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Casablanca

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Original author: 
Patrick Traylor

It’s hard to pin down where John Francis Peters might be at any given time. Upstate New York, China, Mexico… and that was just last year. “Travel has been a big part of my life since childhood and engrained in my experience as a photographer,” recalls Peters. “Part of my focus on photography as a [...]

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Last month TIME contract photographer Yuri Kozyrev and I went to Rabat and Casablanca to report on a story about the rise of Political Islam in the countries of the Arab Spring. As with Tunisia and Egypt, free elections in Morocco have brought to power an Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party (PJD). But these, as we discovered, are not your father’s Islamists. They defy the Western stereotype of bushy-bearded, wild-eyed religious fanatics: Morocco’s Islamists are not seeking to take their country back to some ancient golden age, they are trying to figure how to bring it to the 21st century without losing its religious moorings. In this, they are similar to Islamists now heading governments in Tunis and Cairo. The pursuit and attainment of political power have forced these parties to abandon radical ideas and distance themselves from their lunatic fringes. Instead, they are moving to the political center.

Morocco has drawn tourists for centuries, and to most visitors cities like Rabat and Casablanca are a pleasant combination of the modern and the ancient. In this set of images, Yuri captures both aspects of the country.

Read more: The Converted: Has Power Tamed Islamists in the Arab Spring States?

Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME and was just named the 2011 Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International competition.

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Photo: Dorothea Lange | Colorization: Sanna Dullaway

The photograph that has become known as "Migrant Mother" was a 32-year-old mother of seven children photographed in February of 1936 by Dorothea Lange.

Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt | Colorization: Sanna Dullaway

LIFE's Alfred Eisenstaedt captured this scene amid the joyous chaos of August 14, 1945, his "V-J Day in Times Square" has become one of the most famous photographs ever made.

By Jon Sweeney, Sr. multimedia producer

 

When Swedish artist Sanna Dullaway colorized a series of historical works from the likes of Eddie Adams and Dorthea Lange her intent was not to re-create history or take credit for adding a new twist to these historical images. She was just showing off her talents as an artist in her personal blog (see more images from her series on imgur).

Photo: Eddie Adams | Colorization: Sanna Dullaway

Vietcong Execution in Saigon in 1968 was one of the most iconic images of the Viet Nam war.

“I only wanted to show everyone a new perspective of the past black & white world.” She wrote in an email. “The sun shone on our grandparents too.”

"I felt the famous photographs would  best reach and touch everyone who saw them," Dullaway continued.

When colorized images went viral, with websites like Gizmondo writing about her works, she realized the impact of what she did. “I never claimed them being my own work nor did I want to ‘improve’ or ‘replace’ them as some people might want to think.”

When Dullaway realized that she might have infringed on copyrights, she immediately took the images down from her blog and apologized for her actions on her deviantart.com website. She added this to her status, “Please note I do not take credit for the iconic photos I colourized,” she wrote. “Focus on the photos, not me.”

Needless to say her images are out there and alive on the internet, and as I look at the manipulations, I have to wonder  how many times can history be re-written and when does a piece of art ever stop being modified?

Gizmondo blogger Jesus Diaz wrote today that these colored famous photos are so much more powerful than their black and white originals, but I have to disagree.  Eddie Adams photo of the execution captured on the streets of Saigon is more powerful, because it is real. That black and white photo raised the global conscience about the conflict in Viet Nam, and helped bring an end to the war. Color or not it’s one of the most important photos of the 20th century.

I understand that these images were done not to modify history and should only be taken as entertainment. It’s not the first time that works of art have been digitally altered and it’s definitely not the first time black and white classics have made the leap to color. I remember the first time I saw Ted Turner's colorization of Casablanca. It looked unnatural and like many others I preferred the black and white original. However, on a completely different tune, when DJ Dangermouse mashed the Beatles White Alblum and Jay-Z's Black Album to create the Grey Album, I had to commend the creativity. But that's art of a different color.

Ultimately for Dullaway, her experiment got the job done. People are talking about her new colorization business, around the globe, and in this day and age, that’s more than half the battle for an artist. The ability to self-promote is important and she should enjoy the buzz while it lasts, because after it’s over, an artist needs to stand on their own talents and not gimmicks.

Related links:

What do you think? Discuss this post in the comments section or hit me on Twitter @sweeneyjon.

Follow @msnbc_pictures

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In 1959, Swedish-born photographer Christer Strömholm moved to the Parisian neighborhood of Pigalle. There, during the darkest hours of the night, he would comb the streets, not as a voyeur, but as a participant of the night’s activities. In time he would meet and form intimate relationships with the transsexuals of Place Blanche. At that time, France was ruled by General Charles de Gaulle, the man who led the Free French Forces during World War II, and his wife Yvonne, who were both devout Roman Catholics. Tante Yvonne (Aunt Yvonne), as she was known to the general public, held old-fashioned conservative views that created a puritanical atmosphere. As a result, Strömholm’s “friends of Place Blanche” found solace in each other, most having escaped a life of misconception. These friends, biologically born as men, were forced to flee their hometowns in search of a place where they could be at ease with themselves.

But life in Paris was just as difficult. It is a widespread belief that it was Aunt Yvonne’s influence on her husband that brought forth the reinstatement in of a 330-year-old draconian law that punished landlords who allowed prostitutes to work on their premise with the forfeiture of their property. There was no social security in Paris nor any chance of getting hired if the name on a person’s identification card did not match his appearance. Without the help of society, these ladies of the night had little choice but to sell their bodies in hopes of earning enough money to make it to the hospitals of Casablanca where they could physically be transformed into women.

The photographs in Les Amies de Place Blanche, a new re-edited version of the original book published in 1983, demonstrate the photographer’s compassion for these women and the intimate friendships he developed during the time he lived in Paris’ red light district. They do not reflect the cruelty that these women endured, perhaps because in their own world, life was that much brighter and hopeful. After spending all night working the street corners, Strömholm and his friends would gather at the brasserie on the place Blanche and order hot chocolate and walk quietly back to their hotel rooms. The next day Cobra, his next-door neighbor at Hotel Chappe, would knock on the wall to announce that coffee was ready just as dusk was breaking. Crumbs would fall into the creases of the sheets as they shared their thoughts in bed.

Christer Strömholm—Agence VU—Aurora Photos

Christer with Panama, 1968

Living side by side with these women, Strömholm perfected taking photographs at night. As these women got ready for work, so too did the photographer. With his Leica, Tri-X films and a pipe in his hand, he would walk down the boulevard from place Pigalle to place Blanche ready to capture fleeting moments of beauty.

Les Amies de Place Blanche, will be published by Dewi Lewis in the United Kingdom this February, and in the United States this March.

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So, so many Western visitors to Iraq in the past decade have thrown their heads back after a near-miss with a roadside bomb and thought, I need a drink right now. That was where the Baghdad Country Club came in.

For barely a year, a British former paratrooper known only as James and his Iraqi fixer, Ajax, ran a bar and grill that served as a rare Mesopotamian outlet for the Western urge to answer stress with alcohol. The facade concealed a greenery nestled inside Baghdad’s secured Green Zone — essentially, a walled garden within a walled garden. Even stranger, its next-door neighbor was the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a powerful Shiite political party with its own death squad. They weren’t exactly customers.

“The Baghdad Country Club was a tiny, tiny enclave inside of that warzone where you could theoretically escape while shooting the shit and drinking a beer,” says journalist Joshuah Bearman. Bearman pours out a glass for the short-lived bar in a new piece for the Atavist, which portrays the “Casablanca in the Green Zone” in its heyday — 2006-2007, the most violent era of the war — as a place where you could avoid the roadside bombs, but not the mercenaries crooning Nickelback songs.

The U.S. has (mostly) pulled out of Iraq and Iraqi politics appear to be teetering on a new precipice of chaos. But, Bearman tells Danger Room, James and Ajax are thinking of getting back into the Baghdad bar biz. A condensed version of our conversation follows.

Wired.com: What was your drink at the Baghdad Country Club?

Joshuah Bearman: I actually never went. I heard about it, tragically, after it closed. I didn’t actually cover the war. But my drink would’ve been a Manhattan. If they had the right vermouth.

Wired.com: Who were the bar’s clientele?

Bearman: A lot of contractors. State Department people, embassy people, foreign military could go. Active-duty U.S. military were prohibited from drinking, so they were not in there very much, but there was the occasional U.S. soldier in there, flouting General Order #1, the prohibition on drinking. There were some Iraqis in the bar. But it was mostly U.N. people, aid people, contractors, mercenaries, et cetera.

Wired.com: How insulated was it from the war?

Bearman: It was widely known about. Right next door was the office of SCIRI [the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, now known as ISCI]. Before the bar opened, they approached Ajax, who was worried they’d issue a fatwa banning the place. But instead they just wanted a good neighbor policy — keep the noise down, that sort of thing.

It was Ramadan shortly after they opened, and some Mahdi Army [militiamen] came to Ajax and said, “We know what you’re doing here, and if you’re trying to get alcohol shipments from downtown, it’s going to be difficult during Ramadan.” That stopped the whole bar for a period of time.

Wired.com: So did they get shaken down by the insurgents?

‘The Blackwater dudes would play Nickelback.’

Bearman: Just one time that I know about. The beer supply came from Christian alcohol sellers downtown, so the bar would have to send trucks from the Green Zone to get it. One of Ajax’s drivers was captured by insurgents. They ransomed him. I think the bar paid a ransom for the driver but not for the booze. So they got shaken down, but just the one time.

That speaks to the effectiveness of Ajax. He’s just a super-smooth operator. He was described to me as the most magical fixer you could ever imagine. James has been to Africa, Asia, he’s a Soldier of Fortune-type dude.

Wired.com: How did they come to run a bar together?

Bearman: James was there already doing security for a company there, Global Securities Group. He did security for the U.N. during the January 2005 elections. He runs into this guy at the airport who owns some duty-free rights to [import to] Iraq, and he sells alcohol. “Maybe we should get some booze in here,” James says, and he replies, “OK, we can do that.” Later he calls James and says he’s actually got a shipment of liquor ready. James was actually taken by surprise that the guy was serious.

But he jumped into gear and they sold all the liquor. James thought they had a good thing going, so he found a villa in the Green Zone and they opened an establishment. But he needed a local guy, so he asked around for who was the most competent guy, and found Ajax. It’s as simple as that. The guy at airport was the source for wine and liquor. Ajax was on the ground running things.

Wired.com: What was on the jukebox at the Baghdad Country Club?

Bearman: There actually wasn’t a jukebox. They had a stereo system with an iPod attachment. They played random music. No one gave me a playlist, but they had to take Men At Work off because Aussie security contractors would go apeshit when Men At Work came on. Which I understand! When i’m in a war zone and drinking, I kind of want to let off a little steam, too.

But actually, sometimes they had live bands. Contractors who were over there a long time would bring instruments and musical equipment. There would be jammy, crappy cover bands. The Aegis guys would play the Kinks. The Blackwater dudes would play Nickelback. There was a strong cultural difference in what mercenaries were into, musically speaking.

Wired.com: So why’d the place close so soon after it opened?

‘They got shaken down by insurgents, but just the one time.’

Bearman: It’s a bit unclear. In the Green Zone, formally known as the International Zone, there were these cops called the IZ Police. They were U.S. reservists, I presume military police. They were aggressive. There was a particular captain of the IZ Police who started coming around to the bar and giving them tickets, conducting stakeouts, checking people’s badges. Then they’d raid the place. They’d run in with full-on military gear, checking badges for who didn’t belong there.

The Baghdad Country Club thought it was like being harassed by the town sheriffs, essentially. They were disrupting theme of the bar. So that was that.

Remember, [the Club] gets to Iraq mid-2006, when the insurgency was going crazy. The Green Zone was a total mess. Different countries’ armies are there, contractors are running around like they own the place. There would be empty fields with shipping containers packed with 100 Filipinos who’d been abandoned by KBR. You’d see the craziest shit. Someone needed to put order down. And the Baghdad Country Club was casualty of that.

Wired.com: It’s a shame that the Club didn’t stick around for the drop in violence in the wake of the Surge. Or did the Club actually need the chaos of the war to turn it into an oasis? Was that kind of its business model?

Bearman: Certainly, yeah, the siege mentality kind of creates a certain atmosphere of the place. But in terms of raw economics, a secure environment is probably better for the bottom line of a leisure establishment.

In fact, they’re going to refurbish [Baghdad's famous] al-Rasheed hotel. James is thinking about reopening the Club as a modern restaurant at the new hotel. The Baghdad Country Club could live into the peaceful years of Baghdad.

Wired.com: If they happen.

Bearman: Yeah, exactly.

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A park ranger stands at the site of a new eruption in Virunga National Park near Goma, on November 24, 2011. Almost three weeks after a fissure opened amidst dense flat forest, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park has seen an increasing number of tourists seeking to be guided on treks to witness [...]

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