"The emotion I felt the first time I saw the images of the Homeless project was something which one rarely experiences in front of photographs. This might be because these are only apparently photographs. Sure, the means used is a camera; certainly, on the other side of the lens there is a reality. On the bodies and faces portrayed the signs of devastation due to an existence without any warmth, apart from that given by alcohol or drugs; bodies torn to pieces by the violence of the streets on a daily basis. What is left of such a person? And yet, in these eyes rejected by the world there is a Light, an otherworldly Light, a Light with violent flashes, that apart from pain talks about elation, truth and wisdom, bitter and infinitely sweet like the taste of freedom. The Light, “this” Light with which Lee Jeffries portrays those without a home, without a land, without anything, is the same Light that emerged from the faces of sinners, saints, common men and women painted or sculpted in marble at the feet of the Divine, be it Christ or the Virgin Mary, by artists such as Caravaggio, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Bernini, and in the greatest art pieces of European Renaissance and Baroque. Rather than photography, this is Sacred Art, And this is what remains of Jeffries’ divine tragedy: the Sacred, the real meaning of being Human, too Human, in the descent towards the netherworld and return to Heaven."
-- Giovanni Cozzi
Featuring the most prominent names in contemporary Chinese photography, these pocket-sized monographs explore the extraordinary diversity of the genre and showcase a creative, liberated, and unique artistic perspective. The collections present an obscure tableau of modern Chinese society, from magnificent landscapes and never-before-seen industrial compounds to the desires of China’s new youth and its growing sociopolitical challenges. The imagery from some of the most exciting artists working today—including “the invisible man” photos of Liu Bolin and the world-famous coal miner portraits of Song Chao—is prefaced with a concise essay that explains the background and inspiration of each featured photographer.
Chen Jiagang has taken the former industrial compounds built in central cities of China during the sixties (the Third Front) as the subject matter of his first bodies of work. Trying to capture the specters of industry that still reside there, his pictures tell the sad story of these cities, which in their time were the incarnation of the social ideal, the glory of the country but which have since become useless industrial cemeteries and endless wasteland Making use of an extremely large format camera, Chen Jiagang is fully engaged in a realist but narrative documentation of abandoned and desolate landscapes and the scars left by time and neglect on such regions.
Capturing another side of China, a country currently experiencing one of the highest rates of development in the world, Chen Jiagang's sumptuous, large-scale color photographs of monumental industrial wastelands make us question the usefulness, or absurdity, of the mad development that humans so intrinsically pursue.
In a continuation of Dave Jordano's critically-acclaimed Detroit: Unbroken Down (powerHouse Books, 2015), which documented the lives of residents, Detroit Nocturne is an artist's book not of people this time, but instead the places within which they live and work: structures, dwellings, and storefronts. Made at night, these photographs speak to the quiet resolve of Detroit's neighborhoods and its stewards: independent shop proprietors and home owners who have survived the long and difficult path of living in a post-industrial city stripped of economic prosperity and opportunity.
In many rust-belt cities like Detroit, people's lives often hang in the balance as neighborhoods support and provide for each other through job creation, ad-hoc community involvement, moral and spiritual support, and a well-honed Do-It-Yourself attitude. With all the media attention about Detroit's rebirth and revival, it is important to note that many neighborhoods throughout the city have managed to survive against the odds for years, relying on local merchants and businesses that operate on a cash only basis who have stuck it out through decades of economic decline.
Determination and a strong sense of self-preservation: Detroit's citizens manage to survive by maintaining a healthy sense of connection without the fear of giving up. All of these places of business and residences, whether large or small, are in many ways symbols representing the ongoing story that is Detroit, and a testament to the tenacity of those who are trying desperately to hold on to what is left of the social and economic fabric of the city. These photographs speak to that truth without casting an overly sentimental gaze.
These nocturnal images offer a chance to view the locations in an unfamiliar light, and offer a moment of quiet and calm reflection.
Dave Jordano returned to his hometown of Detroit to document the people who still live in what has become one of the country's most economically challenging cities. Against a backdrop of mass abandonment through years of white flight, unemployment hovering at almost three times the national average, city services cut to the bone, a real estate collapse of massive proportions, and ultimately filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, Jordano searches for the hope and perseverance of those who have had to endure the hardship of living in a post-industrial city that has fallen on the hardest of times.
From the lower Southeast Side where urban renewal and government programs slowly became the benchmark of civic failure, to the dwindling enclaves of neighborhoods like Delray and Poletown (once blue-collar neighborhoods that have all but vanished), Jordano seeks to dispel the popular myth perpetrated through the media that Detroit is an empty wasteland devoid of people. He encounters resolute individuals determined to make this city a place to live, from a homeless man who decided to build his own one-room structure on an abandoned industrial lot because he was tired of sleeping on public benches, to a group of squatters who repurposed long-abandoned houses on a street called Goldengate. Jordano discovers and rebroadcasts a message of hope and endurance to an otherwise greatly misunderstood and misrepresented city. Detroit: Unbroken Down is not a document solely about what's been destroyed, but even more critically, about all that has been left behind and those who remain to cope with it.
Kenneth Josephson is one of the foremost conceptual photographers in America. Since the early 1960s, when institutions such as MoMA privileged photography in the documentary mode, Josephson has championed the photograph as an object "made," not taken, by an artist pursuing an idea. Using innovative techniques such as placing images within images and including his own body in photographs, Josephson has created an outstanding body of work that is startlingly contemporary and full of ideas that stimulate the digital generation—ideas about the nature of seeing, of "reality," and of human aspirations, and about what it means to be a human observing the world.
Nausea- taken from the title of Sartre's 1938 existential novel-is a body of photographs that registers the interiors of public schools in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Atlanta, Georgia from 1990-92 by American photographer Ron Jude. Departing from mere documentation, Jude lures us into peering through windows, doorways and crevices of walls into empty classrooms and corridors, as we become increasingly conscious of the perils of our own gaze and the uncertainty of looking. Nausea established the building blocks for the next twenty-five years of Jude’s photographic output, including Other Nature, Alpine Star, Lick Creek Line and Lago.
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