Monthly Archive for May, 2010

david rochkind – heavy hand, sunken spirit

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David Rochkind

Heavy Hand, Sunken Spirit: The Costs and Consequences of Mexico’s Drug War

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In the three and a half years since Mexican President Felipe Calderon escalated the battle against the country’s drug cartels, more than 20,000 people have been killed and kidnappings have skyrocketed. The cartels in Mexico are ruthless, meting out an awesome brutality where heads are rolled into crowded discos and dismembered bodies are abandoned on busy streets. Heavy Hand, Sunken Spirit is a project about the societal costs and consequences of Mexico’s violent drug war. It frames the violence as a symptom, as opposed to the problem, and one of a variety of symptoms that will haunt the country for generations. This country is in the midst of a “conflict” in every sense of the word, and when documenting this conflict it is important not to reduce what is happening to a series of nearly anonymous images of carnage that could be happening anywhere.

I am not creating a story about violence that happens to be set in Mexico, but rather a story about Mexico’s present situation, offering a snapshot of a time that will be referred to for decades as people look for answers to make sense of Mexican society. I want each image to convey a sense of Mexico, her color, and her culture. The wounds of this war bleed into every corner of the country, staining the very fabric of Mexican life with violence, death and fear. The psychology of the country is also changing, as people become accustomed to horror and distrust, weakening an already fragile democracy. I am most fascinated by the space between what Mexico has always been and what this carnage is creating.

The heat of the conflict is melting two worlds together, making a singular Mexico defined as much by violence and tension, as by history and culture. I chose to work on this project because it represents how a grand, intense struggle can be transformed into quiet, daily dramas that are woven seamlessly into the lives of those involved. I am drawn to extreme crises that become internalized, even routine, to the communities that they touch. Many in Mexico are forced to make sense of a situation that is, simply, irrational. Their faith in democratic institutions is being tested and their sense of normalcy is being assaulted; what appears to an outsider to be a horrific campaign of violence and intimidation is simply a routine part of life for many Mexicans.

This project is meant to expose the evolution of deep changes that this conflict has brought about, as well as the scars that will remain long after the violence subsides.

 

Bio

David Rochkind (b.1980) graduated from the University of Michigan in 2002. Shortly after graduating he moved to Caracas, Venezuela to begin working as a freelance photographer. He was based in Caracas for 6 years and recently relocated to Mexico City, Mexico. Mr. Rochkind’s work has been published in a variety of media, including: The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Stern, Le Monde Magazine, Glamour, Rolling Stone and others. In addition he has worked for several development organizations, including: the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Mine Action Center for Afghanistan (UNMACA), CARE and The Carter Center. His work has been recognized by : the Center Project Competition (Santa Fe), the Anthropographia Human Rights and Photography Award, the National Press Photographer’s Association, Photo District News, the Magenta Foundation and others. In addition to his project on Mexico, Mr. Rochkind is in the process of creating an education program about Tuberculosis based on his photographs.

 

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David Rochkind

www.anthropographia.org

 

emily schiffer – cheyenne river

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Emily Schiffer

Cheyenne River

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In 2005, I founded a photography program for youths on Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. In this ongoing program, my students and I photograph together, share our images while they’re still in the viewfinder, and operate as both subjects and photographers. Our favorite locations are the fields and abandoned buildings on the fringes of town, forgotten places thick with the past that lend themselves to imaginary games and textured photographs. The absence of an adult presence is evident in both the children’s play and our images. The 500 inhabitants of Dupree, SD are confident in the area’s relative safety. Children explore freely, and develop a community of young people that operates without adult involvement. My images explore play as a vehicle through which youth reveal and negotiate their emotions, traumas, and desires. Children have a unique ability to experience love and joy alongside pain without compartmentalizing their experiences. I seek to convey this complexity. Over the course of four years, my students and I have documented our relationships with one another and this land. The validity and meaning of my images are linked to the shared context of their creation. Therefore, my work will be exhibited alongside the children’s photographs, which present the other parts of the whole. The design of a group exhibition represents the next phase of this program. In summer 2010, I plan to host six committed teenage photographers and two adults in New York City. The purpose of this visit is to expose the youth and elders to ideas of representation: the artist’s intent, and the viewer’s perceptions. We will tour museums and galleries, and meet with artists and curators. This artistic exposure is designed to inspire the creation of a photographic instillation that will enable the viewer to interact with our images and form relationships with our photographic subjects. Currently, my students, their families, and I are engaged in a fundraising campaign to support this next stage. We hope to reach a wide audience at home and abroad.

 

Bio

B. 1980. In 2003 Emily Schiffer received her BA in Fine Art and African American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2005, she founded the My Viewpoint Youth Photography Initiative on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota, where she continues to teach and shoot. Awards include: the 2010 Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Portraiture, the 2010 winner of the PDN Photo Annual Personal Project Category, the 2009 Inge Morath Award, presented by Magnum Photos and the Inge Morath Foundation, a 2006-2007 Fulbright Fellowship in Photography, and recognition as one of the top ten portfolios for the 2007 Leica Oskar Barnak Award. Emily has exhibited her photographs internationally. Her work is in the permanent collections of The Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts, Japan, Foto Baryo, Philippines, and The Center for Fine Art Photography, US. Emily lives in Brooklyn, NY and is available to work internationally.

 

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www.MyViewpoint.org

Emily Schiffer

 

mark gong – cuban life

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Mark Gong

Cuban Life

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I wanted to do one last great backpacking trip before settling down in the Big Apple, so in Spring 2008, I visited Cuba.  Like most countries I travel to, I try not to have any preconceived notions of what to expect.  What I found was a land and people far more familiar than I could have imagined. Cuba resonated with me like no other country I have traveled, and reminded me of what life was like being raised in Communist China.  From the red handkerchiefs tied around the necks of students to the bicycles on the street, at almost every turn I experienced déjà vu. Scenes from my childhood came to life, lifted from memory and morphed into my surroundings, replaced with Spanish and colonial buildings.  With this feeling of nostalgia, I began to capture settings that reminded me of the life that I once knew. While Cuba has its own cultural identity, many common threads linked me to my past. Larger themes such as the close-knit communities, the omnipresent government, sports, and the patient wait for change is something that both counties share. I went about photographing the people as if I had always lived there.  Cuba gave me the opportunity to relive my youth as if I always had a camera around my neck.

 

Bio

Mark Gong is an award winning New York City-based freelance photographer.  His passion for photography started when he took his first camera on a solo backpacking trip across Africa and Europe.  Not long after, Mark landed the prestigious internship at The Washington Post and the Eddie Adams Workshop.  His photographs have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fader, Surface and Popular Photography.  Recently Mark won Best in Show at FotoWeek DC as well Surface’s Avant Guardian Project.

 

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Mark Gong

 

of trees and dreams…

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is there anything better than a childhood dream?  9 year old Gracie Johnson dreams of becoming a photographer….she lives now in the Virginia town where i also dreamed of being a photographer at about the same age…Gracie and her family are part of my American family series Off For A Family Drive…Gracies’ father,  U.S.Navy Capt. Andrew Johnson was the Director of Medical Operations on the first wave of Haitian relief after the earthquake serving on the military’s largest hospital ship Comfort…

symbiotic stuff….

so here at Burn we are creating Circus Magazine  for photographers 18 and under…young Gracie will of course be a candidate photographer…. with less than 6  degrees of separation, we are also working in the kindred spirit of her physician father Capt. Johnson and will be using the fee many of you contributed as part of the EPF  grant award for Burn  to send approximately $6,000. to Doctors Without Borders specifically to be used for Haitian relief efforts….

this year the Emerging Photographer Fund grant will be given to one of 25 finalists…more than double the number of finalists as last year…this will be a very tough call for the jury that i will name next week….while i am very proud that the tenor of Burn has made it so that generous donors have made it possible to give out a $15,000. grant for 2010 for the completion of one photographer’s project, i still want to be on the leading edge of a wave that will help as many of the talented unknown as possible…

after allotting first for Haitian relief, then paying our fee to Slideroom for making the whole entry and judging process easy, Burn is left with a small profit from your entry fees…we had approximately 1000 entries…..so what to do with the profit?

Anton and i figured we had three choices: Do we?

(a) take a vacation in the Bahamas

(b) throw a helluva party in my loft in New York

(c) give the money back to the readers of Burn

those who know me, know the answer….and Anton is of like mind…yup (c), we are giving the money back to you….

starting on July 1, 2010 Burn Magazine will start paying for every essay and single published online in our magazine….

we will have to start with a token payment of $500. per essay for one time use rights on work that comes to us through submissions…more for a first time exclusive….we are confident this number will rise significantly as we seek outside support….now we are doing this with your money….a big circle….the right thing to do in this nebulous time in the world of publishing…

Burn will not last forever…Burn will always be small….we only care about one thing at Burn and it matches the way i feel about everything i do…i just want Burn to set high standards and live by example…and in this case hopefully stimulate the “big guys” to follow suit…the large media companies , even with advertising for support , are thinking of every way possible to keep from paying photographers for online content, and we at Burn are thinking of every way possible  to make sure the young photojournalists and artists of our time are compensated for their work….so, this is our brick in the wall…and oh yes, i am still working on assignments for Burn readers and icons as well…be patient, this is part of it…this is how it will happen….

photography has never been a professional choice either craft or art where people were expecting to become wealthy…photographers work from their deepest passions, either artistic or journalistic…yet, compensation so that they may continue their passion and yet feed their families seems to me to be fair enough….

i want to take this time to thank Andrew and Melissa Johnson and their beautiful children Critt, Cole, and sweet Gracie for allowing me into their lives….yes, i have made a few pictures with medium format film for my personal project, but what will be even better is if Burn gives Gracie a good digital camera so that she will have the opportunity to photograph her family from the real inside….soon to be published on Circus….

done…..

…dah….

jamie maxtone graham – when evening comes

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Jamie Maxtone Graham

When Evening Comes: Night Market Portraits

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The photographs in this body of work came to be out of a couple of different but complimentary impulses. The first was a simple curiosity of what the Long Bien night market in Hanoi, Vietnam – where I have lived since 2007 – actually looked like at night. I have often been past the market during the day when it is closed and very little, if anything, is ever happening. It is, in fact, asleep. I found it is an entirely different place after night falls.

The second, more personal, challenge for myself was to make photographs in a different mode – both technically and aesthetically – and to engage the subjects, the people who work and even live in the night market, in a manner that required collaboration and ultimately a trust. I wanted to bring some of the aesthetic of the studio into the street and to do this at night in this venue – a rough wholesale fruit and vegetable market in a tough section of the city near the Red River – seemed both absurd and entirely logical. I like that kind of friction.

On a separate note, there are a couple of other ideas at work here for me. In the West, ‘Vietnam’ continually connotes a war long over and other socio-political issues which often seem to sublimate the very “everydayness” of the place. With as little prejudice as I am capable of, in this series I wanted to just look and be looked back at by people with no more overt agenda than just that.  These people photographed and I developed some relationship both in the moment we made the image and in the weeks I regularly returned, always with their portrait as a gift. I also had in mind to embrace some tone of a 19th or early 20th colonial portraitist (in Indochina they were typically French and I admire a lot of that work) and so I tried to adopt a somewhat neutral distance and attitude with the camera while looking for something that expressed the nuance of this time, these people, this place.

 

Bio

I have been a cinematographer working originally in New York and then in Los Angeles on feature films, commercials and episodic television but also with strong exposure to documentary and independent films as well. I began coming to Vietnam in 1990 to shoot a documentary and have returned many times in the two decades since on other non-fiction and narrative films and for personal work too.

In 2007-08 I became a Fulbright Research Fellow after receiving a grant funding my proposal to photograph contemporary youth culture in Vietnam. My wife, our young daughter and I continue to live in Hanoi and I have made several other portfolios of photographs in that time (When Evening Comes is the most recent) while pursuing commercial and narrative film work in the region. A selection of this body of work exhibited at The Bui Gallery in Hanoi in February and March, 2010.

 

james dodd – olympic dreams

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James Dodd

Olympic Dreams

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Sport funding in the UK has increased dramatically as a result of winning the 2012 Olympic bid. Knowing the eyes of the world will soon be upon the nation, much of this funding has been spent scouting exceptional youth talent and intensely developing them into potential Olympians. Over the past 2 years (2008-2010), James has been following the British junior diving team in Sheffield UK, documenting their trials and tribulations en route to the games. This work explores the pressures and expectations placed upon the youth of a nation aiming to succeed, and in this case reach their olympic dreams. This project is ongoing.

 

Bio

James Dodd, a 26 year old UK based photographer from Sheffield, originally studied Computing and Business Practices, before completing his photojournalism training through the National Council for the Training of Journalists. A founding member of the photography collective Statement Images (www.statementimages.co.uk) James is also the current photographer & curator in residence at Bank Street Arts (www.bankstreetarts.com) in Sheffield. Through his work James covers a vast range of subjects and concepts, from hard news coverage, to in-depth documentary series on sport and pastimes.

 

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www.jamesdodd.net