I was fortunate to meet Chris Bartlett at New York's Photoville this year and see for the first time his important Detainee project
. I am so pleased to present this series in aCurator and encourage you to share this story and help us all not to forget.
"Over three hundred former Iraqi detainees have filed or are filing federal lawsuits against private contractors CACI International Incorporated and L-3 Communications (formerly Titan). These are the two companies whose employees participated in torturing people held at detention facilities in Iraq, including the notorious Abu Ghraib prison."
All of the former detainees whose portraits and stories are included in this feature were part of a lawsuit that was dismissed.
"The torture cases had mixed results. Approximately half of the victims obtained compensation; the others did not. The difference arose from the lawsuits being filed in different jurisdictions, and from the Obama Administration Solicitor General filing a brief advocating that the Supreme Court not overturn the negative decision." Susan L. Burke (Read more in Burke's Wikipedia
The portraits were made in Amman in 2006, or in Istanbul in 2007.
The installation at Photoville, September, 2014. Photo by Chris Bartlett
"For Photoville, it's going to be a photo show about torture that has no pictures of torture. My goal is to get people to think about the issue and not walk in and see a horrible picture and be turned away because they don't want to think about it. It's the same manipulation, for lack of a better word, as from when I started with still life photography. I want to draw people into the issue and make them think about the issue. This is a policy that was thought out, planned, carried out, directed on a corporate level by our government. It wasn't just a handful of rogue soldiers who did this." Chris in an interview with proof.org
is a documentary and portrait photographer; he has covered events from Super Storm Sandy in New York to flooding in the Peruvian Amazon. In 'Princess to Queen' he contemplates how those of us benefitting from Indian labor are inadvertently supporting violence against women in that country.
"Four Indian women have been raped and hung in recent months, drawing headlines across the world. Many more have suffered in silence as the vast majority of violence against women goes unreported.
Absent from the discussions about the recent wave of hangings in India is the hand that globalization has had in the increasing levels of sexual violence. Globalization and its attendant commercial values and material expectations are transforming social relations in India and, in doing so, stoking the brutalization of women."
Cameron R. Neilson
is a superb architectural photographer who I met through my gig with Photography&Architecture
and at a local portfolio review. This project is just so cool. Don't you remember lying on the grass as a kid, full of wonder, making your own shapes out of the world? Here, come to Berlin, and LA, and Paris with Cameron. Let go, and look straight up.
"Kids do it all the time - lying on the grass, looking to the sky and visualizing shapes in the clouds. As adults, we don't often have this luxury of time, and if we do, it's rarely spent on our backs in grassy fields. Our time is in urban environments with a type of tunnel vision traveling from point A to point B, driving, taking a metro, walking quickly, staring straight ahead avoiding others, or looking down at our smartphones, papers or pavement. This collection, titled Straight Up plays homage to the kid lying in the grass except in this case looking straight up in city environments."
Bather. Downtown Miami, Florida, 1993. © Mary Lou UttermohlenMary Lou Uttermohlen
showed me her prints at the portfolio reviews held by PhotoNOLA
last year in her home town of New Orleans. She told me about the inception of her work with the homeless when in 1993 Miami began to address its growing problem, and how she continues to photograph homeless communities. Over in the UK recently, shops and blocks of flats began installing "anti-homeless spikes." Instead of attempting to address the root causes of homelessness, we continue to just keep moving people on, sweeping them under a concrete carpet.
"I began to document the shantytowns in Florida in the 1990's when most villages were made of plywood and I was shooting on B&W film. The camps were self-segregated along common interests that included children, transvestites, prostitutes, drug addicts, alcoholics, illegal immigrants and mental health issues.
Over time my equipment has evolved and my style has shifted. In recent years the work is done in color with a digital camera and battery operated studio lights. The camps have also evolved and now include tent cities.
With funding I will be able to visit more unique shantytowns around the country including Portland, Oregon, where they have organized tent cities, and Pensacola, Florida, where the mayor tried to pass a law to ban people covering themselves with a blanket in public. I would like to visit as many different states and circumstances as my budget will allow so I can illustrate the spectrum of this national problem.
This twenty-one year long documentary is a voyage of watching homeless people organize themselves as local authorities work to make them disband. The images are not about homelessness in general, but specifically about homeless people setting up structured living solutions to solve the problems they face as a community. In spite of all the programs and services offered, the homeless population continues to grow and the epidemic expands. The mission of this work is to make the invisible population visible so their issues can be addressed."
There were so many great entries for the outdoor photo installation The Fence
, now up in Brooklyn and Atlanta, and with such a limited number of spots available, a bunch of photographs that I loved didn't make the finals. Jason Wilde
was the first person I contacted when the judging had finished - I was additionally compelled by his photo of spare ribs being eaten in the bath
, and we ended up meeting on a hot day in London to talk life the universe and everything.
Jason has been collecting notes found lying around the ever-diversifying north London housing estate where he has lived for 17 years. "Built in the 1950s, the Clarence Way estate has been a focal point of London's rapidly shifting social landscape, housing people from within Britain and abroad who have been affected by any number of diverse events and circumstances. Located a few minutes' walk north of Camden Town underground station, the six orange brick blocks that make up the estate house 1297 people (2011 census) in 354 various-sized units."
"I have witnessed the rapid diversification of the cultural mix of his community. In an attempt to record this transformation, in 2003 I started collecting handwritten notes that he found discarded on the estate. On one level, these salvaged texts are simple records of the everyday; they function to remind, instruct, organise and explain. They tell of journeys planned and taken, and list items to purchase and food to take away. Some make grand political and philosophical statements whilst others are simply mysterious."
"I have photographed these once-private texts against wallpaper backgrounds, transforming them into imaginative triggers that hint at the realities of life for a diverse group of people. These individual combinations form 'Silly Arse Broke It,' an ongoing and open-ended narrative that invites the viewer to contemplate a small inner-city community that is a microcosm for the social flux and cultural (dis)integration that characterises Britain in the 21st century."
News update: Jason was accepted to the Guernsey Photo Festival
later this year, and was a winner at PhotoIreland's portfolio contest.
© Terri Gold
In Terri Gold
's ongoing series she explores "universal cross-cultural truths," capturing the traditions of disappearing indigenous cultures. The Omo Valley is in southern Ethiopia, in Africa's Great Rift Valley. It is known for its culture and diversity and for the discovery there of the earliest human fossils.
Terri's final prints are really beautiful. She uses very particular processes, which she describes: "I use a specially converted infrared digital camera and the digital darkroom to create my split-toned imagery. There is a mysterious quality to the invisible, iridescent world of infrared light that illuminates another dimension. When shooting, processing, and printing an infrared image, one must be open to the journey that reveals the subtle colors within. I enjoy the unexpected elements that arise when working with light beyond what the eyes can see. I also pursue the unexpected through multimedia, and often paint with encaustic wax and oils on the surface of my prints. Instead of photographic realism, I think of the work as magical realism."
But I do also think these images lend themselves extra-well to being back-lit, too! View the full-screen magazine photo feature
View Terri's previous feature "Still Points in a Turning World
," published August, 2010.
Makeshift Colombian flag, Rio de Janeiro, June 2014 © Alessandro Falco
Italian artist Alessandro Falco
was a finalist in a competition I co-judged in 2012. He has kept busy and kept me posted, and I am thrilled to see what he is producing in Rio, where he headed for three months to make photos about and around the World Cup.
We present two series in the magazine
. The first is of a Colombian community in a favela in Rio watching their team play Greece; the second is about a young dental technician who dresses as Batman to protest against the spending around the World Cup in a country where so many people lack even the basics.View the full screen magazine photo feature
Here's the photo from that I loved so much from Alessandro's entry in the International Fine Art Photography Competition.© Alessandro Falco
© Michael Massaia
Young master photographer and printer Michael Massaia
's "Deep in a Dream
" series has until now shown us images of Central Park made in the wee-est hours of the night. Sometimes up to the top of his waders in the lake, or being cruised by guys, chattered to by rats or growled at by dogs, the long-exposure photographs he takes are finessed to within an inch of their beautiful lives in his homemade darkroom where he spends days mixing chemicals to outstanding effect. His prints need to be seen to be believed; they are stunning.View the full screen magazine photo feature
It turns out that Massaia has been making these sunbather photographs since 2006, concurrently with his other series, many of which are long night-time exposures: "Afterlife
" consists of stunning images of a Jersey Shore pier before and after Hurricane Sandy; "In The Final Throes
" shows the streets of suburban New Jersey; "Seeing the Black Dog
" renders long-haul trucks at rest in stark beauty. "I tried in every way possible to visually/graphically make the environment come to life in its most lifeless moments," he says of Afterlife.
One ought probably to not ever be surprised by Michael, but still when the first "Deep in a Dream - Sheep's Meadow" sunbathers dropped in, I was bowled over. All I could imagine was him laying flat in a hide in camo. I couldn't understand how he'd get his 8x10 in there. But in fact, he's in plain sight. The final prints are small gold toned silver prints. Divine.
"Though people are the focus, my objective was to wait to capture the moment they turn into unassuming sculpted objects." It's hard at first to work out what is going on in these images. The subjects have surrendered to their environment and must have no pretensions of privacy (unlike the spying in "Through Their Windows" by Arne Svenson, which I happen to really enjoy.)
aC: I understand you set out with a large format, 8x10 camera - was it one of your handmade ones? Impractical setting up a tripod in Sheep Meadow and trying to surreptitiously photograph people sunbathing, you decided to downsize to just an RZ... All the conversations these days are about how much less intrusive an iPhone is to taking photographs, how on earth do you manage to make these with a 6x7?
MM: For about 1/4 of the portfolio I used an 8x10 camera. It was not a fancy modified one, just a standard Sinar F2. It became quickly apparent that I simply could not handle the pressure of getting so close to the subject while using such a large camera. I literally felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown when I was using the view cameras for this portfolio, but it was tempered by my excitement over the results I was getting.
The problem was also, not so much the people I was photographing, but all the people surrounding me. It was pretty clear I had to change my working method, so that's when I switched to using a RZ67 (along with several other cameras.)
I basically used every camera I could get my hands on to accomplish this job at the highest quality.
Ironically, when I started the portfolio in 2006, I used a Sony digital camera that I hacked up to do some test pictures, and get some readings/measurements. Looking back on the images I was actually very impressed with the look of them, so I asked my friend/gallery owner, Tom Gramegna, (of Gallery 270, in Bergen, New Jersey
) who has a very long relationship with Leica, if I could borrow their flagship medium format digital camera - the S - to also use on the portfolio. I've been very impressed with the results from that camera, and while it's a digital camera, I still create analog negatives from the files that are in turn contact printed on traditional fiber based silver gelatin paper.
aC: You mentioned a camera where it's not easy to tell the front from the back.
MM: It's a Sinar f2 with standard bellows on it. As you can see from the picture
it's very hard to tell the front from the back (especially when I use recessed lens board with a wide angle lens on it.)
aC: What inspired you to make a series in the broadest of daylight in the first place?
MM: I think the inspiration came from simply trying to create a portfolio that involved people in some way. The majority of my work over the past eight or nine years has been void of any people, and I thinks that's a result of my inability to connect to most people in an earnest way. As a result, I usually set out to document a world I can more relate to, which is usually an isolated/slightly disconnected world. But back in 2006, I saw these people laying out in the Sheep Meadow and was very drawn to how "out of their bodies" they appeared. All of the pretense was gone, and what remained was this perfect unassuming figure. I found myself being very connected to the honesty/perfection of the people at that moment. My goal was to then figure a way to photograph the people in the most exacting/intimate way. During the printing process is where I started to severely "burn" out everything surrounding the subject. This way, there is no distraction. It is just the viewer and the person.
aC: Why gold tone? Were you inspired by the burnished bathers?
MM: Gold toning silver prints can create many different types of looks. I gold toned the prints in this portfolio to create what many people would consider to be the opposite of what gold toning is supposed to do. I use a warm-toned fiber-based silver gelatin paper to print the portfolio, and for the most part, when you use gold toners on warm toned paper, it cools down/introduces subtle shades of blue to the print. The gold toning helps in making the image and print more hyper-real. I was inspired by the skin tones of the people, but my goal was to cool them down a bit, creating a bit more of a ghostly appearance.
aC: You are not a gregarious person and you seem to like to work in solitude and often at night when you might be hassled by security, or mad dogs. What about annoyed sunbathers?
MM: To this day, no one I've ever photographed, has noticed me. The last thing I ever want to do is to make someone feel uneasy or uncomfortable, but no matter what, I have to see my ideas through until the bitter end. Hopefully my luck keeps up...View the full screen magazine photo feature