Posts by: Elizabeth Sulis Gear

How to make an ethical down coat that will keep you warm

Geese near Kapittelweg, Breda (2017)

Feather Collecting, Kapitalweg, Breda (video still #2)

Filling, sewing and making the down jacket with collected goose feathers (video stills)

“Last autumn, I was selected as an artist of The Arctic Circle Residency, a sailing expedition in Svalbard,” says photographer Sheng Wen Lo, with whom we talked last year about his long-term project White Bear. “While shopping for winter jackets for the journey, I realised that it was impossible for me to tell where exactly the feathers of mass-produced down jackets came from (live plucking, etc). Even though there are multiple certificates (such as RDS, which requires that geese are killed for meat before plucking), I couldn’t be sure about their origin.”

These photographs will make you question your assumptions about the human body

What is a body if not the sum of all its parts? Though strange and distorted, the bodies portrayed here are not manipulated in any way. Whether we regard these curious images with awe, feel repulsed—or experience a combination of the two—this is London-based photographer Chloe Rosser’s attempt “to turn some of our assumptions on their heads.” Her ongoing series Form & Function is on display at the Photofusion Photography Centre in London until 18 June 2018—a solo exhibition organised in partnership with the L A Noble Gallery.

Ethereal images portray a subculture in decline

“We often confuse it (melancholia) with nostalgia but it is in fact altogether different,” explains photographer Sebastien Zanella. “Melancholia is a suspended state where we are able to observe the world from a distance. Not too happy, not too sad, just as it is. A moment where we are struck by the immensity of what is in front of us, and our inability to change any of it.”

An autobiography of Miss Wish: A story of resilience

“I’ve spent my entire life collecting evidence,” Kimberley Stevens aka Cathy Wish told the New York Times. “I used to go with my family and take things from various places — in a constant fight to prove what happened.”

It’s common to make judgements about people’s circumstances based on first impressions. That’s what many people likely did when they passed Cathy Wish, aka Kimberley Stevens, sleeping rough on the streets of London. Less clear was that her drug abuse, mental health issues and homelessness were the consequences of severe post-traumatic stress. Stevens still has flashbacks and nightmares after being physically, sexually and emotionally abused as a child, and coerced into child pornography by the figures of authority who were supposed to keep her safe.

Early on Stevens knew she wouldn’t be taken seriously were she to reach out for help. As a young girl of colour she had been taken out of poverty and adopted into a middle class white family. In the hope that one day someone might listen, she collected evidence which she hoped might serve as evidence to be used in some far off tomorrow.

Noor photographer Nina Berman was in London photographing the impact of Margaret Thatcher’s policies over 25 years ago. She met Stevens while documenting young drug users on the streets. The photographer was drawn to her, and the pair began a friendship which spanned decades and continents.

Another Piece of the Jigsaw that is North Korea

Man in military uniform watches over beach goers near Wonsan, East coast North Korea

Pyongyang Metro – One of the deepest metro systems in the world. Its stations can double as bomb shelters, with blast doors in place at hallways. Statue of the late leader Kim Il Sung at the end of the platform, Pyongyang.

There’s a temptation to trespass wherever there’s a closed door, a secret or an air of mystery. The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is one of the last places on earth where both access and photography are restricted and controlled. As a consequence, there’s a hunger among viewers and readers for even a brief glimpse of what life is like in the modern day hermit kingdom beyond media conjecture.

Few travellers and photographers get beyond the tour. You’ve probably surmised from documentaries and other photo stories that tourists are always taken to the same places: the demilitarised zone, Pyongyang, the synchronised mass dancing and games at Arirang festival if the season is right; the beautiful national park at Mount Myohang if there’s time. Even so, photographers have over the year managed to capture brief moments of life beyond the tour as they mingle with civilians in the Pyongyang metro and look at the landscape through the windows of moving vehicles.

Photographer Tariq Zaidi’s most recent project Photographing North Korea was undertaken during a journey from Dandong, on the North Korea-Chinese border, to the DMZ in the south, and across the country from the capital Pyongyang to Wonsan. The final edit shows what the North Korean guides allowed Zaidi to photograph, and not what was deleted from his SD card upon leaving the country.

New photo book shows that cats are art worthy

© Jamie Campbell

© James Johnson

It is no secret that photographs and videos of domestic cats make up some of the most viewed content on the internet; there was keyboard cat, grumpy cat and lest we forget the rescue “perma-kitten” lil Bub.

Two years ago New York’s Museum of Moving Image (MoMi) hosted the exhibition How Cats Took Over the Internet — a history of cat memes, kitty cams and the celebrity status some of our feline friends eventually received.

Jason Eppink, the associate curator of digital media at MoMi reminds us that before the internet, there was a long perceived pejorative surrounding cats and their owners, who were labelled crazy cat ladies and lonely spinsters. Dog owners on the other hand were considered respectable, normal citizens. “When the internet gave us a peek at everyone else’s cats, and how owners are delighted with the silly and obnoxious things they do, it changed their perception,” he explains. “It was no longer a private thing to be secretly happy when your cat decides to knock a drink over for no reason and give you a blank look.”

When humans are gone, this is what our homes might look like


In a house where man lives no more, nature encroaches. Before long the crevices that once were the narrow gaps between skirting boards give in to plant life. But when does a house cease to be home?

Photographer Gohar Dashti was born in the border town of Ahvaz in southwestern Iran, though now lives between Boston and Tehran. “The first steps of my childhood were during the bloody Iran-Iraq war,” explains the artist. “Growing up during the war has taught my generation to live in a constant state of fear.”

New Photo Book Breaks Down Stereotypes of Muslim Men in the UK

“We are all in this together. And in the long term, revenge and violence will not work against extremists. Terrorists want us to huddle in our houses in fear, closing our doors and our hearts. They want us to tear open more wounds in our societies so that they can use them to spread their infection more widely. They want us to become like them: intolerant, hateful and cruel.” -Deeyah Khan at TedxExeter talk ‘what we don’t know about Europe’s Muslim kids.”

I look to the blurb of You Get me? for an introduction about what I am about read and the photographs I am about to look at; in gold, capital letters reads “MUSLIM THUGS BURN POPPIES. Sickening scenes on British streets—Daily Star, 12th November 2010. This headline is followed by many others like it. Is it any wonder young Muslim men often feel disenfranchised?

British-born artist Mahtab Hussain’s new photobook You Get Me? provides an introspective portrait of the community of young Muslim and/or Brown men caught between two worlds. “In the UK they are constantly stopped and searched, labelled as a terrorist or an extremist, and told England wasn’t their home. When they returned to their homeland, they were told they didn’t belong there either. “In a way, You Get Me? is all about hiding,” explains the artist, “pretending to be someone else, something else and then having to face the reality of who one truly wants to be.”

Alec Soth’s Iconic ‘Sleeping by the Mississippi’ 13 Years Later

Alec Soth, ‘Peter’s houseboat, Winona, Minnesota’ from Sleeping by the Mississippi (2017). Courtesy of the artist and MACK

Alec Soth, ‘Maiden Rock, Wisconsin’ from Sleeping by the Mississippi (2017). Courtesy of the artist and MACK.

“Over and over again I fall asleep with my eyes open, knowing I’m falling asleep, unable to prevent it. When I fall asleep this way, my eyes are cut off from my ordinary mind as though they were shut, but they become directly connected to this new, extraordinary mind which grows increasingly competent to deal with their impressions.” -Charles Lindbergh, aviator (epitaph to Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi)

“I live near the beginning of the Mississippi and have always felt a pull to it,” Soth tells writer Colin Pantall of the British Journal of Photography. “I used to run away when I was 5 or 6, pack a suitcase with books and run away from home. I’d only get a few blocks but it was the whole Huck Finn process, where the north is home and the south symbolises the exotic.”

A Glimpse at Life in Kyrgyzstan

“Today, no one has time for feelings, they’re all out making money. The discovery of money hit us like an atom bomb…”

Svetlana Alexievich, Secondhand Time: An Oral History of the Fall of the Soviet Union

The citizens of former USSR belonged to one of the most powerful forces in the world, and now they don’t. The Russian language, and the Soviet culture that accompanied it, were all many of them knew. As the USSR dissolved, changes came fast, leaving many feeling lost in the new world in which they found themselves, mourning the world to which they were born. In his latest series A Shaded Path, Parisian photographer Elliot Verdier portrays the generational disparities between those in Kyrgyzstan who are nostalgic for the abolished USSR, and the youth who are forging a new cultural identity for themselves.

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