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Allison Davis O’Keefe

One Goal

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Grand Forks, North Dakota. Winter. It’s so cold you can barely breathe, and 12,000 people don’t care.

They brave the wind, snow, and negative temperatures to watch their beloved University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux hockey team, and they expect a win — because they don’t hang second place banners in their hundred million dollar arena.

In this town children proudly wear the jerseys of 19-year-old superstars; wait hours to collect the signature of those who are college kids one minute and professionals the next. Families plan their lives around hockey – weddings, vacations, honeymoons – and the most common outfit in Christmas photos is the latest Sioux hockey gear.

Over the course of documenting the team’s 2010-2011 season, I discovered an intrinsic need for people to come together around a common goal – the fans, who support their team with passion, the individual, who commits himself, body and soul, to be a member of the team, and the coach who is a mentor, disciplinarian, and leader.

The goal of every team is to win, but this season the Fighting Sioux seemed destined for glory. They had one goal – to win the national championship. And when, just two games from that goal, they ultimately lost to the University of Michigan at the 2011 Frozen Four tournament, there was shock in their locker room.

It was well past midnight and players couldn’t bring themselves to remove their jerseys or pack up their gear. It was then that I realized this was so much more than a game.

It is about skill, focus, and determination, but also, as I learned, camaraderie, sacrifice, elation, struggle, and, ultimately, a twist of fate, a bounce of the puck.

It is also about relationships, like the one between a father and daughter who never missed a game, even if it meant watching from a hospital bed. Or the relationship between friends who have played together, lived together, and fought together.

This work was published by Burn Magazine as a book entitled One Goal in November 2012.

“(…) One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the look into the otherwise-closed-off life of [Coach] Hakstol. Hakstol is stoic and reserved on the bench and for the media, rarely causing controversy anywhere. But his emotional side exudes throughout, as pictures of him with his fists in the air celebrating a win, or embracing his wife or looking after his kids show a personable side that undoubtedly exists, even if television cameras or column inches in a newspaper don’t show it. And that curiosity perhaps makes Hakstol’s presence in the book an interesting twist” – from Timothy Borger’s review on USCHO.com

“As a Minnesotan I’ve spent many hours watching hockey. My University of Minnesota hockey experiences run from ushering at games as a Boy Scout to photographing the Hockey Gophers when I was at the Minneapolis Tribune. I find the book not only gives an intimate and revealing look at the sport, but also does a great job of communicating the cold and bleakness of winter in North Dakota. Nothing is colder than a windy, snowy, dark night on the prairie. ” – Kent Kobersteen, Former Director of Photography, National Geographic Magazine

 

Bio

Allison Davis O’Keefe is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College and the International Center of Photography. Her photography has captured the U.S. landscape in portraits of a cross-country journey, the 2004 & 2008 U.S. presidential campaigns, the apex of power on Capitol Hill, and, most recently, the curiosities of life and sports through the lens of a college hockey team’s season. For nine years, Allison worked for CBS News in New York and Washington, and as part of the team was honored with an Emmy Award for coverage of 9/11 Allison attended the Eddie Adams Workshop in its 25th anniversary year.

 

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Allison Davis O’Keefe

One Goal

 

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Virgil DiBiase

One Man

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“You should not learn your lines, you should not hit your mark, and you should never follow your light. Find your light — that’s my opinion.” — Joaquin Phoenix (actor)

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” — Henry Chinaski (barfly)

 

We’ve seen these men. We’ve seen them as we pass through dilapidated downtowns, probably within a few blocks of the bus station where transients congregate; hard lean men, cigarettes hanging from their lips, maybe a half pint in their back pocket. We’ve seen them under a bridge or pushing a shopping cart filled with meagre possessions through the trash-strewn vacant lots that pollute the urban landscape. The sight of these men makes us feel discomforted, nervous, maybe a little scared. If we have a camera, we are probably tempted to use it on them, if we think we can get away with it.

What do we find so attractive about these men that we want to capture their image? Photographers are overwhelmingly middle class, probably upper-middle class, if not trust-funded children of great wealth; as are most gallery owners, museum curators, publishers, editors and audience for high-end photography. Yet somehow we are hopelessly attracted to images of these gritty “others,” especially when they are framed by staggering poverty. The result is far too many photos that say, in essence, “Look ma, poor people!” Or black people, foreign people, disabled people, mentally disturbed people, and so on. The rough is more pleasing than the smooth. The face with the stubble more attractive than the clean-shaven. Dark skin more pleasing than the light. The unruly hair more interesting than the well-coifed. We want images of people with some kind, any kind, of problem or difference that sets them apart from, if not below, our comfortable middle class existence.

We tell ourselves and anyone else who will listen that we photograph these men to draw attention to their plight, to help them though the publicity the photos provide. Suffice it to say, I’m skeptical, both about the purity of the motive and the likelihood that any help will be forthcoming. Some no doubt see these kinds of images as a career opportunity, a chance for self-aggrandizement. For most, taking these kinds of photos will end up, at best, as a learning experience. Of course there’s rarely a single motive for our actions. But whatever the differing motives for photographing these men; whatever the differing opinions about how they have become what they have become; whatever any of us may think should be done about it; just about all of us share one thing in common: These men should not be as they are. We think something is wrong.

At this late stage in photo history, it’s nearly impossible to make photographs of men like these, or have any kind of photographic vision about them that has not been done before. To shoot the subjects that everyone wants to shoot, the ones that have been done the most, it becomes ever more difficult to produce original work. See what I mean. And it’s not just that the photos we are likely to make of these men are clichés. Much more often than not, the photographers who take them become clichés. Go out and take a picture of a sleeping bum and tell me you don’t feel at least a little embarrassed.

Given all that, when I saw the first photo in Virgil DiBiase’s series “1 Man,” my first thought was “oh no, more pictures of bums.”

But as the slideshow progressed, I couldn’t help noticing the eyes of these men.

Against expectations, the photos did not seem to show men who had lost everything. They were not about men who had become what they had become. They were about men being who they Are. They showed men who had found something. Men who had found freedom. You could see it in their eyes.

And I realized those eyes said something about the photographer as well. These men were not objects of pity. They were objects of esteem. They had found freedom. The photographer was seeking it. Again, you could see it in their eyes.

Their freedom is much more than simple freedom from dull jobs, asshole bosses and office politics; of soul deadening social obligations and the bills that everyone else finds stuffed in their mailboxes every day. These men seem free of regrets, guilt or any kind of embarrassment about their situation, unlike most the rest of us who are, at best, free only to the extent we can choose our own prison. These men, rather than choose prison, choose the open sky. That their faces mirror the trashed out dwellings of the urban landscape through which they roam tells us the price of that freedom was steep. Their eyes tell us it was worth it.

I know Virgil would like me to end this right there. “1 Man” is  about the photographs, not about the photographer. But since I’ve opined at such length about other photographers’ motives, I feel I should tell you something about his.

He didn’t set out to make a photo project of homeless men or drifters, much less to photograph any nebulous abstraction such as freedom in the eyes of “others.” He sought a friend of his who had become mentally ill and disappeared. He made many trips looking for that friend and over many years got to know the seedy downtowns, vacant lots, bridges and underpasses throughout the urban American landscape. Sometimes he found his friend, sometimes he didn’t. Along the way he met a lot of similar people, saw something special in them, and photographed what he saw. That’s the story behind the story. Those are the facts.

Those facts are interesting, but only as a footnote or sidebar. I think they partially explain the success of the work. Only by having no interest in photographing street people, of actually being hostile to the general idea, could he so successfully photograph street people. But that is not central to the story, or even necessary. It’s the realities and fictions we see in these men’s faces and in their eyes that are the tale. That, and how we see, or fail to see, something about ourselves in them. Facts have nothing to do with it.

— Michael Webster

 

“How many hypocrites are there in America? How many trembling lambs, fearful of discovery? What authority have we set up over ourselves that we are not as we Are?” — Allen Ginsberg (poet)

“What goes through my heart and soul as I meet these guys is my longing for the freedom they seem to have. On the surface we all are so quick to judge. Wouldn’t it be nice to be the rich guy with a house and car. Or how sad to be homeless with no shoes. Neither is true. So we are all on this personal journey to find freedom. Truth is, all we need to do is choose freedom. Anywhere. Anytime.” — Virgil DiBiase (photographer)

 

Bio

Virgil DiBiase is a photographer living in northwest Indiana.

 

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Virgil DiBiase

Virgil DiBiase was a student in the Miami 2012 workshop. Some of these photographs were taken during the workshop.

 

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Aaron Vincent Elkaim

Fort McKay: Sleeping With The Devil

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For thousands of years the Cree and Dene people of the Athabasca River in Northern Alberta have watched, as the tarry sands along their banks oozed into the river and stuck to their feet.

In the 1950s Premier Earnest Manning was devising a plan to detonate an atomic bomb underground, in an attempt to extract these difficult deposits of oil. At that time the Reserve of Fort McKay, situated 63 km North of Fort McMurray, had no roads connecting it to the rest of Canada. They lived from a traditional lifestyle of hunting and trapping, but as 83-year-old elder Zackary Powder says, it’s not like it used to be, everything has changed.

Today the worlds largest and most environmentally destructive oil extraction project, the Alberta Oil Sands, surround them. Where trappers cabins once stood are now toxic lakes of mine tailings, and endless moonscapes that have been stripped of their bitumen-laced sand with electric shovels five stories high.

Aware to the futility of resistance, the people of Fort McKay decided to partner with industry in 1986. Entrepreneurial endeavors, employment and industry compensations have provided economic prosperity the likes of which few Canadian First Nations have experienced. It is said to be the richest reserve in Canada, but the people here know their prosperity is not without consequence. As elder and former Syncrude electrician Norman Simpson says, sometimes you have to sleep with the Devil.

Stories of moose hunts and life in the bush are told with enthusiasm and pride, but, as industry grows, the land succumbs. The rivers and fish are poisoned, their tap water is no longer potable, the animals are keeping their distance, and the quality of wild meat is in question. Cancer, respiratory disease, drug addiction and other illnesses plague the community. In a country where the norm for reserves is high poverty, unemployment and dismal housing, Fort McKay is marketed as a success story, but the people here know the truth is much more complicated.

 

Bio

Aaron Vincent Elkaim (b.1981) is a documentary photographer, whose work has earned international recognition.

Aaron received a BA in Cultural Anthropology and Film Studies in his hometown of Winnipeg, Canada, before he found photography.

Currently based in Toronto, Aaron approaches his subjects through an anthropological lens with a focus on cultural and historical narratives that reflect and inform his own sense of the world. Though born of individual experience, Aaron’s work seeks to provide its audience with new and varied perspectives on the complexities of humanity and its environment.

His work has been exhibited at Fotographia International Photography Festival in Rome, Voices Off Rencontres d’Arles, the NY Photo Festival, and the Reportage Photography Festival in Australia. His Clients include the Globe and Mail, The Canadian Press, and the Wall Street Journal.

Aaron is a founding member of the Boreal Collective.

 

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Aaron Vincent Elkaim

Boreal Collective

 

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Christopher Capozziello

A State Of Mind

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This story began two years ago at a funeral home in the center of my hometown in Connecticut.

I stood in a line of a thousand or so people, with my good friend Laura, and her mother Bea. As we mourned the death of our friend Vinnie, a recovering drug addict, who relapsed and died of a heroin overdose, Bea told me how Vinnie had helped Monica, her youngest daughter, detox from heroin 5 months prior. She explained how afraid she was that his death would put Monica into a tailspin. Unfortunately, that is how this story goes.

When Monica was a young child, the pastor of the church she and her family attended, allegedly molested her over a 5-year period. When she was 18, she told her family what happened. Her accusations have never been confirmed and since the offense took place so long ago, Monica’s parents cannot bring suit against the pastor. Her parents believe this explains her many years of drug abuse.

Last year, Monica became pregnant with a man she met in rehab in Florida. Monica and Kyle stayed clean for 7 months before they both relapsed; just two months before the birth of their daughter Juliette. Following the birth, they both continued to intravenously use opiates.

When the baby was born, Bea traveled to Florida to help her daughter’s transition into motherhood. While Bea was there, Kyle became extremely volatile one night, and threatened to kill Monica, yet they remain a couple. Before Bea left for Connecticut, Monica told her to take Juliette, ‘I can’t raise her like this, not while I’m using.’

Today, baby Juliette is safe with Bea and her husband Don, in Connecticut, while Monica remains in Florida. I plan to investigate deeper into the molestation allegations.

 

Bio

Christopher Capozziello (born 1980) is a freelance photographer and a founding member of the AEVUM photography collective.

His work is primarily about inviting the viewer into personal stories in order to understand different facets of life. His projects often make unpleasant realities beautiful, not by misleading anyone, but by allowing the viewer to stop and look more deeply at the subject.

Christopher’s work has been honored by World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International, the Alexia Foundation, the Aftermath Project Grant, PDN Photo Annual, Photolucidas Critical Mass, Review Santa Fe, American Photography, Communication Arts, National Press Photographers Association, among others.

He currently lives in Milford, Connecticut, where he accepts assignments and works on long-term personal projects.

 

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Lost & Found

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Family photos swept by 3/11 East Japan Tsunami

All these pictures were found in a town named Yamamoto-cho, in Miyagi Prefecture. On March 11th, 2011 at 2:26 PM, Yamamoto-cho was hit by a huge earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0, 50% of the town was flooded when the tsunami came after the earthquake hit. The tsunami not only swept the harbor away, but also many houses, cars, trains, as well as people. 614 people died out of the townʼs population of 16,700, 4 are still missing, and 2,209 buildings were completely destroyed, 1,062 buildings half destroyed, and 1,110 buildings were partially destroyed. Yamamoto-cho was a peaceful small town, just like any other in rural Japan.

The project “Salvage Memory” was started by a team of young researchers from The Japan Society for Socio-Information Studies. We are trying to return 130,000 pictures that were damaged by the tsunami to their owners, by sweeping the dirt off, rinsing them with water, and taking pictures of the photographs to create digital data. More than 500 people volunteered for this project, and 1100 photo albums and 1900 photographs were returned to their owners. As of November 2011, the project was still going on and we were using the digital data to find owners of still unclaimed photographs. Unfortunately, about 30,000 photos were too badly damaged and could not be returned. They were supposed to be thrown out, but instead we decided to exhibit them to give people an opportunity to see them in the belief that these photos carry powerful messages. This is how the “Lost and Found Project” began.

The “Lost and Found Project” was first launched to give people the opportunity to see the photographs swept away by the tsunami in the East Japan Earthquake disaster. These photographs draw us into their presence and make us become aware of their silent voices. This awareness is very important for us who are living in the present and will continue to live into the future. This exhibition should give us an opportunity to think about the relationship people have with their photographs and also to think about the significance of photographs themselves.

“Lost and Found Project” was previously shown in Tokyo, Los Angeles, NY, Melbourne, parts of it in San Francisco and now in Rome, with different installations in each location, making each exhibition a unique and personal experience.

~ Sako Shimizu

 

The exhibition

The XI edition of Fotografia – Festival Internazionale di Roma, this year dedicated to the theme of work, shows  the project “Lost & Found 3/11″, supported by Doozo Gallery , who has set up a structure for the MACRO Testaccio in Rome.

For the occasion, the gallery in collaboration with 3/3 have produced a small volume, which pieces together an ideal family album, symbol of the deep link between personal and collective memory that enters the work of recovery and conservation of photographs.

Project President and vice-Chairman: Munemasa Takahashi e Kazuto Hoshi.

With the patronage of the The Japan Cultural Insttute in Rome.

Responsible for the project in Italy: Annalisa D’Angelo, Stefano Ruffa and 3/3.

 

Editor’s note

Photographers want to tell stories. Sometimes stories demand attention through the images. And usually, what is depicted inside the frame, is somehow related to the story told. But in these images there is no relation between them whatsoever, because the images were made for a completely different reason and tell stories unrelated. The story they tell happened outside them. There is nothing sad in these pictures besides the fact that we can see them, NOT being part of a family album anymore.

As Burn magazine we look at this project with big admiration and respect for the work done by the ones who decided to save and present these images. In its dramatic beauty this project is an extraordinary homage to life,  full of meanings for identity of photography.

~ Diego Orlando

 

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Alejandro Olivares

Living Periferia

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How many times can a person face death in their lives?
Sense it. Feel it. Smell it. Maybe once? Twice? Four times?

The people captured in “Living Periferia” live with it every day of their lives. The violence, the drugs, the weapons, the lost bullets, which take dozens of lives every year… The fights, the battles with the police. Some barely escape. Others fall in the street law and to save them from oblivion their friends and family draw enormous pictures of them on the walls of the shantytown. It’s a posthumous tribute to their courage, their way to remember them as local heroes.

This work dives in a forgotten world, where many times not even mailmen are allowed in. It’s a world that goes beyond poverty. Wide ghettos in the further corners of Santiago where the State has managed for years to dump what they would rather not see. What investments must never see. What rich people should better keep ignoring.

Chile is now one of the richest countries in South America. The government celebrates the 4.4% economical growth in the last year and everyone claps when they say the international crisis hasn’t reached yet. But no one looks at this face of Chile when they receive the applauses. Derelict that generates more derelict. Violence that generates more violence. The toughest and more efficient school of crime. A society inside the society whit their own codes and mechanics that result inconceivable for the rest of the world. The order inside the chaos, where only the one who yells louder, the one who hits harder or the one who shoots faster can emerge. Or survive.

These photos are a personal puzzle about fragmented social representations. The foreign eyes of someone that, of all the going round, ended up being a local. But who’s look reflects the beauty of an ugly and shocking world to the eyes of whom looks from across the street.

 

Bio

Alejandro Olivares (1981) is a Chilean photographer currently living in Santiago, Chile. He is the photo editor of The Clinic Magazine; correspondent for foreign agencies, several international agencies and photographer for “Felicidad” Design Agency in Chile. His work is divided between press coverage and documentary essay.

He has won multiple awards including; National Hall of Press Photo (Chile), Photo of the Year in the bicentenary version of the National Hall of Press Photo (Chile), Photo of the Year in Querétaro Photo Fest in Mexico, along with the second place in documentary essay in the same festival. He was nominated for the Rodrigo Rojas de Negri award in the years 2009, 2011, and 2012 and he was selected for the briefcase visionary PhotoEspaña 2011 in República Dominicana.

His work has been featured in exhibitions in Chile, Spain and the United States and has been published in several Chilean magazines and journals including “Qué Pasa”, “Joia”, “Pound”, “Guamá”, “Artishock” and “La Nación”. He has also published in foreign medias like “Soho” (Colombia), “Internazionale” (Italy), “Focus” (Italy), “10×15″ (Spain), “Piel de Foto” (Spain).

He has been honorably mentioned in the Zoom-In Poverty Contest, from the Agence Xinhua, China.

 

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Maki Maki

Welcome 2 My Room

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Internet is reachable by millions of people each second. They can communicate with each other, and sometimes very private things are told and shown on internet blogs through photos, videos, writings. Although initially it was not intentioned, this is what I experienced with this series called “Welcome 2 My Room”.

Usually, to take a photograph, you have to be physically in front of the person you want to shoot with your camera. It all changed on the internet with chats, webcams and other ways to meet virtually the image of people on the screen of your computer. In this photo work I experienced a new way to take photographs by taking, with an analog polaroid camera, portraits on my computer screen, chatting live with sex workers through their webcams.

The starting point of this series of photo portraits was the discovery of a website in the Philippines. A peep show with chat and webcam. Girls and boys working at home alone, or several persons together in so called “studios”. Omnipresence of precarity. At that time they were more than 300, now there are twice as much…

Sometimes links are created, other times it’s “just business”. All those gazes, those stories intersecting, including mine…

I started taking pictures of them with my old polaroid camera on my computer screen. I used to shoot people I meet, so why not do it by computer screen interposed. Sometimes the exchanges and discussions are intense. Laying bare the feelings, the lives, the bodies… Sincerity encounters with cunning. But of course there’s the money. They will do anything to make you pay. But sometimes on the spot of our conversations, emotion overwhelms… Tears of blood…

Finally thousands of polaroid snapshots (and also some black and white roll films) were taken in my bedroom in front of my computer screen during the highlights of our conversations or private shows…Trying to give a face to sex… As always image rule as a unique weapon… We play with it, we come with it …

 

Bio

Born and living in Marseille (France) since 1964.

He studied photography at the beginning of the 80s and is into photography since then. In 2000 he turns towards a more experimental and intimate photography.

He’s participated in solo and group photo exhibitions in Europe and Japan, and been published in exhibition catalogs, record covers, art magazines, books…

Actually he’s working on a series about Japan called “Japan Somewhere”. Some photos of this series will be published in December 2012 inside the photobook “MONO” about contemporary black and white photographers, edited by Gommabooks together with other photographers such as Antoine d’Agata, Daido Moriyama, Anders Petersen, Roger Ballen, Trent Parke…

Since 2007 he is founding member of the Collective of European photographers SMOKE.

In 2010 he created Média Immédiat Publishing, a book collection actually composed of 9 mini photobooks including photographers like Morten Andersen, Ed Templeton, Onaka Koji, Jukka Onnela, Daisuke Ichiba.

 

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EPF 2012 Finalist

 

Bieke Depoorter

‘I Am About To Call It A Day’

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‘I am about to call it a day’ is a sequel on ‘Ou Menya’, a project where I entered the intimacy of families in Russia, while spending one night with them.
This time, I have travelled through the United States. It is a series of portraits of places and people where I spent the night while passing through. I meet my family-for-the night on the streets. The social contact, the short and intense encounters and the mutual trust for them to take me into their most intimate privacy is an important element in my work.

 

Bio

Bieke Depoorter (1986) received her master’s degree in photography from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK) in Ghent in 2009. She is mostly working on autonomous projects. In search of family intimacy, she spends the night at people’s houses. This year her first book ‘Ou Menya’ was published. Since 2011 Bieke is member of the Paris-based photo agency/collective Tendance Floue.

 

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EPF 2012 Finalist

 

Laia Abril

II Chapter on Eating Disorders ‘THINSPIRATION’

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The Pro Ana community has turned anorexia (Ana) into its dogma. This illness has even been embodied by the members of this group; they venerate it as the one giving meaning to their totalitarian ‘life style’. It’s a virtual reality where they state their commandments, share motivating tricks and exchange hundreds of images of thin models via their blogs. They have created ‘thinspiration’, a new visual language – obsessively consumed to keep on wrestling with the scales day after day.

Looking at their delusions in greater detail, I find out a new symptom in their behavior. Interacting with their own cameras in a competition in which they portray their achievements in the form of bony clavicles or flat bellies, the pro Ana have made thinspiration evolve.

I decide to look for the answer by re-taking their self-portraits with the intention of establishing a conversation between their camera and mine. I shut myself up in a dark room as if it were a model session, placing my tripod in front of the computer in such a way that, when you look through the lens, it’s only me and them. I photograph them in their rooms, in their bathrooms. They pose provocatively, narcissistically.

Pro-anorexis consume in a wicked game between admiration and repulsion: the pro-bones, where the protagonists are anorexic and are at an extreme stage of the illness. The images that I took from then on disassociate themselves from the character to turn into abstract body landscapes at the gates of the abyss. They are the visual response to the bond between obsession and self-destruction; the disappearance of one’s own identity.

‘Thinspiration’ is the second chapter of a long-term project about Eating Disorders I started almost two years ago. Furthermore it is an introspective journey, based in my personal experience, through the nature of obsessive desire and the limits of auto-destruction, denouncing new risk factors within the disease: the social networks and photography.

 

Bio

Laia Abril (Barcelona, 1986) is a documentary photographer and journalist.
Her work has been exhibited and appraised in Italy, Spain, Bosnia, Germany, London and New York on events like NY FotoFestival or the 3rd Lumix Festival. Her editorial work has been published in different international magazines such as D Repubblica, The Sunday Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ, FT Magazine or COLORS Magazine, where she has been a member of the editorial staff since 2009, when she enrolled at the Fabrica artists residency – the Benetton research centre in Italy.

In 2010 she joined the agency Reportage by Getty as an emerging talent after being finalist at the Ian Parry Award in 2009/10. Most recently she was selected for the Plat(t)form Winterthur FotoMuseum and nominated at the Joop Swart Masterclass.

She is currently working as a staff photographer, blogger and Associate Picture Editor for COLORS combining her freelance career and keeping developing her personal project.

 

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Marc Shoul

Brakpan

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Brakpan is a small town that lies on the East Rand of Gauteng, sandwiched between Boksburg, Benoni and Springs. A once-prosperous mining community, today there are pawnshops, roadhouses, mechanics, mini casinos and other day-to-day shops lining the two main roads that slice through the town. Brakpan is like going back in time; so many aspects of the town remind me of old images I have seen of South Africa. Despite all the changes in nearby Johannesburg, Brakpan still goes about its business in much the same way it did before.  There is a lack of modern development. You don’t see Tuscan townhouse complexes or buildings with glass facades. It’s all very simple and straight forward – almost transparent, and this transparency can be seen in the people too. You won’t find any airs or graces, no fancy cappuccino shops, sushi cafes or organic goods in Brakpan.

The town does not seem to have benefited from its gold rush glory days, which spanned between 1911 until the mid 1950’s, and it now has very little to show for its’ past. Today, the once flourishing mining town only pulls out a small portion of gold compared to what it used to generate, and some disused gold mines now only sell rubble.

A second factor that has contributed to Brakpan’s sense of preservation is the development of Carnival Mall and Casino, which conveniently lies just off the highway a few kilometers away from Brakpan Central. All the major chains and retail shops have moved to the mall and, as a result, the town centre has been left untouched and undeveloped, stunting it economically and leaving its inhabitants with little opportunities.

And yet there are many faces to modern Brakpan. Young girls push prams while karaoke competition winners don’t get their promised prizes. Pirated DVD’s get sold on the streets, crippling the nearby video shops that rent out older movies. There is a sense of nostalgia that remains and is reflected in the buildings and in the people. This is a place where you can still enjoy school and church fete’s, rugby matches, old bars, sokkie jols, biker rallies, fishing and braaiing at the Brakpan Dam; all of which are a part of the local’s lives.

Here there is a peacefulness and relaxed country town feel, without the stress about what tomorrow may bring.  The people of Brakpan live in the now but are still bound by the constraints of the past.

The images presented here are printed on Multigrade V1 FB Fibre matt photographic paper. Exhibition prints are 40cm by 40cm in size in an edition of 10.

Bio

Marc Shoul lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was born in 1975 in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa and graduated (with honors in photography) from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 1999. Since then, he has had several exhibitions of his work including group shows at the Arts Association of Bellville, Fusion (1999), Artscape, Mental Health, (2001) Cape Town, Month of Photography, Detour, (2002), Cape Town, Photo ZA, Obsess (2004) and Resolution Gallery, Faces (2008) in Johannesburg as well as at the World Health Organization TB exhibition in India (2004). Solo exhibitions of ‘Beyond Walmer’ were held by the Association of Visual Arts Gallery in Cape Town (2000) and Natal Society of Arts, Durban (2001).  “Flatlands” a solo exhibition was also held at the Association of Visual Arts in Cape Town (2009) with help from the National Arts Council. Shoul was also featured in the AGFA Youth International Photojournalism Publication 1999. He also reached the finals of the Absa L’Atelier 2009.  Flatlands showed at KZNSA in Durban, South Africa and Galerie Quai 1 in Vevey, Switzerland in 2010. Shoul was invited to hold a workshop at the Vevey School of Photography on the 2010. Shoul was also been included in After A at the Report Atri Festival, Italy, June 2010 curated by Federica Angelucci. Beyond Walmer is on show at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum June-August 2010. Brakpan (work in progress),Shoul has also been included in the Bonaini Africa 2010 Festival of Photography, Cape Town Castle of Good Hope and Museum Africa, Johannesburg. Brakpan (work in progress) was included in 10 a group exhibition at the PhotoMarket Workshop, Johannesburg, 2010. Brakpan in 2011 won the 1st prize at the Winephoto.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum added “Beyond Walmer” to its permanent collection (2007).

For the last ten years, Marc has worked for various local and international magazines such as Time, Colors, Wired, Blueprint, Dazed and Confused, Design Indaba, World Health Organization, Mother Jones, Stern, Gala, De Spiegel, Financial Times Magazine, Monocle, Smithsonian and The Telegraph Magazine, He has also shot for many advertising clients and agencies.

He has recently completed a project named ‘Flatlands’ in the Johannesburg inner city.  He is now working on a new body of work in Brakpan on the East Rand where he is exploring the city’s way of life and its people.

He is interested in exploring theams of social relevance and changes within his country and further a field.

Shoul works largely in black and white, using a medium format film camera and natural light printed on Fiber photographic paper.

 

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Marc Shoul

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