Tag Archive: russia
Continuing our posts on Seamus Murphy, here’s “Carry on up the Gulag: Interview with Seamus Murphy” at Dispatches’ site. Murphy talks a bit about the process of photographing Russia for Dispatches’ issue “On Russia” and shares some stories behind individual pictures. And if you’re in London on Wed., April 29, 2009, at 6:30 p.m., head on over to the Honduras Street Gallery for a conversation between Seamus Murphy and Gary Knight. (both via the Dispatches group on Facebook)
Just got a facebook message from Dispatches about the newest photos and slideshow on the magazine’s site. “East of the Sun,” part of the issue On Russia, is beautiful and strange. I’m not convinced of some of the close-up crops in the video, but the music and editing made me chuckle (in a good way) more than a few times. Beautiful and strange work from Russia by Seamus Murphy.
Unfortunately, it’s a little difficult to find Seamus Murphy’s other work online. There was a little blurb about him over at Rob Haggart’s A Photo Editor blog that started out:
One of my all time favorite photographers has no agent, no website, doesn’t send out promo mailers, no logo, isn’t in any of the sourcebooks, not listed in the free workbook phonebook, has never called to see if I’ve got anything for him and if I hadn’t scoured the web and made a few phone calls years ago I would have no clue how to contact him….”
There’s a little feature at Outside magazine about being in the field with Seamus Murphy in Syria. Granta has some of his work online focusing on soldiers getting ready for deployment. There’s also a small interview at Culture 24. And definitely don’t miss his POYi 62 World Understanding Award portfolio of work from Afghanistan, which is also the subject of what looks to be a great book, “Afghanistan: A Darkness Visible.”
First, the bad news: one of my hometown’s two daily papers, and employer to many friends and colleagues, has closed its print edition this week and is now online only in a venture to create a new model. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer as we knew it was 146 years old.
Best of luck, I really hope you get it right… both for Seattle’s sake but also because it will be a testing ground for what will probably come in many more cities (around the world). But as slate.com’s Jack Shafer points out here they’re not exactly off to a great start, and have a lot to overcome. Also notable: some of the best coverage I’ve read has been from The Stranger’s (Seattle alt-weekly) Eli Sanders at their lively blog The Slog (link to his piece from inside the newsroom on the last day). Really worth checking out this and all his other stories (you’ll have to dig a bit sorry).
Two, my favorite blog (Foreign Policy’s Passport) posted an interesting little photo-related piece about an alleged meeting between Vladimir Putin and Ronald Reagan in 1988, which has a quote/confirmation from new White House chief photographer Pete Souza in his January interview with NPR, who was along on the trip.
Next, to steal M. Scott’s thunder (he sent me the link) the New York Times Sunday Magazine from this past weekend had some pictures from the seemingly missing in action Joachim Ladefoged with an interesting-seeming article about Russian conductor Valery Gergiev and his role in current Russian nationalism. Or so I think, I haven’t had a chance to read the piece yet but I look forward to. I quite like the picture, and neither of us can remember seeing anything new from him since a piece on Iraqi refugees in Syria in the same publication awhile ago. Looks like
his website has been updated too … so have a look (I will as soon as I find a decent internet connection..)
Also I was sent a link to a new piece in the New York Times international section from Moises Saman about Peru’s Cocaine War. The pictures are terrific, especially this one above which closes the story.
Someone just posted about this but thought I’d also share: Medecins Sans Frontieres (Canada) now has a picture blog. Some interesting things to see on my quick glance, including work by Donald Weber.
Lastly, I’ll share a few of my new Bosnia pictures … nothing concrete is together yet, just loosely connected random pictures for now.
Matt sent along a link to these interesting composite images of St. Petersburg/Leningrad made by combining photos from the 1941-44 Leningrad Blockade and contemporary photos of the same locations. There’s a lot to see at englishrussia.com, though if I remember right from when I last looked at the site a few years ago, the posts can sometimes be a little NSFW or come from an odd-feeling gawking perspective. Regardless, these pictures are worth a quick look, as are these archival (noncomposite) photos from the Seige.
The pictures brought to mind a few other projects I’ve seen that fall more clearly under the genre of “Rephotography.” While the photos, the rephotographed ones, aren’t always interesting as pictures in and of themselves, the exercise often produces interesting studies in anthropology and urban design.
Christopher Rauschenberg‘s project “Rephotographing Atget”, in which 1997-8′s Paris is held next to the Paris between 1888 and 1927. The work was collected in a book, “Paris Changing,” published in 2007. On Rauschenberg’s website, he’s also published a gallery of images he feels are in the spirit of Atget’s imagery. Photographer Gerald M. Panter looks to have done just about the same thing. His rephotographs were made a little earlier than Rauschenberg’s, though they haven’t enjoyed the same recognition.
And Douglas Levere has given the “Changing” treatment to Berenice Abbot’s 1930s pictures of New York City. The book “New York Changing” (Amazon)collects his photographs of scenes throughout the city alongside the earlier pictures. The Morning News published a short interview about the project and pictures in 2005.
Another such body of work is David W. Dunlap’s “Then/Now” series, pairing images he took for an illustrated guidebook in 1978 with rephotographs from 2008. Make sure to drag the slider in the middle of the images. Great (and thankfully judicious) use of flash design that. In a similar vein, Damon Winter photographed a project for the the New York Times called “Neighbors” in which he used double exposures to show the diversity of neighborhoods and areas of New York City; not quite rephotography, but close enough.
With the next interview in our ongoing series we’re talking to photographer Donald Weber who is based in Eastern Europe and is with the VII Network. You should quickly see why he and I have connected, given our overlapping interests with a certain part of the world. Many of the questions I asked, frankly, were bent to my own personal interest in what it means to move halfway around the world to photograph stories you’re personally passionate about. I’m sure some of you can relate. But more importantly to most of you, he is producing interesting and important work much on his own terms and is rising his profile, and has had an interesting life so far. And has interesting things to say about what he is doing.
Amongst many accomplishments Weber has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lange-Taylor Prize and a World Press Photo award. He was a 2006 winner of the Photolucida Critical Mass review which just published his book Bastard Eden, Our Chernobyl (which I previously mentioned here). Before becoming a photographer, he worked as an architect with the world-renowned Rem Koolhaas in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. For his full biography have a look at the about page on his website.
What is your background, in interests and academics? Where do you come from?
Well, Canadian, from Toronto, downtown, which may have influenced my outlook. Taking the subway at 12 years old to school everyday definitely gives an impression on a youngster, glad I was able to see what I did. Anyway, my academic background is not so academic, I studied at an alternative high school that offered an intensive arts education, from the age of 16 until graduation in grade 13, I studied art all day everyday. We had four hours of life drawing two days a week – that would be nudes, thus lots of people were jealous of us, plus an 8 hour day of art history and then we would major and minor in two artistic practices. I wanted to be artist, not really sure what that was or how I would do it, but initially that was my goal. I then went on to study at art college, the Ontario College of Art & Design, where I majored in – I forget the complex phrasing of the subject, something like Art and the Environment. Basically, making massive intrusions into the public landscape. Great! But I totally wasted my time, as far as I’m concerned, education is wasted on the young! It was a conflict in my youth of what I wanted to do, how I wanted to do it. I loved the idea of creating something, anything, I didn’t care how as long as I could. Then I had this interest in photography, and in particular photojournalism, which went against all the grains of an artistic education that I was brought up on.
So it was an interesting education, for almost 10 years I was schooled in very sophisticated forms of visual education that certainly influences me to this day. The practicalities may have changed, but the essence of being visual are always the same. Line, shape, form, colour, mood, tone, conceptual processes, etc., are all linked at the very core, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to have had an education that grounded these roots into my young head.
Tell me about your time with architecture.
Well architecture came about rather haphazardly. in order to understand my time within that field, you have to understand first how I ended up there; it’s a rather convoluted process but one that is inherent as to my position today.
Back to my high schooling. As I stated before, I had an interest in both art and photojournalism. My passion, in my final year, was won out with photojournalism. It was in November of that year before graduation where in Canada we make our applications to post secondary institutions. I wanted to apply to two – Rochester Institute of Technology for PJ, and a smaller college just outside of Toronto for a basic three year photography course. I asked my photography (and I quote verbatim the following conversation):
Me: Robert, which school do you think I should apply to? RIT or Sheridan?
Robert (the teacher): What? Why would you apply to either? You suck as a photographer!
Thus, I literally brought my cameras home and put them in a drawer, not to be touched for about 10 years. It was then I decided to find a different path. I replaced photography with ceramics; my mother was not so pleased. Anyway, while studying at OCAD, I developed an interest in architecture, planning and landscape design and was captured by the writings and designs of the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. So, I set my sights on working for him. When I graduated in 1996, I headed overseas to Rotterdam where his practice was based, and promptly got a job, precisely because I was not a trained architect. I worked there for about three years. It was a great experience, but certainly soul crushing. I found architecture to be a rather drab profession and nearly impossible to do anything of interest, save for the exception of Rem Koolhaas and a few others. But I learned about ideas, how to think in a conceptual manner and to find ways to bring those ideas into fruition. It also taught me on more practical levels things about budgeting and planning and just being professional; things I think we take for granted that all go into the realities of being a working photographer.
Anyway, it was not a highlight of my life but I think a necessary step.
What brought you to photography? Was there a specific event that made you say “I am going to be a photographer”?
Yes, very specific event! My whole life has these cascading elements that when all put together certainly illuminate what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I was born in 1973, thus when the events of the late 80′s and early 90′s came around, I was at the ripe age to start taking notice. For me, these were the most historical and important times of my generation. The collapse of communism, the events in Tiananmen Square, the first Iraq War. These were all events that were shaped and played out in magazines and television. I was a teenager and just discovering more than my backyard, it was an awakening physically, mentally, socially, everything, for me. I remember clearly watching hundreds of thousands of Eastern European refugees fleeing their countries for elsewhere, the Wall collapsing, the Ceaucescu’s being executed, Boris Yeltsin on top of a tank. All these events were seared into my mind, and those events shaped what I wanted to do with my life. I had always been aware of news images, but never before did I connect that somebody actually went out there and made those pictures until I was older. It was a massive lightbulb that went off and I wanted to be a part of it.
Anyway, that was event number one. The second event was my diversion to architecture for awhile; I listened to closely what my high school teacher had to say; never again! Anyway, it was while I was living in Europe that I remembered what photography was all about. I wanted to remember living in Europe, so I bought a camera – it was great! I couldn’t put it down, all I did was take photos. Crappy, but they were photos. It was then that I said okay – I’m going to be a photographer – but how was a much more difficult question. It wasn’t until March of 2000, a few days before I was to leave on a year long trip to ride my motorcycle across Africa (something I had previously done in 1998) where the jump was finally made. I had just quit my job as an architect, not really knowing what to do. I was taking the bike out for one last tune up spin when I got hit by a car. I just remember sliding across the hood of some old Chevy, sliding on my back seeing my crumpled bike and thinking, okay, now’s the time to be a photographer. So I never did the bike trip to Africa; I “became” a photographer. That summer I got an internship at the Toronto Sun, a tabloid.
What were your early interests as a photographer? Influences?
I don’t really know, for me it was such a long battle to finally start taking pictures that influences and interests were a secondary thought! But, as a teenager, photojournalism was a very powerful force in me. I remember Kenneth Jarecke’s burned Iraqi soldier from the first Iraq War, Chris Morris’ Panama photos, Don McCullin – it was important because what they were photographing was important – and that was important to me! So I’d say my interests were in the realm that photography could act as a document; the total opposite of my art education. to me art had become superfluous, something dilettantes dabbled in; it had lost it’s meaning. Photography was the opposite. As I grew, my more literal influences was the photographer Raymond Depardon, still is. To me he has managed to encapsulate perfectly what a photographer is and should be. Bridge influences and ideas from all facets and present them in his own manner. That is something I strive to do, to take what I see but also to take what I feel and make my own story of it.
My interests are always morphing; there was a time when I thought Chris Morris could do no wrong (still do). But my art training definitely influenced me in the way I see; not what I see, but how I interpret that. I used to really enjoy the old masters and specifically religious paintings of the 15 – 17 centuries. So much blood, red, white, gold, colour, pain; totally terrified me.
Read on »
S novom godom, dorogie druzia….
I was feeling in the mood for some holiday music and found some of my favorite Russian songs on youtube. They’re from the Soviet-era farce “Ironiya Sudby, ili S Legkim Parom” (literally, “The Irony of Fate, or Here’s to Your Easy Steam” but maybe better as “The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath”). The movie’s as ubiquitous and beloved in Russia as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (Youtube 1, 2, 3) is in the US, though the movie focuses on the New Year holiday rather than Christmas.
The songs and movie are funny, poignant, whimsical, and just a bit subversive. The captions in the video are okay, but not great. Here’s a better translation of the first song, “Esli u vas netu teti,” which starts out “If you have no home/It won’t be set on fire.”
The main plot, an irreverent love story, is made possible only because Soviet development is so undramatic and ordinary as to render St. Petersburg and Moscow identical and interchangeable. A Muscovite man stumbles home drunk, not realizing he’d traveled from Moscow to St. Petersburg. He walks down what he thinks is his street, enters “his” apartment building, uses his key to open “his” apartment which has only slightly different layout furnishings, and is awoken from his stupor when the apartment’s female owner comes out to investigate the noise. Romantic comedy ensues. Here’s a small New York Times review and the IMDB entry. Watch out for the 2007 remake/sequel of the movie; I haven’t seen it but have heard it’s not very good. There’s a reason the original is played and replayed each year…
Been in a little funk over the weekend after hearing that I didn’t get an important grant from my university that was to fund my Russia story.. there are other paths and I’m pursuing them vigorously but this was a bummer. Spent much of the last few days reading, looking, listening and thinking and, since I haven’t come up with a big post to write from any of them, I’ll have to dump on you another massive link roundup. Lots of interesting things and terrific photographs, hope something suits your fancy if you’re looking for a little education or entertainment.
I’ve had a borrowed copy of Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde on my desk for a few weeks and I just found time to read through. Fucking brilliant, and utterly heartbreaking. If you’re not familiar, it is a illustrated piece of journalism .. war journalism in ‘comic book’ form. Brought me right back to all of the people I know and the things I’ve seen in Bosnia .. Gilles Peress had it right, first, with the sentiment behind his book “Farewell to Bosnia”. Gone, gone was the idea of a true multi-ethnic Bosnia. And this isn’t something that has gone away, warns Richard Holbrooke in the Guardian. I’ll be delving into this deeply when I’m back over there.. (also, reading this inspired me to go find my copy of Eugene Richard’s The Fat Baby.. which has a story I haven’t seen anywhere else about his trip to a Serb war hospital in Bosnia in 1995.. if you have the book go look and read.)
Got up this yesterday morning and found a particularly interesting post by Kevin German on his blog Wandering Light, featuring a new body of work he is starting on mental illness in Vietnam. I think it is a tremendous start of a story with beautiful photographs .. well worth a look. Very interesting timing, too, as I saw Friday for the first time Eugene Richards’ new book A Procession of Them at the bookstore. An important topic and I admire these photographers for pursuing this difficult story .. I spent an hour in an institution in Kosovo this past June (one that Richards covered much better in his own book) and it was a draining situation.. hats off to these men.
I know that at least a few of you out there are interested in the Balkans like me, and I’ve got to recommend a story in Vanity Fair about Ramush Haradinaj, “House of War”. A remarkably well done piece about this man, who is a former KLA general and PM of Kosovo and an acquitted war criminal. Plenty of background about the war in the West of Kosovo too.
I’ve mentioned Jason Eskenazi and his new book Wonderland a couple of times now (1, 2), and last week NPR published an interview with him, and you can listen online. Eugene Richards even pops up to give some nice commentary. Seems like everyone is noticing and writing about this book these days, also see the write-up on The Fader’s website.
Here is an interesting (if slightly formulaic) article from the Washington Post (signin might be required .. try bugmenot.com if you need one) about Barack Obama’s transition from ‘normal guy’ to President. “Much to His Chagrin, ‘Plain Old Barack Is Gone’”. Odd picture of a scary secret service guy, but otherwise I enjoyed this peek into the transition.
From the wonderful Wooster Collective blog: Old photo-street art, and Michael Rakowitz’s ParaSites, inflatable shelters for the homeless, and an example (with Gaia) of Wooster’s revived and terrific “The A’s to our Q’s” series. Beyond cool art, they’re great little interviews .. inspiration for our series here on Dva too.
I have no idea what kind of reputation the magazine MONOCLE has, I only ran into it while traveling through Heathrow some months ago. Beyond way too expensive items recommended, there is a terrific design and feel to the mag. I’m curious to know more about it.. (chime in please if you know something). On their website I just saw a nifty little video-story about “New designs on diplomacy”, the process behind designing new embassies (in this case UK and Norway) in stressed locales. Quite interesting.
For anyone out there who is still wanting to wallow in the Digital Railroad mess, here is a lengthy piece (which I admit I haven’t read completely) by Photoshelter CEO Allen Murabayashi: “What Happened to Digital Railroad?”.
I can’t remember where I first saw G.M.B. Akash’s work from Bangladesh, but I was reminded again when he wrote on Lighstalkers that he won the 2008 Kindernothilfe Media Award in Germany for a story on Child Labor. See the story, which includes this World Press winning picture, on his website.
11th Annual Postcards From the Edge: A Benefit for Visual AIDS seems like a very interesting opportunity to donate a small piece of work for a good cause. Check it out.
More music (video): “Create Your Own Rainbow”, a chance to mix your own version of Radiohead’s “15 Step” off of In Rainbows via a crazy interface and 12 camera angles. I don’t have enough bandwidth where I’m at, apparently, to make it run smoothly but maybe you’ll have more luck.
Lastly, Colberg at Conscientious writes On photography collectives. In short, he is ‘pro’ photographers working together and can’t figure out why there aren’t more Congrats again to Luceo for being ahead of the curve.
We’re working a lot of interesting things for the coming weeks, some more interviews and I’ll have more to chat about my near-term plans for a marketing trip to New York and the move to Belgrade. Stay tuned!
One of our next interviews here at DVA will be with Canadian photographer Donald Weber who currently bases himself between Kiev and Moscow. His recent accolades include the PDN 30, a Lange-Taylor Prize, a World Press Photo award and a Guggenheim Fellowship for his work in Russia. Before becoming a photographer, he worked with architect Rem Koolhaas in The Netherlands.
As I promised yesterday, I wanted to open up DVA to more collaboration. What are you interested in hearing Don Weber speak about? He is producing very interesting and increasingly noticed work, both on assignment or of his own design, and has received important and prestigious grants to fund his projects (a struggle you see Scott and I writing about regularly). Post your questions in the comments or if you would like to remain anonymous feel free to email me, and we’ll be sure to use some in our interview. Stay tuned, this should be a good one.
My electronic ‘friends’ at amazon.com recently gave me a ‘personal recommendation’ for a new Antonin Kratochvil book: Moscow Nights. I hadn’t heard any updates about this in awhile, so thanks for letting me know it is now available for pre-order. I do wonder about it saying ‘Moskow’ on the cover though.
I remember seeing this story when it came out, I think in Vanity Fair. Have a look over at the VII website: Moscow Nights. I remember reading then that it would turn in to a book, sounds like it finally happened. Cool project, can’t wait to see the book and hopefully add it to my collection (I have three others from AK).
Someday maybe we can get M. Scott to share some of his Antonin stories. For those who don’t know him or his work, he’s an amazing, larger than life figure in photography. A living legend and utterly unique. And there is the reputation to go along with it. I only met him once at a VII event in New York but he has been an archetype for me since.. for one, just look at him. I doubt any photographer wears the scarf better.
Just came across the work of Rob Hornstra, whose doing some great work in the former Soviet Union. His site’s a little weird to navigate, but click on “Portfolio” on the top of the page. I’ve only looked through 101 Billionaires 2008 and Georgian-Abkhaz conflict 2007, but I love it. Hyperrealist color, presented simply and straightforwardly. It’s detached and thoughtful. Really great, I think, but maybe a bit too artsy for some. Found via Conscientious.