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A couple of months ago, I was contacted by the Magnum Foundation (MF) and asked to nominate six photographers who were pursuing projects of social importance. The MF was readying itself to disperse the 2013 Emergency Fund grants.
Today, in conjunction with TIME LightBox, the Magnum Foundation announced the 10 chosen photographers and their bodies of work:
Adam Nadel, Getting the Water Right
Alex Welsh, Home of the Brave
Giulio Piscitelli, From There to Here
Jehad Nga, Unmasking the Unthinkable
Mari Bastashevski, State Business
Olga Kravets, Radicalization
Rafal Milach, The Winners
Tanya Habjouqa, Occupied Pleasures
Philippe Dudouit, The Dynamics of Dust
Tomoko Kikuchi, The River
Two of my nominations won support. That’s a one-in-three strike rate; better than the current form of Blazers’ guard Wesley Matthews.
Nominations by myself and 14 others resulted in a pool of 100 photographers. From that 100, a three-person editorial committee – Philip Gourevitch, contributing writer for the New Yorker and former editor of Paris Review; Marc Kusnetz, former Senior Producer of NBC news and Consultant for Human Rights First; and Bob Dannin, former Editorial Director of Magnum Photos, and professor of history at Suffolk University – chose 10 projects.
10 grants have been dispersed. Regional photographers who live and work near their homes each received between $4,000 and $7,000, while the photographers working internationally secured grants between $7,500 and $12,000.
“The EF 2013 grantees are a group of talented photographers, working internationally and within their home regions. All of the projects anticipate emerging issues that are underreported and show great promise to reveal new perspectives through a range of visual styles and approaches. [...] The selected projects address a range of pressing issues including human impact on one of the world’s most delicate ecosystems, systemic roots of violence in vulnerable communities, investigation of human rights abuses, and post-arab spring immigration flows,” says the Magnum Foundation.
Due to the sensitive nature of many of these projects, MF is being careful about the amount of information it shares publicly about the projects’ details and geography. We’ll just have to follow the photographers’ output closely.
Congratulations to all grantees.
Above image: Tomoko Kikuchi, from the series The River.
It is a framed photograph made by a student during one of his photography workshops in South African prisons.
Photographer: Incarcerated student of Mikhael Subotzky
Title: Maplank in the Workshop, Pollsmoor Prison, 2005
Print: B&W, silver gelatin print on fiber paper, 35x50cm (frame approx 50x65cm)
Edition: # 1/9
Print, PLUS postcard, mixtape and self=published book = $1000. BUY NOW
A NOTE ON THE PRINTS SALE
As with all the unsold prints if Mikhael’s doesn’t get snapped up, it’ll return to its maker, and possibly a darkened drawer. Certainly, it and any of the others won’t be gracing your walls!
There is one week left of fundraising. Even though I’ve passed my fundraising target, I don’t want to see the figure stop rising as I have very special plans for the extra dough in the form of spin off projects (the scope of which all depend on who much extra is secured).
Between April and now, right under everybody’s noses, Visura Magazine only went and interviewed about over a dozen of the really important folk in photography. Here’s a few:
Interview: Jessica Ingram
Interview: Michael Itkoff
Interview: Mark Murrmann (Mother Jones)
Interview: Claire O’Neill (NPR Picture Show)
Interview: Nathalie Herschdorfer (Curator, Musée de l’Elysée): reGeneration project
Interview: Brian Storm (MediaStorm)
Interview: James Estrin & Josh Haner (NY Times Lens Blog)
Interview: David Alan Harvey (Burn Magazine)
Interview: Nelson Ramírez de Arellano (Curator, Fototeca de Cuba)
Interview: Jon Levy (FOTO8)
Interview: Ricardo Viera (Curator, LUAG)
Interview: Idurre Alonso (Curator, MoLAA)
And in plain sight of everyone, Gerald Holubowicz went long-from and interviewed on film some of the sharpest minds and forward thinkers in the industry (Sharpness is a must to mastermind the diversification and survival of leading collectives such as VII and Magnum.)
Gerald’s interview series “Sortir du Cadre” (Think outside the box) has so far quizzed
Interview: Stephen Mayes (Director of VII)
Interview: Mark Lubell (Managing Director of Magnum)
Interview: Paul Melcher (Cofounder and Senior Vice President of PictureGroup)
Interview: Jean Pierre Pappis (Founder of Polaris Images)
- – -
First class efforts from Gerald and from Adriana Teresa and Lauren Schneidermann at Visura
Gilden makes no bones about his style. He’s brash and in-yer-face. It’s his visual brand.
He doesn’t change his brand. With his surprise tactics, Gilden makes fun of New Yorkers as much as Texan millionaires as much as Guantanamo soldiers. (Might he also employ subtler approaches than the video below suggests?)
And why should he change his visual brand? He’s worked hard at it and we have supported it his whole career.
No, I don’t think Gilden should change his style; I think Gilden should’ve just stayed away.
This is my own personal opinion and I am not interested in any crusade against Gilden’s assumed approach or ethics. I just didn’t want to let his work pass without saying that I find it quite uncomfortable. This project isn’t the sort of thing I want to look at.
GILDEN REPEATS TOWELL’S MISTAKE?
A couple of weeks ago John Sevigny had a serious pop at Larry Towell (also of Magnum) for “gratuitous, racist and disgusting” work. I posted it, the Click picked it up and there was a short discussion at Lightstalkers.
I see where Sevigny’s coming from but I also appreciate comments which add a bit more subtlety to the debate – namely that exposed breasts are not always to be sexualised or considered part of an unequal power dynamic. This is just imposing ones own sensitivity upon another culture. More problematic is the fact the bare-chested woman is unable to move from the hospital bed away from Towell’s directed lens. Anyway, I digress, Gilden’s Haiti work is the topic at issue.
The situation with Gilden is slightly different. I must pause here and state that Gilden has photographed Haiti many times before (1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1995); he has perhaps been as many as a dozen times? And yet, I feel as though Gilden’s images of victims (many amputees) in the MSF hospital are feeding the same distant disdain we reserve for drunk and bloodied hipsters in our faux-fashion magazines (Vice). Isn’t Gilden’s work going to get caught up in a visual culture that often replaces even slightly careful representation with the thrill of gore and body fluids?
I take issue with Gilden’s style as used in Haiti, now. To me personally, Gilden’s style mocks its subjects. I can’t get away from that. I would fully anticipate Gilden arguing (very well) just the opposite – that he cares deeply about different shapes, colours, countenances and circumstances of all the people at whom he launches his lens and flash.
After the MSF hospital Gilden goes on to make a typology of survivors’ structures and portraits of beggars, tent city dwellers and the mentally ill.
So, I want to ask. Do I have a point? Do you share my aversion to Gilden’s work in the aftermath of this natural disaster of a quarter-million fatalities?
Magnum has made a public commitment to funding work in Haiti, but should we maybe have hoped that the members had encouraged Gilden to perhaps sit this one out?
When doing research for Wired’s Raw File piece on Dell’s acquisition of 185,000 Magnum press prints, reactions were unanimously positive.
The deal was understood as incentivised in the right ways so that Magnum, Dell’s MSD, the Harry Ransom Center, the individual photographers and – last but not least – the public would all win; the deal meant advanced archiving, preservation, research, lectures, education and access to the materials.
I leant particular weight to the feedback of Eli Reed and Susan Meiselas, two senior Magnum members, both grateful for the collection’s new lease of life.
I’d like to quickly bring to your attention two differing opinions I’ve come across this past week.
Firstly, Stephan Minard takes a suspicious view. Minard is the former director for stock-sales and archives of Magnum (Paris, London, New York & Tokyo) between 2008 and 2009. Here is Minard’s article (French) and here is a poor Google translation.
Minard sees the issue of the deal as “bigger than just a deal for money and posterity. It is more the sign of the incapacity of the photographers to protect a common treasure, to build a common project for the agency.”
Minard puts the Dell acquisition in the context of recent acquisitions of Magnum photographers’ works by outside parties (Capa’s “Mexican Suitcase” owned by the ICP, Henri Cartier Bresson’s archive owned by the HCB Foundation in Paris).
I think Minard deals somewhat in hyperbole and paints Dell as an unsuitable custodian. He believes Magnum has sold its ability to own and write its own history, whereas many in the industry feel the retention of all rights by the photographers has ensured exactly the opposite.
Magnum is a business and as such it would be useless hoarding sections of its past collections if in so doing they jeopardised the careers of its current and future members. Magnum is not a museum.
In the other corner, George Zimbel speaks of Michael Dell as an ever-benevolent father figure of documentary photography. Read here.
Zimbel asks a general question as applied to any number of hidden collections and obscured archives, “Where are those prints? I don’t know. No one will have to ask that question about the Magnum archive. Thank you Michael Dell.”
Zimbel knew Cornell Capa in the 1940s. Zimbel did the annual report for Xerox Corp. in 1961. When he couldn’t repeat the contract the following year, Xerox hired all of Magnum to continue the documentary approach.
Zimbel then rattles through a numbers of folk, generations and degrees of seperation to end up at the desk of a family friend Alex Gruzen, Senior Vice President Consumer Products Group at Dell Computers in Austin Texas, “I am sending Alex Gruzen a copy of my catalogue “George S. Zimbel, IVAM 2000″ to give to Michael Dell. He really values documentary photography. It’s like family.“
Recently, I panned the Magnum: In Motion piece on Haiti. Afterward, I went back to put a name to the disaster. Olivia Wyatt.
Then I felt guilty. I meant to attack Magnum, not an individual … who has a name … which is stated clearly at the end of the piece.
To allay may guilt, I feverishly went in search of other stuff to support the notion that Wyatt was piss-poor at what she did. I was sorely disappointed.
Olivia Wyatt has her lens and mic up in some good projects. As well as producing Jonas Bendiksen’s Nepal Maoists and the Magnum group’s Merry Christmas (with choice tunes from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra) she was also the producer on Christopher Anderson’s Capitolio Magnum: In Motion piece that played its part in getting everyone hot and bothered last summer.
Silicon Forest, the other Anderson piece Wyatt worked on fizzes and pops with the same disjointed eye that Anderson lent to Akademgorodok (Academic City), Siberia.
After all this, her Vimeo channel walks me straight into another dimension where Eraserhead meets Jesus Camp meets Point Break.
Seeking the Spirit is about Pastor Richard Philips and the congregation of the Celestial Church in Christ meeting at the Beach 96th Street, Rockaway, New York to observe an all night ceremony of prayer and cleansing.
All great work. I am chastened.
Magnum has produced a three minute In Motion piece on Haiti:
The multimedia piece as a whole is disappointing. It features the photographs of Abbas, Christopher Anderson, Eve Arnold, Jonas Bendiksen, Bruce Gilden, Cristina Garcia Rodero and Alex Webb – all incredible photographers, but bundled together they compete against (and detract from) one another.
Abbas’ silvery images of Hounsis, ladies dressed in white (2000) … mix with his images of Saut D’eau (2000) … mix with his images of the Pentecostal Protestants of Jacmel … mix with Gilden’s hard-flash from Plaine du Nord (1985) … mix with Gilden’s street photography in Port-au-Prince (1990 & 1994) … mix with Eve Arnold’s quiet compositions (1956) … mix with Christopher Anderson’s menace … mix with Jonas Bendiksen’s beautiful retreated studies of Haitians in agrarian landscapes and activities … mix with Rodero‘s image of the rituals of Soukri, photos of the Carnival at Jacmel and Souvenance …
The slideshow concludes with a vertiginous volley of portraits of Restavek child servants/slaves by Paolo Pellegrin (who strangely has no credit line).
It’s all too busy and without context and frankly does nothing to describe the country of Haiti. It is in some ways just a limp, late addition to the flurry of visuals we’ve been served these past eleven days.
Magnum would have been much better promoting the recent traveling exhibition Disposable People – Contemporary Global Slavery, and making ‘In Motion’ pieces for contributors Webb and Pellegrin.
ALEX WEBB INTERVIEW
Fototapeta‘s interview with Webb is well worth reading. He talks about the cultural differences between the US and countries of Central and Southern America (with repeated references to to Haiti); about open energy and discrete action; about shooting in colour and in B&W; and about reconciling photojournalism with an inevitable personal reaction.
Webb notes his ongoing balancing act,
“I always felt to some extent that I am out one fringe of Magnum, but I was brought into Magnum particularly by Charles Harbutt, and Charles was really oriented not towards traditional photojournalism at that point. I mean at that point Marc Riboud was doing a lot of rather traditional photojournalism. Charles was encouraging a much more personal kind of vision of the world, and that influenced me much more. I have taken elements of that, which is a very personal approach, but taken them into situations that people do not associate with a totally personal approach like going somewhere else, like Haiti, where political violence takes place, therefore it is photojournalism, but I am actually taking a very personal approach inside places like Haiti.”
I picked out the image by Alex Webb (above) as my preferred image because, while it’s subject is death, it is – as a single image – actually about the bonds of a Haitian community and the composition of Webb’s craft. And they equalise one another perfectly.
I don’t wish to be misunderstood, Magnum: In Motion is a phenomenal service to the global photographic community. I can’t imagine a world nor web without it. The archive is a treasure. I guess when I believe a slideshow has fallen short I want to state it as such. I only criticise because I care.
(From top left, clockwise) 1. Major-General Geoffrey Miller, Commander of Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay, is in charge of the 680 suspected enemy combatants in the camp. 2. Specialist Lily Allison Fitzborgen, a reservist who wants to become a police officer, is one of the guards who watches over the detainees. 3. Surveillance at Camp America. 4. Sergeant guard at a hospital for “enemy combatant” detainees. His name is blacked out so the detainees can’t see it. (Below) Before a prayer breakfast at Camp America.
All photos © Bruce Gilden/Magnum