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Paul Kessel
Photo © Russ Rowland
Paul Kessel
Paul Kessel

Paul Kessel

Country: United States
Birth: 1937

I began photography late in life. Previously, I had a career in clinical psychology and university teaching. My interest is candid street photography which I practice almost every day. I studied photography for ten years at the International Center of photography. I have self-published 18 books and have appeared in about 80 exhibitions, including 3 solo shows. I have been a Finalist 4 times in major street photography festivals. My work has been exhibited in Europe and Asia as well as the United States.
 

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Ren Hang
Chinese
1987 | † 2017
Ren Hang (Chinese: 任航; March 30, 1987 – February 24, 2017) was a Chinese photographer and poet. During Ren's incipient career, he was known mostly for nude photographic portraits of his friends. His work is significant for its representation of Chinese sexuality within a heavily censored society. For these erotic undertones, he was arrested by PRC authorities several times. He received the backing of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who included Ren in his 2013 Netherlands show, Fuck Off 2 The Sequel, and curated the photographer's 2014 exhibition in Paris, France. Ren's erotic, playful and casual yet provocative expression gained him worldwide fame. Ren was born in 1987, in a suburb of Changchun, Jilin province, in northeastern China. In 2007, in order to relieve the boredom of studying advertising at college, he bought a point-and-shoot camera and began shooting his friends. As a self-taught photographer, he said his style of photography was inspired by the artist Shūji Terayama. Ren suffered from depression. He posted a series of diary entries titled My depression on his blog, recording the fear, anxiety and internal conflicts he experienced. Ren died by suicide on February 24, 2017 in Beijing. Ren Hang first began taking pictures of his roommates and friends in 2007, shooting them in the nude as all were close and seeking excitement. In an interview, he also admitted: “I usually shoot my friends, because strangers make me nervous.” He arranged his subjects' naked limbs in his photographs. Ren did not consider his work inappropriate: “I don’t really view my work as taboo, because I don’t think so much in cultural context, or political context. I don’t intentionally push boundaries, I just do what I do.” This may account for his reticence to limit his work to indoor settings. He said there were no preferred places for him to work, as he believed anywhere was beautiful and worthy to be shot, including sparse studios, parks forests, and atop buildings. Ren's photos employ nude groups and solo portraits of men and women often contorted into highly performative positions. For example, hands reach down milky thighs, a limp penis flops onto a watermelon and a series of backsides imitate a mountain range. Questioning the purpose of his work, he once stated that his creation was a way to seek fun for both photographer and the photographed. However, once he had reached fame on an international level, he began to think deeply about his work. The British Journal of Photography quoted him as once saying: "I don't want others having the impression that Chinese people are robots... Or they do have sexual genitals but always keep them as some secret treasures. I want to say that our cocks and pussies are not embarrassing at all." Ren also focused on marginalised people in Chinese society with gender identity disorders by 'indeterminating' sex and gender in some of his work: a group of naked bodies stacked together, men wearing silk stockings and wearing lipstick. He denied having a preference in models: “Gender… only matters to me when I’m having sex.” The international quarterly photography journal Aperture used his photo as the cover for its Queer theme. Commentators also see his work, the naked body and the starched penis, as evolving sexual mores and the struggle for creative and sexual freedom in a conservative, tightly controlled society. But Ren Hang also announced "I don't try to get a message across, I don't give my works names, I don't date them. I don’t want to instill them with any vocabulary. I don't like to explain my photos or work as a whole". It has been mentioned that Ren's work is softcore pornography because of the degree of nudity and sex in it, but he also worked with other themes. The most famous was titled My Mum. Although still under a fetishistic atmosphere, posing with usual props in Ren's works like animals and plants, Ren's mother posed as a clothed model, in a light-hearted way to represent her daily life. Ren's photographs have been included in magazines L'Officiel, GQ Style, and Vice. He worked with fashion companies Gucci, Rick Owens, and Loewe. Ren's work is included in Frank Ocean's magazine Boys Don't Cry. Ren Hang is noted to be greatly influenced by Chinese and Asian contemporary art and in particular, Japanese photographer and contemporary artist Nobuyoshi Araki. Ren Hang mainly worked with a simple point-and-shoot camera. He would direct the models as to how to place their bodies and shoot in quick succession. Genitalia, breasts and anuses were not covered up, but featured, or accentuated with props and close-ups. Colors were rich and high in contrast, increasing visual impact. This, along with the fact all bodies were slim, lithe and relatively hairless, made the impact of his photographs more impressive. His work communicated a raw, stark aesthetic that countered taboos and celebrated sexuality and it was this contemporary form of poeticism in a visual context in which Ren Hang expressed themes of identity, the body, love, loss and death. Nudity is not a theme in art that can be widely accepted by the Chinese older generation. Ren Hang's works are sometimes misinterpreted by the public as pornography. Although some have written that Ren Hang used his photographs to challenge Chinese cultural norms of shame around nudity, he did not believe he was challenging the stereotype and leading a revolution. For him, nudity and sexuality are natural themes which he used in his work. "Nudes are there since always. We were born nude. So talking about revolution, I don't think there's anything to revolutionize. Unless people are born with clothes on, and I want to take their clothes off, then I think this is a revolution. If it was already like that, then it's not a revolution. I just photographed things on their more natural conditions." He said he was not trying to liberate nudity and sexuality since he believed that the Chinese young generation was open-minded and less affected by the old-fashioned cultures. When Ren Hang talked about the question whether the topic of sexuality was still a taboo in China, he said: "I don't think it's related to our times, these are individual cases. Like how to say it, I think it depends on different people, it doesn't really relate to other things. I was not in the whole parents told you that you can only have sex if you get married era. The time after I grow up was already over that period, it was already different like everyone was already more relaxed."Source: Wikipedia Flesh, corpses, souls and bland flashlights, all composite into seconds or milliseconds of lights and shadows, projecting onto the film that never knows how to lie. Focus gathering and the shutter releasing, connecting his unpretentious, rebellious, wild and free perspectives towards the naked human body. The images look so natural, yet fun and unexpected. One soul after another all blossom like a newborn baby, urging to crawl out of his mother’s womb, dying to be redefined. In this era that we live in, being censored by the Chinese government has almost become a stamp of approval for contemporary artists. Ren Hang, a young man with a mature look and tanned skin, hair as short as a Chinese soldiers’, always carrying an irresistibly cute and innocent smile on his cheeks. He is, perhaps, the sole artist and photographer with the most edgy outlook towards the naked human body. Ren Hang continues to stress the fact that he is “boring“. Especially when asked about those basic questions of his inspirational origins and meanings behind the photos, he always just smiles naively, shakes his shoulders and says, “I don’t really know. I never really thought about it.” Perhaps he is such a paver, heading towards the direction of happiness and creative freedom without realizing the pathways he has left behind. You might find him confusing and puzzling, but he has the ambience of such kindness that you would always trust that no evil can come out from him. He is merely a pure form of naked human beings. Source: ITSLIQUID
Mark Citret
United States
1949
Mark Citret was born in 1949 in Buffalo, New York, and grew up in San Francisco. He began photographing seriously in 1968 and received both his BA and MA in Art from San Francisco State University. Most of Citret's work is not specific to any locale or subject matter. Still, he has worked on many photographic projects over the course of his career and continues to do so. From 1973 to 1975 he lived in and photographed Halcott Center, a farming valley in New York's Catskill Mountains. In the mid to late 1980s, he produced a large body of work with the working title of "Unnatural Wonders", which is his personal survey of architecture in the national parks. He spent four years, 1990 to 1993, photographing "Coastside Plant", a massive construction site in the southwest corner of San Francisco. Since he moved to his current home in 1986, he has been photographing the ever-changing play of ocean and sky from the cliff behind his house. Currently, he is in the midst of a multi-year commission from the University of California San Francisco, photographing the construction of their 43 acre Mission Bay life-sciences campus. He has taught photography at the University of California Berkeley Extension since 1982 and the University of California Santa Cruz Extension since 1988, and for organizations such as the Center for Photography at Woodstock, the Ansel Adams Gallery, and Santa Fe Workshops. His work is represented by prominent photography galleries in the United States, and is in many museums, corporate, and private collections, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the University of Arizona's Center for Creative Photography, and the Monterey Museum of Art. A monograph of his photographs, Along the Way, was published by Custom & Limited Editions, San Francisco, in 1999. He lives in Daly City, California. About Parallel Landscapes
Benita Suchodrev
United States
1975
Benita Suchodrev was born in the former Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States where she received her Bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts with a focus on Art History from SUNY Purchase, New York, continuing to a Master of Arts in English Literature, graduating with high honors. It was in the university darkroom where Benita developed and produced her first black and white prints. In 2008 Benita relocated to Berlin where she began an extensive documentation of the cosmopolitan city's multifaceted art scene while working on diverse photographic projects. Later she studied at the Neue Schule für Fotografie in the class of Eva Bertram. Her portrait and documentary work has been exhibited in solo and group shows nationally and internationally and is part of the Rafael Tous Foundation for Contemporary Art in Barcelona, the Michael Horbach Stiftung in Cologne as well as private collections in Moscow, Berlin and New York. She has published Of Lions and Lambs (2019) and 48 Hours Blackpool (2018) with KEHRER Verlag. Her photographs have appeared in NACHTLEBEN BERLIN 1974 – BIS HEUTE (Metrolit Verlag, 2013), BERLIN NOW (teNeues Verlag, 2009) and have been covered by various media including ARTE, THE GUARDIAN, ZEIT ONLINE, ARD, RBB24 Kulturradio, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Berliner Zeitung, STERN.DE, AMICA Italy, ART, MARE Magazine, Neues Deutschland, Die Tageszeitung, Tagesspiegel, MIND China, The Moscow Times, Искусство – The Art Magazine Russia, among others. Benita currently lives and works in Berlin. Artist Statement "I am attracted to the poetic and the bizarre, the bold and the vulnerable. But of all things I am interested in the transitional moment between states, between blinks; that elusive split of a second between what was, what is to come, and the traces it leaves behind. The drama and ambiguity of human expression and gesture during this transitional moment is what fascinates me the most."
Lu Nan
China
1962
Lu Nan is a contemporary photographer who was born in Beijing, China in 1962. After working for National Pictorial for 5 years, he decided to become an independent photographer. From 1989 to 1990, he shot a series of images of the living conditions of patients in Chinese mental hospitals. From 1992 to 1996, he shot a series of images about Catholicism in China. From 1996 to 2004, he shot a series of images of the daily life of Tibetan farmers. Lu Nan is known as "the most legendary photographer in China". He is also the only Chinese contemporary photographer chosen by Aperture magazine as a topic colon. Lu Nan is constantly invited to participate in numerous exhibitions; however, he is extremely selective about the exhibitions he is involved with. Lu also refused to have his portrait taken by others, so it’s very rare to see any photo documentations of him. For fifteen years, Lu has been leading a life that is almost like a monk, spending his time working and studying, as he believes that “good stuff comes out of reticence.” Since 1989, Lu Nan has spent 15 years completing his trilogy of photographic series: The Forgotten People, China's Catholicism and Four Seasons in Tibet. These images have allowed Nan to place himself in the international spotlight. But perhaps more importantly, he became one of the first people who exposed another side of Chinese society; people often considered outcasts. “I just respect them and care about them… They are the same as us,” said Lu as a reminder that all human beings are equal and deserve dignity. His black and white photographs depict people within their own environment by using a rather straight glance, which is yet associated with delicate contrasts and elegant compositions.Source: Wikipedia Correspondent for the prestigious international cooperative Magnum Photos since the 1990s, Lu Nan 呂楠 (born in 1962 in Beijing) is an independent photographer who has been documenting marginalized people in China. His pivotal series started in 1989 with The Forgotten People: The Condition of China’s Psychiatric Patients. Pursing his intentions to document Chinese people from the margins of society, his subsequent series captured members of the Catholic Faith (On The Road: The Catholic Faith in China, 1992-1996), peasants’ life in Tibet (Four Seasons: Everyday Life of Tibetan Peasants, 1996-2004), and prisoner’s conditions (Prisons of North Burma, 2006).Source: photographyofchina.com “In 15 years, not a day went by when I didn’t question my own work,” says Chinese photographer Lu Nan, in an interview included in his new book Trilogy. “That’s why I scrutinize what I was doing by means of reading. This mode of assessing action through thought and assessing thought through action helped me to complete these projects." “The trilogy is concerned with human beings. I hope that by looking into real life, I’ll find something fundamentally and enduringly human.” Lu Nan isn’t well known outside China but this book, his first in English, should change all that. It collects together three projects he shot over 15 years – The Forgotten People, a look at the lives of Chinese psychiatric patients, shot from 1989-1990; On the Road, a look at the lives of Catholics in China, shot from 1992-96; and Four Seasons, a look at the lives of rural Tibetans, shot from 1996-2004. These microcosms are apparently very different and yet, to Lu Nan, they’re intimately interrelated. Inspired by image-makers such as Josef Sudek and Sebastiao Salgado and extremely well-read, Lu Nan says the three projects represent the three states of life – The Forgotten People is about suffering and adversity, On the Road purification, and Four Seasons about a blessed, serene state.Source: British Journal of Photography
Ryotaro Horiuchi
Ryotaro Horiuchi was born in Tokyo in 1969. When he was a teenager, he started to work at the furniture studio as an assistant. During his time at the studio, he was asked to take photographs of furniture as its records. And that was the first time he felt his intention to focus on a thing in front of his eyes ''Through The Lends''. And that ''intention'' turned him into ''photo-holic'' by realizing the potential of photographs. Since then, he has been working on his works from Osaka University of Arts and while he was in Germany and till now. Now he is working with ''Descendants of Samurai'' and ''Roma Gypsy'' by taking their portraits. To do so, he keeps focusing on ''the identity'' of them and himself. Falling Waters When I faced the waterfall, my eyes were riveted on the falling waters. The waters kept changing and never became the same figure. I saw the vitality in its overwhelming energy. The waters looked so alive that I felt as if I were photo shooting creatures. These are not scenic photos but portraits of waterfalls. The waters kept moving vigorously with a roaring sound, however, I loved the silence behind it. Quiet Existence I have relatives who emigrated to a foreign country under a state-led migration policy during the pre-war period. They live as minorities in the country. Hearing stories about them as I grew up made me fascinated with people who are defined as minorities. When I was staying in Germany, I later learned that the people who had been closed to me were Roma. I had absolutely no knowledge about Roma at that time and their lifestyle looked just so mysterious to me. Since then, I had been drawn to their strong identity and I visited the area where many Romani people live. I met many other ethnic groups of people who live as minorities there. When I faced their lifestyles, I could see their quiet yet strong identity behind them, which strongly resonated with me. It might be impossible for minorities to maintain their culture without keeping their strong identity. What is identity? The question always makes me ask myself what kind of individuality I retain. Discover Descendants of Samurai
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