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Original author: 
Alfonso Serrano

When viewed from the Franklin Mountains in southern Texas, El Paso and Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez meld into one expansive metropolis. Call it a Texan trompe l’oeil. Look closely, though, and the illusion is disrupted by the Rio Grande, the natural border that snakes through the two cities, carving out very distinct realities.

That proximity is what first drew photographer Reed Young to El Paso, in particular to the city’s Chamizal neighborhood, which he refers to as a sort of “ground zero” for the national debate on immigration. Here, where North officially meets South, the terrain gives rise to something all its own: frontera culture, with its distinct food, music and identity.

“We thought it was important to hear from people who are affected by the United States’ immigration policy today,” says Young. “National debate doesn’t always take into account the complexities of the people’s situations.”

If Washington D.C. is the political epicenter of the immigration debate, then Chamizal is arguably its human face, a place where the nuances of a thoroughly complex issue crystallize into the tangible. Take Araceli, for example. She has not seen her extended family in Juárez since 2009, although they live a few miles away. Claudia, who is transgendered, is another case in point. She is Claudia on the U.S. side of the border but always crossed the border as Ricardo, the name on her ID, until the violence in Juárez convinced her to end the treks.

Ciudad Juárez is the second most murderous city in the world. In 2010 alone, it witnessed over 3,000 deaths. The historic violence has instilled migrants with a special urgency when attempting to cross into El Paso, the safest big city in the United States. On their journey, they will encounter the most tightly enforced border in modern history. The number of Border Patrol agents stationed along the U.S.-Mexico border — 20,000 — has doubled since 2004. And the $18 billion the federal government spent on enforcing the border last year was more than it spent on all other law enforcement agencies combined.

But that didn’t matter much to Araceli. She waded through the Rio Grande with her four children in search of a better life for them. Now she cleans houses and scraps metal after work to supplement her income. And it didn’t dissuade “Goldie,” who crossed into El Paso when she was 16 and now owns Goldie’s Bar, a cantina in El Paso’s industrial section that pays homage to her hero, Marilyn Monroe.

Goldie’s story — and those of virtually everyone profiled in Young’s photo essay—attest to the strength of family ties. In Chamizal, at least, the commitment to one’s family, to the improvement of children’s lives, has proved stronger than billion-dollar physical barriers.

Reed Young is a photographer based in New York City.

Alfonso Serrano is a senior editor at TIME.com.

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Original author: 
Myles Little

What began in 2003 as an exploration of the mundane world of kitchenware has morphed over the past decade into something much more profound for Norwegian photographer Christopher Jonassen.

Devour is Jonassen’s series of still lifes of the bottoms of old frying pans — a series that, despite its quotidian subject matter, manages to touch upon (quite literally) universal concerns.

“When I was studying abroad in Australia,” Jonassen recalls, “I lived in a cheap share house with some friends, and the cooking utensils were banged up in a pretty bad way.” He began photographing the pans as a way to reflect on “the repetitive and mundane actions we do every day.” Jonassen dug through the cellars and attics of friends and family members, looking for likely candidates. But his favorite pans were those used by the local boy scout troop.

“They bring out big iron pans and put them directly into an open fire out in the woods,” Jonassen says. “Heavy iron pans, burnt black and scraped with knives.”

He shot hundreds of pans over the course of several years, all the while refining the vision, and is still working on the project today. While most of the pans look similar to the way they did when he first found them, Jonassen rubbed oil on a few to enhance their texture, and relied on lighting techniques and basic Photoshop to achieve his results.

“I think it’s important to notice the beauty in the small things we surround ourselves with everyday,” Jonassen says, and Devour is, in part, his own vivid testament to that belief. Note the rich, molten red of Slide #1 and the gorgeous cerulean blues in Slide # 6. The poet Walt Whitman voiced a similar tenet — a faith in the profound significance of the littlest things — in his 1855 masterpiece, “Song of Myself”:

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars…
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery…

Perhaps the most striking thing about the pictures is how closely, and how eerily, these ordinary kitchen pans resemble planets and moons — an effect that Jonassen says was intentional.  “I found that each pan more or less had a planet hidden inside it,” Jonassen says, “and it was up to me to discover it.” Slide #3 resembles Mars, even down to the planet’s polar ice caps of solid carbon dioxide. Slide #8 brings to mind Neptune, whose tranquil blue appearance belies winds that reach 1,300 miles per hour.

There’s something thrilling about how the project threads this needle — from a kitchen cabinet, across the reaches of space, to alien worlds. Thus, Jonassen seems to heed the words of the poet William Blake, who in 1803 asked his readers to “see a world in a grain of sand, / And a heaven in a wild flower.”

Jonassen began the project interested in the cooking pan as an emblem of the ordinary, but he soon became fascinated by “how everyday life was wearing out the metal of the pans, one tiny scratch at a time.” He says he wants to create “a link between the small traces we leave behind every day, [and] the enormous impact this adds up to over time. I am very concerned about the way we are treating this planet. The title also reflects this. ‘Devour’ means to eat up greedily; to destroy, consume and waste; to prey upon voraciously.” Thus, Jonassen draws a subtle, visually compelling link between the destruction of a banged-up pan and the degradation of our blue planet.

To see a world in a grain of sand … and the cosmos in a frying pan. It’s not quite Blake, perhaps, but for photography fans, Devour offers a rare, unexpected form of poetry for the eye.

Christopher Jonassen is an internationally acclaimed artist based in Norway.

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

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Why do we like haunted houses? Wars, terror, drones, pandemics, rising sea levels, killer bees, fungi in pain meds—isn’t the world scary enough? Yet we line up for what the industry calls HHA’s—haunted house attractions (as opposed, presumably, to actual haunted houses)—hoping to be freaked out. And if we believe the current web meme Scared Bros in a Haunted House, it works. Totally freaky, dude.

In fact, scaring people is a growing industry, rapidly gaining on Hollywood in revenues. Forty years ago, haunted houses were limited to scary carnival sideshows. Now there are magazines, websites, and trade shows for operators of haunted attractions, providing info on the latest trends: zombie runs, animatronics, 3-D, screamparks. In fact, Haunted House magazine boasts: “The haunted house industry is an American export.” We have no trade deficit in fear.

On one level, this is easy to understand. It’s all about death—that undiscovered country our culture keeps off the thought-map. Death, death, death, coming at us in the form of ghosts, monsters, maggots, snakes, killer clowns, necromancers, headless horsemen, slime crawlers, banshees, and all manner of rotting flesh and decay, aiming to infect us with its fate. The haunted house takes us to death’s door: sewers, graveyards, mortuaries, abattoirs, bottomless pits and of course, hell itself, yawning wide to receive us. Abandon all hope and enter at your own risk!

But of course, there is no risk: the journey allows us to brave death and make it out alive, the very thing we wish—oh man, do we wish—we could do for real. Every scream, every start, every time we nearly pee our pants is a shot of Red Bull to our love of life, a reminder that we hate to leave it.

Once, while on assignment together at Niagara Falls, Lisa Kereszi and I went to Ghostblasters, a haunted house crossed with a laser tag game. It was around the time that Lisa started shooting haunted houses, and secretly she was afraid every time she went to one. She thought she might get killed and end up as a haunted house display, but she didn’t tell me this. We climbed into a jerky little cart and got yanked through a maze of semi-scary dioramas. When the ghosts popped up, I shot them with a pistol and Lisa shot them with a Mamiya.

You don’t need to be Susan Sontag to understand that photographing something reduces its fear factor. Lisa’s pictures show us the haunted house as a fail: the paint peeling off plywood, the boom box strapped to the wall, the dust in the corners of the makeshift Bates Motel. “I challenged my fears,” she told me, “but it didn’t totally work.”

That’s because the pictures are somehow scary all over again—and sadder than the haunted house itself. Reality is seeping into these pictures like maggots squirming into a leaky coffin. Walls are cracking open, curtains gape onto the next room, all those plugs and wires takes us right into the mortal hands of the folks we’re paying for this illusion of an illusion, this brief moment of terror we can conquer, unlike the real dread lurking behind it. These fearful fragments we have shored against our real ruins. They’re no match for what really frightens us: blood, as the sign in one picture says, guts, gore. Meat sacs, long pigs, wetware, bags of bones, bleeders. Our horrors, ourselves.

Lisa Kereszi is a photographer based in New Haven, Conn.

Ginger Strand is the author of Flight, Inventing Niagara and Killer on the Road, which traces how violence followed construction of the interstate highway system.

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Following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime last year, photographer Jehad Nga set out to explore the former dictator’s political and military philosophies within the framework of an underlying and contrasting Libyan culture. Here, Nga he writes for LightBox about his project, The Green Book, which depicts the conflicting values of reality through gathered images broken down into binary code.

The Green Book, first published in 1975, is a short tome setting out the political philosophy of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Intended to be required reading for all Libyans, the 24 chapters were constructed simply, containing broad and basic slogans rendered in a rudimentary writing style easy to understand by all. Gaddafi claimed to have developed the book’s theories in order to resolve many contradictions inherent in capitalism and communism thereby—by his logic, freeing its citizens from bondage of both systems. The book, however, proved for most to be nothing more than an inane manifesto used to further reduce the value of a population’s role in the building of a society.

During the revolution that finally brought Gaddafi’s reign to an end last October, it was common for the intelligence arm of the government, in its heightened state of awareness, to target people attempting to traffic information out of the country.

Employing the similar technological principles, I used a satellite adjusted to intersect varying levels of Internet traffic flow transmitted over Libya. An assigned command allowed for the satellite to look only for photographs and disregard all other associated data traffic.

Without any distinguishable narratives, the constant stream of communication I captured visually grew over time to resemble a hyper-realized paradise, where the borders between the natural and supernatural had been washed away. From the ebb and flow of images being sent between people—the population’s naked, unedited psyche rendered visual—I harvested 24 representative images.

Once the images were captured, I wanted to further explore the meaning of my action. I first reduced each image to its most basic structure, binary code, which singled it out from the other billion bits of data shooting through the sky. This conversion exposed each image’s digital “cell structure”—millions of algorithms mathematically, miraculously unified to produce something of beauty. Code is built in layers, each with a metaphor constructed by its programmer to enact and describe its behavior. Reducing an image to pure binary data strips it of any individual identity, any protection, and any premise.

I was able to exploit this frailty—the structural weakness of each image—by introducing new information into its binary data. Each chapter of The Green Book was introduced into the code structure of each photo, threatening to break the image file past the threshold of recognition. Sometimes the new data caused the complete collapse of the image structure. When my experiment was successful, the text at once contaminated the image and created something new.

The final product is a depiction of how something with “genetic predisposition,” something rigid and fixed, struggles to coexist with additional textual information. The conflicting “values” are evident in the distorted and augmented reality presented by the photographs.

Taken as a whole, The Green Book Study, a collection of 24 images that carries with it Gaddafi’s three-volume manifesto in its entirety, becomes an method for evaluating the process of which a society’s human structure becomes distorted and at time fully collapsed by a command line of one totalitarian vision.

Jehad Nga is a New York-based photographer. LightBox has previously featured Nga’s work about his Libyan roots as well as a photo essay on the world’s biggest refugee complex.

The project will be showing at the Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York and the M+B Gallery in Los Angeles.

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An Irish Catholic upbringing contributed to photographer Shannon Taggart’s lifelong interest in the rituals and art of religion. After photographing Spiritualists—people who believe they can communicate with the dead—in upstate New York, Taggart has since been documenting the Haitian religion of Vodou since moving to Brooklyn in 2005.

Taggart’s project began when she met a Mambo, or female Vodou priest, named Rose Marie Pierre, who runs a temple in the basement of a nondescript storefront in the working class neighborhood of Flatbush. It was here that Taggart made these images of priests and laymen undergoing possession by the Loa—powerful spirits that act as intermediaries between humankind and Vodou’s distant god, Bondye. Most Loa are benign, some are malevolent, but every spirit has a distinct personality, role in the world and set of demands and services. In their different ways, practitioners believe, these spirits determine our fate and must be consulted and appeased.

Beckoning the Loa requires elaborate preparations unique to the particular spirit desired. Practitioners indicate the Loa they want to call upon by drawing its vever, or symbol, in cornmeal sprinkled on the floor. They place offerings on an altar and perform particular songs and dances. When the Loa possesses the worshiper Taggart says the scene becomes “wild, very physical and intense.” Though she works with black-and-white still images, Taggart is able to convey the noise and energy of these rituals. “There is screaming and thrashing…sometimes [congregants] run around the room as if confused. It can happen suddenly, so it’s often jarring. People immediately gather around the one possessed and assist them with what they need and catch them if they collapse.” Practitioners say the experience induces short-term amnesia; “Mambo Rose Marie is always surprised (sometimes shocked) to see my documentation of what has taken place while she was possessed,” recalls Taggart.

Popular culture often depicts Vodou as dark and menacing, but fails to understand its more unusual elements. One example, animal sacrifice, exists to rejuvenate the Loa after exhausting ceremonies. Taggart says that the chickens, pigs, goats and cows are killed humanely and eaten immediately. In Haiti, where there was no safe way to store meat, the practice provided people with a regular source of safe nourishment, Taggart explained.

Another often misunderstood practice is the presence of weapons in Vodou ceremonies. A man in slide #2 is shown possessed by a warrior spirit named Ogou. He holds a large machete symbolic of that Loa. But as Taggart explains, weapons like these are not used to harm others. Instead, they are relics of Haitian slavery that Vodou practitioners have appropriated as symbols of their faith—much as the cross is a relic of Christian persecution that Christians have turned into a symbol of their faith. These exercises, born of practical and psychological necessity, are far from the spooky behavior that appears so often in film and folklore.

This December, several of these Brooklyn practitioners will undergo a two-week long initiation rite in Haiti. Accompanying them will be Mambo Rose Marie and Taggart, who will photograph the ceremonies. “I don’t know what I will find there, but I am assuming it will be a special experience,” she says.

Shannon Taggart is a Brooklyn-based photographer. See more of her work here.

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Although a photographer’s process is integral to his/her work, it is often a carefully guarded secret. Most photographers tend to keep the development of their work to themselves, sometimes choosing to seek counsel only from a small circle of trusted friends.

It comes as a surprise, then, to find Magnum photographer Jim Goldberg’s reworked sketches, videos and maquettes of his groundbreaking books openly shared online.

For Goldberg—a photographer whose approach has always been eclectic, evolving, and utilizing other mediums, including text—the very act of sharing these works in progress is an important and formative part of the final product.

Goldberg talked to LightBox about the process of revisiting, sharing and republishing two of his groundbreaking works. Rich and Poor (1977-85) juxtaposes two economic classes through intimate environmental portraits and personal statements written on the prints by the subjects, while Raised by Wolves (1985-95) documents the lives of homeless runaways in San Francisco and Los Angeles through photographs, text, drawings and interviews.

Being a teacher for so long, I’ve realized that so much of what you teach students is about learning to respect the importance of process. Watching students grow is interesting—and them observing my process helps them see that it’s not that mysterious of a thing to do. In order to figure this artmaking stuff out, it’s trial and error and experimentation, and takes some time and hard thinking. Putting work out in many forms and stages is an extension of how I see things. I feel the art process is best served when it invites comments and constructive criticism from people. It’s a strategic gesture, too, because the feedback I receive helps me move forward with my ideas, which is what process is about—to craft and evolve something.

Rich and Poor

I was invited by Steidl to republish Rich and Poor. Up to this point my archive was mostly analog. Revisiting Rich and Poor meant that it was time to start digitizing my older work. I started by going through all of my contact sheets and re-editing.  My studio ended up scanning a lot of images that were never printed in the original book, which in turn gave me a way to experience my old work with a beginners mind. This got me excited about seeing things I had passed over years before during my original edit. When I originally made the work, I was getting so much positive feedback about how I was using images with text that the stand-alone images fell by the wayside. Or perhaps back then I didn’t have the courage to include images that functioned simply as straight photographs.

Revisiting the archive excited me on many levels. The freshness of my youth particularly resonated with me, but it also gave me thirty years of distance to look back at these images. Aside from the overall nostalgic patina, I feel like I was looking at these images with a critical distance for the first time. I’m now able to separate my own impulses with the overarching history/context of what was happening in the 70’s and 80’s.

I also wanted to conceptually tie the past in with the present and so decided to revisit a few of the original subjects and map where they are today. I plan to include this in the new Rich and Poor edition via a small insert of contemporary imagery.

Raised by Wolves

Raised by Wolves has been out of print for some time, which has made it expensive and difficult to find—so people are constantly asking me for it. It’s also been almost 20 years since the book was published, so I felt it would be a good time to put it back on the table as something to look at again, as well as digitize.

Raised by Wolves was a good ten years of working with the kids; collecting ephemera; and making the exhibition and the book.

Still when it came time for the book and exhibition to be produced, and all the deadlines were mounting, aesthetic choices had to be made quickly as to what would be included and what was to go back into boxes. So there was a lot that hasn’t been looked at since.

My studio manager and I started brainstorming on strategies to get the work out there again, and we decided that the best way would be to make something to put up on my website.

So we took a new intern to the studio—who happened to be a production whizz—and had him organize and digitize everything. I gave him some guidance and checked in with him often on we had had discovered on that particular day, but for the most part gave him free reign as to what could be explored and organized.

Based on what I was witnessing on the streets, I knew that I needed to record what I was experiencing in ways that just couldn’t be done with the camera alone. I have, since the beginning of my career, used text, video, audio, Polaroids, found objects, and ephemera. With Raised by Wolves it was my first attempt to incorporate all these various approaches into one project.

Raised by Wolves, video by Jim Goldberg

The children in Raised by Wolves were living hard lives—lives that were leading to nowhere. So now, when I reheard a recording that the intern (Brandon) had found in some box, and I heard the voice of lets say Tweeky Dave, well that added something that would extend to the viewers experience of the project.

 It’s always good to find things that you haven’t found before. I’m not doing it because I have nothing else to do or because I’m old and I may as well go back into my archive. I’m going back into my archive with purpose—to see what I can reinvent. I’m still vibrant and making new work. The making of the new work guides how the old work looks.

Beyond Rich and Poor and Raised by Wolves, Goldberg is revisiting and re-imagining other projects from his archive. A previously unpublished series titled Coming and Going is being reworked as a series of Japanese small books. Goldberg is also reevaluating and reworking Open See, the project for which he was given the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award in 2007 and the Duestche Borse Award in 2011. Goldberg plans a new edition that will be more expansive than the original, one that will further explain the complexities of the situation—of immigration, being a refugee and being trafficked in a place and time. Working roughs for the proposed book and multimedia sketches for the project again are available online. Goldberg says of his process “Its always good to find things that you haven’t found before and I’m going back into my archive with purpose—to see what I can reinvent. I’m still vibrant and making new work. The making of the new work guides how the old work looks.”

Photographer/Artist Jim Goldberg is a member of Magnum Photos and Professor of Art at the California College of Arts and Crafts. He Lives in San Francisco.

 

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Every city has its clichés and London is no exception. But beyond the bobbies, red telephone boxes and telegenic young royals, lies a real city that is just as easily toured as St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. All you need do is hop on a city bus. It’s an approach adopted by photographer George Georgiou for his series Invisible: London, which explores the city’s outer reaches, from Clapton Pond to North Greenwich to Crystal Palace. Georgiou, a Londoner who returned to the city after living abroad for eight years, snapped passing cityscapes and people at bus stops, recording the day-to-day actions that most people simply ignore.

The idea of photographing from buses presented creative benefits. “I kind of like the idea of the reflections and the layering,” says Georgiou, noting that it was not unusual to see Victorian houses with Indian shops tucked underneath. But it also had its challenges. “There’s a lot of dirty glass in London,” he says. Georgiou set out specifically to ride all of London’s routes, exploring places that were only familiar as far-off bus line terminations like Morden and High Barnet. And while he did not intend to train his camera primarily on down-and-out neighborhoods, he found well-heeled areas and people more difficult to capture. “Wealthy people walk differently,” he says, adding that they are generally more private in public and don’t spend as much time lingering on the streets and at bus stops. Moneyed neighborhoods also tended to have more mature trees and greenery, screening pedestrians and houses from Georgiou’s lens. People living in less affluent areas, by contrast, were exposed in a desert of asphalt.

To be sure, London’s council estates and suburbs lack the obvious appeal of its famous monuments. But Georgiou says the city is defined as much by transition as tradition. While familiar characters like the working class woman (“London Bus No. 145. Ilford to Dagenham Asda”) remain, large numbers of immigrants contribute to ceaseless cultural change in the city. The outer reaches of London may be invisible, but there’s no doubting that they are real.

George Georgiou is a UK-based photographer. See more of his work here.

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Donny began raking in the cash almost immediately after the short yellow school bus dropped him off in front of his house in Troy N.Y.

He spotted his mother Kayla, 22, who had been waiting for him on their front porch and hurled his Spiderman backpack in the direction of her feet. As he walked up the steps, Donny made himself available to a random, yet steady, trickle of well wishers, the sort who preferred to peel off a few green backs instead of fumbling with gift paper and bows. Donny, whose name has been changed at the request of the photographer, turned eight that day and in his neighborhood, occasions such as birthdays, funerals and releases from prison, drew big crowds in which everyone was considered family and obliged to make an appearance.

That birthday, which took place this April, was particularly important for Donny. His previous birthday had fallen in the middle of a fourteen-day crisis intervention that the seven year old had spent in a pediatric psychiatric facility. Since kindergarten, Donny has struggled with several emotional and behavioral disorders including attention deficit disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and separation anxiety. His diagnoses have resulted in multiple suspensions that have caused him to miss valuable school time.

This year, family members were making up for lost time. Jose, an old sweetheart of Kayla’s who was recently released from prison, passed by the stoop with a twenty; Donny’s uncle Will, who was scheduled to begin a 60-day stint in county jail, left a fist full of ones; Kayla’s brother Robby, out on probation, put $10 towards a World Wrestling Federation action figure that Donny wanted. And Sabrina, an extended family member, dropped by to give Donny a huge hug and reveal her birthday plan to take him to a Yankees game. A cousin to Donny’s biological father, Sabrina has filled in for him, on and off, since Donny’s birth and later became Kayla’s first serious girlfriend.

I’ve known Donny since he was born, after a friend introduced to me Sabrina, who was the subject of a New York Times Magazine assignment that sent me close to my hometown in upstate New York. It was the first time that I returned as a professional since leaving there more than 30 years before. Kayla lived in Troy, just 10 minutes from where I grew up, and her story resonated with me. Reserved and street smart, Kayla was the girl I wished I was when I was 14. There was an uneasy identification between the two of us that grew into friendship over the next eight years while I continued to document Kayla, Sabrina and their friends who lived as a family on the same block. A family, I discovered, that was formed largely in response to increasingly punitive legal, moral and economic shifts within their working class community. I watched, as school either became the interface between the justice system and a disengaged teenager or a lifeline thrown from an involved teacher. At year six, I began to agonize about the utility of this monster story and when Donny began school, it became evident that he was the story. Donny is the proverbial child that this neighborhood raised.

Donny is one of a number of very young children that are part of an alarming increase in students being labeled with disabilities at much younger ages. He was suspended from school four times when he was in kindergarten, almost twice that in first grade and more than twenty days in second grade. In New York City, policy critics and social justice advocates note that minority children and children with disabilities are more likely to be suspended, and at much younger ages. Yet, organizations such as the Children’s Defense Fund note that there is no evidence to show that suspension corrects behavior, especially among children as young as Donny—and that this supports a “cradle to prison” pipeline. The Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights 2009-2010 survey released In March 2012, shows that once students are suspended from school, they are more likely to be suspended again—and ultimately may serve time in prison.

In February, Donny was taken out of the Rennselaer county school district regular classroom for special education and placed in day treatment that serves as a specialized school with one-on-one instruction in small classrooms, a longer school year and where suspension is not an option. That consistency, along with the support of a team of social workers, has been a tremendous factor in his improvement at home and school. Kayla says he wakes her while it is still dark and wants to get ready for school. In the past, school social workers had targeted one of Donny’s “triggers” as school avoidance, and it became a cycle, with him acting out because he knew he would be sent home and then not feeling a part of the class when he returned and then acting out so he could leave again. Donny has now been in school since February without being suspended. This is the longest time he has gone with out a suspension since kindergarten.

Brenda Ann Kenneally is a photographer based in New York. See more of her work hereTo read more about the project, visit Upstategirls.org.

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A graffiti-ridden wall dividing Protestant and Catholic communities. A teenage boy defiantly packing drugs into a battered homemade bong. A man gazing at a memorial wreath nailed to a brick wall. The whitewashing of a propaganda mural – the last of its kind. These are the scenes of modern Belfast. The images, both resonant and ordinary, are part of photographer Adam Patterson’s series, Men and My Daddy. The collection of photographs – which features both documented stills from Patterson and found images – tells the story of how the members of Northern Ireland’s largest loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Defense Association, are adjusting to life after the notorious Troubles.

Courtesy Adam Patterson

UDA and UVF members pose for a snapshot taken inside the Maze prison in the early 1990s. The title of Patterson's project comes from the words on the back of the picture, written by the daughter of Tommy (front row, 4th from the left), who features in the project.

“I felt it was a really interesting time; it was a transitional period,” Patterson, who was born in Northern Ireland, said of the country after the fighting had ceased. For decades Northern Ireland was largely characterized by violence and terror as the country divided into two camps: the Protestant unionists and the Catholic nationalists. In 1971, the UDA emerged as a force to be reckoned with, instigating some of the region’s most mobilized fighting. When the conflict was brought to an end and paramilitary groups pledged their commitment to the peace process, the UDA – much like Northern Ireland – was faced with the task of reinventing itself.

Intrigued by the work that was being done, Patterson built relationships with several members of the community. He began documenting one project that focused on repainting the various murals around the region, which featured armed men in what was part of a “fear campaign” established by the UDA. “The idea is to change the murals so they still symbolize the traditions of the area, but not in a violent way,” said Patterson. But soon he became interested in what the reformed men — and their offspring — were dealing with internally as well. Though many were committed to change, Patterson noted that it was a lot easier said than done: “Obviously when people sign up to the peace process minds don’t change overnight.”

As he spent more time at home in Northern Ireland, he came to recognize the different way the country’s youth, who’d only heard of The Troubles secondhand, viewed the process towards peace. “The young people kind of become frustrated that they’ve been cheated out of fighting for this nostalgic idea that’s passed down through the generations,” said Patterson. “They don’t hear the tales of misery or the prison sentences, they only hear these elements of nostalgic stories. They feel like they’ve missed out.” Photographs of youths continuing the traditions of the previous generation — such as building massive bonfires while still being wary of rival youths — attest to the deceptive allure of the country’s history. It’s what Patterson calls a “twisted nostalgia.”

Yet as he became more immersed in his work, Patterson soon felt his own feelings about The Troubles growing complicated as well. “Obviously, I was initially quite apprehensive about it because I didn’t know much about [former UDA members] besides what you’d read in the newspapers which is never good,” he said. “Whether I’ve met these guys or actually think they’re nice guys, is irrelevant to some extent. What the organization stood for and what the organization did was terrible. That’s not excused. But a lot of these guys today would think the same thing.”

Though Patterson maintains that he doesn’t shoot to “change people’s opinions,” after working in his native country he’s come to appreciate the biggest challenge facing these reformed extremists: forging a better path for their sons and daughters to follow.

“It’s about helping young people find a passion,” he says, “so they have something to try and emulate beyond their uncles and forefathers in the very recent history.”

Adam Patterson is a Northern Irish photographer. More of his work can be seen here. Patterson is currently showing work from his project A Very Normal Place at RUA RED in Dublin.

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An Israeli-government appointed committee ruled July 9 that the West Bank was not “occupied” land, something Palestinians who live there — and, indeed, much of the international community — consider it to be ever since Israeli troops seized control of the territory in 1967. The report reaffirms the longstanding view of the Israeli government, particularly the right-wing-led coalition currently in power, and pushes for a number of measures further supporting the presence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. It’s news that can only deepen the sense of outrage and dispossession harbored by Palestinians, who have cause to feel exasperated with the current state of affairs: the peace process with Israel has gone moribund; the Palestinian leadership’s feeble attempt to unilaterally bid for statehood at the U.N. was brushed aside last year, all the while as Israeli settlements further entrench themselves on West Bank soil under the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Every May 15, Palestinians commemorate Nakba day, which marks the “catastrophe” that was the creation of the state of Israel and the subsequent loss of their homeland. In the weeks leading up to Nakba day this year, hundreds of Palestinians in jail had gone on a mass coordinated hunger strike in protest of Israeli detention laws. Scores took to the streets once again, clashing with Israeli security forces. As ever, images of burning tires and stone throwers were beamed around the world.

But American photographer Adam Golfer’s images of the West Bank look beyond the hurly burly of one of the world’s intractable conflicts, past what he terms “the theater of war” and the almost “ritualized” scenes of violence that seem to shape the outsider’s view of the Middle East. Golfer, who is Jewish, has an art background and does not consider himself a photojournalist. He spent three weeks roaming the West Bank last November and five more this February. The resulting photographs are, as he puts it, “not a documentary, but rather something far more personal,” tied to his own meanderings across a land over which “every aspect is disputed.”

Golfer’s photos, he says, “are vignettes of an experience.” They are bathed in a painterly glow, dwelling over terrain that is at once stark and desolate but suffused with centuries of accrued history and memory. In one, three foreign journalists stand atop the stony earth, at the center of the narrative they seek to tell. In another, an Israeli  “Center for Tolerance and Human Dignity”—built despite local protests and appeals—emerges from what is the site of a 7th century Muslim cemetery. A gnarled tree rises out of the foreground, its leafless branches pointing limply at the new construction.

A photo poised on a kitchen counter shows three men whose ties date back to this land well before 1948. “It’s a mixture of nostalgia and also a proof of life,” says Golfer. “I don’t want to sound dramatic, but not long ago Newt Gingrich was saying there’s no such thing as the Palestinian people. Here we have a portrait of a family, a sense of roots, a sense of place.”

That idea of place and of a moment interests Golfer, who hopes to expand his work with field recordings and other media. He says he’s not keen on “running into the line of fire.” Too often, says Golfer, our vision of this region gets represented by a “tableau of violence.”  Instead, he is curious about “how the Palestinian way of life has taken shape”: families negotiate real and imagined boundaries; a line of gorgeous woven rugs airs out in the early evening half-light. “There is a quiet about a lot of the stuff I was looking at,” says Golfer. If so, it’s a silence full of meaning.

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