31 March 2008

Yola Monakhov - new author on The F Blog

My name is Yola Monakhov. I am a photographer working in both color and black-and-white film, mostly in large format, but in medium format, as well. I consider myself a traditional photographer, in that I follow the code of photographic investigation, never knowing beforehand how something should be pictured, but discovering meaning through the process of photography.

I was born in Russia and grew up in New York, where I immigrated as a child with my family. I completed my MFA in 2007 at Columbia University in New York, where, in 1998, I also received an MA in Italian Literature. In the intervening years, I worked as an editorial photographer primarily overseas and in crisis areas, and increasingly started devoting time to the pursuit of my own work. I am a contributing photographer to The New Yorker magazine and teach photography at Columbia University and at Mercer County Community College.

My latest project, of which I am including five images, is still very open. Since I have been teaching Photo 1, I have become deeply enamored with black and white film and its possibilities. I am photographing in uptown Manhattan, around where I live, and downtown, in the financial district, where I currently have a studio residency through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. For this work, I am focusing on architecture as landscape, and on portraiture, in the studio and in the streets.

Photos and text © Yola Monakhov

The F Blog sends good vibrations to you Yola. We are happy to have you here and we can´t wait to see more of your work!

William Schmidt on Kerouac's road (5) - in technicolour

My "Journey Around America" was both picaresque and picturesque. I was still young enough to cry when I left my girlfriend and to spend the night traveling in the front row of a Greyhound holding close to a girl I just met on the way to New Orleans. She gave me her address and told me to call visit when I came to Vancouver. Out of New Orleans, I met another girl who asked me to sit with her. I was going to Houston and she to Dallas. She offered to let me stay with her there, but the wife of a middle-aged Jewish couple (she kept screaming, "Look, Ira, he looks just like a blue-eyed Jesus") told me her sister was picking them up and I could spend the night with them. I said goodbye to the girl from Dallas and went to a rough cowboy bar near the bus station and had my first Lone Star beer. When the sister showed up, Ira said goodbye to me and I was left alone with some very big, unfriendly fellows.
Walking back to the bus station in the growing dusk, I was told to watch myself, that it was dangerous around there after dark and that I could be killed for my backpack and my boots. I looked into the shadows and in my young boy's imagination, I could see it happening. I decided to take the bus onto Denver at midnight. In the bus station, a sweet, nervous man struck up a conversation with me and told me he lived nearby, that I could come to his house, that he would play piano for me and I could shower. As badly as I needed to shower, I had to decline the offer.
Overnight to Denver. I was going to sleep in my tent in a campground and after touring the city that morning, I took a city bus to the edge of town. The campground was a desolate camper and trailer park where I was offered a plot by a drainage ditch. I sat up my tent, and lay down to rest, but I felt absurd, and so to Boulder, meeting a girl on the bus who said I could sleep on her balcony, and I did, poorly, the first night in my new down sleeping bag. She took me to breakfast and that night to a bar where they refused to serve Indians where I played pool and bought beer for Native Americans.

The west was different, and I was in love. Lonely roads hitching through Wyoming and Montanna, sleeping in a small, dingy room in Butte where I was offered a job as a bouncer in a cowboy bar. It must have been a joke. Buffalo, antelope, deer. On to Yellowstone where I rented a car with a psychologist from South Africa, a mathematician from China, a physicist from India, and a college student from the U.S. They thrilled me with their enthusiasm ("I want to see Old Faceful", cried the mathematician while the physicist flipped the through radio stations like a madman, irritating the psychologist who drove). When they left I camped and hiked along the Yellowstone river on the last day the park was open, scared and lost, sloshing through sloughs and crashing through tall grass, singing and clapping my hands to keep away the bears. Oregon where I fell asleep on the lawn of the University in Eugene, waking to a fellow playing guitar. Marijuana had been legalized, though the restaurants had signs that said, "No Smoking or Toking." A big, beefy guy offered to take the guitar player and me back to his house where we would make spaghetti and drink from a gallon jug of wine. In the morning, we made a big, lazy breakfast and he called in sick to work. Later, his wife drove me out to the highway. Vancouver. I went to see the girl from the first night on the bus, a month gone by, but she was not home. Lovely neighborhood. A hippie family picked me up and we ate together. They told me I must go to Vancouver Island and they drove me to the ferry station. We glided through cold water, piney islands, past Joni Mitchell's house someone said.

I met a girl who is going to cross the island to meet some friends. We would go together we decided. It was dark when we de- board. We met a diamond miner who took us to dinner and told us he had a room for the night; we could sleep on the floor. In the morning, we hitchhiked across the island, up winding roads through lovely wilderness, one Winnobega passing us again and again without picking us up, rides with loggers and fishermen, down toward the wild Pacific. The beach was littered with giant logs. We pitched a tent and made dinner. All about the beach, fires glowed. Communion.

The next day we went to a dock where a boat would come to take her to Cat Island. She asked me if I would like to go. Cat Island. Young and fearful, I said no. The boat arrived, she turned and waved. Later I learned from a local fisherman that Cat Island was a commune of artists and professors. Then I was alone, the way back much harder. I shared a room with three women in Seattle more worldly than I, who scare me wickedly.

Down the coast. California, hitchhiking in big sunlight, catching a ride with a fellow in an open van who picks up everyone he sees, a rolling party. In San Francisco I stay in Haight/ Ashbury in a big old Victorian house owned by a religious sect. At night I go to North Beach, to City Light Books, to jazz clubs, and walk those Beat streets. Hitching to Yosemite, I meet a girl. We get a ride in a semi driver taking a load of construction goods to the park. We set up my tent but that night it rains, filling the tent with water and mud.
Reno, Nevada, The Biggest Little City in America, where I gamble for the first time. Free drinks, I lose more money than I can afford. Sleep in a youth hostel on the outskirts of town. Sick for three days, burning fever, hallucinations. I go to hospital. Broke, I begin the last leg of my journey. New York City. I get off the bus at 42nd Street at noon. Suddenly, a cute girl takes my arm. "You want a date?" At first I am puzzled. "Twenty for me, five for the room." "You can't do that to hippies," I tell her, and with a laugh she is gone. Then all the money is gone.
Home. I must find a job. I am about to enter another world.
text and pictures by William Schmidt

Fast (furious)

Photo: Tiberio Fanti


Photographer: GC

Face to Face (109)

photographer: Dorota Oza Karecka

Trees (81)

photographer: Didier Derien


Photo: Jan Bernhardtz


Il Fumar uccide - Verona
Photo: Margareta Cortes

Fire escape

Photo: Rhonda Prince

Face to Face (108)

If I Were a Ghost
photo: Robert Padilla

Fish in the garden

Another Pesky Trout . . .

photo: jeanne wells