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Posts tagged: portrait photography

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.

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.

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.”

Capturing Shadowman, New York’s Most Notorious Street Artist, in Never-Before-Seen Photos

Canadian artist Richard Hambleton (1952-2017) emerged from the Lower East Side art scene in New York as an urban legend at a time when the city was filled with characters that inspired some of Hollywood’s most iconoclastic films.

The young artist first left his mark on the streets of 15 cities across Canada and the United States between 1976 and 1979, creating Image Mass Murder Art — a series of police-style “chalk” outlines painted around volunteer “homicide victims.” In some cases he splashed red paint to add a hyperrealistic touch to the “crime scene.”

By 1979, Hambleton was firmly established in New York at a time when the Lower East Side was coming into vogue during the era of graffiti and street art. Alongside contemporaries such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hambleton became notorious for his “Shadowman” paintings that loomed ominously on the streets, in the alleys, and at corners waiting to strike pedestrians at a time when street crime was a regular feature of daily life.

Celebrating the Second Annual Latin American Foto Festival in the Bronx

Fred Ramos. A Honduran child plays near train tracks in Arriaga, Chiapas, in southern Mexico, October 2018.

Johis Alarco?n. Nicole Carcelén, 19, plays with a cotton plant in her hair. The black slaves who first came to Ecuador were forced to work in cotton fields, cane fields and coal mines. For Nicole, cotton plants represent the strength of her ancestors and the strength of their blood. La Loma, 2018.

Yael Martinez. Alin Granda at her father’s home in Taxco Guerrero.Ignacio Granda went missing in Iguala Guerrero on May10, 2013 Alin was one year old.With more than 100 thousand deaths that the fight against organized crime has left, there is a generation of children growing in a context of violence. Guerrero Mexico on July 13, 2017.

With the second edition of the Bronx Documentary Center’s Latin American Foto Festival, curators Michael Kamber and Cynthia Rivera provide a space for photographers living and working in Latin America to tell their stories on their terms. The Festival, held in nine venues throughout the Melrose neighborhood of the Bronx, gave some 50,000 residents — many of whom are Latinx immigrants — the opportunity to engage with stories from their homelands through exhibitions, workshops, tours, and panel discussions.

The history of colonized lands is rarely told by those who have suffered the fate of centuries of imperialism that have systemically decimated the people and the lands of every continent outside Europe. Over the past 200 years, the people of Latin America have fought for independence and sovereignty, and against puppet regimes installed by the United States that first began in 1823 under the Monroe Doctrine.

As ICE raids systemically target Black and Latinx communities, the Foto Festival provides a pertinent moment to pause and reflect on the impact of white supremacy in its many forms, and the ways in which those it aims to exploit, oppress, and erase fight back in a struggle for life or death.

Looking at New York’s Downtown Scene in the New Millennium

Rify Royalty

The Illustrious Blacks

Larissa Velez-Jackson

“Downtown” is a state of mind that continues to exist long after Eighth Street was abandoned, its storefronts left empty and its streets laid to waste, long after the glory days documented by everyone from Tom Wolfe to Andy Warhol.

The lands south of 14th Street, once the centerpiece of bohemian life, have become a strip mall, charging exorbitant rates that can only be afforded by those who believe money trumps all. Residential spaces downtown have become the exclusive enclave of transplants raised on dreams of being Carrie Bradshaw without having to be an actual escort, a fact of life Candace Bushnell firmly understood when she penned the “Sex in the City” column for The New York Observer long before the Kushner family stripped the paper of its cache and cred.

Downtown as it physically stands in 2019 is a hollow echo of its former self. But the downtown mindset endures in a very telling way; now that Manhattan proper has become the provenance of the bridge and tunnel set, well, you can find the downtown attitude in the boroughs themselves. Here, in little pockets hints of Old York remain: Mom & Pop shops, luncheonettes with Formica counter tops and swivel stools, apartment buildings and private houses home to generations of families who came over after World War II and were forced into distant enclaves due to racist redlining policies.

Deconstructing the Visual Language of Group Photography

Bob Adelman (1930–2016), People Wall, World’s Fair, New York, 1965, gelatin silver print. The Morgan Library & Museum, Purchased as the gift of Nancy and Burton Staniar, 2015.131. © Bob Adelman Estate

Amy Arbus (b. 1954), The Clash, NYC, 1981, gelatin silver print. The Morgan Library & Museum, Gift of Amy Arbus, 2018.74 Copyright © Amy Arbus

The mind loves to generalize, group and sort, to make categories where they might exist and impose them where they do not. It’s simpler this way; superficiality releases us of the presence of complexity, contradiction, and inconsistency that are the hallmarks of life. Once sorted and filed, we can rely upon confirmation bias to avoid the painful discomfort of ignorance.

The photograph — in as much as it is art, artifact, evidence, testimony, illusion, and artifice — allows us to simultaneously reinforce and question the assumptions we hold. It is only fitting that a group show about the group could offer the possibility of exploring the many facets of our insatiable desire to organize life into neat and palatable portion sizes.

In Among Others: Photography and the Group, now on view at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York through August 18, 2019, Joel Smith, the Morgan’s Richard L. Menschel Curator brings together more than 60 works from the 1860s through the present that explore that which we have long taken for granted as a photographic archetype.

The Artist Challenging Gender, Sexual, and Racial Stereotypes in Photos

Lola Flash, Dominque, Brooklyn, 2011, from the series [sur]passing.

Lola Flash, Raven O, USA, 2017. From the series LEGENDS.

African-American photographer Lola Flash first rose to prominence during the late 1980s when she began documenting the work of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). As a member and activist, Flash photographed demonstrations in New York, Washington DC, and London, marching in solidarity in a life-or-death fight against the government.

She developed her signature cross-color style at this time as a means to subvert the perceptions of race and representation that have long informed and defined so much of the photographic canon. The subject of color has been a thread that continues throughout her work, leading her to explore the subject of colorism and the impact of pigmentation on Black identity and consciousness.

In the new exhibition, [sur]passing on view at Autograph in London through August 17, 2019, Flash presents a series of larger-than-life portraits of global diasporic figures posed against the urban skyline, inviting us to consider our response complexion in all its many splendored forms.

It’s a subject that is discussed at length within the Black community, in large response to the conditions imposed by white supremacy. Many outside the community may consciously or unconsciously ascribe to the heavily socialized stereotypes around light and dark skin, not to mention hair texture and facial physiognomy. By centering and celebrating color, Flash continues to push redefine representation of Black identity from the inside.

The exhibition also includes a selection of bold and experimental early works from Flash’s series Cross Colour and Gay to Z, alongside works from her ongoing series LEGENDS, portraits of prominent members of queer and non-gender conforming communities. Here Flash reflects on working three decades in the trenches.

An Intimate Look at the Secret Life of April Dawn Alison

“Everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life and a secret life,” the novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez knowingly remarked, reminding us that what we see and what we believe is often just an illusion of sorts. Beneath it all, lays the true self, an identity we often keep hidden from the world — including ourselves.

But there are those who dare to delve into the person they are we no one else is there to witness it. These moments are a manifestation of something beyond the person others see: it is the self that exists within our deepest being. To record this, to document it, to create evidence of that which exists for no one else — this takes nerve. It is here our story of April Dawn Alison begins.

In 2017, a painter named Andrew Masulio donated an archive of over 8,000 Polaroids to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) — previously unseen self-portraits of April Dawn Alison, the female persona of Alan Schaefer (1941-2008), an Oakland-based photographer who lived in the world as a man. The archive reveals to us a fully-realized secret life beautifully revealed in the exquisite monograph, April Dawn Alison (MACK), selections from which are currently on view at SFMOMA through December 1, 2019.

A Powerful Portrait of the First Peoples of Australia

In 1899, British/Australian biologist and anthropologist Sir Baldwin Spencer and telegraph-station master Francis J. Gillen published The Native Tribes of Central Australia, an in-depth study of the customs and traditions of the Aboriginal groups living near Alice Springs. Initiated as members of the Arunta tribe, the authors were the first Europeans to witness the customs and social structures of a people that the state of Australia did not recognize.

The book featured 119 photographs, many of sacred rituals and ceremonies never seen by the Western world before. While the book caused a sensation in Europe, it failed to take into account the impact it had on those it documented — quite literally as such encounters with the disease-carrying Europeans often resulted in death:

“The very kindness of the white man who supplies him, in outlying parts, with stray bits of clothing is by no means conducive to the longevity of the native. If you give a black fellow, say a woollen shirt, he will perhaps wear it for a day or two, after that his wife will be adorned with it, and then, in return for perhaps a little food, it will be passed on to a friend. The natural result is that, no sooner do the natives come into contact with white men, than phthisis and other diseases soon make their appearance, and, after a comparatively short time, all that can be done is to gather the few remnants of the tribe into some mission station where the path to final extinction may be made as pleasant as possible.”

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