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Europe Week: Sofie Knijff

Guest editor, Jacqueline Roberts shares a week of European photographers, today with Sofie Knijff. A huge thank you to Jacqueline for her insight and efforts.

Sofie Knijff graduated from the Fotoacademie Amsterdam in 2007 after a career in the world of theatre. She has won numerous awards such as the Netherlands Photo Academy Award, the Harry Penning’s Award and the FOTO 8 “People’s Choice” Award (UK). In 2011, she received a grant from the Sem Presser Fund and in 2012 from the Mondriaan Foundation. Nominated Emerging Artist by the Fotomuseum Winthertur in Switzerland, her work has since been widely exhibited in Europe and in the US.

Her series Translations will be published by Kehrer Verlag.

Sofie comments on the European photography scene:  Photography is recognized and rising as an art form among collectors and galleries. In the Netherlands, we also have Art foundations that support the development of Dutch photography and some internationally known photobook designers (Kummer & Hermann, SYB, Teun van der Heijden, Hans Gremmen).

The work presented is a selection of images from my series “Translations”. Over the past 3 years I have traveled through Mali, India ,South- Africa, Brazil and Greenland. Portraying children and their fantasy world. My aim was to isolate these children from their surroundings, and daily life, and focus their attention in order to reveal their own “dream character”.

 By using the same backdrop, I created a stage on which the dreams could come to life. The challenge was to build a subtle level concentration to capture the moment of transformation. At the same time, I took images of the empty spaces in which these children live; allowing to create a set of portraits where the inside and outside mirror and influence one another.

Brian Van de Wetering and the Space Shuttle Endeavor

Last week, Los Angeles was all a twitter about the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s final journey from LAX to the California Science Center, a museum that sits on the edge of downtown L.A.  The trip had been planned for months–there were street closures, trees cut down, pathways opened, so that the shuttle could make it’s slow (1 mile per hour) trip across the city, in some places with only a 3 inch clearance.  Photographer Brian Van de Wetering managed to capture the action, arriving on the scene at sunrise and witnessing not only the aircraft, but the desire to document the excitement in a variety of ways.

Brian  also included a picture of the Graf Zeppelin taken by his  grandfather at Mines Field (now LAX) in 1929. It is a tiny snapshot that
he found in a box of family photographs many years ago after his  grandfather passed away. The second airship in the picture is the
Goodyear Blimp. “It seemed to me that there is something of a connection
across time between his photograph and those of the people I was
photographing even
though he doesn’t appear in the photograph himself.”

Early on the morning of October 12, 2012, along with hundreds of other people, I went to witness the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s journey through the streets of Los Angeles from LAX to the California Science Center. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect but, as a photographer, I knew that I couldn’t let this event pass without trying to document it in some way. What struck me even more than the grandeur and size of the shuttle itself was the behavior of the people that came out to witness the event. Everyone had some sort of image capture device. Smart phones, point-and-shoot cameras, iPads, and DSLRs were all represented. But people weren’t just taking pictures of Endeavor, they were taking pictures of themselves, family, and friends with Endeavor as a backdrop. Many people were asking complete strangers to take their photograph. I was so fascinated by this social phenomenon that these moments became the focus of my camera for the rest of the day. 

Later as I worked through these images, I was reminded of a tiny snapshot I found in a shoe box among my grandfather’s belongings. It is a picture of the Graf Zeppelin that he had taken when it visited Mines Field (now LAX) in 1929 after the first-ever non-stop flight of any kind across the Pacific Ocean. What connects these pictures is a shared desire to witness a moment in history and to preserve a personal memento of both the event itself and our witnessing of it. What is different is our ability to immediately publish that memento and share it with the world and our circle of friends through the Internet. But will these digital photos survive to be found in some virtual shoe box by our grandchildren and great-grandchildren?

Sarah Zamecnik, Untitled

Sarah Zamecnik, Untitled

Sarah Zamecnik

Syracuse, New York, 2010
From the Town & Country series
Website – SaraheZamecnik.com

Sarah Zamecnik (b. 1981), received her MFA from Syracuse University in 2011. She has been a recipient of a variety of exhibition awards and research grants and her work is part of the permanent collection at the University Wisconsin-Madison. Her Town & Country series beholds a sense of place and order, exemplifying a backdrop of the American heartland. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

The Victims of Assad: Photographs by Peter Hapak

It was approaching midnight but many of the hundreds of Syrians who had arrived at the Reyhanli refugee camp in southern Turkey just hours before were still restless, even the toddlers. Most were concerned with where they were going to sleep that night, and if friends and family members had reached safety. It was difficult to get people to talk. Many were afraid to speak for fear of reprisals against relatives still in Syria, others were clearly physically and emotionally worn down. Nevertheless, some were prepared to share their experiences, their fears and thoughts.

TIME was granted vast access during the first week of April to the Reyhanli and Yayladagi camps in Turkish territory to document, through words and pictures, the travails of the thousands who were fleeing Syria. As photographer Peter Hapak and his assistant took portraits of several of the refugees against a white backdrop set up just beyond the tents, other residents of Reyhanli—both newcomers and those who had been there for months—swirled about.

A wiry young newlywed in a thin aqua blue zippered jacket was searching for his wife among the families milling around the cramped canvas tents. His Syrian border village of Kili in Idlib province was shelled and strafed by helicopter gunships that morning, an account repeated by many of the other refugees from the town. The 26-year-old with a thin mustache and enraged eyes was seething: “I buried a man today. Two others and me, we buried a man who had half of his head missing.” When the young man, who refused to give his name, returned to his house after the burial, his wife wasn’t there. Believing she had fled across the border, he headed for Turkey as well. “Now, I learnt from others who arrived after me that my family was behind me, that they have reached the border but haven’t crossed it yet.”

Brent Herrig for TIME

Peter Hapak photographs Syrian refugees in Reyhanli.

Like so many others in Reyhanli that night, the young man had made a perilous journey on foot through mountainous terrain to reach Turkey, guided and aided by members of the rebel Free Syrian Army along backroads and mountain trails to avoid Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops. Some had walked for hours; others for days; most brought nothing but the clothes on their backs and harrowing tales of what they had fled. They spoke of mass killings, of homes being shelled, burnt to the ground, of relatives marched in front of tanks as human shields in the village of Taftanaz.

“Assad’s army is trying to find us, they are hunting us down in these hills to shoot and kill us,” the young man said. His group, however, was lucky. It did not encounter Assad loyalists. Just days later, a Syrian refugee was killed and several wounded after Syrian troops fired across the border at a refugee camp in the Turkish town of Kilis after a skirmish with rebel fighters. It wasn’t the first time the regime’s firepower had chased its opponents across borders into Turkey and Lebanon, but where the Lebanese government has been pliant and weak in its response to the attacks, Turkey’s patience is waning. The country already houses more than 24,000 Syrians, and is expecting thousands more.

In just one day last week, more than 2,800 Syrians streamed into Turkey from Idlib, the highest 24-hour figure to date. The exodus belied President Assad’s pledge to adhere to an internationally backed ceasefire agreement brokered by joint United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. The deal called on Assad to withdraw his troops and heavy weaponry from besieged cities and towns by Tuesday April 10, and for both sides to cease violence. But instead of winding down, the regime’s muscle escalated operations to crush the year-long revolt.

Syria has routinely ignored diplomatic deadlines and scoffed at half-hearted international ultimatums, relying on its Russian and Chinese allies to shield it from censure. But this time, Assad’s powerful friends signed off on Annan’s initiative. His dismissiveness may yet chip away at their support, or at the very least make it harder for them to insist, as they have, that the Syrian president must be part of any diplomatic solution.

International discord is one thing. The disunity among the opposition to Assad is another. The Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile, remains divided and beset by claims of corruption, personal pettiness, feuds and rising suspicion that its secular leader Burhan Ghalioun is merely a front for the powerful Islamists. The nominal military leadership of the Free Syrian Army isn’t in better shape. Corralled in a camp in Apaydin, they have offered little to the men fighting and dying inside Syria in its name.

In the real struggle, within Syria, it has always been a revolution of ordinary people, of farmers and taxi drivers turned armed rebels, of students and laborers who have become community leaders. But, if the accounts of the refugees in Turkey are any indication, these revolutionaries despair of receiving the help they need to beat Assad. Early on, they had baptized their uprising a “revolution of orphans,” bereft of support. As he scurried away with a thin foam mattress tucked under his arm, one man said, “Before we thought that the world didn’t know what was happening to us, now we realize that you do and you don’t care.”

“We only have God and our own hands!” said another man, who had been standing nearby. It was a view shared by many. Said the young man searching for his wife: “Tanks we can stand in front of, we can try and stop them, stand in front of them, die as martyrs, but how can we stop a helicopter? We are now in Turkey, we don’t want to be here.” Growing more agitated, he says, “We want weapons, we want to fight… We want weapons, we want weapons, we want weapons.”

More: Syria’s Year of Chaos

Abouzeid is a Middle East correspondent for TIME. Follow her on Twitter at @raniaab.

Hapak is a contract photographer for TIME. In December of 2011, Hapak photographed The Protester, TIME’s Person of the Year. 

Hiding in the City with Liu Bolin

The relationship between the state and society in China has been ground for producing controversial works of art such as the iconic photograph of Tank Man — the lone civilian standing up to the People’s Liberation Army in Tiananmen Square — or Ai Weiwei’s Study in Perspective, both of which seek a spiritual redress in their defiance of authority. In this sociopolitical tradition stands the work of the Beijing-based artist Liu Bolin, who employs photography as a means to explore the Chinese national identity while silently protesting its government. His series Hiding in the City was born out of the governmental eviction and subsequent destruction of his Beijing studio in 2005. As a result, Liu began to use the city around him as a backdrop, painting himself to blend in with a landscape in constant flux. By literally blending into the city, Liu, who considers himself an outsider, creates a tension that challenges the viewer to question what is on and beneath the surface.

Liu’s Hiding in the City series, along with other work by the photographer, is currently on view at the Eli Klein Fine Art gallery in New York City. For Liu, the most important element of his images is the background. By using iconic cultural landmarks such as the Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall, or the remains of Suo Jia Village where his studio was housed, Liu seeks to direct awareness to the humanity caught between the relics of the imperial past and the sleek modern monoliths of the 21st century China. Each image requires meticulous planning and execution: as both artist and performer, Liu directs the photographer on how to compose each scene before entering the frame. Once situated, he puts on his Chinese military uniform, which he wears for all of his Invisible Man photographs and, with the help of an assistant and painter, is painted seamlessly into the scene. This process can sometimes take up to 10 hours with Liu having to stand perfectly still. Although the end result of Liu’s process is the photograph, the tension between his body and the landscape is itself a manifestation of China’s incredible social and physical change. Simultaneously a protester and a performance artist, Liu completely deconstructs himself by becoming invisible, becoming a symbol of the humanity hidden within the confines of a developing capital.

Liu Bolin is a Chinese artist whose work has been shown around the world. The exhibition Liu Bolin: Lost in Art will be on view at the Eli Klein Fine Art gallery in New York City through May 11.

Cruel and Unusual @ Noorderlicht

© YANA PAYUSOVA - Holy Trinity - Holy Ghost, 2004

© YANA PAYUSOVA – Holy Trinity – Holy Ghost, 2004

The Cruel and Unusual exhibition that opens at the Noorderlicht Gallery in Groningen tomorrow is a rare breed. This is a project that started out (and still lives) on the internet, became a road trip across America, and is now both a newspaper and an exhibition. With work by eleven different artists, Araminta de Clermont, Amy Elkins, Alyse Emdur, Christiane Feser, Jane Lindsay, Deborah Luster, Nathalie Mohadjer, Yana Payusova, Lizzie Sadin and Lori Waselchuk, the exhibition focuses on prison photography, a subject that receives very little exposure. The show is co-curated by fellow photo-bloggers Hester Keijser (Mrs Deane) and Pete Brook (Prison Photography) who write two of the most dynamic and esoteric blogs that you will find on the web (aside from the dozens of other writing, curating and photographic projects). To state the obvious, prisons are not exactly a sexy subject and the fact that they have managed to put this show together is very impressive. Instead of a ‘traditional’ exhibition catalogue, the curators have put together a newspaper (print run of 4,000 / 1.50 € per copy) in an attempt to reach more readers than an expensive photobook could (they lay out their reasons for this choice in detail here). The world of photography online can be an exasperating, sprawling mess, but the fact that it can lead to projects such as this one makes it genuinely worthwhile. I’m providing a few visuals of the work on show with this post, but if you can make it to Noorderlicht before the exhibition closes on 1 April, don’t miss this.

© AMY ELKINS - 6/44 (Not the Man I Once Was)

© AMY ELKINS – 6/44 (Not the Man I Once Was)




© NATHALIE MOHADJER - Detention cell in Muyinga, Burundi 2009

© NATHALIE MOHADJER – Detention cell in Muyinga, Burundi 2009

© ALYSE EMDUR - Anonymous Backdrop Painted in Shawangunk Correctional Facility, New York 2005- 2011

© ALYSE EMDUR – Anonymous Backdrop Painted in Shawangunk Correctional Facility, New York 2005- 2011



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Photographer #425: Bohnchang Koo

Bohnchang Koo, 1953, South-Korea, is a fine-art and conceptual photographer based in Seoul. He first studied Business Administration at Yonsei University before studying photography in Hamburg. His work is often about impermanence, the passing of time, the disappearance and heritage. For his series Vessel he photographed rare porcelain ceramics of the Korean Joseon dynasty. He traveled to museums around the world to find and document the white objects against a white backdrop in soft light. As an “old family album” he tries to bring the objects together and retrieve the lost Korean heritage. Koo has been called “one of Korea’s most influential photographers.” Not only due to his photographic art, but also as an educator and exhibition planner he helped shape and promote Korean photography to a wider audience. He released a large number of monographs and his work has been exhibited extensively throughout the world and is found in public collections as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. The following images come from the series Interiors, Vessel and In the Beginning.

Website: www.bckoo.com

Norway’s Northern Lights

A riot of color in the night sky above the Arctic Circle gave local photographers a spectacular light show this September. Sometimes called the aurora borealis, the northern lights are caused by streams of particle-charged solar winds that hit the Earth’s magnetic field, causing hues of green and pink to shimmer against the backdrop of the stars. This year, professional and amateur photographers were able to capture the lights in more southerly latitudes than usual. Herewith, a small sampling of what they saw.