News from the World of Photography: February 2017


Ken Gonzales-Day: Shadowlands

Minnesota Museum of American Art
St. Paul, MN
19 January - 16 April 2017

Ken Gonzales-Day is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice considers the historical construction of race. He supplements his photographs with research and writing that engage critically with history, art history, and Western conventions of race, blending historical tragedies with current events. Using photography and video, he explores trauma and resistance as experienced and embodied by racially oppressed populations in the U.S.

This exhibit will be a concise survey of the artist’s career, including works from the Erased LynchingSearching for California Hang Trees, and Run Up series. His most recent work draws parallels between historical lynchings and high profile cases of police brutality affecting communities of color today. The core of the Run Up series is a cinematic restaging of the 1920 lynching of Charles Valento. Utilizing details drawn from the coroner’s report and his own archival research, Gonzales-Day chose to focus on this particular event in order to draw attention to the police presence at the scene that tacitly condoned the extralegal violence.

Harlem Heros: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery
Washington DC
26 August 2016- 2 April 2017

At the height of the Harlem Renaissance, Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964) picked up a camera and discovered the power the photographic portrait has over the photographer himself. Over the decades, his fascination with the medium remained strong and he asked writers, musicians, athletes, politicians, and others to sit for him—many of them central figures in the Harlem Renaissance whose accomplishments fueled not only the New Negro movement but also transformed the broader American culture throughout the twentieth century. These groundbreaking men and women included James Baldwin, Ossie Davis, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ella Fitzgerald, Althea Gibson, Langston Hughes, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Bessie Smith, and others. Some of the portraits capture their subjects on the cusp of success as they were full of ambition but before they became famous; others depict men and women looking back on long and varied careers, tested by the fickleness of fortune.

In 1980, concerned that Van Vechten’s fragile 35 mm nitrate negatives were fast deteriorating, photographer Richard Benson, in conjunction with the Eakins Press Foundation, transformed fifty of the portraits into handmade gravure prints. The album ’O, Write My Name’: American Portraits, Harlem Heroes was completed in 1983. That year, the National Endowment for the Arts transferred the Eakins Press Foundation’s prototype albums to the museum. This installation features thirty-nine of Van Vechten’s images, all works from SAAM’s permanent collection. This is their first presentation as a whole since they were acquired. These portraits, spanning more than thirty years, record a vital aspect of the American Century.

Resistance, Protest, Resilience

Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia)
5 November 2016 - 2 April 2017 

Featuring about 60 photographs from Mia’s collection, this exhibition traces protests in select 20th-century movements and events that triggered important social and political changes, among them the Civil Rights Movement, Japan’s U.S. security treaty conflictthe Iranian Revolution, Vancouver’s Gastown riots, and the 1984 Democratic National Convention. Pushing against nostalgia, these pictures renew the question of narrative construction in a photograph of documentary nature, and suggest their relevance in today’s political, social, and racial conflicts. Featured photographers include Gordon Parks, Danny Lyon, Gilles Peress, Shomei Tomatsu, Thomas Arndt, and Stan Douglas. The photographs will be accompanied by two media installations: Waiting For Tear Gas (1999–2000) by Allan Sekula; and Untitled (Structures)(2012) by Leslie Hewitt in collaboration with Bradford Young.

The William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonne 

The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford

There are very few arts, indeed very few human endeavours, so well documented as is William Henry Fox Talbot’s invention of photography. Talbot (1800-1877) conceived of the art of photography in 1833, achieved his first images by 1834 and revealed the art to the public in 1839. By the time he ceased taking photographs in 1846, Talbot and his close associates had created more than 4500 distinct images. Miraculously, much of this prodigious output still survives. Collectively, they map out the technical and aesthetic progress of the new art from the first days of its infancy to the eve of its maturity. Equally, they dramatically document the emergence of Talbot himself as the first photographic artist. Trapped in silver are cities that have changed, people long since passed on, objects of virtue and those of everyday utility, timeless scenes of light and shade and much more.

Over a span of four decades, Professor Schaaf has examined more than 25,000 original Talbot negatives and prints in collections worldwide. The Catalogue Raisonné project seeks to make this corpus of material freely available to scholars and to the general public. The Catalogue will be the image-based cousin to The Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot, which has already mounted full searchable transcriptions of more than 10,000 Talbot letters online. Founded and directed by Schaaf, this resource is widely used in both academia and by the general public and is a highly successful completed project.

The Long Journey to the Great Wall of Mexico

TIME Lightbox

Walls – literal and figurative – are a prominent part of today’s global landscape. In 1989 there were 15 border walls worldwide, today there are almost 70. In a new project called A Wall In Between, photographer Alessandro Grassani sought to document our modern fixation with border control and the human stories caught on either side. “I want my photographs to reveal a sense of fear,” says Grassani. “They should reveal the fear of the people living in the rich countries who are supposed to accommodate the migrants. But also the fear of the migrants who are risking their life to cross those walls.”

Grassani started his project at the heavily politicized U.S.-Mexican border in 2016. “Many of the people I met during my journey to the U.S. border were leaving countries like El Salvador or Honduras because of violence, mostly gang violence,” he says. The journey can be as dangerous as the countries they are fleeing from; walking on foot through cartel land or boarding a treacherous train known as The Beast. Approximately 20,000 migrants every year are victims of murders, robbery, kidnapping and rape and 6,000 lose their lives, according to the International Organization for Migration.

The Photo Series That Inspired Jeff Nichols' Loving



In 1965, Grey Villet documented the powerful story of Richard and Mildred Loving – an interracial couple fighting for the right to love. Here we meet his wife, Barbara, to discuss a newly released book of the beautiful images.

In early 1965, Life photographer Grey Villet set off from his New York home and headed for rural Virginia on a covert commission. He was going to photograph Richard and Mildred Loving, a working-class, interracial couple who were living in hiding with their three young children in an isolated farmhouse in King and Queen County. The Lovings were in the midst of a groundbreaking court case against the state of Virginia, which seven years earlier had proclaimed their marriage, in the state of Washington, illegal according to Virginia’s miscegenation laws. They were cast out of the state – leaving behind their family, friends and contented country life – and banned from returning for 25 years.

The pair had temporarily relocated to a D.C. ghetto, but with Richard out working all day as a laborer, and her children forced to play in the dangerous city streets, Mildred had finally snapped and sent a letter about their predicament to Bobby Kennedy. Kennedy referred the Lovings to the American Civil Liberties Union, thus setting the wheels in motion for what would prove a vital milestone in civil rights history. Two years after Villet shot the pair, they would win their case at the US Supreme Court, and finally see mixed-raced marriage legalised in Virginia, but when the photographer first met them on a mild spring day, they were twitchy, frustrated and tired of living in secrecy – but, most noticeably of all, they were deeply in love.

The 2017 World Press Photo Contest Winners are Announced

British Journal of Photography

World tensions show in the winning images in the prestigious award for photojournalism and documentary photography

The contest attracted 80,408 images, from 5034 photographers from 125 countries, and the jury gave prizes in eight categories to 45 photographers from 25 countries – Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Iran, Italy, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Syria, New Zealand, Turkey, UK, USA.

The World Press Photo of the Year is a shot by Turkish Associated Press photographer called Burhan Ozbilici, with an image he has simply titled An Assassination in Turkey. Showing Mevlut Mert Altintas shouting after shooting Andrei Karlov, right, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey, on 19 December 2016, the image is drawn from a wider series shot that night which won first place in the Spot News – Stories category.

Other notable wins include Thomson Reuters photographer Jonathan Bachman’s photograph (pictured above) of 28-year-old nurse Ieshia Evans, standing in front of riot police during a protest against police brutality outside the Baton Rouge Police Department in Louisiana, USA, on 9 July 2016, which one first prize in the Contemporary Issues – Singles category. The first prize for Contemporary Issues – Stories also went to a series showing protestors and riot police in the US – Amber Bracken’s story on the opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

Legendary Photographer Ansel Adams Visited a Japanese Internment Camp in 1943, Here’s What He Saw

The Washington Post

In 1943, Ansel Adams set out to document life inside the Japanese-American internment camp at the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California. It was a departure for Adams, who at the time was known as a landscape photographer and not for social-documentary work. When Adams offered this collection of images to the Library of Congress, he said, “The purpose of my work was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice, and loss of property,businesses and professions, had overcome the sense of defeat and dispair [sic] by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment….All in all, I think this Manzanar Collection is an important historical document, and I trust it can be put to good use.”

On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued his five-paragraph Executive Order No. 9066, “Authorizing the Secretary of War to Prescribe Military Areas” from which “any or all persons may be excluded.”

The order further stated: “I hereby further authorize and direct all Executive Departments, independent establishments and other Federal Agencies, to assist the Secretary of War or the said Military Commanders in carrying out this Executive Order, including the furnishing of medical aid, hospitalization, food, clothing, transportation, use of land, shelter, and other supplies, equipment, utilities, facilities, and services.” The Supreme Court upheld the order and the subsequent deportation and incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry.

Tribute to Palmyra Is the Getty’s First-Ever Online Exhibition


Satellite images, cellphone images, and video footage spliced together by members of ISIS — these are the familiar visuals we see that emerge out of a war-torn Palmyra today. They record how much its landscape has changed only in the past two years as militants have destroyed much of the city’s ruins, erasing what stood for centuries. But Palmyra’s visual record extends far, far back, and it is through early drawings, prints, and photographs now made available online that we may better understand its history, which often risks getting lost in present-day discourse focused not only on warfare but also on “saving” cultural heritage.

This archive resides on The Legacy of Ancient Palmyra, an online exhibition the Getty Research Institute (GRI) launched this week as a tribute to the legendary caravan city. Intended as both a reference and teaching tool for the public, it is divided into sections that relay the history of Palmyra, from its status as a prominent cosmopolitan center of trade during the 1st and 3rd centuries CE to its present-day period threatened by violent destruction. Much of the historic imagery arrives from GRI’s own collections, including the earliest known photographs of Palmyra captured in 1864 by French naval officer Louis Vignes. GRI acquired these rare albumen prints in 2015, the year ISIS seized the city and quickly moved to obliterate its structures, viewing them as blasphemous.

The Forgotten History of the Koreans of Mexico and Cuba

Feature Shoot

To many it might come as a surprise to learn that there are Korean-Mexicans and Korean-Cubans, though with this revelation it becomes imperative to come to terms with the largely forgotten tragedy which befell their ancestors. In 1905, 1,033 Koreans boarded the SS Ilford to Mexico. It was imagined and portrayed as a journey towards prosperity in the new world—a departure from what was then an impoverished country, and in the same year was already falling into the clutches of Imperial Japan. The reality that awaited these migrants was a life of indentured servitude in the Henequen plantations of Mexico, harvesting an agave that was then known as “the green gold” of Mexico. Many fled to Cuba with dreams of getting a foothold in the then lucrative sugar cane industry, though by the time they arrived the industry had already plummeted. Their homeland already a Japanese colony, they were again destined to hard labour in Cuban henequen plantations.  Argentinian-American-Korean photographer Michael Vince Kim pursued this story as a natural progression from his previous work focusing on language, identity and migration, entitling the series Aenikkaeng, (Korean for ‘Henequen’).

Making Jamaica: Photography from the 1890's

Rivington Place
London, United Kingdom
24 February - 22 April 2017

Making Jamaica explores how a new image of Jamaica was created through photography in the late nineteenth century.

More than 70 historical photographs, lantern slides and stereocards reveal the carefully constructed representation of this transitional period in Jamaica’s history. For the first time, its people are depicted as an industrious nation post-emancipation, and their surroundings as a desirable tourist destination and tropical commodity.

These photographs present an intriguing vision of the ‘unspoiled beauty’ of one of the Caribbean’s major islands during a period of economic and social change, and illustrate the efforts of its local ruling white mercantile elite to bring the island’s valuable resources to the attention of the wider world.

These archival images are exhibited in London for the first time courtesy of the Caribbean Photo Archive, alongside a new commission by contemporary artist Ingrid Pollard.

Life and Labor: The Photographs of Milton Rogovin

San Jose Museum of Art
18 August 2016 - 19 March 2017

Milton Rogovin (1909–2011) was proud to call himself a “social-documentary photographer.” For more than four decades, he photographed those whom he referred to as “the forgotten ones.” He was working as an optometrist in Manhattan in the early 1930s when he became increasingly involved in leftist causes. Distressed by the rampant social upheaval and widespread poverty caused by the Great Depression, Rogovin attended night classes sponsored by the New York Workers School and became an advocate for social equity. He read the Communist Party newspaper The Daily Worker and was introduced to the social documentary photographs of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine. In 1957, he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, whose hearings had led to the blacklisting and public persecution of many artists. A year later, he devoted himself fulltime to photography: his art became the vehicle for his egalitarian ideals. 

Drawn entirely from the permanent collection of the San Jose Museum of Art, this exhibition presents thirty-eight photographs from three series: “Lower West Side, Buffalo” (1972–84), “Working People” (1976–87), and “Family of Miners” (1988– 89). Rogovin shed light on important social issues of the time: the plight of miners; the decline of the once-robust steel industry in upstate New York; the everyday struggles of the poor and working class in Buffalo, New York, where he lived. Life and Labor marks the public debut of these photographs, which were gifted to the Museum’s collection in 2011. Rogovin often grouped his pictures into diptychs and triptychs to produce compelling narratives of the people he photographed. He believed deeply in photography’s ability to be an agent of social change. In addition to their aesthetic value, Rogovin’s photographs serve as important records of the changing workingclass neighborhoods and multi-ethnic communities he documented over the course of many decades, until well into his 90s. Rogovin’s powerful and provocative portraits raise questions that remain equally prescient today, amid current concerns over employment and income gaps. 

A Stratigraphic Fiction

Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College
Collegeville, PA
18 August 2016 - 19 March 2017


A Stratigraphic Fiction presents a constellation of sculptures, photographs, films, and works on paper from 1970 to the present, all keyed to the underlying hum of recent discussions surrounding the theory of the Anthropocene—the newly coined term for the most recent epoch in geologic time.

As a concept that comes from specialist scientific circles but which has much broader cultural applications, the Anthropocene retains a uniquely speculative nature. Though it has yet to be formally adopted by the geologic field’s various governing bodies, many argue that the profound impact man has made upon the Earth’s crust since the Industrial Revolution leaves little doubt that a significant boundary has been transgressed.

A Stratigraphic Fiction features artwork by 10 international contemporary artists: Julian Charrière, Nadja Frank, Kelly Jazvac, Mary Anne Kluth (pictured above), Laura Moriarty, Elise Rasmussen, Robert Smithson, Nick van Woert, Julius von Bismarck, and Jennifer West. Together these works reflect the beauty, fear, contradictions, and questions that come with forcefully etching ourselves into the language of stones.