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© Loreal Prystaj

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?"


Do not miss her bathtub series - she's made almost 100! 




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Estrella Jail © Scott Houston

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."

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Yes, these were made at the photographer's local aviary! Nicely done, Sharon Kain - proving once again that one need not stray too far from home to make interesting photos.

Happy new year, friends.


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"Vera & John" is a collection of photographs that Jason Wilde made from notes that his mum, Vera, left for his Dad, John. Without Vera's knowledge, John and Jason saved more than 90 notes between 2005 and 2014. Jason then set about making more than 4000 photos of paving stones on specific streets in Camden, north London, where they and five generations of Jason's family have lived, using those images as the background for his photographs of the notes. Simply brilliant, fascinating, and fun.

View the full screen magazine photo feature - These are but a few of the insights into the life of Vera & John. See more: Jason has launched a Kickstarter campaign to turn this into a book. Enjoy the video promo, and drop a bit of cash - the pound is so weak you can get a book for $26! Contribute here.


"The idea of making a project about my mum and dad came to me while visiting their home in 2005. With no one home I had a rummage through the fridge and food cupboards before making a nice cup of tea. Leaning against the wall next to the kettle was a note. I had been collecting notes since 2003 for a different project (called 'Silly Arse Broke It') and realised that this single note outlining that evenings dinner arrangements was a potential project."

See "Silly Arse" here in aCurator Magazine.

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 "Change" is a series of photographs of American quarter-dollars that Ralf Graebner found on the streets of New York City, intrigued by "the metamorphosis of these quarters from looking identical when they were minted to looking distinctly unique after they had been exposed to various harsh environments over time." 

View the full screen magazine photo feature then come back and learn how he does it!

He creates these graphic depictions by combining thousands of thin image slices made with a macro lens to produce a "three-dimensionally stitched image." Hard to reckon so here's the full monty on his method:
"I am using a technique called "focus stacking" to overcome two limitations of conventional photography, namely, extremely limited depth of field in macro photography at open aperture, and loss of detail through diffraction when the aperture is stopped down.
In other words, in conventional single-shot macro photography you either have to accept shallow depth of field but good detail where in focus, or more depth of field but overall soft images due to the detail-robbing effects of diffraction when you close the aperture.
What I do instead is take pictures with extreme shallow depth of field (around 1/100 of a millimeter!) but with the highest image quality where the image is in focus, and between each exposure I move the camera in increments of 1/100mm towards the subject. In order to capture a subject that requires 1 millimeter of depth of field with this technique I need to make 100 exposures. These 100 shots are then analyzed by a software that determines what's in focus and what's not, and merges everything into one image with complete depth of field, discarding what's out of focus."
Phew! Not enough for you?
"I repeat this process 30-40 times, photographing small sections of the coin, until all of the subject is captured. These 30-40 focus-stacked images are then stitched together to become the final image. With this technique I capture so much detail that I could create 10' x 10' prints that are tack-sharp. The limitations are merely the maximum width of chromogenic paper available, as well as portability of the prints: more than 7 feet, and I would run into problems getting the prints through regular-sized door frames."
See some that did make it through the door, at Fuchs Projects, 56 Bogart Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206 during Bushwick Open Studios, September 30 to October 2, 2016. 

Did you know? A quarter costs 11 cents to produce. 

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© J A Mortram

 Through his ongoing commitment to Small Town Inertia, Jim Mortram is dedicated to showing what life is like for people living in the margins of society. Basing his experiences solely around the area in which he lives, we see how the system is failing his neighbours and by extension the disadvantaged across the UK.

"Witnessing Tilney1's battle with Paranoid Schizophrenia over the course of the past 12 months, his medication changes, his endurance in isolation, his fight to exist and to navigate existence with and often without the regular support and contact with professional care teams, has been both terrifying and illuminating."

"It was as though watching a man drowning beneath the ice. I see him hitching for breath, chest heaving, eyes wild, fingers whipping at the indifferent, almost invisible, wall above.
I can do nothing but witness." J A Mortram, 2016







Film about Jim by Neale James
"This short film documentary introduces one of photography's more altruistic photographers and the people for whom his pictures have made real life impact."

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Klaus Pichler, the Austrian photographer who is executor of multiple excellent projects, announces his latest wonderful series, Golden Days Before They End. Visiting 'Branntweiner' around the country, Pichler and a writer, Clemens Marschall, braved these small dens which are usually early-opening for hardy regulars. As always with Klaus, it is a beautifully documented insight, this time into a culture on its last legs. 

"Pichler and Marschall went on a mission to find, document and explore the last of these refuges for a dying drinking generation. On countless wanderings through Vienna they found some of these places in their final throes. The book is a swansong for these bars that have shaped their customers' existences for decades, places that are soon to disappear forever." From the foreword to Golden Days Before They End.


Take a stroll in the Schrebergärten with Klaus' earlier aCurator feature, see the bizarre scenes at the Museum of Natural History in Vienna in Skeletons in the Closet and check out prisoner tattoos in Scarred for Life

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In his seventh aCurator feature, Rob Hann whisks us away to three new states. In continuation of his series 'I Dream a Highway' he went to Oregon, Idaho and Montana with his usual keen eye, kindly sharing his tour with me, a fellow Brit with a love of the American landscape. I'm always excited to see what he comes back with and think this could be the best series yet.


"In October 2001 I took my first American road trip with a camera. When I got home and looked through the pictures I'd taken I felt I had the basis of a photo book. I thought I needed to take one more trip to have enough material. Almost 15 years and many trips later I feel the time has come to take positive steps towards making that book. The photographs here are from my most recent trip in Oregon, Idaho and Montana. I can't imagine it will be the last." 
Rob Hann, February, 2016

You can see Rob's art in person - he is in New York's Soho several days a week selling his affordable prints on Prince Street. 

Go on Rob's past road trips -

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Girl Anachronism © Rocio De Alba

Rocio De Alba quit booze and took up a camera in order to regain control of her life and mental health. Having suffered from an excruciating irrational fear since childhood, and self-medicating in order to cope, this artist finds photography to be a savior. Independently productive, Rocio's concentration is on the frank portrayal of modern families, relationships and structures.


Then, check out the amazing "Miracle Baby" story... it must be seen to be believed. 

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From The Disturbance © Rayhannah Ali

Wonderful work from a young woman I met at University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Swansea in the UK last year. Generally, the students were working on fairly mature, worldly projects. Rayhannah Ali says of her imagery "My work is about family and using collage to express different feelings of situations and meanings reflecting back to a South Asian culture." Unable to choose, I went with two projects. UNUNDERSTOOD is an embrace of and homage to the graphic imagery of Shirin Neshat while The Disturbance uses mixed media and family photos for a provocative experience.

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