Author Archives: Myles Little

Laurent Chéhère’s Flying Houses

Inspired by the 1956 short French childrens film Le Ballon Rouge, or The Red Balloon, Laurent Chhres part analog, part digital images of floating houses are at once a charming, imaginative take on Paris, and also a wistful vision of dreams deferred. The work will be shown from Oct. 25 to Dec. 8 at Galerie Paris-Beijing in Paris.

Before transitioning to photography, Chhre was an art director at a French advertising agency. He first saw Le Ballon Rouge when he was young, and upon revisiting it recently, described it as a merveille [wonder] of poetry. In 1960, TIME Magazine named its director, Albert Lamorisse, probably the most original moviemaker in France.

The film stars the directors 6-year-old son Pascal as an inquisitive, adventurous Parisian tot who discovers a bright red balloon in the street one day. Lamorisses Paris is a city drained of color, still suffering from the fallout of the war, populated by stern grownups and bullying children. It is against this surprisingly grim backdrop that our story takes place. The boy discovers that the balloon is not simply a shiny, bouncy thing to be led about on a string but rather a living, expressive, mischievous character unto itself. Without the use of CGI, the director is able to coax an amazing performance out of latex and helium, and the boy and the balloon become fast friends. Ultimately, the adventure story that ensues is an ode to possibility, dreams and escape.

Mary Evans/Ronald GrantEverett Collection

A scene from “The Red Balloon.”

Chhres world has a similar color palette of greys, blues and browns. And it too shares a dose of the fantastical: the main charactersin this case buildings he digitally constructed from architectural details photographed around Parisappear to float in the sky. But something is different. carrera de fotografia . Unlike the playful balloon with its dancing string, these floating objects appear settled, as if stasis has overtaken them and age has crept in.

Notes from workaday life appear throughout the photo seriestelevision antennae, For Sale signs, McDonalds and graffiti. Laundry appears in two of the nine images. Chhre, who turned 40 this year, has replaced the balloons dancing string with electrical wires, which both sustain the houses and also tie them in place. The one exception is a grim, grey-blue brick house with prison-like windows. Here, the wires have snapped, a fire rages in the second story, the inhabitants escape ladder has broken and tumbles out of the frame. Resting by the window, silhouetted by the blaze, is a birdcage, about to be engulfed in flames.

Albert Lamorisse’s film has a happy ending; the ending of Chhres meditation on middle-age life remains uncertain.

Laurent Chhre is a photographer based in Paris. More of his work is available on his website.

Laurent Chéhère’s Flying Houses

Inspired by the 1956 short French childrens film Le Ballon Rouge, or The Red Balloon, Laurent Chhres part analog, part digital images of floating houses are at once a charming, imaginative take on Paris, and also a wistful vision of dreams deferred. carrera de fotografia . The work will be shown from Oct. 25 to Dec. 8 at Galerie Paris-Beijing in Paris.

Before transitioning to photography, Chhre was an art director at a French advertising agency. He first saw Le Ballon Rouge when he was young, and upon revisiting it recently, described it as a merveille [wonder] of poetry. In 1960, TIME Magazine named its director, Albert Lamorisse, probably the most original moviemaker in France.

The film stars the directors 6-year-old son Pascal as an inquisitive, adventurous Parisian tot who discovers a bright red balloon in the street one day. Lamorisses Paris is a city drained of color, still suffering from the fallout of the war, populated by stern grownups and bullying children. It is against this surprisingly grim backdrop that our story takes place. The boy discovers that the balloon is not simply a shiny, bouncy thing to be led about on a string but rather a living, expressive, mischievous character unto itself. Without the use of CGI, the director is able to coax an amazing performance out of latex and helium, and the boy and the balloon become fast friends. Ultimately, the adventure story that ensues is an ode to possibility, dreams and escape.

Mary Evans/Ronald GrantEverett Collection

A scene from “The Red Balloon.”

Chhres world has a similar color palette of greys, blues and browns. And it too shares a dose of the fantastical: the main charactersin this case buildings he digitally constructed from architectural details photographed around Parisappear to float in the sky. But something is different. Unlike the playful balloon with its dancing string, these floating objects appear settled, as if stasis has overtaken them and age has crept in.

Notes from workaday life appear throughout the photo seriestelevision antennae, For Sale signs, McDonalds and graffiti. Laundry appears in two of the nine images. Chhre, who turned 40 this year, has replaced the balloons dancing string with electrical wires, which both sustain the houses and also tie them in place. The one exception is a grim, grey-blue brick house with prison-like windows. Here, the wires have snapped, a fire rages in the second story, the inhabitants escape ladder has broken and tumbles out of the frame. Resting by the window, silhouetted by the blaze, is a birdcage, about to be engulfed in flames.

Albert Lamorisse’s film has a happy ending; the ending of Chhres meditation on middle-age life remains uncertain.

Laurent Chhre is a photographer based in Paris. More of his work is available on his website.

Basement Vodou: Haitian Spirituality in Brooklyn

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

Taggarts project began when she met a Mambo, or female Vodoupriest, 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 Loapowerful spirits that act as intermediaries between humankind and Vodous 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 thrashingsometimes [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 Vodouas 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 Vodouceremonies. 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 Vodoupractitioners have appropriated as symbols of their faithmuch 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. Blog Commenting . 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.

Inside the World of Turkish Oil Wrestling

The sport ofyal gre, or oil wrestling,is at the heart ofKrkpnar, afestival in the Turkish city of Edirne. Thousands of people will come to see these wrestlersslick with olive oilcompete in the 651stannual games on July 2. Itll be a familiar sight for Turkish photographer Pari Dukovic, who attended the event in 2010 and 2011.

I saw that the sport had an Old World charm to itthe festival, the prayers, the music, the instruments, the outfits, says Pari, who used to watch the festivals coverage as a teenager. I am drawn to subject matter that makes you feel as though you are traveling through time andKrkpnarfascinated me with its history and how it has remained an integral part of Turkish culture.

As the festival begins, drum and horn players parade through the city with the sports grand prizethe Krkpnar Golden Belt. The community then meets in the grand 16thcentury Selimiye Mosque, where the imam gives a sermon in honor of competitors past and present.For the young boys participating in the traditional Turkish coming-of-age ceremony known asSunnet Dugunu, its desirable to celebrate it at the same time asKrkpnar, as the festival represents to many the ultimate in male achievement. The boy in the mosque in slide #10 wears the ornate cape associated with the ritual.

After the sermon, wrestlers pray at the graves of legendary sportsmen and proceed through the streets to the competition field, singing the national anthem. The master of ceremony introduces the wrestlers to the audience, reciting their names, titles and skills in verse. Cheap Digital Cable TV . Very few of the wrestlers, who range widely in age, make a living from the sport. Nevertheless, Pari says hegot the clear sense that being a part of this event is a dream come true for them. They train for a whole year and often travel from villages all over Turkey to participate, so becoming aKrkpnarwrestler is an achievement they take great pride in, he says.The wrestlers, wearing nothing but short leather trousers, get rubbed down with olive oil. This makes the goal of the matchto throw ones opponent on his backall the more difficult. The matches last about 30 minutes each, while the final bout can last up to two exhausting hours.

I think the dedication that goes into what they do is amazing, says Pari. I hope that my photographs stand as visual documents of this tradition and that my respect is captured in these images.

Pari Dukovic is a New York City based documentary photographer. See more of his work here.

State of America: Photographing Joe Klein’s Road Trip

“The campaign is in a lull. The wars overseas are winding down. Washington is paralyzed. I’ve loaded up my iPod with some new songs. There’s nothing to do but….hit the road!”

With that, veteran TIME political columnist Joe Klein began his three-week, eight-state road trip, which ended last Friday. Klein has made this sampling of the country’s political climate a yearly tradition. This time around, TIME sent three of the magazine’s contributors to accompany Klein for different legs of the journey. Here, LightBox presents a selection of their work as well as their thoughts from across America.


What was the single most memorable experience you had on the trip?

Andrew HinderakerIn Richmond, Virginia, at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in a Drug Rehabilitation Center, we met a woman who’d struggled with addiction since age nine. She was a convicted felon, and now, in her 40’s, was 21 months clean. She’d recently convinced a friend to allow her to farm a piece of land. For someone like her, whose addiction left her reliant on medical care most of her life, President Obama’s healthcare legislation meant for her a fresh start. With affordable healthcare, she could be a small business owner, a farmer, an active, contributing citizen; without it, she’s just a recovering addict. We learned her story because another man at the meeting expressed his disdain at the Healthcare Reform Act. We got to watch their argument, and this woman’s story change a man’s mind. It certainly proved Joe’s point about getting to know one another; perhaps the government should sponsor free coffee and organize meetings once a week with a group of local strangers.

What was the economic and political mood of the parts of the country you visited?

Katy Steinmetz: People seemed disappointed and exhausted by the political and economic state of things in America. Many were hopeful, but more were resigned—past anger and yearning for a little compromise.

What was the #1 problem facing the people you met?

Pete Pin: This was dependent on class. For a group of upper middle class voters in Charleston, West Virginia, they were most concerned with the visceral partisanship of the country and the future of the health care law. For rural voters in Jackson and Newcomerstown, Ohio, they were most concerned with jobs and social ills.

What was their #1 reason for hope?

Pete: Community at the local level. I learned that in spite of the partisanship and bickering in Washington, people genuinely believed that things can and will get better, not because of intervention by the federal government, but rather because of the community coming together at the local level.

Andrew Hinderaker for TIME

Leslie Marchut and Briggs Wesche eat breakfast with Joe Klein in Chapel Hill, N.C.

What is the national character? Are there uniquely American traits?

Pete: The singular thread I found was an overwhelming sense of self-reliance. Liberalism in the classical sense, John Stuart Mill.

AndrewEveryone likes barbeque.

Did you return from the trip more or less optimistic about the future of the country?

Andrew: Certainly more optimistic. One of the things that struck me most about the places that we visited was all the conversation. In all these pockets of America, folks more than willing, eager even, to talk and debate reach new conclusions. I don’t think it’s the impression you’d get of our citizens from watching the nightly news, but it’s something I observed in every niche.

Andrew Hinderaker is a former TIME photo intern and a photojournalist whose work has appeared in TIME, The Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine.

Pete Pin is currently the international photo intern at TIME and a photographer whose work has also appeared in The New York Times and Forbes.

Katy Steinmetz is a reporter in TIME’s Washington bureau.

Ceremonies of Disappearance: Kimiko Yoshida’s Critique of Identity

“The preoccupation with I has become a cliché in contemporary art,” says Kimiko Yoshida. The Japanese photographer challenges that cliché by creating large, color photos of herself in which she wears elaborate costumes that reference a wide range of subjects, from haute couture and indigenous cultures to the canon of Western painting. By constantly changing what at first appears to be a self-portrait, Yoshida says, “I am basically saying that there is no such thing as a self-portrait,” she says. “Each of these photographs is actually a ceremony of disappearance. It is not an emphasis of identity, but the opposite—an erasure of identity.”

Born in Tokyo in 1963, Yoshida came of age in a tradition-bound culture where the conservative attitude towards the role of women left her alienated and unhappy. She studied literature and worked in fashion, which allowed her to hone her creative eye, but she remained frustrated. Over her father’s objections, she enrolled in the Tokyo College of Photography. Even after she had her degree in hand, she felt her options for a creative career in Japan were limited and moved to France to escape those stifling confines.

“Since I fled my homeland to escape the mortifying servitude and humiliating fate of Japanese women, I amplified through my art a feminist stance of protest against contemporary clichés of seduction, voluntary servitude of women, identity and the stereotypes of gender,” Yoshida says.

Yoshida critiques the idea of a firm and unchanging identity in a variety of ways, most obviously by physically changing it. In her “Brides” series, she often photographs herself in indigenous garb that she borrows from museums. Meanwhile, in her “Paintings” series, she and her husband repurpose items from the archives of Spanish fashion designer Paco Rabanne. But no matter what the source material is, Yoshida riddles the final product with playful anachronisms and cross-cultural references that undermine its perceived authenticity. The Paco Rabanne garments and accessories, made between 1965 and 2000, are themselves full of unusual materials, from plastic bottles to CD-roms. Yoshida adds a twist by refusing to wear them as intended: shoes become headdresses while dresses become hats. Yet another twist comes when you realize that Yoshida’s odd remixes actually reference paintings from Western art history, from Caravaggio to Picasso to Warhol. The fact that many of her images are nearly monochromatic threatens to drown whatever individuality that may remain. Finally, Yoshida often displays her images on walls in overwhelming numbers, thus minimizing their specialness.

The end result is evocative of Cindy Sherman, another artist who dons costumes in front of the camera and who even references art history like Yoshida. And while the meanings of Sherman’s work reside in its surfaces, Yoshida’s work provides the artist with an internal, metaphysical space. “Art is above all the experience of transformation,” explains Yoshida. “All that’s not me, that’s what interests me. To be there where I think I am not, to disappear where I think I am, that is what matters.” In the end, perhaps the photographs themselves are simply evidence of this performance. But it is interesting that Yoshida, an artist who is driven by the denial of the self, has made them with such a singular and memorable voice.

Yoshida has solo shows at St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland, and the Musée Pavillon Vendôme-Dobler in Aix-en-Provence, France, both opening June 13. Her work is also in a group show at the Musée de la Tapisserie in Angers, France that opens June 29. More of her work can be seen here.

Kimiko Yoshida

           “The preoccupation with ‘I’ has become a cliché in contemporary art,” says Japanese photographer Kimiko Yoshida.  For over a decade, she has created large, color photos of herself in which she wears elaborate costumes that reference a wide range of subjects, from haute couture to indigenous cultures to the canon of Western painting to the Zen minimalism of her own culture.  By constantly changing what at first appears to be a self-portrait, “I am basically saying that there is no such thing as a self-portrait. Each of these photographs is actually a ceremony of disappearance. It is not an emphasis of identity, but the opposite, an erasure of identity.”
Born in Tokyo in 1963, Yoshida came of age in a tradition-bound culture where the attitude towards the role of women left her alienated and unhappy. She studied literature and worked in fashion.  It allowed her to hone her eye, but she remained frustrated.  Despite her father’s objections, she enrolled in the Tokyo College of Photography.  Even with her degree in hand, she felt her options for a creative career in Japan were limited. She knew she had to escape the stifling confines of her life and she decided to move to France. (restricted constricted circumscribed limited stifling )
“Since I fled my homeland to escape the mortifying servitude and humiliating fate of Japanese women,” Yoshida says, “I amplified through my art a feminist stance of protest against contemporary clichés of seduction, against voluntary servitude of women, against ‘identity’ defined by appurtenances,”—or accessories—“and ‘communities,’ against the stereotypes of ‘gender’ and the determinism of heredity.” Yoshida came to think of the notion of a solid, permanent self as a “fantasy.”  She quotes the Freudian psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, “The ego is constructed like an onion: one could peel it and discover the successive identifications which have constituted it.”  There is no Kimiko, Kimiko is saying: “the being is pitted; it has no central core.”
Yoshida critiques the idea of a firm and unchanging identity in a variety of ways, most obviously by changing it.  In her “Brides” series, she often photographs herself in indigenous garb from around the world that she borrows from museums.  In her “Paintings” series, she and her husband repurpose items from the archives of Spanish fashion designer Paco Rabanne.  No matter what the source material is, Yoshida riddles the final product with playful anachronisms and cross-cultural references that undermine its perceived authenticity.  The Paco Rabanne garments and accessories, made between 1965 and 2000, are themselves full of unusual materials, from plastic bottles to CD-roms.  Yoshida adds a twist by refusing to wear them as intended: shoes become headdresses, dresses become hats, etc.  Yet another twist comes when you realize that Yoshida’s odd remixes actually reference paintings from Western art history, from Caravaggio to Picasso to Warhol.  And she places these figures, which often display a baroque opulence, against featureless backgrounds that recall the minimalism of Zen art.

Yoshida not only changes her identity, but she does it a lot—she’s made over 300 of these elaborate, time-consuming images since 2000.  No one character appears to get special treatment: they are all centered in square frames and afforded only a single photograph each.  What individuality that may remain often threatens to bleed into oblivion, as many of her images, such as “The Capricious Girl,” are nearly monochromatic.  Her makeup doesn’t enliven or articulate her character, as in the West, but rather effaces it, as in the tradition of the Japanese geisha.  Ultimately, Kimiko the person disappears behind these suspect masks into a wall of color.

           Cindy Sherman is another artist who dons costumes in front of the camera and who even references art history like Yoshida.  But while Sherman’s post-modernism feels ironic and satirical, and her craft intentionally clumsy, Yoshida’s work feels solemn and majestic, and her craft highly polished. And while the meanings of Sherman’s work reside in its flimsy surfaces, Yoshida’s work provides the artist with an internal, metaphysical space to metamorphose.  “Art is above all the experience of transformation,” explains Yoshida. “All that’s not me, that’s what interests me. To be there where I think I am not, to disappear where I think I am, that is what matters.”  In the end, perhaps the photographs themselves are simply evidence of this performance.  But it is interesting that Yoshida, an artist who is driven by the denial of the self, has made them with such a singular and memorable voice.

In the end, the photographs themselves are simply evidence of this performance.  It is interesting that Yoshida, an artist who is driven by the denial of the self, speaks with such a singular and memorable voice.

Yoshida has solo shows at St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland, and the Musée Pavillion Vendôme-Dobler in Aix-en-Provence, France, both opening June 13.  Her work is also in a group show at the Musée de la Tapisserie in Angers, France that opens June 29. More of her work can be seen here.

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.