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burn magazine

Emerging Photographer Fund – 2013 Recipient

 

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EPF 2013 Runner-up

Maciej Pisuk

Under the Skin. Photographs from Brzeska Street

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The inhabitants of Warsaw consider Brzeska Street, the very core of North Praga, the most neglected and dangerous district in the city (in my opinion the greatest local problem is stigmatization of the people living in the area). I would like to present you portraits of the street’s residents, my neighbors, acquaintances, friends, people among whom I lived for so many years. The pictures taken in this place constitute the vast majority of my photographic work so far.
I only photograph people who I stay in close touch with. The pictures are a result of the long process where the release of the shutter is essentially an element of little meaning.

The protagonists of my photographs possess something unusual: they have faces. I could risk and state that today almost nobody shows their face and there are only a few people who still have them. The face disappears under layers of masks, which are adjusted to the roles that we are forced to play. We change our masks as easily as we change our identities. In public, we only present the image that we shape according to our needs. Our contacts stop being direct. Sometimes we communicate with each other but we are not able to encounter. I like thinking of my pictures as testimonies of the encounters and I count on them to convey a particle of the experience I took part in.

Bio

A graduate of the screenwriting course at the State Academy of Film, TV and Theatre in Lodz. Works as a screenwriter. The winner of prizes and awards on Polish and international photography competitions, among others: 2nd Prize at BZ WBK Press Foto 2006 (category: society), 1st Prize at ‘Warsaw Autumn of Photography’ 2007, 1st prize in the category of Photojournalism Non-Pro-People/Personality at PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris 2008 Photo Competition, 2nd prize at BZ WBK Press Foto 2010 (category: portrait), Stockholm Photography Week 2012 – The prize for the best portfolio.
For a few years he has been working on a photographical documentary project concerning the inhabitants of the area of Praga in Warsaw.

 

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Maciej Pisuk

 

 

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TIME Photo Department

Yolanda Cuomo is the curatorial voice behind some of the 20th century’s greatest photographic books. This year, alongside Melissa Harris, Cuomo is co-curating the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Va., June 13 – 15, 2013.

One word comes up again and again, like a shared mantra, when talking with Yolanda Cuomo, or when discussing Cuomo with people who know her: collaboration. Hardly surprising, perhaps, in light of the talent that, at one time or another, the 55-year-old art director and designer has worked with — including creative icons from Avedon and Sylvia Plachy to Twyla Tharp and Laurie Anderson. But one quickly gets the sense that, in Cuomo’s world, collaboration is not simply one way to approach a project; it’s the only way to approach a project.

As her longtime friend (“creative soulmate” might be a more apt description), Aperture Foundation editor-in-chief Melissa Harris, puts it: “Yolanda is simply one of the greatest people I know. She is so full of ideas, and our collaborations [on books, magazines, exhibitions] have been so fantastic because we always approach each project from an utterly fresh perspective. And we laugh,” she adds, making it clear that humor is an integral element of their long-time, enormously fruitful partnership. “We laugh a lot.”

The driving force behind the celebrated Yolanda Cuomo Studio, Yo (as all her friends and colleagues call her) has helped envision and produce some of the most striking and influential art and photography books of the past two decades, including Diane Arbus’ Revelations, Gilles Peress’ Farewell to Bosnia, Pre-Pop Warhol and scores of other titles.
(Incredibly, it was only within the last year, with New York at Night, that Cuomo got what she calls her “first spine.” She’d done 85 books through the years, she told LightBox, “but Norma Stevens and I published New York at Night in 2012 and, holy shit, there was my name on the spine!”).

A graduate of Cooper Union, Cuomo got her start in the publishing world as a junior designer at Condé Nast in the early 1980s. Under the mentorship of the legendary art director Marvin Israel, she not only was introduced to many of the people who would become part of her vast and cherished professional extended family — Plachy, Avedon, Peress, Nan Goldin and others — but also got her very first lessons, from a master, in the power of collaboration.

Yolanda Cuomo at her desk in her Chelsea studio, New York NY, February 4, 2012.

Pete Pin

Yolanda Cuomo at her desk in her new Chelsea studio in February.

“Marvin was so brilliant,” Cuomo says, “and one of the key things I learned from him — by his example, not by his making a big deal out of it — was that bringing other peoples’ voices and sensibilities to a project can make it so much stronger and more wonderful than if only one person holds sway over everything.”

The reason Cuomo got the job at Condé Nast in the first place, meanwhile, is emblematic of another type of creativity altogether.

“I lied,” she says, her mischievous laugh all these years later suggesting that she still can’t believe it herself. “When I was interviewed [for the Condé job] I told them that of course I knew how to do mechanicals. Then I went right out and immediately called a friend and was like, ‘What’s a mechanical?’”

Regardless of how she got her foot in the door, Cuomo learned the ins and outs of the art and publishing worlds from the very best. A quick study, she was eventually asked to oversee a new project by the Village Voice, and in 1985 Yolanda Cuomo was named art director of the Voice’s short-lived, tremendously creative fashion magazine, Vue. There, she and her small staff were afforded the sort of creative freedom that, for anyone working in magazines today, must seem something from another, near-mythical age.

Courtesy of the Village Voice/Yolanda Cuomo Design

Courtesy of the Village Voice/Yolanda Cuomo Design

Cover and spreads from the September 1986 issue of Vue. Photographs by Amy Arbus.

“It was total carte blanche,” Cuomo recalls. “We had to fill 32 pages that came out once a month. We sat in a room and just said to each other, ‘Okay, let’s call up people we love.’”

The names of those people they loved comprise something of a Who’s Who of talent of the era — each one of whom brought a unique sensibility to the pages of Vue. For one shoot, Sylvia Plachy photographed models posing in the trees of a New York cemetery. For another, Nan Goldin commissioned a pregnant bodybuilder friend to model lingerie in the East Village’s Russian baths. Phrases like “creative foment” seem to have been coined to describe exactly the sort of atmosphere that existed when Yolanda Cuomo was learning her chops.

The Voice shut down Vue after just a half-dozen issues, but its young staff, thrilled by what they’d accomplished together, was not ready to quit working as a team. With her assistant and two others, Cuomo found a small office space in Manhattan, and her design studio was born.

The studio’s first photo book was Unguided Tour, a collection of work by Sylvia Plachy.

“When we work together,” Plachy says of her collaborations with Cuomo, “we both have an intuitive sense about editing and designing. Yo is open to new things; she responds to things in the moment. She doesn’t force her point of view. Instead, it’s a free-flowing enjoyment of the evolution of the ideas, and moving toward something new and exciting.”

For Cuomo, inspiration can come from anywhere, from any time and from anyone. An old French book about the Eiffel Tower, for instance, discovered in a bookstore in Paris decades earlier, might influence the design of a photography book today. Closer to home, while making Paolo Pellegrin’s 2012 artist book — designed in a single, breakneck week — Cuomo found a visual muse in her assistant designer’s workspace.

“Bonnie [Briant] had a little color copy of a dog photo that she loved taped to her notebook on her desk, and I saw it and thought, ‘That is so beautiful.’”

A scan of the notebook — Scotch tape and scratches included — became the cover of the Pellegrin book. “That’s the way I like to work,” Cuomo says. “Spontaneously inventing.”

The fact that Cuomo has a full life outside of her work — a life that helps inform everything she does — speaks volumes about her ability to find balance in both the spontaneous and the thoroughly predictable. Living in Weehawken, New Jersey, Cuomo rides her bike every day from her home to the ferry, which she takes across the Hudson River to the West Side of Manhattan and her studio. At day’s end, she heads back across the river, to her “big old Victorian house,” her garden, her family — in other words, to a world that adds meaning and color to her vocation as an art director, designer and teacher.

In the end, that might be the greatest collaboration of them all: the way Yolanda Cuomo weaves family and work, leisure and labor, vision and vocation into a fully realized world of her own making.

Alissa Ambrose & Ben Cosgrove

See more of Cuomo’s work at Yolanda Cuomo Design.

Alissa Ambrose is a freelance writer and photo editor based in New York. Ben Cosgrove is the editor of LIFE.com.

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by Claire O'Neill

Where did you sleep when you were growing up? Did you have a room or share one? What did it look like?

Italy-based English photographer James Mollison says that for him, it would depend on the age. Thinking back to his earliest years in Kenya, where he was born, he remembers teddy bears. A few years later, it was all about mice. Then Duran Duran posters. And later, Army paraphernalia.

Mollison is of the mind that a child's bedroom speaks volumes about his or her circumstances. And if you haven't seen the photos from his book Where Children Sleep yet, take a look and you will probably agree.

  • Joey, 11, lives in Kentucky with his parents and older sister. He regularly accompanies his father on hunts. He owns two shotguns and a crossbow and got his first kill — a deer — at the age of 7.

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    Joey, 11, lives in Kentucky with his parents and older sister. He regularly accompanies his father on hunts. He owns two shotguns and a crossbow and got his first kill — a deer — at the age of 7.

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    James Mollison

  • Ahkohxet is 8 years old and a member of the Kraho tribe, which lives in the basin of the Amazon River, in Brazil. There are only 1,900 members of the tribe. The Kraho people believe that the sun and moon were creators of the universe, and they engage in rituals that are many centuries old.

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    Ahkohxet is 8 years old and a member of the Kraho tribe, which lives in the basin of the Amazon River, in Brazil. There are only 1,900 members of the tribe. The Kraho people believe that the sun and moon were creators of the universe, and they engage in rituals that are many centuries old.

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    James Mollison

  • Dong is 9 years old. He lives in the province of Yunnan in Southwest China, with his parents, sister and grandfather. He shares a room with his sister and parents. They are a poor family who own just enough land to grow their own rice and sugar cane.

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    Dong is 9 years old. He lives in the province of Yunnan in Southwest China, with his parents, sister and grandfather. He shares a room with his sister and parents. They are a poor family who own just enough land to grow their own rice and sugar cane.

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    James Mollison

  • Tzvika is 9 years old and lives in Beitar Illit, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. It is a gated community of 36,000 Haredi (Orthodox) Jews, who live their lives according to a strict religious code set out in the collection of writings known as the Talmud.

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    Tzvika is 9 years old and lives in Beitar Illit, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. It is a gated community of 36,000 Haredi (Orthodox) Jews, who live their lives according to a strict religious code set out in the collection of writings known as the Talmud.

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    James Mollison

  • Home for this 4-year-old boy and his family is a mattress in a field on the outskirts of Rome. The family came from Romania by bus, after begging on the streets for enough money to pay for their tickets.

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    Home for this 4-year-old boy and his family is a mattress in a field on the outskirts of Rome. The family came from Romania by bus, after begging on the streets for enough money to pay for their tickets.

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    James Mollison

  • Four-year-old Kaya and her parents live in a small apartment in Tokyo.

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    Four-year-old Kaya and her parents live in a small apartment in Tokyo.

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    James Mollison

  • Indira lives with her parents, brother and sister near Kathmandu in Nepal. Her house has only one room, with one bed and one mattress. Indira is 7 years old and has worked at the local granite quarry since she was 3.

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    Indira lives with her parents, brother and sister near Kathmandu in Nepal. Her house has only one room, with one bed and one mattress. Indira is 7 years old and has worked at the local granite quarry since she was 3.

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    James Mollison

  • Prena lives in Kathmandu. Her room is a tiny, cell-like space at the top of the house where she is employed as a domestic worker. Her diet is mainly rice and vegetables. She is 14 years old and one of thousands of child domestic workers in the country.

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    Prena lives in Kathmandu. Her room is a tiny, cell-like space at the top of the house where she is employed as a domestic worker. Her diet is mainly rice and vegetables. She is 14 years old and one of thousands of child domestic workers in the country.

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    James Mollison

  • Lamine, 12, lives in a village in Senegal, western Africa. He is a pupil at the village Quranic school, where no girls are allowed. He shares a room with several other boys from the school.

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    Lamine, 12, lives in a village in Senegal, western Africa. He is a pupil at the village Quranic school, where no girls are allowed. He shares a room with several other boys from the school.

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    James Mollison

  • Alyssa, an only child, lives with her parents in Kentucky, in Appalachia — a beautiful, mountainous region that is also one of the poorest parts of America. Their small, shabby house, heated only by a wooden stove, is falling apart. Alyssa's grandmother, uncle and orphaned cousin live close by.

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    Alyssa, an only child, lives with her parents in Kentucky, in Appalachia — a beautiful, mountainous region that is also one of the poorest parts of America. Their small, shabby house, heated only by a wooden stove, is falling apart. Alyssa's grandmother, uncle and orphaned cousin live close by.

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    James Mollison

  • Jasmine prefers to be called by her nickname, Jazzy. She lives in a big house in Kentucky with her parents and three brothers. Her bedroom is full of crowns and sashes, which she has won in child pageants. Only 4 years old, she has already been entered in more than 100 of these competitions.

    Hide caption
    Jasmine prefers to be called by her nickname, Jazzy. She lives in a big house in Kentucky with her parents and three brothers. Her bedroom is full of crowns and sashes, which she has won in child pageants. Only 4 years old, she has already been entered in more than 100 of these competitions.

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    James Mollison

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"It came about because I was originally asked to come up with an idea for UNICEF's anniversary," he says on the phone. Uninspired by the stereotypical emotive portrait, he wanted to create something that says more.

UNICEF wasn't wild about his pitch, so he ended up tackling it on his own. In some instances, Mollison traveled specifically for this project, but for the most part, he found children to photograph while traveling for other assignments.

The concept doesn't seem like it would be an easy one to explain — especially in places like the remote regions of the Amazon. "People don't want to know what you're up to; why do you wanna go into a kid's bedroom?"

But the concept resonates when you see the images of children, literally worlds apart, juxtaposed on pages. Mollison photographed them all in the same way, he says, to show just how different they really are.

Mollison's book, Where Children Sleep, was released about two years ago, but the images were recently part of a projection series at the Look3 photo festival in Charlottesville, Va.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Jason Eskenazi's orphaned, fascinating accidents provoke him to wonder if he should even bother looking through his camera's viewfinder, and they will be shown at the Look3 photo festival in Charlottesville, Va.

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The very day after the 2011 LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph ended, this year’s guest curators—National Geographic photographer Vincent Musi and Washington Post visuals editor David Griffin—started to put together the slate of artists who will appear this coming weekend. The annual for-photographers-by-photographers event in Charlottesville, Va. runs June 7-9. But, says Musi, the weekend will include the work of more than one year: professional relationships and the curators’ senses of balance, both developed over many years, were key in the decision process.

The three artists chosen by Musi and Griffin to be this year’s INSight Artists—the featured photographers who, Griffin says, must be people who have made a significant body of work and can inspire other photographers—are Stanley Greene, Donna Ferrato and Alex Webb. Masters talks will be given by Ernesto Bazan, Hank Willis Thomas, Lynsey Addario, Bruce Gilden, Robin Schwartz and Camille Seaman; David Doubilet is this year’s TREES Artist, whose work will be hung in trees along Charlottesville’s downtown pedestrian mall.

Although the festival does not have an explicit theme, Musi says that a documentary slant is strong in all of the featured work. “We also have this crossover because advertising and the fine-art world are really stepping up and doing a lot of what journalism used to do,” he says. And it goes both ways: he cites Hank Willis Thomas as someone who is using journalistic forms outside of the world of journalism. “The common thread,” Musi says. “is that everyone is very excited to have a foot in each world, but the work is very documentary in nature.”

Griffin echoes that sentiment, citing the aesthetic vision evident in Alex Webb’s work as an example of great journalism that “hits that beautiful spot” that touches the art world. He says that this year’s LOOK3 will place a heavier emphasis on individual shows for the speakers’ work, so that guests who attend the talks will be able to see the pictures discussed. There will be more than a dozen hours of onstage programming and a dozen print shows hung, which is more than in previous years.

Both curators agree, though, that the artists who present are not necessarily the highlights of the festival. “This is building a community and sustaining it, so that people go from one side of the stage to the other and back again,” says Musi. That community is made up of artists who attend as viewers, give talks a later year and then maybe teach a workshop some other time.

And artists who just hang out: “There’s a coffee house and it’s right outside of one of the hotels, and I just remember walking out each morning and David Alan Harvey would always be sitting out there having a cup of coffee,” Griffin says of past festivals, “and there’d be Martin Parr sitting with him or Jim Nachtwey, and you’d just walk up and sit down and start talking with a person. That’s one of the really cool things about the festival.”

More information about this year’s LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph, which will take place in Charlottesville, Va., from June 7-9, is available here.

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