Tag Archives: Sierra Leone

Fernando Moleres and the Empathic Eye

Rampant overcrowding plagues prisons across the globe, even in the world’s most developed nations. In Sierra Leone, one of Africa’s poorest countries, and one struggling to emerge from a decade of civil war, prisons are cauldrons of violence and neglect, where death and disease stalk inmates at every turn. In the nation’s capital of Freetown, the crumbling Freetown Central Prison was built to hold 220 adult inmates but houses 1,300, including dozens of children as young as 14 years old.

In 2010, Spanish photographer Fernando Moleres traveled to Sierra Leone determined to document what he describes as “disastrous” conditions at the penitentiary. Inspiration for the trip, he says, came after viewing the work of French photographer Lizzie Sadin, who has spent time capturing prison conditions around the world. The result of Moleres’ work could not have been more fruitful in a purely professional sense. He has won several international prizes for his work at the notorious Freetown Central Prison, better known as Pademba Road, including a 2012 Lucie Award and a 2011 award from World Press Photo. His series, additionally, has been published by some of Europe’s most prestigious publications.

Yet Moleres refuses to call his work a success. He remains haunted by something his photos were not able to convey — the uncertainty that reigns at the penitentiary. Dozens of boys, Moleres explains, have spent up to six years in prison without knowing anything about their judicial case. Many boys, abandoned by their families and with no support to speak of, believe they will die incarcerated.

“It’s very difficult to reflect this neglect through photography,” Moleres tells TIME. “In Sierra Leone, a prisoner is nobody, and a young prisoner is nothing.”

Faced with this disregard, and frustrated by photography’s constraints, Moleres resorted to his previous profession as a nurse, which he practiced as a youth in his native Orduña, in northern Spain’s Basque Country. During his first visit to the prison on Pademba Road, Molores snuck in with medicine to help prisoners where photos could not. And Moleres insists that the images of acute neglect — dehydration and scabies plague most inmates — cast a constant cloud over the professional accolade he has received.

“Photography has its limits,” says Moleres, who worked as a nurse in Spain before turning to photography. “I’m very happy with the project, it has received a lot of attention, but it’s just a drop in the ocean. Nobody has moved a finger to help these boys.”

Until recently, that is. Moleres returned from another excursion to Freetown just last month, where, with the help of the NGO Free Minor Africa, he gave birth to an organization that will help boys navigate through Sierra Leone’s penal and judicial systems. When fully up-and-running, Moleres hopes to help up to 20 boys, whether they need legal assistance or help with rehabilitation once they are freed from prison. Moleres will also provide them with the option of returning to school or retraining so they may enter the workforce.

Moleres, nonetheless, has no intention of abandoning his photography. He’s currently working on a book that will capture the boys of Pademba Road at various stages of their prison experience, from incarceration to rehabilitation to life on the street.

“If you don’t do anything to follow it up, photography is not worth much,” says Moleres. “We become very conscious of everything but there is little action. I’m more interested in dedicating myself to photographic projects in which action follows close behind.”


Fernando Moleres is a Barcelona-based photographer. He was awarded second prize in the Daily Life category of the 2011 World Press Photo competition for his work in Sierra Leone.

Alfonso Serrano is a senior editor at TIME.com.

 


Patricia Piccinini

What is it about Australians that make them a bit….well, different?

Photographer, sculptor, artist and writer, Patricia Piccinini, is part of an exhibition at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville,TN, Fairy Tales, Monsters, and the Genetic Imagination that runs through May 28th. Born in Sierra Leone, Patricia moved to Australia as a girl. She received a Bachelor of Arts (Economic History) from Australian National University and a Bachelor of Arts (Painting) from the Victorian College of the Arts. She exhibits worldwide, and her site reveals the scope of her vision, including essays on art and photography. An exhibition of her sculptures, There are no Strangers, is currently on display at the Tolarno Galleries in Melbourne through April 21st.

I’m sharing a range of her work, not necessarily included in these exhibitions.


Alley, 11.15am
© All rights reserved Patricia Piccinini 2011 Australia
from The Fitzroy Series


Sitting Room, 2.30pm
© All rights reserved Patricia Piccinini 2011 Australia
from The Fitzroy Series


Library, 8.45pm
© All rights reserved Patricia Piccinini 2011 Australia
from The Fitzroy Series


Street, 3.10am
© All rights reserved Patricia Piccinini 2011 Australia
2011 from The Fitzroy Series


Workshop, 7.00pm
© All rights reserved Patricia Piccinini 2011 Australia
from The Fitzroy Series

Some of Patricia’s sculpture installations:

In Memory of Photographers We Lost in 2011

They went by several different names. James Atherton was a “news photographer” while Tim Hetherington preferred “image maker.” We just call them photographers. They make images, yes, often connected with the news. But they actually record the world–in all of its beauty, horror, pain and confusion–at a particular time and place.

For three of the photographers who were killed covering the civil war in Libya this year, the uprising to oust Muammar Gaddafi was far from their first experience in combat. Anton Hammerl, a South African who lived in London, documented violence in South African townships before the 1994 election. After years far from the sound of the guns, Hammerl traveled to Libya and went missing in Brega on April 5, along with two other journalists. Only when the other two were released by Gaddafi forces did Hammerl’s family learn that he had been killed.

The news would come more quickly for the families of Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros. On April 20, a mortar round crashed in the middle of a group of photographers covering the fighting in the city of Misrata. Hetherington and Hondros both died of their wounds. Hondros had covered Liberia and Iraq, among other conflicts, including the 2003 photo of a Liberian militia commander jumping elatedly in the air after firing a rocket-propelled grenade at rebels holding a key bridge in Monrovia. Hetherington’s image making would take him to Sierra Leone and Liberia, chronicling conflicts no one wanted to talk about. He gained fame for Restrepo, a brilliant, agonizing documentary film he made with journalist Sebastian Junger that told the story of a company of American paratroopers during a year of nearly constant combat in Afghanistan. Only months after being nominated for an Oscar for the film, Hetherington was back where the bullets were flying and the mortars were landing, giving his life to tell stories few want to see, but none can afford to ignore.

Jerome Liebling was a true product of the greatest generation, who grew up in New York during the Great Depression. He fought in North Africa and Europe during World War II as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. In spite of the carnage of war he witnessed, or perhaps because of it, Liebling trained his lens on the poor, the hungry and the forgotten. He wanted to “figure out where the pain was,” he once said, “to show things that people wouldn’t see unless I was showing them.” Yale historian Alan Trachtenburg wrote that Liebling was a “civic photographer,” but he was also a gifted teacher, serving first as a professor of photography at the University of Minnesota, then founding the film, photography and video program at Hampshire College in 1969.

The plight of the poor not only drove Milton Rogovin to document their struggles, it also led him into politics. While working as an optometrist in New York during the Great Depression, Rogovin began taking classes at the New York Worker’s School and discovered the photography of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine. His black and white images call to mind Walker Evans and Gordon Parks; his subjects were often people he met on the street, and he often had to convince them he wasn’t a cop or working for the FBI. “All my life I’ve focused on the poor,” he said in 2003. “The rich ones have their own photographers.” The poor he documented have their own place in history–most of Rogovin’s archive is collected in the Library of Congress.

It takes a second, looking at the cover of the famous “butcher” album to realize the moppy-haired youths are John, Paul, George and Ringo–the Beatles, who Robert Whitaker shot for the cover of the album Yesterday and Today. Maybe it’s the lab coats, or the raw meat; more likely it’s the dismembered dolls. Though the Fab Four’s handlers later replaced the image with a bland, hastily shot portrait, the cover survived as one of the most original–and strangest–music photographs in history.

A list of celebrities photographed by Jonathan Exley would alone take up an entire blog post: President and Secretary Clinton, Jerry Seinfeld, Marlon Brando, John Stamos (I’ll stop there). Yet Exley counted among his favorite subjects the brilliant, often kooky Michael Jackson. “Working with Michael was like working with a partner,” Exley said of photographing the King of Pop. His portrait of Jackson clad in a black scarf with the wind blowing his hair across his face, which was the cover of Rolling Stone’s tribute issue after Jackson’s death, captured the inner torment of Jackson’s final days like no other image or story possibly could.

After a career that spanned four decades during which he photographed Presidents from Truman to Nixon, James Atherton bristled at the term “photojournalist.” Instead, he wanted to be known as a “news photographer,” a somewhat anachronistic term that reminds us that photojournalists are, first and foremost, photographers.

Great photography is often a serendipitous event–the right photographer, shooting the right subject at the right time. Those elements came together for Barry Feinstein‘s 1966 image of Bob Dylan inside a car, as fans pressed their faces against the window to get a closer glimpse of the iconic musician.

When the 1973 Pulitzer committee awarded prizes for photography, the Feature Photography prize went to Brian Lanker, who died in March at 63. Lanker’s winning submission was a piece titled “Moment of Life’ for the Topeka Capital-Journal, which showed an exhausted, but elated mother as her just-born daughter was placed on her stomach. He would go on to make several arresting images of both everyday people and celebrities, including a beautiful picture of basketball player Wilt Chamberlain pretending to be asleep in his home in Bel Air.

LeRoy Grannis, once called by the New York Times “the godfather of surf photography” came late to the profession. At age 42, Grannis, who had surfed since his teens, took up photography on the advice of his doctor who said he needed a hobby to relax. Grannis became the lead photographer for Surfing Illustrated and in 1962 he co-founded International Surfing, which is now known as Surfing magazine. Grannis, who died in in February at 93, caught his last wave in 2001.

Long before he founded the photo agency Sipa, Goksin Sipahioglu was an accomplished and renowned photojournalist. A native of Turkey, he was one of the few “western” photographers in Havana during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He covered riots in Paris and while on assignment at the 1972 Munich Olympics, he found himself chronicling the kidnapping of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists. With the notoriety from that assignment, Sipahioglu founded Sipa, which along with Gamma and Sygma dominated international news photography until the digital age.

Guy Crowder seemed to have a knack for being where the action was. He was standing next to Robert Kennedy moments before the senator was assassinated. Crowder covered Martin Luther King, Jr’s funeral and Muhammad Ali’s popularity. Shunned by mainstream periodicals during the 1960s, Crowder took photos for the Los Angeles Sentinel, Wave newspapers and Jet and Ebony magazines.

Theodore Lux Feininger
Feininger was a renaissance man. As a student at the Bauhaus, a school for the arts in Weimar-era Germany, Feininger collaborated in experimental theater, played in the jazz band and was a painter. But it was as a photographer that he may have had his most lasting impact. Feininger captured images of the Bauhaus and the avant-garde Germany between the two World Wars that stands as a unique record of a time and group that have largely been forgotten by history.

As a child, Leo Friedman wanted to be an actor, so it was only natural that he was drawn to the theater. Over the course of his career as a photographer, Friedman photographed more than 800 Broadway shows for magazines and newspapers and often as the official photographer for the shows’ producers. He shot some of the most famous shows in Broadway history but one of his most famous photographs was a staged publicity shot of Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert running down the street smiling and holding hands for the original run of West Side Story.

Beginning in 1980, Lou Capozzola was a prolific photographer for Sports Illustrated. He shot the last time Wayne Gretsky skated on the ice in an NHL uniform in 1999, a behind the back, no-look pass from Shaquille O’Neal to J.J. Hickson in 2010 and thousands of hockey games. Capozzola, who died in August at 61, shot the Stanley Cup playoffs for his final assignment, where the Boston Bruins ended a 39-year championship drought. His photo of goalie Tim Thomas hoisting the cup became the cover of SI’s commemorative issue.

We lost great photographers this year. They photographed Presidents and popes, rock stars and rebels. They risked their lives, and some of them gave their lives, so that we can better understand our own, the place we inhabit, and more importantly, the areas of the world we would otherwise never see. —Nate Rawlings

The integrity of Tim Hetherington

From the series Sleeping Soldiers. Tim Hetherington

Sometimes there are those rare individuals who, in one’s life, just seem to be always present. For me, Tim Hetherington was one of those people. Fresh out of university, I wanted to make an impression as a photographer and I started at the Big Issue in 1999. Just before working for them I met the fiercely passionate and committed Tim who had been their only staff
photographer. He had just left the magazine and I wanted to fill his shoes, as, at that time, the Big Issue was doing wonderfully interesting reportage stories. Tim had moved on, indeed he was always moving on at a terrific rate with absolute vision and conviction, forging forward with intellectual rigour and always thinking outside the frame. We met many times over the years and every time we spoke he conveyed his ideas to be a communicator reaching out to the masses, leaving the ego behind. What mattered in life was to inform about complex issues that led to suffering. The stereotype of the photojournalist was not Tim.

He embedded himself so much into the lives of those he documented. I remember once at Perpignan the West African characteristics he had picked up in his mannerisms and language from his long stay in Sierra Leone and Liberia. pepe . I was in awe of the incredibly smart and sensitive work he did with blind children in Sierra Leone, often the victims of the Revolutionary United Force, and the way in which he linked it to blind children in the UK to show difference and similarity and what it means to see and feel.

My last fond memory was bumping into him at Liberty’s store in London on Christmas Eve where we were both frantically trying to find last minute presents; he bought a lovely silk scarf for his sister. Of course we spoke about photography and the lyrical aspects of the medium but I was enthralled by hearing his recent experiences of Liberia and how he was taking time off documenting to work for the United Nations to gather the necessary evidence to convict the ex-president, Charles Taylor, of war crimes.

The huge amount of attention his death has received is for a simple reason and that is that Tim Hetherington was not a superficial photographer. He dug deep, in difficult places, against the odds.

He won the respect of many and I will miss him very much.

Michael Grieve

The integrity of Tim Hetherington

From the series Sleeping Soldiers. Tim Hetherington

Sometimes there are those rare individuals who, in one’s life, just seem to be always present. For me, Tim Hetherington was one of those people. Fresh out of university, I wanted to make an impression as a photographer and I started at the Big Issue in 1999. Just before working for them I met the fiercely passionate and committed Tim who had been their only staff
photographer. He had just left the magazine and I wanted to fill his shoes, as, at that time, the Big Issue was doing wonderfully interesting reportage stories. Tim had moved on, indeed he was always moving on at a terrific rate with absolute vision and conviction, forging forward with intellectual rigour and always thinking outside the frame. We met many times over the years and every time we spoke he conveyed his ideas to be a communicator reaching out to the masses, leaving the ego behind. What mattered in life was to inform about complex issues that led to suffering. carpet cleaning . The stereotype of the photojournalist was not Tim.

He embedded himself so much into the lives of those he documented. I remember once at Perpignan the West African characteristics he had picked up in his mannerisms and language from his long stay in Sierra Leone and Liberia. I was in awe of the incredibly smart and sensitive work he did with blind children in Sierra Leone, often the victims of the Revolutionary United Force, and the way in which he linked it to blind children in the UK to show difference and similarity and what it means to see and feel.

My last fond memory was bumping into him at Liberty’s store in London on Christmas Eve where we were both frantically trying to find last minute presents; he bought a lovely silk scarf for his sister. Of course we spoke about photography and the lyrical aspects of the medium but I was enthralled by hearing his recent experiences of Liberia and how he was taking time off documenting to work for the United Nations to gather the necessary evidence to convict the ex-president, Charles Taylor, of war crimes.

The huge amount of attention his death has received is for a simple reason and that is that Tim Hetherington was not a superficial photographer. He dug deep, in difficult places, against the odds.

He won the respect of many and I will miss him very much.

Michael Grieve

Going to SXSW?

from Fambul Tok

Check out Fambul Tok, a film by award-winning photographer and Lucie Foundation friend, Sara Terry.  The film’s world premier will be this week at SXSW, as a Spotlight Premier, and documents the coming together of unlikely allies.

“Victims and Perpetrators of Sierra Leone’s brutal war come together for the first time in an unprecedented reconciliation program of grassroots truth-telling and forgiveness ceremonies.” – SXSW

Fambul Tok World Premier: Monday, March 14th. Alamo Ritz 1 screen. Funnel Headers . 1:15pm.

Click here for more information on the film.