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© Bill Miller

Less than two miles long, the Gowanus Canal nips through Red Hook and Park Slope in New York's borough of Brooklyn, and was once a hub of water-based activity and a good spot for clamming. Fast forward to the 21st century and here is what Bill Miller found instead. "Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal is one of America's most polluted waterways. More than a century of unfettered industrial abuse was followed by decades of bungled attempts to clean it up. Its contaminated waters hold the evidence of its history. It is murky and clouded over but if you look closely you can see life and light reflected in the mercury, feces and coal tar that drift in the canal like malevolent clouds. There's a lot of mistaken perspectives, like the confusion of looking down to see the sun. I'm trying to wade, visually, into the space between water, shit and the sky."

View the full-screen magazine photo feature.
Magazine | Permalink |


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Mies van der Rohe, 1962, © Yousuf Karsh

This portrait of Mies van der Rohe was made during the first photo shoot that the newly-married Estrellita Karsh attended, in 1962. She talks about how she watched Mr. Karsh take the "imposing buddha in a wheelchair" to a corner in the architect's Bauhaus home for a quiet conversation, seeing a relationship develop, as if "a doctor with a patient." Mrs Karsh tells this story in an article for French magazine 'Beaux-Arts,' to be published in conjunction with a major exhibition at the Mona Bismarck American Center for art and culture, in October.

"The exhibition at the Mona Bismarck American Center for art & culture will reunite approximately seventy of the photographer's most striking portraits of French and American dignitaries and luminaries, juxtaposing Frank Lloyd Wright with Le Corbusier, for example, and Charles de Gaulle with Dwight Eisenhower. Original photographs will be presented alongside archival material from the dozens of Life and Paris-Match covers that Karsh captured, marking the transformation of his intimate portraits into public icons."

Then in November, we'll be at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC!

"In celebration of a major gift to its collection of more than 100 portraits created by renowned photographer Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002), the National Portrait Gallery will present the exhibition Yousuf Karsh: American Portraits. Opening November 1, 2013, this exhibition will feature iconic photographs of Americans who have distinguished themselves in fields as diverse as business, medicine, entertainment, politics, and the arts. Among the portraits to be included will be those of artist Georgia O'Keeffe, physician and virologist Jonas Salk, singer Marian Anderson, actress Grace Kelly, businesswoman Elizabeth Arden, architect I.M. Pei, and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Yousuf Karsh: American Portraits will be the museum's first exhibition devoted entirely to the work of this internationally recognized portrait photographer."
Karsh | Permalink |


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© Masha Ermak

I had the great pleasure of being invited to New York's School of Visual Arts Master of Professional Studies in Digital Photography thesis review, where, among other interesting youngsters, I met Masha Ermak and was taken with her project, 'Strangers.'

"This project started out with food photography. One day, I was photographing a raw, plucked chicken carcass, and it reminded me of a naked human figure. So, I took off my clothes and got into the picture, contorting myself to mimic the shape of the chicken. I then playfully discovered how to put my body into abstract, often uncomfortable positions, to develop new creatures or 'strangers.'

"In this work, I want to go against the grain of the artistic and social conventions that tell us the human body is beautiful and graceful. This is also why I maintained the soft, all-revealing light that I was using for my still life images, and why I made the pictures as sharp as possible. Too often, photography flatters the human figure for no good reason other than to make us feel better about ourselves. In this project, I wish viewers to see human body in a new way."

View the full-screen magazine photo feature.
Magazine | Permalink |


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Photo by Girdhari
 
'Life through the Lens' Participatory Photography Project is organised by the UK registered charity Basti Ram which is looking for support through camera and SD card donations, among other things. 

"The project was developed to give young people from a developing country the chance to show their lives to the world in an honest and uplifting way. Too often we see 'poor' people's lives through the eyes of Western photographers who, even with the best of intentions, are often biased in the way they see. Too often, poverty looks hopeless and defeated. This project aims to offer a new perspective. It strives to demonstrate that young people living in deprived circumstances (in this case, boys from the Boys Destitute Home in Rajasthan, India); can have strength and passion for their surroundings and their lives. In the images the boys create, they depict their own lives and interests, and enhance them with their own written observations.

Basti Ram exists to help these communities realise their own potential, and to enable ordinary people to do extraordinary things. By mentoring the boys through the basics of photography, the self-funded volunteers who join this project offer the foundation for a new skill set. Such new skills can provide a genuine alternative to the hazardous occupations many boys face once they are 18, such as mining in local marble mines. With an alternative set of skills and a good command of the English language, the boys are now in a much more favourable position to find work in the booming local tourist industry."

Got anything to spare

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Photo by Amit

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Photo by Partap
News | Permalink |



Since 2009, Douglas Ljungkvist has been photographing the Ocean Beach neighborhood of New York's Fire Island, before and after hurricane Sandy. Long story short, Doug is compiling his impressive photographs into a book and his fundraiser is in the final throes. Chip in, so I can get my copy!

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"This project is study of a unique place in the American landscape that appeals to my vernacular taste and sense of style and order. As a photographer I am interested in the cottages still showing signs of a bygone era when wood paneling, vibrant colors, and kitsch decorations were the order of the day. I always felt it was a race against time to visually preserve the cottages. That was based on the rapid pace of cottages being renovated and modernized to attract more potential vacationers on the competitive rental market. 

But instead it was nature that pushed me to continue the project after I thought it was completed, due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012. Once access was restored to the barrier island in early 2013 I resumed photographing extensively with a focus on the cottages facing the ocean and hardest hit. Since then 35 of the 39 ocean-facing cottages have been demolished. Hundreds more will need to be gutted or demolished due to the damage from standing water when the ocean and bay waters met."

Read about the history of Ocean Beach over on Doug's Kickstarter page whilst you browse which reward you're going to spring for...

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All images © Douglas Ljunkvist
Photographers | Permalink |



© Klaus Pichler

Klaus Pichler's photographs from 'Skeletons in the Closet,' his project made in the Museum of Natural History, Vienna, from 2008 - 2011, are entertaining and at times baffling. He got the idea to gain access to the storage areas after he caught a glimpse into the museum's basement one night where he saw "an office with a desk, a computer, shelves and a stuffed antelope."  

Klaus has now self-published a limited edition book of the work. Every page is a winner and I love its format: small, square, utilitarian grey cardboard cover, but with a round window and a bear peeping through. Just €35! 

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All images © Klaus Pichler

Be sure to check out Klaus' other work, not least of all 'One Third,' about food waste, and 'Dust,' which turns collections of fluff into beautiful still life photos.

Also check out Klaus' early aCurator feature, 'Middle Class Utopia.'
Books | Permalink |


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© Pezhman Zahed

Pezhman Zahed is an Iranian-born, UK-based artist who recently graduated with a BA in photography from Brighton University. "My practice incorporates economic data and examines the possibility of translating non-visual data into visual forms."

Pezhman describes his engrossing, ambitious project: "Growing anti-western sentiment stemmed from five decades of struggle with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the reluctant involvement in two world wars, followed by a plot to topple the most popular government in Iranian contemporary history, resulting in the 1979 Islamic Revolution."    

"The photographs demonstrate excited fluids under the effect of sound waves with particular frequencies. The figures used to generate the frequencies correspond to the company's net profits, royalties to Iran and (if applicable) British taxes, in nine most critical years of the company's 42-year long activity in Iran prior to the nationalization. Accompanying the photographs are excerpts from declassified documents and found images related to the events immediately before and after Operation Ajax (the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, in a CIA/MI6-backed coup d'état in 1953)."

View the full-screen magazine photo feature.
Magazine | Permalink |


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Bengie inside the candy store © Bruce Davidson, courtesy Seven Stories Press

"Bobby's Book," (Seven Stories Press, 2012) is about the life of Bob Powers (aka Bengie), a skinny, asthmatic kid born into a large Irish family in Brooklyn in the early 1940s. Bob tells his graphic tales of growing up dirt poor to alcoholic parents; about the Catholic school that overlooked him; becoming a drug addict; marriages, kids; making millions from meth, hitting the bottom and climbing up clean to become a drugs counselor. 

Bruce Davidson met Bob and his gang in 1959 and began photographing them where they hung out making major trouble in South Brooklyn. Forty years after Davidson finished that project, he received a phone call from Powers, and ultimately, over the next ten years, Powers told his story to Bruce's wife, the adorable and brilliant Emily Haas Davidson. 

This book is an easy and extremely engaging read (I knocked it off in a couple of hours) even if the subject matter is sometimes tough going. Bob's redemption in his own eyes, and of those family members willing to forgive him, however, is entirely uplifting and in a perfect ending, his ability to help others escape their own entrapment is truly heartening.

Bruce Davidson is, well, Bruce Davidson.

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Bengie combing his hair outside the candy store

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Under the boardwalk at Bay Twenty-two. Left to right: Norman, Junior, Willie, Henry

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On the beach at Coney Island

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Bengie in "the hole" at Eighteenth Street and Eighth Avenue

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Bengie's mother, Mary "May," across from the Holy Name church on Prospect Avenue

All images © Bruce Davidson, courtesy of Seven Stories Press.
Books | Permalink |


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'Fifi' smokes an argileh water pipe at a cafe in St. Paul, MN, 2012. "I talk a lot when I smoke, but it's fun to do when we girls get together." Many parents don't approve of their daughters going out, but they find ways around the rules. © Alex Potter

Alex Potter is a young photojournalist from the Midwest living in the Middle East. She is currently based between Lebanon and Yemen.

According to her bio: Alex began her career in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes. After growing restless with her nursing job, Alex picked up to document post-revolution Yemen, a land with zero lakes, but plenty of mountains to climb. In 2012, she was selected as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, and moved to Lebanon. 

Though she didn't study photography, Alex has attended the NYTimes Lens Review, Eddie Adams Workshop, and a VII Masterclass, which were much more beneficial than your average classroom. Since 2012 she has been chosen for the Chris Hondros Student Fellowship, Lucie Foundation Emerging Scholarship (2012, 2013), PDN Photo Annual, and American Photography 29, among others.

"Since the start of the war in Somalia, thousands of refugees have settled into bordering and western nations, part of the ever-growing Somali diaspora. One of these largest communities is in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This mid-sized city of 400,000 in the Midwest is home to an estimated 40,000 Somalis. It has been over twenty years since the first refugees arrived. Many were children at the time, now grown into a new generation of young adults, faced with the task of balancing tradition with transformation, heritage and a new identity.  

The community has faced many struggles: recruitment of young men to al Shabab, gang violence, and prejudice of a mid-sized city in the Midwest. Yet through it all, the youth have thrived, and the community is revitalized. They are mentors, artists, poets, and community leaders. Though their stories are different, their message is clear and united - Hanoolaato (Long Live) Somalia."

View the full screen magazine photo feature on Somalis in Minnesota.

Here's a bonus, a sample from Alex's work in Yemen:

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© Alex Potter

Yemeni women spray graffiti on barrier walls leading to the Presidential Palace, demanding the former president be brought to justice, Sana'a, Yemen, 24 December, 2012. The Arabic eventually reads, ليعدم عفاش, meaning "Afash (Saleh's nickname) to be executed"
Magazine | Permalink |



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© Adam Krause

An aCurator favourite, photographer Adam Krause sent in these photos of Brooklyn's Market Hotel and some of its residents.

"The Market Hotel opened in 2008 in Bushwick Brooklyn as a venue for punk rock shows and loft style living for about a dozen. Both activities being done illegally due to a lack of permits and incorrect zoning. The owner recently decided to make it a legal venue and continue to play punk rock shows, but in order to get the building to code, its current residents must move out. These are portraits and interiors of the residents during the final days of the Market Hotel." 

Thanks Adam! I love the collages!




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All images © Adam Krause
Photographers | Permalink |



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