Category Archive: Exhibitions
In 2011 writer Pete Brook took his blog Prison Photography on the road. He used Kickstarter to successfully fund his trip, and produced a number of interviews with photographers, prisoners and activists, gave six lectures and visited three prisons. Last year the project grew in to the exhibition Cruel and Unusual at Nooderlicht in the Netherlands, with a newspaper-style exhibition catalogue and an upcoming Prison Photography on the Road (PPOTR) book.
After he was safely back in Portland last fall, he and I were discussing some of what he had accomplished and what he was thinking about doing next. Fortunately for us, he agreed to an interview so I can share some of his interesting insights and ideas. It has taken a while for us to find the time to put this together, but I’m excited to share some of Pete’s reflections on PPOTR and how he sees his work as a writer and curator evolving. It is especially relevant for other photographers and bloggers as they think about producing work ‘across platforms’ and offline, and what is possible when engaging and collaborating with our community at large.
dvafoto: I heard through the grapevine that you had an interesting experience right as you hit the road?
Pete Brook: I think you’re referring to my arrest. Before the trip began officially, I was in California. I’d been at a wedding, dancing and drinking in the sun all day. When the after-party began to die down, and being a gent, I offered to walk a couple of ladies home as they were across town and not staying at the hotel. Along the way, I took a piss on a palm tree (not so gentlemanly).
Thirty seconds later, two California Highway Patrol squad cars pulled up. I was pulled aside and told that urinating in public was an offense. I didn’t think a discrete piss on parkland at 5 am would land me in jail so I may not have taken the interaction as seriously as the officer expected.
I was on the road, had no permanent address, I was a bit merry, had no ID with me and was generally bemused as to why so much attention had fallen upon me. When asked if I would answer the officer’s questions, I said I didn’t feel compelled to do so. He took my wrist, turned me round, cuffed me and walked me to his patrol car.
The officer said, “We’ll do it your way. You could be in jail for days, weeks, months, even years.” A nonsense statement. He was reacting emotionally to the situation. Not good. He was also proving who had the power. I’m guessing it was late in his shift and he may not have had the patience for an inebriated me. I get that, but his solution, so to speak, was unnecessary and disproportionate.
I was in jail for 9 hours (as quick as they process anyone, I was told). Upon release, I was served with a court date and faced two misdemeanor charges of ‘Disorderly Conduct’ and ‘Willfully Resisting Arrest’. Just ludicrous. The court date was two weeks away, by which time I had scheduled to be in Ohio. I had to juggle my itinerary, bring all my Southern California appointments – that were to be in the last week of PPOTR – forward, and extend my research in the Bay Area.
Two weeks later, at the courthouse, I didn’t even see a judge. Not wanting to waste court time, the District Attorney threw the charges out. Common sense prevailed but not before I’d been inconvenienced.
The arrest nearly jeopardized PPOTR’s main prison visit, to Sing Sing in New York State.
Visitors to prisons must go through a criminal background check and mine flagged the arrest. So, now the New York Dept. of Corrections knew of the interaction, but had no details. I had to explain that no charges were brought and scramble for the paperwork to back up my claim. The workshop I did with the men in Sing Sing was a highlight of the trip and it would have been a sore loss to miss out.
I remain in the system. I am interviewed about the interaction by Customs & Immigration every time I re-enter the U.S. I’ve been told the record cannot be updated to include the info that there was no conviction; I’ll have to go through the same conversation every time I travel from overseas.
The experience was not great, but the irony could not have been greater. If I can get a copy of my mug shot it’ll be my press-photo for life!
Now that you’ve finished the fieldwork for PPOTR, co-curated an international exhibition, and printed a newspaper, do you think that Prison Photography the blog will change at all?
I’d like to say no, but it probably will. Not because of these projects but because more like them are in the pipeline. These emerging projects will take away from my time at the keyboard-helm.
Before I tell you about those new developments, I should say that PPOTR was designed to test the limits of the blog, test my stamina with the issues and test the reception of the public. In some ways, maybe I could or should have had the imagination to take on new formats earlier?
Directly out of PPOTR came the opportunity to co-curate Cruel and Unusual at Noorderlicht and that was a phenomenal privilege. Given how much I enjoyed that there’s no reason to draw back from activities outside the blog.
Cruel and Unusual travelled to the Melkweg Gallery in Amsterdam last April and then to Photoville in New York in June. This year it will show in Ireland and Australia. There’s some logistics involved in making those exhibits happen, and Noorderlicht and Photoville are greasing the wheels with that.
I initially planned to self-publish the Prison Photography photobook for the PPOTR Kickstarter backers, but Silas Finch a non-profit photobook publisher expressed interest and I decided to make it a bigger production … and print run.
We’ve signed on the dotted line and I’m writing the text for it now. The image edit will come in the summer and we hope to release it later this year. It’s wonderful to have, again, institutional support.
A couple of photographers working on the topic of prisons have expressed interest in collaborating on books and that interests me, but it has to be right for them too. That might sound silly, but how many essays would I need to do before I became the guy who writes introductions for prison photography books? Not many! It’d be good bylines for me, but not necessarily for the photographer. As a reader, I generally enjoy photobook essays that are not about the photography per se but about the larger subject and there’s many activists, advocates and academics who can write better on aspects of the prison system than I. Perhaps one or two essays will get done in time.
Furthermore, I just agreed to curate a photography show on the East Coast in January 2014. It’ll be an entirely new collection of works with a new curatorial statement.
In 2010, fifteen young South-East European photographers and three masters met in Berlin for the SEE New Perspectives masterclass, organized by World Press Photo and Robert Bosch Stiftung. After the first meeting in Berlin all of the photographers were given a grant to photograph a story within the region but outside of their home country.
The resulting projects are now being exhibited in Belgrade, Serbia (on display until December 14 at the ARTGET gallery on Trg Republike) after debuting in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in October. The show will soon move to Zagreb, Croatia and Berlin, Germany. The exhibition features an interesting concept of displaying oversized “magazines” each devoted to one photographer’s project, with only one image from each project along with the photographer’s name on the wall.
You can see all of the stories produced in the masterclass on the SEE New Perspectives website as well as more information about the organization of the project.
The photographers are:
Andrei Pungovschi, Romania
Armend Nimani, Kosovo
Bevis Fusha, Albania
Dženat Dreković, Serbia
Eugenia Maximova, Bulgaria
Ferdi Limani, Kosovo
Jasmin Brutus, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Jetmir Idrizi, Kosovo
Marko Risović, Serbia
Nemanja Pančić, Serbia
Octav Ganea, Romania
Petrut Calinescu, Romania
Sanja Jovanović (née Knežević), Serbia
Tomislav Georgiev, Macedonia
Vesselina Nikolaeva, Bulgaria
And the Tutors are:
Regina Anzenberger, Austria, artist, curator, photographer’s agent, gallerist
Silvia Omedes, Spain, president at Photographic Social Vision Foundation
Donald Weber, Canada, photographer VII Agency
I asked my old friend Jasmin Brutus, a Bosnian photographer who was part of the masterclass, to paraphrase the statement he gave at the Sarajevo opening which expresses his feelings about the years-long masterclass project: “We [the participating photographers] all returned with nice small toolbox which our employers will never know how to utilize. So, I think experience in the masterclass is very useful for my personal projects and for my job is almost useless. I gained new skills and my old skills got enhanced. But, for me the most important thing is that I met a group of really great people and great photographers.”
Congratulations to my friends from around the region who were able to take part in this interesting project and many of whom were able to produce terrific photo stories that may otherwise never have seen light or been published. I encourage you to explore the work published on the SEE New Perspectives site or peruse the photographers’ own websites linked above.
The video below features interviews with all of the photographers about their work and experience in the masterclass:
Corey Arnold’s fun blog just announced an awesome looking and massive outdoor exhibition as part of the “Wonderland” Photo Festival in Knokke-Heist, Belgium. I’ve been growing more fascinated with outdoor exhibitions in the last year, and am considering doing something similarly grand here in Belgrade soon. So put this exhibition right into the inspiration folder. For more, see our reader-favorite post Bringing Photos Back to the Street, or Taking it to the Streets in Belgrade and a Simon Norfolk outdoor exhibit at the Guernsey Festival (I love those stone bases for the frames). And don’t forget all of the terrific outdoor exhibitions by JR.
Click the photo or the link above to see the rest of Arnold’s blog post with many more photos of the installations, work from other photographers at the festival and even some prints inside buildings. Bravo.
I didn’t expect to be back in New York so quickly after dvafoto’s visit last week, but this is especially exciting for me. I’m pleased to announce my work, China Everbright, will be shown as part of the New York Photo Festival in Slideluck Potshow XVI on May 14, 2011, in Brooklyn, New York. The slideshows for the evening–from a breathtaking assortment of photographers–were curated by Whitney Johnson, who has just recently been named Director of Photography for the New Yorker. The event is at St. Ann’s Warehouse at 38 Water Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn, New York, from 5:30p-10:30p.
The photographers selected for the evening are: Alex Fradkin, Alex Webb, Benjamin Sklar, Bruce Gilden, Carolyn Drake, Chris Hondros, Dominic Bracco, Dominic Nahr, Elena Dorfman, James Pomerantz, JR, Krisanne Johnson, Iwan Baan, Landon Nordeman, Luca Zanier, Luis Ladron de Guevara, Lyle Owerko, M. Scott Brauer, M. Wesley Ham, Mari Bastashevski, Mark Peterson, Martin Usborne, Matt Eich, Melanie Burford, Michael Christopher Brown, Natasja Fourie, Peter DiCampo, Phillip Toledano, Platon, Rinko Kawauchi, Stefano de Luigi, Steve Pyke, Steven Brahms, and Tim Hetherington. I’m excited to have my work shown in the company of so many talented and inspiring photographers; if you asked me for a list of my photographic idols, that list would be a goood start.
I also have one image in a slideshow presented by PDN at the New York Photo Festival, but I’m a little unsure on when and where that will be shown.
I hope you can make it to the event. If you’re there, please say hello. Here’s what I look like.
Matt Lutton and M. Scott Brauer are currently in the United States and will be visiting New York City together from Tuesday May 2 through Friday May 6th. Both will be sharing recent work and new projects. We already have some fun work meetings set up and are excited to see old friends and colleagues. We are also planning to meet at The Half King on Wednesday night to see everyone. If you’re in the city, be in touch and/or check here for final details.
It has been a couple of years since the two of us been able to meet up and we haven’t been in New York together since 2005, when we were both interns at Black Star. It’ll be a nice reunion and potentially the start of some interesting collaborations.
We already have most of our meals (Uighur! Momofuku! Matt is aching for variety after months in Belgrade) planned out and a few shows we want to see (like Revolucion(es) and Shen Wei at Daniel Cooney). And of course a pilgrammage to Dashwood Books. Any recommendations for shows happening these days that we can’t miss?
At the end of the week, Lutton is headed back to Belgrade and Brauer to Boston.
“This event [will be a place for] the entire NY Photo community to gather together, celebrate the lives of Tim and Chris while also generating funds for the recovery of Guy and Michael who will be in great need over the coming months. All prints in the show will be available for sale by donation only. All posters will be available for donation as well.” -from the Facebook invitation to the event
Matthew Craig (of MJR) and Julien Jourdes are curating an exhibition of recent photography from political revolutions in North Africa. The show opens 7pm, Thursday, April 28, at Instituto Cervantes in New York (211 East 49th Street). The show will include images by Samuel Aranda, Michael Christopher Brown, Bryan Denton, Mathias Depardon, Guy Martin, Gabriele Micalizzi, Andy Rocchelli, Luca Santese, Gabriele Stabile, Nicole Tung and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova. It will be an opportunity to celebrate the lives of Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington, and proceeds from print and poster sales from the exhibition will go toward medical care for Guy Martin and Michael Christopher Brown, both injured in Libya last week.
Photographer Nick Turpin, who I first came across through the in-public street photography site and who writes the blog 779, has just published a rare selection of 20 Garry Winogrand color photographs. The profilic street photographer is almost exclusively known for his black and white work but apparantly (like Henri Cartier-Bresson) used color photography often enough. I first came across this fact while looking through one of my favorite photo books of all time years ago, the epic “Winogrand 1964″. The cover features one of the coolest shots of all time, a color photograph from White Sands, New Mexico.
(via Blake Andrews)
All this month M. Scott Brauer and Matt Lutton, as Dvafoto, are taking part in the exhibition “Mapping the Flâneur” presented by Collectives Encounter at the Format Photography Festival in Derby, UK. It is an innovative group exhibition/installation of work submitted daily from photography collectives from around the world, and runs through April 3rd. The project features some old friends like MJR, Belgrade Raw and Wideyed (who helped arrange the project) alongside a number of other interesting collectives that we’re just getting to know. The complete list of participating groups is here.
The Mapping the Flanuer Tumblr site shows a feed of all of the images in the project, which are submitted by individual photographers in the collectives relating to the common ideas of “Consuming”, “Transporting” and “Urbanising”. But the best way to see the project is to visit the exhibition, this is all about seeing real photographs alongside other real pictures. But if like us you can’t make the trip to Derby you’ll have to settle for a video showing the installation.
This is an exciting step for Dvafoto and hopefully the first in a series of collaborative photography projects between Brauer and Lutton, something we’ve been working towards slowly for many years. Thanks again to all the folks at Wideyed, Collective Encounters and the Format Photography Festival for making this project come together.
Mikhael Subotzky’s work has always captivated me and pushed my thinking about documentary photography. First it was with his project photographing in prisons, DIE VIER HOEKE. Then he shook many peoples’ worlds with the publication of his book Beaufort West which in part followed prisoners out into the city and shows more of a complete South African community. Conscientious interviewed him two years ago and he described the moment when Beaufort West was coming together: “At this point the work became much more personal as I established and built up relationships with a group of disparate people who inhabited the same city as me, but very different worlds. I began to see the work as my own exploration of my surroundings – a part of my attempts to make myself as conscious as possible.”
I just came across his latest project “Ponte City” on his new website. He has thrown me around again, and I believe (and hope) it will for many others too. He has photographed every Door, Window and Television in an iconic and infamous 54-story apartment building in Johannesburg. From the text describing the project, which is in collaboration with Patrick Waterhouse, they explain:
Ponte’s iconic structure soon became a symbol of the downturn in central Johannesburg. The reality of the building and its many fictions have always integrated seamlessly into a patchwork of myths and projections that reveals as much about the psyche of the city as it does about the building itself. Tales of brazen crack and prostitution rings operating from its car parks, four storeys of trash accumulating in its open core, snakes, ghosts and frequent suicides have all added to the building’s legend. Some of these stories are actually true, and for quite some time most of the residents were indeed illegal immigrants. And yet, one is left with the feeling that even the building’s notoriety is somewhat exaggerated – that its decline is just as fictional as its initial utopian intentions were misplaced and unrealized.
Further, the primary media of this project is an installation: lightboxes of all the photographs taken of Windows, Doors and Televisions. (Links are to detailed shots of each category). Giant contact sheets, typology of three important aspects that are involved in every life and apartment in this building. Subotzky’s site also has images of the installation on walls in a few South African galleries.
Subotzky and Waterhouse also are showing a complete book dummy of Ponte City, which expands out these typologies with images of the transformation of the Ponte City building and the daily life inside. The editing is brilliant, and tells the story of how the project came together as well as the story itself beautifully. This is another item I cannot wait to see in person (like the Sochi Project’s new book). Even though I have all the material in front of me, I know that it will be better in person. Tactile and enveloping beyond a screen.
I was talking with my friend Donald Weber about this project, about how much it kicked me in the ass and made me stand up and think about things anew. He said it better than I could: “it’s some of the best/most interesting work I’ve seen in a long long time. I like it because it’s smart and is about ideas rather then fucking pretty pictures.” Amen, I think we could use some more of these ideas at work in our “photojournalism”.
“All the stories from Ponte’s past were there before us – the druglords and the gangsters, the shootouts and the prostitutes, the ghosts and the voodoo magic – not in the building itself, where young people and families went about their lives calmly, but on the hundreds of screens that were stacked above each other, flat by flat and floor by floor.”
There’s an interesting historical exhibition of Lucien Aigner’s work opening January 29, 2011, at the DeCordova Museum located just outside of Boston. Aigner was a contemporary of Capa, Kertesz, and other early 20th century photojournalists and, like the others, his work covered a broad range of subjects from war to race to celebrity to prisons to portraiture to children. The subject of the exhibition is his style of pairing text with several prints, so-called ‘photo stories.’ The exhibition is curated by Jennifer Uhrhane and aims to shine a spotlight once again on one of the forgotten pioneers of photojournalism. This is the first major museum exhibition of Aigner’s work since the 1980s.