Ag-Gag Arrest: National Geographic photographer George Steinmetz arrested for photographing Kansas feedlot

Black angus beef cattle stand in a holding pen at a ranch near Ledger, Montana, USA. - M. Scott Brauer
Black angus beef cattle stand in a holding pen at a ranch near Ledger, Montana, USA. – M. Scott Brauer

We’ve covered the so-called Ag-Gag bills enacted across the US to outlaw the unauthorized filming and photography of agricultural operations. NPR’s On the Media has a great primer on the recent movement to enact such legislation.

Now, freelance photographer George Steinmetz, on assignment for National Geographic (he’s done 31+ major assignments for the magazine), was arrested after taking pictures of a feedlot in Kansas while paragliding. Steinmetz and his paragliding instructor are charged with trespassing because they took off from private land without permission and because feedlot employees believe that his low altitude and circling pattern constitute trespassing in the air above the feedlot. The case raises interesting questions about how far up above physical land property ownership goes, but also may run afoul of Kansas’ 1990 Farm Animal and Field Crop and Research Facilities Protection Act, an early predecessor of current Ag-Gag laws. Wikipedia has a nice overview of such laws in various states.

A spokesman for the Kansas Livestock Association told the Hutchinson [Kansas] News that Steinmetz’s activities could pose a safety risk to the food supply and reminds agricultural operators to remain vigilant in identifying and reporting similar incidents.

Artist preserves print by embroidering newspapers and magazines

In our first year at dvafoto, I wrote about Kim Rugg, an artist who rearranges the letters on newspaper front pages in alphabetical order. In another imaginative approach to the object of print journalism, Lauren DiCoccio has taken to embroidering snippets of newspapers and magazines (among her many other projects) and the results create a beautiful preservation of the periodical publication. In sewnnews, DiCoccio covers sections of the New York Times in muslin and embroiders sections of the cover photos and headlines. In 365 Days of Print, she isolates small segments of the page and renders the text in thread. In National Geographics, she creates thread and fabric idealizations of issues of the yellow-bordered magazine. Throughout these projects, threads dangle and the embroidery seems almost unfinished.

Girl from Sebastião Salgado photograph found

In a story similar to the famous “Afghan Girl” photograph by Steve McCurry and the efforts National Geographic followed to track her down in 2002, the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paolo has found the girl whose photograph was the cover of Sebastião Salgado’s book “Terra”.

Joceli Borges was 5 years old in 1996 when Salgado made the portrait along a highway in Brazil. Borges, 21, lives now with her husband and daughter in a Landless Worker’s Movement camp near Iguaçu Falls, on the Brazil-Argentina border. Read the original article for more details about Borges’ life: “Girl immortalized in a photo by Sebastião Salgado is still landless” (in Portugues), or click here for a Google Translation to English.

I first saw this photograph in another of Salgado’s books, “The Children”, featuring portraits of children from around the world. Like McCurry’s photograph of Sharbat Gula, the picture of Joceli Borges lept out at me from the pages of the book when I was in the University of Washington library, and it has long been one of my favorite portraits, for reasons I cannot quite explain. I always felt I could see both a girl and a woman who had already lived a life of struggle in the very same eyes, the two people flashing together with the same face. It seems it has come true, sadly.