Magazine


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"I stumbled upon this a few summers ago while driving out to the beach, taking the back roads through Brooklyn. As I sped down the Highway I thought I caught a glimpse of these two black cowboys, trotting out on the grassy strip alongside the road. I was going too fast to get a good look, and there was nowhere to turn around but I went back a few days later, and found this unbelievable place. It's a few acres of land which consists of horse stables (they have about 30-40 horses that live there year round), a riding ring, a bunch of junked up trailers, a clubhouse (which was shut down by the DOB last I saw), and a large grassy area. The people I met there were very welcoming, mostly of an older generation, mostly from the south, and consider themselves real cowboys. 

The place is really special because it's nothing like New York City, yet it's really buried deep in the boroughs - right by East New York, Howard Beach, and Ozone Park. But when you're standing there, you really feel like you could be in South Carolina or some far off place." - Dennis Kleiman, July 2010

"The Federation of Black Cowboys was created in 1994 by a group of diverse people looking to share and promote knowledge of the 'Black West'. Seeking to create greater understanding of African American culture and heritage, we endeavor to provide educational opportunities for the young public of New York."



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"I became fascinated by the life-and-death survival struggle of the trees of Angkor and the ancient temples upon which they grow. I used infrared filters and slow shutter speeds to capture the otherworldly light and power of the trees." - Viviane Moos.

The temples of Angkor were built by the Khmer civilization between 802 and 1220 AD. From Angkor the Khmer kings ruled over a vast domain that reached from Vietnam to China to the Bay of Bengal. More than 100 stone temples survive. Angkor Wat, built during the early years of the 12th century honors the Hindu god Vishnu and is a symbolic representation of Hindu cosmology.




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Jiri's personal perspective:

"I first came across the Alberta tar sands on assignment for WWF in 2007 and again in 2009 on several trips on behalf of Greenpeace. My first impression of the industry in northern Alberta was one of grandiose developments, in a negative sense of the word. Mining and energy extraction are never pretty, but the scale and pace at which big oil is operating in Canada is truly staggering. How could it be that Canada, widely regarded as a friendly, environmentally conscious and 'nice' country condones such destructive projects in its own backyard?

One answer I found whilst talking to people was cultural: whilst most Europeans, and indeed many peoples around the globe live with a notion of resource scarcity, Canadians apparently take the opposite approach: abundance. The mining pits, steam and upgrader plants north of Fort McMurray are truly gigantic, the impression of a stinking moonscape poisoned with toxic tailings and the sounds of cannons designed to scare off migratory birds apparent to anyone who ventures half an hour north along Highway 63. How on earth would anyone in their right mind condone this doomsday scenario?

Apparently, Canada has plenty of it all, and wasting an estimated 10% of its boreal forest, one of the last prime forests left on the planet, is not an issue. In my own cynical mind, this scene would have not surprised me if it had been in say Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Kazakstan, Bangladesh or any other place governed by big oil - I have seen similar sights in other parts of the world - but to witness this in the First World, where one would assume the existence of a functional society with a healthy respect for civil rights, for its environment and its people, was humbling.
 
You can take a view on the destruction of the land, the size and scale of things to come in the next decades - the projects already designed, approved and underway will occupy an area the size of Florida. However, the province of Alberta alone is roughly equivalent to the size of France: if you take off from Calgary, you'll fly for at least two hours before reaching Fort McMurray, the epicentre of oil development, and you're still in Alberta. To sacrifice a proportion of that for petrodollars, jobs and prosperity is an obvious and well-rehearsed choice seen the world over.

However, what got me most is the blatant disregard for the people living downstream from this deadly industry: Canada's First Nations. Gentle, soft-spoken, patient, suffering, yet by and large indecisive, they are the true losers here. Several communities living along Lake Athabasca have been ravaged by cancers unheard of before oil developments began on a large scale. Their water is not safe to drink; the numbers of fish, migratory birds, moose, bear and other wildlife have shrunk and are no longer safe to eat; their ancient way of life seems to be over for good. I find it hard to accept and reconcile this with the notion of the democratic, First World government that Canada claims to have - this scenario feels more at home in the darkest periods of colonization many of us have hoped were condemned to a chapter in the history books.

I hope that the images I present will give you a notion of how alive that history still is today."
- Jiri Rezac, July 2010

View the magazine photo feature.

© Jiri Rezac


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"Alberta's tar sands are arguably the world's most destructive energy project in progress today. Being Canada's main economic driver, and a favourite source of 'safe' energy for its big neighbour down south, the tar sands are a hotly contested issue between the provincial and national government, environmental groups and the indigenous people of Canada who by and large are opposed to the breakneck speed of oil industry developments.

Stretching from the town of Fort McMurray northwards and as far as Peace River to the west, the confirmed deposits of bitumen in the ground take up an area the size of England. To date, only three to five per cent of the existing deposits are being mined or extracted, by inserting high-pressure steam into the ground. Turning bitumen into synthetic crude oil is no easy task: it requires vast amounts of energy and water, and the yields have only become viable with an exploding per-barrel oil price. For thousands of years, Alberta's prime resource has lain idle in the ground, oil companies patiently awaiting their turn until prices went rocketing in the last decade. The once sleepy town of Fort McMurray has been turned into the new frontier of the latest gold rush, absorbing the gains and ills that come with it: rapid growth, high prices, a huge influx of workers, crime, drugs and pollution. Walking down the bland main drag of the aptly nicknamed 'Fort McMoney', you can't help but notice that anybody who is anybody in the oil business has set up camp here: Shell, Total, Chevron, Syncrude, Suncor, CNRL, BP, Husky, Statoil and numerous others have bought up leases to extract the black gold from Alberta's land.

This comes at a high cost, both in terms of investment and natural resources as well as to the environment and the people who live there: the divisive issue is one of land rights and health concerns of Canada's First Nations who live downstream from the tar sands. Is Canada to respect aboriginal land rights, as enshrined in their treaty with the Crown over a hundred years ago which grants the First Nations the freedom to hunt, fish and trap according to their ancient ways? Or is it more interested in oil developments with their consequential destruction of the boreal forest, bringing of employment, and ultimately, money?

For many years, the First Nations in northern Alberta have been complaining about grave health concerns and unusually high cancer rates in their communities - a concern apparently not shared by the Province of Alberta. On another level, several First Nations have begun to legally challenge the status quo and the sale of their lands to oil companies. It is a fight that is synonymous of the classic David vs. Goliath: small and mostly poor communities on the one side; big oil, government, and heavyweight lawyers on the other.

One thing is for sure: the future is set to be challenging, and a mighty struggle is looming."
- Jiri Rezac, July 2010

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"Few things in this world make sense to me. Photography, and the lyrics of a man who sounds like a muppet crooning, happen to be two exceptions. I am attracted to people who find a way to manifest their obsessive qualities into something physical. 'Carnivores and Destructors'* documents people infatuated with the pop singer Morrissey and the various dimensions of this fixation.  

Enjoying a band is an abstract idea - the individuals I chose to photograph translate this into something beyond just music and integrate these concepts into a tangible experience and way of life.  Somewhere in this self imposed isolation, comfort and safety are found, and that is what fascinates me." - Adam Krause

It isn't every day that a submission speaks to me in the way Adam Krause's did. We share a huge love of Morrissey, and with these great photographs this was an obvious feature for aCurator.


© Adam Krause  * (lyrics from 'Ouija Board Ouija Board' - Ed)

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"I was working on a travel story in Ethiopia when I heard about the estimated 80,000 children living on the streets of Addis Ababa. I extended my stay by a few days and start researching and photographing the story. Through a local NGO I was able to make contact with Bruke, a 15 year old boy, who like thousands of other street children had sought refuge underground, making his home in a small drainage hole in the middle of the road. The Merkato commercial center of Addis Ababa has become the de facto place for Ethiopian children escaping rural poverty, AIDS, abusive families, the clutches of indentured servitude and human trafficking. Thinking they have found a haven, they instead find the Merkato a harsh and dangerous environment. These children face the obvious daily struggles of finding food, protection and safety, and are forced to deal with the lingering and constant threat of sexual predators who prey on the vulnerable street children. With no social welfare system and the lack of enforceable child rights in Ethiopia, the children find themselves, in essence, in a state of civil death - the legal status of a person who is alive but who has been deprived of the rights and privileges of a citizen or a member of society.

I spent two days with Bruke, learning about what brought him to the streets and how he survives. For a short while I was able to get sporadic reports on his well-being from my fixer who passed through the area. For the last 2 1/2 years I have not had any news. I am planning to return to Ethiopia later in the year to expand on the work I started there, and with the hopes of finding Bruke again." - Jason Florio

View the magazine feature.

Learn more
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© Jason Florio

John_Cyr_BARBARA_MENSCH'S.jpgJohn Cyr is a photographer and a master printer - he owns and runs Silver 68, a traditional black and white lab in Brooklyn. He is a faculty member at ICP and is in his final semester pursuing an MFA from the Photography, Video and Related Media Department from the School of Visual Arts.

John is contacting photographers, their studios, estates, assistants, to determine whether any developer trays remain in their collections. Unfortunately, a lot have been discarded over the years, but as you can see in his ongoing project John has successfully photographed several. Enjoy letting your imagination run wild as to which of your favorites might have been printed in these.

"From the mid nineteenth century until today, silver gelatin printing has been one of the most utilized photographic processes. From classic reportage to fine art photography, the majority of it was performed in a black and white darkroom until the mid-1970's. As recently as 2000, black and white darkroom classes still served as the location for introduction to photography courses.

The digital advances in photography over the past ten years have been remarkable. Digital manipulation is found in most contemporary work, even within these developer tray photographs. This shift from film-based to digital imaging is occurring at a rapid rate, which is why photographing developer trays is a timely endeavor. Many photographers, printmakers, and photographers' archivists have already discarded or thrown out their developer trays because they believed they were no longer significant or useful. Irving Penn's developer trays have been thrown away, as have those of master printer Richard Benson. I am photographing available developer trays so that the photography community will remember specific, tangible printing tools that have been a seminal part of the photographic experience for the past hundred years.  By titling each tray with its owner's name, I reference the historical significance of these objects in a minimal manner that evokes thought and introspection about what images have passed through each individual tray." - John Cyr

View the magazine feature.

Barbara Mensch's Developer Tray ©  John Cyr

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There's something super special about Sarah Small.

Of the portfolio reviews I've attended, Sarah's work, which I first saw 2 or 3 years ago (thank you ASMP), has been the most enduring. The strangest of juxtapositions reigned throughout her book, highlighting brilliant bruises and silvery stretch marks. Since then she has developed the Delirium Constructions which include her Tableau Vivant events - multifarious models assembled into a series of suspended interactions. Startling, sincere images that speak to the viewer again and again.

Recommended watching: the Tableau Vivant videos at Living Picture Projects are beautifully moving, and set to the incredible tones of Sarah's a Cappella quartet Black Sea Hotel (seemingly, skill is in no short supply chez Small).

View the feature.

Ariella and Crow © Sarah Small

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Mary Parisi really sees.

"Like many others today, I see food as a complicated comfort. This aspect of being attracted and repelled carries through in much of my work. I think it is part of looking at things as they are. Often my photographs delve into abstraction but the real, sometimes unsightly, aspects of life are still present; there is the bit of animal tissue floating in the soup.

The people in Tolstoy's novels have the possibility for both good and evil and this makes one believe in the truthfulness of the writing, to believe that something real from life has been crafted in to the novel. I hope that the same is true in my photographs, that I have allowed the subject to bring with it those aspects from life that might not seem to fit with the estheticized object, so that through discord an authentic view of life is captured."

There are more great series on Mary's website - check out 'Oral' and 'Sleep'.

Parisi has a solo show of food and soup at the Griffin Museum in Boston, through June 20th, 2010. 

View the magazine feature.

C prints are available in 20"x20" and/or 30"x30"

Textured Soup, 2008 © Mary Parisi

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In one order or another, I saw Jaimie Warren's monograph (published by Tim Barber's Tiny Vices and available from Aperture) and a wonderful wall of small prints with Higher Pictures at the Association of International Photography Art Dealers show in New York, and she stuck firmly in my head. Perhaps there's just not been enough joy in the photography I've seen in recent years, so I am delighted to present a sampling of her self-portraits and humorous observations.

Jaimie Warren is a curator, performance artist, photographer, and co-founder of a non-profit community arts program and faux public access television show called 'Whoop Dee Doo'. With a website titled 'Don't You Feel Better' you know you've been set up for a good time.

View the feature.

© Jaimie Warren

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