stacy kranitz – the other

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Stacy Kranitz

The Other

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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.

 

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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?

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