stacy kranitz – the other

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls

Stacy Kranitz

The Other

play this essay

 

My project engages with history, representation, biography, personal narrative, and otherness in the documentary tradition. Each year in Pennsylvania, 500 people come together to reenact the Battle of the Bulge. During the reenactment, I portray Leni Riefenstahl and behave with soldiers, as she would have. I am intrigued by the complex story of a woman with a problematic set of morals. My work aims to understand people beyond the constraints of good vs evil. I have inserted myself into the Nazi reenactor photographs to subvert the viewer’s instinct to dismiss these people as different from themselves. This allows me to reflect upon atrocity, delve into my own relationship with my Jewish heritage, and contemplate the camera’s ability to re-imagine history.

Much of our conception of history is based on images. Historical images have been filtered through media and propaganda. These images become history as generations pass. Images are the dominant force that shape the public imagination. My images of the reenactment are part of the deconstruction process by which images first represent and then replace history.

The next phase of this project will explore Riefenstahl’s life between 1962-1977 when she lived with the Nuba in Sudan. I will visit the same Nuba tribes to focus on the disjunction between her fetishized images and my own exploration of the Nuba’s complex modern reality. The Nuba were victims of genocide during a recent civil war and it has deeply impacted their culture. They were forcibly relocated to camps and Islamicized. Hundreds of thousands died from warfare and starvation.

My project asks how we live in a world where genocide takes place in continuum? It reflects on the history of the documentary tradition as it poses new ways of expressing identity in relation to ‘otherness’. This project deconstructs the notion of the photograph as document, its power as a tool of propaganda, as a witness to history and a call for change.

 

Bio

Stacy Kranitz studied film and photography at New York University. Her work focuses on the ways we express aggression and violence in our daily rituals, habits and pastimes. Additional themes in her work include the relationship between music and culture, the emotional growth of children and environmental racism. She is interested in the theoretical underpinnings that bind together the evolution of the documentary tradition. Her work looks to explore important social issues while commenting on this tradition and challenging its boundaries.

Her clients include Adbusters, Dwell, Elle, ESPN, Entertainment Weekly, Forbes, Fortune, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, Metropolis, Newsweek, New York Times Magazine, People, Rolling Stone, Spin, Vice, Wall Street Journal and Wired.

She was awarded a Young Photographers Alliance Scholarship Award and also received a Story Project Grant from the California Council for the Humanities. She has shown her work at galleries in NY, CA, LA and FL.

 

Related links

Stacy Kranitz

102 Responses to “stacy kranitz – the other”


  • Your photography craft skill is fine, Stacy. Your imagery is tightly composed and assembled. Playing the slide show several times remained a very engaging experience for me. Nicely done.

    But: “My work aims to understand people beyond the constraints of good vs evil.”

    I’m not sure if you’ve accomplished this. In fact, I’m not sure if you haven’t actually obliterated your aim. First, as soon as we see men wearing WWII-era German uniforms, especially uniforms bearing “SS” insignia, the history of imagery and its ensuing prejudices and preconceptions overwhelm many viewers’ impressions. Second, you’re presenting us with photographs of (mostly) men “re-enacting” an event that occurred before most them were born. That is, you’re photographing people aping photos and films. It’s like a barbershop mirror.

    To “understand people beyond the constraints of good vs evil” I would turn the project inside-out. That is, I would photograph these men in traditional early 20th century German domestic settings stripped of the “evil” cues such as “SS” insignia. Perhaps portraits with an occasional military portrait in the background, or a uniform hanging nearby. We then first confront the human being as a human being.

    Nevertheless I salute your project. Thanks very much for sharing it here. Best of wishes for the long, productive creative career that likely lies before you.

  • Whoa, where did this one come from? More fiction based on a true story.
    This is just totally bizarre, what is most bizarre that people actually do this for recreation (re-creation). I’m astounded..shocked even. It’s kind of Leni Riefenstahl meets Diane Arbus.

    Congratulations Stacey, this is extraordinary, and extraordinarily well done.

    Many uber cool images here, #21 is a jewel. I want the book. Can’t wait to see what you do with your the Nuba. Riefenstahl shot most of it in colour with a 400mm Telyt lens on a Leicaflex. I may even have my issue of Collectors Photography magazine from the 1970s or 80s that featured a spread from the Nuba series as well as the cover.

    Amazing (Bob Black where are you?)

  • Okay, I’ll bite: what kind of pinheaded dumbass thinks that sashaying through the Pennsylvania woods in the middle of winter dressed like a Nazi is a good idea? The Nazis were losers, even if they did have the coolest uniforms in the war; Hugo Boss did the SS uniforms, you know, and what’s the point of being a murdering thug if you can’t look sharp while mowing down the Untermenschen? And is it just me, or is the guy in the Luftwaffe uniform in #17 a little too senior to be a senior officer, if everyone will pardon my being inexcusably ageist here.

  • Photographically well done, from a historical viewpoint a disaster.

  • even if they did have the coolest uniforms in the war
    ——————————————–
    best boots ever for sure (Wehrmacht)last forever!;)

  • The next phase of this project will explore Riefenstahl’s life between 1962-1977 when she lived with the Nuba in Sudan.
    ——————–
    awesome…i cant wait to see that!

  • sorry, last thing i forgot: Congratulations for being published on BURN… !!!

  • Akaky: :-) spot on…

    I’m not buying this… Utterly useless stuff…

    I’d rather suggest looking at Riefentstahl’s ‘Triumph des Willens’. Says enough no?

  • Riefenstahl, not Riefentstahl… Sorry…

  • John with all my respect ,i think Leni changed the world of cinematography..
    Hollywood copied all of her techniques and thats how California became the 6th economy in the world btw:)
    Not that Leni R really ever intended that…smiling…but at the same time it wasnt her fault just because she was a German citizen in 1938?
    Anyway, i think she deserves respect for her artistic vision…

  • Im afraid most here missed the photographer’s point:

    “. My work aims to understand people beyond the constraints of good vs evil. ”

    see? very simple, i think most viewers cant go passed their first “filter/fear” that a SYMBOL brings up..
    at this case a SS symbol or whatever, a uniform anything…
    So the SYMBOL for many or some becomes the filter that blocks the clear inner view..
    now try this trick:
    Empty your mind, look at the photos again, think of anything,or , nothing is even better,… focus on the background , try other things..dont let the first fear filter block you..
    1, 2, 3…boom! see what i mean?
    it works!!!

  • wax on, wax off…trust me it works….just dont “focus” on that symbols that trigger the defense mechanisms and boom! you’re freeeeee!!!
    big hug everyone!

  • ” This allows me to reflect upon atrocity, delve into my own relationship with my Jewish heritage”..which seems to be clouded by a smug hysteria and a journey through selective truths. Maybe the next project should be the Six-Day War re-enactment in the Arizona deserts but then again ……………………………..

  • Oh come on Imants , dont be so “rigid” on this one… whats bothering you? :)))

  • Thomas

    I don’t think historical accuracy is the point here. This essay operates on a number of levels. It is partly kind of a performance piece, role playing, with the photographer as a participant. It is an art piece which mimics how war-time and post war Hollywood movies depicted the war. Partly it is a document of a group of folks and their odd obsession. No more odd I suppose than civil war reinactors, or folks from the Society for creative anachronisms, just a little darker perhaps.

    It certainly makes me uncomfortable, but it is fascinating and oddly beautiful. As with Sea of Light, and Rio, we are invited to make up our own stories.

  • “. My work aims to understand people beyond the constraints of good vs evil. ”
    ————————————
    please make no mistakes..i never suggested go to the “good” side either, but if we pass through the first block which is the “obvious”= the “evil” symbol then….etc
    i mean really, its a coincidence i was talking to Paul yesterday about the same thing: “try to think BEYOND good vs evil”..its a whole “new world” really…”point of view”- wise, of course

  • 1. There’s no need to speculate on what Riefenstahl “would” have photographed during WWII. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, and provide a link, but my understanding is that she did no combat photography of any kind during the war, certainly not stills.

    2. None of these images look remotely like anything I’ve ever seen by Riefenstahl. Weegee, maybe. Riefenstahl, no. Again, if there’s a link that says otherwise, please provide.

    3. I don’t see how this can be considered as documentary or even in the documentary tradition. It’s pretty much the opposite, imo. Imagine Walker Evans or Dorthea Lange dressing up as hillbillies and inserting themselves into the photo. Or photographing actors dressed up as hillbillies.

    4. I never know whether people write that kind of obtuse prose because they think it’s the best way to get published or if they really mean it. Perhaps it’s wise from a career standpoint, but either way it’s very poor writing. What does “new ways of expressing identity in relation to ‘otherness’” mean? What does “the deconstruction process by which images first represent and then replace history” mean? What does understanding “people beyond the constraints of good vs evil” mean?

    5. And I know I’m out of the mainstream on most of this, but why would anyone even want to pretend to be Leni Riefenstahl, or anyone else for that matter? Nazi re-enactors and the Nuba are interesting subjects. Why not try to do something original with them rather than try to mimic the look of someone else? I guess it’s a good hook to sell a story, but it’s unlikely to be something that will last. Why look at someone pretending to be Leni Riefenstahl when there’s so much real Leni Reifenstahl out there to look at? I’d rather see her work than someone faking it. I’d rather see your work than you pretending to be someone else.

    6. And I agree with Thomas on the historical disaster thing. This seems to be glamorizing the Nazis. Yea, I know, Riefenstahl glamorized the Nazis in Triumph of the Will, but it was on an entirely different level artistically and one should keep in mind that it was 1934 or thereabouts. Morally, I don’t see how it was all that much different than a lot of what we see in the mainstream media today. These look more like promotional stills for a movie. A Hollywood movie, not a Riefenstahl movie.

  • Panos re. Leni: using aesthetics to glorify questionable ideologies cannot be defended. And that goes for all of us…

    Panos: when I focus on the background here I see extermination camps… You got rid of them just by ignoring the symbols? Well: that shows you the importance of symbols… Why would you want to forget about this background?

    “My work aims to understand people beyond the constraints of good vs evil. ”
    But we ARE good and evil. There is no beyond. You want me to deny that? Is that what Stacey is asking? Try harder…

    She seems to be questioning the value of historical images with their symbolic content and meanings…

    “Historical images have been filtered through media and propaganda. These images become history as generations pass. Images are the dominant force that shape the public imagination. My images of the reenactment are part of the deconstruction process by which images first represent and then replace history.”

    Is there anything unclear with Riefenstahl’s movies? Is there anything wrong with pictures from extermination camps? They are not clear enough? These images don’t become history over time. They ARE history the second they were made. Is Primo Levi not clear enough?

    This essay is so incredibly less powerfull and therefore rather useless. Except maybe for Stacey herself who can find some understanding about her own past in it. That is fair enough.

  • A Hollywood movie, not a Riefenstahl movie.
    ———————————
    MW, :))) but but but but but, this is exactly the point (reversed):

    Riefenstahl, “created” Hollywood !

    (not to her knowledge nor intended of course,but she was the Columbus of invention and discovery on her craft…not that Columbus ever knew or ever been told he discovered America!!!nahhh the Queen of Spain didnt approve…)

  • i mean “developed” (first camera on railway, movement, etc) not really “created Hollywood of course..

  • JOHN,
    i totally understand where you coming from!
    you are a great Magnum photographer that lived half of your life covering the CAMBODIA CR tragic genocide and keep working on that, as i am a follower of your blog, blahh blah , etc..!
    So, as a big fan of yours, i know this “essay” would definitely “trigger” very relevant / similar stories in Cambodia, from Cambodia after the Rouge started…etc..you know more than me of course about all that..
    So i respect the way you did “view” this essay..Lets say the angle..
    As you admit above you disagree with the word “beyond”..
    You actually said:
    “But we ARE good and evil. There is no beyond. You want me to deny that? ”
    Yes sir i do ask you to deny that dualism! Smiling, not being a smart ass coz i love your work John but but but, yes i do believe in that “beyond good vs evil” thing..i think we are more than that..
    And at this essay i feel not so alone coz the photographer above stated it clearly..its not my interpretation John. I just followed her (the photographer’s orders – smiling )

    “. My work aims to understand people beyond the constraints of good vs evil. ”
    ————-
    the photographer’s words, not my interpretation…

  • using aesthetics to glorify questionable ideologies cannot be defended. And that goes for all of us
    —————————–
    and John you stated that above.
    Again not being a smart ass or anything but i chose – literally- to not let my brain dwell into the “questionable ideologies” part. Maybe i read too much Nietzsche back in greece at school, i really dont know why its easy for me to go pass through “Symbols” – as much as i love them of course – since i discovered tattoo artistry lately…grinning on the latter…but yes i agree with you, if i let the “evil” side/symbol take over my emotions then i lose it too..
    Brave thing is the photog is Jewish heritage, my wife is Jewish , her grandma too laughing, but but come on, am i the only one here seeing beyond that “evil symbol” thing?
    (not that it matters of course;)

  • Panos: a question: if you go ‘beyond’ you go where religion or spirituality is thriving right? But then what to do with all the shit that happened and happens? Dissolve/absolve it in spirits?

    That is why some say (me too) that religion is the opium of the people…

    The shit we’re in/contributing to is a hands-on-today thing.

  • Religion? me? you lost me on this one completely..
    i’ve nothing to do with any of them, i mean absolutely really, i missed your point!

  • “Beyond” :i mean in our “christian – guilt constructed world ” means go follow a religion to some or live as thug to someone else..nahh i dont endorse neither one…but trying that “beyond” zone , its not something i would recommend to everyone…mind stretching could be ok for some but could traumatize others…there’s always a fine line but WHO is there to judge????
    well, nobody else but our limited selves i guess :)))

  • “Beyond” for me is to remove the mask of “morality” and see both sides, then you realize there are more than two etc…(kinda like the shades of grey on that old school ansel adams zone system etc blah blah if that makes any sense at all :)

  • I have inserted myself into the Nazi reenactor photographs to subvert the viewer’s instinct to dismiss these people as different from themselves …….. now considering most of us don’t know the photographer from a bar of soap how is this magic al act going to happen

  • Panos this is about ………”This allows me to reflect upon atrocity, delve into my own relationship with my Jewish heritage” …………now when do we get bomb Iran and absolve our sins against other Arab states?………..unless we are just on that selective journey

  • now when do we get bomb Iran and absolve our sins against other Arab states?
    —————————————
    laughing..u reminded me of this sketch below:

    http://instagr.am/p/H3_FhbBrZL/

    i dont know man, i dont know…this Iran “cheaper oil deals” vs Saudis/West alliance “expensive oil” is a little more complicated issue i think mon ami

  • I mean demonizing Iran with “weapons of mass destruction”,,,again? nah thats laughable.. its all about the oil of course..

    but not recognizing Israel as a state is almost as “ridiculous” and dangerous plus disrespectful..

    Ahhhhhhhh as always the truth stands somewhere in between

  • now considering most of us don’t know the photographer from a bar of soap how is this magic al act going to happen
    ————————
    good question Imants…let me take my meds first!
    (not joking)

  • ”This allows me to reflect upon atrocity, delve into my own relationship with my Jewish heritage”
    ———————————–
    oh cmon Imants , this above can be “translated” in so many ways

  • So can eggs but they are still eggs and this is still about the Jewish issues

  • selective issues to boot so we end up with a good guy.

  • and this is still about the Jewish issues
    =====================
    honestly i dont disagree just to disagree but i think “this” (essay) is about personal issues , not exactly “Jewish” but but..its not my essay so i’ll wait for the photographer’s opinion/take on this one
    peace

  • so we end up with a good guy.
    —————————-
    Imants, also…!
    we usually end up with the bad guy…never the good guy..not yet

  • i dont know whats up tonight but i cant get You, John V, MW and many more here…Symbols create that much of controversy that creates a visual “block”..
    hmmm obviously not a coincidence…time for more voices/opinions here…
    oh i wish walls had ears and more would comment..

  • As with Sea of Light, and Rio, we are invited to make up our own stories.
    ———————-
    Gordon, perfectly stated!!!!!!!!!!

  • The typical sleazy Nazis,Hitler Youth types. camps, saviors heroes just missing the downtrodden stereotypes of eastern Europe …………

  • ahhh I forgot the undertones of sexual prowess

  • ok , tired repeating myself,…
    u gotta “pierce” that “stereotypes” /filter /cloud i was talking about (and you also just mentioned) above..which is totally understandable since the “symbols” are so “solid lined/dark shaded” to speak in tattoo terminology!
    Again its a vicious circle…only way to get out of it is : pierce that “symbol” curtain…
    i rest my case
    biggest hug

  • they are cliches not symbols

  • they are cliches not symbols
    —————————-
    Amen

  • Panos, I think you may be reading me wrong. I’m a great admirer of Leni Riefenstahl’s visual aesthetic, beyond good or evil if you will; I just don’t see that these photos look anything like Riefenstahl. She would have been photographing from way up in the trees or from holes in ground. Her light would be dramatic. Perhaps soft. Perhaps hard. Perhaps blue. But certainly dramatic. I agree that Riefenstahl changed Hollywood but these photos are more like Hollywood before the change. Or maybe there’s a great repository of Riefenstahl’s nazi era work that I’m unaware of? That’s certainly possible. If so, someone please point me in the right direction.

  • . I’m a great admirer of Leni Riefenstahl’s
    ——————–
    MW:)))) yes i know you are…everyone should at least check her out, give her a “chance” before that final cliche judgement: (oh i she is a nazi and all that…)

    to ALL:
    The woman was a great Artist and a great innovator, raised the bar, influenced a lot of successful folks that will not give her any credit at all…
    oh come on..
    credit should go where credit due etc…
    dont dismiss a master … dont throw Leni under the bus…

  • As is so often the case, people seem to be tripping over the artist’s statement rather than reacting to the photographs.

    I don’t see this as an effort to either glorify or vilify Riefenstahl or Nazis, but as an attempt to step into her persona in order to explore and try to understand some of the the complexities of that time and place and in doing so, perhaps glean a little insight into the dark places that are part of the human psyche.

    John, good and evil are not mutually exclusive, or easy to recognize and define. People, society, and ideologys are more complex than that. There are acts of evil and acts of good. People themselves are not inherently good or evil. For example are all aware of how young men and women in our own military get caught up in situations where great evil results.
    Useless? perhaps you need to look harder.

    Is documentary photography really about truth, sans ideology?…

    mw
    It seems obvious to me that Stacy’s intent here was not to create photographs in the style of Reifenstahl. A look at Stacy’s site will show you that the style is pure Stacy Kranitz. Stacy clearly has the chops to mimic Reifenstahl if had chosen to.

  • I wonder what is beyond the ‘evil’ of the Nazi concentration camps…

    There is a task to try to understand what made this happen. Which circumstances made that so many Germans accepted this evil and contributed to it? So we can try to avoid these circumstances to reappear in another form.

    I don’t see how this contributes to that. Or to any understanding about the good to evil process. I more see well executed photographs which could, with other clothes and symbols, be represented on a big publicity billboard.

    In the eighties, Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault Spoke about deconstruction it was to introduce a new kind of analysis. The contemporary art likes to use this word (deconstruction), because it has a got an intellectual background, but it uses it to justify anything.

    Next essay: deconstructing the good vibes of Nachtwey?

  • As is so often the case, people seem to be tripping over the artist’s statement rather than reacting to the photographs. The photographer has linked the photographs with her text, she has played with a specific concept in mind. One cannot just treat it as the pretty picture game and do justice to the photographer. As most have stated great photos but there is a yawning gap between them and the intent the photographer something that the photographer should respond to

  • Here the photographer’s statement is crucial to know, to understand when looking at the pictures, because the pictures should fulfill a purpose.

    “During the reenactment, I portray Leni Riefenstahl and behave with soldiers, as she would have. I am intrigued by the complex story of a woman with a problematic set of morals. My work aims to understand people beyond the constraints of good vs evil.”

    Now, after looking at your pictures, I would want to understand, how does it feel now, what did you understand? How is life there – beyond good and evil?

    How much research have you done, to understand the role of Leni Riefenstahl?
    She was certainly at no moment in time problematic with her morals. She, like many other women loved Hitler. That was the time, and all documents from her about the time show that. He, and what he did was above everything for her. This is why she created this overheroic look in her pictures. She had no doubts about her morale – not at that time, and not later. (However, to admit that in the post-war era was not opportunistic, so she denied talking about the time, like all Germans. And got pretty emotional, if someone wanted to know. – one can see that in a documentary about her life). But she was no prostitute.
    And she was never have acted like one. That would have killed her even being a close friend of Hitler. In such things, the Hitler was overly moralistic.
    There is a documentary about her life, showing some snippets of the old movies and look into her role and acting throughout her life. Maybe you find it on youtube.
    She actually did some photojournalistic works in the beginning of the war in Poland.

    Retrospectively one could challenge her morals, because she put one of the deadliest and evil person into a very shining light, dragging even more people on his side. She created an image about Hitler, and all other filmers followed her up. You – and your friends from the “Battle of the Bulge” should not mix that with what you have seen in Hollywood Movies, or Comedies about Nazis. But these comic Germans is what I see in your pictures.

    When I see your pictures, I see a group of people playing war, making fun of it. They make fun of the killing, they make fun of the death-camps and the holocaust. This is something, which really scares me to the bone. You know – the SS Soldiers had a racist mindset, and were willing to kill everybody in cold blood who said anything against Hitler, or that the war could be lost – even in the last days of the war, some maybe even after the war. None of your pictures by definition can come even close to something like that.

    Do more research, if your artistic statement is not only a phrase.

  • Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    I like the subversion of this. I like the injection of the photographer into the work and I like the subjective take on the photographer playing as a historical figure within the reenactment of history in this absurd context. There is a lot at play here and, clearly, a lot of buttons being pushed as one can read in the comments. So my statement is, isn’t that a good thing.

    Good to see this published here and looking forward to Stacy’s next installment from Sudan – or wherever the Sudanese civil war gets reenacted…….

  • My project engages with history, representation, biography, personal narrative, and otherness in the documentary tradition.
    Each year in New York City, 19 people (and 2645 non participating extras) come together to reenact the Historic Battle of 9/11. During the reenactment, I portray Mohamed Atta and behave with other hijackers, as he would have.
    I am intrigued by the complex story of a man with a problematic set of morals.
    My work aims to understand people beyond the constraints of good vs evil. I have inserted myself into the jihadist re-enactment photographs to subvert the viewer’s instinct to dismiss these people as different from themselves. This allows me to reflect upon atrocity, delve into my own relationship with my non muslim heritage, and contemplate the camera’s ability to re-imagine history……..

    Now assuming someone actually did the above, and that the pictures were strong in and of themselves. I have to ask….Would ANY Magazine or Blog in the United states run it??? Would this one??

  • Sorry if I came off a bit harsh last night, but I’m not sure I can do a lot better by dawn’s early light. On the positive side, I think the basic premise of inserting oneself into the war games is very interesting and the photography itself is mostly well-done, if not always to my taste.

    Yes, most of my problem is with the statement. I don’t think the work achieves any of the goals set out by the statement and agree that a lot of it is morally problematic to put it mildly. Perhaps, as Gordon says, the intent wasn’t to make photographs like Leni Riefenstahl, but based on the precepts laid out in the statement, I think it should have been. If you’re going to dress up and play Nazi photographer, you might as well go all the way. And I think that approach may have softened the moral issues surrounding the glorification of these people and their glorification of what was no doubt the greatest moral catastrophe and horror show of all time.

    For example, from a review of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, by Timothy Snyder:

    “By Snyder’s careful and conservative calculations, a minimum of 14 million people altogether were deliberately murdered there during that period: those POWs, almost all the Jews who perished in the Holocaust, at least 3.3 million inhabitants of Ukraine who died in the famine caused by the Soviet collectivization of agriculture, civilians starved or shot by Nazi occupying troops, and people from a variety of ethnic groups targeted by Hitler or Stalin or both. This appalling total does not even count the many millions of combat deaths in this region, on the bloodiest front of the bloodiest war in history…

    In refocusing our view of those years on Eastern Europe, Snyder brings out additional parts of the era’s history that are less familiar. For example, the first people to be mass-murdered by gas were not Jews but Poles. And when Eastern European Jews were killed, they were almost as likely to be shot as to be gassed—a full million having been shot in the last five months of 1941 alone. Nor was it only SS death squads who carried out these shootings; they were aided by German police, local collaborators, and units of the German army, the Wehr-macht. Such authors as Daniel Goldhagen and Christopher Browning have paid attention to these matters, but few Western historians have bothered to study the Wehr-macht-run camps where more than 3 million Soviet POWs met their end. Some were reduced to cannibalism. At one camp, conditions were so bad that prisoners organized a written petition asking to be shot.”

    And when you get down to the details of German troops on insane murder sprees through one small town after another, the horrors increase exponentially. Glorifying these people is just plain sick.

    The author asks why Americans and other western Europeans are typically unaware or unsympathetic to most of the reality of what happened during those years.

    “Another American tendency—and in this we are not alone—is that we like to imagine ourselves always making the right moral choice; hence we prefer to hear about times and places when people could do so. And in Western Europe people sometimes had that chance. If you were living in Vichy France or its territories, for instance, and were not Jewish, you might have had real choices. You could collaborate with the Nazis as an informer; you could, at great risk, join the Resistance or shelter a Jew; or you could, usually, lie low and remain uninvolved and unharmed. Similarly, British or American POWs in German camps could heroically try to escape—but if they chose not to they were reasonably certain to survive the war on Red Cross food parcels. From these moral forks in the road have sprung a thousand films, plays, and novels.

    But the essence of living trapped between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union is that your choices were indescribably grimmer than those discussed over the piano music of Rick’s Café.”

    I think that’s more where we, re-enactors and photographer included, are coming from. A “Great Escape” version of the war, if not “Hogan’s Heroes,” when for most of the participants it was nothing like that at all. It was definitely beyond good, but I don’t see how anyone could seriously argue it was beyond evil. It was evil. Evil in all its quintessential forms. Those re-enactors should not be glorified. I’m more of the opinion they should be ridiculed, if not lose their jobs over it, just like if they dressed up as Arabs and pretended to fly planes into buildings.

    Regarding Riefenstahl, she was far from an innocent and her life provides an illustrative set of lessons on the dangers of artists becoming involved in politics. Unfortunately, I see little evidence that much of anyone has learned those lessons. No, the lessons learned from Riefenstahl were by the political handlers, not the filmmakers and photographers. I worked as a late night photo editor at an agency during the 2004 elections and saw the Riefenstahlian imagery every night. The campaign events are staged and lighted for heroic looking photo ops and the photographers pretty much tripped over themselves like so many lesser Lenis to oblige. And I know there are questions of scale, but how much better are those photographing Obama in these days of mass murder by drone strike? Leni liked hobnobbing with the powerful and she traded large chunks of her morality for access. It’s an old, old story.

  • I find this project to be substantially cringe inducing. That’s all I’m going to say.

  • @Jamie Maxtone-Graham,:)))
    Exactly! Thank you!!!

  • John G!!!
    I loved your scenario!!!
    Yes!! Trust me! BURN would absolutely publish that hypothesis u mentioned above..
    1000% sure:)

  • MW:) u stated:
    Leni liked hobnobbing with the powerful and she traded large chunks of her morality for access. It’s an old, old story.
    ———————

    MW I thinking you just described human nature, not just Leni with this statement..
    Yes Leni was a human too, indeed :)))
    Smiling…

    ( it’s so weird! We all know who Machiavelli was, we know what it means, we pretend we are not Machiavellis at heart and we believe that anyone else that succeeded is..)
    Right?
    How many times havent we heard about someone’s success comments like:
    “oh she/he knew power players”
    “oh her daddy was rich”
    “she combed the ladder on blowjobs ( that was said on maddona’s early career”
    Or “oh he is bob Dylan’s son,acquaintance , friend, whatever”

    It’s rooted to human nature to NOT giving credit to anyone.. Jealousy became a virtue,
    Christianity teaches us that the world is EVIL or GOOD and nothing in between,
    Everything is simply BRIGHT WHITE or SCARY BLACK..
    Everyone else is a Machiavelli EXCEPT our own selves I guess..

    But I think Jamie nailed it above..
    Photographer here pushed so many buttons on the audience’s traumatized soul and poof, balloon exploded, feathers and fears and shit hit the fan!
    Once again congrats to the photog for pushing everyone’s buttons and let them (us) get out / escape our boring bourgeois everyday common lives…

    Can u imagine a world without fetishes, drugs or loud music how boring sterile would that be?
    Laughing! You made my day!
    Guys guys reset your “pushed buttons”, reboot ans restart your system , stop acting / pretending you’re all so very sensitive..
    Please please, nobody buys that anyways.. Try harder!
    Thats exactly I was saying to
    Mr. Vink last night..
    Someone’s Fear does make someone “good”!
    Religion stealing your money selling u fake hopes making u believe that there is “good” and also a great REWARD , but not now, afterworld, afterwards we will be sitting next Jesus and Mohammed in the heaven..
    Oh please!
    Why wait? You can get the same effect with a Xanax and some weed!
    Why wait???
    Big hug yall

  • But Im so impressed with the average person’s OBSESSION AND FEAR OF SYMBOLS…( submission to Symbols I would add)
    I mean I was expecting this kind of reaction in a heavy fundamentalists religious gathering/convention but not from the audience here..wasn’t expecting that reaction.. Demonizing everything from the photog to Leni , all under a huge fear colored broom..
    Sweep sweep sweep all under the floor…
    We can only hide that much under our subconscious “floor” you know!
    There’s always the possibility to step on it a break a toe.. Watch out

  • And to make a little joke so we all lighten up a bit:
    If I was a shrink I would diagnose most of REACTIONS here as a classic
    PTSD SYNDROME
    (google it, it’s fun)

  • and to avoid (avoid? laughing..is that possible anymore?) misunderstandings, no dissing shrinks here.
    I do believe deeply that most war photogs (soldiers too in huge numbers)are suffering from PTSD and living untreated, un-diagnosed dealing with post traumatic stress, nightmares, insomnia…. etc.
    you dont even need to be in an actual war or be attacked by police or nazis to develop that mental “problem”..
    So im not making fun of folks been diagnosed with PTSD…of course not..
    All im saying is that i clearly see PTSD signs in most reactions here..a “collective” PTSD mental stress, not on particular individuals here but in that collective consciousness of most countries, communities, tribes etc..its the Fear of extinction i think which is a basic fear/instinct in all of us i guess..
    Therefore im afraid of it too but trying to stay conscious and not let my emotions/subconscious take over..
    Does it always work? nope! but it worth trying i think!

  • And i noticed that PTSD syndrome taking over greece lately…Many comparing Merkel to Hitler, old anti german sentiment fear and hate arises etc…why? well many reasons, but one main reason is that collective PTSD i was talking about… “The Germans Return” or the “4th Reich” many greek newspapers call the “Troika” leaders…
    Could that be true?? well obviously in some minds yes…and its caused by trauma, propaganda, fear, religion and strong symbolism is a good weapon for any ideologies..
    Look how many people of ANY country how they get all teared up when they hear their national anthem..why? why this pride? of being a citizen of any random country? how come in a shitty world like this everyone is so proud?
    well i’ll tell you why! coz when we sleep at nights instead of emptying our minds we prefer to cuddle with our fears and hold them so tight like lovers…we think they keeping us safe but they dont really.

    Superstition is the granddaughter of Symbols, fearing/worshiping etc

  • mw
    “And I know there are questions of scale, but how much better are those photographing Obama in these days of mass murder by drone strike? Leni liked hobnobbing with the powerful and she traded large chunks of her morality for access. It’s an old, old story.”

    Good points Michael.

    I am sure that Stacy’s intention here was certainly not to “glorify” the Nazis, and the horror associated with those time, but to stimulate thought and discussion. She certainly has achieved that.

  • I am sure that Stacy’s intention here was certainly not to “glorify” the Nazis, and the horror associated with those time, but to stimulate thought and discussion. She certainly has achieved that.
    —————————————————
    perfectly said..it took my 30 comments to say what Gordon did with 1 sentence…!!??
    thank u!

  • “My work aims to understand people beyond the constraints of good vs evil.”
    ___________________________________________________________________________

    An altogether admirable sentiment in the abstract, but in reality is usually used to excuse the evil that men do.

  • in reality is usually used to excuse the evil that men do.
    ———————————————-
    oh Akaky, im so glad the photog here is a WOMAN/female ,…
    imagine if that essay was shot by a guy!!!!!!!! just imagine!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • the evil that men do.
    —————-
    so you mean humans? coz i think that are “evil” things also women can do! laughing…
    Akaky get clear!
    dear!
    or get a beer!
    dont eat deer!
    dont obey to fear!
    clear?

    just joking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    love u Akakius!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • holla back..i was just rapping… the song called “Ode to Akakius”

  • “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interr’d with their bones.” Mark Antony, Act III, scene 2, Julius Caesar. ;-)

  • No Jamie there are no more buttons being pushed than on Ballen’s work and that of others. The photographers statement is pushing the deep and meaningful line yet the photos come across as a small town local theater production of pretending.

  • Photographically, this is amazing. Wow! I want to see more. The introductory statement – well..

  • Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Imants, yes. Local theater production. I like it. This is all messy and unclear – grand intentions, pretension, naivete and some technique to boot. I like that too. I like the risk of it all and the failure and the success and I think the reactions here – not withstanding Panos’ cheer leading – mostly seem somewhat reactionary. I think Stacy’s intention is wholesome and devious and I like the thin branch she walked out on. I wish more photographers pushed the polite boundaries we’ve become so accustomed to in this way. Thanks.

    It would be great to have Stacy herself chime in here……..

  • Trouble is Jamie with no artists statement nothing to capture interest ……..it depends on the statement more than the images. That I don’t mind at all but most photographers want their images to do the talking. What happens if only the images are presented?

  • Catering on other photographers and sites such as these one will receive a sympathetic ear elsewhere it will not be as forthcoming

  • Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Agreed – it would be an interesting experiment to view this work without statement or explanation and let the images be received at face value. Perhaps it’s even better work without the guidance. I see most of the problems people have with the work relates to the wording more than the photography itself.

  • Things like ……..I have inserted myself into the Nazi reenactor photographs to subvert the viewer’s instinct to dismiss these people as different from themselves. I doubt if may would have researched what the photographer looked like before viewing the images

  • If it had been presented without the text, I think I would have seen it as actors acting.

    John Updike’s first rule for reviewing books is “Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt.”

    To do that, one has to consider the statement which defines, or at least attempts to define what the photographer attempted to do.

    That’s a difficult stricture to live by. In this case, several big ideas are laid out in the statement and those are mostly what we have been commenting on. I guess the biggest idea, as identified by the title is the concept of “otherness” and one of the main goals is to “subvert the viewer’s instinct to dismiss these people as different from themselves.” Therein lies the biggest problem. Most of us believe (accurately I think) that those who dress up and play Nazis are fundamentally different. To get any sense of whether they are or are not that different though, we would need to see the Nazi play time photos juxtaposed with those of their day-to-day lives. Perhaps that would be an interesting project, but it’s not the project we were presented with. In this one, they seem very, very other. Not least because of the monumental moral horrors committed by those with whom they identify.

    There was a recent example in the news of a far right Republican politician who it turned out was a Nazi re-enactor. That’s the type of story you’d expect. If most of those people are not like that, if they are totally clueless about all the moral and political ramifications of what they do, then it might be interesting to get some insight into what makes them tick. But that would be an entirely different project. This one has something to do with Leni Riefenstahl and deconstructing photographs to demonstrate something or otherness. It’s a bit unclear.

  • I’m 100% with MW on this. And if you want to see the first fictional version of what happened back then, take a look at Radok’s 1949 Daleka Cesta (Distant Journey) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXRwGuH0C-g . The woman who gets her face lifted by a whip in the camp is my mom. She’s also the one who in the end runs through the streets shouting “freedom” and when nobody cares, she bangs the destroyed piano to wake them all up. Sona Danielova.

  • Congratulations on the Burn publish!

    For my 2 cents…. Panos, Yes! many comments here I find here seem to take on excessive criticism and scorn rather than analysis? I would agree the statement could be refined, some of the language gets a bit tricky.

    First off -it is safe to assume the woman has done her research and is fully cognizant of the implications of her participation and image making. On occasion, I think viewers will jump to an ‘excuse’ to get around that the artist has presented something disconcerting or requires different thinking. Even if the photographer did not research and analyze (which in this case I think she did) our judgement of it has to be as if they were fully intended as is. No excuses for anyone:)

    I was engrossed in her blog for some time and I think her style is invasive (in a great in your face way) in general. These images following suit on a deeper level. Expressed in the subject matter and less in the style of picture as some of the other work is done. Her intentions seem to me to be investigative and frankly very gutsy.
    Re-enactments of all wars happen, all have a certain level of kitsch. Someone always has to be the bad guy too or there is no play. It is supposedly for remembrance not glorification but I’d imagine there’s always a risk of that idea going awry. There’s no way to see what these actors here feel about what they are doing.
    I do not think there was any meaning on her part to make light of the atrocities of the Nazis but to examine why these things continue to happen today. The project seems very personal. She, re-living this life of a Nazi. For anyone of course but especially so as a jewish woman. That’s a tough position to put yourself in.

  • She, re-living this life of a Nazi. For anyone of course but especially so as a jewish woman. That’s a tough position to put yourself in……….the way you put it sounds like someone going to the cemetery and digging up the bad guys to justify an existence

  • Anyone remember that song:
    “Ops I did it again” by Britney Spears?

    or better:
    http://www.nationalmemo.com/article/american-soldier-massacres-16-civilians-afghanistan

    Symbols don’t kill people or civilians etc
    Guns don’t kill people..
    People kill people , people use guns and operate symbols or use symbols and operate guns!

  • Taking things ( symbols ) seriously…
    That’s what kills people, and I’m scared every time people can’t lighten up and are over religious or over jealous on their defenses…

    Did u hear what happened in Adghanistan after some uneducated marine burned the Quran:
    “The Quran burnings sparked weeks of violent protests and attacks that left some 30 Afghans dead, despite an apology from President Barack Obama. Six U.S. service members were also killed by their fellow Afghan soldiers, although the tensions had just started to calm down….

    The violence over the Quran burnings had already spurred calls in the U.S. for a faster exit strategy from the 10-year-old Afghan war. Obama even said recently that “now is the time for us to transition.” But he also said he had no plan to change the current timetable that has Afghans taking control of security countrywide by the end of 2014…etc etc”

  • Bibles, Qurans, nazi Symbols, flags, patriotism and Fear is what creates wars!
    Not theater, actors , photogs or artists..
    People plz relax.. Don’t worry : it’s not the “return of the nazis” and also
    sorry to disappoint some but but but:”
    Jesus also cancelled his SECOND COMING special appearance due to weather conditions..
    Lol!
    Have a nice “lighter” week y’all and go to theater watch a performance ( maybe a comedy ? If stomach not that strong?)
    One love, peace on the audience and war on stage, please!!!
    :)

  • And speaking of Hollywood, symbols and eccentric behaviors:
    Symbols continue:
    “Lee suffered a 1998 lawsuit when he exposed a swastika tattoo on his arm to public scrutiny (the tattoo was in fact a swastika facing backwards). In 1996, Lee had pled no contest to criminal charges of battery against a Jewish photographer after Lee attacked the man outside the famous Viper Room, in L.A. When the photographer sued Lee, the “swastika” tattoo (which has since been removed) was said to be visible and Lee’s lawyer argued it would inflame the jury and create unfair prejudice against Lee.[10] Shortly after claiming that the introduction of the tattoo into the court record would produce prejudice, Lee denied its existence.[11] Lee’s attorney reported the swastika was a “stupid tattoo obtained several years ago”.[12]”

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Lee

    (is this hysteria at its best or what?)

  • Not sure where I fall on this. I do know, having photographed young airsoft (plastic pellet guns) re-enactors here in WA state, how easy it can be to be swept up into the playacting. And when one gets swept up in the “fun” it becomes easy to set aside one’s moral and ethical judgements.

    Of course when playing battle games one needs both sides. Where I find it starts to get weird is the cakes and community clubs and Hitler Youth, etc. I guess it was a jolly old time being a Nazi SS….

    As far as exploring her Jewish heritage…. why not also play a victim of atrocity (they do playact atrocities don’t they?) and see how the two compare (Jew and Leni). Would be a lot more fascinating from a sociological standpoint then playing a movie star visiting the troops (which is up for question if she ever did).

    I like many of the photos and some are very chilling – not sure if they go “beyond good and evil” and instead just straight to weird and wtf. Not sure if that was the intent she was after….

    Anyone note the American MP in the background on #3…….

  • Also

    In early September 1976, the Bromley Contingent followed the Pistols to France, where Siouxsie was beaten up for wearing a black armband with a swastika on it. She claimed her intent was to shock the bourgeoisie, not to make a political statement.[17] She would later write the songs “Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)” (in memory of the anti-Nazi artist John Heartfield) and the single “Israel”.[18]

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siouxsie_Sioux

  • Panos, it seems to me that your examples are supporting the fact that symbols are important for all too many people. Sure, you and I can recognize their supreme irrelevancy it the great cosmic scheme of things, but normal people take them very seriously. And not just as victims, but as perpetrators. Normally when someone gets a swastika tat and beats up a Jew, that symbol has a very conscious meaning which the perp understands and wants to communicate, not just to the victim and anyone else he comes across. And typically, those who burn korans or bibles or flags know exactly what they’re doing. Even if one recognizes that the symbol is irrelevant, it’s the thought that counts.

    And unfortunately, the concept of heritage is usually the foundation supporting the symbol. I’ve seen people in other parts of the world get into fist fights over heritage crap that happened 500 years ago. Giving a shit about jewish heritage is a particular blight on human history, the nazis being example 1a, but the list goes much deeper into the alphabet. I count myself lucky as being a person with no heritage to speak of. My family tree only goes back a few generations and those people seemed to be intent on escaping whatever heritage they may have had. The farthest back we can go is to people jailed for making moonshine during prohibition so all it takes for me to explore my heritage is a short trip to the liquor store.

    Anyway, that’s probably why I missed the significance of the exploring one’s heritage part of this essay. I now realize that it is a big deal for someone who considers themselves a jew to pose like that with nazi reenactors. It’s a courageous stance. I’d be curious what a more jewish audience would think. That would probably make for some far more interesting commentary.

    But, and I keep coming back to this no matter how I look at it – from the Leni perspective, from the otherness perspective, from the symbol perspective or from the heritage perspective -I still don’t think the text works. Not on it’s own. Not with the photos. So my hopefully constructive criticism is to give a lot more thought to what this is really all about and to find a way to communicate it simply.

  • I now realize that it is a big deal for someone who considers themselves a jew to pose like that with nazi reenactors. It’s a courageous stance……………not courageous just another way of perpetuating the Jewish cause. Keeping it all alive.

  • not courageous just another way of perpetuating…

    I’m guessing you don’t spend a lot of time around the orthodox?

  • Brooklyn in da house!!!!!!!!

  • This link is a good read by Robert Hariman. Understanding this essay by Stacy intellectually is a lot easier than to emotionally understand and accept its validity based on symbols created and designed by man to minimalize thinking.
    How do you minimalize emotional realities?

    http://www.nocaptionneeded.com/2011/10/can-we-see-through-symbols/

  • http://instagr.am/p/IHOEaDBrYO/

    Dedicated to all
    “troops” / armies/ police of any and all countries …
    “Viva” pride :)

  • I’m afraid that few can admit that we can all become possible “nazis” if our country/government forces us to..( think Vietnam, think Muhamned Ali’s refusal to join and the price he paid etc..
    MW, yes I agree.. maybe not for you or me that much but “dark symbols” definitely torment lots of communities forever..
    Try to graffiti a Hexagram just for fun anywhere in west Memphis and you’ll be “officially” a satanist..
    Laughing… Yeah can’t hide it.. I live the reactions on folks faces after your tap on their subconscious for a second.. They can let anyone scar their souls with a pen
    and some ink.. Power of Symbols= strong..
    Think how many low life crooks out there but some tarot cards and act as an Oracle..
    Classic
    The weaker the mind.. The stronger the symbol effect

  • Don’t believe every symbolism
    U see.. U might fell into a trap ( see: religion)

    http://instagr.am/p/IHQaw7BrY2/

  • Traffic is the main thing that Scares the crapitos out of me

    http://instagr.am/p/IHRm9uhrZE/

  • This is great Stacy. Right on the edge… just the way it should be!
    Ruffle those feathers!
    ;-)

    B

  • I have the impression that if I had access to the whole material, I would probably do a different edit (or at least would leave a few out). Still, wow, a great work with some of the best images I’ve seen in a while. Congratulations.

Leave a Reply

You must login to post a comment.