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Posts tagged: documentary photography

A Fascinating Glimpse at Life in the Old City of Beijing

Demolition of Shanghai´s last old quarter, destroyed to make space for new high-rise buildings.

Mother and son at dinner in their little grocery.

A dream of one’s own home is all that is left.

Progress is an illusion of the most persistent kind. We would like to believe that moving forward is inherently “good,” even though evidence to the contrary frequently betrays this belief. Nevertheless, human nature is not inclined to simply allow things to be; it is compelled to transform the present into something new, something it envisions as an ideal “for the greater good.”

Progress is not inherently “bad,” either. It simply cuts both ways. For every loss, there is an equal and opposite gain—and vice versa. But rarely do we reflect on what is disappearing, until it is too late.

Ukrainian photographer Alina Fedorenko traveled to China in 2014, with a project in mind but as she wandered through the Old City of Beijing, she saw something remarkable that captured her imagination. The historic landscape was being razed and in its place came something extraordinary: skyscrapers that towered high above, effective erasing the community and the traditions of street life that flourished for centuries. 

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.”

Photos of An Old Nuclear Launch Center Capture the Anxiety of the Trump Era

Rocket refueling suits worn by propellant transfer technicians were hung up on the wall outside of the cableway tunnel that leads to Titan II missile silo.

A blast door that would have sealed a two-person crew inside the underground launch control center at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota.

Just off Interstate 90 in South Dakota, on the edge of the Badlands, stands a nondescript ranch house. Eight men once lived and worked there. Deep beneath the house, behind a four-ton blast door made of steel and concrete, lay a restricted Air Force control center capable of launching a battery of intercontinental ballistic missiles powerful enough to lay waste to the Soviet Union.

Known as Delta, the launch center in South Dakota controlled ten Minutemen, the most common missile in America’s nuclear arsenal. Thousands of Air Force personnel cycled through the facility over the 28 years it was operational, and its security detail played board games in the rec room while they waited for signs that intruders— from Russian spies to the more frequent culprits, jackrabbits— had breached the perimeter.

Photographer Adam Reynolds traveled to the facility in January. Decommissioned in 1991, it is now a national park. “These are shrines to an Armageddon that didn’t happen,” Reynolds says. But with Donald Trump bringing the United States ever closer to the “fire and fury” of nuclear war, Reynolds’s images also serve as a cautionary tale—a reminder of the last time world leaders pushed us to the brink of total annihilation.

Read the rest of Laura Reston’s article on Adam Reynolds’s photographs at The New Republic.

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.

The Rohingya Crisis: Beyond the Numbers

“We are citizens of Burma. Aung Sung Suu Kyi can save our citizenships and keep us in our land but she gave power to the hands of the Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing, and in doing so gave him the power to kill us. When the military find us in the open, they shoot brush (indiscriminate) fire at us, old people, children, women, everyone gets hit by the bullets. They raped them. They raped the women. They burnt our villages to the ground. The villages are gone. We are Rohingya, our home is Arakan. We will only go back if they (the Burmese government) can accept us as Rohingya.” – Noor, 32

“A while back the Burmese government gave us assurance that they will give us citizenship rights, but they lied. We demanded that the citizenship rights should be granted to our Rohingya identity but they denied it and they tortured us cruelly for it. We cannot have our Rohingya identity in Burma, but others outside accept us as Rohingya. Burma has always been our home. And now as we ask for the right to our identity again, the government launches attacks on us again. They burn our villages, they force us to leave our land, even Aung Sun Suu Kyi does not accept us our rights despite supporting her in previous years.” – Nur, 72

“The Burmese military burnt my house down and then told me that Burma is not my country. They told me to get out of their land, but I don’t know anywhere else that is home. Now me and my family don’t know where else we can go.”

Over half a million Rohingya men, women and children have fled their homes in Rakhine, Myanmar, since August this year. They have poured into Bangladesh in large numbers, numbers that have dominated every news report since then. Tens of thousands, half a million, hundred thousands – all words that gradually grow abstract with each new statistic detailed. The Rohingya, as we refer to them, are a group of people, that comprise of individuals, each with their own real story of loss, fear, violence, persecution and discrimination. It maybe impossible to hear all these stories, but one photographer decided to attempt to document their voices, their words, and not just the portrait of a people in a major crisis, or a major humanitarian emergency, in the words of a UNHCR statement. While it is crucial to understand the scale of this horror, it is equally important to go deeper and hear their voices.

Heartbreak and Hope in the Lives of Turkey’s Stray Dogs

Lucky

The squad

Untitled

For a few years, Ekin Kucuk wasn’t able to photograph dogs, especially the homeless ones. If the Istanbul photographer did meet a stray dog while visiting her mother in Gallipoli, chances were that dog would be gone by the time she returned. Some were beaten or shot. Others were killed accidentally. The pictures became a reminder of their senseless deaths— and of mankind’s capacity for cruelty. It was too painful.

The Man Who Photographs Dogs Like People

San Gimignano, Italy

Kolkata, India

London

London street photographer Alan Schaller looks for special dogs the way he looks for special people. It’s the “cheeky” ones, the “lonely” ones, the “shy” ones who stop him in his tracks. There are, of course, some differences. “I find dogs are in general more consistently friendly, unpredictable, and amusing than humans,” the artist admitted.

69 Magnum Photographers Reveal Their Contact Sheets in New Book

Havana. Ministry of Industry.
Ernesto Guevara (Che), Argentinian politician,
Minister of industry (1961-1965) during an exclusive interview in his office.
© Rene Burri/Magnum Photos.

We would like to believe that photographs convey an element of truth, that in the fraction of a second recorded for posterity, we have captured something that lies beyond mere celluloid of digital technology – something we can gaze upon and discover verifiable facts, unearth an ineffable aspect of reality that lies beneath the surface.

Perhaps this is possible, in as much as we wish to believe it so, but when we consider that the single frame lies in a larger body of work can we be absolutely sure that we’re not being guided by the aesthetic power of the form. Are we not sentient beings whose powers and perceptions of sight heavily influenced by the perfection of the art?

It may be the best way to know is to consider the context, in as much as it is available to us: the circumstances of the moment, the players, the photographer themselves. And, if we are to consider the artist, where does this image fall, not only within their oeuvre but more specifically in project from which it is drawn? This is where the contact sheet comes in.

Portraits Reveal the Many Faces of Bureaucracy

Ram Prabodh Yadav (b. 1970) is sub-inspector (deputy inspector) of police in Maner Block, Patna district, State of Bihar. Monthly salary: 10,000 rupees (131 euro).

Thomas Harris (b. 1949) is chief of police of the city of Rockdale (some 6,000 inhabitants), Milam County, Texas. Monthly salary: $4,250 (3,162 euro).

The word ’bureaucracy’ has a negative connotation. It suggests unnecessary paperwork, inefficiency and unfriendliness. This negative perception is created in time, by people’s repeated experiences, and the degree of resentment towards this system of government differs per country. For his series Bureaucratics, Dutch photographer Jan Banning traveled to eight countries on five continents, and visited hundreds of offices, documenting the culture, symbols and rituals of state civil administrations and its servants.

Civil servants are to an extent the face of the government. Banning’s images are full of details, and the stories describing the civil servant’s task and his salary are illustrative for the relationship between the state, the civil servant’s rank and power.

Banning’s visits were unannounced, and the images reflect what a local citizen would see when coming inside. Each photo is shot from the same height, the height of a standing person. But the photos put these offices in a different perspective than what a visitor actually sees. Most likely, the people that come in are more interested in solving the issue that brought them there, than in paying attention to these places. In a way, these photos make these offices and the people in them truly visible for the first time.

The series Bureaucratics has been published in a book that is available together with Jan Banning’s new book “Red Utopia: Communism 100 years after the Russian Revolution” which was released on the 14th of October.

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