Mike Mandel grew up in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles during a period of expansion and transformation of the landscape that included the appearance of billboards, strip malls, and miles of freeways. This experience informs much of his work which questions the meaning of photographic imagery within popular culture and draws from snapshots, advertising, news photographs, and public and corporate archives. Much of this work resulted in self-published artist's books including Myself: Timed Exposures, 1971, Seven Never Before Published Portraits of Edward Weston, 1974, The Baseball-Photographer Trading Cards, 1975, and Making Good Time, 1989. In 1977, Mandel and Larry Sultan collaborated on the seminal photographic book Evidence, a book comprised of file photographs from engineering, corporate and government agencies. Over a period of twenty-five years, Mandel and Sultan designed both temporary (billboards) and permanent (tile mosaic) artworks specifically for public sites. Their collaboration has been documented in a recent monograph Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel (2012). Since the early '90s Mandel's work has worked extensively on public art projects transforming photographic imagery into large scale glass and ceramic tile mosaic murals. He has been awarded several NEA grants and a Fullbright Fellowship. A publication of Mandel’s 1970s conceptual projects Good 70s will be released this fall by J & L Books and D.A.P.
Mandel's most recent projects have been in collaboration with his wife, Chantal Zakari. Their book, The State of Ata, (2010) speaks to the clash between Islam and secularism in Turkey. Their book They Came to Baghdad, (2012) is a response to the Iraq War, and Lockdown Archive (2015) is a record of all the images uploaded to the web that relate to the military occupation of Watertown after the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013.
Image: from Lockdown Archive, 2015.