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Posts by: Miss Rosen

Rediscovering “The Hampton Album,” a Renowned Record of African-American History After the Civil War

Credited as the first female photojournalist in the United States, Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952) received a commission in 1899 to photograph the Hampton Institute, a private historically Black university located in Hampton, Virginia.

Founded in 1868, just four years after the Civil War, the Hampton Institute was dedicated to the education of African-American men and women — and from 1878 to 1923, also maintained a program for Native Americans. The campus was located on the grounds of “Little Scotland,” a former plantation. Among its many illustrious alumni was no less than Booker T. Washington who taught at Hampton after he graduated before going on to found Tuskegee University.

Over the course of several weeks in December 1899 and January 1890, Johnston created a series of work that came to be known as the Hampton Album, a series of 159 luxurious platinum plates offering a window into daily life for Hampton students. Gathered in a leatherbound album, the work was first exhibited in the American Negro Exhibit at the Exposition Universelle in Paris as part of the U.S. government’s efforts to rebrand its international image following the decimation of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Miguel Rio Branco’s Portrait of Love and Pain Inside the Damned City

Miguel Rio Branco. Preto e rosa com bandeira, 1988-1992-2012

Miguel Rio Branco. Preto e rosa com bandeira, 1988-1992-2012

Cities are unnatural; they are purely man-made constructions of artifice masquerading as civilization that reinforce hegemonic conditioning of behavior and thought. Being adaptable, by nature, we are easily led to believe that the triumph of nature is our birthright despite all evidence that it is our death sentence.

The concentration of people inside a landscape of concrete, steel beams, and glass combined with the decimation of native flora and fauna leads to a curious result. Wo/man is never so lonely as being lost in the crowd, consumed by the shadow of fear — fear of missing out. Everywhere it seems, the illusion of success holds a promise that escapes their grasp: of beauty and joy, of status and wealth.

Here, city dwellers are locked inside a false binary, desperate to believe the illusions they are fed by pop culture and social media. They strive for the impossible, climbing to the top of the short ladder only to learn there’s nothing there; or they find themselves pushed to the bottom of it, excluded from the opportunity to learn that this is nothing more than an illusion.

A Portrait of the Eternal City During the 1970s

Rome is a cinematic wonderland: a landscape made to be immortalized in photography and film. It’s grandeur lies in the dereliction of empire everywhere you look, the inevitable, inescapable decay of the imperialist impulse. It is pure romance in the nineteenth century sense of the word: the sublime awe-inspiring knowledge that all that remains of the past is fantasy and myth.

By the 1970s, Rome had become a restless place, one of innocence long faded away. In its place, a new spirit emerged, one that evokes the pride of those who are determined to survive at any cost. It is anything but la dolce vita, though a Fellini-esque spirit lurks in the shadows of debauched darkness punctured by quivering beams of shining light.

It is in this city that American photographer Stephan Brigidi took aim, capturing slices of daily life in his new book Rome 1970s: A Decade of Turbulent Change (Daylight). Like many world capitals of the era, Rome had become a harsh, sinister place, the breeding ground for the kidnapping and murder of prominent politician Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades.

Documenting the Migrant Crisis in Bangladesh in Photos

Since August 2017, more than 700,000 people have fled Rakhine State, Myanmar to seek safety in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Theirs has been a treacherous journey, made all the more dangerous since arriving at sprawling camps on the unstable hillsides of Kutupalong, their lives put in jeopardy with every passing monsoon and cyclone season.

Many arrive injured, malnourished, and traumatized, these refugees live in structures made of bamboo, plastic, cardboard and sometimes corrugated metal sheeting. Heavy rain, flooding, landslides, cyclones, and water-borne illnesses are all real threats to the families living in these temporary homes.

With support from the American Red Cross, these families are now working to prepare for the onslaught of weather emergencies that continue to threaten their survival. Photographer Brad Zerivitz shares his experiences documenting the migrant crisis in this distant corner of the world.

A History of Photography as Seen Through the Eyes of Howard Greenberg

Young girl in profile, 1948. Consuelo Kanaga (American, 1894–1978)
Photograph, gelatin silver print

Madrid, Spain, 1933. Henri Cartier?Bresson (French, 1908–2004)
Photograph, gelatin silver print

The history of photography is shaped not only by the people who make the pictures but those who preserve their work and their legacies. In a world where the art market feeds a compulsion to buy and sell, to trade art like a commodity, the words of Oscar Wilde may spring to mind: “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

But once upon a time, it was not so. The collector was a person of tremendous importance and influence, supporting not only the artist in the tradition of patronage, but transforming the landscapes of history and art. Gallerist Howard Greenberg is one such person who understand this point of view, having not only helped establish the medium of photography in the haughty market of art, but having established a collection whose value extends far beyond the pallid discussion of price.

The new exhibition Viewpoints: Photographs from the Howard Greenberg Collection, on view at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston through December 15, 2019, presents 150 highlights from a group of 446 recently acquired images that showcases some of the most important pictures made during the twentieth century.

The list of photographers is a veritable who’s who of modern art — and some of our favorites including Berenice Abbott, Diane Arbus, Roy DeCarava, William Klein, Dorothea Lange, Helen Levitt, Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, James Van Der Zee, Arnold Newman, and Brassaï (Gyula Halasz) to name just a few of the legends whose works are now on display.

A Multi-Faceted Portrait of the Genius of Photographer Jim Marshall

Man outside a liquor store in Oakland, California, 1962

Black musicians still had to fight to perform in venues in non-black neighborhoods, even though the black and white locals of the American Federation of Musicians had merged. North Beach, San Francisco, 1960.

John Coltrane listening to playback at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio for Impulse Records, New York City, 1963

When most people think of photographer Jim Marshall (1936-2010), scenes from rock and roll history come crashing to mind: Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire during the Monterey Pop Festival; Johnny Cash flipping the bird at San Quentin State Prison; Janis Joplin lounging like a vixen in a sparkly mini-dress with a bottle of Southern Comfort in hand; the Charlatans playing the Summer of Love concert in Golden Gate Park.

But Marshall’s roots go deeper than rock: they thread through the history of jazz, in the nightclubs and festivals where he honed his skills as self-taught photographer coming of age in Jim Crow America. A perennial outsider, Marshall championed the underdog, the spaces where the oppressed and exploited transformed their pain and sorrow into beauty and art.

As a man of the streets, Marshall understood the power of the activist to transform the way we see and think. He used the camera as his instrument, to tell the story of the people and the times — not just the headlining names but the regular folks who fought for the cause that we’re still fighting for more than half a century after he made some of his most indelible photographs.

A Powerful Journey Through San Quentin, California’s Oldest And Most Notorious Prison

Unknown (American, 20th century). Soul Day 8-9-76, from the San Quentin State Prison Archive, 1976, printed 2018. Inkjet print.

Unknown (American, 20th century). Mother’s Day 5-9-76, from the San Quentin State Prison Archive, 1976, printed 2018. Inkjet print. 

In 2011, visual artist Nigel Poor entered San Quentin, the oldest, most notorious prison in California. Prior inmates include Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, Black Panther Party members Eldridge Cleaver and George Jackson, and Stanley “Tookie” Williams, co-founder of the Crips street gang and one of the many inmates executed in the prison death chamber.

The image of San Quentin looms large in popular culture through film, television, music, and literature dating back to John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel, Of Mice and Men — creating fictional, often misinformed narratives that cast a long shadow over the true stories of those inside the prison walls.

Unlike those inside San Quentin, Poor entered of her own volition in 2011 as a volunteer teacher for the Prison University Project, teaching the history of photography to inmates. Inside the prison, Poor discovered an astounding wealth of stories that were waiting to be told, stories that became the basis for The San Quentin Project: Nigel Poor and the Men of San Quentin State Prison, currently on view at the Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive through November 19, 2019.

In The San Quentin Project, Poor counters fiction with fact through a series of profound personal histories shared in photographs, visual documents, and Ear Hustle, an acclaimed podcast co-produced with Earlonne Woods. Originally designed to run exclusively on the San Quentin institutional channel, Ear Hustle became a platform for inmates to tell their story in their own words. Since it began, it has been broadcast beyond their wildest dreams, airing throughout the entire California prison system as well as 114 UK prisons.

Here Poor and Woods share their experiences creating an archive of San Quentin’s history, past and present.

War Veterans Who Have Found Peace and Healing in Vietnam

On July 21, 1954, Vietnam was split, the fractured nation a pawn of the Cold War. The communist North and the capitalist South became pitted against each other in a twenty-year war that would destroy not only the Vietnamese people and their land but countless foreign soldiers sent to fight a brutal proxy war.

The United States entered into the conflict in 1964 after the suspicious Gulf of Tonkin incident, and for the next nine years drafted American men, disproportionately from working class, Black, and Latinx backgrounds, to fight a war they could never win.

That did not stop the U.S. military from engaging in some of the most heinous acts of war, from the My Lai Massacre in 1968, wherein their gang raped women, mutilated children as young as 12, and slaughtered some 504 innocent villagers uninvolved in the conflict.

Reportage of the war was as brutal as the acts themselves, fomenting a righteous ant0war favor stateside. Public sentiment split the nation in half, with warmongers deriding anti-war protesters and eventually spurring on the National Guard shooting that left four U.S. students dead during at Kent State in Ohio in 1971.

Gavin Watson Looks Back on His Childhood as a British Skinhead

Long before the UK skinhead scene was co-opted by right-wing movements it was a culture created by the working class looking to forge a connection across the races. If first emerged on the streets of London in 1969 in response to the self-indulgent pretensions of bourgeois hippiedom. Forged in the council estates and East End slums, skinhead culture combined the style and sound of the Windrush generation with the back-to-basics aesthetics of post-war Britain. It was reborn again in the late 1970s and 80s, just as photographer Gavin Watson came of age.

By the time Watson left school at age 16, he had shot some 10,000 pictures of his friends in High Wycombe, documenting the poignant beauty of their daily lives, finding inspiration and solace in the space where rebellion, style, and self-actualization meet. In Oh What Fun We Had! (Damiani), Watson delves into his archive for a fresh look at a vastly misunderstood and misrepresented culture before the right-wing infiltrated it and spread disinformation through the mainstream media.

Beginning in 1994, with the publication of his first book skins, Watson has been on a mission to reclaim his roots and culture from those who have disrespected it. Here he shares his experiences and insights into the truth about skinhead culture — a history that can only be told by an insider.

These fantastical images celebrate the natural order of the earth

Nature is our greatest teacher, providing ample evidence of the wisdom of the earth, the cycles of life and death ever flowing from one into the next. It is here in nature that we learn the truth: the beauty and power of the sublime, the ineffable, unspeakable grandeur that existence inspires.

But with the words written in Genesis 1:26, the world has lost its way, for the very idea that we have dominion over what does not belong to us is a sin of the worst kind. We are stewards and our role is to preserve and conserve so that nature continues to provide abundance, rather than wipe us off the earth as payback for the abuses of greed, gluttony, wrath, sloth and pride that have wrought the horrors of climate change to our doorstep.

The further we remove ourselves from nature, stashed indoors and stuck behind screens, in a state of constant consumption, always needing more and never satisfied, the more perilous the payback will be, according to Newton’s Third Law: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Yet it is entirely too easy to forget, to lose ourselves in the conveniences and conventions of the postmodern world, to presume that there are no consequences for our choices just because we cannot see them yet. We can rationalize the irrational until such a day the center can no longer hold, and the weight of our delusions shall break the dam, a deluge of glacial proportions.

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