Polish photographer Kamil Sleszynski graced me with this story about a center for addiction therapy last year. "The Catholic Centre for Education and Addiction Therapy Metanoia exists since 2000. The facility helps young people addicted to drugs and alcohol.
"Located in the Knyszynska Forest in Poland, it occupies the former administration building Agroma - plants which in the past produced agricultural machinery, home appliances, and probably also weapons. Unfortunately the resort is in poor condition. If by the end of the year does not collect money for repairs, will be closed."
Since then, Kamil reports that money was raised and the center has been saved. Kamil worked hard promoting this story - perhaps it helped.
Three years ago Jamie Johnson took a trip to Ireland to photograph a community of travellers. "It is not an easy community to penetrate, they have faced such discrimination and racism they are very skeptical of outsiders. It was an amazing journey and I made connections with so many kind and generous families. They allowed me to photograph their lives and cultures. The children followed me around and took turning using my cameras. I learned their traditions of being sharply dressed young boys and overly dressed young girls yet still very catholic, their goals of falling in love, getting married young and producing many children. and a strong sense of taking care of each other and family values and always respecting God."
She returned to photograph them in Limerick in 2015/2016, and I am thrilled that she submitted these photos along with her story (it's four years since we met at a portfolio review... It's important to stay in touch!) You can see there was an intimacy in these dynamics that makes all the difference in the resulting photographs.
"Travellers are an indigenous minority who, have been part of Irish society for centuries. Travellers long shared history, cultural values, language, customs and traditions make them a self-defined group, and one which is recognizable and distinct. Their culture and way of life, of which nomadism is an important factor, distinguishes them from the sedentary (settled) population. The Irish Travelers are a nomadic population, living on the fringes of society. Often uneducated, this Catholic community is required to marry within their clan. There are an estimated 25,000 Travellers in Ireland, making up more than 4,485 Traveller families. This constitutes approximately 0.5% of the total national population. It is estimated that an additional 15,000 Irish Travellers live in Britain, with a further 10,000 Travellers of Irish descent living in the United States of America. Travellers, as individuals and as a group, experience a high level of prejudice and exclusion in Irish society."
"I returned to Ireland last year and I felt a deeper connection with the wonderful people I met. They brought me up to date with family gossip and life events and welcomed me into their extended families where I spent time with Travellers of all ages. A group of family matriarchs invited me in each day, gave me a beer and told me all the stories since I had last visited. Who got engaged, married, who got arrested, who lost their caravan, who got a bigger caravan, a really genuine group of women happy to have a new American friend. They told me how sorry they felt for me that I only had two children, and my goals should be to have many. They were as interested in my strange Los Angeles life as I was of theirs. I was struck by the timeless quality of their faces and the deep connection to family. As when I photograph anywhere, it is always the children who draw me in.
"I love listening to their stories and thoughts on life. Growing up in this nomadic life style is all they know and they are quite proud people. The prejudice is hard to believe until you see it with your own eyes. An 11 year old friend wanted to look at new clothes and asked me to come with her to the shop on the high street as they most likely would not let her in. We went in together and looked at cute trendy clothes and the lady followed us around the store so closely I could feel her breath on my neck. I watch the police harass many of my young friends for just walking around. I heard well-dressed Irish women call them "trash" loudly as they walked by. These kids are sweet but tough as this is the only lifestyle they know. This warm generous family orientated community seeks good lives for their children, great hopes for their community and works to carry on their family culture and traditions through many generations by telling all the wonderful stories of their grandparents and great grandparents travels. They seek equality and hope to rid for the next generation the extreme prejudice that has faced theirs."
Truls Nord is an artist I had the extremely great pleasure of meeting in Norway last year. Since then, in amongst the other creative things swirling around in his head, he's only gone and completed this fantastic project!
Gerhard Richter is now a staple in artistic history, which is a strange notion given he's still hugely prolific in his making and production. In no short order he is significant in many places, to many people, to all kinds of making and mediums. I must declare my own admiration, especially now that I've seen Richter's 40 Tage. A collection of 40 graphite drawings that miraculously sketch a design of his abstract works that I would never thought possible to blueprint. The finesse of Richter's mark making is truly perplexing. The gesture is not nearly as random as it is wonderfully understood. Coercing possibilities of materials is a knowable craft and seeing the results of Richter's practician is subtle and monumental.
An exhibition in conjunction with the release of this limited edition book is on now through April 9, 2017, at HENI, First Floor, 6-10 Lexington Street, London, W1.
Young Loreal Prystaj was one of the most enthusiastic students I met on a visit to a photography class in 2012. Fast forward to 2016, she thankfully kept in touch and I was thrilled to see this series she made during a month-long artists' residence in Finland last summer. She inserted herself into the beautiful landscape to reflect upon nature. Simply gorgeous.
"Often times, mirrors are used to emphasize the minute details, but rarely used to look at the big picture. What if nature looked at itself? What would it see? What would we be?"
Powerful images from a photo newbie. Leif Sandberg uses photography to examine life after a cancer scare.
"The Ending project is my first major photo project, with its roots in panic, anxiety and the fear of growing old. After surgery for possible pancreas cancer in 2007, followed by a year's convalescence, I was faced with the inevitable question of what to do with the rest of my life. A second chance. An interest in art and photography has followed me since my teens, although that was not my choice in life. Until now."
The photographs have been collected into a book, Ending, out now from Boecker Books, Stockholm. Check it out on Leif's website.
I am pleased and honored to share Scott Houston's insight into the overwhelming subject of the racist mass incarceration of Americans, Incarceration Inc.: Today's American Slavery. The project features male and female inmates of Estrella Jail in Phoenix, Arizona, shown inside the jail, and outside performing their chain gang duties, and is accompanied by Scott's impassioned writing.
"The United States now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world by far, with 2.2 million citizens in prisons or jail. This phenomenon has generally been driven by changes in laws, policing, and sentencing, not by changes in behavior. The results have disproportionately impacted poor and disenfranchised communities mostly people of color, and African American men. These historic changes remain nearly invisible to many Americans.
"American slavery was technically abolished in 1865, but a loophole in the 13th Amendment has allowed it to continue as "punishment for crimes" well into the 21st century. Corporations have lobbied for a broader definition of "crime" in the last 150 years. As a result, there are more dark-skinned people performing mandatory, essentially unpaid, hard labor in America today than there were in 1830. The vast majority of prisoners have been locked up for non-violent, victimless crimes, many of them drug related. With such a large population incarcerated it comes as no surprise that big business began tapping into this potentially cost-free workforce.
"Incarceration is the new American slavery. This slavery is supported by laws and corporate interests."
"McDonalds, the world's most successful fast food franchise, purchases a plethora of goods manufactured in prisons, including plastic cutlery, containers, and uniforms. The inmates who sew McDonalds uniforms make even less money by the hour than the people who wear them. Wal-Mart's company policy clearly states that "forced or prison labor will not be tolerated by Wal-Mart" when basically every item in their store has been supplied by third party prison labor factories. Wal-Mart purchases its produce from prison farms, where laborers are often subjected to long hours in the blazing heat without adequate food or water. Other corporate businesses that profit from exploiting free prison labor are: Bank of America, K-Mart, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, Microsoft, Pfizer, Pepsi, Shell, Starbucks, UPS, Verizon, Wendy's, and many, many more.
"Incarceration Inc. Today's American Slavery" is a multi-media project that addresses mass incarceration in the United States. American prisons today are functioning as commercial enterprises, backed by corporations. The U.S. justice system is riddled with racial oppression. Private business are taking advantage of vulnerable, powerless, and disenfranchised prisoners who are mostly people of color, and African American men. The invisible exploitation of cost-free inmate labor is growing."
Troy Colby shared this intimate project during the PhotoNOLA portfolio reviews in December of last year. Troy brought so much emotion to our meeting both through the photographs of his little boy, and through our conversation. Struggling to make sense for himself and his kid, he's been making these loving but painful portraits; he worries his kid is not keen on his dad making photos while he is suffering, but I hope that sharing them might help other families dealing with migraine.
This will pass, I promise you.
"The nights are long and our days are short. Sometimes the moments slip past us. Other times they move so slow that you are unable to hold still. Your determination keeps you going until your body is tired and hurting. This frustration of having to stop is tough and I know that it puts a pressure on you that we are unable to see. Same for your migraines, I know that it is frustrating. No child of your age should have this pain or feel this way but yet you keep on. You have always felt the need to always keep moving and busy. I am sorry you have picked up this trait from me, if I could change it I would. I am still learning to deal with and handle your mood swings from total excitement to the sudden changes of fear, anger and sadness."
"For me as your dad, I wonder many times where and what did I do wrong? I know this is not necessarily the case. It leaves me searching and wanting to understand. I picked up my camera really not knowing where it would lead. I know you do not want your image taken and for that I am sorry. I have found in using my camera in capturing these moments, I am able to approach this with a new level of understanding and peace. It allows me to be in a state where I can be a better dad for you during this time. I hope that all of this will pass as time goes on for you."
"Daniel Cooney Fine Art is pleased to announce our first solo exhibition of photographs by renowned photographer Anthony Friedkin titled The Gay Essay. The exhibition consists of approximately 50 vintage black and white photographs documenting gay communities in Los Angeles and San Francisco between the tumultuous years of 1969 and 1973."
Michelle Dancing, Hollywood, 1972
Here we are again, friends, fighting for our rights, 40+ years later.
"We hope that this exhibition will serve as a reminder of the distance already traveled and as a source of strength to those facing similar challenges today. In conjunction with this show we will host a series of lectures and discussions on making meaningful artwork in a hostile society."
Still to come in the series:
Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 3 pm, "Articulating the Opposition" Panel discussion
Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 at 7 pm, Artist's talk with Elle Perez.
The Gay Essay was first exhibited in its entirety at the de Young Museum in San Francisco and published as a book by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Yale University Press in 2014. Anthony Friedkin's work is in the permanent collections of the J. Paul Getty Musuem, the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.