Portraits of women from Rio’s favelas stare out from the hillsides

French photographer JR is traveling the globe as part of his ongoing photo-mural series of site-specific installations about women. The project is aptly titled Women are Heroes.
Right now JR is in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil where the context of favelas has encouraged him to meet women for whom crime, violent loss of loved ones and arbitrary repression are part of everyday life.
Favela da Providencia was chosen to host the project for its strong historical relevance – it was the first favela of Rio de Janeiro and carries the title of the most dangerous one of all. It also has a recent history of murders of innocent people in the war between a local corrupted army and drug dealers.

This art project is completely independent and not sponsored by any institution or brand.
The technique used is simple – the portraits become oversized prints which are pasted on the architecture with the help of the community. The photographer Mauricio Hora, born and raised in Providencia, has been responsible for the realization of the project locally together with Rosiete Marinho, another local leader.

Portraits of the women, coming from different origins and generations, unite hill and asphalt to give a face to the favela. More photos appear nearly every day on JR’s website.

You can see earlier work by JR, and hear him speak in an interview with Jim Casper, at Lens Culture.

3 Winners of Lens Culture – Rhubarb 2008 Photo Book Awards

Competition was tough for our first Lens Culture – Rhubarb Photo Book Awards. More than 40 finalists were proposed by the reviewers over the course of the 3 day portfolio review sessions. (There was a lot of good work being shown at Rhubarb-Rhubarb this year!) Ultimately three photographers rose to the top with lots of kudos from lots of reviewers.
This year’s winners are:
Kurt Tong, China/UK
Mimi Youn, Korea/UK
Nigel Dickenson, France
Lens Culture will present a portfolio from each photographer very soon, and then when they have designed and published their new photo books at Blurb.com, we will have reviews of those, here, as well.
Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to everyone who participated this year — photographers, reviewers, and the helpful staff at Rhubarb-Rhubarb!

Words Without Pictures

There’s a heady discussion about photography going on over at wordswithoutpictures.org. If you need something serious to read on your summer vacation, this could be the place to go.
From the intro to the project website:

WORDS WITHOUT PICTURES is purposefully multi-voiced and multi-layered. It includes essays, discussion forums, debates, one-to-one conversations, and questionnaires. Words Without Pictures is using this range of formats to gauge a broad range of opinions about photography before they become received wisdom.

The current essay under discussion is titled: “A Picture You Already Know” by Sze Tsung Leong. It explores (among other things) the idea of repetition in photography.
A companion site pictureswithoutwords.org attempts (with varying success) to riff on the same essay ideas without using any text at all.
Thanks to Tim Lewis for the link.

Photography as Weapon, the latest fake


Repeating patterns in the smoke. (Charles Johnson, littlegreenfootballs.com)

There’s a great article by Errol Morris in the New York Times about the power of photography to deceive even the mainstream media. It includes lots of examples from recent times, and interviews with a couple experts in visual propaganda.
One quote that I like a lot is this, by the author:
“If you want to trick someone with a photograph, there are lots of easy ways to do it. You don’t need Photoshop. You don’t need sophisticated digital photo-manipulation. You don’t need a computer. All you need to do is change the caption.”
Good reading.

7 months of daily photos: Barack Obama

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/1482360 w=400&h=302]
7 months – Daily Barack Obama Photos – Presidial.org from Jeremy Tubbs on Vimeo.
Public figures are always being photographed. Here is a clever compilation of photos taken of Barack Obama so far during his campaign for president. Similar treatments of Bush and McCain are here, too, for comparison. The consistency of how each of these guys looks day after day for months (or in the case of Bush, for years) is somehow … disquieting, no?
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/1120002 w=400&h=302]
28 months – Daily George W Bush Photos
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/1482487 w=400&h=302]
7 months – Daily John McCain Photos – Presidial.org from Jeremy Tubbs on Vimeo.

3,000 sleek, cool, sexy status symbols — plastic water bottles


There are over 3,000 brands of bottled water worldwide, 180 in the United States. In 2006, the global bottled water industry reached $50 billion.
In a thought-provoking photo-essay in Lens Culture, Frank Yamrus shows us 25 “luxury” plastic bottle designs, and provides an amazing compilation of facts about our modern-day obsession with these cool, convenient, sexy status symbols.
Stripped of their brand labels, these plastic bottles look like crystal sculptures, show-off trophies, or expensive gems in a jewel case. Their designs mimic the sleek contours of luxury cars, elegant flower vases, lava lamps, and Oscar awards. Several of the bottles evoke the semiotic power of a phallic symbol or a streamlined missile. The way Yamrus photographs each bottle under studio lights on a velvety black background makes them look like fetish objects manufactured as bling by engineers of desire. Taken out of their typical contexts of convenience store shelves or restaurant table tops, the intention of consumer design shines through with glittering clarity.