Monthly Archive for September, 2009

justin partyka – the east anglians

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Justin Partyka

The East Anglians

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Situated on the east coast of Great Britain, East Anglia is one of the country’s most rural and agricultural regions.  The flat landscape, massive skies and long farming heritage make East Anglia the closest place that Britain has to a prairie region.

For the last nine years I have been traveling the back roads of rural East Anglia, passing down drove and lane, track and way. On my journeys I discovered the remnants of the agrarian community that was once widespread throughout this region.  For most people this is a world that no longer exists. It is a place where traditional methods and knowledge are still very much depended upon, and the identity of the people is intimately shaped by the landscape on which they live and work. Small-time farmers, reed cutters and rabbit catchers, these are the East Anglians – the forgotten people of the flatlands who continue to work the land because the need to is in their blood.

Central to an agrarian culture is the idea of land: not just working the land, living on the land, and owning the land (all which are important) – but that much deeper concept of being part of the land; the process of it becoming both physically and psychologically engrained in the human experience. It is impossible to escape the presence of the landscape. It creeps from the fields into the home. It enters through an open window, or a crack under the door; engrained in the palm of a hand, or on the sole of a boot. Leeks sprout from the curtains and the table top is fenland peat. The agrarian farmers I have come to know are so deeply rooted to the land, it is as if they have grown up out of the soil like a tree. Such an intimate relationship comes from what the rural writer, farmer and activist Wendell Berry, describes as  “knowledge in place for a long time.”

To enter into the agrarian world of the East Anglians’ is to experience a rural culture that has a direct lineage extending back to the region’s peasant farmers of the early Middle Ages. The agrarian farmer always has one foot firmly planted in the past. The old ways are proven to work and can therefore be relied upon. Everything is visibly engrained with history. Buildings are often cobbled together and are a ramshackle mix of wood, tin, and stone. And the agricultural machinery is a patchwork of rust, mud, and oil stains in which the past is embedded.

The agrarian farmer knows in fine detail the histories and biographies of his local landscape. After years of familiarity with the land he knows what is the best cycle of crop rotation on any particular field, where it lies wet in winter, and how best to plough, sow, hoe, and harvest that field to reap the best from it. Unaided by a map, he can negotiate the complex network of local droves and tracks by day and night, and walk the fields and woodlands, fen and marsh equally so. Inside the agrarian mind are the local wind patterns and river currents; along with the life stories of the local inhabitants, wildlife habitats, and tree and plant species past and present. I have been told of farmers who have come and gone, from what direction the fox will come to steal a chicken, and who planted a particular oak tree and when.

But during the last sixty years an agrarian way of life has become increasingly irrelevant in a modern society, and the East Anglians find themselves living on the margins. Most of the small family farms in East Anglia are now gone, while the fields of agribusiness have grown bigger, swallowing up the landscape as they go. The result is the depopulation of the rural landscape, and with it the loss of the knowledge of local place and the traditional skills of working the land that are so important to an agrarian culture. As one old-time farmer said to me, “It’s just one big tractor now and a thousand acres. There’s nobody on the land today.” “But” he continued, “there will always be those that straggle on – the awkward ones who remain.”

I have spent many hours in the fields, patiently watching how man and the landscape intimately shape each other. If I am looking closely, occasionally I am offered a glimpse into the mystery of this ancient relationship. It is a fleeting moment; I click the shutter; and I wait….

Exhibition & Book:

A major exhibition of The East Anglians is appearing at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, UK,  29 September – 13 December 2009.

For further details and news of related events please see: www.scva.ac.uk, or telephone +44 (0)1603 593199

Subscriptions are also open to assist with the production of a limited edition book of The East Anglians, to be published to celebrate the exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre.  The book will be published in an edition of 40 for sale copies, with 10 artist’s proofs which will serve as samples and thank you gifts for persons who have assisted with the book.  For further details please contact Justin Partyka via his website.

 

Bio:

Justin Partyka is a British photographer and writer currently based in the county of Norfolk. He trained as a folklorist at Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada, before moving back to the UK to work on The East Anglians. Partyka has exhibited at Tate Britain, Belfast Exposed, the Jerwood Space, and various galleries in East Anglia. His work has been published in Granta, the Guardian Weekend, Source, and the Drawbridge.

 

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Justin Partyka

 

Editor’s Note: Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

Many thanks… david alan harvey

victor ben tzvi – israeli women

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Victor Ben Tzvi

Israeli Women

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ISRAELI WOMEN is a photo-poem in developing stages about western woman in the modern cultural climate; a dialogue between the phenomena and the abstract feminine essence. The project is not a candid documentary work uncovering the phenomena through personal stories. In fact, my sitters are Personages – synthesis of their authentic characteristics and thematically attributed narratives. In a way, the Personage becomes an idealized figure, reflecting my imagination and their own rarely exhibited self-perception. Through these vibrant photographic masks, i want to simultaneously represent motives of woman glorification and women disposition in modern society.

Our eclectic cultural ground, with existential tension, a largely superficial use of overwhelming information, lead us to a complicated and at times absurd positions. The position of modern woman is not immune from complexity either. Some fighters for women freedom disregard the notion that motherhood is at least as feminine as the most powerful man-like career. Others trying to isolate woman’s sexuality from women, although few women who would not like to be femme-fatale, or at least attractive by instinct. Paradoxically, during those loud and barking tones, women became not only plain sexual objects, but consumeristic dolls selling skinny sex  with anything at hand. Sometimes, it feels as though women freedom became a matter of dogmatism and demagogy, rather than liberal rights and beliefs. Other times it feels as though the feminine grace and charisma is getting either faint or rare. By the way, “charisma” translates from greek as “god-given-gift”.

In my current projects, including the Israeli Women, I have adopted a position of “idealism in art”. In practice, I am not looking to literarily express my criticism of psychological, social, and philosophical aspects of human affairs in the contemporary western culture. With in-depth studies of the beautiful and the ugly, I prefer to suggest an alternative view referring to the themes that fascinate me. Instead of typical escapism or pessimism, I believe the idealistic attitude emerges an insightful and positive understanding of our eclectic cultural ground, allowing richer personal and collective introspection.

 

Bio:

Born in Georgia (USSR) in ’77. Repatriated to Israel with my family in ’90. Formal education in Politics and Philosophy with a Master work in Epistemology (Genuine perception and cognitive content formation).

During my academic studies i become interested in photography, especial in Black and White medium, mastering this traditional art and craft. Participated in the international photo-festival in Europe (Estremoz, Portugal 2007).

Currently, I live in Israel and develop several photo-art projects – among them Israeli Women and Israeli Landscape (the selected project for support by the Israel Lottery Council for the Art and Culture).

 

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Victor Ben Tvzi

 

Editor’s Note: Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

Many thanks… david alan harvey

tom chambers – improbable dreams

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Tom Chambers

Improbable Dreams

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Through photo montage I present unspoken stories which illustrate fleeting moments in time and which are intended to evoke a mood in the viewer. These mythical illustrations might address the fragility of childhood or the delicate transition experienced by a child passing into adolescence and then adulthood. Others express the tension in the uncertain coexistence between man and his environment, a delicate balance too often ignored and damaged. Each photo montage is carefully constructed, using both images that have been planned and those that unexpectedly enhance the story. With digital photography I desire to move beyond documentation of the present, and rather seek to fuse reality and fantasy in musing about possibilities of the future.

To create a photo montage I photograph each piece of the final image using a Nikon digital camera or a medium format film camera. The processed film is scanned at a high resolution, approximately 80 megabytes per frame. Then, I use Photoshop software with a Macintosh computer to combine the pieces, thus creating the final image. Lastly, this final image is printed with archival pigment inks on cotton rag paper.

 

Bio:

Tom Chambers was raised in the Amish country of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Following life altering experiences of military service during the Vietnam War and travel throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada, Tom completed a B.F.A. in 1985 from Ringling School of Art with an emphasis in graphic design and photography. Since 1998 Tom has devoted himself to photo montage for sharing intriguing unspoken stories about spirituality, personal identity, and co-existence.

Currently, Tom is represented by seven galleries in the United States and Spain. His work has been shown nationally and internationally in Spain and Colombia, as well as in a wide range of print and online publications. Tom has received recognition for his photo montages through a variety of awards, as well as fellowships from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

 

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Editor’s Note: Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

Many thanks… david alan harvey

glenn campbell – homelands

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Glenn Campbell

Homelands

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Homelands is a body of work consisting of photographs taken in Australian aboriginal communities in the remote areas of the Central Desert, Western Australia and Arnhem Land.

I started thinking about recording Homelands issues when I was on assignment on the Afghan/Pakistan Border in October 2001. I was photographing in a refugee camp near Quetta, full to the brim with Afghan refugees, thinking that somehow none of this was new to me….how so? Having grown up in the North West of Australia?

The smells, the children so excited, desperate for the diversion that the tall white fella provided from the crushing boredom of a life without hope, the adults, shamed into lethargy by their inability to pull themselves out of a mire not of their own making… I’d seen it before in the camps and out stations where the Aborigines had gathered on the edges of town, in the remote deserts and coastlines… refugees in their own country.

My interests in the overall concept of Homelands stems from a personal rejection of the casual racism that I was brought up with – the pressure to conform to hate and ambivalence – and a deep underlying curiosity and suspicion about my own attachment to the land, this country… How can such an attachment be valid when the first Australians are living in conditions you wouldn’t keep a dog in?

I returned to Australia with a resolve to work further in the Aboriginal communities of the Central Desert and Arnhem Land, where in the photographic depiction of the Aboriginal world all I could find was a reflection of a past that is lost and of a future without hope.

I moved to the Northern Territory in 2004 to be closer to the people and places I was driven to photograph, to find stories of hope and progress in communities where they were thin on the ground.

If successful lives are built in the Homelands, stories can be told and successful communities will follow and with that the recovery of a vibrancy in this “other Australia” that is critical to the future of my country.

Parts of this body of work were shot whilst on assignment for the Age and Sydney Morning Herald Newspapers and are used partnership with the communities involved.

 

Bio:

Glenn Campbell does not sing country music.

What he used to do was work in a mine and regularly blow things up,he also worked in a roadhouse where he served beer to drunks, then fill their cars and send them on their way.

What he does now is travel across Australia and South East Asia from his base in Darwin, taking photographs for a living and sometimes shakes his head and really can’t believe his luck.

He is happy being where everyone else is not, otherwise what’s the point?

 

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Editor’s Note: Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

Many thanks… david alan harvey

sean gallagher – inside north korea

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Sean Gallagher

Inside North Korea

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As our bus started to trundle across the bridge over the Yalu River, which separates China and North Korea, the reality of what I was about to do suddenly dawned on me. Fresh off the back of the story of Euna Lee and Laura Lin, American journalists who were caught crossing the China-North Korea border, sentenced to over 10 years in a labor camp and then subsequently ‘rescued’ by Bill Clinton, I was suddenly rather nervous. I was about to enter the most closed nation on earth, posing as a tourist, accompanied by a journalist (also posing as a tourist) and with a shiny professional DSLR in my bag.

Would Bill (or should that be Tony Blair) come and rescue me if something went wrong?!

Pulling up to the North Korean side of the bridge, armed guards were the first sight we glimpsed of North Koreans up close. With an obvious seriousness, they checked our bags thoroughly, especially those of the two ‘foreigners’ who had just entered with a bus load of Chinese tourists. After a nervous minute when a guard looked very quizzically at my camera lens, muttered some Korean to his fellow soldiers and then handed it back to me, it appeared we were okay. We were “Inside North Korea”.

I spent the next 4 days on-assignment with the Globe & Mail’s Mark MacKinnon, being whizzed around the country on an organized tour, shadowed at all times by two minders, gaining an insight into this rarely visited place. What we were shown was the North Korea that the government wanted us to see. However, by looking through the cracks and reading between the lines of what we saw, we were able to get glimpses at life in the “Hermit Kingdom”.

This collection of images is just a snapshot of North Korea, collected from this whirlwind tour. I hope however that the images offer some clues and small insights into life in this strange and mysterious country. For me, these images actually raise more questions than answers.

If you are interested to see more images and/or see the short videos we recorded from our trip, please visit

Sean Gallagher Blog.

 

Bio:

Sean Gallagher is a British photographer, currently based in China. His most recent work has specialized on social and environmental issues in Asia, with specific emphasis on China. He was the first recipient of the David Alan Harvey Fund for Emerging Photographers in 2008. In 2009, he received a travel grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Ecologist, The Globe & Mail, Die Zeit and with the BBC.

 

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Editor’s Note: Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

Many thanks… david alan harvey

wenjie yang – low city

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Wenjie Yang

Low City

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“The Low City ” settles in the centre of Chongqing, one of the most important cities located by the middle of The Yangtze River. Only one street divided from the flourishing city centre, “The Low City” is composed of stairs and temporary street shelters like a shanty town.  It seems to be left behind by the prosperity of Chongqing but not entirely forgotten. Since 2007, the government of Chongqing invested USD 3,000 million for the development of the city, and very soon this area will be also vanished into a forest of high-rise.

Through making this project, I have traced the trail of my own life experiences. I grew up in a local alley in Shanghai where a small house contains seven families.  As a result of my upbringing, I now feel affable towards a living space in such narrow and cramped space, which once I complained.

At the beginning of this year, I started to photograph the life in The Low City and then I returned this June to record the movement again.  I understand that the plan of the resettlement over there was delayed and people living there are still longing to move to a high-rise and large apartment.  Such event was also happened in my childhood. However, I believe that one day in the future, they’ll miss the special familiarity and intimacy in their old block.

 

Bio

Born and raised up in Shanghai, China.  I have only worked as a freelance photographer for over one year.  Previously, I worked as an Executive Producer for advertising production and Associate Director or Script Supervisor in the production of movie crews for several years.

In the past year as a photographer, I received quite a few editorial assignments from various magazines, including “Travel + Leisure”, “Marie Claire”, “Elle Decoration”, “Chinese Photographers”.

This coming autumn, I’ll come to New York to attend the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism One-Year Certificate Program at International Center of Photography (ICP).

 

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Wenjie Yang

 

Editor’s Note: Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

Many thanks… david alan harvey

marc davidson – artifacts

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Marc Davidson

Artifacts

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When our father died in the Twin Towers attack   on 9/11, my brother and I were left with the task of entering his apartment for the first time. Thinking practically, we were looking for things that would help us tie up all the loose ends of his life: a will, phone numbers, bank stuff, insurance stuff. We found much more. We found artifacts which showed us parts of our father we’d never seen before.

The inspiration for Artifacts came from a conversation I had with Bob Black while looking at my father’s ID card recovered from Ground Zero. We started talking about the powerful relationships between photographs and identity and the role they play in the story I am creating on my father and 9/11.

As part of a larger project I am working on for the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, artifacts is a departure from my earlier work on the subject which was more documentary in nature. On its own, artifacts, is the conceptual story of my father’s life told by him through the things he left behind.

The images in this essay are unaltered scans and photographs of artifacts found in my father’s apartment 10 days after 9/11.

 

“Give not over thy soul to sorrow; and afflict not thyself in thy own counsel. Gladness of heart is the life of man and the joyfulness of man is length of days.”

– Apocrypha, Ecclesiasticus 21.

“If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.”

– Chinese Proverb

 

And how often is it that we fail to listen to the dead, fail to attend to all those moments they have bequeathed us in their living? Do they not remain with us and continue to animate us through the entirety of our own divesting days? Do they not continue to speak when we speak, breathe when we breathe, ache when we ache, love when we love? Are they not still alive inside us and along with us? This is the canticle of the living. Can you hear it now?

For the lessons and lives of loved ones do not desist even after they themselves have gone. How often though have each of us drowned out the wisdom and kindness of the departed by our squabble with wearying grief. None of us is immune from this deafness,  for each of us has during those days and nights of anguish lived through moments when our focus was more often on absence, the hole in the center of our lives built from death, instead of presence. This is natural.  But I wish to offer something else, to suggest that in fact their voice is one of celebration rather than sorrow, that though we must commiserate with sorrow there is another lesson to behold.  For though loved ones die and seem to vanish from our immediate view, they in fact remain.

We are of them and they of us and this beautiful and eternal abacus never ceases. Though their bodies and lives are no longer, their presence is everywhere instructing and nurturing.  They contribute to the wholeness of our lives; they fill our chasms not with dirt but with fecund soil. They have bequeathed us life even in their vanishing. It is the greatest covenant that I know and we are sustained because of this lasting presence.

This constancy lines the heart of Marc Davidson’s newest essay ‘Artifacts.’  Recently completed,  ‘Artifacts’ is part of a larger body of work, a work-in-progress,  entitled “Shared September.”   Marc completed the first chapter entitled “Zero Ground” (search Road Trips) and has since gone on to work on and complete a number of different  components of the project.  In its final form, “Shared September”  will be a book  commemorating the 10th Anniversary of 9/11. Though ‘Artifacts’ is part of this larger body of work, it is a powerful stand alone chapter in its own right.

“Artifacts” is a story about living though it is built from the agony and despair of death.  But it’s lumber and stone are taken not from the ashes of annihilation and misfortune but from the fertile and affirming anatomy of life. A soulful and heartbreaking story, describing not the aftermath but of a life lived fully.  Make no mistake about it, ‘Artifacts” is more than a memento mori but instead is a celebration of one man’s life and all the love and living that his shortened life held. Stitched together by a string of personal photographs, the essay is a collection and composite of the basic moments and possessions that made up the tick of one man’s life, and by extension the ticking of our own.  Though the essay has been constructed by Marc, it is in fact his father, Lawrence Davidson, who speaks throughout.  An extraordinary act of ventriloquism.

Opening with Lawrence Davidson’s book “Touchstones: A Book of Daily Meditation for Men,” a book published by the Hazelton Foundation which was given to Lawrence and which he used daily,  the essay moves through a remarkable time line, shuttling the viewer through the moments of Lawrence Davidson’s life by using photographs, documents and objects that Marc obtained after his father’s death. It is a story outlining one man’s life.  But the story that unfolds before us, though weighted by the knowledge of death, is one of redemption, reminding us of how important each life and each moment and each object contains the totality of our lives: a  teeming accumulation of the quotidian. Not detritus, but the grains and seeds of one’s life.

Though heart wrenching, ‘Artifacts’ works a  larger and wiser and more loving territory than one that the shadow of lamentation might suggest. From the passing of Lawrence Davidson’s life, comes another chance for each of us to learn about and see aspects of our own lives. We would never have known who Lawrence Davidson was had not this horrific subtraction occurred and yet here we are, in full view of his life and as each photograph passes, as each calendar changes into another, as each new object comes before us, we begin to understand both the fullness of his life and the necessity of each of our own. Lawrence Davidson is giving to each of us a renewed sense of living though he died eight years ago. It is that sharing, the remarkable act of generosity that is so vital to this piece.

For in truth, this essay is not really Marc Davidson’s essay as it is Lawrence Davidson’s: his life, his voice, his descriptions, his time, his stories, his conversation with us. Even in death, he is sharing with each of us the moments of his life: childhood, life in Israel, military service, marriage, relationships, children, hard-won successes and setbacks. His life is spread out before us, as a son, as a brother, as a father, as a grandfather, as a companion, as a friend and colleague, even as a stranger, a person we knew nothing of until this very moment. Is there anything more generous than to share the contours of your life with another? It is this aspect which is so exceptional and remarkable. The generosity of the essay is the quality that I return to again and again. A brave and self-less act on his son’s behalf to honor the father by allowing him his moment to speak and by doing so removing himself, the photographer, from the equation. His father’s voice and story are alive, can you hear it?

Photographic essays are usually told from the viewpoint of the photographer. With photographic work that wishes to speak about tragic events, it is even more arduous. Most of the stories about death are narrated from the point of view of the survivor. How else to tell the story? This is no less true about the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.  Most of the collective grief has been focused, as it should, on the survivors, the family members who lost loved ones. They grieve and they continue to grieve, for the loss is never fully remedied.  We too ache for them and we wish, in our quiet moments, to assuage their suffering which appears to continue without surcease. Moreover, we view these events always from the perspective of the living. We listen to the stories of the widows and widowers, the parents and children. We shelter and shoulder their bravery as they recount their loss and love. The story is a universal one for from all the families of the 2,973 people who perished that autumn morning, people who came from more than 90 countries and represented the entire spectrum of ethnicity and religions, occupation and ambition, age and gender, we feel a bond, for though we cannot feel fully the weight of their loss we recognize the totality as belonging to each and all of us.

And yet, ‘Artifacts’ is a story of survival. It is a story told by not a family member but by a person who perished. A resurrection of sorts. A life which unfolds in front of us and is transformed from death toward life. Lawrence Davidson is no longer a number on a fact sheet or a name on a Certificate of Death sheet. He is with us and he is here to share his story with each of us through the things he best loved:  his photographs, his letters, friends, his children. His children, the anchor and pivot of his life. This essay is his story told not from the beyond but from the place, right here, of the living and of the expanse of his life. In the wake of his death, the story of his living rises. A life bequeathed and continued.

Not just the pictures of rubble and ash and bone-broken girders, not just exoskeletons of steel and glass, not just the placards of the missing and grieving, but of the clothes and the shoes and the papers, a grounded-firmament of papers scattered like a great-plain of seed and sand, the badges and shoelaces, the wrist bands and name tags, the emails and extension memo’s, the parking passes and metro cards, the ties and rings and bracelets and rubber bands, the coins and collars, the cufflinks and sock stitching, the flaxseed of hair and the nails filed that, miraculously, showed up next to poured and flamed concrete.

Who speaks of these things? Who speaks of the minutiae of the living that goes bereft when the living have left their loss to us? We consider history and death on a scale set large by constellations, when it is just as true that our lives are large because of all that infinitely small detail which scatters and snakes it’s way into life. Can you now see the largess of what was left simply in the small, dog-eared turn of a corner in a plastic card, set aflame thousands of degree that will not relent? The face remains uncharted though the life and building came down. How do we begin to speak of this to others?

‘Artifacts’  is an extraordinarily courageous and generous essay. Marc Davidson has brought back from the dead his father’s voice, has allowed him to speak to each of us and to tell us part of the story of his life. This is an affirmative story, a story of living and creating, a story of a man whose greatest riches were his children and the life that they continue to live both honoring and celebrating the gifts which he bestowed them. I can’t think of another act by a photographer as selfless as this. How many photographers remove their craft, step aside from the stage and allow another to speak unadorned. A testament of the life that one man, and by extension all of us, imparts during the span of an impossibly short but miraculously rich time on Earth.

How is it that we cope with loss, sudden loss, the how and what of things? What are the objects of our life that make up the person we are, tell us who we are, allow us to gather and to reshape? How to capitulate a life? Indeed, we are partly plastic ID pictures and death certificates, we are partly bone and carbon and water and earth but we are so much more as well, eternal and etched out inside the life and lines of every living person and place and thing of whom we are a part, even when we are forever apart.

To document. To retrieve. To hold fast, even when you have so little left. To know that though they have ended and yet have also just begun. We have, because of them, not ended even when it feels like that in the cave of our hearts, but in truth, in the greenest of light we know that they are telling us: we have only just begun.

Can you hear their story and their heart beat and the expanding of their breath?

– Bob Black

 

Bio

Marc Davidson is a 36 year old Canadian photographer based just outside of Toronto.  Born in Israel, Marc moved to Canada at the age of 9 where he lived until moving to the US at attend the University of Colorado.  After graduating, Marc worked in Denver, New York, San Francisco, and Whistler before re-settling back in Toronto in 2002. Married with two young daughters, Marc is a stay at home dad who also devotes time towards his personal photo projects and the occasional commercial client.

 

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Editor’s Note: Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

Many thanks… david alan harvey

avalon …..

avalon pier

 

i am not a fisherman….if you want to catch a fish, do not go fishing with me… i bring almost as much bad luck to fishing as i do to computers…i did catch a pretty good sized bass once with my grandfather, but that is about it….but, never mind, i  do love the thought of fishing….and i live in a place where if the talk is not about surfing, it is about fishing…and i end up staying  pretty silent on both…down here on the Outer Banks, my trade is just not in the conversational mix…in New York of course, photographers have some clout, but here, well, if i wanted to talk photography,  i would have to take a picture of the locals with a big fish, or riding a big wave…

i do however gravitate towards the 7 fishing piers here, and most often the Avalon Pier….if this pier did not exist, then it would have to be invented…a classic structure from the 50’s which has survived many a storm and not survived many a storm…but, this old pier just keeps getting re-built and is a cultural haven if fishing, pool playing, fuzbol competition and people watching are your game…the latter is my sport of choice…someday i suspect this primo waterfront property will end up covered with time-share condos or whatever, but in the meantime i can go have a beer and watch the waves roll in between rounds of 8-ball…

the beauty of Avalon for me is that it is a total diversion for whatever i am supposed to be seriously doing…i suspect all of you have your Avalon…an escape from the must do activities of your day….a place where nobody really knows what you do, nor cares,  and you are only judged by whether they like you or not…well, in the case of Avalon, if you have a big jacked-up pickup truck, that helps, but i just have to go on eye contact and a decent game of pool….

now, i basically have not worn shoes for weeks….but the  summer of my content is almost over…..and the timing of the sun working its way towards the south each day pretty much matches my mood to get back to New York…funny, but when i tell the guys down here that i spend lots of time in New York, they really give me a look of sympathy…..and having spent weeks here this summer i am starting to see what they mean…

it is a good thing i had so much leisure time this summer…because now i go full bore into a very busy fall….i receive so many private emails from readers here asking for my schedule, so here is the official dah program

first order of business will be your Burn gallery shows in New York and Washington (contact for you: Michael Courvoisier)…simultaneously i have my fall workshop schedule starting in San Francisco where i do a short weekend shooting seminar – starting September 25th – with the Momenta folks organizing(see Workshops)……

then comes  my annual loft seminar  “At Home” in the now historic “kibbutz” where about half the readers here have been at one time or another, and the other half are on their way…we will also do your Burn gallery show right around that time … incidentally, i have our first Burn intern, Vivek Manik, who has come all the way from Calcutta, to give us a hand with the show….Vivek will be a work/study student in the loft class….from now on i will always choose someone from the readership here on Burn to be an intern either in New York or with me on assignment…

after the  New York Burn show, i  roll back down here to the Outer Banks for my first gathering of photographers at my beach home who want to publish books or work on an essay …we will do hand-made books and discuss and prepare layouts for mainstream books as well….others may just want to shoot instead of make a book…their choice…my darkroom will be set-up…the pigment printer at the ready etc….my Outer Banks beach cottage will become for sure my #1 workshop location, but for very small selective classes…

at the end of October, i roll down to Oaxaca, Mexico for the colorful Day of the Dead class (see work from students last year on workshop link) …. and finally, capping off my month of mentoring, i will join my friends Ira Block and Kris LeBoutillier, both NatGeo photogs, in Bangkok and Phnom Penh in early November…

so anyone wanting to join me with my obviously eclectic lifestyle has a few choices……afterwards i plan to disappear into a magazine assignment….shhhh, secret…. and  work only on my book project which is a bit behind…well, i am always a bit behind on book projects……anyway, lots going on…

all this world travel and setting up of exhibit space for your work is hard work , but fun work…but, without Mike, Michelle, and Marie,  i just could not make it…Mike Courvoisier  makes my collectors prints, will manage the Burn shows,  and runs the New York loft workshop … Michelle Smith and Marie Arago run the OBX beach and Mexico workshops respectively …Michelle has produced ad shoots for me which is the test of all production tests…Marie worked for me every day in NYC before she moved to the warmer climes of Miami…. now, all of this has to do with balance….my main mantra…balance…making hard work fun and making fun hard work….or, actually , just getting the most out of life…

ok, enough said…. it is about time to head for Avalon…the wind now is starting to clock around from the northeast…that means  good fishing, poor surfing,  and winter is coming…

do all of you have your Avalon???  i do recommend creating an Avalon if you do not have one…to catch a fish??  maybe…but, that is not the point…the act of fishing is more important than catching fish…or, at least that is what i tell myself when i am fishing with my camera and it just is not happening…

-david alan harvey

 

water view

one of my old camera bags goes to the first person who can name the movie that featured this house….

michael f mcelroy – an american nightmare

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Michael F McElroy

An American Nightmare

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According to the “getting paid in America” survey, 71% of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck… The belief that those in trouble are the poor is no longer true. The current wave of foreclosure across the nation is affecting all income levels.  Presently the foreclosure crisis  has seen 1 million homes fall into foreclosure since 2006, with an additional 5.9 million expected over the next four years.  All it takes is the unexpected, the loss of a job, an illness in the family, and things start to spiral out of control.

Howard Mallinger and his family were hit by the unexpected. They had moved to Sunrise, Florida, 3 years ago from the Bronx to live their version of “the American Dream”: they put down most of their life savings on a condominium. Life was grand, when without any warning Sheryl was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. Howard was told by the doctors that his wife had only a few months to live, and they should prepare for her death. That’s when things started to spiral out of control. They got behind on their mortgage and utilities. Howard tried to negotiate with their lenders to no avail.  The bank foreclosed on their home and the power was turned off six months ago. With hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills piling up, Howard had to file for bankruptcy.  This is not the script an embattled Howard Mallinger, 65, planned for his twilight years. Though Mallinger is now broke and feels humiliated by his circumstances, his commitment to Sheryl and his kids is unwavering, despite battling his own ailments, including trouble walking.

Howard says “I wonder about my future, and it scares me”.  Now, Howard’s future consists of spending his days at the nursing home, and his nights at a condo he may soon lose.  It’s become a day-to-day routine of which Howard says  “It’s hard… It’s getting very, very hard to keep doing it every day. People wonder how I do it. I don’t know.”

Bio:

Michael F McElroy is a contract photojournalist based in Miami, Florida, and represented by Zuma and Wonderful Machine. His work encompasses news, portraits, features and urban landscapes. McElroy spent 2008 covering the Presidential election, and in 2009 he has been working on stories about the Economic Crisis and how its affecting people and the American landscape.

 

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Michael F McElroy/a>

 

Editor’s Note: Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

Many thanks… david alan harvey

anton kusters – coffee and tattoos

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Coffee and Tattoos by Anton Kusters

Kaicho lies motionless, silently enduring the pain. Sensei Horiyoshi applies the tattoo manually, according to ancient traditions, and with his own prepared colors. Although it is said to be less painful than a modern tattoo, the sheer size and complexity of the artwork is daunting. The skillset involved is immense: at precisely 120 stabs a minute with hand-made needles, and at an exact angle and depth, depending on the skin thickness in that particular area, the artist applies his design. Any mistake will show up immediately, and permanently, as an imperfection.

Early morning. A long row of cars stops in front of the hotel. When we enter the bar in the lobby, i notice that the place has been cleared completely. As a security measure. The bosses are having a meeting and a coffee. Other family members, sitting at surrounding tables at a different positions, form a physical barrier. I am the closest i can go, in front of a someone staring right at me. Soichiro tells me the man at my table has been in prison for the past 23 years, and recently released. He doesn’t tell me why, but i’m guessing that it wasn’t for shoplifting.

Anything below the heart is painful, Soichiro tells me, while we watch Kaicho’s tattoo being completed. Personally, recalling his own tattoo, the inside of the upper leg hurts the most, Soichiro says. Kaicho was once the proud owner of a full body suit tattoo, and had it removed several years later, only to have this new one made. Once complete, he will have spent about 100 hours, in sessions of 2 hours at a time, to get this tattoo.

In the hotel bar I am only slowly starting to understand the minutial social order that is continuously happening, the micro-expressions on the faces, the gestures, the voices and intonations, the body language. Everything seems to be strictly organized but at the same time seems to come naturally: strangely, I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do, where to sit, when to talk or when to shut up… it’s like I feel the boundaries, the implicit expectations, and I am slowly learning when i can do, and when to best hold back.

As much as they are allowing me to photograph, it as well seems to me that Soichiro is trying to teach me about the subtle Japanese cultural intricacies, and the relation of their family to society. It’s clear to me that they are most definitely not operationg completely “outside” of society. They are, so to speak, one leg in, one leg out. Why is this? How is this possible?

About the Work

 

Soichiro is the lead character of the story that i’m starting to tell, about a Yakuza family in Japan. After more than 10 months of preparation, my brother and I have been granted access to start a long-term project to document the visible and hidden life of that particular family. All names used in the account above (and previous and future accounts) are fictional.

Here on burn magazine, and on my own site, i will regularly provide visual and textual accounts of our adventures.

Previous chapters:

Meet Soichiro

As Light Shines on thy Thigh

Eye of the Beholder

 

Website: Anton Kusters