Monthly Archive for August, 2010

lisa wiltse – the mennonites of manitoba, bolivia

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Lisa Wiltse

The Mennonites of Manitoba, Bolivia

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The Tranquility of the Mennonite settlement of Manitoba in eastern Bolivia was transformed into fear and confusion when, this past June, suspicions were confirmed that at least 100 women and girls were raped by members of their community. The accused, ranging in age from 18 to 41 years old, targeted the women in the community’s homes. They sprayed a narcotic substance that rendered the women unconscious and then raped them. Now many teenage victims fear they are unable to marry because the Mennonite community requires that its women remain virgins until marriage in order to retain the respect of their peers. These events have shaken this conservative colony to its core. Manitoba is located about 152 kilometers (94 miles) northeast of the city of Santa Cruz with a population of about 3,000. Horse-drawn buggies, farmhouses with manicured lawns and fields planted to the horizon with soybeans and sorghum. Mennonites have tended to lead quiet, dedicated, religiously inspired lives. They are known for their espousal of non-violence. Their European features and distinctive clothes separate them from other Bolivians. The Mennonites settled in eastern Bolivia’s farmlands more than 50 years ago. They came from Mennonite colonies in Canada, Russia, Mexico, Belize and Paraguay, looking for a better life. They live simply, dress plainly and refuse to use many modern conveniences. They trace their spiritual ancestry to a 16th century European preacher named Menno Simons, whose followers became known as Mennonites. Today, some 60,000 Mennonites call Bolivia their home. Their colonies are broad expanses of land given to them by the Bolivian government. This is where they live and work, sheltered by the government’s promise of freedom of religion, exemption from military service, and the privilege of running their own schools. These images capture the Mennonites of Manitoba in their everyday lives, now struggling to erase a recent painful past and continue to live their lives separate from the outside world. I aim to produce photo essays that are intimate yet strong in narrative, and that gives voice to those previously overlooked. The remote colonies seen down dusty roads are off the beaten track, and, once there, difficult to enter and fully understand. I hope to bring a greater understanding and awareness to these communities.

 

Bio

Lisa Wiltse was born in 1977 in Connecticut, and graduated from the Art Institute of Boston with a BFA in photography. In 2004 she moved to Sydney, Australia where she worked as a staff photographer for the Sydney Morning Herald. In 2008, she decided to pursue her freelance career and in 2009 moved to La Paz, Bolivia . She has traveled extensively, focusing on documenting everyday life in marginalized communities in places such as Bangladesh, Uganda, Philippines, and the USA. Her work has been recognized by POYI’s, the National Press Photographers Association, the Sony awards, Magenta’s Flash forward photographer is a recipient of The Walkley award in Australia. She was selected as one of eight photographers for Pour L’Instant in Niort, France in 2009. She has recently been awarded The PDN Emerging Photographer award and selected as an exhibitor for the 2nd Lumix Festival for young photojournalism in Hanover, Germany. Her work been published in The Fader, TIME magazine, GEO, Internazionale, Private Photo Review, The Sun Magazine, Marie Claire, The Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald. She is currently a contributor with Getty Reportage.

 

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Lisa Wiltse

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emily berl – our boys

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Emily Berl

Our Boys

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Everyone in Strawn, Texas knows Friday night means football. Located approximately 80 miles west of Fort Worth, Strawn is a small community with a population of around 700. Strawn high school estimates they will have only 39 students in the 2010-2011 school year. Without enough players to field a traditional 11-man football team, Strawn plays a variation of the sport called 6-man football. Unlike 11-man football, all players on a 6-man team play both offense and defense. Although the fields is slightly smaller than a traditional 11-man field, the fact that there are less players leaves more room to run, resulting in a much faster, higher scoring game. While many outsiders see 6-man as an inferior version of the sport, a demotion of sorts, the residents of 6-man towns take great pride in their teams. During the playoffs, towns with populations in the hundreds can draw fans in the thousands. Winning a 6-man state championship, as Strawn has done in 2003 and 2008 is considered one of the highest honors in the state. While 6-man is played across Texas, and in several other states and Canada, the sport is most prevalent in tiny west Texas towns where populations have been steadily declining due to migration to larger cities. In Strawn, the school is the center of the town and football represents the school. People see the kids of Strawn as their future, because if the school disappears, the town essentially disappears as well. People in Strawn see the football players as “our boys.” When one of the players needs something they can’t afford like lunch for a long bus ride, a uniform, and even x-rays, the town will find the funds to get them what they need. The boys in Strawn grow up knowing they are expected to play football, but at the same time, most grow up waiting for the day they get to play on the team, and in the spotlight. In Strawn and many other towns like it, football is a piece of Americana passed down through the generations. It is an ever-present way of life, a source of pride that binds the community together, and it’s what you do on Friday nights. When I first arrived in Strawn, I knew virtually nothing about the place and absolutely nothing about 6-man football. But soon, I was welcomed into the community with open arms. The people of Strawn let me into their lives and for that I am forever grateful.

 

Bio

Emily Berl was born and raised in Washington, DC. She graduated from Boston University where she studied photojournalism and art history. She is currently a freelance photographer living in Brooklyn, NY.

 

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www.emilyberlphoto.com

 

elena perlino – des corps dans la ville

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Elena Perlino

Des Corps Dans la Ville

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Prostitution is legal in France, but soliciting customers is not. The immediate consequence of newly passed laws against passive soliciting has changed the sex trade. Large concentrations of utility vehicles serving as accommodation crowd the nightly streets of the city suburbs. The shaking and bouncing vans leave little doubt as to the activities going on inside.

In Lyon, prostitutes from Brazil, Portugal, and Cameroon, as well as transvestites from Algeria, have largely been ousted from their usual haunts in the Perrache station neighborhood. Candles on the dashboards of surreal rows of white vans dimly illuminate the women’s faces. An open door means available, a closed door means busy.

The Rhone and Saone rivers outline the area for sex trade. Police controls, waiting for clients, drugs and alcohol, all evaporate by the quickly arriving dawn. The mix of people you meet is far from any stereotype. Fear and loneliness are felt but so is the intimacy of a well-tuned microcosm. Fernanda for example, a Portuguese prostitute in her sixties, not only receives old clients but also stitches their worn clothing on occasion.

Cassandra and Sylvie, two Algerian brothers, unfolded a whole new view on this subject for me.

Upon their yearly return to Algeria, their skirts, high heels and wigs are abandoned, and they slip into the role of heterosexual Algerian men, living with their families.  Algerian law prohibits homosexuality or transsexual conduct, which is severely punished by imprisonment, not to mention the social stigma.

Conseil Régional Rhône-Alpes has commissioned the project and a series of images was exhibited at the Biennal Septembre de la photographie, Lyon, 2006 – Des corps dans la ville.

A selection of images will be part of Le Mois de la Photo in November 2010, Paris, France.

 

Bio

Born 1972 in Italy, Elena Perlino currently lives in northern Italy.

After receiving her degree from the faculty of arts at the university of Turin,  she discovered  serious photography at Toscana Photographic Workshop in Italy. In 2003  she was selected for the Reflexions Masterclass, directed by Giorgia Fiorio and Gabriel Bauret in Paris, which gave focus to her work.

Today she works as an independent photographer on assignment for editorial projects and cultural institutions and develops personal works.

Her clients include D di Repubblica, Io Donna, GQ, Max, Specchio, Elle, Grazia, Glamour, Anna, Rockstar, and Tauchsport among others. Her pictures have been exhibited and awarded in Bosnia, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the USA.

 

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Elena Perlino

 

alexander mendelevich – weariness

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EPF 2010 Finalist

Alexander Mendelevich

Weariness

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I am looking for fineness and perfection in humanity. It is interesting for me to expose it through drama, the drama of  being. I am trying to find these  moments in ordinary things that fill our lives, like our emotions, events at work or with family, happiness or unhappiness in relationships, good food with the man you love or lonely supper on a holiday. Thousands of things in our every day existence, things which make us sensual. Staged photography gives me more control to make the occurring more sharp, to build reality on the set like a sculptor, when you can feel every detail, where 1/60 sec. of exposure is transformed to something permanent. It’s like to try to compress all of life in one regular situation and to turn emotion and feeling into an object.

 

Bio

I was born in Pyatigorsk, Northern Caucasus, Russia on 07/12/1979. After high school and three years of studying Economy and Management, I moved to Israel. I served in the army as an ambulance driver and then finished my B.F.A. at the Jerusalem Academy of Arts and Design in the photography department.

 

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Alexander Mendelevich

 

julien coquentin – strange rain

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Julien Coquentin

Strange Rain

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Once again—the sky saturates us with is deluge—accompanied by its loud burst of thunder—we’ve grown accustomed to. How long has it been raining on this city? Mute and indifferent to what has become familiar—we are only sure that the storms have transformed our city and us. It is a strange sensation –living in a gorge –an atmosphere is chronic with humidity as we find ourselves with the sons of the months—embracing the brute infernal noise. Our consciousness compelled us to lie down come nightfall. Wrapped in cloth –we are become saturated by the grounds unceasing stream of humidity, Surrounded by walls of scaling paint—an atrocity; this climate. We all seek release from this fate…as assimilation into the grey void –paled our smiles—–now a blur… evanescent. Self-preservation…means accepting ones fate. We knew that. Kinship of shared experiences found us drawn to each other…creating units of our making. Yet…forced into communities driven by the dying light equated –not genuine fraternity—but mocked relationships with all the defects of hypocrisy. This morning –the church found the entire city in attendance for the sermon. So as to conceal the sound of the thunder—an investment had been made to install a large sound system—affording all to hear. Suddenly, the sound of the rain ceased—leaving the acoustics of the auditorium amplifying the voice of the priest, which filled the church. Bewildered chatter halted to a whisper. A ray of sun light had caused the audience to divert their attention—and one by one they streamed out of this forced shelter. bedazzled by the magnificence of this light, our astonishment intensified… It was this day I knew what silence meant. To be present and yet so far removed

 

Bio

I was born in France in 1976 but now live in Montreal, Canada, where I practice the profession of nursing at night. I never studied photography, I’m just in love with images, shadows and raindrops, gray light and stories … I do not have an expanded curriculum vitae and I walk every day in my city with camera in hand…I am a passer concentrated…photography has eaten my mind for the past three years…

 

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jan sochor – 50 years after the revolution

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Jan Sochor

50 Years

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Jan Sochor – 50 Years after the Revolution

 

About 50 years after the national rebellion, led by Fidel Castro, and adopting the communist ideology shortly after the victory, the Caribbean island of Cuba is the only country in Americas having the communist political system. Although the Cuban state-controlled economy has never been developed enough to allow Cubans living in social conditions similar to the US or to Europe, mostly middle-age and older Cubans still support the Castro Brothers’ regime and the idea of the Cuban Revolution.

During the decades of “Revolution” Cuba has increased its literacy rate to 97 percent (second place in Latin America). Education is free of charge in Cuba but highly qualified professionals earn 20 US dollars per month. There is total safety in Cuba, violence almost does not exist, but freedom of expression is prohibited and prisoners of conscious can be found there.

Cuba has been successfully resisting to all attempts of changing the system from outside. Since the 1990s Cuba struggles with chronic economic crisis and mainly young Cubans call for the economic changes.

 

Bio:

He was born in the Czech Republic but he is changing his base between South America and Europe frequently, he lived and worked in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Spain and the Czech Republic in the last five years. Latin America has become a major theme for him since then. He focuses on documentary projects trying to show and tell about the (Latin) American continent, its everyday life, social, political and cultural issues. His photographs and stories have appeared in numerous Czech and international magazines, newspapers and publications, including Sunday Times, National Geographic, Burn magazine, Foto8, PDN online, NACLA Report, Adbusters magazine, The Vienna Review, Reflex, Instinkt, Koktejl, Listy, Hospodarske noviny.

 

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Jan Sochor

 

Editor’s note:

Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

Many thanks… david alan harvey