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Xueqi Bai
Xueqi Bai
Xueqi Bai

Xueqi Bai

Country: China
Birth: 1989

A photojournalist since 2012, Bai Xueqi currently works in Moscow. His photos have been used by news outlets around the globe.
His imageThe Return Won second place at All About Photo Awards 2018.

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Joel Bernstein
United States
1952
Joel Bernstein is a photographer, guitarist, and record producer based in Oakland, California. His photographs have appeared as the album covers to, among others, After the Gold Rush, 4 Way Street, Rita Coolidge, Wind on the Water, Running on Empty, CSN, Bob Dylan at Budokan, Rust Never Sleeps, Shadows and Light, and Hard Promises. His photographs have been published in Time, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone, among other publications, and there have been retrospective exhibits of his work in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and London. As a guitarist, he is most noted for support work to his friends David Crosby and Graham Nash, both individually and on their Crosby & Nash records. He has acted as co-producer and archivist with Nash for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and is responsible with Nash for the compilation and production of the box sets Voyage for Crosby, Reflections for Nash, Carry On for Stephen Stills, and CSNY 1974 for the band's tour of that year.Source: Wikipedia Joel Bernstein is an acclaimed rock photos photographer whose work, spanning four decades, chronicles the inner lives and public moments of some of the most important singer-songwriters, performers and musicians of our time. They include Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Prince, Jackson Browne, Laura Nyro, Tom Petty and many others. Bernstein also became a close friend and musical collaborator with many of his other subjects, playing and singing on their albums and concert tours. But his most important work remains his up-close-and-personal photographs of these singular artists. His preferred method has been to spend as much time as possible with his subjects until the right instant–the perfect moment of intimacy–reveals itself. Bernstein’s many album covers are commonly listed among the most influential in rock's visual history. His first, at age 18, was Neil Young's After the Gold Rush, often cited in Best Album Covers Of All Time lists. His work was featured in the album cover for Joni Mitchell's Hejira, nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Album Cover. Bernstein’s work was also the inspiration for the look of Cameron Crowe's well-received rock film Almost Famous, in which many scenes were precise re-creations of Bernstein's photographs. In 2018, Bernstein received a Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Photography Hall of Fame.Source: Morrison Hotel Gallery Bernstein's work is well known within the world of music, and is included in the permanent collection of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. His work was a key inspiration for the look of Cameron Crowe's well-received rock film Almost Famous, in which many scenes were precise re-creations of Bernstein's photographs. His many album covers are commonly listed among the most influential in rock's visual history. He has been published in a wide spectrum of books on music, musicians, and the music business, as well as in Time, The New York Times and Rolling Stone. He was profiled in MOJO, the esteemed British music publication, which extensively featured his photos of Neil Young. Bernstein maintains that his unique perspective on these artists is the result of spending so much time with them that he was there to observe and capture those unique “perfect moments of intimacy” when they revealed themselves, not by some preconceived set-up. He is currently based in Oakland, California.Source: San Francisco Art Exchange
Ada Trillo
United States
1976
Ada Trillo is a photographer based in Philadelphia, PA, and Juarez, Mexico. Trillo holds degrees from the Istituto Marangoni in Milan and Drexel University in Philadelphia. Trillo's work is concerned with human rights issues facing Latin America. Trillo has documented forced prostitution in Juarez, Mexico, the infamous La Bestia train, the migrant caravans of 2018 and 2020, and the struggles of asylum seekers directly affected by Trump's Remain in Mexico policy. Trillo has exhibited internationally at Saint Josephs University in Philadelphia, The Photo Meetings in Luxembourg, The Passion for Freedom Art Festival in London, Festival Internazionale di Fotografia in Cortona Italy and at the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery at the John Jay College in New, York. In 2017, Trillo received a Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grant. Her work has been featured in The British Journal of Photography, The Guardian, and Smithsonian Magazine. Trillo was recently awarded a CFEVA Fellowship by The Center For Emerging Visual Artists and was named the Visual Artist-in-Residence for Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia. Her work is included in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The West Collection. Trillo was awarded First Place in Editorial Photos with the Tokyo International Foto Awards. She was recently awarded the ME&Eve grant with the Center of photographic arts in Santa Fe. Statement I was born in El Paso, Texas but I was raised in Juarez, Mexico. As a teenager, I traveled back and forth between the two cities so I could attend school in the states. Witnessing life on the border as a young adult had a strong influence on my worldview and art practice. After years of working as a painter, I picked up a camera and started making pictures. For the past four years, I've been documenting the journey migrants take to reach the US-Mexico border. In 2017, I photographed aboard the infamous La Bestia, a dangerous journey by a freight train that migrants from Mexico and Central America ride every year to reach the border. In 2018 & 2019 I photographed overpopulated migrant shelters in Juarez and Tijuana. I also traveled with the migrant caravans of 2018 and 2020, from Honduras, through Guatemala, and into Mexico. In 2019, I photographed asylum seekers who were barred entry into the US under Trump's, Remain in Mexico Policy. While the media often covers what is happening at the border, they all too often overlook the individual trials, struggles, and humanity of those seeking to escape violence in pursuit of a better life. Spending countless days and nights living alongside those I photograph, I hope to present an honest, unadulterated view of migrant life. I photograph exclusively with a 35mm camera and fixed lenses. My process of making pictures is about creating real connections with my subjects in search of depth and intimacy in my work. My goal is to humanize their struggle and share their stories with the world.
Emin Özmen
Turkey
1985
Emin Özmen (born 1985) is a Turkish photographer, photojournalist and film maker based in Istanbul. He has worked especially on Turkey, on refugees and in the wider Middle East, including Syria and Iraq. In 2013 he founded a photography cooperative named Agence Le Journal, which is based in Istanbul. In 2017, he became a nominee member of Magnum Photos. He currently lives in Istanbul.Source: Wikipedia In 2008, he published two photobooks, "Humans of Anatolia" and "Microcredit Stories in Turkey", a collection of stories on women who were able to access a microcredit in Turkey. That same year, he obtained a degree in media photography and documentary (photography) at the University of Art and Design in Linz, Austria. In 2011, his work on drought in Somalia was published in a book and he worked on the disaster of Tohoku Earthquake and economic protests in Greece. The following year, he covered the Syrian civil war and ISIS crises in Iraq. Since 2012, Emin Özmen is working on his longterm project "Limbo - Les Limbes" and has undertaken a long work of photographic documentation with the populations uprooted by the spiral of conflicts. He has traveled many times to Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Italy and France to meet people who were forced into becoming “refugees”.Source: www.eminozmen.com Emin Özmen is concerned with documenting human rights violations in his home country of Turkey and around the world. His deeply affecting work has brought attention to the suffering of those who are victim to natural disaster, civil unrest and corruption. Since a few years, he has been working on his two long-term projects: Limbo - Les Limbes, which documents the populations uprooted by the spiral of conflicts and Hidden War about the Kurdish conflict that has simmered for decades in Turkey. He worked in South Sudan in 2018 on the adversity and resilience of life in a Protection of Civilians camp and surrounding villages. In 2019 he travelled to Venezuela, where he covered the humanitarian crisis inflicting the country. His work has been published by TIME Magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, Der Spiegel, Le Monde magazine M, Paris Match, Newsweek, among others. Özmen has won several awards, among them two World Press Photo awards and Public Prize of The Bayeux Calvados awards for war correspondents. He was a member of the jury of 2016 and 2018 World Press Photo Multimedia contests.Source: Magnum Photos
Gregory Crewdson
United States
1962
Gregory Crewdson (born September 26, 1962) is an American photographer who is best known for elaborately staged scenes of American homes and neighborhoods. Crewdson was born in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. He attended John Dewey High School, graduating early. As a teenager, he was part of a punk rock group called The Speedies that hit the New York scene in selling out shows all over town. Their hit song "Let Me Take Your Photo" proved to be prophetic to what Crewdson would become later in life. In 2005, Hewlett Packard used the song in advertisements to promote its digital cameras. In the mid 1980s, Crewdson studied photography at SUNY Purchase, near Port Chester, NY. He received his Master of Fine Arts from Yale University. He has taught at Sarah Lawrence, Cooper Union, Vassar College, and Yale University where he has been on the faculty since 1993. He is now a professor at the Yale University School of Art. In 2012, he was the subject of the feature documentary film Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters. Gregory Crewdson is represented by Gagosian Gallery worldwide and by White Cube Gallery in London. Crewdson's photographs usually take place in small-town America, but are dramatic and cinematic. They feature often disturbing, surreal events. His photographs are elaborately staged and lit using crews familiar with motion picture production and lighting large scenes using motion picture film equipment and techniques. He has cited the films Vertigo, The Night of the Hunter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blue Velvet, and Safe as having influenced his style, as well as the painter Edward Hopper and photographer Diane Arbus. Crewdson’s photography became a convoluted mix between his formal photography education and his experimentation with the ethereal perspective of life and death, a transcending mix of lively pigmentation and morbid details within a traditional suburbia setting. Crewdson was unknowingly in the making of the Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort exhibition of the Museum of Modern Art, earning him a following both from his previous educators and what would become his future agents and promoters of his work. The grotesque yet beautifully created scenes were just the beginning of Crewdson’s work, all affected with the same narrative mystery he was so inspired by in his childhood and keen eye for the surreal within the regular. Fireflies, has become a standout amongst his collections known for their heightened emotion and drama compared to its simplicity of color and spontaneity. the exploration of form within his own work was evident within his transformation of how the photo was taken rather than just focusing on the subject. Source: Wikipedia
Wiktor Franko
Poland
1983
Wiktor Franko, born in Kielce in 1983. He completed Polish Language Studies at the Swietokrzyska Academy, then got involved in photography and he has ever since been preoccupied with it. He deals with both fine art and commercial photography. His photographs have been published in a number of professional magazines, such as Prism Magazine, Camerapixo, Pokochaj Fotografie, Fabrikon Magazine, Musli Magazine, Confashion and a Chinese Prime Magazine. He exhibited his works at a few collective and individual exhibitions, and his photographs were awarded in a variety of photo contests - he was twice awarded in a prestigious Viva Photo Awards and two local contests Zycie Jest Piekne and Kielce Inaczej (he was a jury member with Pawel Pierscinski in the last two editions of Kielce Inaczej contest). Wiktor Franko was a collaborator of Charaktery magazine, and a number of his images were placed on the cover of that magazine. His photographs can also be found on book covers. On two occasions, he took photographs of famous people from the world of business, culture and politics, including a portrait photo depicting Malgorzata Tusk, Prime Minister's wife for Philanthropist's Calendar, a publication that is of importance for the region. Wiktor Franco is the author of three posters for The Off Fashion, a European contest for fashion designers that is held in Kielce. Initially, Wiktor's development as a photographer ran parallel to his stay in London, where he shot photos of jazz and rock music stars, including Marillion, King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, Archive, Chic Corea, Jan Garbarek. Currently, Wiktor is engaged in making music albums covers of Polish artists, including Strefa Ciszy, Lebowski. In his photographs, Wiktor Franko frequently uses literary motifs and allusions (a cycle devoted to Milan Kundera's novels). His works, strongly influenced by surrealism, are often defined as painterly. As he himself says, what is most important for him in photography is the atmosphere, a particular mood and surprise.Source: Galeria Winda
Matthew Pillsbury
United States / France
1973
Matthew Pillsbury is a French-born American photographer, living in New York City. The Screen Lives series, inspired by Sugimoto's movie theater photos, features black and white, long-exposure photographs of family and friends sitting in their apartments interacting with their computer and television screens. In 2004 The New York Times Magazine commissioned him to do a portfolio of photos of New York museums after hours. One such photo was taken at the Guggenheim Museum: An installation in progress in the Ronald O. Perelman Rotunda (Oct. 1, 2004.) In addition to New York, he continued to shoot within museums in both London and Paris, including the Musée du Louvre. At the Louvre he photographed the Mona Lisa. The New York Times and the Aperture Foundation published New York Times Photographs in the fall of 2011, featuring one of his photos of the American Museum of Natural History's Rose Center For Earth and Space. In the Dec 11, 2011 issue of New York Magazine, Pillsbury's works were published as part of their "Reasons to Love New York 2011" feature. The photos included four shots from City Stages, which included Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park, as well as Jing Fong dim sum, Fausto in Washington Square Park and High Line. His series, City Stages initially ran from February 23, 2012 to April 28, 2012 at the Bonni Bunrubi Gallery in New York City. The exhibition opened in Atlanta, GA on September 13, 2012 and ran until November 17, 2012 at The Jackson Fine Art gallery. In September 2013, the Aperture Foundation published a monograph that includes a retrospective of his works, titled, City Stages. The New York Times Magazine published one of Pillsbury's City Stages photos as part of their Manhattanhenge feature in July 2013. Art Relish conducted an interview in October 2012 with him discussing his City Stages works. In the Oct 1, 2012 edition of Time Magazine, High Line photo, featuring a park in Manhattan constructed of abandoned train tracks, was highlighted as part of his exhibit at the Jackson Fine Art gallery. The Screen Lives series, inspired by Sugimoto's movie theater photos, features black and white, long-exposure photographs of family and friends sitting in their apartments interacting with their computer and television screens. On the CNN Photos Blog, Pillsbury's Screen Lives series was featured in a post about the School of Visual Arts "Myths & Realities" show, which took at the Visual Arts Gallery in New York, Aug 29-Sept 29, 2012. On November 27, 2011, New York Times Magazine featured two of Pillsbury's photos of Jane's Carousel from "City Stages." In April 2014, Pillsbury was one of 11 photographers awarded with the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. Approximately 200 Fellowships are awarded each year through two annual competitions that receive between 3,500 and 4,000 applications. Guggenheim Fellowships are grants awarded to "advanced professionals in mid-career" who have demonstrated exceptional ability by publishing a significant body of work within the fields of natural sciences, social sciences, humanities and the creative arts, excluding the performing arts. In 2014, Pillsbury photographed various cities in Japan, with the focus being in and around Tokyo. Recent photographs from his work in Tokyo were revealed in a photo essay published on July 18, 2014 in The New York Times Magazine and include images from Tokyo Disneyland, Robot Restaurant and the CupNoodles Museum in Yokohama. In April 2014, The New York Times Magazine first ran a photo essay of Pillsbury's work that centered around the hanami parties that occur during the week when the cherry blossoms are at peak bloom. An exhibition of His new Tokyo work opened Sept 10, 2014 and closed November 15, 2014 in New York City at Benrubi Gallery. A portfolio of Pillsbury's new images was featured in The New Yorker in September 2015, and showcased locations that include the High Line, the American Museum of Natural History, Astoria Park Pool and the Coney Island Boardwalk. He has also widened the project's focus to include locations outside of Manhattan, after a move to Brooklyn in January 2015 that inspired him to shoot urban life in the outer boroughs. In a redesign and relaunch in the February 22, 2015 issue, The New York Times Magazine published a photograph Of his on its cover. The long exposure image featured an illuminated spinning globe, which he took in his basement. He is represented exclusively by Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York.Source: Wikipedia
Susi Belianska
Slovakia/Italy
1980
Susi Belianska is a photographer and artist with a passion for capturing visual stories, particularly through the art of portrait photography. Her fascination with the intricate details of the human face, the play of light and shadow that accentuates its contours, and the emotions it conveys drives her to create compelling and evocative portraits that tell unique narratives. With a background in the fashion industry, she transitioned into full-time photography in 2007, capturing diverse campaigns and catalogues for national and international brands. Her work has been featured in prominhotent publications like Condè Nast - Vogue Italia, GQ, Financial Times, Vrij Magazine, L’Officiel, D Repubblica, among others. She develops as well her personal projects within fine art. In 2013 she won the Nikon Talent Photo Contest presented and exhibited during the international contemporary art Artissima fair In 2012 she was in shortlist of the Sony World Photography Awards in fashion category. She actively participates in renowned photography festivals, including the Ancona Photo Festival 2021 and Grenze Photo Festival Verona 2022. Das Unheimliche: Das Unheimliche is a photographic project that explores the intersection between the human being and the artificial and invites us to reflect on the complex dynamics and emotional dilemmas that arise when confronted with the possibility that a man-made work can replace a living being. The photographs depict girls representing dolls, thus embodying the idea of the artificial figure hidden behind a human appearance. Each portrait captures the ambivalence of experience in front of these hybrid figures, who seem alive but lack genuine vitality. The expressions on the girls' faces convey a combination of fascination, unease and disquiet, inviting viewers to question the meaning and implications of this substitution. The idea that artificial creations can replace a person has ancient roots and can be traced across different cultures and historical periods. A significant example dates back to ancient Greece, where stories and myths have been documented involving statues or artifacts that come to life. Among these narratives, the myth of Pygmalion stands out, a famous sculptor who fell in love with his own creation: a statue of a woman. Through divine intervention, the statue came to life, highlighting the ability of artificial figures to enchant and involve human affections. Over the centuries, the idea of replacing an individual with an artificial figure has been explored in different forms of artistic expression such as in the film "Die Pupe" by Ernst Lubitsch or the short story "Sandman" by E.T.A. Hoffmann. In Lubitsch's film ,a shy young man decides to marry a mechanical doll to avoid a traditional marriage while in Hoffmann's story, a man becomes obsessed with a female automaton believing it to be alive.These works reflect on the tensions between desire, fear and the challenge of defining what is truly human. With the advent of modern technologies and artificial intelligence, the discussion around the possibility of replacing a human being has taken on a new meaning and relevance. Modern lifelike dolls and artificial intelligence interfaces, such as advanced chatbots, have become subjects of ethical and social debate. These creations raise profound questions about the nature of human relationships, affection and emotional connection, questioning our perceptions of what is authentic and genuine. Exploring the boundary between the human and the artificial has profound implications on a psychological level as well, as what approaches a living being but lacks vitality or completeness can elicit complex emotional reactions. Sigmund Freud's "Das Unheimliche" theory and Masahiro Mori's "Uncanny valley" hypothesis offer perceptive insight into these challenges and ambiguities. According to Freud's "Das Unheimliche" theory, the experience of what is familiar yet strange and disturbing can trigger a variety of psychological reactions, such as disgust or fear. When we are faced with artificial figures that resemble human appearance but without being alive, a feeling of unease can arise that challenges our understanding of what is considered authentic and genuine. Mori's "Uncanny Valley" hypothesis focuses on the concept of an emotional curve that describes our psychological responses based on the level of similarity of an artificial figure to human appearance. The project aims to capture the essence of these reflections, highlighting the contradictions and tensions that emerge. The girls portrayed represent a fascinating duality: on the one hand, they seem to reflect the dolls' ideal of perfection and control, with their delicate features and impeccable poses; on the other, they convey a feeling of foreboding and dissonance, which underlines the lack of authenticity and vitality. Each photograph is intended as an invocation of the need for a deeper connection with our own humanity and the complex emotional dynamics that emerge when we are faced with an artificial creature that seeks to emulate human affection and vitality. The project challenges us to investigate the meaning of humanity and our ability to deal with the complexities of affection, intimacy and replacement in an age characterized by rapid technological advances. It prompts us to explore our relationship to artifice and to deepen our understanding of ourselves. Stars: he focus of this project is to elevate women to a central place in the universe, symbolizing their importance, and to emphasize the need for equal treatment in social and occupational settings. The project features surreal images of women situated in an infinite cosmos surrounded by stars, emphasizing the timeless relevance of the message.The women depicted are captured without clothing to avoid association with any particular historical period, as passing time has no bearing in this context. The stars radiate upon their bodies, symbolizing the brilliance that women should exude in today's contemporary society. This project aims to celebrate those women who break the mold and call for questioning of stereotypes in a society often dominated by male culture. It highlights the strength and resilience of women who have defied non gender equal societal norms.Additionally, the project seeks to ignite discussions and raise awareness about gender inequality, addressing not only men but also women who may unknowingly undervalue their own worth, urging individuals to recognize and appreciate their own intrinsic value.
Madhur Dhingra
I was born an only child to my parents, in Delhi, into a family torn apart by the aftermath of the India-Pakistan partition. Hailing from a affluent background in Pakistan my family was now struggling for survival in the walled city of Delhi totally penniless. Imbedded with deep insecurities and freshly bearing the scars of partition my family was now setting up trade in the walled city dealing in fabric. It is relevant for me to mention this background for these very insecurities I too inherited from my family and they remain with me till date even with the changed times and lifestyle. Things improved gradually financially, with the trade flourishing and much because of the sheer hard work of my grandfather, father& chachas(father's brothers).We settled in Delhi at the start as big joint family. I have grown up hearing tales of how we had started life selling fabric on the pavements of the walled city where we now own several properties. My father could never get over those scars of partition. I too was repeatedly made to realize that ( for better or for worse) even though I was born much later in Delhi. At the age of five I was put to school at St.Xavier's High School, Raj Niwas Marg, Delhi. That period was to become the most memorable part of my life. I remember enjoying that period thoroughly. I was always an above average student with a lot of love for extracurricular activities. In school I would love going hiking, camping, swimming & cycling with the boy scouts. From the very start I was naughty and mischievous and was a regular in getting in and out of trouble. After school I went to the Delhi University and took up English Hons as my subject. But nowhere was it in my mind to take up studies serious. Restless from the start I wanted to travel the world. I now join the Merchant Navy at the age of seventeen ,as a deck cadet leaving college in the first year itself. I loved this new experience and was good at learning navigation. Very soon I was promoted to become the navigating officer. For the first year I never came back home at all. I was fulfilling my desire to see the world thoroughly meeting different types of people and experiencing different kinds of cultures . Once while travelling in the city of Jeddah near Mecca during Ramadan I was amazed to see gold slabs and coins being sold on the pavements of the city. On the loudspeaker I then heard the azaan (prayer call) and to my utter astonishment I saw people leave all this gold unattended and enter the nearby mazjid for prayer. Such was the strictness of the prevailing law of the land that anybody caught stealing would have his hand chopped off. Nobody dared to steal. Now quite a different experience was when my ship first entered Thailand. To my utter surprise I saw hoards of women entering my ship. Their numbers must have been no less than a hundred odd. I was on duty and I objected to their entry and was immediately informed by my senior officer to back off as they were entering with the permission of the captain. These were prostitutes who stayed on my ship till the time it stayed there. Nobody was questioning the morality or the ethics. It was gala time for all officers, crew, and the Captain. This was the way of life for most sailors . One horrific incident I remember was when our Burmese radio officer died on the ship due to a liver problem. As we were still some days away from the next port,his body was put in the deep freezer of the ship, the same place where all vegetables and other eatables were stored. Life was going on as if nothing had happened and everybody was eating and drinking as any other day. In a ship life all relationships and friendships are very temporary and the moment a person gets off the ship all these are left behind and forgotten. My bag of experiences was filling up fast. The restlessness and void was again setting in fast. I was getting bored again after about five years of sailing. The novelty had worn off and my inherent nature and upbringing was not that of a sailor in any way .I finally decided to say quits and joined the family business which was waiting for me to return. My dad was overjoyed at this decision of mine. I had no problem settling into this environment as it just happened to be in my blood. I now decide to get married too. I get married and soon after become a father of two adorable children. My age at that period would have been early twenty or so. Time flew by fast earning bread and butter for my family. Nothing was more important than bringing up the kids properly and with a lot of love, something which I was deprived of badly during my childhood days. But now again the same restlessness and void was setting in. I was in a dilemma, now trying out new ways to end this emptiness . I initially tried my hands at learning sculpture at Triveni Kala Sangam Mandi House, but I soon realized that medium was not meant for me. Destiny seemed to have other plans for me and it was during this period that I was gifted a SLR by someone, a Ricoh 500 as I now try to remember. The camera body had a dial with some numbers and also some numbers on the lens of which I had no clue. There were photography classes also being held in Triveni Kala Sangam and I joined these classes with sculpture classes I was already doing. It was here I met my photography teacher and now a lifelong friend Satyasri Ukil for the first time. The Basic course was about learning the techniques of Black & White photography. Satyasri was a dedicated, honest & straightforward teacher. His likes and dislikes purely dealt with the merits of the image and not with the person who had shot the image. I was learning fast with my association with Satyasri at Triveni where he was teaching then . A few of us guys(now renowned photographers), formed a sort of a team under the guidance of Ukil (as we address Satyasri,till date).We were shooting developing and printing the whole day long. Photography was now no longer a hobby but a frenzy. I soon set up my own darkroom in my house and would develop and print negatives all night long. I now start trekking again now with a new SLR in hand going to high altitudes and to very difficult locales. I remember showing my first serious work to Ukil and found him overjoyed. Soon my ambitions grew and I start shooting product for the advertising agencies. My first breakthrough as I clearly remember had come from the agency 0& M whose creative head then was Benoy Mitra, who was one day present at the colour lab called "MultiColour in Jhandewalan, when my portfolio prints were coming out of the lab. He saw my work and quietly handed over his card asking me to see him in the agency. I was overjoyed. This was breakthrough I needed desperately. I soon started getting assignments from most major agencies. But now I started getting bored again shooting mountains product and off and on some fashion. I still needed to express myself in a different way. I decide to work towards my first solo exhibition and I show my landscapes and mountain work to the management of INDIA INTERNATIONAL CENTRE. After seeing my work they agree to sponsor my show fixing the date to 28th November 1998.It is pertinent to mention here that I had then "only" shown them my beautiful landscapes and mountain TP's as I had nothing more at that time in my kitty. I started a new journey, first shooting Ladakh. I found immense peace and tranquility (acting as a balm for my troubled mind )in the monasteries I visited. The filtrations of light from the windows and doors into the dark interiors of the monasteries were indeed very beautiful, tranquil and peaceful. I would sit inside these monasteries for hours at a stretch calming my taut nerves. The prayer gong would echo inside the main hall and seep deep inside my soul. I have always equated light with God and have believed that the darkness of the human soul will ultimately come alive with the play of Light (God) on it. My next visit was to Banaras. Here I found people visiting the Ghats in very colorful attires. A activity on these ancient Ghats like the Dashashwamedh Ghat would start very early in the morning. People from all over India visit Banaras to perform various religious rituals, right from the birth of a child to the cremation of the dead and also later to perform rites for their safe and comfortable passage after death. The quality of light that I found in Banaras was very warm & golden and I wouldn't hesitate a moment to call it heavenly. Now a special reference to the Manikarnika Ghat " the ghat of the dead" is needed. People from all over India come to Kashi (ancient name of Banaras)to cremate their dead at Manikarnika.It is believed by Hindus that a cremation at Manikarnika Ghat gives the human soul an unhindered passage to heaven. Pyres are being lit here continuously without getting extinguished for the last 3000 years. But it was on this BURNING GHAT that my worst nightmare was to begin. I would visit this ghat daily looking at the activities. It was not very long before I realised that whenever a body of a poor person would come in, it would be cremated in a bizarre manner. It required two mun wood at the least (mun is an Indian measure of weight equivalent to 20 kgs) to cover a human body completely for cremation. But the person accompanying the dead body did not have that much money in his pocket. So only that much wood was purchased in which only the torso could be covered by wood. The legs and head were left hanging out and the pyre lit. The head would get burnt in a horrific manner with the head and feet falling away from the torso partially burnt. Then these torn away parts were picked up and put into the pyre or thrown into the Ganges. This whole sequence was so bizarre that I decided to get it on film and show it to the world. This I did manage to photograph secretly even after a lot of objections and hindrances from the people in charge at Manikarnika. Man really "was" meeting his God in Kashi, though in a very bizarre manner. So much for Kashi, our GATEWAY TO HEAVEN.I have posted only a few of those pictures on this website just to avoid unnecessary disturbance to people's minds. In the meantime the Purn Kumbh was being held at Hardwar. This again has become a very interesting event to relate. I was aghast to see completely naked so called Naga "sadhus" storming the streets of Hardwar. It was here I came to understand from the local inhabitants of Hardwar that this whole show was a complete farce. These so called ascetics only stormed the streets during the Khumb. Neither do they live in the remoteness of the Himalayas leading a renounced life, but on the contrary live in air conditioned lavishly furnished akharas in Hardwar itself. They were a weird sight. ( I have shown some photographs of them in my Black & White section). Here I saw them fight pitched battles with the police before the procession. DOWNRIGHT CRIMINALS TO THE VERY CORE, MOST OF THEM. On the day of the procession I got up early in the morning and positioned myself on roof top of a house near the Niranjani Akhara.This was very early in the morning and I was testing the auto focusing of my telephoto 300mm Canon lens when I saw a group of nagas in the akhara compound. I was taken aback when I saw one Naga fiddling with the genitals of the other Naga, "AND I TOOK THE SHOT".(later to appear on the first page of THE INDIAN EXPRESS). There were hutments built for sadhus by the kumbh authorities across the river bed. I would visit those and sit with some real sanyasis and listen to their discourses and hear them sing bhajans. This was a very nice and peaceful experience. The Kumbh ended and my exhibition date also was drawing near. The IIC Gallery wanted to see the final prints that I had decided to display. Nowhere in my final selection were those beautiful landscapes to be seen. Their place had been taken by naked sadhus with Trishuls and burning ghats & corpses. The Gallery management told me in no uncertain terms that they will not allow the show to go on unless these pictures were withdrawn. My dilemma was that my photo essay "Where Man Meets God'" was a story of a man's passage of life, his wanderings, his search for God. This essay was incomplete without these pictures. I told the management that I will show my work as it is and will not remove any picture from the list. Much courage to take this right stand was coming from Satyasri Ukil who stood by me all this while withstanding this massive ONSLOUGHT . IIC Management banned my exhibition. It was during this period that me and Satyasri Ukil were introduced to Suneet Chopra a reputed Art Critic. He later introduced us to Siddharth Tagore, a gallery owner at Art Consult Hauz Khas Village. Siddharth Tagore offered to hold my preview party at his gallery inviting respected artists like B.C.Sanyal, Jatin Das and many other artists of repute. The preview was a major success with all these stalwarts in their respective art fields giving their nod to my exhibition. Mr.Khushwant Singh the famous and a very respected writer too came up with an article on me in his column "Malice Towards One And All .Now IIC started shifting its stance and a compromise was reached. "That the images will be allowed to display but only facing towards the Gallery wall, whoever who wanted to see them could do so at his own discretion". Almost everybody saw those images.. Many reputed people visited the exhibition, some of them I mention in my TESTIMONIAL column. Eight major newspapers wrote elaborately on this exhibition. There was a TV interview also held by a channel also. The exhibition was a huge success on the whole. I am now planning another exhibition with a different theme and gearing up to hold another show in Milan. Life for me as a photographer continues...
Frieke Janssens
Belgium
1980
Over the past 25 years, Frieke Janssens has acquired a reputation as a photographer of surreal staged tableaux and group portraits, often originating in a specific concept, and almost always stemming from an inexhaustible interest in human diversity. Her series often stand out because of their confrontational nature. Notable series include, among others, Smoking Kids, Your last shot, Diana's, Animalcoholics, and recently Lightness. In the same way that an oil painter builds up a work layer by layer, she too meticulously creates each image, down to the smallest detail. In every picture we can recognise the same artistic touch, the same technical perfection, combined with a playful duality between reality and fiction. At first glance, her images attract the viewer because of their pared-down beauty. Yet once one really starts to look in earnest, one realises that there are always multiple layers of meaning. It seems as if the people portrayed are trying to tell us something. However, they are silent, and consequently have to rely on the viewers to create the story for themselves. Frieke does not adopt any particular position, but aims to convey the feeling that one is not only looking at a photograph, but at a mirror as well. As such, she leaves the viewers free in their interpretation, yet never leaves them indifferent. She sometimes lends her pared-down style to clients with whom she has a good connection, like a cultural centre, or a campaign, or a newspaper or magazine. In recent years, Frieke Janssens has exhibited in New York, Chicago, London, Hull, Bilbao and obviously also in her own country, including in Antwerp and Knokke-Heist. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, Knack, De Morgen, De Tijd and NRC, among others. Her book The Sweetest Taboo won gold at the 2019 Henry Van De Velde awards. In 2022, her third book Lightness was published on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition in Foto Knokke-Heist.
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