March 2008 Archives
March 30, 2008
This month we have sadly lost two remarkable photojournalists who each had dedicated his life to crying out against human injustice and senseless war.
Philip Jones Griffith's books, Vietnam Inc. and Agent Orange, exposed the tragedies of the Vietnam War, and acted as catalysts to heighten public opposition to the war and awareness of the far-reaching suffering inflicted on the Vietnamese people through the use of the chemical Agent Orange. His career was long, and always focused on speaking out against what he believed to be wrong. He died on March 19, 2008, at the age of 72.Photo by PhilipJones Griffith
Henri Cartier-Bresson, a fellow Magnum photographer said:
"Not since Goya has anyone portrayed war like Philip Jones Griffith."
There are two excellent short videos about him and his work which you can view online:A 1974 photo of shells being fired at a village northwest of Phnom Penh. Photo: Dith Pran/The New York Times
Dith Pran, a Cambodian photojournalist who had teamed up with New York Times correspondent Sydney H. Schanberg in the 1970s to record some of the most heart-wrenching photos from Cambodia, was later captured and tortured by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979. After those nightmarish years, he escaped, and was re-united with his family in New York, where he continued to work as a photojournalist and to speak out for human rights. His story was made into an award-winning movie, "The Killing Fields", in 1984. He died on Sunday March 30 at age 65.
A video interview made by the New York Times just weeks before his death can be seen online.
March 29, 2008
The world's most comprehensive collection and overview of photography from China is currently on display in a mammoth city-wide exhibition in Houston, Texas, as part of FotoFest 2008. This is a tremendously ambitious and successful presentation of the important roles that photography has played in the dramatic flux that has defined and re-defined China over the past 74 years.
Lens Culture is thrilled to be able to present 60 photographs from China that span the years 1934-2008, thanks to the generosity of the chief curators of this exhibition, Wendy Watriss and Fred Baldwin.
Over the next several weeks, Lens Culture will continue to explore the discoveries from Photography in China: 1934-2008. So be sure to check back for more in-depth looks at the work of individual photographers who have made an impact (and continue to do so) in the history of photography in China.
March 28, 2008
In a press conference that opened the exhibition, Patti Smith faced an eager crush of international media. When asked about her photography, she replied in a straightforward but humble way: "I am not a photographer..." She then continued to explain that photography, specifically the instant and simple gratification of Polaroids, helped her find a new form of creative expression when she was overwhelmed with grief at the untimely loss of her husband, her brother, and some friends. “The immediacy of the process was a relief from the long involved process of drawing, recording, or writing a poem,” she said.
Many of Smith’s photographs embody significant personal meaning: a handmade tambourine that was a gift from her lover Robert Mapplethorpe, Virginia Woolf’s bed, Hermann Hesse’s typewriter... Others serve as a visual record of her well-traveled life as a rock 'n roll performer.Her photographs (which she refers to as "...relics of my life, souvenirs of my wandering...") become much more captivating when accompanied by her handwritten captions. For example, about this photograph, she writes:
me this tambourine, which he
fashioned himself, on December 30, 1968.
It was my twenty-first birthday.
Robert stretched the goatskin after
tattooing my sign (Capricorn – the goat)
upon its surface. He added the
silk ribbons to give it a gypsy
feel. He used to say he
was my gypsy and I
his sheperd girl.
To see more photos by Patti Smith, and to learn more about the exhibition, go to this review in Lens Culture, where you can also listen to a 2 minute audio excerpt of her press conference.
March 12, 2008
This magazine is currently on the racks at news stands all over Paris, and the cover image has become one of those giant back-lit advertisements that blare from the outsides of kiosks on the streets, and ads at bus stops, and posters lining the hallways of the metro stations.
To me, it is the lowest form of pandering to prejudice. To me, it implies: "What do we get after Bush? Do you want an inexperienced cute young black kid running the US?" Of course, they never have to say this explicitily in words. Photographs and headlines can do volumes of damage all on their own. However, except for one tiny quote by Obama buried at the bottom of an inside page, the article presents policy sound bites by Clinton and McCain only, as if they are the only candidates worth listening to. Obama is dissed and dismissed with a visual racial slur.
March 11, 2008
New York photographer Bill Sullivan has created an interesting series of 48 anonymous urban portraits, all taken as people (strangers) approach the camera through a subway turnstile. So, the framing is consistent throughout the series, and we're able to soak up the details of people lost in their own thoughts while in transit.
Sullivan explains, "For the Subway Turnstile Pictures (More Turns), I developed a situation so that various subjects could be defined by the constraints of exactly the same mechanical apparatus. At the moment that the subjects passed through the turnstile, unknown to them, I took their picture stationed at a distance of eleven feet. I stood there turning pages of a magazine observing subjects out of the corner of my eye, waiting for only the moment when they pushed the turnstile bar to release the shutter."
The results remind me of how often we are photographed daily in such situations by surveillance equipment. What I find especially interesting in these photos is the often hostile look of recognition that occurs when the commuters notice the camera and photographer. Those who don't notice look completely lost in their own thoughts.
This work is actually part of a trilogy, called 3Situations. The other 2 series involve people sitting for another artist’s portrait, or being in an elevator as the doors open and close. Sullivan claims that through his consistent framing, we are able to see "how the grammar of portraiture is found in the world around us."
The way he has built his web site is cool, too, as it shows all of the portraits smack up against each other, side by side. Thus, it constructs a super-wide bank of subway turnstiles all occupied simultaneously by exiting commuters. It almost looks like the starting gate for a horse race.
March 4, 2008
On March 11, a popular non-profit photography/arts center in Paris, CONFLUENCES, will present an exceptional evening of photography and music developed around the theme of Imprisonment. Each photographic work will be accompanied by a music and sound performance, be it a live mini-concert, a multimedia projection, or live slideshow mixing.
Seven photographers offer us their interpretations of imprisonment, including:
- There is Nothing Like Home: Daily life of Liberian and Ivory Coast refugees in camps of the Guinea Forest
- L’Age en Peine: Aging in Prison
- Normality: Hospitalized psychiatric patients of Nome Zamby in the Czech Republic
- Cellules: Prison Cells of Brest
- Les Condominos: the equivalent of gated American communities in Rio de Janeiro
- Les Prisons de Guatemala: Prisons of Guatemala
- Welcome on Board: Sailors abandoned by their shipowners
190 bd de Charonne
Paris – 20eme
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
March 3, 2008
Photographer Martin Kollar and filmmaker Peter Kerekes have been documenting Army Cooks from all over Eastern Europe and beyond, as part of an ongoing project that started in 1991. In his brilliant introduction to the project, Kerekes begins: "They are ordinary men in aprons worn over their uniforms, whose task is to feed the army. They take care of the operation of a giant stomach, a big hungry child with its moods – the Army."
The stories of these exceptionally-inventive cooks are often disgusting and humorous, horrifying and unforgettable. Please check out the full text and the series of photos in this feature in Lens Culture.
Here are just two examples:
TASTING, from Army Cooks, Sarajevo © Martin Kollar
Velia Katica - chief veterinary of Sarajevo under the siege:
"In order to survive we had to mix whatever we had, good and bad, into one mass of food. Five tons of meat that has just started to go off can be safely mixed with 10 tons of fresh meat. That way, we were able to provide enough protein supply for the people there without poisoning them. The harmful bacteria got spread equally between everyone."
ZORAN AND ZLATKO / SERBIAN ARMY, from Army Cooks, Beograd © Martin Kollar
During the day, they are cooks for the Serbian and Montenegran army, in the evenings they cater for special occasions.
1 pretty woman, 48-60kg
3 heads of cabbage
0.5 kg thinly sliced "pršut" / Prosciutto or similar ham
0.7 kg thinly sliced Prague style ham
0.3 kg salami
0.4 kg smoked turkey breast
0.5 kg thinly sliced Edam cheese
0.7 kg grated cheese "kaškaval"
1 kg chopped tomatoes
1 kg of lemons cut into slices
0.2 kg of green or black olives
2 tortoise shells
0.3 kg of radishes
0.4 kg of cucumbers
0.3 kg of cooked snails with snail shells
Fruit and vegetables to garnish.