Tagged: photographer

Art Beat: Trans-Meat

Jumping rope may seem like a universal activity, but each culture puts their own unique spin on the game. In photographer Maria Escudero’s native Ecuador, girls jumping rope shout out the many roles a woman can play in the course of her life: “monja, viuda, soltera, casada, enamorada, estudiante! (nun, widow, single, married, girlfriend, divorced, student!)” At surface level, the rhymes may seem simple, but they reveal a lot about gender roles and stereotypes.

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Image courtesy of Maria Escudero

Trans-Meat, a collaboration between Escudero and her artistic partner, Sam Brown, aims to question the rigidity of these roles. Dressed in drag, Brown appears shopping for Ritz crackers in a bodega, hawking meat in traffic, and frolicking in a playground. Each photograph draws from women’s traditional roles and asks the question: what does it mean to be an Ecuadorian woman? Are the boundaries that contain these roles rigid or fluid? What are the implications of a white, American, gender non-conforming man dressed in drag being photographed by a mestiza, Ecuadorian, heterosexual woman?

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Image courtesy of Maria Escudero

Over the course of the project, Escudero and Brown met with sex workers, local business owners, and Catholic grandmothers to learn about their perspectives and ask for permission to step into their worlds. The resulting images feel intimate to the point of intrusion. While the photographs snapped in public reveal a glimpse at onlookers’ feelings, the series that take place behind closed doors capture private and personal moments. The project’s title comes from the word “transmeate,” or “to cross over.” Its meaning goes beyond the literal interpretation of using drag to perform gender; the viewer is able to cross from the public to the private with the click of a shutter.

transmeat3Image courtesy of Maria Escudero

 

Escudero and Brown completed the initial collection in 2014, but this month the pair returned to Quito earlier this month to generate large format prints and exhibit them at Arte Actual. Congratulations!

Dame of the Day: Uldus Bakhtiozina

Uldus BakhtiozinaToday’s Dame of the Day is Uldus Bakhtiozina (July 22, 1986-). Born in Russia during the dissolution of the USSR, Bakhtiozina left home at 21 to travel across Asia and later settle in London. As she studied photography at Central Saint Martins, she felt a pull to return to her home country. Today, Bakhtiozina’s magical photographs question Russia’s cultural norms and depict the challenges young Russians face today.

Dame of the Day: Lorna Simpson

Lorna Simpson

Today’s Dame of the Day is Lorna Simpson (1960-). As a photographer, Simpson began her career exploring street photography. Her works frequently juxtaposed anonymous images of women with text that critiqued racism in America. Later on, Simpson experimented with video as a way to highlight relationships and imbalances of power. In 2002, Simpson became the first black woman to exhibit work at the Venice Biennial.

Dame of the Day: Uta Barth

Uta BarthToday’s Dame of the Day is Uta Barth (1958-). Barth left her native Germany to attend college in California and never left. As a photographer, her work explores the gap between reality and how the camera records it. In 2012, Barth won a MacArthur Fellowship.

Dame of the Day: An-My Lê

An-My Lê

Today’s Dame of the Day is An-My Lê (1960-). Growing up in Vietnam, war impacted Lê’s life from an early age. Through her photographic work, she aims to unpack war’s complex impact on both people and places. In series like “Small Wars” and “29 Palms,” Lê positions staged wartime activity against real life backgrounds to illustrate the disconnect between her own memories of Saigon and the modern, traceless landscape. In 2012, An-My Lê won a MacArthur Fellowship.

Dame of the Day: Lynsey Addario

Lynsey Addario, İstanbul Turkey, 17.10.2009

Today’s Dame of the Day is Lynsey Addario (1973-). As a photojournalist, Addario began her career at the Buenos Aires Herald and later transitioned into a freelancer documenting Cuban society. Most recently, she shifted her focus to the Middle East covering the Taliban’s rule of Afghanistan. In 2011, she was taken prisoner by the Libyan Army and held in captivity for eight months. Her work is both raw and powerful, qualities that earned her a MacArthur Fellowship in 2009.

Schoolin’ Life: Aurora Reinhard

For today’s Schoolin’ Life, we check in with the inventive artist Aurora Reinhard.  If you haven’t seen her photographs and video, now is the time.

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What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

I must say I don’t remember… to survive as a full-time visual artist?

 

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I don’t remember.

 

What was your first job like?

After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, Finland, I landed a summer job as a photographer at the national women’s magazine. Without any editorial experience, it was a hard summer but I learned a lot.

 

What was your first apartment like?

I consider my first apartment the studio I bought last year. I fully renovated it according to my dreams (the affordable ones, anyway). It’s a cozy 5th floor apartment in a lively suburb; I’m a 15 minute train ride from the city center of Helsinki. It has a balcony and a bath tub, which were both musts for me. Ever since I was very young, I dreamed of buying my own place.

 

Did you experience any big life changes?

Things just seem to be slowly morphing, and suddenly you realize you’ve traveled a quite long way from that young girl who started studying in 1995. I thought that when I graduated, I would be doing my art and living off social benefits; yet it happened that I supported myself ever since graduation, which is amazing to think about. (It might be hard to understand for a U.S citizen but this is, or used to be, a social democratic society)

 

In what ways did your friendships change?

I value them more, since I realized that true friendships can not be taken for granted.

 

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

I learned so much; another person can be a window to another reality.

 

What was your biggest disappointment and how did that affect you later?

When I understood my limitations as an artist, that was a huge disappointment. But I’ve grown to accept myself for who I am. I’m trying to take advantage of the strengths in my character and compensate for the weaknesses.

 

Who was your biggest influence and why?

I guess there were many artists that impacted my work. But in the beginning of my studies, I learned about the Finnish artist Teemu Mäki and I must say that he was a big influence. I felt really strongly when I saw his work and I realized that that’s how it should be. I realized I wanted to create works that create a strong emotion, not just a lame “nice”.

 

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you?

It was the moment when you realize that all you got is your bare hands and you have to settle with them, make your own life and forget about your past, childhood traumas, etc. You cannot blame anyone else for your own mistakes.

 

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

I think one cannot regret anything. If something wasn’t a triumph, I try to think what I learned from it.

Dame of the Day: Dorothea Lange

Dorthea Lange

Today’s Dame of the Day is Dorthea Lange (May 26, 1895-October 11, 1965). While Lange started her photography career as a studio portrait artist, she became known for her documentation of San Francisco’s homeless population.  Commissioned by the Farm Security Administration, Lange traversed the United States during the Great Depression and documented the poverty she witnessed in rural areas. During World War II, she photographed the internment of Japanese-Americans in camps; many of these photos were so critical of the military that they remained classified for decades. Lange’s work shaped the history of documentary photography and remains an important touchstone in the field.

Words + Images: Uldus Bakhtiozina

This year, I want to strike an equal balance between digging deep and paying attention to difficult women’s issues and celebrating the awesome things women do. Today, it’s time to celebrate as we take a look at Russian photographer Uldus Bakhtiozina and her impressive photo collections.

Born and raised in Saint Petersburg, Bakhtiozina studied at Central Saint Martins in London and traveled across Asia before returning to Moscow to work. Through intense collaborations, Bakhtiozina incorporates her models’ thoughts and opinions into her work while performing much of the makeup, styling and staging herself. In 2014, she became the first Russian speaker at the TED conference. Take a look as she discusses her early career and her most recent collections. 

Through Bakhtiozina’s work, she forces viewers to do a double take as she conjures and challenges stereotypes. For her Desperate Romantics series, she photographs Russians in their native country in poses that reflect their personal hopes and dreams. In one image, a broad-shouldered man with a bristly mustache sports a collar made of naked Barbie dolls; a Hulk action figure lurks in the background just out of focus. In another, a woman dressed in wedding garb sits beside a man old enough to be her father; her face is covered by a plastic baby mask. Bakhtiozina’s self-portrait places the artist, sporting a Wonder Woman-inspired outfit, in front of a bombed out building with telephone wire precariously dangling overhead. By her side, a duffle bag painted with the American flag dares her to pack up and leave. While her aesthetic may seem playful on the surface, her cheeky juxtapositions call into questions the country’s broader issues of homophobia, teen marriage, and society’s reluctance to accept non-conformists.

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Photograph courtesy of Uldus Bakhtiozina

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Photograph courtesy of Uldus Bakhtiozina

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Photograph courtesy of Uldus Bakhtiozina

Bakhtiozina’s Skazki series pulls from traditional Russian fairy tales to explore the transformation of women from unmarried girls to brides. According to Bakhtiozina, term “red beauty” used to refer to unmarried Slavic girls. In her photographs, her subjects sport traditional headdresses and costumes; the gold represents marriage while red represents freedom. Her haunting imagery creates a visual bridge between past and future that is difficult to remove from your memory.

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Photograph courtesy of Uldus Bakhtiozina

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Photograph courtesy of Uldus Bakhtiozina

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Photograph courtesy of Uldus Bakhtiozina

Flip through her site to view the full collection and follow her on social media to stay current.

Time To Hit The Road

Last Thursday, I attended the opening of “Time to Hit the Road,” a final show at Leila Heller Gallery displaying projects generated by the Land Art Road Trip artist residency. Founders Alexander Gerson and Matteo Zevi describe the show as “a collection of creative responses to a shared experience.” Sponsored by Kickstarter funds, Land Art’s two and three week trips took place in September 2013, July 2014, and August 2014. No two routes were alike; some snaked through Texas and New Mexico while others focused on Nevada and Utah. Stops included Marfa, Texas, Utah’s Spiral Jetty, Nevada’s Black Rock City, Arizona’s Grand Canyon, and California’s Death Valley.

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Photo by Sarah Mendelsohn, courtesy of HYG

While most of the participants hailed from New York with Gerson and Zevi, recruits also represented New Zealand, Switerzland, the UK, Brazil, Monaco, Ireland, France, Portugal, Austria, Latvia, and South Africa. With so many personalities and backgrounds, ground rules were necessary. The initial overview stressed the importance of self-reliance, resilience, and preparation; hand-holding was not an option. Instead, participants were expected to resolve conflicts themselves, adjust to their surroundings, and respond to the new environment accordingly.

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Photo by Sarah Mendelsohn, courtesy of HYG

Working in a new environment posed novel challenges for some artists. In the show’s brochure, painter Chris Willcox explained that the dry air combined with heat and direct light significantly decreased the time he could leave his paint open; to compensate, he adjusted his process. Tamsin Relly added that drawing in a car poses many challenges, mainly that it’s difficult to draw smooth and continuous lines. The unpredictable nature of the environment combined with inherent limitations of a nomadic lifestyle forced the artists to address these factors in their work.

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Photo by Sarah Mendelsohn, courtesy of HYG

I first heard about the project as an editor; as Senior Editor of Promote and Preserve, one of Sarah Mendelsohn’s posts popped up in my queue. From the first installment, I was hooked: there’s something about the Southwest that, from an East coast perspective, just feels so open and magical. On the eastern seaboard, space is at a premium and cities are dense; in New York, it’s incredibly difficult to be alone, never mind go for hours without seeing another person. Just reading her posts and seeing her photographs inspired me to break out of my routine and explore a new part of my neighborhood. While that brief sojourn was a quick fix, I still yearn for an adventure sometime soon that rips me completely from my comfort zone. In completely new situations, it’s impossible to cling to old routines; as you reprogram yourself to fit your new surroundings, it’s amazing the new thoughts and connections that start bubbling in your brain.

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Photo by Sarah Mendelsohn, courtesy of HYG

In addition to the sheer beauty of the trip, I was in awe of the guts it takes to embark on such a trip. Sarah freely admits that she’s a city girl; hopping a plane to spend three weeks in wide open spaces with complete strangers takes guts. Through her journal entries, it becomes clear that this is not just a fun-filled jaunt across the country. Over the course of 21 days, she reflects on the present environment, her past, and where she’s headed. Not only did the trip influence her creative process (she took some gorgeous Polaroids to document her trip), but she also let it mold and change her. Not everyone can handle that kind of experience, so I applaud her for diving in head-first.

If you’re in New York between now and January 10, I highly recommend the show; pop on over to Leila Heller Gallery and check it out. If that’s an impossibility, scope out her travel journal and start forming a plan to shake up your routine.