Flip through any copy of Michael Schmelling’s My Blank Pages and you’ll notice the handwriting: thoughts scribbled in the margins around the photographs, footnotes, factoids, dates, jokes, memories, quotes, possible misinformation and tangents on the practice of photography. The pictures are from a personal archive of Fujiflex prints, amassed over the course of Schmelling’s photographic career, the fragmentary background noise of his itinerant working life reassembled into an oblique autobiography. Messy and intimate, the prints document rooms he has inhabited over the last decade, people he has encountered and offhand observations of the everyday world. A self-reflective departure from his numerous documentary- and portrait-based books, this volume continues Schmelling’s A Week of No Computer, which reappears in the center of this book in a revised and condensed form. Bound with no covers, wrapped in a manila jacket and obsessively annotated by hand, each copy of this limited print run is truly unique.
In the winter of 2007, photographer Michael Schmelling--known for his previous books Shut Up Truth and The Plan--photographed the USA National Memory Championships in New York City. Roughly 100 competitors gathered in a modest conference hall in the Con Edison building to compete in a series of mnemonic tests. Schmelling's photographs from that day are primarily of the competitors, all intensely engaged in recalling and reciting lists of information. Schmelling returned to the championships in 2008, photographing many of the same competitors as the year before. Building a book of short, interrelated stories, Schmelling has combined these images of mnemonists with a series of similar, overlapping narratives. Traveling through a North American landscape of neutral interiors, the viewer of Land Line encounters an array of subjects in the midst of thinking, forgetting, questioning and interpreting. Photographs of professional mnemonists, teenagers in an algorithmic code competition, entrepreneurs, a Hollywood actor, prisoners and English language students dressed up as historical figures coalesce into a larger narrative about cognition, memory and information.
Between 2003 and 2005, Michael Schmelling photographed 12 private residences in the company of Disaster Masters, a New York-based company specializing in cleaning up homes and counseling compulsive hoarders. Featuring 490 photographs printed in black-and-white on 576 newsprint pages, this volume devotes one chapter to each home--producing an arresting art object and a fantastic document of urban archaeology and psychology.
Published by J&L Books. Edited by Leanne Shapton, Jason Fulford.
Shut Up Truth is a document of artist Michael Schmelling's friendship with James Holloway, a Texas native and union projectionist. The project began in 1996, when Schmelling met Holloway at a film screening while on assignment in Texas for the Associated Press. Shut Up Truth iis an unflincing and intimate portrait of a single, white middle-aged man. The photographs, taken in El Paso, constitute a documentary of contemporary American life. Michael Schmelling was born in Pittsburgh in 1973. He now lives in New York City and is a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, The Fader, Details.