In France, One Village Sets an Example by Helping Refugees

Michelle Baillot (center) picks up three sisters (from left: Touana, 5, Schkourtessa, 7, and Erlina, 10) from school. Baillot welcomed the family when the parents fled Kosovo after conflict engulfed the former Yugoslavia. (Lucian Perkins)

Marianne Mermet-Bouvier (far right) shelters a Syrian family who fled Aleppo. Her relatives hid Jews throughout the war and she says that there remains an unbroken line of tradition extending from that generation to her own. (Lucian Perkins)

In the yard of the stone elementary school with the tile roof in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a town of just 2,700 people on a high plateau in south-central France, kids play and horse around like school kids everywhere. Except they sometimes chatter in different languages: They’re from Congo and Kosovo, Chechnya and Libya, Rwanda and South Sudan. “As soon as there’s a war anyplace, we find here some of the ones who got away,” says Perrine Barriol, an effusive, bespectacled Frenchwoman who volunteers with a refugee aid organization. “For us in Chambon, there’s a richness in that.”

More than 3,200 feet in elevation, the “Montagne,” as this part of the Haute-Loire region is called, first became a refuge in the 16th century, when residents who converted to Protestantism had to escape Catholic persecution. In 1902, a railroad connected the isolated area to industrial cities on the plain. Soon Protestants from Lyon journeyed there to drink in the word of the Lord and families afflicted by the coal mines of Saint-Étienne went to breathe the clean mountain air.

Thus Chambon-sur-Lignon, linked to Protestant aid networks in the United States and Switzerland, was ready for the victims of fascism. First came refugees from the Spanish Civil War, then the Jews, especially children, in World War II. When the Nazis took over in 1942, the practice of taking in refugees—legal before then—went underground. Residents also helped refugees escape to (neutral) Switzerland. In all, people in and around Chambon saved the lives of some 3,200 Jews.

The tradition of opening their homes to displaced people continues today. In the village of Le Mazet-Saint-Voy, Marianne Mermet-Bouvier looks after Ahmed, his wife, Ibtesam, and their two small boys, Mohamed-Noor, 5, and Abdurahman, 3. The family arrived here last winter and live for now in a small apartment owned by Mermet-Bouvier. They lost two other children during the bombing of Aleppo, and then spent three years in a Turkish camp. That’s where the French government’s Office Français de Protection des Réfugiés et Apatrides found the family. But even with entry papers, somebody in France had to put them up. Their sponsors, not surprisingly, were here on the plateau. Ahmed and his wife, now six months pregnant, smile often, and the word that keeps coming up in Ahmed’s choppy French is “normal.” Despite the upheavals of culture and climate, Ahmed finds nothing strange about being here, which, after the hostility he and his children encountered in the Turkish camps, was a thrilling surprise. “Everybody here says bonjour to you,” Ahmed marvels.

Margaret Paxson, an anthropologist who lives in Washington, D.C., learned recently that she has family ties to Chambon and is writing a book about the region. “This story is about now,” says Paxson. “Not because we need to turn the people who live here into angels, but because we need to learn from them.”

Read the rest of Joshua Levine‘s article and see more of Lucian Perkins‘s photographs over at Smithsonian Magazine.

Otherworldly Photos from the World’s Largest Salt Flat

Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, the planet’s largest salt flat, will literally take your breath away. “The air is crystal clear but very thin, which makes it hard to breathe,” the Berlin-based photographer Navina Khatib tells me. “You always have a taste of salt on your lips, and in some places there is a strong smell of sulfur. There is a profound silence, and the colors shine very bright.” Her photographs from Uyuni reflect that sense of breathlessness; instead of recording the reality of the landscape, she captures the sensations of being there, in the middle of nowhere, more than 3600 meters above sea level.

Alex Prager’s Sunny Scenes of Los Angeles Noir

The Big Valley: Eve, 2008

The Big Valley: Susie and Friends, 2008

Hailing from Los Angeles, Alex Prager is a true photograph-auteur. Her cinematic sensibilities are perfectly at home in the single image, expertly making use of the imagination’s inimitable ability to construct fantastical narratives when provoked. With the eye of a director allowing a tale to unfold, Prager stages each photograph with the precision of a blockbuster Hollywood film.

Silver Lake Drive, Prager’s mid-career retrospective currently on view at The Photographer’s Gallery, London, through October 14, 2018, traces the artist’s career over the past decade, exploring the ways that her work crosses the worlds of art, fashion, photography to explore and expose fascinating scenes of human melodrama concealed within some of the most mundane moments of life. The exhibition is accompanied by a book of the same name, published by Chronicle in the United States (on sale October 9) and Thames & Hudson in Europe.

Prager takes us on a masterful romp through scenes that evoke Hollywood luminaries like Alfred Hitchcock and Douglas Sirk. The exquisite grandeur of Prager’s images belies a haunting anxiety: here beneath the luscious trappings of artifice something sinister lurks. An intangible presence can be felt throughout her work, the all-seeing eye that invites the viewer in as an accomplice.

One Photographer Reflects on the Mysteries of the Human Body

When the gallerist Giles Huxley-Parlour discusses the work of Jocelyn Lee, he doesn’t talk about seeing the work “in person.” Instead, he uses the phrase “in the flesh.” When the poet Sharon Olds writes about Lee’s photographs, she uses the same word, asking, “What is this flesh, anyway?!” And when Lee describes her own images, she tends to use the word “naked” instead of “nude.” The Appearance of Things, created over the course of about a decade, is her exploration of our bodies, their strength, and their fragility.

Form Follows Function in These Pipe Dreams

Mr. Gray. In the Garden of Weed(en).
Photography by Scott Southern, Collection of Greyspace.

Banjo. Optimus Prime, 2013. Photography by Alex Reyna @areysocal.

Some folks smoke joints or vape on street corners and be done with it; but not all cannabis connoisseurs are nearly so informal. There are a self-selecting group of smokers who prefer the accoutrements the herb calls for, finding pleasure in hand crafted glass pipes that are as complex and compelling as the drug itself. Both an object unto itself and a vessel to the promised land, pipes have evolved into highly intricate designs by artists who live the life.

This is a Pipe: The Evolution of the Glass Pipe and its Artists (Nicholas Fahey & Brad Melshenker/INSTITUTE) chronicles the history the underground scene that began 40 years ago with the Godfather, Bob Snodgrass and follows the evolution of an art that takes Louis Sullivan’s maxim of “form follows function” to a new high.

Inside the Southside Nightclubs of Chicago in the 1970s

Between 1975 and ’77, Michael Abramson (1948-2011) created an extraordinary body of work documenting Chicago’s Southside nightclubs as the subject of his Masters thesis for the Illinois Institute of Technology. Abramson made the rounds, carrying a camera and strobe light to catch all the action going down at Perv’s House, Pepper’s Hideout, The High Chaparral, The Patio Lounge, and The Showcase Lounge.

The sound was afterhours, featuring the funky, soulful vibes of blues artists like Little Mac Simmons, Bobby Rush, Lady Margo, and Little Ed. But Abramson wasn’t checking for the musicians on stage — he came for the crowd on the dancefloors and the bars, shooting half a dozen rolls every night inside this rarely seen milieu. “It was a living self-contained theater,” Abramson said of those heady nights.

One Photographer’s Love Letter to Appalachia

Erik, Athens

Hubie Bobo Lane, Chauncey

The Ohio photographer Rich-Joseph Facun remembers the exact day he started work on Black Diamonds: January 5th, 2018. He saw a stranger while leaving his doctor’s office, and he stopped briefly to greet him. “As we talked a little more, I began to get annoyed with myself,” the photographer remembers. “I knew I should photograph him.” After some consideration, he did, and he’s been sharing stories from the towns of Appalachian Ohio ever since.

Enter the ‘It’s Amazing Out There’ Photo Contest Now for a Chance at $15,000

Image: The Great Chamber © David Swindler

Flamingos in Flight © Aya Okawa, Grand Prize Winner

Bison March © Kaely Carmean, Second Prize Winner

In the winter of last year, the San Francisco-based photographer and visual anthropologist Aya Okawa took a flight over Andalusia. She’s traveled to this marshland numerous times, capturing breathtaking aerial views, but this trip was different; as the sun dipped below the horizon, a flock of flamingos took off into the air. Okawa preserved that exact moment in her photograph Flamingos in Flight.

The incredible image would become the $15,000 Grand Prize Winner of the 2017 It’s Amazing Out There Photo Contest. Organized by The Weather Channel in partnership with Toyota, this contest honors imagery that speaks to the power and beauty of our planet and our place within it.

Stanley Kubrick’s Early Years as a Photographer at Look Magazine

Stanley Kubrick, from “Life and Love on the New York City Subway”, 1947.

Stanley Kubrick, Stanley Kubrick with Faye Emerson
from “Faye Emerson: Young Lady in a Hurry”, 1950.

At the tender age of 17, Stanley Kubrick sold his first photograph to Look Magazine. The year was 1945, and the war was coming to an end. For the next five years, Kubrick would document New York during a pivotal period of transition as it rose to become the capital of the globe in the 1950s.

As a Look photographer, Kubrick captured slices of life that took him to nightclubs and sporting events, to the beaches and the boardwalks, the racetrack and the paddy wagon. Now the Museum of the City of New York presents a selection of more than 120 photographs from his archive for the exhibition, Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs, on view now through October 28, 2018. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue from TASCHEN bearing the same name.

Curated by Sean Corcoran and Donald Albrecht, Through a Different Lens provides a powerful look at the passions of Stanley Kubrick during his earliest years behind a camera. Corcoran gives us a fantastic tour through these formative years in the young artist’s life, as they form the bridge between him and the stunning filmmaking career yet to come.

The Eerie Magic of Small-Town Alabama, in Photos

The town of Nauvoo, Alabama, has a population of barely over 200 people. “If you blink, you would drive straight through it,” the photographer Devin Lunsford tells me. He’s been exploring towns like Nauvoo for the last three years, slowly making his way along the Interstate Highway Corridor X. All the Place You’ve Got is an uncanny diary of his many adventures on the road.

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