 Paseo De Peralta Santa Fe, NM 87501 Phone: 505)470-2582
Łee’tso Tó’lín | Uranium Water
Marina Eskeets will be giving a talk about her work on Friday February 16th from 5-6pm about her solo Exhibition at Foto Forum Santa Fe. The show is up from December 29th, 2017 to February 17th, 2018, 1716 Paseo de Peralta Santa Fe, NM 87501 Free to the public
Marina Eskeets is a conceptual artist from Naná’áztiin, New Mexico (The Big Curve, NM, Navajo Nation). Eskeets earned a Bachelors in Fine Arts in 2016, with a major in Studio Arts at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, where she was also a S.I.T.E. Scholar at S.I.T.E. Santa Fe. Her work is stimulated by her childhood herding her grandmothers’ sheep, in a region directly affected by the Church Rock uranium disaster. Eskeets work is centered on energy extraction within Dinétah and the repercussions it has had on Indigenous identity.
Łee’tso Tó’lín | Uranium Water
United Nuclear Corporation was a uranium ore mine, conventional uranium mill site, ore processing mill, and tailing disposal area, located in Church Rock, New Mexico. On the morning of July 16, 1979, one of two mill tailing ponds breached, releasing 94 million gallons of acidic, radioactive tailing solution into the Rio Puerco River. The Navajo Nation requested it be declared a Federal Disaster Area, but the New Mexico Government denied their request. Three years later all facilities closed, the site was abandoned, and United Nuclear Corporation did not clean up the spill. It is recorded to be the second largest global release of radioactive material to date. The employees and residents indigenous to this area are Diné (Navajo). Marina presents the photographs of her homeland as negatives to highlight the invisible, tasteless radiation that is poisoning the soil, ground water, animals, and Diné who continue to reside next to the ruins of United Nuclear Corporation Mine, Kerr-McGee Quivira Mine Site, and Northeast Church Rock Mine, all of which extracted uranium ore in their homeland. According to the Diné, life is considerate of the livestock and growing food, both of which are practices extending from their culture. Forty years following the spill, there has been no reclamation, but interests to reopen the mines are strong, despite a ban by the Navajo Nation. Currently, fences split the land with signs that only permit authorized officials, and signs that read “NO TRESSPASSING”. There are various layers to the disruption of all life, with the concerns centered on water contamination, animal grazing, and health defects. Each image is composed with either a toxic chemical structure found in the water or common bodily organs that are affected. The work is a reflection of the environmental racism that targets Indigenous peoples and people of color globally.