la weekly / art + books


Art + Books / April 2006

To anyone who knows the work of photographer Glen E. Friedman, best known for his Fuck You Heroes monograph on 1970s through early '90s punks, rappers and skaters, his latest book, Recognize, will come as a bit of a shocker. Recognize consists of photographs of clouds, mostly taken from the air — at cloud level — that capture in sharp detail the hues and variations of the color white. They re-create the experience of being in an airplane, of seeing amazing clouds just outside the window and feeling the near spiritual beauty of that moment. As a representative of the element air, Recognize fits nicely between Richard Misrach's aerial views of the sea and Luc Delahaye's panoramic land views of war. The approach of these photographers is that of a curious observer who is at once consciously detached and uncontrollably involved. Friedman captures the clouds with a humility and simple wonder. His photos achieve what so many others only aspire to — they show the spiritual within the physical. Thus the book's title makes profound sense. Recognize, it says, in simple, clear letters. Recognize your humility, recognize the power of nature, recognize the beauty of the world. It is rare to find a photography book like this, one that genuinely and with total directness conveys the spiritual qualities of the material world.