Benjamin Rasmussen is a Denver based photographer who spent his childhood with an indigenous group on an island in the southern Philippines, his university years with evangelicals in northern Arkansas, and a year with the descendants of Vikings in the Faroe Islands, a nation of 45,000 residents in the middle of the North Atlantic. This complex background has led him to explore questions of identity, belonging and home. His photography orbits round the idea of place and its importance to the community and the individual. Rasmussen’s work has been selected for the American Photography 26 and 28 Annuals and awarded in 2010 Pictures of the Year International. He has been chosen one of Photolucida’s 2010 Critical Mass Top 50 and included in Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Emerging Photographers 2011 and 2012 lists.
One of my favorite people and photographers is Caleb Cole. His work touches on themes of identity, of not fitting in, of the search for self–and much of this exploration is done with humor and an off-filter sensibility. This quote from his bio will give you a idea: “Born in Indianapolis, Caleb is a former altar server, scout, and 4-H Grand Champion in Gift Wrapping. His mother instilled in him a love of garage sales and thrift stores, where he developed a fascination with the junk that people leave behind.” My kind of guy, indeed.
I am featuring work from two of his new series, Odd One Out and Dolls, recently exhibited at Gallery Kayafas in Boston. Cole is a 2011 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award winner, 2011 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship Finalist, 2011 Somerville Arts Council Fellowship awardee, 2010 Magenta Foundation Flash Forward Winner, 2009 Artadia Award winner, and a 2009 Photolucida Critical Mass finalist. He regularly exhibits nationally and was featured in Boston Magazine (HOME) as an emerging photographer who is “shaking up New England’s visual arts scene.”
The images in Odd One Out began as found photographs, purchased in antique stores and estate sales, of groups of people during special events, reunions, and family gatherings. The photographs are the spoils of a hunt, the proceeds of afternoons spent looking into the eyes of people I do not know and who may no longer be living. I select images of people who, unlike the rest of the smiling faces in the frame, bear looks of loneliness and longing that stop me in my tracks.
Removed from their original context and meanings, I then digitally alter these photographs to segregate the one from the many, isolating the person from their surroundings by a field of white. The shape of the crowd is maintained, hinting at details of the group of which the person is a part, but with which they do not feel at home. The negation of the group serves to emphasize the presence of the one, to make visible the person who feels invisible. In constructing these images, I tell the story of the outsider, the odd one, those who are alone in a crowd.
Matthew Gamber (b. 1977) holds a BFA from Bowling Green State University, and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts / Tufts University. Recent exhibitions include: Second Nature: Abstract Photography Then and Now, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA, 2012 The 2012 deCordova Biennial, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA, 2012; Flash Forward 2011 Exhibition, Magenta Foundation, Toronto, CA, 2011; The Sum of All Colors, Sasha Wolf Gallery, New York, 2011. Awards include: Traveling Fellowship, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2011; Humble Art Foundation, New Photography Grant, 2011; Grant Recipient, LEF Foundation, New England (awarded for Big RED & Shiny), 2007 & 2005.
Born in Tarzana, California, Jesse Chehak studied photography and Art History at Sarah Lawrence College and is currently pursuing a MFA at the University of Arizona. Chehak has exhibited his large format prints in galleries and project spaces including Bruce Silverstein (New York), Danese (New York) and the Durham Art Guild (Durham, North Carolina.) He is currently seeking funding to publish his first monograph, Fool's Gold, and a gallery to exhibit and distribute the completed print edition. In 2005, Chehak joined M.A.P. and began executing commercial campaigns and editorial features for clients, including The New York Times, Wallpaper*, Newsweek, GQ, Ogilvy & Mather, Saatchi & Saatchi, Digitas, and others. Chehak has received notable attention for his work, including PDN30 in 2005, The Magenta Foundation's Flash Forward in 2007, a Baum Nomination in 2008, and AP25. He lives in Tucson and Los Angeles.
Donna J. Wan is a San Francisco Bay Area artist. She received her BA from Stanford and her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her work has been shown at Gallery 1401 at the University of Arts, New Mexico Museum of Art, Klompching Gallery, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She was named a Magenta Foundation Flash Forward 2007 Emerging Photographer and, most recently, received an Honorable Mention award for Review Santa Fe's Project Launch category and the APA/Lucie Foundation Scholarship grant. Her work has been published in Fraction Magazine, Lenscratch, Time Out Chicago, Profifoto, and the Conscientious website by Joerg Colberg and written about by W.M. Hunt and Virginia Heckert of the J. Paul Getty Museum. In 2009, she was an artist-in-residence at The Center for Photography at Woodstock and was invited by Catherine Opie to lecture at UCLA. Collectors of her work include the Pulitzer-Prize winning author Richard Ford and Thomas Kellner."
Jon Horvath is an artist and educator residing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received his MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2008. His work has been exhibited nationally in galleries including: The Print Center (Philadelphia), Macy Gallery at Columbia University (New York), Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, and The Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography. His work is currently held in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Haggerty Museum of Art, and is included in the Midwest Photographers Project at The Museum of Contemporary Photography. Horvath was a finalist for the The Greater Milwaukee Foundation's 2009 and 2010 Mary L. Nohl Emerging Artist Fellowship. In 2011, he was named a US Flash Forward winner by The Magenta Foundation. Horvath currently teaches at The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.
Viktoria Sorochinski is a Ukrainian-born artist who has lived and studied in Russia, Israel, and Canada prior to settling in New York City, where she acquired her Masters of Fine Arts in 2008. Since 2001 she has participated in various group and solo exhibitions and international photography festivals in Canada, USA, France, Italy, Russia, China, Georgia and Argentina. She is also a finalist and winner of several international photography competitions and awards including Lucie Award – IPA (Discovery of the Year), Magenta Foundation's Flash Forward, PDN Photo Annual, Voices Off Arles, ONWARD, Review Santa Fe, Descubrimientos PHE, BluePrint Fellowship, and Encuentros Abiertos. Her work is widely published in internationally acclaimed magazines, among which are British Journal of Photography, EYEMAZING, NY Times, PDN, GUP, Le Monde, BLINK Magazine, THE PHOTO/ARTVAS, Planeando Sobre BUE, AZART Photo, and many others, as well as in web portals worldwide.
Arantxa Cedillo is one of those unique documentary photographers who has the ability to reinterpret difficult situations into work that is artistic, poignant and meaningful. Her sensitivity to her subjects and her ability to tell stories in unique ways make her a gifted seer. I am featuring her project, Cambodian Children at Risk, where she manages to obscure the identity of her subjects, yet create compelling diptych portraits.
Arantxa was born in Madrid and studied the Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Program at the International Center of Photography.
Her work has received several international awards such as the Ian Parry Award (2005, UK), the Kiyosato’s Young Portfolio Acquisitions (2005, 2006, Japan), the Magenta Foundation’s Emerging Photographers Award (2008, 2011, Canada), the Alexandra Boulat Scholarship TPW (2008, Italy), and numerous others. Arantxa has been widely published with clients such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Time Magazine, The New York Times, CNN, New York Magazine, the Sunday Times Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, GEO, Colors, Le Monde, Marie Claire, El Pais Semanal, Io Dona, The Australian and DU among others.
Her work has been widely published in galleries around the world including the Canon Japan Gallery (Tokyo), Getty Images Gallery (London), International Center of Photography (New York), New Orleans Photo Alliance (New Orleans), Center for Photography at Woodstock (Woodstock), Toronto Image Works Gallery (Toronto), Mogliano Veneto (Treviso) and the Royal University of Fine Arts (Phnom Penh).
She is currently based in Kathmandhu, Nepal, and her work is represented by Getty Images Global Assignment.
Cambodian Children at Risk it is a project produced, within the IOM “Human Rights Protection for Trafficking Victims through Legal Support” Project and funded by the Italian Cooperation.The primary concern was to present children at risk without showing their faces or any other feature that could lead to their identification, which was a very significant and creative challenge. It was done working with households and local communities in Cambodia to show the lives and livelihoods of children at risk. This project was produced in collaboration with Damnok Toek, Krousar Thmey and Mith Samlanh, and with the support of the Royal Government of Cambodia.
Malis’s family were very poor, with no rice, no land to grow food, no tools for farming. When she was in Grade 2, she dropped out of school and the whole family went to Vietnam to beg. When Malis was about ten, she decided to go back with her aunt to earn money for her parents by washing dishes. At the border, the police let her through, even though she had no papers, because she was very small.
Her friends introduced her to a family where she washed dishes and mopped floors for a month, but then they asked her to go back to her family in Cambodia. Malis went home, but later returned to Vietnam with a broker from her village to work as a beggar. Shortly after she arrived, Malis got lost in Ho Chi Minh City for a year.
A “black lady’ (who had darker skin than Malis) took her to a household in southern Vietnam, which used to be Cambodian territory. She did housework for a Khmer-speaking family, earning 20,000 Vietnamese Dong (US1) a day. Although the family did not mistreat her, Malis was afraid that they would keep her forever. The broker did not help her to go home. In fact, when her parents went to court in Cambodia to try to trace her, the broker ran away from the village.
When she was three years old, her mother gave her to another family to take care of her. When she was eight, she was passed on to a second family, and when she was 11, to a third. It is believed that all the families beat her. One day when she was washing the dishes, the mother beat her, so she ran away. She slept outside and people recognized her, so she ran away again. An NGO found her and contacted the third family, but when the mother arrived Champa ran away again. She went to a pagoda and was cared for by the nuns for a few weeks, but girls are not allowed to live in pagodas, so the monks were not comfortable with having her. The NGO contacted Damnok Toek, who took her to the Day Care Centre.
His father died after falling from a palm tree. When he was eight, his mother and sister forced him and his two brothers to go to Phnom Penh. There he earned about 6,000 riel (US 1.50) a day begging, while his brothers earned 10,000 Riel (US 2.50) washing dishes. They all slept together on the street.
Chan started working in front of the Royal Palace, but gangsters beat him up and took his money. One night, they put tissues between his toes and lit them. He got scared, and started walking around all night to stay awake. The gangsters forced him to sniff glue and use yama. He began to want to use it because it made it possible for him to work at night, and made him feel happy. A foreigner took him and one of his friends to a hotel, but the police arrived before anything happened. He decided to stop using yama.
Chan fell sick, and his sister-in-law, who sold toys in front of the Royal Palace, took him to Mith Samlanh. Eventually, his sister-in-law asked if he could live there. Now he studies part-time at Mith Samlanh and part-time at public school, where he is in Grade 4.
He came to Phnom Penh with his grandmother when he was ten because his father beat him. He collecting recyclables and helped his grandmother to sell flowers in front of the Royal Palace, where they lived on the street.
An American man met him while he was taking a bath outside the Palace. The man took him for walks, bought him food and new clothes, took him to study English, and abused him. About eight months later, the man was arrested and Kdeb was asked to testify against him. The man was sent to prison and ordered to pay compensation, but it is unclear if this was ever paid.
His grandmother rented a place near the market, and Kdeb lived there with her. But the situation was not safe because the police “cleaned the streets”, so Mith Samlanh moved him to the centre, where he lived for about six months. He now lives with his grandmother again and continues studying at Mith Samlanh.
Kdeb likes football, especially Christian Ronaldo, and likes drawing nature pictures, such as landscapes and flowers. He says, “I would like to study more, but I don’t know what. In future, I would like to be a policeman.”
Klok spent four years in Bangkok, begging on bridges, to support his parents and six siblings, under close watch by the broker who took him there.
When he was 11 years old, Klok was caught by the police. He was put in a detention centre with about 30 other children. Some tried to escape or fought with each other, but Klok did not do that, because he wanted to go back to Cambodia.
Kolap grew up working amid garbage, but education is now giving her a chance to grow in healthier soil.
Champey has been studying at Krousar Thmey for five years. She is slow at learning because she cannot see much and is still in Grade 1, but she is a very good student. She always sits in the front row of the class, does everything at school and participates in all the activities.