Darren Nisbett and I share a common experience of the Chernobyl disaster, both British with strong memories of the events of April 1986 which, as Darren says, "got buried in the process of growing up, surfacing now and then through documentaries, movies and even video games." In 2010, he began his project.
"Walking around the ghost town of Pripyat, a city that once was the home to over 50,000 people, you can't help noticing the silence. Very few birds sing around this area and you are always aware of an invisible poison in the air, even if levels are safe enough that humans can spend prolonged amounts of time there without adverse health risks. There are areas where this radiation is still high though, certain metal objects and vehicles that were exposed during the accident, some buildings and, most noticeably, vast pools of moss which unlike the leaves on the trees, endure the cold winters and hot summers."
"My photography project spanned two trips to the exclusion zone, known as
the 'zone of alienation'. The images are taken with a camera converted
to capture in Infrared: a filter covers the sensor and blocks out the
colour part of the spectrum. This creates higher contrast in the
textures of the concrete and picks up the reflected chlorophyll in the
plants making them almost glow; these combine to produce eerie images
which show nature growing, surviving and reclaiming a city that the
world's worst nuclear accident had rendered uninhabitable for humans."
At the School of Visual Arts' MFA in Photography, Video and Related Media 2011 Thesis exhibition I saw a few interesting photographs and installations, one of which, Carly Gaebe's 'The Pattern of Your Ways', where the artist created performances to reconnect with her Czech great-grandparents' routines, necessitated the eating of fresh Kolache (a Czech pastry). A couple of the photographs in Liz Arenberg's 'you see me', a series about her relationship with her sister, were simply beautiful. I thought Chris Sellas' project 'You. I.' was interesting - Chris mailed 2 copies of the same photograph to people from his past; he'd commented on one and the recipient should comment on the other.
Kimo Kim's project was really, really entertaining. "As a student in New York, South Korean fashion photographer Kimo Kim found that her normally gregarious personality was stifled by language and cultural differences. In response, she invented a fictional fashion show set in New York and Seoul, which she planned and executed online with her best friend at home, Sodam Yoon. The video culminates with the fashion show, in which Kim sheds her timid persona to become a runway model let loose on the streets of Manhattan." It's a little long, but worth a watch.
Dina Litovsky's project 'Untag This Photo' consists of her photographs of New York City nightlife: clubs, lounges, bars, and parties - both private and public. Now that there's a common tendency to see what you're doing through the lens of whatever recording device you have in-hand, Dina noticed 'people partying' shift to 'people photographing the partying', and a change in the behaviour of women in these contexts.
"This project explores how social behavior and self-representation of women have been influenced by new technologies, specifically digital cameras, iPhones and social networking sites", Dina says in a smart statement. "The desire to reveal has transformed into a willingness to expose."
The project has just been chosen by Whitney Johnson of the New Yorker to be part of PRC Exposure 2011 Exhibition, opening in July.
It doesn't get much more tantalizing than this: Phaidon releases a 50 x 35 cm limited edition book each with a C-type Lambda print, signed by Steve McCurry.
Most of us will be familiar with McCurry's 'Afghan Girl' from the 1985 cover of National Geographic, and the story of the follow-up years later when McCurry and the magazine eventually found her again. According to Wikipedia "(Sharbat Gula) vividly recalled being photographed - she had been photographed on
only three occasions: in 1984 and during the search for her when a
National Geographic producer took the identifying pictures that led to
the reunion with Steve McCurry. She had never seen her famous portrait
before it was shown to her in January 2003."
McCurry's career in photojournalism began during the Soviet war in Afghanistan when he disguised himself in native dress and sewed his film into his clothes, and he has continued to cover international conflicts. A regular contributor to Nat Geo, McCurry is of course also a member of Magnum.
Scott Frances will show 68 large-scale works from his series MonoVisioN at the Decoration and Design Building in NYC, opening tomorrow, June 21st. The exhibition coincides with the release of his first monograph of the same title with an introduction by Richard Meier, published by Pond Press.
Scott is a native New Yorker; he studied fine arts and journalism in Illinois, and early in his career he shot for ESTO photographics, under the auspices of the great Ezra Stoller. This show should be a beauty.
Brian Shumway was introduced to me by Kellie McLaughlin, the director of print sales at the Aperture Foundation. Upon reviewing his work, rather than feature a single series, I decided to publish a range of his images.
"My work covers a lot of ground, from the life of children in Mormon-dominated Utah, to provocative images of models, to men who push the boundaries of gender. This diversity of subject matter is one of my work's strengths and is rooted in my background in anthropology. I'm curious about people. Whether they're family or strangers found online, I strive for every photograph to be personal, engaging, and telling. What ties my personal work together is that it speaks about people's everyday experiences, identity and fantasies."
Brian is a New York City based photographer whose worked for Reader's Digest, Smart Money, People Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, XXL, TV Guide and the New York Times, among others. His work has appeared in American Photography, Communication Arts, Shots Magazine and the Photo Review. Brian was one of Magenta Foundation's top 25 'Emerging Photographers' in the USA in 2006 and 2008. La Chureca, his story on the city dump in Managua, Nicaragua, was a finalist for the (Santa Fe) Center's 2008 Project Competition.
Stella Kramer had been raving about Jennifer Shaw's 'Hurricane Story'. I was excited when she shared an early copy of the book - we both completely embraced the concept, execution and format. Jennifer Shaw was heavily pregnant when Hurricane Katrina arrived. Hitting the road with dogs, cats and husband they made their way to safety and an unknown midwife.
From Chin Music Press, the publisher:
"'Hurricane Story' is a tale of exile, birth and return told in forty-six photographs and simple, understated prose. This first-person narrative, illustrated through toys and dolls photographed with an inexpensive toy Holga camera, depicts Jennifer Shaw's strange but true tale of her evacuation from New Orleans, including the dramatic birth of her first son on the very day that Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the pressures on her marriage as she and her husband struggle with depression and rage, and their return to New Orleans with their newest family member in time for Mardi Gras. Rob Walker, 'Consumed' columnist for The New York Times Magazine, has written the book's poignant Foreword."
The simplicity of this book, and every image in it, is exceptionally engaging; everything about it just works. I strongly suggest you treat yourself to a copy, and at $18, you can also buy one as a gift.
"When we arrived at the hospital, it was time."
After the birth "We took our hurricane sideshow on the road."
Returning home "The city was strangely peaceful."
"FEMA hauled off our downed trees."
Home for Mardi Gras "Anointed in glitter, we reclaimed the streets."
Paolo hit me up with this ongoing project on Stone Town, Zanzibar. According to Wikipedia the name comes from the ubiquitous use of coral stone as the main construction material; this stone gives the town a characteristic, reddish warm colour. Stone Town's architecture has a number of distinctive features, as a result of Arab, Persian, Indian, European, and African traditions mixing together.
Personally, I'm irreligious, but I do love people and culture and beautiful imagery, and helping publicize new images from hard-working photographers. Teamed with a delightful statement from Paolo, we bring you a selection from his new Blurb Book.
"Hidden by mass tourism, victim of an erroneous and monolithic view of
the muslim world, and subordinate to a culturally different mainland
following decades of unwanted political union, the muslim Swahili
culture of Zanzibar tries to survive against all the odds. Simply by
carrying on with their daily life, by being proud of their traditions
and by not forgetting the magnificence and splendour of what the Swahili
culture once was, the people of Zanzibar are trying to preserve
their heritage, as well as to avoid the temptations of the western world
that day after day, through the constant coming and going of tourists,
risk destroying a place rich with culture and history.
personal experience in Zanzibar started by chance following a 3 day
stop-over on my way back from Australia to Italy, a stop that turned out
to be the beginning of a long-term personal project about the Swahili
culture, a work in progress that is paying me back with a huge amount
of experiences, feelings and emotions that will remain with me for the
rest of my life, a work in progress that hopefully will give justice to
this fascinating culture.
The experience time after time of
seeing the local people I have met during my stays, the joy of watching
their children growing up, the opportunity of being considered one of
them, to think of them as individuals with a personal story... this is
the magic of photography. Breaking barriers, diving deep in a culture
and its people, or as the photographer Bruce Davidson once said, trying
to document the story that the subject tells me, rather than the one I
want to tell."
"This is a blog in love with photographers. Scroll down aCurator's page and you'll see one photographer's name after another in bold, black letters with sharp, seductive images in between. These posts often link to glorious, full-screen features - free of surrounding navigation bars and text - on the main aCurator.com site... But the signature strength of the aCurator blog is, in fact, suggested by its name. Grahame is a curator with a flawless eye and, in her assessment of the work she presents, an immediately trustworthy, no-frills tone... aCurator's triumph is a clarity of purpose wedded to a keen intelligence, and a willingness to let its stunning photographs largely speak for themselves." - From Life.com
I am fortunate and thoroughly privileged to have also been named in the top ten photo blogs by JM Colberg of Conscientious in his interview with the British Journal of Photography.
My colleague Stella Kramer met David Pace this year at Photolucida and recommended his work. She thought I would particularly enjoy 'Friday Night', the week's end party in Bereba where David lives when he's in Burkina Faso. Upon visiting his website I was struck by all his images from this small, land-locked country in West Africa, so we decided to create a broader feature.
"Two of my colleagues from Santa Clara University formed a non-profit organization called Friends of African Village Libraries (FAVL) in Burkina Faso in 2001. Burkina Faso has one of the world's lowest literacy rates and FAVL builds small libraries in rural villages to help address this problem. In 2007 my colleagues invited me to visit them while they were doing research in Burkina and asked me to photograph the libraries. That was my first trip to Africa and my first experience of village life. I began taking portraits of the villagers and documenting everyday activities. It was a life changing experience.
Over the years I have developed several ongoing photographic projects in various parts of Burkina Faso. The Bereba Portraits and Friday Night portfolios are all shot in and around the village of Bereba in the southwest. The photographs of the Kiosks and the Tabtenga Quarry are taken on the central plateau near Ouagadougou, the capital.
I spend the fall teaching digital photography to American college students in a study abroad program through the University. My students stay in Ouagadougou, the country's capital, for the first weeks of instruction and then I take them to live in remote villages without electricity or running water where they photograph, experience traditional village life and do internships in rural libraries. The students study French & French Literature, developmental economics, environmental studies and digital photography. One of their main projects is to work with someone in their village and create two photo books which explore some aspect of village life. The students write texts in simple French for beginning readers. We publish the books in small quantities and take them back to the libraries."