Havana: Light Beyond Vision by Andrew Child

A Visual Exploration through Color Infrared Panoramic Photography

For the past several years, Boston based photographer Andrew Child has been traveling off of the beaten path in Havana, Cuba and its surrounding countryside, capturing rare images that explore its many hidden gems. Using his truly unique approach allows the photographer to reveal sunlight that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. Over sixty of these vivid panoramic images have been compiled into a 136-page, 13” x 11” coffee table book, Havana: Light Beyond Vision. With captions offering insight into the places, people, culture and history, from Hemingway’s seaside fishing village of Cojímar to Havana’s bustling avenidas, each image comes to life with a dreamlike quality that mirrors the mysteries of this island nation.

The recent expansion of permitted travel to Cuba has allowed many people to see this beautiful country and its iconic architecture and culture. Many in Cuba fear that the influx of visitors will be a double edged sword. While the country will enjoy the benefits of a blooming tourism industry, the rush to modernize and accommodate this influx will likely lead to the erosion of the culture and environment that was preserved for decades. The views that Child offers us may be some of the last remaining surveys of unchanged sights that would’ve been seen by the likes of Ernest Hemingway in the early twentieth century.

Child offers us both a documentary catalog of beautiful scenes around Havana, and a unique way in which to view the world around us via a wider spectrum of light. The advent of digital photography has placed many tools of the trade to the back burner, like solarized images, high speed film with its grainy images, and infrared film. Child uses a digital process, that he describes in the book, creating the look of traditional infrared color film, and panoramic views combined. 

“Havana has a unique blend of Cuban hospitality, beautiful neocolonial architecture, Caribbean sensuality, and economic potential that keeps pulling me back. It’s also a country in transition – with one foot in Cold War socialism and one in free market capitalism – the perfect setting for exploring vision, perception, and misperception. The point of this book isn’t to offer a stance on the complex relationship between the United States and Cuba. Instead, I share this book with the public in the hopes of shedding some light, both literal and figurative, on our neighbors to the south.” explains Child.

In his acknowledgements, Child humbly gives credit to his Santa Fe workshop inspirations, and supportive friends and mentors, including venerable photographer Joyce Tenneson. His images do not come off as cliché, and he includes views of Cuba that are not covered in the typical coffee table book one might see on average bookstore shelves. Child’s self-published book notably adds to the catalog of photo books depicting Cuba’s beautiful landscape, architecture and culture.

Havana: Light Beyond Vision by Andrew Child
ISBN: 9780997877700
136-pages
13″ x 11″, hardcover
©2016 Andrew Child


Andrew Child is a freelance commercial and fine art photographer based in Boston, MA. Over the past thirty years, he has compiled a body of work that comprises subject matter ranging from infrared panoramas to portraiture of individuals with special needs. For additional information about Andrew Child’s work, and “Havana: Light Beyond Vision” please visit his website.


This is an edited version of the review published by F-Stop Magazine in March 2017.

Art & Oppression: PhotoSummer Exhibit Opportunity @ CENTER

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 11.37.30 AM

ART & OPPRESSION

CENTER and the Santa Fe University of Art & Design’s Marion Center for Photographic Arts will host an exhibition and discussion on the theme of Art & Oppression to kick off PhotoSummer’s 2017 events. We invite you to submit your images and participate in the upcoming events surrounding photography’s important role in activism and advocacy.

The exhibition will open at the Marion Center for Photographic Arts on Friday, June 9, 2017 from 5-7pm and continue through September 15, 2017. Stay tuned for more information about the panel discussion exploring the topic on June 10, 2017.

SUBMIT YOUR WORK

The call opens on March 17 and all applications are due by April 16. Accepted submissions will be notified by April 21, 2017. Free for CENTER Members and $25 entry fee for non-members. Click here to learn more and to apply.

CENTER MEMBERSHIP

Previous members and non-members are encouraged to take advantage of this exhibition opportunity and the many other CENTER member benefits we offer throughout the year. For information on memberships and to sign up, please visit our Membership page.

After the Firebird – Magical images by Ekaterina Vasilyeva

Storytelling is something we humans have always been doing, to some degree. Telling all sorts of tales has been an important part of our lives for millennia. Themes that all great storytellers use; birth, growth, destruction, death, and rebirth are important aspects of what it is like to be human, and what its like to experience life. There are a number of Russian folktales that speak of a mythical firebird whose feathers glow and can even protect the person who possesses it, but the firebird can be both a blessing and a curse. Variations of this story include princes and princesses, magical creatures, omens of the future, immortality, and lessons that test the virtue of the people who encounter the firebird.   

Ekaterina Vasilyeva’s project, After the Firebird, uses these themes as a springboard to show us what life is like in the village where her family has lived for generations, and where she has been photographing for the past few years. Her selective use of color, light and environment set the stage for these scenes. The people she photographs include her own family members. Without romanticizing the lives they live, we can view their homes, their activities, and their village through the transformative lens of myth. Vasilyeva captures magical scenes of life – those little parts of common everyday occurrences that suddenly transcend into something more. Her scenes allow us to see a common object as a talisman suddenly made visible, or the relationship between two specific individuals as something that crosses over into a universal relationship for all of mankind… but only if we are watchful.


After the Firebird – project statement

The Russian village is rapidly sinking into oblivion. The sad statistics show that in Russia over the last two decades almost 25 thousand rural settlements disappeared within the map of Russia. Moreover, according to the sociologists, about the same number of them is on the verge of extinction.

My story begins long time ago when my grandmother and grandfather, both from the Pskov region (Russia), met in Leningrad (St. Petersburg now), got married and stayed there for the rest of their life.

But it could have turned out very different. I, now a modern city dweller, could have been born among those flowering fields and hard-working people.

In his village, my grandfather used to be called a gypsy because he could predict the approaching of someone’s death. As for himself, he always knew that he would survive two wars and wouldn’t be injured. And so it happened. With regard to my grandmother, he said that she would outlive him by exactly ten years. This prediction also came true.

Over the last five years that I have been documenting people from the small village Andrushino in Pskov region, I have been subconsciously looking for overt or covert manifestations of people’s magic.

I think that it is as much a part of our being, as history and geography. Faced with a fabulous world of folklore you soon realize that it is rooted in a totally real ground and that all the beliefs and superstitions, charms and rituals, tales and fables are not just a warehouse of archetypes of the collective unconscious, but an immediate response of the collective soul to the mysterious currents of the natural elements. 


Q&A

Cary Benbow: Why do you photograph? What compels you to make the images you create?

Ekaterina Vasilyeva: One can ask yourself this each year – and respond it every time in different ways. At the moment, I would say I do not take pictures in a normal, casual way, as much as I do it to visually study or research something. I consider photographing only in conjunction with the history, geography, mythology and literature on the theme of project. So, the photography becomes a reflection of the knowledge I’ve gained or its interpretation.

CB: Why did you become a photographer? What was your start into photography?

EV: My serious interest in photography arose in 2009 during my two years of residence in the United States, in Alabama. Simple, amateur pictures of nature became unsatisfying to me. I often remember one random picture I made at the beach of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. A couple was walking along the beach among a lot of birds, and the man suddenly raised his hands up and waved them like wings. At that time, I also realized that I wanted to change something in my life. Maybe even my profession. This time also changed my way of life essentially; I had more time to be alone with myself. Living in a foreign country, being quite closed off, helped me to find, I can confidently say now, my matter of life. I decided that after returning to St. Petersburg, I was going to study photography.

CB: How does ‘After the Firebird’ relate to your other projects?

EV: This project is the only one which is connected, though not directly, with my family and my ”roots”. I am dedicating the book I’m preparing, After the Firebird, to the memory of my grandparents who were born in the Pskov region. And, of course, it is the most mystical among my projects.

The connection of After the Firebird with other projects is the important subject of the relationship between people and nature. For creating my story I was inspired by Russian fairy tales and folklore, literature on Slavs mythology, paintings by famous Russian artists such as Viktor Vasnetsov and Ivan Bilibin, Palekh miniature (Russian folk handicraft of a miniature painting), and movies based on the books of Russian writer Valentin Ivanov (”Russ at First” and ”Russ Great”)

CB: In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?

EV: I think that first of all, in view of your one’s personal experience, it is an opportunity to surprise yourself. Second, the photograph should resonate with a viewer, regardless if he/she is the editor of a photo magazine or an ordinary visitor of an exhibition.

CB: Where do you get the ideas for your personal photography?

EV: Everything somehow connected with me and the place (territory) where I live, which I love to visit or that I want to explore.

CB: Is it relatively easy, or do you find it a struggle to be an artist where you live? Do you feel isolated in the larger artistic community?

EV: I do not think there is a lot of ”rivalry” among photographers in Russia who are engaged in contemporary photography (the example of contemporary photography for me is the ”Institute” Agency). And almost no magazines, galleries (except Moscow), or good photo competitions, or people who are interested in purchasing photos.

This market is very poorly developed in Russia so far. Therefore, I concentrate on foreign audiences and opportunities offered by the foreign photographic industry. Due to the Internet, and the fact that I occasionally live in Europe (thanks to my husband’s work), I can visit photo and art exhibitions, search and buy books on photography and art.

So there is a minus, but there is also a plus. You need to work harder to delve into all of this, and so you probably only get stronger. By nature I think I am an optimist.

CB: Do you keep a journal or do you keep notes or write about the places and people you see?

EV: Unfortunately, I do not keep a personal diary. For each project I just collect useful information from different sources: quotes, images for inspiration, excerpts from articles, books, etc. I write a plan and some words for the better understanding of what I do want to find for my project. All this is mostly working materials.

CB: Who are your personal photography inspirations?

EV: I am inspired by so many things. For example the movies of such film directors as David Lynch, Wim Wenders and Ingmar Bergman. So I love weird movies. As for photographers – I’m currently attracted to the energy and temperament of Cristina de Middel. And because of calm judgment and a nearly perfect photography narrative, I’m a big fan of Alec Soth.

Art plays an important role for me. Some of my favorites are Americans artists: Edward Hopper for his brevity, realism and melancholy; and Andrew Wyeth for his ”wind” in pictures, a singular style and fantastic sense of place and home.

CB: I would love to learn more about the “mysticism” in your work. What parts of your work are mystic, and how you wish the viewer to “see” the photographs?

EV: I like the idea of combining documentary photography and a certain mystique conditionally. Each viewer has to decide for himself where is the truth and where is fiction for him. Given the fact that I do not make the staged photos and everything happens as in reality, it becomes itself a strange and mysterious. If we want to see something unusual,  we will see it. I am convinced of that each time I work on a project.

After the Firebird talks about the mystery and magic of the hidden world and the amazing discoveries that can occur in front of everybody. You need only to look around carefully. With the documentary style of my work, I strive to endow each photograph with a sufficient degree of strangeness and mystery. I think this is the most truthful reflection of my inner world and attitude towards the life. Despite the quite rational mind, the analysis of things and actions, in my soul I also feel the presence of a child whose mother often told and read her tales.

I want to see something beyond everyday life, filled with encrypted symbols. Or maybe just something that brings back memories and the atmosphere of a unique place. More generally, I’m always looking around for magic.

CB: Also, I would like to understand how the relationship between man and nature is important to you? Many people do not live close to “nature” settings, and some people are very connected to the natural world… how does nature influence the way you create?

EV: For me the relationships between nature and people play a very important role . I think that without a clear understanding of its important role in our life, a person to some extent deprives itself of its support, and even health. All my projects are in some way connected with nature, with long hiking (10, 15, 20,… km) combined with deep attention to the environment around me.

I would like to believe that my projects could assist a new understanding and interest in the nature around us and respect for it.


Ekaterina Vasilyeva is an independent photographer from St. Petersburg, Russia, working at the intersection of the genre, documentary and art photography.

In most of her projects, she explores the theme of a particular place (space, territory, it changes in the context of time and historical landmarks, environment problems, interaction with human activity, personal relationship and the myths of the place. To see more of her work, please visit her website: http://www.ekaterinavasilyeva.ru/ 


This is an edited version of the interview published in Art Narratives in March 2017.

Small Town Inertia photo book project – J A Mortram

Surviving life and austerity on the margins

416d4c7a467bb808c27585fda580742d_originalJim Mortram is a photographer from Dereham, Norfolk, UK. He has been photographing members of his community who are on the fringes of society.  For the last seven years, Jim has been photographing the lives of people in his community who, through physical and mental problems and a failing social security system, face isolation and loneliness in their daily lives. His work covers difficult subjects such as disability, addiction and self-harm, but is always with hope and dignity, focusing upon the strength and resilience of the people he photographs. His long-form documentary photography and accompanying texts journal the lives of “people without a voice”.

Mortram’s work and projects have been featured by many, including the British Journal of Photography, as part of its “ones to watch” lists. And now, Mortram’s project ‘Small Town Inertia’ is being produced as a book via Kickstarter.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The photographs also depict the scale of welfare cuts … of housing benefit cuts …health service cuts … and the constant failure of systems that should care for the vulnerable in the UK.

These people have a right to dignity, a right to be heard and not ignored. Jim is now publishing his photographs in a limited edition hardback book with highly regarded publisher Bluecoat Press.

Jim Mortram is one of Britain’s brightest talents. His long-term project about those on the margins of society has resulted in many accolades. The Guardian newspaper describes his work as having ‘a timeless character that invites easy comparison with the classic documentary work of such British photographers as Chris Steel-Perkins, Paul Trevor and Chris Killip.’  He was awarded in the Digital Camera : Photographer of the Year competition 2009 and 2010. He has exhibited internationally including Camden Image Gallery 2014 and Photoville New York 2013. His published work has appeared in The Guardian, British Journal of Photography (Ones to Watch 2013), Black and White Photography, Cafe Royal Books, BBC, Professional Photography, Flakphoto and aCurator.

The Kickstarter project has many levels of support available with various rewards for your kind support. Please consider supporting this project today.

FORMAT17 | HABITAT

format-logo

AHEAD STILL LIES OUR FUTURE

QUAD Gallery, Derby, UK
24 March – 11 June 2017

Lida Abdul | Lisa Barnard | Ursula Biemann | Kenta Cobayashi | Hannah Darabi | Sohrab Hura | Zhang Jungang | Wanuri Kahiu | Ester Vonplon | Sadie Wechsler

The 2017 edition of FORMAT, the UK’s largest photography festival will explore the theme of HABITAT. The biennial festival, now in its 8th edition, is a showcase for emerging talent alongside established artists. FORMAT17 will display work by over 200 international artists and photographers across 30 exhibitions, alongside a photobook market, portfolio reviews and a series of innovative events and performances.


Rapid changes in the environment caused by human impact on the Earth has pushed us into a new cultural geographical epoch known as the ‘Anthoropocene’. Ahead Still Lies Our Future brings together 10 international artists whose diverse work encourages speculation on global imagined futures. This is the focal exhibition of FORMAT17, curated by Hester Keijser and Louise Clements, in response to the festival’s theme of HABITAT.

The artworks range from Ester Vonplon’s requiem for the melting glaciers in her native Switzerland, to Lida Adbul’s video installation in which she returns to her homeland of Afghanistan to ask how the individual can deal with memories of a country so marked by war and tragedy. Especially for FORMAT, the Japanese transmedia artist Kenta Cobayashi will recreate his immersive and VR installation Island is Islands and Lisa Barnard’s exploration of gold, its mythology, influence and impact will be shown for the first time.

Ursula Biemann documents a series of landmark legal cases that brought the Amazonian forest to court to plead for the rights of nature in her video Forest Law, while Sohrab Hura captures life in the twilight moments of the extreme summer heat in a small village of Central India, and Zhang Jungang tirelessly photographs the ever-changing view from his tiny balcony of the bridge over the Song Hua River in Northern China. Hannah Darabi compiles photographs of a ‘new town’ under construction near Tehran with excerpts from J.G. Ballard’s short story Waiting Grounds in a series of the same title. Other artists create alternative worlds – Wanuri Kahiu explores a dystopian future in her film Pumzi, and Sadie Wechsler’s images show constructed fantastical landscapes.

Collectively, these 10 artists explore the interconnected nature of the human spirit and the habitat that it encounters or creates.


WORKS ON DISPLAY


What we have overlooked is Lida Adbul’s monumental video installation in which she returned to her homeland of Afghanistan to explore how the individual can deal with the memories of a country so marked by war and tragedy. Filmed by a lake near Kabul, the video shows a man, voiced by subtitles, in the lake holding flag, progressively slipping underwater. The project examines the relationship between the individual and the nation, represented respectively by the man and the flag. Man, voice and flag finally vanish under the surface of the lake, suggesting the high price paid by nationalist feeling – the annulment of the individual.

unnamed


The Canary and the Hammer, new work by Lisa Barnard, considers the omnipresent nature of gold – concealed in our technology, a barometer for the economy, a global potent symbol of ultimate value, beauty, purity, greed and political power. In response to the financial crisis of 2008, Barnard’s photographs strive to make connections between very different stories focusing on the United Kingdom, and both North and South America. Exploring mythologies of the discovery of gold and the mania of the gold-rush, the brutal world of mining and sexual politics of the industry,. Barnard investigates how gold has become an indispensable component in engineering and electronic industries and offers solutions to a range of global health and environmental challenges.


Forest Law by Ursula Biemann is a synchronized video shot in the Amazonian rain forest in 2013. The oil-and-mining frontier in the Ecuadorian Amazon— one of the most biodiverse and mineral-rich regions on Earth – is currently under pressure from the dramatic expansion of large-scale extraction activities. At the heart of Forest Law is a series of landmark legal cases that bring the forest to court and plead for the Rights of Nature. One particularly complex trial has recently been won by the Kichwa Indigenous People of Sarayuku based on their cosmology of the Living Forest.


Japanese artist Kenta Cobayashi will recreate his immersive and VR installation Island is Islands. In 2011, Cobayashi started to post photographs on his blog which were then duplicated, converted, and referred to across the internet. His photographs are the product of the process of transitioning, bred through a repetitive cycle of interaction and transformation. By altering the size or zooming in on the images on the Internet, the image infinitely breeds by a simple finger movement. Each new iteration of Islands is Islands experiments with visual live performance alongside new prints and visual images.


Waiting Grounds by Iranian artist Hannah Darabi is a photographic series about an under construction ‘new town’ near Tehran. Inspired by a J.G. Ballard short story of the same title, the work combines photographs and the cut-ups of text from Waiting Grounds. The main character in Ballard’s story lives on another planet and learns that life on Earth is terminated. All that remains is history written and engraved on gold columns in a code language. The protagonist decides to wait for the future – a future that “whatever it is, it must be worth waiting for”. Darabi’s work aims to represent the state of waiting in a country where history has been rewritten over and over again and where each version of the history has its glorious past which become an example for a possible future.


The Song of Sparrows in a Hundred Days of Summer by Sohrab Hura is a series of photographs taken in Barwani, the central state of Madhya Pradesh, one of the hottest regions in India. Since 2013, Hura has been photographing the summer in Savariyapani, a small village secluded amongst the barren landscape of this region. With little rainfall and extreme temperatures, life in Savariyapani can take on an unexpected reality in the twilight moments of the heat.


Bridge and Nearby Scenery is a series of photographs taken between 2013 and 2016 from artist Zhang Jungang’s tiny balcony in the Northern Chinese city of Harbin. The balcony has a view of the bridge over the Song Hua River, and the vista changes almost every day, with variations in light and air from moment to moment. With long winters and short summers, there is always a new view for Zhang to capture and the resulting series of photographs is his reaction to the infinite richness of the world.


In Pumzi, a film by Wanuri Kahiu, nature is extinct, the outside is dead and the protagonist, Asha, lives and works as a museum curator in one of the indoor communities set up by the Maitu Council. When she receives a box in the mail containing soil, she plants in it an old seed which starts to germinate instantly. Asha appeals to the Council to grant her permission to investigate the possibility of life on the outside but the Council denies her exit visa. Asha breaks out of the inside community to go into the dead and derelict outside to plant the growing seedling and possibly find life on the outside.

unnamed-14


Sadie Wechsler’s constructed images re-imagine landscapes, blurring historical and rational states to create alternative worlds. Some of the fantastical images depict landscapes where something is a bit off-kilter, in another a girl obscured in a shaft of light looks at the camera in an artificially perfect forest, and in another, a group of tourists stands and watches a dramatic forest fire. The images suggest photographic tropes such as stock imagery, sunsets, and holiday landscapes with unsettling, ambiguous undertones.


Ester Vonplon’s large-scale photographs are a requiem for the melting glaciers in her native Switzerland. To protect the glaciers from shrinking further they have been wrapped in giant, white reflective sheets. The photographs, however, do not depict unspoilt natural beauty, but instead the snow is filled with sediment, grit and ash, smoke-stained and grubby. The cloth started as pristine but has ripped and decayed into the melting ice of the glacier. These natural, pure monument, diseased and decaying, are mortal.


 

FORMAT was established in 2004 and organises a year-round programme of international commissions, open calls, residencies, conferences and collaborations in the UK and Internationally. The 2015 festival welcomed over 100,000 visitors from all over the world. The biennale edition incorporates over 30 of Derby’s most beautiful buildings and key landmarks including: QUAD, University of Derby, Derby Museum & Art Gallery, Derwent Valley World Heritage Sites, Market Place and satellite venues in nearby cities.

Further information and full programme on www.formatfestival.com from early 2017.

FORMAT is directed by Louise Clements, organized by QUAD and the University of Derby Supported by Arts Council England, Derby City Council and multiple partners from the UK and international origins.