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Edmund Clark Walks Us Through ‘Unseen Spaces’

"As I exit the elevator on what must be the eleventh or twelfth floor, the scene is one of destruction. Fallen masonry, dust, glass, rubbish strewn everywhere. Abandonment.

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I am in an ordinary suburb of a former eastern bloc capital. The building belongs to a geological institute. The tidy hallway downstairs is lined with samples of rock and sparkling crystal. The tower overlooks a few streets of low-rise houses running between the crescent of a main rail artery and monolithic communist era apartment blocks lining a very long and wide road, or boulevard, according to the name on Google maps. I am heading for the roof.

The caretaker apologizes for the surroundings. The top floors were earmarked for refurbishment but nothing has happened after everything was ripped out. Maybe just after the revolution. That was a while back.

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From the roof I hope to see another building. At ground level from the front it appeared to have only two floors, but I think more levels will be clear from the back as the ground slopes down to the train tracks. I know there is also a basement - even if I won’t see it. 

It is forbidden to photograph the building due to anti-terrorism measures. I am here because it is one in a chain of locations that may link the secrets of a different country, far from here and far removed from communism.

Sharp light blinds me as I pull myself through the gap of the jammed steel door onto the roof. Even as my eyes recover, in my mind I am looking somewhere else. I am ankle deep in green files; yellowing paper covered in fingerprints and a foreign script; and monochrome photographs of faces. I am in a bombed out and ransacked prison administration block. Another link in this chain and after another revolution.

Details of the disused floors in this institute have taken me there: the patterned floor tiles, the dull grime covered grey walls, the steel balustrades on the staircase. And the details of the destruction: ripped out power sockets, exposed cables and the sound and feel of plaster and glass underfoot. Then I move to the wreck of the prison with its abandoned clothing and isolation cells, the murals of men being shot in the head and the carcasses of animals who crawled there to die. 

‘Maybe we built it for him’ jokes my minder. ‘My country had very close ties with his regime and we did a lot of construction in those days.’

But that was in another time and another order.

Back in the present I can see the building below me has even more floors than I expected. Through my lens I can see someone smoking a cigarette on the fire escape.”

- Edmund Clark, 2014 Emergency Fund Grantee

— 13 hours ago
#Emergency Fund  #Magnum Foundation  #documentary photography  #edmund clark 

Photos by Yeong-Ung Yang

SECRETS!

If you were unable to attend, or want to relive the fun, check out the video here!

On June 25, a whole slew of Magnum photographers put Annual General Meeting business aside and gathered at the Aperture Gallery to talk shop and share unknown stories to benefit the Magnum Foundation. Attendees were invited to take seats and strike up conversations with legends Costa Manos, Josef Koudelka, David Alan Harvey and many others floating through the room. 

Thank you to everyone who showed up and made this experimental party a resounding success, especially Alec Soth, Jim Goldberg, Martin Parr, and Paolo Pellegrin who spent the better part of the evening making portraits. And many thanks to our sponsors: The Half King Photo Series, Industry City Distillery, and Brooklyn Brewery. 

— 1 day ago with 2 notes
#SECRETS  #magnum photos  #Magnum Foundation  #aperture  #photography 
First ADPP Workshop in Beirut

This August, Magnum Foundation, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, and the Prince Claus Fund held the first workshop for the nine inaugural Arab Documentary Photography Program (ADPP) grantees at the Dar Al-Mussawir in Beirut. The grantees came together from across the region for intensive mentorship and project development guidance from photographers Eric Gottesman, Peter Van Agtmeal, Randa Shaath, and Tanya Habjouqa. The workshop was headed by coordinator Jessica Murray and curatorial advisor Hester Keiser.

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The workshop was set up to cater to the different levels of experience, ability, and progression of concept. Aside from setting up a solid rapport between the mentors and grantees, the goal of this first workshop was really to prepare for the story production process and to plant seeds for thinking about distribution and audience engagement.

Each grantee was able to dissect their project with group input to think through challenges, integrate new approaches, and expand upon the trajectory of traditional, linear narratives. Some grantees began to strategize on how to re-create events for the camera, how to engage subjects to participate in the process, and how to blend objective realities with dreamscapes, memories, and other modes of experience.

While all of the grantees were together, the opportunity was ripe for an emphasis on technique and the importance of working towards thoughtful and well-executed images. Peter Van Agtmeal led foundational editing exercises focused on form and composition using grantee work as active examples. 

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The workshop also addressed issues of security and ethics, and the realities of photographing in many of these countries. What are the ways to approach someone that is afraid of being photographed? What can it mean for the photographer, and more importantly, for the subject? Tanya Habjouqa and Eric Gottesman Eric were able to share concrete examples from their own work.

In the next workshop, a very practical focus will be on thinking creatively in looking for alternative resources for producing and showing work. In a region with few resources and financial opportunities dedicated to photography, it’s critical that grantees seek out sources of support and funding as a part of their practice. 

— 1 day ago with 1 note
#ADPP  #princeclausfund  #arab fund for arts and culture  #AFAC  #Magnum Foundation  #Beirut  #MENA  #documentary photography 
Colorful Guizhou’s PhotoChina Original International Festival

Magnum Foundation’s Photography and Human Rights program just celebrated its fifth summer of fellowships. In this hour of reflection, its clear that the connections, resources and networks seeded in 2010 are flourishing far beyond the six-week experience in New York.

This August, 2013 HR Fellow Lijie Zhang, now Editor in Chief of the China Press for People with Disabilities, drew from the work of HR fellows over the last five years to curate a multimedia piece to be exhibited at the 7th session of Colorful Guizhou’s PhotoChina Original International Photographic Exhibition in Guiyang, China. 

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Alexis Lambrou introduces the HR Fellows

Sim Chi Yin (2010), Liu Jie (2012), Lijie Zhang (2013), Yuyang Liu (2014) and program coordinator Alexis Lambrou traveled to attend the festival, present their work, and speak to the fellowship’s impact on their vision and careers. ”Its a very different kind of educational training opportunity from others…it puts photography second and social purpose first, which I think perhaps no other training opportunity does,” said Sim Chi Yin.

They presented again in Bejing at Na Risong’s Inter Gallery, where people packed in eagerly to listen and engage. An engrossing dialogue about the issues young photographers face in China went well past the presentation, with dozens of attendees staying after to speak to the fellows about the application process and curriculum. 

Zhang Lijie explained the confidence she gained through the fellowship and meeting young photographers and activists from around the world, “you can understand that you’re not alone and your pictures are not only for a few people. There’s a new world. People care.”

The festival was an important opportunity to open doors to socially conscious photographers, but more poignantly, it was a way to bring the four China-based HR Fellows together, face to face, for the first time. 

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The four China-based HR Fellows

— 5 days ago with 4 notes
#Magnum Foundation  #china  #MF Human Rights Program  #nyu  #photochina 
Wendy Levy Reflects on the PhotoEx Digital Communities Lab

We’re gearing up for the second annual Photography, Expanded Symposium on October 18 at The New School. We hope you’ll join us in hearing from representatives of The Guardian, TIME, Instagram, Purpose and many more on the future of editorial and digital strategies for human rights campaigns.

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Photographers and filmmakers talk art, activism and audience at the Paley Center for Media

Creative Innovation and Digital Community: Art & Media on the Brink of Change Panel Discussion

"On Friday, June 20 at the Paley Center for Media, Magnum Foundation hosted a free public panel discussion that was part of Photography, Expanded  - an ongoing initiative designed to inspire documentary photographers to expand their storytelling beyond the still image.

The goal of the panel was to begin discussion about the power and challenge of open collaboration – between creative practitioners across disciplines, with NGOs and activists, with global communities fluent in social technologies, and with subjects in varying degrees of risk, transition, and need.

I was lucky enough to moderate an incredible group – Michael Premo, Nina Berman, Joslyn Barnes, Hank Willis Thomas and Pamela Yates. They represented the tribe of documentary filmmakers and photographers who do human rights and crisis work and have experienced drastic shifts in a web 3.0 world.  As audiences increasingly expect connection, transparency, and the opportunity to take action when inspired by stories and works of visual art, how should filmmakers and photographers - and in fact any artist — recalibrate their practice to adjust to the new normal? Do we share a heightened responsibility to explicitly empower an audience beyond the image? What does this kind of collaboration look and feel like?

During the panel, we attempted to engage our own audience of about 140 people at the Paley Center in a fully interactive discussion  - and thanks to Hank Willis Thomas – we got them taking pictures with us as well. In a world where technology and surveillance are intertwined, and civil wars and human rights abuses are captured on cell phones, and news comes in bytes and tweets, the question of how we should create documentaries and other artworks that consider participation at the core was on everyone’s minds. The audience joined us for a dynamic 2-hour discussion that carried across the street to the bar at the Bombay Palace till way after closing time.”

- Wendy Levy, New Arts Axis

Check out video of the panel discussion here.

— 1 week ago with 1 note
#photoex  #Magnum Foundation  #digital communities  #paley center 

Last week 2014 Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund grantee Laura Morton took over The New Yorker’s Instagram feed, posting photos from the San Francisco Bay Area where she is currently in the field working on her Emergency Fund project, Wild West Tech.

Morton’s Instagram chronicle invites us into the vibrant and quirky world of young dreamers aiming to strike it big in the start-up gold rush.

From Laura via Instagram:

Good morning from San Francisco. I’m Laura Morton, a documentary photographer currently working on a long term project on the Bay Area’s tech boom. Young people from around the country and beyond are flocking to San Francisco with dreams of building a successful start-up. I’m working on this project, Wild West Tech, thanks to a grant from the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund. This week I’ll share with you dispatches from San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. 

— 1 week ago with 1 note
#Laura Morton  #The New Yorker  #Instagram  #Wild West Tech  #San Francisco  #Dreamers  #Emergency Fund  #Magnum Foundation 
Carolyn Drake, Enroute to Mountain Brook

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Ruby rides to work on the bus. 

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA - It’s Monday morning and we get onto the bus at 8am as usual, but we notice something out of the ordinary: Ruby is sitting alone. “Where’s Ella Mae,” Ashley asks. “She called me last night to tell me she retired,” says Ruby. “They don’t need her no more.”

Ella Mae is 81-years-old and has been riding the bus to Mountain Brook for fifty years to clean the homes and raise the children of wealthy families who live there. She’s a commanding presence on the bus. The other women listen to her. She always sits where she wants, and its always next to Ruby. They banter and joke the whole way to work, inseparable for thirty minutes a day.

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Mountain Brook seen through the back window of the bus.

But Ella Mae’s boss passed away a couple months ago, and that meant there was nothing left for her to do in that big empty house.  She kept riding to work for as long as they’d let her. She’d check the mailbox, make herself breakfast, and then sit down to look out the window. Mountain Brook is a pretty place, modeled after an idealized British village. Its full of golf courses, magnolia trees, and country estates. “There ain’t no sense in me sitting at home and looking at these four corner walls every day,” she explained. “Not as long as I am able.” But mainly she kept making the journey to Mountain Brook to visit with friends on the bus.

From this Monday forward, Ella Mae’s seat is empty. Ruby continues to ride over the mountain, surrounded by her dwindling group of colleagues, to take care of her own ninety-year-old boss, who’s still plugging away at life. “I’m gonna miss that mouth,” she says with an honest laugh.

- Carolyn Drake, 2014 Emergency Fund Grantee

— 3 weeks ago with 5 notes
#Carolyn Drake  #Notes from the Field  #Magnum Foundation  #Emergency Fund  #Invisible Bus  #Birmingham  #Alabama  #Documentary Photography  #Race 
Laura Morton Recounts Mingling with the Dreamers of Silicon Valley

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Guests of the Startup and Tech Mixer mingle at the bar during the event, which was held at the W Hotel in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday, May 30, 2014. Laura Morton

"Generally I pride myself on being able to become a fly on the wall when I’m working, but while photographing a tech industry networking event recently things changed. This large and boisterous affair took over several floors of a downtown hotel and was filled with energetic start-up entrepreneurs. As I made my way around the event that evening, guests continually approached me, asking if I was a journalist. More often than not, they launched into a passionate pitch about their start-up before I could explain my own photographic project. The cameras around my shoulders had marked me as a possible journalist, turning me into someone deemed useful to talk to. It was an incredibly odd feeling.   

My project Wild West Tech explores the tech industry culture and the way it’s changing San Francisco. Exorbitant fortunes are being made seemingly overnight, income inequality is growing at a rapid pace and the rising cost of living is pushing many long-term residents out. All these issues are, without a doubt, important, but what drew me to this project was a group that is often overlooked by the media.

Young people from around the country and beyond are flocking to San Francisco with dreams of building a successful start-up. They’re cramming into apartments together, living in modern day communes and renting desks in co-working spaces. They work seemingly around the clock on their businesses. Most of these people are not wealthy and many are working on shoestring budgets while searching for funding. A few of them will succeed, become wealthy or build a project that does truly change the world, but most of them will fail.

Silicon Valley is famous for having a positive attitude in all circumstances. People will tell you they’re doing great, even if they’re struggling, which is one of the reasons I feel this group of entrepreneurs has often been misunderstood. 

As the night wore on and several drinks were consumed, some cracks started appearing. One woman pulled me aside and asked me to sit down after which she immediately and breathlessly pitched her start-up with tears in her eyes. I could see the disappointment cross her face when I explained that I wasn’t working for a tech publication. She, like many of the people I talked to that night, was desperately hoping to make the magical and lucky connections needed for her company. 

Another subject I was photographing recently compared my Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund grant, which enabled me to take the time to get this project off the ground, to an entrepreneur completing a round of seed funding. His comment struck me that photographers and start-up entrepreneurs aren’t all that different from each other. We’re all just trying to find a little funding and a little help to make projects we’re passionate about a reality.”

- Laura Morton, 2014 Emergency Fund Grantee

— 1 month ago with 5 notes
#Notes from the Field  #Emergency Fund  #Wild West Tech  #Silicon Valley  #San Francisco  #Laura Morton  #Magnum Foundation 
EF Grantee Allesandro Penso working with MSF

Emergency Fund Grantee Allesandro Penso recently had a gallery of photographs published by MSF (Doctors without Borders) from his ongoing work in Bulgaria documenting asylum seekers. He received an Emergency Fund grant in 2014 to continue his work documenting the impact the Dublin II Regulation has had on asylum seekers in Europe, and is currently working in Bulgaria. 

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Penso’s previous work on this issue has been published widely and recently culminated in the touring exhibition The European Dream: The Road To Bruxelles, a traveling exhibition that followed the path many immigrants make when they enter Europe from Southern Italy to Brussels, Belgium.

— 1 month ago with 2 notes
#Emergency Fund  #Magnum Foundation  #alessandro penso  #msf  #bulgaria 
"Friends in Asmara told me that if I ever want to return I should go home and write something nice about Eritrea. But how could I top what Baalu Girma has already written?
The braids of the Northern beauties dance to the rhythm of Asmara’s palm trees and arouse one to follow. I wish to be sheltered by those palm trees and braids for just a fraction of a moment, to breathe and lay on my back and gaze upon a shining star in a clear moonlit sky. I long for the time when we can resolve human conflicts with sweet conversation. I long for peace.
With Baalu’s words in mind, I shot these video sketches during my first visit there earlier this month.”

- Eric Gottesman, 2012 Emergency Fund Grantee

(Here is a link to the first part of this video series)
— 1 month ago with 2 notes
#Notes from the Field  #Emergency Fund  #Eric Gottesman  #Baalu Girma  #Eritrea  #Magnum Foundation