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Celebrating the Second Annual Latin American Foto Festival in the Bronx

Fred Ramos. A Honduran child plays near train tracks in Arriaga, Chiapas, in southern Mexico, October 2018.

Johis Alarco?n. Nicole Carcelén, 19, plays with a cotton plant in her hair. The black slaves who first came to Ecuador were forced to work in cotton fields, cane fields and coal mines. For Nicole, cotton plants represent the strength of her ancestors and the strength of their blood. La Loma, 2018.

Yael Martinez. Alin Granda at her father’s home in Taxco Guerrero.Ignacio Granda went missing in Iguala Guerrero on May10, 2013 Alin was one year old.With more than 100 thousand deaths that the fight against organized crime has left, there is a generation of children growing in a context of violence. Guerrero Mexico on July 13, 2017.

With the second edition of the Bronx Documentary Center’s Latin American Foto Festival, curators Michael Kamber and Cynthia Rivera provide a space for photographers living and working in Latin America to tell their stories on their terms. The Festival, held in nine venues throughout the Melrose neighborhood of the Bronx, gave some 50,000 residents — many of whom are Latinx immigrants — the opportunity to engage with stories from their homelands through exhibitions, workshops, tours, and panel discussions.

The history of colonized lands is rarely told by those who have suffered the fate of centuries of imperialism that have systemically decimated the people and the lands of every continent outside Europe. Over the past 200 years, the people of Latin America have fought for independence and sovereignty, and against puppet regimes installed by the United States that first began in 1823 under the Monroe Doctrine.

As ICE raids systemically target Black and Latinx communities, the Foto Festival provides a pertinent moment to pause and reflect on the impact of white supremacy in its many forms, and the ways in which those it aims to exploit, oppress, and erase fight back in a struggle for life or death.

Picturing the Banality of Evil in the Ominous Workings of the State

Many Americans profess surprise at the inhumane social practices coming from the present White House. Perhaps they are comforted that they once had the luxury to have never been concerned about the forces of the military and prison industrial complexes weighted against foreign lands and U.S. citizens alike.

Perhaps the carnage of AIDS never touched their families. Perhaps they were never the victim of land grabs, medical experimentation, or any number of the genocidal acts waged by this nation that are documented in the annals of history and the on-going subject of current events.

“I guess the only time most people think about injustice is when it happens to them,” poet Charles Bukowski opined, summing up the new wave of “Not my country!” that greets those who have chosen denial over truth up until it finally affected them.

Looking at New York’s Downtown Scene in the New Millennium

Rify Royalty

The Illustrious Blacks

Larissa Velez-Jackson

“Downtown” is a state of mind that continues to exist long after Eighth Street was abandoned, its storefronts left empty and its streets laid to waste, long after the glory days documented by everyone from Tom Wolfe to Andy Warhol.

The lands south of 14th Street, once the centerpiece of bohemian life, have become a strip mall, charging exorbitant rates that can only be afforded by those who believe money trumps all. Residential spaces downtown have become the exclusive enclave of transplants raised on dreams of being Carrie Bradshaw without having to be an actual escort, a fact of life Candace Bushnell firmly understood when she penned the “Sex in the City” column for The New York Observer long before the Kushner family stripped the paper of its cache and cred.

Downtown as it physically stands in 2019 is a hollow echo of its former self. But the downtown mindset endures in a very telling way; now that Manhattan proper has become the provenance of the bridge and tunnel set, well, you can find the downtown attitude in the boroughs themselves. Here, in little pockets hints of Old York remain: Mom & Pop shops, luncheonettes with Formica counter tops and swivel stools, apartment buildings and private houses home to generations of families who came over after World War II and were forced into distant enclaves due to racist redlining policies.

Deconstructing the Visual Language of Group Photography

Bob Adelman (1930–2016), People Wall, World’s Fair, New York, 1965, gelatin silver print. The Morgan Library & Museum, Purchased as the gift of Nancy and Burton Staniar, 2015.131. © Bob Adelman Estate

Amy Arbus (b. 1954), The Clash, NYC, 1981, gelatin silver print. The Morgan Library & Museum, Gift of Amy Arbus, 2018.74 Copyright © Amy Arbus

The mind loves to generalize, group and sort, to make categories where they might exist and impose them where they do not. It’s simpler this way; superficiality releases us of the presence of complexity, contradiction, and inconsistency that are the hallmarks of life. Once sorted and filed, we can rely upon confirmation bias to avoid the painful discomfort of ignorance.

The photograph — in as much as it is art, artifact, evidence, testimony, illusion, and artifice — allows us to simultaneously reinforce and question the assumptions we hold. It is only fitting that a group show about the group could offer the possibility of exploring the many facets of our insatiable desire to organize life into neat and palatable portion sizes.

In Among Others: Photography and the Group, now on view at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York through August 18, 2019, Joel Smith, the Morgan’s Richard L. Menschel Curator brings together more than 60 works from the 1860s through the present that explore that which we have long taken for granted as a photographic archetype.

The Artist Challenging Gender, Sexual, and Racial Stereotypes in Photos

Lola Flash, Dominque, Brooklyn, 2011, from the series [sur]passing.

Lola Flash, Raven O, USA, 2017. From the series LEGENDS.

African-American photographer Lola Flash first rose to prominence during the late 1980s when she began documenting the work of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). As a member and activist, Flash photographed demonstrations in New York, Washington DC, and London, marching in solidarity in a life-or-death fight against the government.

She developed her signature cross-color style at this time as a means to subvert the perceptions of race and representation that have long informed and defined so much of the photographic canon. The subject of color has been a thread that continues throughout her work, leading her to explore the subject of colorism and the impact of pigmentation on Black identity and consciousness.

In the new exhibition, [sur]passing on view at Autograph in London through August 17, 2019, Flash presents a series of larger-than-life portraits of global diasporic figures posed against the urban skyline, inviting us to consider our response complexion in all its many splendored forms.

It’s a subject that is discussed at length within the Black community, in large response to the conditions imposed by white supremacy. Many outside the community may consciously or unconsciously ascribe to the heavily socialized stereotypes around light and dark skin, not to mention hair texture and facial physiognomy. By centering and celebrating color, Flash continues to push redefine representation of Black identity from the inside.

The exhibition also includes a selection of bold and experimental early works from Flash’s series Cross Colour and Gay to Z, alongside works from her ongoing series LEGENDS, portraits of prominent members of queer and non-gender conforming communities. Here Flash reflects on working three decades in the trenches.

Documenting the Vanishing History of Appalachia’s Famed Cumberland Plateau

Eugene Hensley and Jobie Pray. Wilder, TN. 2017.

The Old Coon Hunter Mural at Ciderville Music Hall. Powell, TN.

“My daddy, he was a moonshiner. I’m not ashamed of it,” Opal Sharp Wright tells author Rachel Boillot in the new book Moon Shine: Photographs of the Cumberland Plateau (Daylight).

“He was crippled, he couldn’t work no regular job I guess dad had to feed his kids. He had three brothers that lived over there by him and they’d help him sometime, they’d all gather up there at the stlll and you could hear ‘em a-signing and making music.”

Growing up in the 1920s during Prohibition, Sharp Wright came of age inside a culture as old as America itself, a way of life that finds its swan song in Boilot’s tender and merciful book.

An Intimate Look at the Secret Life of April Dawn Alison

“Everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life and a secret life,” the novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez knowingly remarked, reminding us that what we see and what we believe is often just an illusion of sorts. Beneath it all, lays the true self, an identity we often keep hidden from the world — including ourselves.

But there are those who dare to delve into the person they are we no one else is there to witness it. These moments are a manifestation of something beyond the person others see: it is the self that exists within our deepest being. To record this, to document it, to create evidence of that which exists for no one else — this takes nerve. It is here our story of April Dawn Alison begins.

In 2017, a painter named Andrew Masulio donated an archive of over 8,000 Polaroids to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) — previously unseen self-portraits of April Dawn Alison, the female persona of Alan Schaefer (1941-2008), an Oakland-based photographer who lived in the world as a man. The archive reveals to us a fully-realized secret life beautifully revealed in the exquisite monograph, April Dawn Alison (MACK), selections from which are currently on view at SFMOMA through December 1, 2019.

A Powerful Portrait of the First Peoples of Australia

In 1899, British/Australian biologist and anthropologist Sir Baldwin Spencer and telegraph-station master Francis J. Gillen published The Native Tribes of Central Australia, an in-depth study of the customs and traditions of the Aboriginal groups living near Alice Springs. Initiated as members of the Arunta tribe, the authors were the first Europeans to witness the customs and social structures of a people that the state of Australia did not recognize.

The book featured 119 photographs, many of sacred rituals and ceremonies never seen by the Western world before. While the book caused a sensation in Europe, it failed to take into account the impact it had on those it documented — quite literally as such encounters with the disease-carrying Europeans often resulted in death:

“The very kindness of the white man who supplies him, in outlying parts, with stray bits of clothing is by no means conducive to the longevity of the native. If you give a black fellow, say a woollen shirt, he will perhaps wear it for a day or two, after that his wife will be adorned with it, and then, in return for perhaps a little food, it will be passed on to a friend. The natural result is that, no sooner do the natives come into contact with white men, than phthisis and other diseases soon make their appearance, and, after a comparatively short time, all that can be done is to gather the few remnants of the tribe into some mission station where the path to final extinction may be made as pleasant as possible.”

These intimate scenes will take you back to the Victorian Era

© Tami Bahat

© Tami Bahat

The Mistress 1, 2017 © Tami Bahat / courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Tami Bahat’s photographic portraiture is at once unique and familiar: unique in its distinct approach to lighting and Victorian-era style, yet familiar in its visual cues, referencing the work of old masters such as Vermeer and Rembrandt.

The work in Bahat’s series, Dramatis Personae, is tied to the tradition of painting. In her piece The Painter, a seemingly conventional composition becomes quite complex upon further investigation, as a baboon takes center stage in a once traditional artist portrait. There is a subtle twist in each of Bahat’s photographs, quietly demanding the attention of the viewer.

We spoke to one of the internet’s most famous Photoshop provocateurs

Since Feature Shoot’s inception back in 2008, we’ve managed to showcase some of the best photographers on the planet. But of all the talented people we’ve had the pleasure to interview, only one has been able to capture Kurt Cobain’s secret pet Gremlin, exposed that Elvis is still alive, and witnessed the moment when Pablo Escobar met Mr. Rogers. We present Vemix, the digital artist that’s taking the world by storm.

Nobody knows his real name or has ever seen a photograph of him. Yet, the guy has about 60,000 followers on Instagram and is constantly tagged by today’s greatest celebrities. He’s even got his own entry in the Urban Dictionary, where his name is defined as a verb.

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