American caricaturist Al Hirschfeld photographed in 1990, by Yousuf Karsh
© Yousuf Karsh
On May 23rd, 2014, news came of in a series of murders committed by a young man in Isla Vista, California, near the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara. Gun violence is a daily occurrence in the United States, but something about this incident tipped Joe Quint
over the edge: he launched "It Takes Us
"I happened to glance at that week's issue of People. The cover story was about some Kardashian wedding and there was a little blurb in the upper right corner about the shooting... with a subhead saying 'How could this happen - again?' Now, setting aside the disproportionality in importance of these two stories, I was struck by both the naivety and borderline irresponsibility of that subhead. 'How could it NOT happen again?' was my immediate reaction - why should we be surprised when - despite some small gains made in recent years by the gun violence prevention movement, there had yet to be anything remotely resembling a collective shift in our consciousness on the subject?
"I became increasingly frustrated by inaction - my own, and the inaction of my country. I could no longer simply pay lip service to the importance of reducing the over 32,000 senseless and preventable deaths that take place every year. I want to show how the crisis extends far beyond the typical media narrative of urban violence to include domestic abuse, suicide, children being injured or killed by unsecured guns in their homes, and so many more tragic cases." Joe Quint
came strongly recommended by none other than photography expert, author and educator Katrin Eismann
, who is program chair of MPS Digital Photography at New York's School of Visual Arts. When Katrin calls, you listen.
Between them, Lissa Rivera with her partner and muse, "blur the borders of masculinity and femininity... the photographs tap into deep-seated narratives about gender, desire, freedom and taboo."
For me, this lovely series is beguiling. Embracing genderqueerness, using fantasy to explore identity.
"Posed within the relationship of subject to photographer, and the public relationship of the photograph to its viewer, the camera transposes the private realm into public space, converting a private moment into public performance. The fantasy of dressing up transforms the experience of being photographed into one that fuses identity-creation with image-creation. By blurring the borders of masculinity and femininity the photographs tap into deep-seated narratives about gender, desire, freedom and cultural taboo." Lissa Rivera.
The Long Term Survivor Project exhibition opened at San Francisco Camerawork
on June 4th, in celebration of annual Pride month and in honor of National HIV / AIDS Long Term Survivor Day, which was June 5th.
SF Camerawork brings together works by Hunter Reynolds, Grahame Perry and portraits from our pal Frank Yamrus' series, A Sense of a Beginning, to address the experiences of HIV survivorship.
Go see if you are SF-based!
"Frank Yamrus' "A Sense of a Beginning" is a series of solemn and stately portraits of long-term HIV survivors. Through this series Yamrus tells the story of survivorship as manifested not only in the lines and physical attributes of his subjects' faces, which bear subtle testimony to the effects of HIV medications, but also as a factual declaration of presence. Each person depicted in the series is alive today thanks to a complex regimen of medication and years of struggle and determination. Long-term survivorship is a story of countless physician appointments, blood draws, continually shifting drug regimes and constant monitoring of T-cells and viral loads, in the midst of untold grief watching friends and loved ones die. Through the peak years of the struggle against AIDS may have faded into recent memory, survivors live on, bearing the impact of AIDS in their everyday lives."
"By 1991... we were on the front lines of war. We volunteered at various AIDS organizations, joined support groups, and attended fundraisers and many funerals. I became a Shanti Project buddy, helping and witnessing young men die, and worked at the Mt. Zion HIV Clinical Research Center with young men who sacrificed their bodies to help find a cure. As I recall our first decade in San Francisco, I cannot remember much that did not gravitate around AIDS. The words and acronyms that were so foreign to me not long before became embedded in my vernacular. Around this time, my photography transitioned to work about loss as it became the language I knew best. Like others, I analogized the pandemic to war and the early images I made romanticized death as a coping mechanism to deal with overwhelming grief....
"After countless physician appointments, blood draws, continually shifting drug regimes and constant monitoring of T-cells and viral loads, after untold days protesting and untold nights watching friends die, these courageous men and women allow us to examine the aftermath. Gone is the romanticized idea of battle and loss. In its place: the stark reality of years of struggle and fight. This series does not attempt to capture the tenor of those times or the great strides that have been made since. It simply documents survivorship - the physical, psychological and emotional turmoil AIDS has caused over the last 30-plus years." Frank Yamrus.
Imagine my surprise when, upon arriving at Thierry Goldberg Gallery in NYC's lower east side to meet my fellow judge for the Parson's BFA graduate show, it turns out to be Vince Aletti, photography critic for the New Yorker Magazine. After I got over my intimidation, I was thrilled and humbled to chat with Mr. Aletti about the more than 60 graduating artists' work, and even more thrilled when we were in agreement about much of the work on show.
We nominated our winners and each selected a Juror's Choice - mine is A. Retina Stewart
. (Her fabulous real name!)
A. Retina Stewart is Houston-born, now living and working in New York. Her short documentary is a classic; it explores the lives of underground hip hop musicians, their goals and personal endeavors. Stewart highlights the young men's struggles against the pressure to be hyper-masculine and portray a young-black-male stereotype.
"Selling drugs is NOT part of our culture. That's the situation we were put in. If we could have went to Yale, we would have. People move drugs into our streets. We are survivors. We didn't get the same opportunities... we made it work."
Genesis Iver, 2014
Carpe D, 2014
Frank McFly, 2014
Jevon Doe, 2014
"Male African-American hip hop musicians are notoriously perceived to uphold hypermasculine standards; which creates a commercialized persona. Through an intimate interview in each artist's bedroom, Stewart explores them on a more dimensional and nuanced level, delving into their ambitions, insecurities, and fears." A. Retina Stewart
Frank McFly, 2015
In a piece on Afropunk
, Stewart proudly, rightfully states "I have mastered the art of finding gold within people, and that's a jewel that school can't teach."
Follow Stewart on Instagram: _arstewart
"Vertumnus" © Klaus Enrique
's own exuberance is evident in this series of photographs in which he pays homage to the Italian portraitist Arcimboldo
in spectacular style. Referencing both the 16th century master's own works as well as updating his subjects to reflect cultural and political concerns, Klaus' images are highly detailed, impassioned, and splendidly executed.
Klaus grew up in Mexico City. He studied genetics at the University of Nottingham, UK, and received an MBA from Columbia Business School, US. Most of his working career was spent as a freelance IT consultant before he turned to sculpture and photography, which he studied at Parsons and at the School of Visual Arts, in New York. We met at the outstanding Photolucida
Portfolio Reviews in April, 2015. Klaus had the foresight to email me beforehand, and included one of his images, saying he was looking forward to meeting me. Simple things like this make me happy, especially when the work is this compelling!
Bonus Gandhi! © Klaus Enrique
aCurator and Klaus Enrique under a triple rainbow. April, 2015, Portland, Oregon. Thank you Photolucida!
I can help you get the best out of your photographs, improve and develop your work and how you present yourself.
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Interview from the 2010 launch of aCurator Magazine
Selected judging, reviewing, curation
Curated their annual exhibition, and portfolio reviews
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was purveying her photographic wares at the portfolio walk during PhotoLucida last month. I stopped in my tracks to explore her wild-looking prints and enjoyed a really fun few minutes chatting with Jan and her husband and son. Wonderful people. I had never heard of this chromoskedasic alternative process before - the prints were gorgeous. Here's the deal for any other ignorami:
"In this body of work I am using chromoskedasic painting to produce unique gelatin silver prints. The photographs are manipulated with chemistry during the black and white development process. This creates a range of subtle colors as well as a silvering out of the photographic paper. The process can be unpredictable and difficult to control as you canʼt see the effects of the chemistry until after the marks develop. It does not allow for the same kind of detail as traditional painting."
"Manipulating photographs allows me to work with several elements that are interesting to me, making marks on paper, altering a photographic image and integrating another medium into the surface of the print. Visually, I am interested in pushing the boundary between where the photographic image begins and ends."
India-based Rohit Saha
sent in these photographs taken after the recent, massive earthquake in Nepal along with his own stirring poem.
I can't explain how it feels.
It's dark here.
I had no idea what an earthquake does to a place.
Thousands of bodies are being burnt, the sky is filled with smoke.The air smells of death, of an unimaginable devastation that has come upon Nepal.
Bhaktapur, the ancient Durbar square, one of the Unesco world heritage sites have been completely devastated.The smell of the place, the coldness with little mountains of rubbles. A broken comb, a pack of cards and a phone just popped out from the rubble.
Just overheard from the brave rescue teams that a four month baby was found alive after 4 days. Hope.
I am staying beside the crematorium ground, near the Pashupati temple. Mass cremations are grim, any death is.
Millions of people have been left homeless, stranded without a roof. Relief camps have sheltered thousands of people, trying to live through the tough times, together. They have nothing but their family and many don't even have that.That fear is still there,but still they manage to laugh.
Sankhu, a small village uphill from Kathmandu is lost. Most of the houses in this picturesque hamlet are gone.
Family photographs on the wall and cupboards. Empty sofas and tarpaulin walls of relief camps. Sniffer dogs and international rescue teams try to bring out the dead from under the rubbles. They found a woman, dead in her courtyard, buried under her own house. I saw her face before they covered it, and wrapped her in a white plastic sheet. I could see her face. I won't ever forget.
Nepal is holding herself strong and beautiful.
Life is the most precious thing.
If you don't stay then nothing stays. What remains? - Rohit Saha, May 2015