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A Portrait of Love Among the Ruins of Post-Industrial America

October 23, 2010 birthdays

Tony in the dark bedroom, looking out the window

Dana nursing KyLanne the day before she took her baby home

In the dystopian mythos that fuels the American Dream, poverty is a mark of character upon which outrageous projections are made. Many, clinging to the illusions of living in a meritocracy, where everyone starts on a level playing field, prefer the ignorance of ideology above all, villainizing the victims of a system designed to create a permanent underclass upon which America’s Next Top Billionaire will assuredly feast.

Poverty, as it is presented to us, is a choice — the wrong one, the experts suggest. “If only these people would X, Y, or Z,” the armchair analyst adds without the slightest shame, from the comforts of their breakfast nook while scrolling the latest headlines on their news feed.

“X, Y, or Z” could be any number of conservative talking points that focus the minutiae of personal accountability while turning a blind eye to the crushing weight of living hand to mouth in country that has designed systems to profit off your demise.

Artist Brenda Ann Kenneally knows how the game is played better than most, and uses her knowledge and wisdom expose the truth — rather than perpetuate the lies told and sold. In 2002, she and author Adrian Nicole LeBlanc began collaborating on a magazine assignment in Troy, New York, a once-thriving city whose fortunes have gone dark.

One Photographer’s Adventures to Some of the Most Stunning Places on Earth (Sponsored)

In many ways, the Welsh photographer Andy Lee reminds us of the great landscape artists of generations past. In an era in which wild landscapes face unprecedented dangers, he’s witnessed true marvels of the natural world–from a breathtaking lenticular cloudscape to a mind-blowing murder of crows in flight. Because of his background in painting and film, he understands the importance of taking his time, and he revels in the magical and serendipitous moments that happen when he least expects them. But while Lee’s work has deep roots in the history of fine art and the sublime landscape, he’s certainly a photographer of the modern age.

Whether he’s working abroad with charities or finding new ways to incorporate his twin passions for landscapes and portraits, Lee consistently finds fresh and novel ways to create meaningful images. And to showcase them in the most powerful way possible, he’s created a website and domain using Squarespace. With more than a few viral photos under his belt, Lee maintains a flourishing online presence and a gorgeous print shop that would give any physical gallery space a run for its money. In an era that seems defined by short attention spans and “the next big thing,” Lee proves once and for all that beautiful, well-made work will always leave a lasting impression. We interviewed him about his travels, the evolution of photography, and the importance of a timeless website design.

The Life of One Young Lady with Down Syndrome, in Photos

When the photographer Snezhana von Buedingen first visited Sofie’s family at their farm in east Germany, she stayed for three days. She spent her waking hours shadowing Sofie, taking her time to soak in the details of her everyday life. With time, the pair forged a powerful bond; Meeting Sofie is the photographer’s ongoing ode to her friend and muse–a young woman who happens to have down syndrome.

Revealing the Fascinating World Beyond the Gender Binary

Pidgeon

Rain

Beyond the rigid, often inflexible, ideas that we are taught lies a realm of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom that awaits us. The complexity of existence can be attributed to the fact that until we adapt our paradigms to reflect reality, we will remain trapped within a false construction masquerading as truth, one that may be used to exploit, oppress, or otherwise marginalize the most vulnerable among us.

To paraphrase Rumi, we can become the change we wish to see in the world — by forgoing the need to rush to opinion as a way to avoid the discomfort of doing the actual work. In giving people the space and freedom to share their truth, we confront our own ignorance and bigotry, while simultaneously learning from those whose lived experience bears witness to realities that may be far beyond our immediate comprehension.

When American photographer Chloe Aftel first heard the term “genderfluid” in 2012, she became curious and began to explore a world she did not know; a space where the gender binary does not operate accordingly to the principles set forth by the heternormative community.

With equal parts respect and curiosity. Aftel set forth to document the lives of gender non-binary people from all walks of life across America. What she came to understand was simple enough: the paradigms that we currently use to describe gender are limiting constructs that fail to recognize its extraordinarily complex expression.

“Most people are not simply one thing,” Aftel observes. “They do not see themselves in a singular, stagnant way but rather enjoy exploring who they are in a deep, sometimes complicated and possibly contradicting ways via gender exploration of paradigms, stereotypes and generalities.”

In honor of those who share their stories and their lives, Aftel has created the phenomenal new book, Outside & In Between: Self Beyond the Gender Binary, released on January 27 in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Beautiful Photos of Japanese Cities Lost in Snow

The Chinese photographer Ying Yin initially boarded the ‘Wind of Okhotsk’ train in Hokkaido, Japan in hopes of seeing the the famous drift ice over the Sea of Okhotsk. Her first attempt, however, was cut short by bad weather, leading her to pursue a different subject. Following the general course of the train, she made visits to snowy cities, where she observed solitary figures going about their daily lives.

A Portrait of Brooklyn Before it Was Gentrified

John and Michael, 16th Street, 1980

John’s Caddy, 6th Avenue, 1975

Back in the 1950s and ‘60s, a movement was afoot. The media called it “white flight” and sang it from the rooftops. The cities were being abandoned as white families ran for the hills of suburban towns just as Black and Latinx populations were finding a foothold in northern climates following the Great Migration, Operation Bootstrap, and Operation Peter Pan.

By the 1970s, a new era had begun — one of fueled by urban decay that left only the most strident New Yorkers in place. It was a city of true grit, where only the strongest survive, a city filled with idiosyncratic characters that were simultaneously celebrated and vilified. It was, simply put, a new York in every sense of the word.

Brooklyn native Larry Racioppo headed west for two years before returning to his hometown in December 1970. He took a job at the phone company and a class at SVA, which inspired him to start photographing the world in which he lived. Then little by little, everything began to change.

These Eerie Photos Will Make You See the Planet in a Whole New Light

“My nights are full of silence and the occasional howl of coyote,” the photographer Reuben Wu tells me. His series Lux Noctis has taken him to some of the most isolated regions in the American West, as well as remote spots in Europe and South America, under the cover of darkness. He flies a drone to light his way, illuminating sections of the landscape at will.

A Portrait of New York City, in Photo Books

Invisible City: Photographs by Ken Schles (1988)

In My Taxi: New York After Hours by Ryan Weideman (1991)

Life is Good & Good For You in New York by William Klein (1956)

There are eight million stories in the naked city — at any given time. As the years slip away, one fact remains: the only constant is change. “New” is the truth. Nothing ever stays the same, except the photographs. This, my friend, is the only time you can and will ever go home again.

At a certain point, even if you weren’t there, you know the photograph. It’s become a memory of another time and place that has now become a part of a history that ceaselessly fascinates. The city has a curious ability to romanticize the dog-eat-dog Darwinian principles that made Frank Sinatra proudly proclaim, “If I can make it there I can make it anywhere.”

Its vast, self-aggrandizing sensibilities spring up from the bedrock upon which the city is laid, its towering testaments to capitalism lining the island of Manhattan like so many rows of jagged teeth, while the outer lying boroughs nestle around like kin, creating a sprawling mass of magnificent encounters that can only happen in a place like this.

New York is not just photogenic, it’s the very landscape where genres flourish and styles abound — advancing the medium as only a true muse can. In New York in Photo Books (RM/Cento José Guerrero), editor Horacio Fernández takes us on a spellbinding tour of the city that never sleeps in ink on paper.

Celebrating the Powerful Legacy of Black-Owned Publishing

Photo: Isaac Sutton, 1969.
Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Exhibition view of “The Black Image Corporation” A project by Theaster Gates
Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti Courtesy Fondazione Prada.

Photo: Moneta Sleet Jr, 1969
Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

“Buy Black” is a powerful sentiment, one that underscores the radical racial disparity in business ownership throughout American history. Political capital has long been gained by catering to the economic interests of various groups, except Black communities — which have been historically met with violence.

“I do not expect the white media to create positive Black male images,” Huey Newton sagely observed, witnessing the impact of centuries of image making on the minds of the populace, whether wholly erasing histories, or revising them resale so that nothing in the new version resembled the truth.

“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one,” journalist A.J. Liebling wrote in The New Yorker in 1960, acknowledging a lifetime’s wisdom in a dozen words. Representation and visibility or only half the story being told: it’s not just the who, what, and where that matter but the how and the why that tell you everything you need to know.

Defamed by fake news long before the term became popular, Black America always finds a way to transcend the limitations constantly imposed. In 1942, businessman John J. Johnson founded the Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago, premiering its flagship publication, Ebony, three years later. In 1951, Jet, a weekly digest, debuted. Together, Ebony and Jet, creating the defining image of Black America during the tumultuous years of the twentieth-century, creating a space wholly for itself that drew a loyal audience excited to catch the latest in the glossies. In 2016, Johnson sold both magazine, marking the end of an era.

One Man Photographs His Grandfather’s Battle with Cancer

Here, I am trying to hold on

Here, I am trying to figure out who my guest is

Gary became his grandson Karen Khachaturov’s muse the day he learned had bladder cancer. “He was diagnosed in 2017,” the Armenian photographer remembers. “It was pretty shocking for everyone.” Over the span of a month, the two of them worked together to create a series of playful and uncanny images, with Gary in the starring role. Their collaboration would eventually become Pastel Struggle, now on view at Mirzoyan Library in Yerevan.

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