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Rebecca Norris Webb

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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

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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In 2005, I set out to photograph my home state of South Dakota, a sparsely populated frontier state on the Great Plains with more buffalo, pronghorn, coyotes, mule deer, ring-necked pheasants and prairie dogs than people. It’s a landscape dominated by space and silence and solitude, by brutal wind and extreme weather. I was trying to capture a more intimate and personal view of the West. I was trying to capture what all that space feels like to someone who grew up there. A year into the project, however, everything changed. One of my brothers died unexpectedly. For months, one of the few things that eased my unsettled heart was the landscape of South Dakota. It seemed all I could do was drive through the badlands and prairies and photograph. I began to wonder: Does loss have its own geography?

That first year of grieving was a blur of motel rooms, back roads, and dreams of my brother. I still remember, however, one particularly elusive, haunted, dreamlike image. One overcast day on a deserted country road in the Missouri River valley, I was startled by a flock of some thousand blackbirds. I was mesmerized by how the birds flew through the stormy, unsettled Western sky as if they were one huge, dark, undulating, ravenous creature, picking clean the remains of the corn and sunflower fields in the last days of autumn.

For days when I’d least expect it, I’d see the blackbirds descend upon a field. It didn’t seem to matter how quickly I stopped the car and raised the camera to my eye. Inevitably, the dark flock vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

For at least a week, I kept dreaming about those blackbirds. Finally, one afternoon near the small town of Gray Goose, South Dakota, I saw the flock hovering over a field of sunflowers. This time I was somewhat more prepared—I had my camera around my neck, and, thanks to the dirt road’s wide shoulder, I could quickly pull over and rush toward the field, crouching low to keep from scaring off the skittery birds. I remember wondering what I’d say to the farmer if he caught me trespassing on his land.

Then something happened that I wasn’t expecting—the flock lingered in the field. Were there more seeds than usual to feed on? Were the towering sunflowers hiding me from the skittish birds? Slowly I inched closer until I was standing directly behind one of the tallest sunflowers in the field. Beneath its large bowed head, I clicked the shutter again and again until the dark flock vanished once more into the cold, grey, blustery November sky.

They say your first death is like your first love—and you’re never quite the same afterwards. After my brother died, my photographs started to change. They were more muted, often autumnal. I remember saying to the writer, Linda Hasselstrom at her ranch house near Hermosa, South Dakota, where I did much of the writing for the book, “I see summer, fall, and winter, in the photographs, but not spring.”

“When you’re grieving, there isn’t any spring,” Hasselstrom replied.

Looking again at the work now that My Dakota is finally a book, I realize that I was photographing this particularly dark time in my life in order to try to absorb it, to distill it, and, ultimately, to let it go. Not only did my first grief change me, but making My Dakota changed me as well, both as a human being and as a bookmaker.

Rebecca Norris Webb is a New York-based photographer. More of her work can be seen here. My Dakota (Radius Books) will be launched at the International Center of Photography in New York City on May 24.  There will be an exhibition of the work at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City, South Dakota, from June 1 through October 13.

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First off, big thanks to Mifsud Photographic,  who are supporting Photojournalism Links with their banner for the next 12 months.

This week’s round-up…

As I’m sure you all know by now, South African photographer Anton Hammerl who had been missing in Libya since early April and allegedly in government detention, had in fact been in fact been killed already on April 5…My sincerest condolences to Anton’s friends and family…

NPPA: Photojournalist Anton Hammerl Was Shot, Killed, April 5 In Libya (NPPA: May 2011)

BJP: Photojournalist Anton Hammerl is dead, says family  (BJP: May 2011)

Atlantic: South African Journalist Anton Hammerl Killed in Libya (Atlantic: May 2011)

NYT: Photographer Killed in Libya (NYT Lens: May 2011)

TIME Lightbox: Anton Hammerl in Memoriam (TIME LB: May 2011)

Human Right are demanding Libya to release Hammerl’s body…

HRW: Libya: Release Body of South African Photojournalist (HRW: May 2011)

Features and Essays

This week’s highlight was Alex Webb’s work on TIME Lightbox…

Alex Webb: The Suffering Light (TIME LB: May 2011)

…and his Violet Isle on Magnum in Motion…

Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb: Violet Isle (MiM: May 2011)

Some Paolo Pellegrin landcapes from Japan…

Paolo Pellegrin: Tsunami Aftermath (Magnum: May 2011)

Michael Christopher Brown started using an iPhone to record Libya after dropping his SLR apparently..

Michael Christopher Brown: The War in Libya (TIME LB: May 2011)

The above dead rebel fighter made also an appearance in Guy Martin’s The Siege of Misurata  series

You may remember that Ben Lowy was also shooting iPhone hipstas in Libya…GQ have his other Libya work up tho…

Ben Lowy: Libya (GQ: May 2011)

Espen Rasmussen, Terje Bringedal, Torsten Kjellstrand: The Amazing Amy (MediaStorm: May 2011)

Daniel Berehulak: In India coal towns, many miners are children (LA Times Framework: May 2011)

George Georgiou: Crisps and Curry (Panos: May 2011)

Peter di Campo: Ivory Coast – War ’s End in the West? (VII Mentor: May 2011)

Giovanni Cocco: Evros (VII Magazine: May 2011)

Scott Brauer:  We Chinese (burn:May 2011)

Graeme Williams: The Edge of Town (Panos Pictures:May 2011) South Africa

Lee Friedlander: Longing To Perform Opera (NYT Mag: May 2011)

Theo Stroomer: Prison Boot Camp (Burn: May 2011)

AP Kevin Frayer in Afghanistan. Two years of work compiled on the Denver Post Blog…

Kevin Frayer: In Afghanistan (Denver Post: May 2011)

James Whitlow Delano: Tsunami/ Sakura (NYT Lens: May 2011)

Mustafah Abdulaziz: Passport Radio (Index) (MJR: May 2011)

Greg Funnell: American Road Trip (Photographer’s website: May 2011)

Articles 

BJP: Protests force World Press Photo exhibition shutdown in Beirut, Lebanon (BJP: May 2011) World Press Photo has been forced to close down its exhibition in Beirut after a winning project by Israeli photographer Amit Sha’al sparked local protests

Pete Brook: A Photo of Fabienne Cherisma by Another Photographer Wins Another Award (Prison Photography: May 2011)

Photography education getting a battering…

Daniel Rubinstein: Towards Photographic Education (APS: May 2011)

David Campbell: Thinking Images v.17: The starving child as symbolic marker (DC blog: May 2011)

David Campbell: Vietnam, Afghanistan and the sphere of legitimate aesthetics: developing a critical photographic practice (DC blog: May 2011)

Poynter: What news organizations owe the fixers they rely on, leave behind in foreign countries (Poynter: May 2011)

PDN: Low-cost insurance plans available for photojournalists heading to conflict zones (PDN: May 2011)

PDN: How to shoot a book cover photo in 15 minutes (PDN: May 2011)

David Walter Banks: My Waking Life: NYPH’11 (Luceo blog: May 2011)

Melissa Golden: On gender and photojournalism: a response to Paul Melcher (DVAFoto: May 2011)

New York Times discusses work by Zed Nelson and Lauren Greenfield in Annenberg show “Beauty CULTure”…

NYT Lens: Beauty’s Sharp Edges (NYT Lens: May 2011)

Miki Johnson: Who supports crowdfunded projects? And why? (Emphas.is: May 2011)

Interviews 

Redesigning The New York Times Magazine: A conversation with director of photography Kathy Ryan…

Kathy Ryan (BJP: May 2011)

Magnum veteran Elliott Erwitt discusses commissions, books & exhibitions with Vanity Fair…via @FionaRogers

Elliott Erwitt (VF: May 2011)

John G. Morris : “Eleven Frames” (Vimeo: 2011)

Sebastian Junger on Libya, war journalism and Tim Hetherington’s death (PRI.org: May 2011)

Ashley Gilbertson (6th Floor blog NYT Mag: May 2011)

Carsten Peter (Youtube)

Michel Slomka (NYT Lens: May 2011) Lens Turning Point series

Wim Wenders (BJP: May 2011)

Anton Corbijn (BJP: May 2011)

Tim Rasmussen on Eddie Adams Workshop Q&A (NPPA: May 2011)

Bruce Davidson (ASX)

Ruth Gruber was honored for decades of photojournalism. Many decades. She’s 99…

Ruth Gruber (NYT Lens: May 2011)

WorkshopsEddie Adams Workshop : Deadline May 27

GrantsAlexandra Boulat Scholarship to attend the Toscana Photographic Workshop : Deadline May 31st

EventsLaunch party 8 Magazine The Islam Issue  : Thursday 26 May, HOST Gallery : London

FestivalsGuernsey Photography Festival competition – theme: Journey, prize £5,000

Apps -Wired [review] The V&A’s Figures & Fictions photography app (Wired: May 2011)

Tips and Tutorials – PhotoShelter: Email Marketing for Photographers (PS: May 2011)

Crowd FundingJeff Antebi: Fever Dreams (Kickstarter: May 2011)

Crowd Funding – Jason Eskenazi: The Black Garden (KS: May 2011)

Crowd funding João Pina’s ‘Shadow of the Condor’ (Emphas.is)

Crowd FundingEmphas.is Newsletter May 2011 

Books - Ian Teh’s book TRACES is now available to from Deep Sleep Editions.

Jobs - ActionAid needs a multimedia librarian – 12 months maternity cover. Apply

multiMedia1000Words mag Spring 2011

multiMedia6mois

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Your arm-chair photojournalist is back… That’s what I feel like anyway at the moment…

I moved house in Brighton a week ago, and still haven’t got internet set up in the new place, so I’ve had to frequent cafes for free wi-fi….. Sitting at Redwood cafe (nice strong Americanos, just as I like them) in the city centre….Anyways, no updates since Thursday, so loads to share….

Let’s start with Egypt….

Dominic Nahr is covering the anti-government protests in Cairo for TIME magazine…. @Panospictures tweeted at some point yesterday that Nahr and Guy Martin, who is covering the events for Wall Street Journal, might have had their memory cards confiscated by the army, but it would seem that not all of them , since Nahr managed to file anyway…

Features and Essays – Dominic Nahr: Turmoil in Egypt (TIME: January 2011)

New York Times has a Egypt gallery up that they are updating daily….the below photo by Chris Hondros shows travellers at Cairo International Airport waiting for flights out of the country…. Which of course is opposite to a lot of photographers, who are trying hard to make their way to the country…Based on Twitter and Facebook messages, a whole lot of freelancers seem to be heading there…

Features and Essays – New York Times (various photographers): Egypt Protest (February 2011)

Guardian’s Egypt gallery…

Features and Essays – Guardian: Egypt Protests Continue (Guardian: January 2011)

VII Photo put up a piece on their magazine of Egypt under Mubarak.

Features and Essays – VII: Egypt Under Mubarak (VII Magazine: January 2011)

Anastasia Taylor- Lind’s Egypt bloggers series, which she shot for Geo Germany last year (see blog), has caught second wind during the current anti-goverment protests, and it has been exhibited both on MSNBC’s and Newsweek’s websites…

Features and Essays - Anastasia Taylor-Lind: Egyptian bloggers ( Newsweek: January 2011) series on MSNBC

Anastasia is the featured photographer of the month on Firecracker, by the way….Firecracker is a site supporting European women photographers…

Ed Ou, who is covering the Egypt unrest for NYT, has been interviewed by James Estrin on the Lens blog…

Interviews - Ed Ou (NYT Lens: January 2011) Egypt

I didn’t manage to listen to this, but according to @anastasiatl, Ivor Prickett was interviewed on Tahrir Square for Irish Radio (part 2 , 3m 55sec in)…

Interviews - Ivor Prickett (Newstalk.ie: January 2011)

Phillip Toledano’s new work…

Features and Essays – Phil Toledano: Kim Jong Phil (Project website: 2011)

Stephen Alvarez’s (@alvarez photo) National Geographic Magazine February 2011 cover story, Paris Underground, was featured on NPR…he put a video on this blog…

Features and Essays - Stephen Alvarez: Paris Underground (Photographer’s blog: January 2011) Read the NPR article here

Financial Times picture desk, Emma Bowkett and co, sent a pretty impressive line up of 10 photographers to cover the new period of economic austerity… There’s Parr, Roberts, Norfolk…Winship…. (found via @Yumi_Goto)

NB. You might need to register to view the link… Free registration is enough though….

Features and Essays – Financial Times (various photographers): Britain: what lies ahead? (FT: January 2011)

Features and Essays – Jeremy Cowart: Haiti by iPhone (Photographer’s website) his Twitter

Features and Essays - Keith Bedford: Hoarding Cotton (WSJ: January 2011)

Features and Essays - Kevin Frayer: Helmand Province from above (SacBee Frame: January 2011)

Features and Essays - M. Scott Brauer: We Chinese (Project website: January 2011)

Simon Wheatley was a huge inspiration to me when I was studying photojournalism, and he still is…

Books / Features and Essays - Simon Wheatley: Don’t Call Me Urban (Project website)

Features and Essays - Marco Salustro: Jasmine Revolution (Corbis Stock: January 2011) Tunisia | Salustro’s website

Features and Essays – Julien Goldstein: Belarus (Photographer’s website: 2011)

Interviews - Alex Webb & Rebecca Norris Webb Q&A (Telegraph: January 2011)

InterviewsThe Archive of Modern Conflict (PhotoEye blog: January 2011)

InterviewsDavid Goldblatt (PDF) Interview with South African photographer David Goldblatt about cultural amnesia.

Articles -NYT Lens: Parting Glance: Lucas Mebrouk Dolega, 32 (NYT Lens: January 2011)

Articles – BJP: Photographer Danfung Dennis wins two Sundance documentary prizes (BJP: January 2011)

Great BJP series continues…

Articles / Tutorials – BJP: 11 Tips for 2011: How to get new clients (BJP: January 2011)

Articles / Tutorials – BJP: 11 Tips for 2011: Ditch that website altogether (BJP: January 2011)

Articles / Tutorials – BJP: 11 Tips for 2011: Refreshing your portfolio (BJP: January 2011)

Articles – Guardian: Greenslade blog: News agencies in peril as freelance rates get smaller (Guardian: January 2011)

Articles - David Campbell: The problem with regarding the photography of suffering as ‘pornography’ (Writer’s blog: January 2011)

About time, people are talking more about this…Blake Andrews on the lack of a happy face in current portraiture…

Blogs/ Articles – Blake Andrews: Portraits : The Space Test (Blake Andews’ blog: January 2011)

Peter Dench has his own Diary on the pages of Professional Photographer magazine…Definitely worth reading…Honest and funny…

Articles – Peter Dench: The Dench Diary : November 2010 / October 2010 (Professional Photographer: 2010)

Articles - Guardian: Featured Photojournalist: Dan Kitwood (Guardian: January 2011)

@AGarciaPhoto: What would you do if someone stuck a wad of $100 bills in your pocket for photos of a Chinese president while on assignment?

Blogs – Trib Photo Nation: The saga of an individual assignment (Chicago Tribune: 2011)

Blogs - Brendan Hoffman: State of the Union for the New York Times (Prime Collective blog: January 2011)

VideosAlec Soth: Birth of an Exhibit (Vimeo: 2010)

Saw this on a Benjamin Rasmussen (@benjaminras) tweet…

Videos - Simon Norfolk on Photojournalism (Youtube)

Videos - In-Sight trailer (Nick Turpin’s blog: January 2011)

Vivian Maier is everywhere….

Articles - CBS: Vivian Maier: Photographer’s Talent Went Unknown Until Death (CBS: January 2011)

Saw David Campbell (@davidc7) tweet this….

Aaron Huey is developing his important Lakota work in collaboration with Ernesto Yerena and Shepard Fairey (Aaron Huey blog: January 2011)

Collectives - Paralaxis

BlogsPontus Hook

Twitter - Benedicte Kurzen

Awards/ ExhibitionsHearst 8×10 winners

Talks - Open- i: Photoblogs Right Here Right Now Seminar - FORMAT International Photography festival, Derby UK 15.00 GMT

Jobs - Slate is looking for a photo researcher (Slate)

And to finish off, a joke…

“Mubarak is very ill. Doctor says, “you must prepare message to say goodbye to people”. Mubarak asks: “why?where are people going?”"

from @peterbeaumont

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InterviewsJehad Nga (BJP: June 2010)

InterviewsRon Haviv (Journalism Now: June 2010)

Interview - Don McCullin (Youtube)

Blogs - Starved for Attention (initiative by MSF and VII)

CommunitiesFotoVisura

Features and Essays - Bruce Gilden: Haiti Now and Every Day (Magnum in Motion: June 2010)

Articles - Guardian: Self-publish or be damned: why photographers are going it alone (Guardian: June 2010)

InterviewsAlex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb :  when to start and when to end a project (Two Looks blog: 2010)

Photographers – Paul Reas : website

BlogsGreg Williams

Features and Essays – Todd Heisler: How the Alzheimer’s Gene Affects a Colombian Family (NYT: June 2010)

Interviews / TutorialsSandy Huffaker : Traveling Light and Ready for Everything (PhotoShelter blog: 2010)

Features and Essays – Zisis Kardianos: Feastday (burn: June 2010

Features and Essays -  Jan Banning: Bureaucrats (New Yorker Photo Booth: 2010)

Articles - Yannis Behrakis: Embedded in Taliban territory (Reuters blog: June 2010)

TwitterFabrica

Twitter - Momenta workshops

AgenciesRhubarb Rhubarb : Twitter

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