Anindya Chakraborty sent in his series of photographs on Dhokra, an ancient metal casting process taking place in West Bengal. Here is the story in his words.
"The village of Deriapur in West Bengal is not very much known to outsiders. Although Indians are familiar with metal casting for more than five thousands years and Dokra is one of the ancient metal casting process still existing within Santhals, there are less people to take notice of it."
"The people of Deriapur have a unique history. They belonged to Malhar tribe which was nomadic in nature. Finally they settled in two places in West Bengal, India. One of those two places is Deriapur where around 50 families are putting up. Their art of creating metal structures is beautiful but silent. It does
not ring bell in Governments officials who are busy in much more
important matters and they closed their office which used to lend out
money to the artisans sometime back. Media has many other important
things to cover as well so the people of Deriapur are slowly getting the
same idea and moving on."
"Some of their children go to school and drop out because of money
and elders work mostly in fields or they prefer to drink when they have
some money. Art can come later. Around 20 years back one of these people
got an award from the President for his talent and got 1 Lakh Indian
rupees (which was a good amount that time)."
"The same person now goes to field for living. They don't have much complains though and they are slowly getting into a state which we call - terribly happy!"
US-born artist Roger Ballen studied psychology and geology; he talks about peering into the earth, and we see that he also peers into humanity. Living in South Africa since the late 70s Ballen photographed exclusively in the wild until he brought his camera and flash inside in the early 80s, finding motifs in the poor rural communities that he would use in later work. He does not sketch his scenes in advance, knowing that one can't predict too much. People say his work is dark... "The reason most people say these pictures are disturbing is they can't deal with their own repression."
Ballen has a new exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery in England 'Shadow Land: Photographs by Roger Ballen 1983-2011' opening March 30th, and another at Marta Herford, Germany, opening April 22nd, 2012.
Ballen has known the band members of Die Antwoord for several years and in a befitting collaboration they recently produced this music video for 'I Fink U Freeky.'
Order your copy of 'Photographs Not Taken', a collection of short essays by photographers including Ballen's story 'The Cat Catcher.'
Also, "The Roger Ballen Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of education of photography in South Africa. RBF creates and supports programmes of the highest quality to further the understanding and appreciation of the medium. Working with artists from around the world, our program enables students and general audiences to engage with notable contemporary photographic art that would otherwise not be seen in South Africa."
At the New York Film Academy last year I presented my dog and pony show and held a review of the students' work. It was a small and intense group and I was impressed with their well-roundedness. Props to them and their tutors.
I was happy to attend the final exhibition recently and catch up with Scott Brownlee. Scott has vastly developed his project on gender, making portraits, recording a frank video interview with Mik about being intersex, and publishing 'Mixed', a book examining gender identity. Go Scott!
British photographer Mark Sherratt sent in a new series shot in January as he traveled around India. Notorious for its packed public transport, Mark's images give us a sense there's room to breathe. Just about.
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As a member of the American Photography Archives Group, in my role representing the Estate of Yousuf Karsh, I sit among some truly great archivists, including relatives of Ernst Haas, Phillipe Halsman, Inge Morath, Gordon Parks and many more. The founder of this group is the inimitable Mary Engel, daughter of photographers Ruth Orkin and Morris Engel, who also works hard representing her parents' archives.
Daughter of a silent film actress, Ruth Orkin had an early interest in film movies and was the first messenger girl at MGM Studios! "Orkin wanted to become a cinematographer; however, women were not allowed to join the union. It was not until the 1950′s when she and her husband Morris Engel made their first independent feature film "Little Fugitive." Truffaut credited the film with helping to start the French New Wave."
In Mary's words: "My mother, Ruth Orkin, had many loves. Photography and travel were two of them. When she was 17, my mother took a cross-country trip by herself, bicycling and hitchhiking from her home in Los Angeles to New York, snapping pictures along the way. She later moved to New York, where this spirit of adventure continued. She photographed Tanglewood's summer music festivals, honed her craft in nightclubs, joined the Photo League, and with her first published story in Look magazine, became "a full-fledged photojournalist." In 1951, Life sent her on assignment to Israel. From there she went to Italy, and it was in Florence that she met Jinx Allen (now known as Ninalee Craig), a painter and fellow American.
The two were talking about their shared experiences traveling alone as young single women, when my mother had an idea. "Come on," she said, "lets go out and shoot pictures of what it's really like." In the morning, while the Italian women were inside preparing lunch, Jinx gawked at statues, asked Military officials for directions, fumbled with lire and flirted in cafes while my mother photographed her. They had a lot of fun, as the photograph, "Staring at the Statue", demonstrates. My mother's best known image, "American Girl in Italy" was also created as part of this series."
aCurator is pleased to publish some of the rest of this photo shoot.
From Lady Day to Lady Gaga... The opening night of She Bop A Lula was a huge success. At Proud's Strand Gallery in central London, the exhibition includes over 60 photographs for sale at £200 of the most influential female recording artists of the past six decades, by female photographers. All proceeds go to Breakthrough Breast Cancer Charity.
Running through April 1st, please support the cause, spread the word, buy yourself a photograph of a recording artist you love!
I am honoured to publish the work of Carsten Stormer, a German writer and photographer. Carsten brings to our attention a horrendous form of violence in Cambodia: acid throwing.
"They call themselves survivors, refusing to accept the stigma of
victimhood. And somehow, they survive. You see them on sugarcane
plantations in the middle of nowhere. In the trash dumps of Phnom Penh.
In flimsy bamboo lean-tos where relatives hide their own shame and
helplessness. People call them Cambodia's living dead. They are the
forgotten victims of a war that ended a generation ago but lives on in
the souls of the country's people.
"Acid attacks deprive people
of more than their looks and sight. Families are torn apart. Husbands
leave their wives, and vice versa. Children are separated from their
parents. Jobs vanish overnight, turning professionals into beggars. Many
victims cannot get through a day without constant assistance, becoming
burdens on their families. All bear the mark of the pariah."
"There is an invisible wall dividing Cambodia. Since global companies discovered its low wages, the country is in the fast lane back to the future. But there has been no public discussion of the civil war and mass murder committed over 30 years ago by the Khmer Rouge. Hardly anyone was held accountable. It was simply assumed that time heals all wounds - somehow. The past fades to black. Only the present counts, the here and now.
"What remains is a traumatized society in which domestic disputes, unhappy love affairs, and professional rivalries are nearly always resolved through violence. Hardly a family without its members lost to the ideological battles of the Khmer Rouge - a curse that is passed on from parents to children. Battery acid is known to be most uncomplicated way of causing lifelong suffering. A dollar will buy you a quart of acid on any street corner. The perpetrators are seldom punished. Their targets become outcasts."
"There is no specific criminal law on acid attacks, and the attacks are not tallied separately from other assaults. The authorities are aware of 11 cases so far in 2011, but the unreported number could be much higher. Many victims are terrified any form of resistance might provoke another attack. Many cases disappear without a trace in the Cambodian court system." Carsten Stormer.
Unlike similar incidents in Pakistan or Bangladesh, acid attacks in Cambodia don't focus on women only. According to Wikipedia "..these type of attacks are most common in Cambodia, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other nearby countries. ...80% of victims of these acid attacks are female and almost 70% are under 18 years of age.
The photos were in the final of the Leica-Oscar-Barnack-Award as well as on the shortlist for the Henri-Nannen-Award.
Whilst working on his project on the Moko Jumbies of Trinidad, Stefan Falke met a costume designer from Mexico who introduced him to one of Mexico's foremost artists, Marta Palau, and Stefan's idea for a project photographing artists along the US-Mexican border began to develop.
"With my long-term project 'La Frontera' I want to examine the cultural and humanitarian activities on both sides of a border that keeps the United States and Mexico apart with a wall of steel already 600 miles long. The turf wars of drug cartels, arms trafficking and rampant kidnappings have turned cities like Tijuana and Juarez into some of the most dangerous places on earth. Despite the violence many artists, photographers, architects, poets, humanitarians, teachers, live and work in the shadow of the wall on both sides, and have a positive influence on this region; they are the focus of this project. Over time I plan to cover the entire length from the Atlantic to the Pacific." Stefan Falke
Stefan's first show of this work opens March 9th, 2012 at La Casa Del Tunel Art Center, Colonia Federal, Tijuana BC, México. The Center is built over an old tunnel running under the border.
Portfolio reviews are earnest affairs, I've heard them called "stuffy," so it's notable when one finishes one's 10 minutes of speed dating with tears of laughter rolling down one's cheeks which is how it was when I met Margaret McCarthy for the first time and she showed me 'Late Night Animals' - yes, photographs of animals that featured as guests on various late night talk shows. Margaret went on to have a show of the series in New York.
However, it seems as good a time as any for some photographs of protests. As an aside, I hit the streets for my first protest at age 14 under Margaret Thatcher - Meryl Streep won best actress in the Oscars last night for portraying her in a film I wouldn't see even if you promised to keep me in milk for the rest of my life.
So, my alternative title for this story is 'Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.'
"The 1980's and 1990's are often portrayed as decades of greed and apathy when social activism vanished. In fact, those times spawned vigorous and committed opposition to a rapidly escalating nuclear arms race and U.S. activities in Central America. A military draft threatened to unfairly target black and inner city youth. Frustration over the treatment of women and same sex couples reached a slow boil as the AIDS crisis hit and abortion rights were continually attacked. We realized the environment was in trouble. A sea change occurred then: the awareness of how all these issues were connected. The cost of war could no longer be separated from issues of racism and poverty; the status of women reflected our relationship to the earth. March events then tended to be multi-issued, asking people to rally around a united consciousness; they cut across lines of race, sex, gender preference, economic status and age.
Color slide film, with its saturated hues, captured the visual richness and drama of these events, as well as the humor and irreverence of their participants. These events were truly 'living theatre' with a message - protest as a creative act. It was important to me to witness and document this pageant of American history not often discussed or acknowledged. Occupy Wall Street was preceded by large-scale demonstrations in opposition to the Iraq War; those were historically connected to the activism of the 1980's and 90's. The anti-war movement of the '60's eventually evolved into a peace movement, which birthed a consciousness of how all the important issues we face are related.
Today a new generation of young activists infuses fresh energy into the peace and social justice movements. I continue to document this multi-cultural, multi-generational activism, hoping to capture its wit, vision, its creative spirit and its fresh sense of urgency.
So what's really changed? (Other than my using digital cameras now?) Look at the jubilant faces of the newly married same sex couples in front of city hall. Look at the in-your-face signs of the young women marching to protect not just abortion rights now, but birth control. Look at the signs from Zuccottti Park; the human mic asks: What is our highest and best future?" - Margaret McCarthy, February, 2012
Continuing her work photographing protests, Margaret hit the streets for 'The Line' march today. "5,000 citizens formed a 3 mile line on Broadway, from the Bull at Bowling Green to Union Square and held up pink slips from 8:14 am to 8:28 a.m. today on Super Tuesday, March 6, 2012. It was a protest to represent 14 million Unemployed Americans & demand action from congress & corporations."