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EPF 2010 Finalist

Kate Stone

At the Seams

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In “At the Seams” I used photographs of domestic interiors and common architecture to construct impossible, uncanny spaces that evoke a feeling of hesitant curiosity, a nervous desire to explore the room, to peek around the bend or to see what lies behind the door at the end of the hall. Our acceptance of photography as reality makes these images hard to understand, especially for those who know the original place. At first glance the rooms and buildings in these photographs appear real. Upon closer examination, however, something is clearly wrong. Doorways are misplaced and once rigid walls are twisted and torn. Distorted perspective creates incongruent angles and improbable shadows. These spaces are literally falling apart at the seams.



Kate Stone received her BA in photography from Bard College in 2009 and currently lives and works in Chicago. She was recently a recipient of the Tierney Fellowship and her work has been shown by The Center for Photography at Woodstock, The Photo Review, ARTribe NY and Eleni Koroneou Gallery.


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Kate Stone


69 thoughts on “kate stone – at the seams”

  1. “An illustration is a displayed visualization form presented as a drawing, painting, photograph or other work of art that is created to elucidate or dictate sensual information (such as a story, poem or newspaper article) by providing a visual representation graphically.”


    So.. an illustration can be a photograph, a photograph can be an illustration.. or not?

  2. “…spaces that evoke a feeling of hesitant curiosity, a nervous desire to explore…”

    Perhaps in the one who made these illustrations. Not in me. In me they evoked a nervous desire to stop looking, way before I reached the end of the set. No hesitation what so ever.

  3. Disconcerted as other readers, not only because of this essay but also from others in the recent past, I went to the ‘about’ page of Burn Magazine, and realized that, yes, burn is about any kind of photography.

    And that’s where the problem is. Can essays like be side by side with the photojournalistic approach of others, like “heavy hand, sunken spirit” by David Rochkind? Can you have Kate Stone and James Natchwey side by side?

    I think you can’t.

    And please, for EPG 2011, I would like to have more concrete guidelines about which kind of content is preferred, because otherwise, even though I watch every single essay published in the magazine, I still don’t know whether my own work is appropriate or not.


  4. O.K. It’s neither good photography nor good illustration. Perhaps the name should be changed to the Emerging Artists Fund. It’s amazing this is a finalist.

  5. Kate! :))

    “The original is unfaithful to the translation.”–Borges

    Kate, rather than falling apart at the seems, i found this work seemless! :)) Not surprising, I LOVED this work when David and Anton first published the EPF finalists a few weeks ago and now that I’ve seen the entire essay and your other work as well, I’m simply buoyant with joy. It’s playful, lyrical, imaginative and insightful. In fact, this essay is one of the most playful, tactile and conceptually ingenious work that I’ve seen published here in a while. To me, it is an example of the power and restlessness of the creative imagination: to eclipse the bounds of boxes, both photographic and mechanical. And in truth, much of your imagery I found as companion’s to Richard’s magnificent book ‘blue room’. Where Richards employs his poetic and unflinching eye on the verismilitude of a place and life (in that case abandoned homes), you have rendered your abandoned homes and rooms through the light of your imagination. Interestingly, both bodies of work evoke the same truth: the loss of thing we all imagine or believe have permanance….and that wonder and melancholy ache that bubbles up from the understanding that all is impermanent.

    But your work also reminded me of Borges’ stories, in fact they are libraries, labrynths of memory and space. Like the meandering thoughts and translations of Borges’ narrators, mirrored and ghost-running, or the rabbit-hole fall of memory, ;your pictures evoked for me what i love best about the haunted emptiness of space: rooms bespeak of us and of those by which they’ve been inhabited. The same is true of your pictures of houses in the fields: a conjuring of memory and loss. The essay is indeed a junction, along the seems of both real memory and imagined places. It’s a gorgeous and nimble execution. Imagine for a moment a room, a chair, a home, a city, the patch of a field, that once held sway over your life and reconstruct that in your memory and there it is, pitched and patched together through the thread and needle of your imagination. Is this not photography by definition, though using the property of light?

    For those commentators who question it’s ‘photography’ essence, I would simply remind you of the tradition of both construction and collage in the ENTIRE body of the history of photography. Beginning with the Camera Obscura and running through Victorian work (including pics from Crimea) and along the great spine of modernist tradition, collage and assemblage of photographs has made up and defined photography. In fact, Philip Blekinsop’s work on china, for which he won the Visa d’Or last year at Perpignan, is an hommage to collage and assemblage. Jim/Michael: do you wisht to question whether or not Philip’s work is photography? Though tickled to pink to have Jim’s voice re-emerge, I find the attempt to denigrate Kate’s work (this is not photography, whatever that means?) more a commentary of his own relationship and understanding of the history of photography then on the validity of Kate’s practice.

    Photography, by definition, is both an assemblage and a construction. Using his logic, multiple exposures is NOT photography, darkroom manipulation is NOT photography, images used to augment a written story (for example in a newspaper) is NOT photography, in fact, i’m at a loss to understand the idea that Kate’s work is someone NOT photography but ‘illustration.’ It’s like saying a poem may not be writing since it doesnt take the form of a sentence. Not to mention all photographs are illustrative inherently (of an idea, of a place, of a manufactured intersection of time and light) and what distinguishes a ‘photograph’ from a ‘illustration’ is the INTENT of the maker…..and the perception of the reader…..

    Kate: gorgeous, playful work and I thoroughly enjoyed it’s sculptural properties. Like small architecture models or the Victorian photocollage books that many British and French families created, but what i loved best about this work is your imagination to extend the boundary of place, to extend the flat plain of a n imagine and attempt to sculpt it into the shape and time of real place, filled not only with corners and crevices, angles and planes, but the dust and dandruff of memory….

    just thrilled so see beautiful, conceptual, hand-woven work along side other forms of more traditional photography. if it’s any consolation, when some viewers look at my wife Marina’s work Versts and saw her cut up negative collages, they’d commented ‘what a waste of a use of scissors’ ;))))))

    congrats on the publication and on being chosen a finalists and for sharing your work. Loved it as both a photographer and a lover of photography! :)))


    p.s. JIM: WELCOME HOME! :)))…though, i really wish you’d study a bit more about photography before making the ridiculous statements ‘O.K. It’s neither good photography nor good illustration…..”……how about ‘just dont get it, but good luck’…..that would be a much more gentlemanly and good natured thing to say…..but then it wouldn’t be our Jim, now would it?… :))

  6. Kate, congratulations on the work and welcome to the bear pit. I must admit, this is not my kind of photography; that is, I don’t take this kind of photography but I’m open to the new. The individual titles for each photograph make no sense to me. Is there a coherent reason behind each? If so, they passed me by. I do hope you can explain as the purpose of a caption, to me at least, should be to explain and educate the viewer / reader. I’ll look again later on a larger screen.

    Best wishes,


    JIM!! You’re back: I’ve missed you! I was just looking at the essay and thinking of you. You know what I mean. I hope you stick around: sometime we need to hear “The emperor has no clothes on” here.



  7. to be honest on first look these did come across to me as mere illustrations ie in the context of lacking any emotion watsoeva …. but then for a brief period I started imaging my bedroom my living room my kitchen my home in a twisted torn apart perspective thats when i felt the seam …

    as BOB B puts it “conceptually ingenious work” ..

    ..beautiful ..

    bravo ….

  8. Jim,

    For you the name should be the Emerging Photojournalist Fund, isn’t it?

    Well, I didn’t see “Artist” and “Photojournalist” in Burn statement neither. I think word “Photographer” contains both.

    but maybe I’m wrong…

  9. It looks to me like this one was great fun to do, an exercise in creativity and a lot of work.

    I see some really like it and the resurrected Jim Powers really hates it – although that fact alone certainly does not speak against it.

    At the moment, it does not move me much – although it does make me feel a little claustrophobic. I will concede this one to those more sophisticated and in tune with this kind of thing than am I. I will come back and look at it another time and will see if I have grown smarter, more sophisticated and comprehend better.

    Of course, Wednesday I turn 60, so maybe from here on out I will just keep growing stupider, less sophisticated, each day comprehending less and less.

    Congratulations Kate. You impressed some good minds and won a spot on Burn as an EPF finalist, so that says something.

  10. Kate, this essay confused me at first. From the first photo I thought you had taken the image somehow with mirrors or something then as they progressed realized I had the wrong idea of how it was done. I find the concept intriguing; photos of spaces inhabited in the present or past tell a story of the inhabitants and their history and slant.

    I can appreciate the thought and work that went into this series. There are a couple of these images I would love to see in a large print to just look at and study the detail. I am curious as to how it was done. Any insights would be nice.

    Frostfrog, you are a tiger too! A good sign.

  11. This is definitely not my bag. Does absolutely nothing for me. And regarding the cations… was the intent of the artist to make them so personal and obscure that nobody would be able to make sense of them in relation to the image? What’s the point?

    Also, I had no idea I’d missed Jim’s voice quite so much. Agree with him or not… he’s not all butterflies and unicorns! ;^}

  12. Frostfrog

    Welcome to the ranks of the sexagenerians, the declining years, geezerhood. Stupider and less sophisticated each day?, Naw, older and wiser. DAH is setting us a good example.

    Fun stuff. Might be even more fun in 3d.

    Lee, these appear to be photographs of cut and paste 3d constructions. Am I wrong Kate?

  13. kateelizabethfowler


    These are wonderful! How creative, beautiful and warm. Congratulations on being a finalist and on being published in Burn- you deserve it.

  14. Congratulations Kate, I really like this new, fresh and beautiful piece of work, regardless of its “tag” (photography, illustration….).


  15. kateelizabethfowler

    Oh! A quick thought-

    (I would hope that..) Burn Magazine is not here to provide a constant source of agreeable entertainment for its viewers. It’s here to challenge and inspire!

    It should never be questioned whether a person ‘deserves’ to be shown in Burn.. even when you don’t appreciate their credentials or can’t personally relate to their work. Anyone that fits into the category of “photographer” (which is a vast and diverse art form/craft), and has had a vision that has been realized, deserves to be recognized. Lets try to grow here, people! It’s absurd to view a piece of somebody’s work and say “no, there is nothing here.” Look harder! There is something- even if you can’t appreciate the aesthetics of it, you can hopefully acknowledge the things that do move you. Incorporate those elements into your work; notice the things you would want to change and ask yourself ‘why?’.

    We are not in elementary school. We are adults with opinions and the ability to evaluate and critique things thoughtfully (I hope). This should never be a matter of “It’s not my style, therefore..”

    I am inspired and challenged by this essay. There have been many that I’ve not appreciated as much, but I feel that I learn something from them all.

  16. Lets try to grow here, people! It’s absurd to view a piece of somebody’s work and say “no, there is nothing here.”

    If there is nothing there for a viewer and nothing moves the person so be it. It has nothing to do with “growing up”.

    No different to saying
    Congratulations Kate, I really like this new, fresh and beautiful piece of work, regardless of its “tag” (photography, illustration….). All that states is “yes”

  17. The work has a more the subtle nature and a greater sense of place than that of David Hockney’s collages http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/images/2008/02/20/isidroblasco_2.jpg
    It is great to see someone willing to play with images and look at the small nuances within our environments.
    Societies acceptance of photography as reality is no longer as strong as it was in the past, we are used to communicating on various levels visually and no longer place all photography in the reality zone. Even the young teenager realises that the images in magazines like Dolly etc are not all what it is made out to be.
    Cartoons are perceived as realities to some, others willing to fully immerse themselves into fantasy worlds. A bit like the madman his reality may not be yours but it is sure real to him. With all the visual stimulus these days we are a pretty articulate and savy society these days.

  18. Kate.. I’m inspired!

    I’ve been inspired also by David Hockney in the past, and have tried dabbling with this sort of montage. What you’ve done is such a brilliant extension on this idea, creating strange warped doll house environments.. “Alice in Wonderland” comes to mind for some reason. So much potential!

    Thanks BURN people for surprising me once again.. Love it!

  19. It’s OK… no wonders, people who have BA or higher formal degrees in photography or visual arts, in reality, most often, very rarely produce something interesting… in fact, people who have a natural good eye and are capable of creating strong interesting photography are just doing it… they don’t waste their time for formal studies and scientific research…

  20. totally love it, including the flakey titles which only add to the dream-like quality. evocative and slightly disturbing. made me think of escher but also medieval paintings with their naive illogicalities.
    to me these capture the totality of a memory; remembering a space in its entirety and holding it in your head as an impossible assembly beyond the limitations of a single standpoint. the desaturation adds to the nostalgia…
    a brilliant set of images that i expect would be further enhanced printed large and hanging side-by-side in a vast room, as opposed to the spatially inert computer screen.

  21. David Sutherland, “flakey titles”? I must admit that I find the titles confusing. Do they mean anything to Kate? Are they meant to mean anything to the viewer? If so, I don’t get them. If not, what’s the point of them?


  22. I like these, must be fun to create. I like that Burn/editors chose something like this to include, something so different that once again says Burn is for all photography and not just photojournalism.

    Congratulations Kate.

  23. on the one hand it’s got BARD written all over it, could also be YALE MFA… self-conscious and arty… but you know what? i like it, Kate’s got a unique vision and I’LL BET that this photographer is going to be heard from and seen again in galleries and, yes, museum collections in short order. just you watch.

    memorable work. congrats, Kate.

  24. Mike R, i think you’re being too literal which i dont expect is how the titles are intended. I would imagine they’re meant to be ‘confusing’, which fits with the illusory, disorientating quality of the images.

  25. Michael Kircher wrote, “That would be… “captions.”

    Perhaps, ‘craptions’ would have been the more appropriate Freudian slip :>))

    I can appreciate the vision in the series but they don’t really connect with me on any level.
    That, of course, is my deal and not Kate’s.

  26. Jim Powers, glad you’re back, i always wanted to ask you this question:

    Is Jim Powers really your name?

    I remember once you proudly claimed it was in an effort to condem someone else who, according to you, did not have the courage to provide their real name.

    I think now you may have been lying about it being your real name ‘or’ there are loads of ‘personalities’ impersonating you by indicating their images are yours (interesting irony there actually). Those other personalities seemed to recently disappear with the same images, too bad really, i could show you some other ‘real’ names you go by (W.P.)

  27. Oh my. I can see where this woldn’t tinkle everone’s fancy but it sure does mine. Magc, that’s what I find here. And I love the whimsical captions as much as the images. Like Alice dropping down the Rabbit hole, I feel that Kate has led me into rooms within myself that I didn’t know were there. Thank you!!!


  28. Stupid Photographer

    Joe, Jim Powers had a problem with my posts. I considered his objections and as a result stopped posting here under this pseudonym. Now I use my real name instead. The message remains the same. This is my last post here as Stupid Photographer.

  29. Thanks, everyone, for all your support and your brutal honesty! This forum is a great opportunity for me to read opinions that most people probably wouldn’t express in person. After all, it’s not everyday you encounter people articulate enough to call your captions “craptions”. Anyway, I’m honored to be chosen as an EPF finalist, especially with my work being the conceptual black sheep that it is in this mostly photojournalistic environment. I’m also honored that I could bring back the apparently absent and clearly infamous voice of Jim Powers. And Bob Black, you describe my work even better than I can. Thank you!

    For this project, the experience of photographing the original place was an integral part of the process. I mostly photographed the homes of strangers and my interactions with the homeowners, their quirks and stories, influenced the narrative of the final pieces. The title of each photograph either describes an experience that I had in exploring the space or is a quote from the homeowner. By titling each piece this way, I allude to the process and make each space personal to its inhabitant. The titles, like the rooms, are decontextualized and fragmented. They are meant to be confusing, “flakey” and open to interpretation.

    I admit the computer screen doesn’t do these images justice. For the record, each photograph is around 40″x50″.

  30. If it could only be as easy as that S.P. Jim Powers, or what ever his real name is: self-rightious, Schitzo, liar works for me, but I’m less tolerating; Jim Powers promised his last post on the Ballen piece, and true to his nature, that was a lie as well. Let’s hope it doesn’t once again turn into the Jim Powers attention seeking show.

  31. i’ll second both Haik & Anton…
    welcome…different opinions are welcomed…
    And also welcome to Anonymity…regardless if the name is Akaky or Civi or SP…or anything..
    Contribution is like a box of chocolates..u never know what u gonna get…theres some
    good looking choc out there but it tastes like crap and vice versa..
    We could even change the name from “Burn” to “Pandora’s Darkroom”…
    u never know what (comment) u gonna get :)

  32. oh about the essay?
    well..you all know what am i gonna say, i suppose…
    Its like reading someones diary (well the first pages at least…;)
    It excites me..i wanna see more but they left Freud outside im afraid..
    Well…we got used to pj style horror, full of blood essays out there..
    we got a little addicted to violence, brutality..we are so numb and we need to wake up..
    we need excitement..extreme sports, extreme tv, drugs, shock value is a “must”
    in our western “world”…
    I can totally see why for many here it sounds like the title should be “much ado about nothing”..
    but again, all i could say to the photog, thank u for “opening the door”..
    Some of us(like me, for sure) want to “see” more, and some of us not..
    Either way, you decide…
    big hug

  33. Kate, congratulations on your presence one of the EPF finalists.

    This is actually the story I was most eager to see after the quick preview of the finalists we had when the award was presented. And I have to say I am not disappointed.

    If I am correct, it seems that the images of this story are re-photographed photographs, with the added distortion of folds, cuts and perspective manipulation. None of these are new or ground-breaking techniques but the result is certainly very original. Haunting, ambiguous and at the same time beautiful they can be interpreted on many levels while still retaining their mystery.

    The “captions” are indeed very cryptic and I have nothing against it. Even if they are the product of a highly self-conscious conceptual approach, I think they do not hinder (nor add much to- frankly) the work whatsoever.

    Finally the discussion of whether this is photography or illustration. Even in documentary photography, found photographs (sometimes re-photographed), text and artifacts, defacing and collage, any technique has been already used and is perfectly valid. No photograph is truer or more honest than any other just because it was made this or that way. In fact I find that no photograph is truer or more honest or more important than any other, period. The context is what gives any work it’s weight. And in this case I think the whole work is solid. No for all tastes, but nevertheless solid.

    Congratulations again Kate.

  34. “Morimura, Yasumasa (b. 1951), Japanese contemporary artist, born and resident in Osaka. Morimura’s appropriation of well-known Western masterpieces began with self-portraits as Van Gogh.. A master of costume, painting, cosmetics, and computer manipulation, he pays homage to and refashions icons of the Western canon. Not limiting himself to painted masterpieces, he has recreated well-known photographs by Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol and, in his Actress (1997-8) series, publicity portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot amongst others, mimicking their gestures down to the curled toes. He works not only with photography but with moving images and installations.”

  35. Thanks for the links Imants, loved Marilyn, disturbed to see the Eddie Adams re-creation, but I suppose that was the idea, right? It’s amazing to see how some photographs become popular icons that are recognised far beyond the photographic community. The Che photo by Alberto Corda and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the photo by Susan Meiselas of the Nicaraguan man throwing a petrol bomb. Also helps to see where you are coming from.


  36. jenny lynn walker

    “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” Albert Einstein

    Hi Kate,

    I saw an inquiry underway with a touch of mystery which was great as a concept but the overall content – and the compositions in particular – leave me flat. I feel this is coming too much from your head and not enough from your heart.

    Wishing you joyous times in Chicago – I hope you like the quote!


  37. Yea Mike what I tried to focus on was to show how the media has changed over the last decade in photo/digital technology. The question that arises is how do we utilise it without being overawed. Last year’s winner can be synthesised in photoshop and one can go well beyond into a bigger playground.

    This work can also come back and bite itself if she lets it become a formula……….

  38. Kate, thanks for posting a reply. Now I get the captions. Also, like much fine art, I’m sure that your original work looks good at 40″ x 50″.

    best wishes,


    As an aside, I like to check the composition of my photographs using the thumbnails in Aperture or Lightroom as the small size just seems to allow this for me, but I’ve learned to see a photograph large before deciding if it makes the cut or gets deleted. I usually just run a quick slideshow.


    damn!! all three of you back …welcome home!! yea, i know you will all go for each others throats and most probably mine too, but i am pleased honestly to see all three of you here again….and all three of you know that i mean it…

    cheers, david


    you are indeed a class act with your response to your critics….however are you really a “black sheep”? is Burn really a mostly photojournalism environment? yes, still probably leans in that direction, but i am trying constantly to create a better balance… look carefully at the 13 finalists….i think you will see only one or two of them that totally represent what any old style photojournalist would call photojournalism…yes, a straight photojournalist did get the grant this year, but i think that might also have to do with financing a continuing project that needs financing…i do not know….however i do hope that the old fashioned and by now need a breath of fresh air a, b, c, photojournalism is on its way out out out and that the evolution of even “straight” documentary photography will be of a more subjective authored nature….the basic integrity of journalism, at least as it is supposed to be, is a good thing…but the freedom of artistic flight takes us into new worlds…and most exciting i think will be the upcoming artists who also choose to take on issues and blend their personalities and visions with an honest documentation…

    in any case, i do look forward to whatever you decide to do next….

    cheers, david

  41. Kate,

    ‘craptions’ was just a throw-in to,maybe,lighten the mood for some as it was looking like
    the thread was starting to head down the nasty path.

    Your captions actually reminded me of the style that Andrew Wyeth used for many of his works.

  42. Hi David!
    Perhaps “photojournalistic” is the wrong word – maybe an environment of mostly straight photography and also photography that is focused on social commentary? I definitely wouldn’t say that about Burn Magazine as a whole but among the finalists it does seem that I stick out like a sore thumb. My critics or the people whose “bag” my work is not, maybe weren’t expecting to see work like mine here. But I’m proud of that. Besides, if my work isn’t making somebody angry then I’m doing something wrong. Thank you, David, for this opportunity! It’s all very exciting!

  43. if my work isn’t making somebody angry then I’m doing something wrong

    ha ha…exactly….i would never wanna be Ansel Adams..or bob hope…scary ;)

  44. Kate!

    I glimpsed your work sandwiched in and among the grainy, the gritty, the grimy, the loooongdrawnout melodramas of the combined work of the finalists. And they were all good. No doubt about it. But that little glimpse of your essay was like someone threw open the Burn window and let in some air..a crisp but silky ocean-bearing bite of fresh artistic ideas..nipped my imagination, thrilled me that little peek did. So i’ve been waiting for the full Monty and here it is.

    Your fun-house rooms are, well fun..they’re also mind bending, delectable alice-in-wonderland playgrounds of impossible angles and proportions, shift shaping reality defying idea-fying netherlands..mmm..or neitherland perhaps. Your sense of aesthetics is very artistic, sculptural, 3D, ephemeral expression of the permanent as paper-doll. Hate to say i have a fave but #10 is so scrupulously clean that i want it hanging on my own wall of disordered dissatisfied chaos.

    Only thing..sorry, maybe it’s not my night for captions because that was my primary nit-pick in “When the Spirit Moves”..but your captions are distracting and superfluous..far from poetic, they seem snide to me, inferring that we won’t get it, can’t get it and even if we did, what would we get? My advice? lose ’em.

    Congrats..nice, and well worth the wait to see the whole thing. Good luck with your career!


  45. KATE…

    i would not say your work “sticks out like a sore thumb”…how about simply “unique”? however, i think when you see the full play of some of the other finalists coming up, you might just change your mind…

    in any case, as you say, gotta make somebody upset or there is no “edge” and , yes, it is all very exciting…

    cheers, david

  46. Brilliant work.

    Why a series of photographs which play around with the supposed reality of the photograph is not seen as being relevant to a forum of people who try and document ‘fact’ is quite beyond me. Ironies abound.

    Really inspiring stuff Kate; obviously you know this!

    All the best for the future,


  47. Pingback: dealing with place – some more examples | Photography at Northglenn High School

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