Oliver Curtis @ Royal Geographical Society

unnamedOliver Curtis: Volte-face
19 Sept to 14 Oct

On visiting the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt in 2012, Oliver Curtis turned away and found himself looking back in the direction he had come from. What he saw fascinated him so much that he has made a point of turning his back on some of the world’s most photographed monuments and historic sites, looking at their counter-views and forgotten landscapes.

Taken over a period of four years, Volte-face is an invitation to turn around and favour the incidental over the monumental.

Royal Geographical Society, London

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Franck Pourcel & Yohanne Lamoulere @ Trongate 103

Image: © Franck Pourcel

Image: © Franck Pourcel

Franck Pourcel: At Twilight
Yohanne Lamoulere: False Towns
1st – 25th September

Trongate 103, Glasgow

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Mustafah Abdulaziz @ Brooklyn Bridge Plaza

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Mustafah Abdulaziz: Water Stories (the global water crisis in pictures)
September 21 – October 31, 2016

Since 2011, Brooklyn-raiser photographer Mustafah Abdulaziz has travelled to eight countries for his long-term photographic project, Water, highlighting the global water crisis. This summer, he focused on New York’s waterways and water challenges. The resulting images, along with images from around the world (including Brazil, Nigeria, Pakistan, India and China), will be shown in Water Stories – an open-air solo exhibition. This will be his first in New York, as part of Photoville, a free photography festival in Brooklyn. The 68 images will be presented in massive light boxes along one of New York’s most important bodies of water: the East River and will be visible from Manhattan.

Brooklyn Bridge Plaza, DUMBO, New York City

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Thomas J. Panzner @ Esther Woerdehoff Gallery

unnamedThomas J. Panzner: Remains of empire
18.10 – 11.26.2016

Opening: Tuesday, October 18, 2016, from 18h to 21h

Esther Woerdehoff Gallery
36 rue Falguière
75015 Paris – France

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Interview with photographer David Bert Joris Dhert

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Cary Benbow (CB): Why did you become a photographer? How did you start in photography?

David Bert Joris Dhert (DD): It must be my curiosity by nature that got me first into documentary film and later into photography.

I have always been taking pictures, but I feel I really started making photographs only recently. The making of my documentary, We Must Be Dreaming, for which I have been exploring Rio de Janeiro and its many faces parallel to the coming and going of the World Cup and Olympic Games, has made me think more profoundly about the language of photography compared to film and I picked up a creative urge to also photograph.

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CB: Can you please explain the idea behind your portfolio images submitted to this issue centered on the theme of Enthusiasm?

DD: I have been going to the gatherings of the black candomblé and umbanda communities in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro for years now to hear the music and witness the ceremonies. This resulted in the developing series ‘When The Gods Come Down’. The series is about transmitting life. For the people in the photographs, these gatherings are vitalizing and introspective moments. So I only photograph when I feel the time is right. Some projects simply require your patience before being photographed.

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The gatherings are intense experiences. Ceremonies of nine hours are not an exception, they go until deep in the night: singing, dancing, loud batuque (percussion), sweat, sand, blood and tears. At certain times, someone goes into a trance and then his or her soul is being taken over by the Gods and the Orixás. The spirits of the divine world then pass messages onto the others witnessing the trance. These messages commonly are formulated as a specific piece of advice for a decision the person who hears it is coping with. Observing these rituals made me think far beyond religion. It made me think about our proper nature. Why we develop formulas, why we write newspapers, why we make photographs. We all are storytellers and we all need stories. As lights in the dark.

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CB: Where do you get the ideas for your personal photography?

DD: I have been commuting between the two hemispheres over the last six years, living two lives at the same time, one in Brazil, one in Belgium, Europe. Half a year on the Northern hemisphere, half a year Southern hemisphere and so on. I would not recommend this for your personal life, but objectively this makes you watch your life from a distance very easily and it helps you consider your context and formulate specific ideas. The same way as reading books and watching theatre plays also set your mind to travel along the perception of the author. It’s all about changing points of view.

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CB: Who are your personal photography inspirations?

DD: There’s so many – but if I pick two in my state of mind today, I would say Magnum photographers Raymond Depardon and Josef Koudelka. I like the journey you make when you watch their work over the years.

CB: In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?

DD: Sometimes the best answer is in a question. I like photographs that make my mind work, give new air and new ideas. But the answer to what makes a good photograph comes from beyond reason. It’s a gut feeling, no theories or rules behind it. Photography being a language, and I like dialects.

Like the shell you take home from the beach, a film or a photograph recollects experiences. They are tracks of experiences in the search for ideas, stories, life and identity.


David Bert Joris Dhert is a documentary filmmaker and photographer based in Brazil and Belgium. For more information, and to see more of his work – visit www.daviddhert.com, and for his documentary film project, We Must Be Dreaming, visit www.facebook.com/wemustbedreaming

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Power and Politics @ Filter Photo

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Power and Politics
September 16 through October 22, 2016

Reception: September 25 | 5:30pm – 8pm

How does political power manifest itself visually and how much of its appearance is illusion, how much truth? When united, are power and politics dirty words, forces for good, or just the reality of life with a social structure? Juror Barbara Tannenbaum, Curator of Photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art, looked at hundreds of excellent submissions before deciding on a final 30 for this compelling and timely exhibition. The list of accepted artists is below.

Alejandro Acierto
Jasmine Clark
Gina Costa
Robert Drea
Whit Forrester
Tria Giovan
Lindsay Godin
Daniel Gonçalves
Alexander Gouletas
Karen Hirsch
Kevin Jones
Dave Jordano
T.J. Kirkpatrick
Charles Ledford
Nate Matthews
Charles Mintz
Greer Muldowney
Kelley O’Brien
Matt Rahner
Jim Ramer
Kevin Shick
Rebecca Sittler
Harit Srikhao
Sarah Sudoff
Leonard Suryajaya
Lorenzo Tassone
Scott Tavitian
Kristine Thompson
Tom Wagner
Zhiyuan Yang

Filter Photo
1821 W. Hubbard St., Ste. 207
Chicago

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Mauro Fiorese @ Robert Mann Gallery

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Mauro Fiorese: Treasure Rooms
September 8 – October 22, 2016

Opening reception: Thursday, September 8, 6-8 p.m.

Cavernous halls and labyrinthine basements overflowing with artwork too precious to go on view, are the imagined treasures hidden behind the closed doors of museums. However, these romantic fantasies give way to more astringent environments. Treasure Rooms of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna captures a collection of gilded frames and lush oil paintings that are meticulously stored in sterile rooms; the life they depict at odds with the rigidity of their current environs. In Treasure Rooms of the Museo di Capodimonte a tunnel composed of endless racks of paintings reveals the ordered beauty in these storage sites. The regularity of these artistic barracks serve a vital purpose: the endless shelves, walls, and mobile racks that hold these masterpieces stand sentinel and preserve prizes that are laying in wait. Having been granted special access to these often unseen places, Fiorese brings to light the hidden works of museums, perhaps shattering the idealized vision of over stuffed attics. In reality these ‘treasure rooms’ are exhibitions unto themselves, each as carefully curated as those in the museum’s main viewing spaces.

Robert Mann Gallery is located at 525 West 26th Street, 2nd Floor. NY

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Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving @ The Lionheart Gallery

Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, Hope, Pigment over Palladium, 11"x14"

Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving, Hope, Pigment over Palladium, 11″x14″

Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving: Svala’s Saga
September 9–November 1, 2016

Opening reception will be on September 24 from 5-8 PM

Svala’s Saga is a collection of pigment over palladium prints by daughter-mother duo Emma Powell and Kirsten Hoving. Shot in Iceland, these timeless yet contemporary images approach climate change and extinction with a starkly elegant eye.

The Lionheart Gallery
27 Westchester Avenue
Pound Ridge NY

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Book Review: Afghanistan Between Hope and Fear by Paula Bronstein

A girl looks through the frosted window of a restaurant, hoping to get leftovers. She begs after school to help out her family. (Kabul, January 13, 2002)

A girl looks through the frosted window of a restaurant, hoping to get leftovers. She begs after school to help out her family. (Kabul, January 13, 2002)

I’ve often wondered whether photographs from conflict zones really make a difference. There are of course the ones that have become icons such as Nick Ut’s photo of Kim Phuc – and been attributed a significance that back then they probably did not have. Well, who knows? What we do however know is that the military is afraid of pictures (and that means: feelings, emotions, sensations) for they cannot control them.

I haven’t been to Afghanistan and never had any desire to go there. I’m still not sure whether I would like to visit the place despite the fact that the images I now carry around in my head fill me with warm feelings for the Afghans portrayed. Paula Bronstein’s photographs convey the impression that she is fond of, and touched by, the people she decided to photograph.

Photographs are meant to direct people’s eyes. Paula Bornstein shows us what she wanted us not only to see but to look at. We need to confront the reality in Afghanistan not only because the policy makers in the West are partly responsible for contributing to, and being a part of, it but because what is happening there is a human made tragedy. What human beings have decided to begin, they can also decide to stop.

Burqa-clad women wait to vote after a polling station runs out of ballots. (Kabul, April 5, 2014)

Burqa-clad women wait to vote after a polling station runs out of ballots. (Kabul, April 5, 2014)

The reality in Afghanistan is however not just the one we occasionally hear about in the news. It is also a unique rugged landscape, it is also about people going about their daily lives – we get to see a man playing cricket as the sun sets on a dusty field, an electrician cutting old power lines, a girl watching her mother read from the Qur’an after Friday prayers at a local mosque, a policeman taking a break atop an abandoned vehicle.

Beautiful is the word that first came to mind when I was spending time with these photographs. And, almost immediately, my inner censor voice made itself heard: Can photographs that depict atrocities and suffering be beautiful? Of course they can. But is it really a good idea to make aesthetic photos of burn victims and heroin addicts and present them in a impressively done tome? Yes, yes, yes!

I’m saying this because of what I’ve experienced with Paul Bronstein’s Afghanistan photographs: I felt deeply moved and touched, I couldn’t take my eyes off them. They made me curious, I wanted to know the stories behind the people portrayed. And, I was glad the information accompanying the pics was succinct and useful.

Young women cheer as they attend a rally for the Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani. (Kabul, April 1, 2014)

Young women cheer as they attend a rally for the Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani. (Kabul, April 1, 2014)

The foreword by Kim Barker, the former South Asia bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune, highlights that Bronstein “made the country a mission, returning frequently over the years and choosing to spend most of her time with Afghans rather than on embeds with international troops.” The introduction by Christina Lamb, the award-winning British journalist who has been travelling to Afghansitan since 1987, devotes her attention to the plight of Afghan women and points out that the “photographs in this book vividly illustrate, there are two very different sides to the lives of women in Afghanistan.” She quotes Hassina Safi, excutive director of the Afghan Women’s Newtwork: “On one side we’re seeing promotion of women to key positions as a result of our advocacy over the last years, but at the same time there is no security for women, and we’re seeing the systematic killing of women working outside.”

Given that, as Paula Bronstein writes in her afterword, “working in Afghanistan as a female photographer has its unique difficulties, including cultural and religious taboos,” this book is not only remarkable but truly impressive and extraordinary. Paula Bronstein makes one understand because she makes one feel. She created a deeply moving testimony of life.

The images shown here are excerpted from the book Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear, photographs by Paula Bronstein, with a foreword by Kim Barker and an introduction by Christina Lamb (University of Texas Press, August 2016)

Paula Bronstein Cover
Afghanistan Between Hope and Fear
By Paula Bronstein
University of Texas Press, Austin 2016
For more information or to purchase the book: utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/books/bronstein-afghanistanwww.paulaphoto.com

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Interview with photographer Carrie Schreck

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Cary Benbow (CB): Why did you become a photographer? How did you get started?

Carrie Schreck (CS): I messed around a bit with film as a kid but the real answer this: when I first lived in San Francisco, my boyfriend and I never locked our car. It’s best just to leave it unlocked with nothing in it; if someone breaks in, at least you don’t have to replace your windows. One night someone must have been ripping off cars, got into ours and fell asleep. The next morning my boyfriend walks in with a Canon AE-1 left in the back seat. That’s how I got in to photography. Seriously. I still have that camera.

CB: Where do you get the ideas for your personal photography?

CS: I’m looking for genuine moments, powerful moments, and I hope to have the right mix of luck and speed to be able to catch them and do them some justice.

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CB: Explain the idea behind your portfolio images submitted to the Enthusiasm themed issue  – How do they relate to your other projects, or how is it significantly different?

CS: I’ve been shooting moped riders and moped gangs for 7 years. I shoot it because it’s my life and what’s going on around me, but it’s such a close-knit community, it’s a brotherhood and sisterhood. The story lines around each gang, each ride, each rally are a total challenge to capture. I wanted to save the memories for the people in them, that was always my first priority. Say, if Ashlee ever has kids and they are able to see a photo of her bombing the Coronado bridge after racing hundreds of miles, fixing her bike on the side of the road, doing something silly and dangerous but daring… maybe they’ll be inspired. With a photograph, that inspiration can happen long after I’m gone, after she’s gone.

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CB: Seven years definitely counts as a large, long-term project. What work are you currently shooting?

CS: ‘Larger series’ is about right. I’ve taken about 50,000 photos over the last 7 years. This fall I’ll be showing a slice of them at Haphazard Gallery in Santa Monica opening October 29. I’ve gotten the selects down to about one thousand, so I’m still editing. This coming week I’m traveling to Europe to meet with some moped gangs over there, tour a factory, follow a race, then I’ll be back in the states for the big national rally in San Francisco. That will be 8 years in total shooting bikes, I’m about ready to find a new subject.

CB: What will you be doing while you are in Europe? Where will you be traveling?

CS: I’ll be in Slovenia and Croatia, so I’m very interested in the lives of people displaced passing through from Syria and Jordan. I’m drawn to human ingenuity and how people excel at making the best of their situation. If I can find people willing to be photographed, I might. There are some moments that just don’t need to be photographed, I’m always aware of that, too.

CB: What or who are your personal photography inspirations?

CS: You know, strangely enough I found out a few years ago that my great Aunt was one of the first famous female photographers, Nancy Ford Cones. Like me, she liked documenting life’s moments. In her later years she started to become more experimental, creating scenes, when her husband died she stopped shooting altogether.  Weirdly, I learned all of this way after my own interest in photography began. In a way I feel like I’m continuing to shoot for her, so she’s a big inspiration for me.

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CB: How would you describe your work to someone viewing it for the first time?

CS: If Arthur Pollock had a 5D and hung out with grimey gear-head punks. Something like that.

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To see more work by Carrie Schreck, visit her website at https://radradmopeds.wordpress.com/

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