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Exploring the Nuances of Nigerian Identity and the Performance of Gender

UNTITLED III, 2019 Archival Ink Jet Print on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 130 x 90 CM

I MISS YOU, 2015 Archival Ink Jet Print on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 119 X 79.5 CM

UNTITLED IV, 2019 Archival Ink Jet Print on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 70 x 46.67 CM

For imperialism to succeed and persist, it must other everything that it is not in order to justify injustice and sin. At its disposal are tools like ignorance, arrogance, disinformation, indoctrination, frailty, and fear — all of which can be used to foment the ugliest emotions of the weak-minded, impotent, and malicious people willing to stand behind a political structure that would just as soon turn on them.

When we consider representations of Africa, they’ve long been filtered through the lens of a colonial agenda that has exploited the people and the land to diminish the massive contributions of Black peoples to world civilization for tens of thousands of years. This othering, which condones slavery, racism, and oppression in the name of religion, has systematically stripped the humanity from all who come into contact with it.

But art has the power to change how we see and think about the world, providing perspectives created from inside looking out and reflecting upon the deeper truths about the nature of life and the human condition. In his work Nigerian artist Lakin Ogunbanwo centers the experiences of different ethnic groups from his homeland in the series e wá wo mi and Are We Good Enough, recently on view at Niki Cryan Gallery. Ogunbanwo’s works document the complexities of his culture to resist the West’s monolithic narrative of Africa that reduces 54 countries on the continent into a single identity.

Revisiting DogTown and the Legend of the Z-Boys

© Glen E. Friedman; Jay Adams, Krypto Bowl—1978

© C.R. Stecyk III; Stacy Peralta

Deep in the DogTown area of west Los Angeles, in the early 1970s, a group of young surfers known as the Zephyr Team (Z-Boys) took their talents to the street. With the introduction of the eurothane wheel, skateboards quickly became an underground phenomenon among the daring, innovative youth who made use of drainage ditches and empty backyard pools to create the ultimate DIY sport — which will finally debut at the 2020 Olympics.

But back in the days, long before it had become a commercial phenomenon, the Z-Boys were making their named when competition skateboarding returned in 1975. Along for the ride was a young skater and photographer named Glen E. Friedman, who had begun making photographs documenting the scene which first appeared in SkateBoarder Magazine.

In 2000, Friedman teamed up with journalist C.R. Stecyk III to produce the iconic book, DogTown: The Legend of Z-Boys, which has just been reissued in a bigger, newly designed edition by Akashic Books. Now spanning 1975–1985 and beyond, the book features DogTown articles written and photographed by C.R. Stecyk III along with hundreds of images from Friedman’s archives, many of which appeared in the 2001 documentary film, Dogtown and Z-Boys. Here Friedman takes us back to his stomping grounds, revisiting the culture and community where he honed his talents behind the camera.

The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Photographers Is Here

We collaborated with the team at PhotoShelter to bring you a gift guide full of the best gear, photo books, and more you can get for your colleagues, family, friends, and yes, yourself.

In addition to providing our own gift recommendations, we interviewed world-renowned photographers about their favorite gadgets and tools. In total, twenty-seven artists weighed in on this year’s must-have items, ranging from drones to cameras to workshops. The photographers featured run the gamut from photojournalism to portraiture to aerial and fine art, including Pete Souza, trashhand, Henry Do, Monique Jaques, Yannis Davy Guibinga, Winnie Au, Isa Leshko, Tiina Törmänen, and many more. Beyond the gifts, you’ll get an inside peak behind-the-scenes and into the minds of exciting photographers working today. And perhaps best of all, it’s free. Download The Photographer’s Ultimate Holiday Wish List here.

Announcing The Winners of the Print Swap Exhibitions (Plus Some Big News)

‘Unwinding’ © Anna-Lena Guske (@momentznotthings), Berlin, Germany, part of the showcase at Endorffeine Coffee Bar in Los Angeles

‘Perpetual Landscape’ © Melissa Stewart (@mellisstew), Victoria, Australia, part of the showcase at Chapter One Cafe and Wine Bar in Sydney

Our international project The Print Swap has two new group exhibitions running through the month of January, each taking place on opposite ends of the earth. Our partners at Endorffeine Coffee Bar in Chinatown, Los Angeles and Chapter One Cafe and Wine Bar across from Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, will host a selection of hand-picked photographs from recent Print Swap participants. This month’s exhibiting artists hail from cities around the world, with home bases in the United States, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Mexico.

Nostalgic Photos Make Us Long for the NYC of Yesteryear

The photographer Justin Bettman moved to New York City from California at the age of twenty-one, filled with expectation about what he’d find once he arrived.

While he was pleased to find some echoes of the quintessential city he’d pictured as a child, he also found that some things were different than he’d envisioned. One of the first things that struck him was the pace of it all; everyone was in a rush to get somewhere, and people rarely took time to pause.

Seeing the Unseen in the Groundbreaking Work of Harold Edgerton

Milk drop coronet, 1957

Bullet through apple, 1964

Cranberry juice dropping into milk, 1964

Engineer, educator, explorer and entrepreneur, Harold E. “Doc” Edgerton (1903–90) was also a groundbreaking photographer who revolutionized the medium when he developed the first electronic flash, or stroboscopic light, which revealed motions in segments unseen by the human eye in 1931.

Described as “an American original,” by former student and Life photographer Gjon Mili, Edgerton was a visionary, fusing the divide between art and science while working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Understanding his work would be best understood by making it relatable to the lay person, Edgerton made action-stop images of machines, animals, and athletes to illustrate just what his invention could do — even going so far as to show a bullet fired through an apple. You might even say, he knew his audience better than they knew themselves.

Harold Edgerton: Seeing the Unseen (Steidl) is a beautifully illustrated compendium of the innovator’s work, bringing together more than 100 of his most important images, along with excerpts from Edgerton’s laboratory notebooks. Taken as a whole Edgerton’s work illustrates just how deeply his work has seeped into cultural consciousness, as we take these “special effects” for granted, not realizing the debt we owe not only to science, but to the possibilities of photography.

Tripping Through California During the 1970s, In Photos

Hailing from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, American photographer and reggae historian Roger Steffens longed for the gentle caress of the natural world, rather than the asphalt jungle in which he was raised. As a teen, he used to pour over special issues of Look and Life magazines dedicated to the Golden State: Californ-I-A.

In 1967, he and three buddies decided to make a cross-country trip out to San Francisco during the Summer of Love. But the trip was not as Steffens had dreamed. “I was part of a quartet of GIs, drafted against our will, forced to go to Vietnam to serve as government propagandists in a psychological operations unit,” Steffens writes in the introduction to The Family Acid: California (OZMA).

“The night before we shipped to Nam, a pair of poet friends, Jerry Burns and Gene Fowler, took us to the top of Mount Tamalpais, across the Golden Gate Bridge. There we saw an awesome blood-red 360-degree sunset over the Bay and the ocean and mountains below. I vowed that if I made it through the war alive, I would come back here to live.”

Reclaiming the Sacred Space of the Divine Feminine in Nature

Ana Mendieta, Volcán, 1979; Six chromogenic color prints, each 13 1/4 x 20 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Promised Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in memory of Hollis Sigler; © The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC; Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York

Rania Matar, Yara, Cairo, Egypt, 2019; Archival pigment print, 44 x 37 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Robert Klein Gallery; © Rania Matar

Justine Kurland, Jungle Gym, 2001; Chromogenic color print, 30 x 40 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection; © Justine Kurland; Image courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York

Climate change is the manifestation of the destruction of the feminine by a masculine society that believes that humans have dominion over the earth — but as we are seeing it will be Mother Nature who has the last word. The destruction of the planet parallels the oppression and exploitation of women in many cultures around the globe — the erasure of the divine feminine has horrific effects, for the center will not hold.

We are moving well past the tipping point, though this will not be recognized until it is far too late to save the world as it is. Instead, we will enter into a new paradigm where illusions of the past shall be washed away when the glaciers return to claim the lands they inherited from us.

Mother Earth, like the sea, are historically considered feminine entities – a telling truth in a patriarchal world. What Western society has sought to exploit and oppress, perhaps William Congreve said it best in 1697: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” But why wait until it’s too late?

Dennis Stock’s Mesmerizing Portrait of 1960s California

Brucemas Day, Venice

Lake Tahoe

Venice

Back in 1968, Magnum photographer Dennis Stock headed out to California for a five-week road trip up and down Pacific coast, documenting the hippie counterculture at its peak. Two years later, he compiled a selection of images for the book, California Trip, a paperback featuring black and white photographs that capture the complexities and contractions of living along the edge of the continental shelf.

“For many years California frightened me; the contrasting arenas of life shook me up,” Stock wrote in the book’s preface. “Even though I found the sun and fog, sand and Sierras, which conveyed a firm image of stark reality, the mother vision of life, the state seemed unreal. The people were constructing layers and dimensions of life that unsettled me. Surrealism was everywhere, the juxtapositions of relative levels of reality projected chaos.”

Meet Emerging Photography Juror Jessie Wender, Photo Editor at The New York Times

Jessie Wender (@jmwender) is a photo editor, writer and producer. She has worked in the photo departments of The New York Times, Apple, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Esquire, and Time Inc. and her photographs have been published in The New Yorker and MIT Technology Review. She has also written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, National Geographic, Contact Sheet, and Rose Issa Projects. Wender’s commissions have been recognized by American Photography and the Society of Publication Designers. She loves working with artists and with creative people, and supporting emerging photographers.

Here, Wender shares career highlights along with her thoughts on influential developments in photography and what she wants to see more of in the future.

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