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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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C. Edwards

Last week, comment sections across the creative community were set ablaze by the Harvard Business Review’s article “Seven Rules for Managing Creative People”, a list of instructions that described the general personality of creative employees with such choice words as “arrogant,” “bipolar” and “psychopathic.”

The article inspired so much vitriol from the online creative community that HBR has since changed its title to “Seven Rules For Managing Creative-But-Difficult People,” clarifying that, “Its intent is to discuss a small subset of people who happen to be both creative and difficult to work with; not to imply that all creative people are difficult.”

For those managers out there too busy corralling their unruly ‘creatives’ to read the entire piece, here are the original 7 rules in a nutshell (if you are a creative, please avert your eyes):

  1. Spoil them and let them fail
  2. Surround them by semi-boring people
  3. Only involve them in meaningful work
  4. Don’t pressure them
  5. Pay them Poorly
  6. Surprise Them
  7. Make them feel important

Along with updating the article title, HBR has also amended what is arguably the most egregious of the rules to: “#5. Don’t Overpay Them,” which seems especially scandalous considering the amount of creative individuals working through freelance and contract positions without benefits and health insurance. The author of the piece (pictured left), Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic (@DrTCP) has also attempted to elaborate on this subject via Twitter: Save for a few tweets like the one above and one that states “…it represents my professional opinion, which is informed by science and practice,” Dr. Chamorro has, perhaps wisely, said little about the article since it was published. Cartoon Brew reached out to him for comment, but at the time of this writing, he had not responded to our interview requests.

The rest of the Internet has been anything but silent though, and there have been a multitude of responses to the article that raise some well thought out conclusions for the disenfranchised creative individual.

For those seeking to maintain the “us” vs. “them” divide, there’s Lancer Creative Services eye-for-an-eye response, “Seven Rules or Putting up with Management”, which includes advice like “Accept that they don’t get us” and “Remember that Money is everything to them”.

Stevie Moore of Studiospectre takes a more empowered stance, seeing the mere knowledge of the directives as just another tool in the creative professional’s arsenal:

“I think this is a good example of how, of the internet and social networking’s double edge can actually work in our favor. By publishing that, the author is just arming us with knowledge and evidence to ensure a future where creatives have equal roles in the industry, which I dare say all of us here feel is best.”

Cennydd Bowles of AListApart.com finds a more egalitarian view that benefits more than just “creatives” and “non-creatives”:

“The premise that underpins this and many similar articles is that creativity is a binary property: some people are blessed (or cursed) with it, others aren’t…Thankfully, the premise is flawed. Creativity is not a binary ability but a muscle that needs exercise… everyone has creative capacity.”

And indie filmmaker David O’Reilly, who recently directed an episode of Adventure Time, provides a painfully succinct response to the entire editorial debacle, aimed directly at the author himself:

However, there are still a couple of fundamental questions getting buried beneath all of the hurt feelings and defensive misunderstandings that make up a lion’s share of the response. Questions like: In today’s professional landscape, what defines a “creative”? And where exactly would these suggestions even be considered by management as viable options rather than ignored for potential risks to the bottom line?

(Typical artist photo via Shutterstock)

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As usual in this kind of international photo competition, there's a couple of winning shots about Palestine, some portraits of magnificently coiffed people, plenty of violent deaths, prisoners living in dire conditions and almost half of these talented photographers are Italian. I'm very impressed by the Afrometals series, btw continue

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Twenty-three years after it was eradicated in the United States, polio still stalks Pakistan, one of three countries left in the world where the devastating disease remains endemic. Prevention should be easy – all it takes is two drops of the vaccine, administered three different times, for a child to become immune. For years, polio has hovered on the brink of extinction in Pakistan, thanks in part to a 25-year effort by UNICEF, WHO, the CDC and Rotary International that has established a system of nationwide vaccinations that take place every six weeks. In 1988 there were 350,000 cases of polio in 125 different countries; today, that number is down to 176 cases in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Hopes that polio could be knocked out for good in Pakistan faltered this summer when a pair of militant commanders in the ungoverned tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan banned the program, saying no vaccination teams should come to the area until the drone campaign against militants came to a halt — essentially holding the nation’s children hostage. The militant ban has spread amongst Pakistan’s Pashtun population, reaching as far as Karachi, in the country’s south.

There were 48 cases of paralytic polio last year in Pakistan, down from 154 in 2011. And while the cases are concentrated in the Pashtun speaking populations of Khyber Pakhhtunwa Province and the tribal areas, many of them have direct links to Gadap Town, Karachi’s biggest slum. Home to more than 400,000 people, of which 60,000 are children under the age of five, the tightly packed warren of concrete-block low-rise apartment buildings and small family compounds has become something of a black hole for government services. There is only one basic health clinic to serve the entire population, no sanitation services, no water treatment and a high likelihood that waste water is mixed with drinking water. For polio, it is the perfect storm, combining limited access, bad hygiene, low education levels and severe malnutrition: the polio virus has recently been found in water samples collected from the fetid stream that runs through the slum, a popular playground for area children. One polio worker recounts watching young children play tea party there, sipping stream water from the lids of water bottles scavenged among the heaps of rotting refuse lining the banks.

Pashtun-speaking migrants from the tribal areas dominate the area, and militant networks have made inroads among the population. Local officials call Gadap town “mini Waziristan,” in reference to an area near the Afghan border that is home to both the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda linked militants. It’s not much of an exaggeration. In Gadap town, women, if they are seen at all, wear the trademark shuttlecock burqa of the Pashtun heartland. A recent survey conducted in Karachi by the World Health Organization noted that Pashtuns account for 75 percent of Pakistan’s polio cases even though they are only 15 percent of the population. Pakistan will never be free of polio, concluded the report, until a way is found to persuade poor Pashtuns to vaccinate their children. The Pakistani government is working with local communities on an education campaign, and making sure that every child on a public bus coming into or out of Karachi gets the drops. Still, some families have had to learn about the value of the vaccine the hard way.

Not so long ago, every child in Muhib Banda, a Pashtun village not far from the provincial capital of Peshawar, was vaccinated each time the polio teams came through. Local shopkeeper Saiful Islam says that he made sure his sons were first in line. But in late May, rumors swept through the town, as vicious and quick as a virus. “Some people were saying that the polio vaccine was made of pig urine, or monkey urine,” says Islam. “They said that it was a conspiracy to make Muslim children infertile. I believed them.” When the vaccinators came through a few days later, he refused to answer their knock. He refused again in July. And then his six month-old daughter Sulaim came down with a fever. When she recovered, she could no longer move her legs. It’s likely that she will never be able to walk. “Our ignorance made her paralyzed,” says Islam. He has pledged to join the fight against the disease, praying that Sulaim will be its last victim.

Diego Ibarra Sánchez is a Spanish documentary photography based in Pakistan.

Aryn Baker is the Middle-East bureau chief for TIME.

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Jon Brodkin writes "Pity poor Mega Man. The little blue robot boy with a gun for a hand was one of the most popular heroes in the Nintendo Entertainment System's heyday, starring in a video game series almost every bit as good as The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. The original Mega Man series resulted in some great games for the original NES and the Super Nintendo. But then he dropped (swiftly) from the face of the Earth. Attempts to bring Mega Man into the 3D world resulted in games not nearly as fun as their predecessors. Most recently, the planned Mega Man Legends 3 for Nintendo 3DS managed to generate a bit of fan excitement, but the project was canceled in July 2011. Gamers moved on — some grudgingly. Fans have clamored for Capcom to revive Mega Man for years, and it's happened to some extent. Mega Man 9 and 10 came out in 2008 and 2010, respectively, continuing the original series with the same graphical and gameplay style perfected in the 1980s. And Monday, something perhaps even more exciting occurred for Mega Man's 25th anniversary: the release of Street Fighter X Mega Man, a celebration of two excellent game series that have lost their luster in the HD age." Read on for the rest of Jon's review.

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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

Kir Esadov

The House That Kir Built

play this essay

 

This is not a reportage type project, although much of it was taken while I was doing reportage work.

You can rather name it a fairytale than a rough veracity of life, although, again, in the heart of any fairytale lays the truth.

Some of it appears as a proof of existence of marvelous events, some of it is just a digital modified shot that has nothing to do with serious documentary type of work. Ultimately, this was not a planned out unified series.

I feel that I can never do consistent photographic series. My goal is to create a massive and complete view of my tiny and immature inner anxiety. Very slowly, step by step, this micro world is forming from pieces, fragments, shards of the physical world.

The house that Jack built. The circus stage that Kir built.

In the course of the story I’d like to take the opportunity and say hello to my mother. Dear Ma, things are going pretty smoothly, though I look worse. Boris has developed metastases, intestines will be removed. Adah already has lost her breast, but do not worry, it is unnoticeable under her clothes and we have been promised to stew a new one soon, we just need to save up a little first.

Rustam has AIDS. Marta also doesn’t seem very well, but she is always a pain in the s. Neither of them wants to take their pills. Galya has spread her arms and is waiting for applause. A grave has spread its legs and is craving love. Music is starting.

Nevertheless, this story is not about social issues, this story is about the egocentrism of the author who creates some kind of refuge where it is possible to shelter, to forget, so that all our grudges, all our fears would not seem so significant.

A music is starting. A fever is rising. Strike the violin, touch the lute. To wake yourself and to hop into dense weekdays. To give blood for some tests and to leap into a magic world right away. We are invincible while we jump.

 

Bio

Kir Esadov was born in 1988 in Moscow to a circus family.

He received a B.A. in social pedagogy in 2008. After graduating, he worked at a special orphanage for children with severe speech disorders.

In 2011 he graduated from the Rodchenko’s Art School. He had three solo exhibitions in Russia and he also had several group exhibitions in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kiev, Zrenjanin, Belgrade.

He has participated at QueerFest 2011 in St. Petersburg and Fotofest 2012 in Houston. At the moment he works as freelance theatre photographer.

 
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Kir Esadov

 

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When you buy your first pinball machine, it is fine with your wife. When you buy your second pinball machine, she asks "Why? You have one already". After number three and four she believes you must...

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With all due respect to the Who, we will get fooled again. That’s what humans do. At one time or another, we suspend disbelief about virtually everything. And why not? As social creatures, we’re wired to trust others.

But what about when we know, with absolute certainty, that someone’s trying to put one over on us and rather than resisting, we embrace it? What does it say about the power of denial, not to mention our thirst for entertainment, when we actively seek out and celebrate artfully executed trickery?

A new show at the Met, Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop, shines a thoughtful light on the work of men and women who, throughout the history of the medium, have playfully (and, occasionally, with more sinister motives) doctored their own and others’ images. Not content with merely presenting the works themselves, though, Faking It also holds up something of a funhouse mirror to the viewer’s preconceptions of what photography really is—and what it means.

After all, if photographers, printers and others involved in the craft have for centuries been altering the “reality” of what the camera captures—as, of course, they always have, and always will—then where is the hard, bright line between, say, a masterwork of photojournalism tweaked and perfected in the dark room and a photo adroitly doctored to make a political point? Professional photo editors might be able to say, with absolute sincerity, “That hard, bright line exists here.” But for the casual observer, the lay viewer, that distinction might feel like little more than an academic splitting of hairs; what matters is that a picture elicits a response—and with few exceptions, the images in Faking It do just that.

More than a few pictures in the show are memorable for the very reason that they are so obviously, to our contemporary eyes, manufactured. A French artist’s photo made to look like that of a man juggling his own head (slide 8 in the gallery above) might have stunned people in the 1880s; today, not so much—even if we can appreciate the deliberate effort and even the intent that went into creating it. An image of two Soviet premiers seated together, meanwhile, is so clearly an (altered) attempt to consecrate the mass-murdering Stalin as the rightful successor of Lenin that the picture would be comical if we didn’t have such a dreadful understanding of how brutal Stalin’s decades-long reign really was.

Other photos strike a chord for the simple reason that they are, by any measure, beautiful. The dream-like “Orpheus Scene” (1907) by the early fine-art photographer F. Holland Day is so wonderfully moody that, at first glance, it might be the handiwork of the great French Symbolist painter Odilon Redon.

In the end, perhaps the pleasure we take in these pictures derives not from our sophisticated, skeptical, eminently modern sensibility in the age of Instagram, Pixelmator and the rest, but instead can be traced to a simpler, far more elemental source: our capacity, and our longing, for wonder.

Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from Oct. 11, 2012 through Jan. 27, 2013.

Ben Cosgrove is the editor of LIFE.com.

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