Monthly Archive for May, 2011

tushikur rahman – fatalistic tendency

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EPF 2011 Finalist


Tushikur Rahman

Fatalistic Tendency

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There is a place in which your privacy, intimacy, integrity and inviolability are guaranteed. Your own body and mind, that unique temple and a familiar territory of sense and personal history.

Anxiety and stress can cause sleep deprivation, warping space and time, ultimately leading to fatalistic tendencies.

If one wishes to commit suicide, one gradually loses his mental resilience and sense of freedom… Feeling alien and objectified – unable to communicate, relate, attach or empathize with others… Floating in dreams and eventually fleeting in the sky… The taste of suicide: the true sensation, the extreme fantasy.

I could never write a diary; thinking about the things which should be written in a personal diary was the most difficult part for me. Making this photo story was like writing a personal diary about my past, and feeling the same kind of difficulty. Thinking about those times is still hard for me.

This work has been published before in Viewbook Photostory 2010-Yearbook and WPO (World Photography Oranization) 2011, Student Focus Award.


Bio

Tushikur Rahman, born in Bangladesh in 1987 is a documentary photographer who prefers to work with social issues both urban and rural. In 2009, Tushik enrolled in Pathshala South Asian Media Academy for BA in Photography. He participated in various international workshops conducted by renowned teachers and practitioners including Stuart Freedman, Jorge Villacorta, Shannon Lee Castleman, Abir Abdullah and Munem Wasif. He is also devoted in travelling and capturing thrilling subjects including the lives of Tiger widows and a full sequence of a tiger being slaughtered by hundreds of people in Shatkhira, Bangladesh. In 2010, he finished his latest project, Fatalistic tendency, a deep subject concerned with depression that results in violence. In 2010, he received 3rd prize of Jury award in conceptual category of prestigious Viewbook Photostory, Slected as a finalist for the WPO-World Photography Organization Student focus award 2011.


Related links

www.lightstalkers.org/tushikur-rahman


laura el-tantawy – In the shadow of the pyramids: egypt

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EPF 2011 Finalist


Laura El-Tantawy

In the Shadow of the Pyramids: Egypt

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The revolution of Jan. 25, 2011 revived a long lost sense of pride and strength for Egyptian people.

In my lifetime, I’ve seen Egyptians live under a totalitarian regime pressing down against their dignity. People lost their national pride and unity. Wealth and power rested in the hands of a few who seemed the only ones with the right to live. The masses felt isolated and with this isolation people became foreigners in their own land.

Over the past three decades this country of nearly 85 million – the Arab world’s most populous and traditionally its most revered – became a country of lost souls – ripped apart by political, social and economic turmoil. I didn’t have to go beyond the streets to see the depth of this estrangement.

The signs were this is a country on the verge of an explosion.

“It’s a horrible feeling to realize that your country is weak, your voice is weak, your opinion is weak – to realize that if you sell your soul, your body, your pen and your name, you still wouldn’t be able to afford a loaf of bread,” writes the Egyptian vernacular poet Hesham al-Gokh in “Goha”.

In the 30 years of former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Egypt became one of the world’s top 10 most corrupt nations. Bribery was common practice to get anything done, from a driver’s license to getting employed. Torture & humiliation of Egyptians was a daily occurrence. At least 24 million can’t read or write & estimates say more than 10 million live outside Egypt in pursuit of a better life. Egypt is one of a handful of countries where poverty forced roughly one million people to make homes out of cemeteries, breathing the spirit of the dead to stay alive.

In 2005 I began to document the lives of everyday Egyptians. The purpose of my work has & is to identify the essence of being Egyptian during & after Mubarak’s era. In doing so I aim to show how events in this strategic North African country can give insight into the future of the Middle East.

In parts, this project has been published before in different places, one of them being BURN magazine.


Bio

Laura El-Tantawy is a British/Egyptian photographer spending her time between London and Cairo. She was born in Worcestershire, England and grew up between Saudi Arabia and Egypt. She works on self-initiated projects.

She worked as a newspaper photographer with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Sarasota Herald-Tribune (USA). In 2006, she became freelance to focus on personal projects. In 2008, she was nominated and accepted as one of 15 photographers from around the world to participate in Reflexions Masterclass, a two-year photo seminar directed by Italian photographer Giogia Fiorio and French curator Gabriel Bauret. In 2005 she started work on her first book documenting her journey through a changing Egypt. As part of her urge to understand the issues, in 2009 she accepted a six-month fellowship at University of Oxford (UK) to research free speech in Egyptian. Her work has been published and exhibited in the US, Europe, Asia and Middle East.


Related links

www.lauraeltantawy.com


revelations…

part of our little Burn magazine team met tonight over Pizza Hut delivery…thin and crispy Supreme is the suburban delivery of choice..no Coke, only Pepsi..hmmm, now where was i…oh yes, revelations…not necessarily things which can really come true, but well you all know how it is..i start this way, and then try to make it happen…so, revelation now, attempt/work on it to begin immediately…no time to mess around…

FIRST, we think we will try the obvious…keep EPF as is…no change…our Oscars…grumbling is part of it…the nature of it…

however, we will start with a grant of equal size a readers choice for the recipient…all of you literally vote for say one out of 15 finalists for example and for say another 15k ..nothing to do with EPF……at another time of year..in the fall…the Peoples Choice Award for Burn may not carry the weight of the EPF , but it will satisfy the desire of readers to play in the game….and real financing for some lucky recipient who won the hearts and minds of the people…power!

SECOND, a Burn branded camera bag has been born (anyone surprised?)…we will announce at Look 3

THIRD, RIO, yes my RIO will be a super over sized tabloid freebie..free to all of you..free to everyone…maybe postage only ..we will see…but an unbound tabloid on high quality paper that you can take apart and hang a spread/picture on the wall…i will look for a sponsor so i can give it away to you folks……will also be a real book too for sale, but the free tabloid will be a collector item itself no matter how many we print….

this will happen AFTER Rio makes its debut in NatGeo of course …one thing at a time por favor…we are talking early 2012 i think….the tabloid will be the “directors cut” …all stuff that could not be published in NatGeo and the totally behind the scenes rip it up….what you think?

there is a fourth thing, but i will save that for tomorrow…well hell, i cannot give it ALL away right away…

zhe chen – bees

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EPF 2011 Finalist


Zhe Chen

Bees

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They left their lives in the very wounds they had created for themselves.
– Virgil (Roman poet, 70BC – 19BC)

To jeopardize existence for existence itself: ‘Bees’ records a marginalized group of people in China, who, faced with chaos, violence, alienation and irredeemable loss in life, feel propelled to leave physical traces and markings on their bodies, in order to preserve and corroborate a pure and sensitive mind from within.

In 2010, having ‘The Bearable’ (a photo series documenting my own self-inflictions over the past 4 years) as my passport, I had the opportunity to develop a close relationship with some of these obstinate souls – the bees. During the process of exchanging secrets with them, I crossed paths with certain possibilities that were formerly untouched but towards which I had struggled greatly in my personal life. I’m struck by the unyielding actions and reactions that the bees carry on with while encountering sudden and acute emotional fluxes, and moved by the recurrent effort they make to recover themselves afterwards. No matter how different our lives seem to be, we undoubtedly share common psychological experiences.

I hope my photographs inquire upon society’s prejudice and preconception towards this community, and not become illustrations or pictorial evidence for the topic at hand: every subject is an individual, not just ‘one of them’ – his or her life cannot be predicted or dictated by any constructed social code or notion. Depression plants the seed of introspection. The bees take it in; They reason it, embrace it and explore it, forming an isolated universe in their own minds. These self-sustained universes contain every reason that explains the ‘abnormality’ that no one who lacks in common experiences could decode. I hope a first glance of my work conveys the idea of secrecy and sentiments, under which lies information awaiting exposure and recognition: like an index page pointing towards all the unanswered questions.


Bio

Brought up in Beijing, Zhe Chen is a photographer currently living in Los Angeles. In the past 4 years, Zhe has been documenting her self-inflicted activities while creating a series of projects focusing on body modification, human hair, post-traumatic stress disorder, identity confusion and memory. Zhe holds a BFA in Photography & Imaging from Art Center College of Design.

Related links

www.zheis.com


benjamin rusnak – 23º, far from paradise

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EPF 2011 Finalist


Benjamin Rusnak

23º, Far from Paradise

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23º of latitude separate the Equator from the Northern tropic. These latitudes are home to beaches, palms, vacation resorts, idyllic paradise — and poverty.

This is where the sun bares countless dark and desperate lives. This is where the unfortunate location of birth often condemns people to a life of struggle in an unforgiving land, beset with drought and flood, famine and tempest.

Conversely, this is where hope and resilience coexist with tribulation. For the poor, there is a duality to life. In each person, each moment holds joy and pain, a mourning for what is lost and a yearning for what may be. These lands represent a dream holiday to tourists, but they are only an elusive fantasy to millions of residents still hoping for the reality of paradise to become theirs.

I have documented the lives of the poor in the Caribbean and Latin America for a decade. The people I meet struggle, strive, hope, dream, live and die in those 23º. While this region is only one part of the globe, the lives of turmoil and legacies of hope within it are emblematic of people around the world who suffer at the same latitudes. Their lives are separated by a chasm of degrees, in contrast to those living in developed nations to the north and south.

This work in progress seeks to illuminate this intersection of geographic lines with circumstance of birth and how the irony of being poor in paradise creates strength, resilience and a duality of spirit. I believe the broad view of the panoramic format, combined with an often intimate perspective, creates a novel way to explore the relationship between the land and those who must scrape together an existence from it.

To continue this work, I will return to Haiti, where the seismic shifts to land, culture, economy and politics since the 2010 earthquake have made the nation’s story even more poignant to this tale. I also plan to return to violence-plagued Guatemala and to Guyana, a country in a decades-long state of decline.


Bio

Benjamin Rusnak is a humanitarian photojournalist. He has documented poverty in the Caribbean and Latin America since 2000 as staff photographer for Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief agencies in the United States, based in Coconut Creek, FL. He brought a decade of newspaper experience to telling the stories of those in need in the developing world.

His work has been recognized by Pictures of the Year International, the Best of Photojournalism, the International Photography Awards, the New York Photo Awards, Photo District News, the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, the Alexia Foundation and the China International Press Photo Contest. In 2008, Rusnak won the prestigious Gordon Parks Award. In 2009, his exhibition of Dreams & Tempests premiered as part of the citywide festival, Atlanta Celebrates Photography and has traveled to California (The KONA Gallery), Washington, D.C., and Florida. ZUMA Press represents his editorial work, and zReportage.com and DOUBLEtruck Magazine often feature his essays. He was awarded InterAction’s Effective Assistance Humanitarian Photography Award in 2010.


Related links

www.benjaminrusnak.com


daria tuminas – ivan and the moon

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EPF 2011 Finalist


Daria Tuminas

Ivan and the Moon

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Ivan is the elder, he is 16. Andrey, nicknamed Moon, is the younger, 14 by now. The two brothers live in a distant village in the northern part of Russia. They are not like regular teenagers, and live in a fairy tale world, yet deeply connected to nature: they go hunting and fishing, can use a joiner’s chisel, play with ghosts at abandoned places, do not want to move to a city, and love nature. Mature and childish. Naive and enigmatic. In this ongoing project I want to show the mysteriousness of the world of these brothers.

The narrative in ‘Ivan and the Moon’ is neither chronological nor event related. It does not have a strict and one-way-to-read plot. All the images are connected to each other on the level of correlated motives and on the level of hypothetical story interpretations. Each picture is supposed to provoke some inquiry about ‘What is going on?’

Moreover, the two brothers are reflections of each other. Many people might even think that they are twins. The main corpus of works contains their individual portraits, so that it is no longer clear who is who. It was also important to show that the world around the boys is itself magical and their games and fantasies are consequences of being a part of this world.

My aim is to follow the brothers through their life (I met them at a folklore expedition) and ‘document’ things that are impossible to document: the world of a boy’s fantasies, ghosts, gods, spirits of specific places, magic itself. Such things usually can not be literally depicted. As J. Szarkowski stated in his famous work ‘Mirrors and Windows’: ‘most issues of importance cannot be photographed’. My goal is to try to photograph the ‘unphotographable’ side of the matter and challenge some formal criteria of ‘classical’ documentary.

Works from this series were published in several magazines (GUP, DigitalPhoto etc.); awarded with the first prize documentary at the Viewbook Photostory Competition, exhibited at several Amsterdam and St-Petersburg’s galleries, at Lodz Fotofestival etc.


Bio

I was born in 1984 in St.-Petersburg, Russia. I have always been interested in approaching photography in several ways. First of all, I am doing academic researches. I wrote an MA thesis about amateur photography at St.-Petersburg State University and for now I am a student at Leiden University’s MA program ‘Film and Photographic Studies’. I am also practicing writing critical essays on photography; and used to be the coordinator and curator of an International Summer School in Photography focused on the new language of documentary and journalistic photography. Currently, I am an intern at Foam magazine (Amsterdam), working in the editorial team. Finally, I also take pictures. ‘Ivan and the Moon’ is my first project.


c’mon baby light my fire…

Brazilian model Fernanda Brandao photographed for my YOU MADE ME LEAVE book project in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

 

i am supposed to be quitting this Burn bit right now….sort of announced that i would a few weeks back…too much work and i need to devote all my time to my own photography…i am doing three different projects with my own work that need my full attention…this is no time to be thinking of others….damn…everything was set for a high five very honorable goodbye until i went to Amsterdam as a guest of World Press Photo…

ok, so i met some young Burn audience, they told me how much Burn meant to them, uh huh, and then to the Magnum education blast in Toronto where i felt the effect of Burn in a very palpable way from both students and my Magnum colleagues, and then finally the coup de grace  last week a 16 yr old kid with a camera literally skateboarded into my gallery show in Colorado and said out of breath and without shaking hands, “i love Burn”..

so, how do you walk away after that? i mean it was only three or four people who said those things to me, but it is not about how many, but about the glint in their eye…sincere, warm, authentic…while i feel as though i have tried to avoid responsibility for the better part of my life, right here in my moment of total life freedom i have somehow managed to get myself into some sort of position of responsibility…freedom backfired..flipped…where did i go wrong?

and just now, just today, just an hour ago, after a long net session with Anton Kusters, the two of us structuring the way we would play the Emerging Photographer Fund Grant finalists starting tomorrow, we both ended up laughing hysterically…Anton with his own Yakuza book almost hot off the press was with me in thinking we would let Burn go…pass it on to others, or just let it go….and yet the reason we were laughing so hard was because in a moment of artistic and personal clarity, we saw that Burn was not fading for us, but getting ready to take on a new life…

for sure, our ten finalists this year will be our benchmark for now and set a tone for the future….exciting yes, and for sure to be controversial as well…if you have everybody agreeing with you, or have any sort of dogma attached to photography,  in any direction, then  for sure it would be time to go home…light a few fires, and you might just be getting somewhere…

no, we will not keep playing the same song…we will always be looking for fresh vision…and this year all of our candidates have it …fresh, new vision..yes, some purely journalistic, and yes, some purely conceptual…are we the arbiters of a new age of photography? of course not…in this new age, the readers choose…on the other hand, we have taken it upon ourselves to have a birds eye view of who is doing what , where and why…i have young students from all over the world, see so much work coming into Magnum, all of us see thousands of entries here on Burn, and make sure we see what is going on at all the international photo fests and pay attention to all curated shows and most recent publications of all kinds…

do we miss some stuff? sure we do, but we feel we have a reasonable handle on  what is going on as well as anyone and with no attachments commercial or otherwise to lean anyone anywhere for any reason other than to celebrate pure creativity… and we personally see a world where the various worlds of photography blend…something i have tried to do my whole life never being satisfied with labels….for sure we will blend on the pages of Burn all styles and types of photography, both online and in print soonest with BURN02…

our greatest weakness, and yes greatest strength, is that none of us who work on Burn have a full time job with Burn…we all have to do it when we can and if we can…for one way or another, we all do other things…all of us are photographers first…struggling as are all….none of us are business types, and the raw commercialization of Burn becomes less likely day by day….we want to get better, but none of us want to get negatively bigger…so we may do some things which will bring us enough funding to get a new infrastructure web wise etc., to totally display the amazing archive of stories we have for example, but all of us on Burn care more about a clean initiative than about a real biz plan…

we might fantasize a benevolent patron, and all that we do finance here comes from these generous donors (readers here), but Burn will always represent our original core philosophy of celebrating  primarily the work of new young talent with just a few iconic candles on the cake from time to time to keep things credible and referenced….and even during the short life of Burn, we have seen our original emerging crowd turn into the established crowd right before your eyes…again, we will soonest make the archive easier to access , so if you do not remember, you will be able to more easily go in and have a peek…..

Every other day we’ll show you one of our ten finalists for the EPF… and on June 11, at 10am, one of these finalists will be announced at the LOOK3 Festival to receive our $15,000 grant….

three distinctive jurors (who will now go unidentified, so you cannot influence the vote by buying them a drink) will decide on the recipient over the next two weeks of discussion and voting….these jurors will be of course identified on the day of the award…

in the coming days, we will also reveal the “short list” of 200 special  candidates out of the around 1,000 entrants and the even “shorter list” of 30 or so who came very close and are all very good….all of these will be considered very likely for publication on Burn …

i wish we had enough financing to help more than we do…and maybe someday we can have the equivalent of five of these grants or perhaps more assignments….right now, we are doing the best that we can…it is pretty obvious we are a very small rogue operation ….yet hopefully we are at least setting some examples for the larger media companies who in theory could do what we are doing way way better….but to be the small garage band has an appeal second to none really…suits me for sure…i hope it works for all of you as well…

-dah-

mary anne mitchell – altered states

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Mary Anne Mitchell

Altered States

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The waves are crashing and the lone figure is approaching, is he friend or foe?  The girl appears to be washed ashore; is she asleep, just resting, or worse?  The young man is entangled in the net or is he…?

This work documents the world in a manner that transforms the subject into something quite different from reality. The work depicts situations, often mysterious, which draw the viewer into a narrative. The subject often appears isolated in a strange or surreal setting. These depictions sometimes seem like an overlooked moment in our peripheral vision. Other times they feel like they are visions from a whimsical imagination. In each piece, the artist invites the observer into her curious world. They evoke ambiguous moods and each viewer’s response to them will be tempered by their own experiences.


Bio

Mary Anne Mitchell is a freelance photographer in Atlanta, GA.  All of the artwork is shot on film and printed by the artist.


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Mary Anne Mitchell


scott brauer – we chinese

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M. Scott Brauer

We Chinese

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“We Chinese” grew out of a curiosity to find out what Chinese people think about their country and their future.  Media coverage of the country and its development often raises questions about the direction of the government in Beijing on the world stage.  Few reports take into account the feelings of the Chinese people, instead making reference to the country as a monolithic actor without constituent parts.  A country’s trajectory through history cannot be mapped without careful consideration of the people.  This project aims, in a small way, to develop a portrait of the country by looking at the individual people that make it up.

I started the project as a way to respond to friends’, family’s, and strangers’ questions about the global direction of China and their stereotypes of the people. ‘Should we be scared of China?’ or ‘Where is China headed?’ or broad assertions about the collective character of billions of individuals that make up the country. The project aims to give faces and voices to a small section of the Chinese people caught in the center of historic shifts in the country’s socioeconomic circumstances. Recent years in China have been marked by mass migration toward urban centers, substantial increases in personal wealth, radical changes in the country’s educational and industrial sectors, and the start of China’s role as a global leader in political and economic matters.  Ordinary people, the subject of We Chinese, are caught in the middle of this unprecedented change. While the big story is this change itself, an important and often-overlooked aspect of modern China is what this cultural transformation means to the people and their future.

In 2010, I traveled throughout major urban centers in eastern China stopping people on the street to ask the same two questions about their country and their future. The respondents filled out a one-page typewritten questionnaire that included these two questions and some basic information including name, age, and occupation. The questions were interpreted variously, and the responses range from prosaic to poetic, from rote to inspired, and from unemotional to patriotic. While it’s difficult to draw conclusions about the entire population, the people photographed here expressed a sincere love of country and optimism about the country’s future development and peaceful position in the world.

The name ‘We Chinese’ comes from a phrase I encountered time and again when talking with Chinese people in China, both in Mandarin and English. Answers to questions about the person’s opinion about something or other would often begin with ‘We Chinese…’ (‘Wo men Zhong Guo ren’), instead of beginning with something like ‘I think…’

The project also comes from suspicions of my own methods in documentary work. My work imposes visual and written narratives on situations and cultures. By photographing anyone willing to be a part of the project, using the same set up for the portraits, and asking the same questions of all the subjects, I hoped a narrative about China and its people would naturally emerge.

The final project comprises 100 portraits and short interviews. The text and pictures are meant to be viewed simultaneously. The work has not previously been published, beyond on the website and blogs. Word of mouth has been tremendous, but I’m still looking for exhibition and publication opportunities for the project.

Translations by Heidi Wickersham, http://www.threeriverslanguage.com/


Bio

M. Scott Brauer is a photojournalist based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  His work can be seen at: http://www.mscottbrauer.com/ and, along with Matt Lutton, he founded dvafoto.com, a blog about photojournalism.


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M. Scott Brauer

We Chinese

dvafoto blog


theo stroomer – prison boot camp

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Theo Stroomer

Prison Boot Camp

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At first the inmates were too busy getting their asses kicked to notice me. They were experiencing the first day of the Colorado Corrections Alternative Program boot camp, a program aimed at reducing recidivism using military-style structure and discipline. Some of them quit on the first day. The rest struggled and adapted. I drove to Buena Vista once or twice a week when I had time, photographing their progress through the three-month program in late 2008.

It was one of the only programs of its kind. First-time offenders with nonviolent crimes were eligible.  The rewards were substantial if you finished. You had a chance see your wife or your baby sooner. You could get on with your life. Along the way you could earn a G.E.D.

The thing was, it didn’t work. The program closed in June 2010 as the state cut prison funding. A troubling statistic was the nail in the coffin: nearly the same percentage of inmates from the program were returning to prison as those who had not completed it. Graduates weren’t any more likely to stay out.

I think it still mattered. Alternative corrections programs are attempts to create a better prison system. Beyond housing its prisoners, CCAP invested time and money in their future. The inmates were offered education and purpose and a way to better themselves.

Everyone deserves this. A penitentiary must be just that: an opportunity for penitence and redemption. With many states cutting prison funding and the highest incarceration rate in the world, the United States must reexamine the way it treats its prisoners. It is critical that we continue to fund, and experiment with, alternative prison programs.


Bio

After teaching English in the Peace Corps, Theo Stroomer (b. 1982) studied photojournalism at the University of Colorado. He was selected to attend the Eddie Adams Workshop in 2009. His latest work explores the relationship between mining and water resources in Bolivia.


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Theo Stroomer