Reviews

My conscious goal as a photographer, overriding concerns of image clarity and density, was always to try to capture the intimacy and spontaneity of everyday working-class sociability, and I was deeply influence by the “snapshot aesthetic”of my subjects’ own approach to photography, and in particular by the work of documentary photographer Dick Blau.

Aaron A. Fox—Associate Professor of Music, Director of the Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University

Dick Blau’s photos are not just a set of pictures, but more or less a living, organic part of the plastic picture of the Romani life and music in Greek Macedonia. It is thanks to these photographs that we can get a better feeling for as unique world that can never be presented by words only. Some of the illustrations are reproductions of photos from private collections of some of the musicians—the guides of the authors in the amazing atmosphere of Iraklia. According to Blau these do not just bear a personal meaning but are also a documentation of the achievements of a society—that of the Roma of Jumaya (Iraklia). The past of the mahala—family pictures, weddings, working days in the field, vacations and mostly of playing and dancing—is included in the picture of Romani Iraklia, seen through the photographic eye of Dick Blau. As a true anthropologist, Dick Blau is not interested only in making a pictorial documentation of portraits of the instrument and the player in action of performance. In his photos we can feel the spirit of Iraklia, captured in the images of the marketplace, the yards and houses and musicians, the fields and road.

Romani Studies review of Bright Balkan Morning

Polka Happiness is an inspiring account, with strikingly eloquent photographs. it is based on material collected over twenty years of visiting dances, fan club meetings, national and regional conventions, interviewing musicians, promoters, disc jockeys, fans, and generally gathering information on’ Polonias’, the Polish areas of big cities. This is research con amore.

The book’s appeal extends beyond the academic; polka people will also read this with pleasure. It is printed in the Visual Studies Series, and with its brilliant photographs, it could almost stand as an art photography book.

Popular Music

The doting amateur makes no claim to high art, but it is precisely the same concerns about privacy, artifice, and the potential for unintended provocation that inform reactions to those who work creatively inside the domestic sphere, then make that work public. Since the 70s, artists like Nan Goldin, Dick Blau and Robert Mapplethorpe have used photography to challenge our cultural ambivalence towards images of children. Their project has been to overthrow the 18th-century Romantic idealisation of childhood in art, which fetishised children for what they were not: not sexual, not knowing, not polluted by adult experience, and, in so doing, to challenge the viewers’ interior sense of what childhood ought to look like.

Libby Brooks, The Guardian