Tag Archives: Harsh Realities

Rémi Ochlik’s Revolutions

“War is worse than drugs. One moment it’s a bad trip, a nightmare. But the next moment, as soon as the immediate danger has passed, there is an overpowering desire to go back for more. To risk one’s life in order to get more pictures in return for not very much. It is an incomprehensible force that pushes us to keep going back in.”

Rmi Ochlik, 2004

This spring, after French war photographer Rmi Ochlik was killed during fighting in Homs, Syria, a group of close friends and colleagues felt their obligations to the photographer weren’t complete. Meeting aboard a TGV train on their way to Paris from the World Press awards ceremony in Amsterdam in late April, the group took stock of everything that had happened since Rmi’s death. find personal injury attorney . His photographs had spoken for themselves when exhibited in tribute in Amsterdam. The large circle of friends gathered in his name was a testament to his character; he was always the guy who would make friends sharing a cigarette. But one duty remained unfinishednot a tribute, nor a memorial, but a commitment to continue what was and what should have been in Rmi’s life.

Now, five months later, Revolutions is finisheda book of 144 pages, across which Rmi’s photographs of the Arab Spring spread forth. The tome depicts hope, anger, celebration and fearsome of humanity’s most powerful emotions recorded in photographsand feelings the photographer undoubtedly felt during a career cut short by the harsh realities often facing those documenting armed conflict.

Scattered through this visual record of Rmi’s witness are the words of friends, which encompass close confidants, long-time coworkers and fellow photographers. Their testimonies are short, speaking to the memories of a man killed at a time and place in the world many photographers hesitated to cover.

Ochlikbegan his photography of the Arab Spring in Tunisiaand so the book does the same. “It is impressive to see the ease with which he moves through the street as the rocks fly everywhere,” writes Julien De Rosa of his shared time with Rmi outside Tahrir Square in Cairo. “This is clearly his natural environment.”

Rmi, considered by colleagues an old-school photographer despite his youngage (29), moved with confidence and resolve through the borders of conflict in the Middle East. This is what makes his death that much more painful, for at his age and with his skill, his potential had seemed limitless.

“Be safe, okay?” were the last words that Gert Van Langendonck told Rmi before his final trip to the besieged city of Homs. “You’ve already won your World Press Photo.” And indeed Rmi’s work was deserving of high honorhis story from Libya earned him first prize in the 2012 World Press Photo competition’s General News category. His photographic eye was strongstrengthening, evenas he entered Syria. A vision deserving of high honor, cut short by a barrage of shelling that also killed American correspondent Marie Colvin.

Rmi was often aware that he didn’t have a personal project in the works, Van Langendonck told TIME. Personal projects provide an outlet for photographers to explore their interests outside of commissioned editorial work, allowing for an inner-consistency even as a photographer’s surroundings are rapidly changing. So caught up in his work, Remi didn’t need it “I’ve never had so many of my pictures published in my life,” he told Van Langendonck.

After paying the ultimate price for his work, Rmi’s personal project became clear. Although the future promise of the French photographer will never be fully realized, the publishing of Revolutions has brought a modicum of closure.

Revolutions is nowavailable through Emphas.is. The book project, funded by contributors, raised $24,250 as of Sept. 4, exceeding its original fundraising target of $15,000 by almost 40%.

Neighborhood Blues: Kensington, Philadelphia

Philadelphia is well known as a city of neighborhoods. Walk a half-mile down the block and everything changes; the faces, the shops, the streets themselves are different. Photographer Jeffrey Stockbridge, who lives in the city, says that there is one neighborhood of which many Philadelphians are only vaguely aware: Kensington, in the city’s northeast, an area with high poverty and crime rates. Stockbridge has been photographing the denizens of Kensington and recording their stories since the winter of 2008, as part of a long-term project that he hopes to conclude this summer.

Stockbridge had been working on a project documenting the interiors of abandoned houses in Philadelphia when he first met the people who would become the subjects of the current project, the people who spend their days hanging out on Kensington Avenue. “I met some very interesting individuals that I had originally shied away from,” he says. “I just began going to the Avenue with my camera and photographs from my previous projects and introducing myself to people and talking to them about the avenue, and that’s when I started to get a sense of the environment.”

With both portraits and environmental photography, Stockbridge aims to capture the sense that a neighborhood like Kensington unites people, for better or worse, through the harsh realities of everyday life.

And Stockbridge says he has found that the people of Kensington are eager to share their stories. “The people I photograph are not trying to hide anything,” he says. “They know that everyone looking at them knows what they’re doing, whether they’re working as a prostitute or they’re selling drugs or they’re an addict.” And in the years he has been photographing them, Stockbridge has become much more comfortable on the Avenue—and the Avenue has become comfortable with him. People approach him when he shows up with a camera. “They usually ask me if I can take their picture too,” he says, “and say, ‘well, I got a story too.’”

One of the stories that “hits the nail on the head,” in Stockbridge’s words, is that of the two sisters “Tic-Tac and Tootsie,” pictured in the gallery above. The photographer says that the similarities and differences between the twins—the echoed hunches of their shoulders, the slight smile on only one face—highlight the contrasts inherent in life on the Avenue. The people in his photographs struggle and survive.

The project is the photographer’s first experience with pairing audio and visual recordings—both of which can be seen on the blog he maintains for the project—and he has also begun asking his subjects to write in a journal that he hopes to display alongside their photographs. He says that the collective history, as written and told by the residents of Kensington, is a necessary counterpart to his desire to use available light and chance meetings to communicate something about the human condition. Although the project now feels almost finished to Stockbridge, he says that it’s a topic that one could photograph forever—and that he may return, in a decade or so to see what has or hasn’t changed. “Every week there’s new people on the avenue,” he says.

And those people will, undoubtedly, have their own stories to tell, in their own voices. “I’m really just trying to show,” says Stockbridge. “I’m not trying to define. I’m just trying to say: ‘look.’”

Jeffrey Stockbridge is a Philadelphia-based photographer. See more of his work here.

Will Steacy: 48 Hours exhibition, and New Print from Aperture

Photograph by Will Steacy, Courtesy the artist

Michael Mazzeo Gallery is pleased to announce a special presentation of recent photographs by the American photographer, journalist, and social documentarian, Will Steacy.

Deeply moved by headlines decrying the perils facing the nation, Steacy, a former union laborer, packed his view camera and drove to Madison, Wisconsin to witness the heated confrontation between union workers and Governor Scott Walker. He spent 24 hours that night and the following day photographing events as they unfolded inside and around the capitol building, as the Governor prepared to sign the notorious bill restricting collective bargaining rights for union workers. Shortly afterwards, Steacy drove to Gary, Indiana, home to the first US Steel plant, and a city whose rise and fall has become a symbol of the plight of the American workforce. He photographed up and down Broadway, Gary’s main artery, documenting City institutions and local businesses, revealing the grim challenges that now face this once-vibrant city. Photographed in 48 hours, Steacy’s understated, quietly seductive images reveal an undercurrent of catastrophic anxiety enveloping the American psyche while pointedly exposing the harsh realities of a nation torn apart by misguided government policies and corporate greed. An outspoken critic of inequality and injustice, Will Steacy’s images, insightful, confrontational, and elegant, offer hope and renewal to a nation divided.

Will Steacy is honored to dedicate this exhibition to his mentor, Charles Gandee, 1952-2011.

Michael Mazzeo Gallery
508 W 26th street, Suite 318
New York

Opening reception:Thursday April 28, 6:00-8:00 pm
Exhibition on view: April 28- April 30, 2011
Artist talk: Saturday April 30,  3:00 pm

Empty Vegetable Stand on Valentine’s Day, 3rd Avenue & 110th, New York 2010, photograph by Will Steacy, courtesy the artist

Aperture is also excited to offer this limited-edition print by Will Steacy, one of five emerging artists selected by Aperture for the NYC Green Cart Photography Commission. This is the first of a series of limited editions from the Green Cart artists, soon to be released. These photographers were given the opportunity to document the NYC Green Cart Initiative, a program that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to underserved urban communities. Each photographer approached this project from a different point of view, offering a unique perspective of the Green Cart program.  The images have also been curated into an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York titled Moveable Feast: Fresh Produce and the NYC Green Cart Program. Both the exhibition and the commission were  made possible with the generous support of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.

“I’m interested in the impact the fruit and vegetable carts will have on these areas and how they will compete with the neighborhoods’ established food institutions. As our country adapts to a struggling economy and we debate healthcare, the severity of these national issues can be seen on a local level through the Green Cart Initiative and its influence on New York City’s most economically challenged neighborhoods.”

-Will Steacy

Steacy’s work was inspired by his interest in the relationship between a community’s socio-economic status and its health records. One of the biggest debates in public health today is the fact that low-income households have the highest reported rates of illness, while high-income households report the lowest. Over the course of a year, he photographed the geographic areas where the highest reported instances of poor health and people living without health insurance overlap with Green Cart locations. Empty Vegetable Stand on Valentine’s Day, 3rd Avenue & 110th,  New York is a striking example of one of these neighborhoods.