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Posts tagged: documentary photography

A New Exhibition Looks at Our Complex Relationship with Animals

Karsten, impoundment #87239. Karsten was an 11-month male Labrador/hound mix was a stray. He was brought to the Wake County Animal Center in Raleigh, NC on 4/20/13. Karsten was adopted on 8/13/13 after spending 78 days in the shelter, and thirty-seven days after being photographed at Landfill Park. © Shannon Johnstone

In 2013, Shannon Johnstone met a puppy named Karsten at the Wake County Animal Center in Raleigh, North Carolina as part of her long-term project Landfill Dogs, a series of photographs of shelter dogs who are at risk of being euthanized.

Karsten was a great dog, but he was young and big. He also had lots of energy, which meant he’d be harder to adopt. “Not long after his photo shoot, Karsten ended up in quarantine,” the artist remembers. “The note in his file read ‘Quarantined for rambunctious behavior.’”

Johnstone left Karsten’s photo shoot that day feeling sad and worried that he wouldn’t find a home. In his portrait, he’s sitting in the grass, looking back at the photographer under a cloudy sky. His expression is hopeful, but it’s also solemn.

Despite the nuances of the work, Johnstone initially had trouble getting people to care about dogs like Karsten. “When I began Landfill Dogs, I attended portfolio reviews and consultations with curators,” she remembers. “I was disappointed to hear that my photographs would never be anything but dog portraits.

“I was told by more than one individual that because of the subject, the photographs needed something else, some other twist to ‘elevate’ them. This really bothered me. Why can’t a portrait of a dog be just as important as a portrait of human?”

Now, an exhibition of five female artists is hoping to shift the narrative. With support from the Culture and Animals Foundation, Johnstone, Lee Deigaard, Jo-Anne McArthur, Traer Scott, and L.A. Watson have come together under one roof to examine the dignity, individuality, and worthiness of animals.

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.

Photos Capture the ‘Serenity and Chaos’ of India

“I feel the serenity in the chaos is what makes India so amazing–the smells, the noise, the heat, the people, the animals,” the Bangalore-based photographer Vivek Prabhakar tells us. “I love going out when the streets are busy. There are so many moments unfolding.”

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.

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.

The Hope and Resilience of Animals, in Photos

“I first saw Chloe as I was passing a beautiful rolling pasture on my drive home,” Debra Hodges remembers. “It was late afternoon. Her whiteness was shimmering against the dark green of the forest behind her as she grazed in a pasture green with the promise of warmer days ahead. I’d driven by that pasture for years and had never seen her. I knew I had to photograph her.”

After weeks of searching for the property owner and the lessee, Hodges finally got to meet Chloe–a senior horse in her 20s. Chloe had been with her family for eight years, and she had melanoma. “From a distance, she was perfection,” the artist says. “Up close she had a large mass growing at the edge of one of her eye sockets. And the base of her tail was deformed by a collection of lesions and growths that hadn’t yet interfered with her bodily functions but would before long.”

Cruising Down “The Boulevard” of the San Fernando Valley During the 1970s

After World War II came to a close, a new phenomenon crept across the United States. As many adolescents no longer had to drop out of school and get a job to support their family, the era of the teenager began. Born of a potent combination of combination of leisure time, disposable cash, angst, boredom and rebellion, teens soon discovered true freedom came from owning or borrowing a set of wheels.

The car — perhaps the most potent symbol of American self-determination at the expense of the environment — became the vehicle to freedom of a sort: the ability to go cruising at night. From the late 1940s through well into the 1990s, cruising down the main streets, avenues, boulevards, and specially designated strips became the coolest thing a teen could do.

Growing up in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California during the 1950s and ‘60s, American photographer Rick McCloskey spent his youth cruising Van Nuys Boulevard every Wednesday night. His family home, just one city block from “The Boulevard” was located a few blocks from the famed Bob’s Big Boy Restaurant, home of the All-American meal: burgers and milkshakes.

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