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Ilona Szwarc October 31, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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From the “American Girl’s” project. Jenna Groveland, Massachusetts 2012

Ilona Szwarc (b.1984 Poland) has had a solo exhibition at Claude Samuel gallery in Paris and Maison de la Photographie in Lille, France. She has exhibited in  group shows internationally in London, Bilbao and New York. Her work has been featured in publications worldwide including The New York Times Magazine, TIME, The New Yorker, The UK Sunday Times Magazine, The Telegraph Magazine, Surface China, PDN. Ilona won a World Press Photo award in 2013 for the Observed Portraits category, 3rd Prize; PDN 2012 Annual in the Personal Category and has been awarded Grand Prize in the Fine Art category of the PDNedu 2013 contest. She has been selected for American Photography 28 and 29. Her project “American Girls” has received worldwide recognition, having been highlighted in The New York Times Lens Blog, MSNBC Today.com and The Huffington Post, among others.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph of Jenna and her horse Peter Pan was taken on her farm in Groveland, Massachussets. Jenna lived on a farm with sixty horses. Her parents raise horses and teach horseback riding classes. She owned several dolls and several horses for their dolls. Here she is portrayed with her look-alike doll, Kirstyn, who just like Jenna, is riding a miniature horse. The image is a part of American Girls, a series of large format portraits of girls in the United States who own customizable, mini-me dolls. American Girl dolls were conceived to be anti-Barbie toys, modeled after the body of a nine-year-old. Each doll can be customized to look exactly like its owner. With a wide variety of miniature accessories, they are perhaps the most luxurious toys ever invented. They play a crucial role for girls when they are forming their identities. Jenna talked about how these dolls allow her to fully embrace her personality. She says: I can be myself.”

Mikolaj Nowacki October 28, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Poland.
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From a story on the Polish Navy. Gdynia, Poland 2012

Mikolaj Nowacki (b.1972, Poland) received his Master’s degree in International Law, pursuing a doctoral thesis that examined environmental aspects of International Space Law. He discontinued his doctorate to focus on documentary photography and worked eight years for major Polish newspapers. His work has been published in the Polish editions of National Geographic and Newsweek and also in The New York Times Lens Blog and Le Monde among others. Mikolaj has won numerous awards and was a finalist in a number of Polish professional photography contests. He was also nominee in Prix Pictet and achieved Special Mention in Winephoto International Photo Competition. In 2013 he finished his two year Mentor Program with VII Photo with Antonin Kratochvil followed by a solo exhibition “Odra” at the VII gallery in New York. He is based in Wroclaw, Poland.

About the Photograph:

“This photo shows preparations of the crew on a battleship to moor in the naval port in Gdynia, Poland. Between 2011 and 2013 I took part in war games on Baltic Sea. It was my personal project. These were one week cruises of battleships. This particular cruise was on the small mine ship ORP Wdzydze. After a few days of intensive exercises of setting mines and destroying mines the crew was forced to come back to the port. It was winter in 2012, and very cold. After the political transformation in 1989, the Polish navy underwent huge changes but the passion of the sailors for the sea remained the same. This personal project was an attempt to understand the life of Polish naval sailors on battleships during  their war games exercises.”

Andrew Renneisen October 24, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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From the project “Violent Times.”  Alexander Kamara funeral. Wilmington, Del. 2012

Andrew Renneisen (b. 1992, USA) is currently enrolled at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He is currently an intern at the Philadelphia Inquirer, and has previously worked at The Press of Atlantic City in Atlantic City, NJ and at The News Journal in Wilmington, DE. He was a recipient of the 2013 Alexia Foundation Award of Excellence for his work on Violence in the United States, and is a member of the Eddie Adams Class of XXVI. He has also received awards from the NPPA and the S.I. Newhouse School. His work has been published in The Washington Post, Denver Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer and other publications.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph is part of my story on violence in the United States that depicts the harsh realities of violent conflict and it’s impact on local communities. It was made at the funeral of Alex Kamara, a promising 16 year old student and athlete. Alex was shot in the face by a stray bullet during a soccer tournament in Wilmington, Delaware, on a Sunday afternoon in July of 2012. The bullet was meant for the tournament’s organizer, who was going to testify in court after witnessing a murder. (He was also killed in the shooting.) In this frame, Alex’s brother, Jonathan, is carrying his brother’s casket to be moved to his final resting place. Jonathan was helped by Alex’s friends and teammates, some wearing their soccer jerseys in honor of Alex. This funeral was actually an assignment for the News Journal. The day I came to photograph was the first time I had met the Kamara family. I was surprised on how welcoming they were to have me at Alex’s funeral. I think it pushed me even harder to try to convey, in one frame, such a tragic event in this family’s life.”

Christian Rodriguez October 21, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Vietnam.
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Hoa Tay Lake, Hanoi 2012

Christian Rodriguez (b. 1980, Uruguay) began his visual education at the “Taller Dellioti” of fine arts, studying drawing and painting (1993-1999). Between 2004 and 2005 he worked as a cameraman on VTV chanel, (Uruguay). From 2006 to 2008  Christian  joined the newspaper El Observador (Uruguay). He has worked with news agencies such as AFP, AP and Reuters. In 2009 he won the Roberto Villagraz grant and received an  MA in Documentary Photography at  EFTI (Madrid) winning the “Premio Futuro” for best student of his generation (2009). In 2011 Christian was nominated for the Joop Swart Masterclass. His work has been exhibited in U.S., Spain, France, Italy, UK, Uruguay, Mexico, Brasil, Guatemala and Cambodia and published in  El Mundo, New York Times, La Nación, Clarin and El País among others. In 2013 he won “El Nuevo Talento FNAC de Fotografia.”

About the Photograph:

“When I was working on my project Xiec, about the Vietnamese circus I traveled many times to Vietnam. I lived only 8 km from the circus building in Lenin Park.  Every afternoon when I finished photographing I liked to visit Hoa Tay lake. Many couples go to the lake to talk but usually never kiss in public or even touch. I saw some couples spend more than 30 minutes without making eye contact or saying anything. They are very shy and hardly touch each other. At night this contact is much more evident because there are only a few pedestrians. I liked watching the guys try and touch or approach their love in different ways. It was all very subtle. When they realized that someone was taking a picture they quickly separated. In order not to hinder the task the boy decided to leave wishing good luck for the girl. This photograph was made on February 12th, two days before Valentines.”

Dijana Muminovic October 17, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Bosnia.
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My friend Tanja on the train to Sarajevo 2008

Dijana Muminovic (b.1983, Bosnia) moved to America 1997 and earned a BA in photojournalism at Western Kentucky University. In Bowling Green, she began exploring the stories of some of the six thousand other Bosnian refugees who still wait for their loved ones to be found and identified from the many mass graves that still exist in Bosnia. That work was exhibited in the US Congress Building. In 2011, she organized and hosted the American workshop, Truth With A Camera in Bosnia. Dijana was a finalist for the Photo Philanthropy Activist Award. She was awarded two grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. In 2013, she was a 2nd place winner from the Alexia Foundation. She currently teaches photography at The Athens Photographic Project to those with mental illness.

About the Photograph:

“I was visiting my native Bosnia from the United States when one morning I took a train from my hometown Zenica to the capital of Sarajevo with a childhood friend. Tanja is special because during the Bosnian war in nineties, we were separated for four years. She went to live in Italy and I stayed in Bosnia longing for her return. When the war ended my family applied to go to US.  In 1997, we fled. The day after I left, Tanja returned from Italy and came looking for me.”

“She sat across from me on the train, and glanced through the window every so often. Behind her sat a woman traveling to sell things on streets to survive. Her expression and the veil in the window’s reflection drove me to capture this moment. The morning sun and the fog outside made it possible for a better reflection through the window, but as the train was moving, it was difficult to catch the good light. I hoped that the fog would remain and waited to capture the expression of both women. When I look at this photograph I think of how the faith of so many young women in this region was altered by the war. And it made me think of my own too.”

Zakaria Zainal October 14, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Nepal.
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Retired Singapore Gurkhas, Dharan and Pokhara Nepal 2011

Zakaria Zainal (b. 1985, Singapore) graduated from the School of Communication, Nanyang Technological University in 2010.  His work has been published in The Straits Times, Nepali Times and The Invisible Photographer Asia among others. His photographs have also been exhibited at the 3rd Singapore International Photography Festival, Valentine Willie Fine Art Gallery, The Philanthropic Museum and the upcoming Dali International Photography Festival. In 2012, he published his first monograph: Our Gurkhas: Singapore Through Their Eyes, an anthology of portraits and anecdotes of the retired Singapore Gurkha and also organized a traveling exhibi in Nepal of the work.

About the Photograph:

“These two photographs are part of a series titled “Our Gurkhas”. In 2011, I spent three months visiting three states in Nepal searching, interviewing and photographing Singapore Gurkhas. When people talk about the Gurkhas, they mainly refer to those from the British or Indian army. Little is known about the stories and memories of those Gurkhas who have served in the Singapore Gurkha Contingent. Working with the Singapore Gurkhas Pensioners’ Association (SGPA), I would refer to a telephone list of the Gurkhas. There were some numbers I could not call, because some were already dead or have moved overseas with their families. Both Mr Youm (left) and Mr Bhabindra (right) were kind enough to share with me what they could remember from their time in serving Singapore. Through their foreign eyes, they witnessed the rapid pace of change of this small island they once called home. In their current homes, both in Dharan and Pokhara respectively, they adorn their houses with tangible memories of Singapore — especially photographs of them in uniform.”

Sasha Rudensky October 10, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Russia.
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From the project ‘Brightness’. Kiev, Ukraine 2010

Sasha Rudensky (b. 1979, Russia) studied Studio Art and Russian Literature at Wesleyan University where she received a BA in 2001. She received her MFA in photography from Yale University in 2008. Her work has been featured in American Photo and PDN and exhibited at Aperture Gallery, Musee de l’Elysee, Lausanne, Switzerland and Les Rencontres d’Arles, France. Sasha is currently an Assistant Professor of Photography at Wesleyan University. She resides in Brooklyn.

About the Photograph:

“This is an image that is part of a four year project called Brightness. I was visiting my friends’ hip new store called Пюре, which in Russian means mashed potatoes. They were being interviewed by a journalist and had no idea I set up my camera and tripod. I couldn’t decide what I loved more the gummy bear linoleum or the amazing royal blue curtains. Instinctively I assumed the bust to be Lenin, only to marvel at the fact that it was a plaster Hannibal Lecter, making it the perfect post-Soviet set. That kind of theatricality found in every day life is what I gravitate towards consistently, which perhaps explains my ongoing love affair with the East.”

“The East’s yearning for Brightness has an extensive aesthetic cultural history, but its Post-Soviet manifestation is set apart by its own brand of showiness, depravity, garishness, and melancholy. It is as if that Brightness can reverse the historic dislocation and atone for frustrated expectations and unfulfilled claims, the very materiality of fabrics, objects, gold providing security of tangible progress. If you can’t draw well, draw richly is an old Russian saying, a quip denoting deep awareness of the tactics of self-staging and delusion.  The subject of these photographs is an orphan generation of Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians that came of age in a social vacuum, having disowned their past but lacking any means of orientation within the present. They are part archetype, part invention, as much a projection of their own fantasy as they are of mine.”

Geoffrey Hiller / Burma in Transition October 7, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Burma, Myanmar.
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Fish Market, Yangon 2013

Today we made our goal- it’s been quite a trip in Kickstarterland, working 24/7 to spread the word. Looking at the data, the progress was a slow and steady climb. Midway there was a lull and I did wonder if we were going to make it. But backers rallied…together we did it. I can’t wait to get started on the production, to sit down with the designers and start laying out the book.

There are three days left, and now we are in ‘stretch’ goal territory. Even though we have the minimum funds to publish, any further pledges will go directly into the project. It’s not over till it’s over: if you haven’t yet made a pledge, you can still do so. The deadline is Wednesday, Oct. 9 midnight EST.

What is really exciting is that a Burmese friend from Yangon emailed me last night to say he’s eager to help distribute the book. I interviewed him in January 2012, a remarkable time when political prisoners were being released, and pent-up emotions were surfacing. He was part of the 1988 opposition movement, and now runs  a non-profit that works on education issues. Less than two years ago, this would have been unthinkable.

David Maurice Smith October 3, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Australia.
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From the series ‘Living in the Shadows’. Wilcannia, New South Wales, Australia, 2012.

David Maurice Smith (b. 1973, Canada) is a Canadian documentary photographer based in Sydney, Australia whose photography is informed by a previous 10 year career in social work supporting individuals in disadvantaged communities. In 2013 David was named Australian Emerging Documentary photographer of the year as well as being named winner of the $10,000 POOL Grant for his ongoing project in Wilcannia, a rural Aboriginal community. He joined Australia’s Oculi photographic collective in 2012 and in 2011 he was awarded the LIFE Magazine Grant at the Eddie Adams Workshop in New York. His work has been published by The New York Times, CNN, Monocle Magazine, Huffington Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Telegraph, The Australian, SBS, VICE, Hemispheres Magazine and The Surfer’s Journal.

About the Photograph:

“I have been photographing the Barkindji Aboriginal community of Wilcannia, New South Wales, Australia since 2010. Like so many indigenous people around the world, the Barkindji are caught in a cycle of disparity caused by a dark history of colonization, institutionalized racism and harsh socioeconomic realities. Despite being the traditional keepers of one of the most prosperous nations on earth, they endure conditions comparable to a third world nation. The average male life expectancy in their community is approximately 35 years of age, less than half the national average.”

“The scene depicted in this image is familiar in many communities: carefree children, lost in play. However the reality is that for these Barkindji girls life is far from carefree and their future, like the abandoned lot in which they play, looks very different to that of their non-Aboriginal counterparts. (from L to R) Ariah Jones aged 4, Rhianna Harris aged 5, Shania Mills aged 7 and Whitney Harris aged 7 have the odds stacked against them. Sisters Rhianna and Whitney are being raised by a relative as their mother (who stood just out of frame) is unable to care for them due to her alcoholism and frequent incarceration. Several days into a drinking binge she was clumsily trying to engage with her daughters to no avail. It was difficult to watch as they made fun of her as children do when struggling to understand or accept someone. Despite being their mother, she was a stranger to them. They ignored her attempts at connection as if to shield themselves from the hurt of abandonment”

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