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Posts tagged: documentary photography

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.”

Then They Came For Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II

Dorothea Lange, Oakland, California, March 13, 1942.
Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.

Dorothea Lange, Centerville, California, May 9, 1942.
Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.

Dorothea Lange, San Francisco, California, April 11, 1942.
Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.

It has been said that history repeats itself – and if this is true it is because the majority of people are pragmatists. For them, life occurs through a lens of cognitive dissonance framed by confirmation bias. They seek reinforcement of opinion in place of truth, relying on other people to tell them what and how to think. They prefer the appearance of goodness over goodness itself, forgoing sacrifices that would require they take radical responsibility in the name of self reliance.

As a result, mythological narratives become objects of faith and become rooted in identity, where integrity should be. Invariably, when push comes to shove, they shrug. It’s not their problem – until it is. And by then, they’ve passed the tipping point and it’s much too late.

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.”

A Country Doctor and Her Calling

For the last three decades Dr. Floarea Ciupitu has been a family doctor in Gangiova, a village in south-west Romania. Bucharest based photographer Ioana Moldovan followed her through her daily life, and her photo series A Country Doctor and Her Calling is both an inspiring example of a doctor’s devotion to her profession and a means to raise awareness of the challenges doctors face when working in rural communities in Romania.

Malick Sidibé’s Mesmerizing Portrait of Post-Colonial Mali

Malick Sidibé. Un jeune gentleman, 1978.

Malick Sidibé. Nuit de Noel, 1963.

Malick Sidibé. Mon chapeau et pattes d’eléphant, 1974.

Malick Sidibé (1935–2016) was a master of the form, a singular visionary whose photographs tell the story of the liberation, self-determination, beauty, dignity, and pride of his native Mali in the heart of West Africa.

Born in the village of Soloba when Mali was still a colony of France, Sidibé hailed from a family of herders who worked the land. His natural propensity for art made him the first member of his family to attend school: the Institut National des Arts de Bamako, in the nation’s capital in 1952.

In 1955, be began an apprenticeship with photographer Gérard Guillat-Guignard; he opened Studio Malick in 1958. His timing could not have been more fortuitous for Sidibé and Mali were coming into their very own at the same time. As a member of the Mali Federation, which included Sengal and the French Sudan, the nations achieved independence from France on June 20, 1060, after a period of negotiations. On September 22, Mali left the Federation and was on its own.

The spirit of freedom is evident throughout Sidibé’s work. Honing in on the youth culture of the times, he captured the joyous energy of the first generation of liberated Malians on the beach, in the clubs, at sporting events, and in his studio. In every photograph he created he found the heart and the soul of his people and the result was nothing short of beautiful.

The Harrowing Floods of Bangladesh, in Photos

A rickshawala, with the help of his daughter, tried to cross a flooded road in Ramu.

“I am documenting what’s around me not only as a photojournalist, but also as a victim,” Jashim Salam says. In Chittagong, Bangladesh, where he lives and works, rising water levels during monsoon season have left houses and places of business below water. “It started very slowly, six or seven years ago,” he tells me. “The water is rising year by year.” Water World is his ongoing record of the people and lives affected by the floods.

The Photo Exhibition Holding Things Together in “This Synthetic Moment”

JAMES BARNOR. NIFA NIFA, 1974.
Lambda print, 27 3/5 x 27 3/5 in 70 x 70 cm.
Courtesy the artist and October Gallery, London.

LIZ JOHNSON ARTUR. Untitled, 2016.
Printed 2018, adhesive vinyl. © Liz Johnson Artur.
Courtesy the artist and David Nolan Gallery, New York.

KWAME BRATHWAITE. Untitled (Photo shoot at a school for one of the many
modeling groups who had begun to embrace natural hairstyles in the 1960s) c. 1966.
Printed 2017, archival pigment print 15 x 15 in 38.1 x 38.1 cm.
Courtesy the artist and Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles

Though we may obsess about the past or the future, alternately consumed by all that is not, the primacy of the present forever asserts itself. We almost always believe that the times in which we live are the precipice to a cataclysmic fall, a tipping point to some greater tragedy, a moment when all can slip away and be lost. Ours is, as photographer David Hartt observed, “A crisis of borders, a fold in time, a rupture in space.”

With this in mind, Hartt sets out to curate a photography exhibition that speaks to our times. This Synthetic Moment at David Nolan, New York, brought together the works of Liz Johnson Artur, James Barnor, Kwame Brathwaite, David Hartt, Zoe Leonard, and Christopher Williams to explore, in Hartt’s words, “pictures of power and pride and grief and desire and confusion and community and celebration and abandonment.”

Each of the artists featured sharesd their own vision of the world, one that speaks to the others included in the exhibition in a dialogue that made us aware of the ways in which photography can shape the discourse without ever saying a word.

Patrick Willocq’s “Song of the Walés” Celebrates the Rite of Motherhood

WALE BAKUKU, GENEROUS LIKE PALM NUTS.
Bakuku — the queen. From the village of Bokondobuna. Boonde clan.

WALE BONTONGU’S POND.
Bontongu — the young. From the village of Ikoko. Itele clan.

The Bantu (Pygmy) tribes of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are among the oldest peoples living on earth. Believed to be the direct descendants of Late Stone Age hunter-gatherers of the central African rainforest, they have maintained traditions and rituals that date back thousands of years.

When women of the Ekonda pygmy tribe become first-time mothers, they become Walés (“nursing mothers”), living in seclusion with their children. Here they are tended to by other women who teach them about their health and that of their children, who regardless of gender are the heir of the family and sometimes the entire clan.

Here, the Walés are given the respect and care otherwise reserved for the king, devoting their energies exclusively to themselves and their children. Adopting elaborate grooming rituals including coating themselves in ngola, a red powder from a tree of the same name that is believed to chase evil spirits away, and donning heavy brass bracelets known as kongas that restrict their movements along with nkumu, the skins of carnivorous animals, the Walés are follow strict rules in seclusion until the time arrives for liberation.

Nan Goldin: The Beautiful Smile

Bruce in the smoke, Pozzuoli, Italy 1995.

Nan one month after being battered, 1984.

Nan Goldin’s photographs are filled with spirits and ghosts, becoming vestiges of lives lived, loved, and lost. They are evidence of we who once were and no longer are, here today, gone tomorrow ­– were it not for her art.

Over the past five decades, Goldin has created a body of work so iconoclastic and powerful that she has spawned generations of artists who follow in her footsteps, from Juergen Teller to Wolfgang Tillmans and Corinne Day. Goldin first picked up the camera in 1968 at the age of 15, using photography as a means to deal with life following her older sister Barbara’s suicide just four years earlier.

By 1973, she had her first solo exhibition in Boston, wherein she showed the world her travels through the city’s gay and transsexual communities in a series of black and white photographs that are stunningly timeless – yet prescient, as Goldin always is.

South Beach, 1974-1990: Photographs of a Jewish Community

Gay Block

Gay Block

Gay Block

Long before South Beach in Miami became a destination among the jet set, it was a thriving retirement community for Jewish Americans, who made their fortunes up north before cashing their chips in and heading to Florida to spend their final years in the sun.

During the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, when they came en masse, they decamped in the Art Deco wonder palaces that had been the perfect getaway for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe. Once they arrived, they brought their culture with them, a singular mixture of Yiddish Americana that exalts the gestalt of mid-twentieth century “Lawn Guyland.”

In celebration, HistoryMiami Museum presented South Beach, 1974-1990: Photographs of a Jewish Community, a group exhibition featuring more than 120 works by Gay Block, Gary Monroe, Richard Nagler, David Scheinbaum, and Andy Sweet.

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