Russell Joslin: Alone Forever Sometimes
Russell Joslin has spent much of his career masterfully showcasing other photographers with a 17-year long run as Editor/Owner of SHOTS Magazine and Founder/Editor of Skeleton Key Press–providing significant exposure in print for thousands of photographers. But all along, he was quietly creating his own evocative work, with the camera turned to face his own reflection and long hours in the darkroom. I’ve always thought that Russell was the Johnny Cash of the photography world–tall, chronically dressed in black, and bearing a talent that is undeniable. So today, it gives me so much pleasure to shine a light on his work and recently released first monograph published by Skeleton Key Press, Alone Forever Sometimes, Self-Portraits 2000-2019. The book is a compilation of his self-portraits, starkly captured in black and white, filled with gesture and mystery, and features an essay by multidisciplinary artists Rimma Gerlovina and Valeriy Gerlovin.
Spending time with the book was like visiting old friends with 58 rich, striking black and white plates — that showcase both the inherent isolation and collective relief of being. Using himself as a means of expressing the individual emotional state, his self-portraits strike chords of “truth so deeply conveyed — and thus experienced — that the personal becomes universal, relating to the human condition with conflict and resolution co-existing as man versus nature, man versus man, man versus himself . . . and achieving peace, however fleeting”.
Russell Joslin has worked primarily in photography since the early 90s. His work has been internationally published and exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions. Additionally, he was the sole Owner, Editor & Publisher of the independent photography journal SHOTS from 2000-2017, which demonstrated and cultivated his distinct editing style that places special emphasis on sequencing and narrative tone. In 2018, he founded his new publishing company, Skeleton Key Press, and relocated from Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA to Oslo, Norway. He has authored two books as editor: Black Forest (Candela Books, 2014) and Series of Dreams (SKP, 2018). Alone Forever Sometimes is his first monograph.
Rimma Gerlovina and Valeriy Gerlovin, Russian born American artists, are the authors of the books Russian Samizdat Art, Concepts, and Thought of Thoughts. Their work is represented in the collections of Centre Pompidou, Paris; The Tate Gallery, London; The Art Institute of Chicago; The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna; The Guggenheim and International Center of Photography, New York; and many others. Their works have been featured in numerous books and magazines, and on the covers of Art on the Edge and Over, The New York Times Magazine, Zoom, and The Sciences.
From the introduction by Russell Joslin:
“. . . It was there that my photographs were displayed. As I entered, I felt a sense of all that brought me to this point in time and the unexpected destinations I had arrived at — both actual and metaphorical — since I first embraced the vocation of photographer and editor. I looked at my photographs that were so familiar, yet somehow I felt as though I was seeing them anew, from outside myself, almost as if they were created by someone else. I felt a sharp awareness that everything that went into creating this work — all the past decisions, persistence, trial and error, dedication, teachers, influences, and all those who directly or indirectly, knowingly or unknowingly by example, have been important to me along the way — brought me to this moment; not only a moment of feeling a sense of accomplishment, but also one of humility and gratitude. The daydream is what reality is.”
From the essay by Rimma Gerlovina and Valeriy Gerlovin:
“Russell Joslin’s photographs, when put in a sequence from frame to frame, remind us of an underground movie, which bizarre scenario has many layers of meaning. The subtleties of his ideas endowed with the poverty of the means make the imagination work so much more effectively. The visual plasticity of photography allows not only the encoding of archetypal ideas but also the creation of an aura filled with the powerful emanation of human presence. And Russell’s presence is indeed powerful.”
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