Tag Archives: American Photographers

Latin America Week: Matías Sauter

This week, Argentinean photographer Eleonora Ronconi is taking over as guest curator, featuring work created by Latin American photographers…


Y ahora sí, el último fotógrafo de esta serie Latinoamericana… Espero que la hayan disfrutado tanto como yo!

I knew about Matías Sauter  through a friend of mine. Matías works as a fashion and commercial photographer, so he is used to posing models and constructing scenes, but when I saw his Kids series, I was immediately smitten. These images are very spontaneous, full of color and the light is beautiful… however, there’s a lot of sadness in them, which is not something that we encounter very often in photographs of children.

He was born in San José, Costa Rica and currently divides his time between his native country and Germany. He has been exhibited at several venues in Costa Rica and has assisted in two research projects on Latin America, commissioned by the Museé de Quai Branly in Paris, France.

Image from Kids

What does your Latin heritage bring to your work?


I grew up in Costa Rica, but I’ve always been influenced by German culture as my family of German origin and I went to a German school. This mix of cultures has opened the opportunity to use different angles in the way I see my daily life. I think my Latin side has given my photography the fun aspect, so it makes my images more colorful and contrasty. Living in Costa Rica also has an influence on my photography: I’m surrounded by a beautiful landscape, nature, rain, the smell of coffee in the afternoons and the ocean that bring out a lot of feelings in me… nostalgia and quietness to name a few. There are a lot of images that I carry with me where I go and, I find a way to find similarities in other contexts and people. I am not sure how they are reflected on my work, but it is defined by them a hundred percent. I will never stop thinking about the yellow light that turns on when a tropical storm hits, a very common image that froze time and it still does and I enjoy it immensely… it’s like being trapped in a photograph. 




Do you see a difference between work created in Latin America and work created in the States?


When I see photographs made by Latin American artists I usually smile because I see a lot of surrealism and humor. There is always something magical in them. I actually think they have a lot of magical realism we find in literature, sometimes full of exaggerations and funny situations. On the other hand, I also notice that there is a certain degree of nostalgia in Latin American photography. May be it is because we are always searching for solid roots, and we are such a fusion of cultures and blood that it is difficult to find an identity. 

What is the state of photography in your country–is it well supported, are galleries selling, do photographers have an outlet to show their work?

There are a few contemporary galleries here, such as DesPacio, Jacobo Karpio and Klaus Steinmetz, which are known internationally and they also showcase the wok of well established photographers, like Jaime Tischler or Cinthya Soto. I am not represented by a gallery right now, so I am not very familiarized with the current situation.  



 Images from Kids
Is
it a fact that all children go through a similar phase where they all
smile and laugh constantly? Do photo albums truly reveal the feelings
and behavior that will define the personality of children.
KIDS
is a photo essay that aims at revealing what we would call a
“psychological portrait” of a child, in which we try to show both
the kid’s personality traits as well as the external factors that
condition them. I tried to reflect on the child’s identity and bring
out the consciousness the child possesses, from this very early age,
in relation to others.

For
that reason, kids were given the opportunity to actively participate
in the creation of their portrait, so they decided where to be
photographed and which toys or objects they wanted to have.

 My
intention was to explore their understanding of the world and their
personality traits that get them closer to the “conflicts” of
adulthood. Besides expressing those feelings, which adults refuse to
accept about children, and that they reveal how their lives will
shape up in the future, they evidence a “dissociation” with the
idealized and perfect image that many adults have about childhood.


Latin America Week: Guillermo Srodek-Hart

This week, Argentinean photographer Eleonora Ronconi is taking over as guest curator, featuring work created by Latin American photographers…

Guillermo es el quinto fotógrafo de la semana, y ya sólo queda uno…

Guillermo Srodek-Hart is an Argentinean photographer, who grew up and lives in Buenos Aires. His series Stories is about old stores that are located in rural areas. Nostalgia runs very strongly in the Latin DNA, and I think his series is a perfect example of this. Every time I look at these images, I remember what these places smell like and how people dressed at the time even though they are not present in these photographs. They transport me to a different place and time… 
Guillermo has an MFA from Mass College of Art in Boston, MA. He has been exhibited in many venues around the world, and his work has been published by O Globo, Fotografia Argentina, Boston Globe and Art Matters Magazine and several Argentinean newspapers. He is part of several collections such as the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Attleboro Museum of Art and Fundación Petrobras. In the United States he is represented by Dina Mitrani Gallery in Miami, Schneider Gallery in Chicago and Gallery Kayafas in Boston.

Image from Stories
What
does your Latin heritage bring to your work?

I
discovered my Latin heritage while living in Boston as un undergrad
at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. The questions about my
origin and my identity came when I was far from them. But I don’t see
myself Latin in the way I photograph. On the contrary, I feel closer
to FSA photographers. If I were living in some other place I would
probably be drawn to the same subject matter. 

Do
you see a difference between work created in Latin America and work
created in the States?


I
am not sure, because there is so much information coming and going
all the time that the influences cross over constantly. But I do see
that there is less of an academic influence here than in the US.
Here, still, people who want to learn photography have to figure out a way
to make it work for them, as opposed to the huge structure that the
Art Schools offer to a student in the US, where it is a safer environment (while you are enrolled). After graduation, it is a whole
different story. I think there is a lot of regurgitation going on in
the US Art Schools but I also think this is inevitable.  


What
is the state of photography in your country–is it well supported,
are galleries selling, do Photographers have an outlet to show their
work?


There
is a lot of interest in the medium, and there are great venues to
exhibit. There are also excellent teachers and very talented young
and not so young photographers. But I think the market is not very
good here. People will fill up a gallery at the opening, then
throughout the month it will be very visited, but perhaps there are
no sales. And now the dollar is crazy here so I dont know what will
happen. A lot of collectors from abroad come here to buy cheap and
good work.

Images from Stories

 I
drive to the small rural towns in the Argentine countryside to get
away from what I know. For me, being uncomfortable stimulates
creativity. When I enter unknown territory, I stop, get out, and talk
to people. I tell them I am interested in old stores, places that
still function almost in a separate time, those that remain
authentic, running on their own agendas.
 
I
want to find places that remain authentic, that are running on their
own agendas. Sometimes I think I am photographing the last rebel’s
strongholds, or artists’ studios, because these places seem to
operate by a different set of rules.  When I run out of words, I
take my folder out and show prints of previous shots I’ve taken, like
a detective sharing evidence. 
I
am looking for places like these
,
I ask while flipping through the photographs.  My project takes
on a collaborative nature because I rely on these interactions, the
people I meet point me to new locations, and that’s how I build my
itinerary.
 
Many times
I am asked ‘Why aren’t there any people in your photographs?’ 
My answer
is ‘Look closely, they are all over the place.’
 
My
photographs are filled with traces of human presence: objects,
furniture, stuff hanging from the walls, accumulations on display.
They speak to me of the invisible, that which can’t be seen but is
there, stories to be imagined, and, ultimately, the acknowledgement
of our own transience in this world.



Latin America Week: Adriana Zehbrauskas

This week, Argentinian photographer Eleonora Ronconi is taking over as guest curator, featuring work created by Latin American photographers…

Esta es la cuarta edición de la semana, y me da mucho placer presentarles a Adriana Zehbrauskas, fotógrafa brasileña que reside en el DF hace varios años.

Adriana is a photojournalist with an amazing eye. Her work caught my attention while I was looking for images on Faith, and these images had everything I had in mind: great compositions, grittiness and a lot of heart.  I am sharing her series Faith in Brazil and Mexico. 

Adriana was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She received a degree in Journalism and moved to Paris where she studied Linguistics and Phonetics at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. She worked as a staff photographer for  Folha de Sao Paulo for 11 years and is currently based in Mexico City, where she contributes regularly with the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Le Figaro and The Guardian, among others.

The series Faith in Brazil and Mexico was awarded an Art & Worship World Prize by the Niavaran Artistic Creation Foundation and a book is currently under production to be published by Bei Editores in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Image from Faith in Brazil and Mexico
What does your Latin heritage bring to your work?

I
think that in my specific case (not even sure if it is due to my
Latin heritage) it is an obsession with organizing the chaos in my
frame. I was born and raised in São Paulo and have lived the past
eight years in Mexico City, two huge metropolis where the visual
stimulation was always too much, there was always too much going on
at the same time ( São Paulo has now banned all outdoors including
even those hideous gigantic Mac Donald’s Ms). I felt this need to
clean my view, to calculate exactly what I wanted in my frame.

On
another level, Latin America is very religious and that permeates
every level of society in an everyday basis. The reference for the
sacred is constant and really difficult not to notice. I was always
very curious about this subject and I think I always find a way to
portray this angle into my stories.

Do you see a difference between work created in Latin America and
work created in the States?

It
is not a general rule, and I cannot speak for the whole Latin
America, but I see more long-term documentary projects coming out of
the US ( or US photographers) than out of Brazil, for instance.

What is the state of
photography in your country–is it well supported, are galleries
selling, do photographers have an outlet to show their work? 

I
don’t think it’s well supported, either in Brazil or Mexico.
It’s the effort of a handful of people who actually make it
happen. Outlets for showing work are dwindling by the day, newspapers
and magazines have less and less money /space so we have to get
creative now. The internet is a vast space, but we have to still
figure out the best way to use it. It’s just not a matter of
showing the work. Photographers are like any other people in the
world, we have to make money to survive!



Images from Faith in Brazil and Mexico 
 This
project was born from my inquisitiveness and deep curiosity about
religion. Living in Brazil, a country of immense cultural and
socioeconomic diversity and an extreme fertile ground for a plethora
of popular and religious manifestations, it was impossible to grow up
ignoring their intensity and strength.
Have
faith and you will go far”, “faith moves mountains”, and “one
must have faith” are expressions that permeate the day-to-day lives
of people from all social classes and religious beliefs.
With
their millenary experience, the major religions constitute powerful
intellectual structures capable of providing each individual with a
philosophy of life. They attend to the spiritual aspirations of the
human being and to the need to believe in noble values. They provide
answers to the individual’s anxieties when confronted with fear,
suffering and death. They assert that which is true, good and just,
helping each person interpret the world.
The
spiritual search is natural to every human being. It represents the
search for the meaning of life, humanity and coexistence. Religion is
unique to humankind. The cornerstone of any religion is faith. 
This
is a sample of a large photographic essay on  faith in Brazil
and Mexico, focusing on the similarities and differences of that
which is perhaps the only common denominator of all religion.

Latin America Week: Alejandro Medina

This week, Argentinian photographer Eleonora Ronconi is taking over as guest curator, featuring work created by Latin American photographers…
Les presento a Alejandro Medina, fotógrafo Guatemalteco, que es mi cuarta selección. 
When I saw Alejandro’s Oceanus for the first time, in this year’s Critical Mass Top 200, I was amazed at how mature it was, considering that he is only 17 years old. I loved its stillness and quiet beauty. Alejandro was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala. His first show was in the summer of 2010, at GuateFoto, making him one of the youngest artists ever to exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in Guatemala. His photographs have been curated into Photoville in New York and several shows in his native country. Alejandro has been published in Prensa Libre, El Periódico, Siglo 21 and Le Journal de la Photographie, among others. 
Image from Oceanus
What
does your Latin heritage bring to your work?

I
think that my Latin heritage has had a profound influence on my work.
It is not only visible in the way I perceive the world, which is
directly reflected on my images, but also on what I decide to
photograph.

I
have a tendency to include landscapes of where I live in my photos,
either as the main subject or in a more subtle way. This adds a very
strong cultural feeling to my projects.


Do
you see a difference between work created in Latin America and work
created in the States?

There
are several geographical and cultural differences. But I think that
many of the subjects photographers capture in both regions are
similar. There are certain themes that are popular in photographers
of my generation, which are documented throughout the continent. What
is interesting to me is that even though some projects share the same
subject, the essence and origin of the photographers always come out
in the work made.


What
is the state of photography in your country–is it well supported,
are galleries selling, do you have any venues where to show work?

The
problem with several Latin American countries is that there is a lack
of appreciation for the art. This makes it extremely difficult for
artists to find their place in society, where their work can be
appreciated. I am not saying our people do not value art, because
many do, but the problem is that this enjoyment is something
individuals can acquire on their own, and not as a part of the
general culture. However, in the last few years I have seen a growth
in the art industry here in Guatemala. There is an art presence that
is slowly manifesting itself and expanding, and therefore, accepted
by the people. It used to be impossible for a Latin artist to gain
international exposure, but it has become easier as there are more
platforms where emerging artists can be launched into the world. This
has been facilitated by a new center for contemporary photography, La
Fototeca, which has promoted photography in the area and it has
motivated many artists to continue with their work. There are also
several galleries that are opening their doors, and more importantly,
some well established galleries that have started displaying
contemporary photography. 

Oceanus

Amongst the fondest memories of my childhood, lies the ocean. Every time I was able to experience it, I was enthralled with its beauty. In this project I try to convey this beauty and mysteriousness to the best of my abilities by photographing objects found at the shore. 

Also using these photographs to parallel how I have experienced changes in my life. Like the ocean currents have transformed these objects into what we see them now, experiences in our lives also change us into the individuals that we become. The title of the project, Oceanus, comes from the latin word for “World’s Ocean” which attempts to describe all of the world’s bodies of water as one. In a similar attempt, I try to depict a characteristic shared by all individuals in this project, the fact that everybody is molded by his or her experiences.

Latin America Week: Erika Diettes

This week, Argentinian photographer Eleonora Ronconi is taking over as guest curator, featuring work created by Latin American photographers…

Les presento a mi segunda selección de la semana: Erika Diettes, fotógrafa colombiana.

I found Erika’s work when I was doing some research on Colombian photographers. I was incredibly moved by her portraits of people who had lost family members to the violent wars in her country. Having grown up during a military coup, where thousands of people were kidnapped and killed, these series really struck a cord with me. I am showcasing two series of hers that go hand in hand, Sudarios and Río Abajo.


Erika was born in Cali, Colombia. She has a Masters in Social Anthropology, and BA in Visual Arts and Communications. Her work explores memory, pain, absence and death and it has been exhibited around Latin America, such as at the Museum of Modern Art in Bogotá, Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires and Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago, Chile, among others. Her more recent series, Sudarios, was part of the Fotofest Biennal 2012, and it is on display at the Trinity Epicospal Church in Houston. Erika has also been interviewed by several publications, El Tiempo, Revista Ñ, El Colombiano, and El Espectador to name a few.


Image from Río Abajo

What does your Latin heritage bring to your work?

Our cultural context defines us, it gives us a foundation for our conceptual criteria and stetics. It makes us react to a certain symbolic world that, as years go by, each of us molds based on our experiences.

The Latin American universe is created by catholic religion, the indigineous and African cosmogonies and the problems and strengths of the contemporary history of each nation. That is why us, Latin people, express ourselves with more passion and feelings, I think we let people see our internal universe more easily. We are not afraid of emotions, on the contrary, it is through them that we relate to others. Without trying to generalize or stereotype, of course, we characterize by a more dramatic sensitivity, full of visual richness and excesses, both in our existence and also in our representation.

The way I build images, both behind the camera and in my universe without a camera, what happens within the frame to what the audience eventually sees when images are exhibited, is the result of all my vital experience, and that is definitely built within my latin culture, my Colombian nationality, my socio cultural context and many other characteristics that make up who I am. That is clearly manifested in my work.

Do you see a difference between work created in Latin America and work created in the States? 

I think that work created in the United States has a much more technical and academic background. Photography as a college degree in the United States has a longer tradition than in our countries. When I started college 14 years ago, the possibility of getting a career in photography did not exist. Nowadays, more people have access to professional cameras and the internet takes us to an endless number of exhibitions and shows around the world, so, in a way, it makes visual models and techniques more homogeneous and differences are not as big.

Where I think there is a more obvious difference is in some of the subjects. United States, as a nation with a high number of immigrants from various countries, produces many projects about identity, questions about borders, immigration and its policies, among others. As an artist, what makes this work interesting is that despite these subjects being so specific, they have something that can connect to different audiences. This is the challenge, this is what made masters great, that they made a very specific subject become Universal.

What is the state of photography in your country–is it well supported, are galleries selling, do photographers have an outlet to show their work? 

I think that in Colombia, photography has an important place. There are more spaces to exhibit and people are more open to see and buy photography. It is a relatively new market, that will need time to establish itself, but it is clear that we are at a point where it is growing and developing rapidly. There are exhibitions being held all the time, emerging artists, more schools, critics and everything that the medium encompasses. They are very interesting times, in my opinion.

Río Abajo
 Río
Abajo is a series where I focus on the clothes which the families of the
disappeared guard as a relic of their loved ones, I make a representation of
one of the most common forms of committing this atrocious crime and that is
stripping the bodies which are thrown into the rivers.

Also,
in many cases, after the endless tortures to which they are subjected while
still alive, these victims are quartered and disfigured post mortem in such a
way that even if their corpses appear it is practically impossible to identify
them. 

We
thus turn ourselves into a country full of unburied corpses and an
infinite number of mourners afflicted by the horror of not being able
to bury their dead.
 

Image from Río Abajo exhibition

Images from Sudarios

Sudarios (Shrouds) is the
result of multiple theoretical concerns, an infinity of technical
quests and an observation of the world from a certain context. 
The intention of the this series is to enable the spectator to enter into and walk through
these impenetrable and apparently alien worlds, when he observes that
moment in which these women close their eyes because they find no
other way to communicate the true dimension of the horror which they
witnessed and the intensity of the sorrow they were subjected to.
This work tells the stories of
twenty women – victims, grief-stricken human beings who, as part of
their torture, were forced to SEE the violence perpetrated against
their loved ones and were left alive so that they would be witnesses
to such horrors. The stories are
diverse but I am convinced that this series speaks of something which
is timeless, universal and infinite. 
These are portraits of the victims who bare themselves before our eyes, showing the evil which some people are capable of and that wish to transcend that earthly realm in the hope of something better. These women want to relay the moment in which they were condemned to remember, given that the possibility of forgetting even the smallest detail does not exist. And I want to record that moment in order to construct this work, because I have the firm conviction that art not only provides an essential space for the building of a country’s memory but also furnishes a means to ease the suffering of people. \

They are the reflection of my experience of sorrow and the result of my interpretation of the effects of violence. And I also think that they are the mirror, in which you, the spectators of the work, can see the reflection of yourselves as your own sorrow becomes that of others. 

Images from Sudarios exhibition

 I always intended to print these portraits on silk because I wanted to transmit, as they themselves told me more than once, that they are beings who no longer belong to the world, that violence had left them dead in life. That is why my intention was always to attain light, diaphanous, phantasmal images that would capture that sensation and that profound wish for transcendence. The same reason explains the overwhelming sense I have that these images should be kept in sacred places and spaces of reflection, where, regardless of our religion, the journey of the work through the space would help us to be not only spectators but turn us, in one way or another, into pilgrims who will enter into communion with these images on the basis of our beliefs, so that, as Susan Sontag says, we may be able to keep this reality in mind from now onwards.

I invite you to look at the Sudarios by keeping in mind that the history of a country cannot be written in silence and its memory should not be constructed in the dark. For that reason, I believe that to tell, record, display and try to understand our history from all possible points of view is not only a need but an obligation.

Latin American Week: Paccarik Orue

This week, Argentinian photographer Eleonora Ronconi is taking over as guest editor, featuring work created by Latin American photographers…

Estoy muy feliz de poder mostrarles mi primera selección de la semana: Paccarik Orue!

I am very excited to feature the first photographer of this Latin American series on Lenscratch. I selected two of Paccarik’s series that show how these cities in different countries try to overcome hardship to survive: There is nothing beautiful around here, photographed in Richmond, California and El Maqui, made in Cerro de Pasco, Peru.

I first saw Paccarik Orue‘s work at Carte Blanche in San Francisco. I was struck by Paccarik’s sensibility to capture things around him. He was born and raised in Lima, Peru and currently resides in San Francisco. As a photographer, he is interested in creating work that stirs emotion about his subjects and that leave the viewer with more questions than answers. He earned his BFA in photography from the Academy of Art University in 2011.

Paccarik’s work has been featured in Visura Magazine and Conscientious among others. He has exhibited at SF Camerawork and Book & Job Gallery. His book, There is nothing beautiful around here, is being published this month by Owl & Tiger and has been selected by Darius Himes and Larissa Leclair to be a part of the traveling Indie Photobook Library’s exhibition.

Image from There is nothing beautiful around here

What does your Latin heritage bring to
your work?

I was born and raised in Lima, Peru
during a terrorist crisis. I have witnessed crime, poverty and the
struggles of my family trying to make ends meet. As a Latin American
artist living in the United States, it is important for me to create
work that is true to my own values and heritage. For that reason, I
find myself photographing in places that are struggling, such as
Richmond, California and Cerro de Pasco, Peru. My heritage plays a
big role in creating my art because I myself have struggled as an
immigrant in the U.S. Thus, I seek to capture the unexpected beauty
within the struggle of these communities. The fact that I have lived
half of my life in Peru and the other half in the United States,
makes me an outsider in both places; too Peruvian in California and
too Americanized for Peru, and I like what that brings to my artistic
practice.
Do you see a difference between work
created in Latin America and work created in the States?
The Latin American region produces
strong photographic work that is similar in caliber to work produced
in the U.S., most specifically in the journalism arena. In the realm
of fine art, the works of Alejandro Chaskielberg, Alejandro Lipszyc,
Hans Stoll and Macarena Rojas, to name a few, stand out. In my
opinion, the main difference is that much less work is produced in
Latin America than in the U.S., probably as a result of lack of
resources.
What is the state of photography in
your country–is it well supported, are galleries selling, do
photographers have a way to get exposure or have ways to promote
their work?
These are very exciting times for
photography in Peru. The economic growth of the past years is
reflected in the opening of new art schools, galleries, museums,
art-book stores and photography events. One of my favorite events is
the annual fair, “Lima Foto,” hosted by the art school Centro De
La Imagen. “Lima Foto” hosts local and Latin American galleries
and it is a great place to see contemporary photography from the
region. Another exciting event that takes place in Peru is the
“Bienal De Fotografia De Lima,” which runs for a whole week and
features a photobook fair, artists’ talks, contests and displays
local work as well as international work. Perhaps the most important
initiative is the opening of FOLI, a non-profit photography museum
that aims to promote and preserve contemporary photography in South
America. FOLI also takes the initiative of bringing photography
exhibitions to the people of Lima by transforming shipping cargo
containers into mobile galleries and setting them up in different
parks and plazas throughout the city.   
Images from There is nothing beautiful around here
Richmond, California is a
place where many families are struggling with rising unemployment,
foreclosure, poverty, and the ensuing violence and substance abuse.
This situation has accentuated Richmond’s reputation for being one
of the roughest parts of the Bay Area.
However, Richmond is also a place where turkeys walk past on the sidewalks, dogs guard their owner’s properties, people ride horses in the park, and fire hydrants cool the hot afternoons. During one of my visits, a middle-aged African American woman asked me why I was taking pictures in her neighborhood. I answered that it was beautiful. She responded, “there is nothing beautiful around here.” Beauty and sorrow live side by side in Richmond. This body of work
documents this contradiction, the character of the city and the pride
of its residents.

Images from El Muqui
El Muqui is a mysterious goblin known as the owner of the Andean mines. He is a powerful tiny figure who is attentive to the miner’s ambitions and frustrations. And although he may show sympathy to some miners, he also punishes the wrongdoers. El Muqui, possesses a strong moral code and makes pacts with the people who exploit his territories. He collects what is owed to him punctually and inexorably. 
Cerro de Pasco is the highest mining city in the world and it is also one of the most polluted. The city is one of the biggest sources of income for the Peruvian government, but ironically, it has also been forgotten by its officials.
The open-pit mine is located in the middle of the city and keeps growing in diameter every year. In its expansion, the mine has devoured entire historical neighborhoods, erasing them from the map.The amount of mineral deposits is too
large for the government to stop extracting them, and the operations
are increasingly intensifying. This mine is not only erasing
Cerro de Pasco’s history, but it is also erasing the city’s
future.



The Mohawk Ironworkers: Rebuilding the Iconic Skyline of New York

For more than a century, ironworkers descended from the Mohawk Indians of Quebec have helped create New York City’s iconic skyline, guiding ribbons of metal into the steel skeletons that form the backbone of the city. In the tradition of their fathers and grandfathers, a new generation of Mohawk iron workers now descend upon the World Trade Center site, helping shape the most distinct feature of Lower Manhattan—the same iconic structure their fathers and grandfathers helped erect 40 years ago and later dismantled after it was destroyed in 2001.

Driving some 360 miles south to New York from the Kahnawake reserve near Quebec, these men work—just as their fathers did—in the city during the week and spend time with their families on the weekends.

One year ago, around the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, photographer Melissa Cacciola began documenting some of these workers—not an easy task given that the roughly 200 Mohawks (of more than 2,000 iron workers on site) are working at a frantic pace, helping One World Trade Center to rise a floor a week.

Cacciola, a photographer with a background in chemistry and historic preservation, is one of few photographers who work exclusively with tintypes, images recorded by a large-format camera on sheets of tin coated with photosensitive chemicals. Having previously photographed members of the armed-forces for her War and Peace series, Cacciola looked to document those continuing to help the city move past the shadow of tragedy.

“It seemed like a real New York thing,” she told TIME. “And it made sense as the next chapter in the post-9/11 landscape. Rebuilding is part of that story.”

Just as towers like the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center mark the height of America’s skyscraper architecture, tintype photographs are inherently American. Tintype developed in the 1850s as early American photographers looked for alternatives to the expensive and finicky glass-plate processes popular in Europe. Recycled tin was a readily available resource in the new nation—less than 100 years old—and so the tintype grew in popularity, earning its place in American photographic identity. Even Abraham Lincoln’s campaign pins contained an inlaid tintype portrait of the candidate.

“You don’t find tintypes on other continents,” Cacciola said.

Slightly blurry and sepia-toned, Cacciola’s portraits feel timeless, save for the occasional modern stickers on her subjects’ hardhats. Each portrait focuses tightly on the men’s strong facial features.

The 30 tintypes in the series are each made from bulk sheets of tin, although Cacciola has also used recycled biscuit jars in prior tintype projects. Coated first with a black lacquer and then a layer of collodion emulsion to make them light sensitive, the plates are dipped in a silver bath immediately before exposure to form silver iodide—a step that bonds actual particles of silver to the emulsion. Nothing could be more fitting for men working with steel to be photographed on metal.

In the tradition of 19th-century photography, Cacciola’s process is slower than today’s digital systems. But the finished plates are more than simple portraits; rather, they hold their own weight as tangible objects. Just as histories often reflect the blemishes of times past, Cacciola’s tintypes are fragile, containing marks and slight imperfect artifacts that reflect the medium’s limitations. Working by hand rather than machine, each portrait records the artist’s intentions as much as her subject’s.

“These tintypes are so much a part of me,” she says. “Like the fact that you get partial fingerprints or artifacts from the way I’m pouring collodion on the plate—it’s all human. The way silver and light interact in this chemical reaction is a testament to the Mohawk iron workers and this early [photographic] process—it’s unparalleled in terms of portraiture.”

Melissa Cacciola is a New York-based tintype photographer.

2012 Fine Prints Are Selling Fast!

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Clockwise from left to right: Christian Patterson, Geissler/Sann, David Maisel, Hyers & Mebane

Support the MoCP with an Exclusive Limited-Edition Fine Print: Get Yours Today!

The 2012 edition of our annual Fine Print Program is selling fast. By purchasing any of these limited-edition photographs, printed especially for the Museum of Contemporary Photography, you directly support our educational initiatives and public programs. 2012 Fine Prints are available NOW through the MoCP’s website at mocp.org/shop. Each print is limited to an edition of 50, so be sure to make your purchase before your favorites sell out. Order today!


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Christian Patterson
Cozy Corner Lights from the series Sound Affects, 2004
Archival inkjet print
11 x 17 inches on 12 x 18 inch paper
Edition of 50

The series Sound Affects is comprised of color photographs of Memphis, Tennessee, the ‘Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll’ and the ‘Home of the Blues.’ The photographs are light-borne visual melodies — musical arrangements of color, light, rhythm and form exploring musical places, music’s presence and the musicality of everyday life.

Christian Patterson (b. 1972, Fond du Lac, WI) is an American artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. He was nominated for the 2007 Santa Fe Prize for Photography, the 2008 New York Photo Awards Best Fine Art Series, and the 2009 Baum Award for American Photographers. He was a 2010 Light Work Artist-In-Residence. His work is exhibited, collected and published internationally. His first monograph, Sound Affects, was published by Edition Kaune, Sudendorf in 2008. His second monograph, Redheaded Peckerwood, was published by MACK in 2011 and named one of the best books of 2011 by numerous noted international photography critics, Art in America, the New York Times, TIME and the Guardian among others and nominated for the 2012 Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards.


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Geissler/Sann
Banks and Breese, 2002
Archival inkjet print
9 x 10.75 inches on 11 x 14 inch paper
Edition of 50

In the series Horses, photographers Beate Geissler and Oliver Sann tap into the visual and cultural traditions that these animals have historically been party to. As dual symbols of both freedom and conquest, the horses of these photographs are rendered portrait-style: faces cropped against a stark black background. Humanized, then fetishized, the equine subjects of the works are stripped of all naturalness and physicality.

Beate Geissler was born in Neuendettelsau, Germany, in 1970. She studied photography at the Staatliche Fachakademie für Fotodesign in Munich and then attended the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung, in Karlsruhe, studying under Thomas Struth, Candida Höfer and Gunther Rambow. Oliver Sann was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1968; he started working as a photography assistant for Hugh Ashley Rayner in Bath, Great Britain, then attended the Staatliche Fachakademie für Fotodesign in Munich studying photography. He graduated from the Academy for Media Arts in Cologne. Their work has been included in exhibitions at Neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst, Berlin; the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Gallery ftc, Berlin; the Renaissance Society, Chicago; among others.


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David Maisel
Terminal Mirage 32, 2003
Archival inkjet print
10 x 10 inches on 11 x 14 inch paper
Edition of 50

David Maisel is interested in the dialectic balance between what is seen on the surface of a photograph, the complex reality that lies beneath, and how beauty can suggest the ideal while obscuring the often darker side of a subject. In his project Terminal Mirage, Maisel intentionally obscures the function, location, scale, and condition of his subject: the Great Salt Lake. The lake’s most distinctive aspect is its richness in sodium, magnesium, potassium, chloride, and sulfate, all of which contribute to the ever-changing physical attributes of the lake. However, industry also plays a heavy role in the lake’s appearance as evaporation ponds are commercially operated to extract salts and minerals for industrial use.

David Maisel was born in New York City in 1961. He received his BA from Princeton University, and his MFA from California College of the Arts, in addition to study at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Maisel was a Scholar in Residence at the Getty Research Institute in 2007 and an Artist in Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in 2008. He became a trustee of the Headlands Center for the Arts in 2011. Maisel has been the recipient of an Individual Artist’s Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was short-listed for the Prix Pictet in 2008. Maisel lives and works in the San Francisco area.


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Hyers + Mebane
Las Vegas 25
2012
Pigment print
16 1/4 inches x 13 inches
Edition of 50

This collection of photographs was made on the four-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard in Clark County, Nevada commonly referred to as the strip. The photographs were made in a range of casinos – from the oldest remaining casino on the strip, the Flamingo, to the new complexes, such as the Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, and the ESPN Center. These photographs were taken in May 2008.

Martin Hyers and William Mebane began their collaborative work in 2004. Their project, EMPIRE, will be exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago in 2012. Their work has appeared on Tim Barber’s website tinyvices.com, been included in the 2008 and 2011 New York Photo Festival, installed with Humble Arts Foundation at Scope / Basel, Switzerland in 2010, and included in Between The Bricks and the Blood: TransgressiveTypologies at Steven Kasher Gallery, New York. Based in New York, they work collaboratively and individually as photographers on a wide range of fine art, editorial, and commercial assignments.

Martin Hyers is a New York-based photographer whose work has appeared in many and in a wide range of magazines and commercial advertising. Martin lives with his wife, Andrea, and their two children in New York City.

William Mebane, a Visiting Lecturer at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, received a J. William Fulbright Fellowship to photograph in Nepal in 2002 and 2003. His photographs have appeared in publications such as the _New York Times Magazine_ and _Esquire_. Upon completing his MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute, he. A nominee for the 2011 Baum Award, William lives with his wife, Martha, and their two sons in Brooklyn, NY.