An image from recent graduate Ima Mfon
's wonderful series graced the publicity for the School of Visual Arts 2015 Thesis Exhibition in New York, and his large print there was very impressive. Ima agreed to a feature and his photographs look spectacular in the magazine!
"As an African living in America, I find that the line between celebrating and exoticizing African culture is increasingly blurry. To add some clarity to the current discourse, I photograph my subjects in an elegant and direct manner. It is my hope that this will create a connection between subject and viewer. It's also my way of challenging viewers to understand what it is like to be 'the other.' Above all else, it is a reminder that the culture and identity of a people should be always be appreciated, respected and honored."
Ima's full statement on the project:
"Nigerian Identity is a series of photographic portraits of my fellow Nigerians in which all people are presented in a uniform manner: photographed on a white seamless background, looking directly into the lens, and enhanced so that their skin tones are virtually identical. The idea behind this discipline stems from my experiences living in America.
"Black" has always been used as a generic descriptive label. "The angry black guy", "The new black sitcom". I see myself as being more than just black. However that is usually not how I am perceived in America. Regardless of my unique heritage, I am reduced to being just black. The homogenization of the skin tones in my project is my commentary on the tendency to reduce people to just a color. In these images, the skin tones are rich, deep and beautiful to celebrate our beautiful skin, for which we are often oppressed and marginalized.
Drawing inspiration from photographers who have created typologies of their subjects, including the German August Sander, the American Richard Avedon, and the Nigerian photographer J.D 'Okhai Ojeikere, I use a plain background to eliminate any cultural or ethnic context, whether of urban disrepair or African wilderness. I want to contest the superficial travel or tourist photography approach to peoples who may be unfamiliar to the photographs' viewers. The square format and plain background allows the viewer to fully engage the subject with their gaze and all the emotions conveyed.
As an African living in America, I find that the line between celebrating and exoticizing African culture is increasingly blurry. To add some clarity to the current discourse, I photograph my subjects in an elegant and direct manner. It is my hope that this will create a connection between subject and viewer. It's also my way of challenging viewers to understand what it is like to be "the other." Above all else, it is a reminder that the culture and identity of a people should be always be appreciated, respected and honored."
Follow Ima on Instagram @ima_mfon
Studio 54 © Bill Bernstein / Reel Art Press
is well known for his work with musicians, celebrities, and much more, and not least of all as Paul McCartney's personal photographer of many years.
Disco: The Bill Bernstein Photographs
is out now from Reel Art Press
. Bill was on assignment shooting an awards dinner at New York's notorious nightclub, Studio 54. As the dinner ended, the clubbers arrived. Short on film, Bill bought ten rolls off a fellow photographer and stayed for the night. Thus began a project shooting New York's then-vibrant and ever-notorious nightclub scene.
From the book's foreword, by Horse Meat Disco
's James Hillard: "These shots capture the very essence of what going out was, is, and should be, all about. They showed the true democracy of the dance floor where anyone could be a star, as long as they had the right attitude and flair ... The pictures in this book are a document of an incredibly exciting and creative time, not only in music, but also in social, political and fashion history too.
"During this time of gay liberation, women's rights and racial equality, the dance floor transcended sex, age and status. As the Disco Bats glided across the ceiling at Barnum's, Wall Street suits partied beneath with transgender party people. Manhattan was the epicentre of disco, and Bill Bernstein captured it all."
Personally I am sorry I wasn't born a decade earlier to experience the disco scene but I have been happy to enjoy its legacy, House music.
The release will coincide with an exhibition at Serena Morton Gallery
in Ladbroke Grove, West London, from 3 December 2015 - 24 January 2016.
This is just one aspect of Sheri Lynn Behr
's ongoing coverage of surveillance, "Be Seeing You." She began observing the daily intrusions several years ago and has only had more material to work with since. In the city we are recorded incessantly; some of the cameras blend sneakily into their surroundings, others feel stuck right in your face like the lens of Bruce Gilden
. But Sheri also finds cameras in fields, seemingly surveilling sheep.
"We know that cameras are everywhere. We try to avoid people pointing smartphones and other hand-held cameras at us as we walk down the street, but are we conscious of all the cameras lurking above us? We know we're being watched, even in the most benign locations, yet as we become more accustomed to the presence of surveillance cameras, we stop paying attention.
"For NoMatterWhere, I photograph streets, buildings and walls, pointing my camera at the cameras that are watching me, some more noticeable than others. While I certainly believe that Big Brother can be useful in some cases, I also think we need to be more aware of the scope of surveillance in our daily lives-and how it impacts our privacy. I make these photographs to raise questions that come from the claustrophobic sense of being constantly observed, no matter where we find ourselves." Sheri Lynn Behr
"The pull of the ocean surrenders to the pull of the sky."
The start of a new series, these inverted seascapes are hot out of Michael Massaia
's magic darkroom. Massaia spent a lot of time by and in the ocean in his youth. Now he finds himself taking a different view of the elements he reveres.
He shoots black and white film, develops in pyro, and is hand printing 20 x 24 and 50 x 70 inch gold tone gelatin silver prints. Mmmmm.
Claire A. Warden
's 'Mimesis' series of mysterious, magical images, references her diverse ethnic background. She says "When looking at these images, the urge to ask "what is it?" echoes the question, "what are you?", a question that has been directed towards me countless times."
This confident young artist impressed me enormously when we met at the Photolucida portfolio reviews. I recognized her images immediately, having voted for her in a competition I judged earlier this year - in fact the exhibition of winners from Flash Forward
opens in Toronto on October 8, 2015. She also has solo exhibition at the Center for Fine Art Photography
with this same series, now until October 31, and has been selected as a Critical Mass
finalist. No flies on her!
"I use saliva and manual manipulation as part of my photographic process, which steers the work away from the signifying functions inherent to the medium of photography. These methods are used as symbolic acts to expose the biologic and socio-cultural forces that stimulate the emergence and performance of an identity. This process produces a series of images that reveal certain truths in identity and simultaneously the inadequacies of language to describe oneself. Resembling systems of the natural sciences - microscopic, topographic and celestial - the photographs allegorize the complexity of systems that make up an individual and the perception of self."
Be sure to also look at Claire's beautiful series Salt Studies in Preservation and Manipulation.