I don’t remember Romania’s Lenin statues. I was too young to remember. But I do remember streets that had his name. The statues quickly disappeared after the revolution, and the names of the streets changed as well. To me, this getting rid of symbols was and still is fascinating. It is as if someone has been moved out of the apartment, throwing away all his stuff, which include personal items in the form of photos and statues, and his name on the door bell. Making these things disappear is the supreme post-regime clean-up and makes you realize just how deeply involved into the fabric of everything the regime really was. It took Ukraine a long time and some scandals around it, but here is Niels Ackermann’s photo series documenting where the ‘Lenin-toys’ go.
All posts tagged documentary photography
Every now and then I take a step out of myself and look at my life. Every now and then I reflect on what it is that I’d like to be different. And every now and then I miss the smell of fresh laundry when you bring it from the outside during the day, and the comforting feel that slow early mornings have for me. And every now and then, especially then, when I feel nostalgic for slow paced days, I daydream about moving out of the city.
Apparently, New York photographer Arne Svenson inherited a 500 mm lens from a friend who was passionate about bird-watching. Svenson didn’t know much about birds but he put the lens to good use, taking these really beautiful pictures of his Manhattan neighbors. The neighbors weren’t as excited about the photos as I am, so guess what they did, not rocket science, they sued him. And he won. It was 2013 and a court decided that what he did – taking the photos and then exhibiting them in a nearby gallery – was something defensible under the First Amendament’s guarantee of free speech and the photos needed no consent to be made or to be sold. That’s good to know. I accidentally found this story and these amazing photos some days ago, when I started doing research for a photo project I want to pursue, a project for which I was wondering where’s the line between public and private.
It’s all happening! Spotlight : Romania is a showcase for the real photo stories that make contemporary Romania interesting
Here is my big excuse for neglecting you and Passepartout for so long. It’s all happening now, not even a hurricane can stay in its way. The Spotlight:Romania exhibition I curated will be on from the 3rd of October until the 8th of November in Gemak, in The Hague. It is the biggest exhibition of Romanian photography The Netherlands has ever seen, and a selection of 8 photographers and 8 photo series that tell Romanian stories. They all have a bit of everything I know, love and miss from the country, and that I think the world should see. And yes, important: the exhibition is part of Spotlight:Romania. A Film and Photography Festival me and Corina Burlacu have been baking for a while now.
I know what you’re probably thinking, this place became really really quiet. And that’s true. It’s been quiet for a while and I’ve been a busy bee organizing a festival called Spotlight:Romania, my baby-project and long time dream. I am doing it with a friend, Corina, and together we started this cultural initiative called Eastwards, to take Eastern European culture and put it into events and happenings. And now we’re here and there and everywhere, pulling ropes and pushing doors to make Spotlight:Romania happen. And it will happen.
Me, I’ve been curating a big exhibition of contemporary Romanian documentary photography, all the (Eastern) feel and the stories in one place. And we’re almost there, with the festival I mean, I’ll tell you all about it, I promise. Don’t give up on me and Passepartout because there are some really good things coming up. In a bit.
And if you’re in The Netherlands, please come. 3rd of October – 8th of November. We’ll have movies every Tuesday evening in De Nieuwe Regentes Theater (we have Aferim! and not only), the photos are to be seen in Gemak, and on top of that we have a pretty cool side program with workshops and docs. Keep an eye on our Eastwards page for all the events.
And on Passepartout for my stories. 😉
Doing Art and Being a Mom: a Photographer That Does Both and the Story of Travelling Around the US with Her Son
“I took Casper on his first road trip when he was three-months old and by the time he was one we managed to stay out most of each year for the next five years of his life” begins the written story that comes with these photos. By the time I finish this first phrase, I’m already hooked. Justine Kurland is the photographer, Casper’s mom and the writer of this essay published in a book called How We Do Both: Art and Motherhood. And not only I love her photos and the stories around them, but I’m also genuinely interested in how exactly can we do both art and motherhood.
Hey, you know what? I almost decided to show you some photos of Iceland, with that kind of isolated landscape and towns with 5 inhabitants. But then I thought: it’s almost summer and you’re probably thinking of holidays and new places to see. So I picked Dee O’Connell’s old school and charming series of a trip she made from Beijing to Sankt Petersburg. With the Trans Siberian. My kind of holiday.
Serge Bouvet first went to India in 2012 with the plan to make a photo project about the hijras – a term used in Southeast Asia to define transgender people. But while documenting this story he discovered something else: the openness and beauty of the Muslim community living in the Turkman Gate old city in Delhi. Bouvet decided to photograph the Muslim men he met. And I talked to him about this project, about how he got the idea and about the way he approaches the people he photographs.
It looks romantic but it’s actually a really tough harsh life. So tough and so harsh that it’s actually disappearing. The Dukha people live in the North of Mongolia and they domesticated reindeer but the current population is now estimated between 200 and 400 people. Many moved to the cities and the herds diminished. The remaining people make most of their money from tourists buying their crafts and riding the reindeer. Hamid Sardar-Afkhami documented the life of this shrinking community in these beautiful and poetic images.
In the end of January this year, I decided that for the whole month of February I will take photos every day. Not random photos, but photos of the same route I walk every day. I really live in one of the most uneventful places possible, and especially the route I walk is pretty plain, passing by flats, a huge parking lot (where I found the heart balloon) and the Shell offices. But the commitment to keep taking photos, even though not a recipe for some amazing photographic project, proved to be a way of paying attention, searching and finding something new and something beautiful in the routine the mind normally ignores. These are some of the photos I took.
I think most people have seen darkrooms in films, where they can seem this mysterious places where pictures come to life. Film characters are either developing their films there because they’re artists, or is their craft or perhaps because they’ll reveal a secret this way. But truth is hardly anyone uses darkrooms anymore. Truth is they’re smelly places, far less charming than portrayed in movies. Truth is photographer Michel Campeau documents a world that is disappearing.
I don’t like jokes about husbands and wives, and I don’t like comments about dreadful Monday mornings and happy Friday afternoons. Yet, here I am, pretty sleepy and confused on a Monday morning, sitting in my office, dragging myself through the hours, wanting to be somewhere outside instead of here. And it’s in this kind of moments – sometimes powerful, sometimes just a thought – when opting out sounds free and romantic and natural. Sounds like the way it should be. And I’m not alone in this.
I stared at these photos for quite some time because they’re such a warm illustration of human diversity and culture. Gabriele Galimberti’s series In Her Kitschen is like a thank you note for all grandmas and such a complex illustration of traditions, social customs (some grandmas are really young, for example) and the table atmosphere in different countries. More than that, for sure we all recognize the comfort of food, and unless your grandma is or was an evil witch, it’s most likely that thinking of her and her food is comforting and brings some nostalgia.
What you do when you’re a Furry is that you dress up as a fluffy character and you meet up with other fluffy characters and you chat and have and hang around. You can also do other things, like you dress up as a fluffy character and then go fishing, or cut a leek or iron your stuff. What you don’t do is two things: reveal your identity and talk to journalists. I think there’s something liberating in being a cartoon and I am currently looking for something liberating, so I am considering becoming a Furry journalist, perhaps I’d be the first ever. And perhaps Tom Broadbent will add me to his collection of photos of people who like to dress up like this.
Before they pass away: Jimmy Nelson’s glamorous photos of tribes tell the kind of PR stories we want to hear
What initially might seem to be the very best of anthropology meets photography, Before They Pass Away eventually turns out to be a (talented) photographer’s imagination at work. Jimmy Nelson tells the kind of stories we want to hear and takes the kind of photos we want to see, but in the end they create a imaginary that does not reflect the reality of the people photographed. Plus, most of these tribes are not really about to disappear.
Home in an unfriendly place: a photo portrayal of life in the city of Norilsk, close to the polar circle
Here it is: Norilsk – photographed by Russian photographer Elena Chernyshova. You’ve probably never heard of the city, and there’s no particular reasons you should have. Its list of achievements include being the 7th most polluted city in the world. That’s no surprise, Norilsk is a mining city, the closest to the polar circle. Its mines and metallurgical factories were constructed by prisoners of the Gulag. All together, there’s no happy story there, and yet, there’s something charming in these photos looking into life there and, in Chernyshova’s words, looking at ‘human adaptation to extreme climate, ecological disaster and isolation’. I love the photos, their details, hidden symbols and atmosphere. But life there must be really tough.
This might be the shortest post I have ever written. This week I didn’t manage to put anything new on Passepartout. There’s IDFA (and I will write about it later in the week) and there’s me being busy with all sorts of other stuff. And it seems like even Andrew Fladeboe‘s working dogs seem to get more time for themselves. There’s work and then there’s play, and these loyal shepherds are good at both.
Corey Arnold is a photographer and a professional fisherman. I don’t know how being a photographer influences the fishing, but how his fisherman life impacted his photography, well, that’s very clear. In his photo series Human Animals he portrays the complex relationship we have with animals and points at things we often ignore, don’t think of, consider normal. The photos are great especially because there’s something raw and honest in many of them, something uncomfortable and yet true. The big picture is actually made by the puzzle of all these human-animal relation instances he photographed. And there’s a bit of all of us in this big picture.
When someone asks you where you’re from, you can say – I’m from here – and show the wonderful photos of Sebastiao Salgado. And that’s no lie, we all belong to the world he portrays, untouched, simple and natural, even though we tend to forget that and feel far away, separated. But we do belong there, and when we see it, we remember. Just look at the photos, doesn’t that feel like home? There’s simplicity, beauty and peace of mind there. And unfortunately, most often this is the place we long for but feel we lost, and we feel guilty for being part of the cause of its destruction.
The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is a 30 km area surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The estimated levels of radiation there are really high and living there is not safe for any living being. But still, there are three categories of people who do go into that zone. Some of them are workers, who risk their lives to construct a new sarcophagus to isolate the melted core of the reactor. Their work has been documented by Gerd Ludwig in his long term project about Chernobyl. In the second category are the people who couldn’t say goodbye to their homes, and I previously wrote about Diana Markosian’s bittersweet story of Lida and Mikhail, a couple who chose not to abandon their village, if though they were advised to do so. And the last category is the one documented by Donald Weber, in his Stalker photo series. This category is made of people who transgress the border of the forbidden area and enter Pripyat, the abandoned Chernobyl city to strip it of its remaining valuables.