Monday, April 26, 2021

Important Slices of Time


Via Joe McNally's Blog

April 26, 2021

In the spring of ’95, I was a staff photographer at LIFE magazine, and was assigned to photograph the subjects of four famous, Pulitizer Prize winning photos, all taken some twenty five years or so previous. One of them, Mary Ann Vecchio, as a teenage runaway, was photographed by John Filo, leaning over the body of a dead student at Kent State University, on May 4th, 1970. The Washington Post Magazine recently took a look at Mary Ann’s life. It’s a beautifully written, reflective piece by Patricia McCormick.

Slices of time is an oft used expression in the realms of still photography. It refers, I think, to the essential conundrum of what we do. Life flows, time moves. In equivalently relentless fashion. And we face off against these ever sluicing torrents with a “still” camera in our hands. A machine designed to stop time. Could any challenge be more quixotic, on the face of it? The digitally driven world around us accelerates, and we’re out there shouting, “Hey, wait a minute!”

But, just as time surely, inexorably advances, we continually succeed in our improbable mission. Moving pictures are wonderful and video is all the rage, but for me, my sense of history, of place, of time and life lived, is utterly fixed in still images. Would I remember the Kent State shootings, on that day, as well as I do, if John Filo had not been there, and had the guts and instincts to put his camera to his eye?

No need to show the photo. We all could draw it in our heads. Then 14-year-old Mary Ann Vecchio kneels over the body of Jeffrey Miller, fatally shot, her face a mask of anguished pain.

When you’re the subject of a Pulitzer Prize winning photo, as Mary Ann was on that day, your life is no longer a private life. You become a part of history, referred to and much discussed. There was sympathy for Mary Ann, a teenage runaway, but also vitriol and accusations, such as the governor of Florida, where she hailed from, labeling her a “dissident communist.” The students were blamed for their own deaths. John Filo was followed by the FBI. Anyone now, in the year 2021, hearing echoes of behavior such as this?

Reading the article in the Post, it was a relief to know Mary Ann is still the person I met years ago in Las Vegas. And indeed the same person even now, quietly living in Florida, going to older neighbors, making visits and delivering meals. Still helping. Others ran away that day. She ran to the body of Mr. Miller, seeking to help. But that decision began an odyssey, one not of her choice. As she says in the article, “That picture hijacked my life.”

I chose to photograph Mary Ann in a peaceful setting, outside of Vegas, where she was living at the time. Vulnerable, wounded, but still possessed of a lovely and giving heart. She and John, the author of the photo, have met. John, who’s an incredibly decent guy, and works now in NY, also has felt the weight of the photo for all these years. So much emotion, history, and pain in a split second.

color photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio

I made pictures of four people who were prominently featured in momentous Pulitzer pictures on that assignment for LIFE. The other three are below.

Kim Phuc

color photograph of Kim Phuc holding her baby

Ted Landsmark….The Boston lawyer who was speared with the American flag by a racist mob, in a famous photo made by Stanley Forman of The Boston Globe, known widely as The Soiling of Old Glory. He’s now a professor.

color photograph of Ted Landsmark

And Ed Wheatley, who along with fellow students, occupied Cornell’s student union for 36 hours, protesting racist practices and a cross burning on the Cornell campus. After an attempt to dislodge them, the protesters armed themselves. Ed led the group out of the building, carrying a rifle, and became, in an instant, part of the history of the tumultuous 60’s. He’s gone on to a life of community activism, fighting for equality in housing. When I met him he was active in projects to reclaim abandoned and rundown properties. Hence the setting.

color photograph of  Ed Wheatley

I’m guessing, but I imagine the collective shutter speeds on all four of the Pulitzers under discussion most likely amount to less than one second in time.

But, because photographers put their camera to their eye, that second won’t pass….ever.

More tk….

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Not standing still: new approaches in documentary photography at the Monash Gallery of Art includes Ashley Gilbertson's photography


Via Monash Gallery of Art

On exhibit through May 16, 2021

Virtual tour here

PHOTO is a major new biennial international festival of photography that will activate Melbourne and sites across regional Victoria with the most inspiring photography from Australia and around the world.

MGA’s headlining Photo 2021 exhibition will explore the festival’s theme of ‘Truth’ through the lens of new documentary photography.

Not standing still: new approaches in documentary photography, will introduce Australian audiences to leading photographers from around the world who are making new documentary photography, many never having exhibited in Australia before. This exhibition will place Australian photographers alongside their international contemporaries; spanning 11 countries of origin, these are the photographers who are changing the way we think about photographic storytelling.

Truth is implicitly linked to photography because of its capacity to be a medium of record, but photographers have been using their tools to uncover and reimagine truths through investigative, imaginative and allusive photography.

New documentary photography is about rethinking the traditional ways of representing what the camera sees. Instead of straight documentation, these photographers have sought new ways to show pressing social and political issues, and in doing so are transforming photography itself.

Interior phot of bedroom of he bedroom of former Army Spc. Ryan Yurchison, 27, in Middletown, Ohio. Yurchison died of a suspected suicide drug overdose on May 22, 2010 after returning home from Iraq and struggling with PTSD

Ashley Gilbertson

 Marine Corporal Christopher G. Scherer, 21, was killed by a sniper on July 21, 2007 in Karmah, Iraq. He was from East Northport, New York. His bedroom was photographed in February 2009. 2009

Included in the exhibition are selections from Ashley Gilbertson's "Bedrooms of the Fallen" series.

In 2004, Australian photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson spent time documenting the Second Battle of Fallujah in Iraq. Images he made during this assignment won him the Robert Capa Gold Medal for ‘best photographic reporting from abroad requiring exceptional courage and enterprise’. During the trip, one of the young marines escorting him was killed. 

War photography is a complex phenomenon. It often relies on the bravura of a photographer to be in the ‘right place’ at the ‘right time’, capturing the action and the adrenaline on film to illustrate the drama of battle. To demonstrate the cost of this drama and to peel back its layers, Gilbertson has photographed bedrooms left behind by 40 soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The soldiers represented come from America, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, and Scotland. Their rooms show us what remains of lives cut short, displaying what is not evident in pictures of the battlefield. The familiar and ordinary objects that pepper these images communicate some of the texture of a soldier’s life, which is preserved in these photographed spaces – like an altar or memorial – in a way that a picture of an explosion or even a coffin struggles to convey. 

This series also show us what families cling to, and how memory and remembrance work in the real world of contemporary conflict. Gilbertson’s photographs show an aspect of war that is often secondary to images of battle. In their quietness these images reach no crescendo or catharsis, and so force a shift in pace in both the making and viewing of war photography.

View more of Ashley Gilbertson's work here

Monday, April 19, 2021

“I think we all need to recognize the assault on media across the world and even in our country over the last few years is chilling”


Via The New York Times

By Kellen Browning

April 18, 2021

Tim Walz, the governor of Minnesota, on Sunday responded to reports that the state’s police officers had assaulted journalists covering the unrest in a Minneapolis suburb, saying, “Apologies are not enough; it just cannot happen.”

Protests have erupted in Brooklyn Center, Minn., in the wake of the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was killed by a veteran police officer during a traffic stop. Law enforcement officers have fired tear gas or pepper spray into crowds and have made dozens of arrests.

“I think we all need to recognize the assault on media across the world and even in our country over the last few years is chilling,” Mr. Walz said in an interview with a local CBS station. “We cannot function as a democracy if they’re not there.”

On Saturday, a lawyer representing more than 20 news media organizations sent a letter to Mr. Walz and leaders of Minnesota law enforcement organizations detailing a series of alleged assaults of journalists by police officers in the past week. Journalists have been sprayed with chemical irritants, arrested, thrown to the ground and beaten by police officers while covering protests, wrote the lawyer, Leita Walker.

The letter provides details of some of the alleged incidents, including ones involving journalists working for CNN and The New York Times.

Joshua Rashaad McFadden, a freelance photographer who was covering the protests for The Times, said in an interview on Sunday that the police surrounded the car he was in on Tuesday as he tried to leave the protests. They beat on the windows with batons, then entered the car to force him out, beating his legs and striking his camera lens, he said.

“It was definitely scary — I’ve never been in a situation like that with so many police officers hitting me, hitting my equipment,” Mr. McFadden, 30, said.

Mr. McFadden, who is Black, said the police did not believe his press credentials were real until another photographer vouched for him — a situation that has happened to him and other Black journalists many times, he said.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” he said, to know that “if a situation like this happens, they’re not going to believe or care about anything I’m saying.”

Later in the week, he said, he was forced to the ground along with other journalists and photographed by the police.

A spokeswoman for The New York Times Company on Sunday confirmed that Ms. Walker’s letter represented the company’s response.

On Friday, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order forbidding the police to use physical force or chemical agents against journalists. But Ms. Walker wrote that officers were still engaging in “widespread intimidation, violence and other misconduct directed at journalists.”

Mr. Walz said in a tweet on Saturday that he had “directed our law enforcement partners to make changes that will help ensure journalists do not face barriers to doing their jobs.”

“These are volatile situations and that’s not an excuse,” he said during the television interview on Sunday. “It’s an understanding that we need to continue to get better.”

Monday, April 12, 2021

Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World


Greta Thunberg's first school strike for Climate, outside the Swedish Parliament, August 20, 2018
Greta Thunberg's first school strike for Climate, outside the Swedish Parliament, August 20, 2018

The first episode of Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World airs tonight (Monday 12 April) at 9pm on BBC One; then premieres in its entirety as a special presentation on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22 at 8:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS stations nationwide in the United States.


Via PBS:  Greta Thunberg is on a mission to save the world. She is asking every one of us to act and to mobilize in order to slow down the growing climate change that is destroying our planet and threatens our way of life. The message is clear, and scientists agree—we need to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees in order to give our species the best possible chance of avoiding a catastrophic future. 

This revealing series follows Greta as she steps from behind the podium and onto the front lines. Over the course of the three episodes, Greta explores the science as she travels to extraordinary locations across the globe, meeting leading climate scientists, witnessing first hand the consequences of climate change and confronting the complexity of what is required to make change happen. She travels from the burning tar sands of the Canadian oil industry to the coal mines of Europe and the melting glaciers of the U.S.—places where the impact of a changing climate is glaringly obvious, both for the planet and for the inevitable human costs—making clear the reasons why scientists call for action to be taken. The series also hears from a range of academics, economists and experts, further exploring the climate change science Greta encounters on the ground.

In the fall of 2019, then-16-year-old Greta took a year off from school to embark on an international mission to spread her message: that we must act to drastically reduce our carbon emissions—immediately. The world was transfixed as this teenager spoke with directness and clarity to power, from diplomats at the United Nations to the world’s economic elite at Davos. However, just as her journey was gaining serious momentum, a new threat emerged, and everything became uncertain. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a terrifying standstill when the global economy, modern society and Greta’s journey all came to a halt. However, as days turned to months and people around the world were confined to their homes, an unintended consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the ongoing global shutdown, revealing how much we can lessen our impact on the planet if we radically change our behavior.

“Through Greta’s exploration of the science, we get a deeper understanding of the problems of climate change and the complexity of resolving them,” said Bill Gardner, Vice President, Programming and Development, PBS. “This is also a very personal, intimate and moving story about an incredibly brave person who has found herself in the global spotlight and navigates the challenges of unsought fame. PBS is proud to bring this powerful story to our viewers of all ages.” 

Friday, April 2, 2021

New HBO Series "Exterminate All the Brutes" Features Ryan Vizzions Standing Rock Photographs

Premieres Wednesday, Apr. 7, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO

Exterminate All the Brutes, from acclaimed filmmaker Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro, HBO’s Sometimes in April), is a four-part hybrid docuseries that provides a visually arresting journey through time, into the darkest hours of humanity. Through his personal voyage, Peck deconstructs the making and masking of history, digging deep into the exploitative and genocidal aspects of European colonialism — from America to Africa and its impact on society today.

Based on works by three authors and scholars — Sven Lindqvist’s Exterminate All the Brutes, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, and Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Silencing the Past — Exterminate All the Brutes revisits and reframes the profound meaning of the Native American genocide and American slavery and their fundamental implications for our present.

The series disrupts formal and artistic film conventions by weaving together rich documentary footage and archival material, as well as animation and interpretive scripted scenes that offer a counter-narrative to white Eurocentric history. Through a sweeping story in which history, contemporary life and fiction are wholly intertwined, the series challenges the audience to re-think the very notion of how history is being written.

Exterminate All the Brutes is produced by Velvet Film. Written and directed by Raoul Peck. Executive produced by Raoul Peck and RĂ©mi Grellety.

"There’s a collage effect to its assemblage of maps, photographs, paintings, film clips, home movies, animation, nature videos, thought-experiment sketches and occasional pop-music interludes."
--Hollywood Reporter

Native American woman on horse facing police line at Standing Rock

Defend The Sacred, Standing Rock, Cannonball, North Dakota, 2016
One of five photographs by Ryan Vizzions featured in
"Exterminate All The Brutes"

View Ryan Vizzions' print collection here