Friday, September 22, 2017: Photoville
Last Sunday, I spent the afternoon at Photoville, a nine-day annual photography festival that takes place in New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge Park and numbers more than 60 photographic exhibits, most housed in shipping containers stacked two layers high. It’s a lot of visual imagery and storytelling to absorb in just a few hours so I quickly surrendered to getting a contact high via quick ins-and-outs at the booths, and interspersing slightly longer visits with picture taking of my own.
Below are links to some of the work that deeply touched me or made a strong impression:
STATIONS OF THE CROSSING | Kevin German, Matt Slaby
Immigration along the southern U.S. border is seen from an entirely new perspective that uses traditional Christian iconography to dramatize the immigrant experience. It’s one thing to label those who make this dangerous journey illegal aliens, another to imbue their suffering and sacrifice with the nobility and universality of their aspirations. Imagine how different the national immigration debate would be if pictures like the one below accompanied the headlines:
FINDING HOME | Lynsey Addario, Aryn Baker, Francesca Trianni
This ongoing Time magazine project follows three refugee families with newborns struggling with uncertain futures while at the mercy of overcrowded camps in Greece and a dispassionate asylum process. What can the parents offer a child who has just come into this world? A movie trailer shown at Photoville presents the gravity of their circumstances in stark relief.
A CLIMATE FOR CONFLICT | Nichole Sobecki
I photographed Nichole thinking she was just another visitor taking a break outside a container exhibition. Unsure if she was OK with having her picture taken, I showed her what I had done. Only then did I discover she was an American photojournalist based in Nairobi and that her work was on display just inside the door.
I have the utmost admiration for the courage and artistry of photographers like her who forgo lives of comfort to cover stories that would otherwise be ignored. Her film, A Climate for Conflict, shows how drought and other Ethiopian environmental issues have resulted in widespread famine and new recruits for terrorism. As tragic as its subject is, the story is beautifully told with great sensitivity and power. Be sure to check out another of Nichole’s films at the same link, Child, Bride, Mother: Nigeria.
SHADOWS OF PAKISTAN | Alice Wielinga
This Dutch photographer has become known for her intricate photomontages, and cultural interpretations that are a seamless blend of art and photography. Shadows of Pakistan, combining Islamic medieval miniature paintings with contemporary images of Pakistani scenes and citizens, was my introduction to her work. By infusing the present with centuries past, Wielinda creates a new reality rich with the depth and complexity of human experience.
PHOTO REQUESTS FROM SOLITARY | New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement and Solitary Watch
This project is based on collaborations between convicts in long-term solitary confinement and individual photographers who create images based on requests that the prisoners make. As one might expect, the photographs cover a wide range of subject matter, reflecting the needs and desires of human beings deprived of minimal social contact.
SCENES FROM PHOTOVILLE
(Click on images to enlarge.)
What a way to spend a day. I’ll need more time to pour over some of these links in depth but I’m sure this was a great experience. I should add your photos are excellent as well.
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Thanks Ken. If you need any excuse to get down to the Big Apple, Photoville might be it. I should point out though that it’s very heavily weighted to social documentary photography, not the kind of work that either of us do.
Thanks, Alan, for sharing your afternoon at Photoville. Your eloquence in describing your encounters – in words and images – is deeply touching.
So glad you were moved by this post. Photoville is definitely your cup of tea . . . or glass of coffee soda.
Even this post is likely to be too much to digest…but first, you made me laugh with your contact high! Then you moved on to the serious. I’ll have to look into the links, that will take a little time…
I like the 3 shots in the dimly lit corridor, the 2 behind the scenes (ladders & woman with child) and my favorite is the middle-ish B&W cityscape with the booths. You must have gone home exhausted!
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Thank you Lynn. It was indeed exhausting, though easy to ignore, given the energy of Photoville.
That middle shot, with the mammoth apartment building going up in the background and the people like ants in the foreground, is also a favorite of mine. I wish I could remember a particular well-known photo that shows a similar relationship between humans and the environment but it doesn’t come to me. Any nominations?
Glad you liked the photo of the woman and child whose title, Pottyville, is among several that never made it into print for reasons I don’t begin to understand. That will give you a clue, if it isn’t already apparent, as to what was going on in the picture. I actually missed a more decisive moment but I was worried that I might be arrested for engaging in child pornography if anyone saw what I was doing :)
I can’t think of the photo you’re thinking of. My brain’s store of famous photographs/photographers isn’t very comprehensive. As for the woman behind the storage sheds, there was NO DOUBT in my mind about what she was doing – I’ve been there! ;-) Are you saying you had that title with the image but it disappeared, as in censorship? Huh?
You’re wise to miss certain decisive moments. We have to be careful, especially if you’re a guy, in certain situations. I’m glad you’re not in a legal mess… ;-)
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Not censorship, just an odd WordPress anomaly that sometimes neglects to include titles with my images.
Missing the decisive moment had more to do with the camera’s slight shutter delay and my own hesitancy about what people would think if they saw what I was doing. In the end, I couldn’t resist the opportunity so I snapped a picture. Given how far away I was and the angle, anything I captured would have been completely devoid of prurient interest. That’s why I was ultimately comfortable with my choice.
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