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Miina Savolainen
Miina Savolainen

Miina Savolainen

Country: Finland

Miina Savolainen is a community art oriented photographer and an art and social educator from Helsinki whose works deal social engagement. Alongside her artistic work she explores, teaches and develops the use of photography as a pedagogic and therapeutic method. Her work has resulted in the method of empowering photography. Miina Savolainen, her project The Loveliest Girl In The World and the method of empowering photography have received several awards in Finland. Miina Savolainen is a member of The Finnish Phototherapy Association and The Union of Artist Photographers.

Besides The Loveliest Girl in the World, Miina Savolainen is an instructor in a communal art project concerning fatherhood. For two years now, a group of amateur photographers have been preparing an exhibition on the theme of fatherhood to Helsinki Jugendhall for autumn 2007, using the method of empowering photography. She is currently working on a community art project involving intersexed and transgendered individuals.

The Loveliest Girl in the World is a community art project undertaken by photographer, art and social educator Miina Savolainen with ten girls from Hyvönen Children's Home. It has taken almost a decade to complete. The project is based on the idea of “empowerment” and the belief that everyone has the right to feel unique and special. The fairytale quality of the photographs reveals a truth often obscured by the rough and tumble of daily life - the person each young girl feels she really is inside. It allows the girls to regard themselves as strong and undamaged people. These photographs are deeply authentic, revealing the universal desire to be seen as good and valuable. “Photography can help to show people how they are treasured; how much they mean to me,” writes Miina Savolainen. “Accepting one's own portrait is a metaphor for accepting one’s own personality. During years the photographing has become an intimate and profound way to interact with the girls. This exceptional long-term relationship can be seen in the special kind of openness and intimacy of the photographs. Although the pictures in the series of the Loveliest Girl in the World are artificial and not from the everyday life they are bound to the tradition of realistic photography. The documentary quality of the pictures is multilayered. On one hand the pictures are documents of growing up, the young girls' personalities and dreams. On the other hand the pictures make certain features of the girls visible which cannot be seen in their everyday selves. The childhood of the young who have grown up in a Children's home includes a lot of feelings of being abandoned and of being invisible. It also includes the burden of other people's prejudices, the stigmatisation of being a Children's home resident. The fairytale-like pictures are juxtaposed with real life story that seldom had fairytale qualities. The pictures express sadness but also hope and desire to see oneself in a more gentle way. With the aid of the non-everyday world of the pictures the young have been allowed to be seen and to see themselves differently like never before. The girls do not see the pictures as role-playing. In the everyday life the girls may also lead “roles” which appear wrong and foreign to the girls. The pictures may show, for the first time, a side that the young person holds real and dear to herself, a picture that she wants to cherish in her mind. The Loveliest Girl in the World -pictures are extreme documents: they are pictures of a person’s inner identity. This inner side becomes visible and the deeper emotional “truth” can be reached by mixing the truth and the fiction. Every human being has an inviolable right to feel himself or herself special. The pictures are a proof of conclusiveness of the photograph, which is not only bound to what’s visible. The Loveliest Girl in the World doesn't portray the Children's home residents the way the people living in margins are usually portrayed. The pictures are also something else from the sexist way of how young women and girls are exhibited in today's public places. Above all the fairy-tale feeling of the pictures is metaphorical; it is a longing for a clean, innocent state of dreaming where you can see yourself as a whole and an ideal person, protected from the gaze and the expectations of other people. The series brings up questions on how the present visual culture makes one a part of the society. The pictures of the young in the Children's home tell stories of being a girl and being a human in general. The deepest content of the pictures, the need to be seen, is familiar to anyone. The attempt to learn to see oneself in a more gentle way is especially addressing in our time where people are surrounded by the endless requirements from different fields of life. The Loveliest Girl in the World exhibitions have prompted the public to think about the capacity of the photograph to influence on societal and personal levels. From the point of view of photography the project also raises questions about the author and ethics. This project could be seen as community photography. It includes the models not only in the creation of the photographs but also in the selection of the exhibited pictures.

The project, its accompanying exhibition and Miina Savolainen has been awarded the Spotlight of the Year 2003 special prize of the jury, the Vision of the Year award 2004, Duodecim Finnish Medical Association’s 2005 Cultural Award, the Young Photographer of the Year award 2005 and the State Award for Children´s Culture 2006. Patricia Seppälä Foundation, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Finnfoto and the City of Helsinki have supported the production.
 

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Flor Garduño
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1957
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Tim Franco
France/Poland
Tim Franco is French-Polish freelance photographer based in Shanghai. Since he first came to China in 2005, Tim Franco got fascinated by the fast social and urban transformation that chinese cities where going through. He has spent some time documenting those growth through urban photography but also by studying social changes, such at the underground art world and the social problems related to the evolutions of the cities. Among his projects is a comprehensive depiction of the growth of the alternative music scene in China and particularly Shanghai. The project was synthesized and published in a book, “Shanghai Soundbites”, released in June 2008 in response to the attitude towards cultural expression manifested in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics. Subsequently, the pictures have been included in numerous news and lifestyle publications both in China and abroad. He now continues his work documenting the urban development of chinese cities and its social impact on the local people. 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The city is fascinating because of its accelerated development that produced high rises buildings on the side of rivers and mountains, taking away the traditional charms of the old Chang Kai Shek capital, but also because of its political and social history. Once at the hand of the biggest organized crime group in China, the city has been re manipulated into a neo communist style red propaganda machine, led by the highly controversial son of a famous revolutionary named Bo Xilai. With his wife now in prison for the murder of a British national, and his personal implication in corruptions and tortures, Bo Xilai has been quickly removed from any government places in China and the city is looking once again for a new direction. I personally see Chongqing as a macro representation of the whole China. 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Tim Franco: There is not a precise moment. When I was young, I loved writing stories, then my passion became music. I always wanted to share my ideas and vision of things through some mediums at the end it became photography. Where did you study photography? When I was a kid, my artist mother pushed me from one opening to the other, through museums and galleries. At first I hated it, and then became used to it and started to hang out more and more in her studio, until I took away her old cameras , I have learn through experience, other photographers and reading tutorials. How could you describe your style? Photographers tend to be classified, put into boxes, commercial photographer, photojournalists, artists, etc. I never really know how to classify my work. What I love is telling stories, document facts with an artistic esthetic to it. I also enjoy working on creative commercial assignments. I always try to stay simple in the esthetic and subtle about the story. 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Eugène Atget
France
1857 | † 1927
Jean-Eugène-Auguste Atget was born 12 February 1857 in Libourne. His father, carriage builder Jean-Eugène Atget, died in 1862, and his mother, Clara-Adeline Atget née Hourlier died shortly after. He was brought up by his maternal grandparents in Bordeaux and after finishing secondary education joined the merchant navy. Atget moved to Paris in 1878. He failed the entrance exam for acting class but was admitted when he had a second try. Because he was drafted for military service he could attend class only part-time, and he was expelled from drama school. Still living in Paris he became an actor with a travelling group, performing in the Paris suburbs and the provinces. He met actress Valentine Delafosse Compagnon, who became his companion until her death. He gave up acting because of an infection of his vocal chords in 1887, moved to the provinces and took up painting without success. His first photographs, of Amiens and Beauvais, date from 1888. 1890 Atget moved back to Paris and became a professional photographer, supplying documents for artists: studies for painters, architects and stage-designers. Starting 1898 institutions such as the Musée Carnavalet and the Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris bought his photographs. The latter commissioned him ca. 1906 to systematically photograph old buildings in Paris. 1899 he moved to Montparnasse. While being a photographer Atget still also called himself an actor, giving lectures and readings. During World War I Eugène Atget temporarily stored his archives in his basement for safekeeping and almost completely gave up photography. Valentine's son Léon was killed at the front. 1920-1921 he sold thousands of his negatives to institutions. Financially independent he took up photographing the parks of Versailles, Saint-Cloud and Sceaux and produced a series of photographs of prostitutes. Berenice Abbott visited Atget in 1925, bought some of his photographs, and tried to interest other artists in his work. 1926 Valentine died and Man Ray published several of Atget's photographs in la Révolution surréaliste. Abbott took Atget's portrait in 1927. Eugène Atget died 4 August 1927 in Paris.Source: Wikipedia Eugène Atget (1857–1927) turned to photography in his late 40s, building a body of work that described the city of Paris and its environs. In its simplicity and clarity of vision, this project, resulting in over 10,000 photographs, became a modern urban portrait that has influenced many photographers since. Inspired to make a portrait of Paris at the moment when historic Paris was becoming Haussman’s modern Paris, Atget captured the changing city with eloquence and sensitivity. Atget received little recognition before his death in 1927, but due to the posthumous efforts of photographer Berenice Abbott, his work was preserved, promoted, and gained its rightful place in history. A significant number of his prints, including many negatives, are held by the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., along with the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.Source: Fraenkel Gallery Photos © Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
Joseph-Philippe Bevillard
United States/Ireland
Born in Boston, Joseph-Philippe started drawing and painting after he lost his hearing at the age of 3. He took up photography during his senior year at a private school in Massachusetts. In 1985, he enrolled at the Rochester Institute of Technology to study photography where he remained there for 2 yrs before changing direction in career due to financial circumstances, In 1990 he return to photography to study at the Art Institute of Boston. It was in 1990, Joseph-Philippe developed a style for his square B&W portraitures of people he met in the nightclubs and on the street. After working for several major photo labs in Massachusetts in the last half of 1990, he moved to Ireland during the millenium to start his property management business. In 2007, he went back to photograph portraits using the same camera and style as he did in the early 90's. In 2010, he started a new project, photographing the Irish Travellers and four years later, he formed the Irish Travellers Photo Workshop. In June 2018, Joseph-Philippe started a colour project on Irish Travellers using a digital camera and continue shooting B&W film with Hasselblad. His work has been published by Amnesty International, Der Spiegel, EyeShot, Dodho, FotoNostrum, British Journal of Photography, Junge Welt, Lenswork, Life Force, Photo-Letter, Square, Shots and Vogue Italia as well as received awards from International Photography Awards, PX3 Paris, Photo Vogue Italia, FotoNostrum and Lensculture. His recent exhibitions included Les Recontres d'Arles, Espace Beaurepaire Paris, Leica Gallery Milan, Somerset House London, New Hampshire Institute of The Arts, Royal Hibernian Academy Dublin and Central Intelligence Agency in Washington, DC. His first monograph 'Minceirs' will be available in early May 2021 and can be pre-ordered through this link: www.skeletonkeypress.com or thru the artist. For workshop info, exhibition, publication and prints enquiry, please contact the artist through his email at: joseph-philippebevillard@hotmail.com MINCÉIRS: Mincéirs are a traditionally nomadic ethnic minority indigenous to Ireland, referred to by the Irish Government and the settled population as Irish Travellers. The Mincéir is a true name of the Irish travelling community in their own language which is called Cant or Gammon. Although the Irish Travellers speak English, the lingo they use amongst each other at times is Cant/Gammon. The name Traveller was put upon them because of their nomadic identity. Back in the 5th century the term these groups of people were called Whitesmiths because of their association and skills as tin-smithing. Over the years the Irish Travellers have been called Tinkers, Knackers, Itinerants, Gyspy and Pavee by some of the settled population which the Irish Travellers have found very offensive and racial. Any settled person who is not racist would use the term Irish Traveller or Travellers which is politically correct. Unfortunately many of the Irish Travellers are subjected to the continuous use of these offensive labels. I would like to mention a few facts and some background information on this minority group of people who live mostly in Ireland I will refer to them as Irish Travellers or Travellers for short. Approximately 35,000 Travellers live in Ireland, less than 1% of the Irish population. Most of the Irish Travellers live in halting sites which have been designated by the Irish government in 1968. The government were not happy with the Irish Travellers roadside camping, so they set up the so called temporary sites. Some families chose to stay and never moved, there are many of these halting sites which I have been privy to visit, but some are overcrowded due to large families and lack proper updated facilities. This in turn has forced some families to set up their own camps in disused fields, but because seen as illegal encampments the local councils are constantly trying to move the families on, and will not provide basic needs such as fresh water, electricity or sanitation. There is a small amount of Irish Travellers who wish to settle and have gone on the housing list. This can also be a tricky situation settled neighbours usually oppose having a travelling family living on their road, these leads to tension and racial abuse at times. So this discourages many families from settling. While education is mandatory for all children living in Ireland, the Irish Travellers usually drop out by the age of 15, a lot of this is due to the children being needed at home to tend to the younger or some just find mainstream school boring and not suited to their culture. I have heard from a home economics teacher that her class is probably the most popular subject amongst the female Travellers as cooking is necessary. There have also been some fantastic stories of Irish Travellers finishing 3rd level education and obtaining great careers such as Dr. Sindy Joyce. Dr. Joyce is the first Irish Traveller to graduate with a PhD and was recently appointed by our President as one of his advisors for council of the state in 2019. Vice-Chair of the National Traveller Mental Health Mags Casey explained that the causes of mental health issues affecting Travellers are Complex: "Clearly the issues that affect all Travellers-such as racism and exclusion matters relating to identity, sexuality, addiction, as well as unemployment, education and accommodation have a profound impact on the community's mental health". The following information is an excerpt from the National Traveller Mental Health Network officially launched in NUI Galway in 2019: 82 % of the Irish Traveller community have been affected by suicide. 90% Of Travellers agree that mental health issues are common amongst their community 56% of Travellers report poor physical and mental health restricts their normal daily activities. In March 2017, after 25 years of campaigning, finally Irish Travellers won formal recognition as a distinct ethnic group within the State. On that day the former director of the Irish Travellers Movement, Bridgid Quilligan stated: "We want every Traveller in Ireland to be proud of who they are and to say that "we are not a failed set of people. We have our own unique identity, and we shouldn't take on all the negative aspects of what people think about us. We should be able to be proud and for that to happen our State needed to acknowledge our identity and our ethnicity, and they're doing that today." What I have written is brief with some facts about these fascinating people who have made me feel utterly welcome at all times for the past 11 years. I am clearly not a writer, so I have recorded some facts and a brief synopsis into the life of Irish Travellers. I hope my photographs portray what I could not begin to write, and captured some of the Irish Travellers Lifestyle and Culture that is steeped in traditions, full of colour, celebrations, and hardships. Joseph-Philippe Bévillard, September 2020
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