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Posts tagged: documentary photography

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.

Shocking Photos of the Floods in West Bengal

The photographer Ranita Roy remembers the floods of West Bengal from her early childhood. “When I was a kid, I had a lot of fun with the flowing water,” she remembers. Now, as an adult, she realizes the consequences and implications of the floods. People and their animals have died, and more have lost their homes and livelihoods. Driven by what she calls her “inner instinct,” she felt she had to document the realities of what she saw.

The Forgotten Corners of Japan, in Photos

In 2006, the Australian photographer Damien Drew traveled to Shima Onsen in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, to find a sleepy silence had settled over the town. The emerging generation had sought good fortune in the big cities, leaving their hometowns behind. “Many of the hot-spring resort towns around Japan are faded and shuttered,” he admits. The school was no longer running; there weren’t enough young, local children.

Courageous Photos from the Life of a Homeless Veteran

Bob Mulcahey (50) after his friend Drew, who overdosed on heroin, and died. Friends are always popping in and out of Bob’s life. The mills provide a transit point for many people who are homeless for one reason or another. But Bob has stayed for 3 years. 

Bob bathing in the Passaic River that runs along the derelict mill that he lives in. Collaborative caption written by Bob.

Bob helps his girlfriend Jackie, who suffers from a severe infection in her leg, into bed at her house near the mill where Bob lives. Bob dedicates several hours per day to caring for Jackie. Although Bob considers Jackie his girlfriend, Jackie does not feel the same way about Bob. Collaborative caption written by Bob.

Bob, an army veteran, has lived in the furnace of a derelict mill in Patterson, New Jersey, for three years. Other homeless people reside in the mill with him, but for the most part, they’re just passing through. “They consider themselves the ‘forgotten ones,'” the photographer Todd R Darling says of the community. Bob’s friends have named him Mayor of the Mill.

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.

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