Tag Archives: history

America in a Trance — Photographs by Niko J. Kallianiotis


America in a Trance – by Niko J. Kallianiotis

Combining punches of color, intense natural light and ironic visuals, this photographer commentates on the gloom of dying industries in the wake of political promise.

Niko J. Kallianiotis’ first monograph, America in a Trance, dives into the heart and soul of Pennsylvania’s industrial regions, a place where small town values still exist, and where sustainable local businesses once thrived under the sheltered wings of American Industry. In his explorations, he offers a quiet assessment of the cultural and economic state of the nation, as seen through a number of cities and towns in Pennsylvania. The approach to this book shares some stylistic similarities with some of the great documentary works that precede it, like Joel Sternfeld’s witty insight, Robert Frank’s ‘outsider’ observations of America, the use of color and light in the street photography of Saul Leiter, and Walker Evans’ landscapes and portraits of the same region. While the work of Kallianiotis is an homage to these influences, it is also a departure from them.

There is far more to Kallianiotis’ images than an expected patina of fading industry, waning prosperity, and portraits of the people who call this place home. He uses evocative color and an artful use of light to convey the dynamics of the scenes he encounters. Flat light from an overcast afternoon helps bring out the texture of American flag-like awnings, which partially obscure the alleyway side of an apartment building’s back porch.

Braddock I © Niko J. Kallianiotis

He captures signage and language on buildings and advertisements with visually ironic placement — both physically, and in respect to this point in history. Political references are not avoided. In the case of political campaigning by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, Kallianiotis visually pits them against each other in a two-page spread. But the end result of the book is not overtly slanted to one side or the other. Optimism for a better future and pessimistic views of the current landscape balance the scales.

Trump v Clinton, spread from “America in a Trance” © Niko J. Kallianiotis

Kallianiotis is Greek by birth, but is also an American citizen, and has lived in the country for 20 years, so his commentary on the current political climate is influenced by strikingly different factors than the average Pennsylvanian. In a 2017 interview with PBS, Elizabeth Flock asked Kallianiotis about the meaning behind the title for his project. He replied, “The meaning is the way the country is right now. I’m sensing that after the election, people walking in these towns are disoriented and alienated…including me. I’m in every picture, too, in terms of the loneliness and trying to assimilate. I’m trying to blend with the culture, since I have two countries. I’m a U.S. citizen and I’m Greek, and I love both. This hybrid situation is complicated. The trance is: you’re aware, you’re listening, but you can’t really respond. I think that’s where we are right now.”

Braddock II © Niko J. Kallianiotis

That place in the middle is bitter-sweet. His decades spent in America have taught Kallianiotis how beliefs from both sides of the fence in the current political climate have a direct effect on these towns. And yet, he achieves a certain level of neutrality within the work. Whether it is the hard Pennsylvania coal towns to the East, the shadows of looming steel stacks to the West, or every faded American Dream in between, Kallianiotis explores an illumination of hope through his own relationship with the land. Within America in a Trance, there is the silhouette of what once was: streets and storefronts thriving, and the reflections of that time coming back to us through his mindful eye.

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Coal Lights © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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El Camino © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Capitol © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Helfers © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Home Turf © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Falcon Pride © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Jessup RR © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Leaned © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Lady in Green © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Lost Love © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Melodrama © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Lady in Red © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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No Worries © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Rain Drop © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Disconnected © Niko J. Kallianiotis
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Supply © Niko J. Kallianiotis


America in a Trance by Niko J Kallianiotis
Publisher: Damiani
ISBN: 9788862085953

To find out more about America in a Trance or to see more work by Niko J. Kallianiotis, please visit his website: www.nikokallianiotis.com.

This book is available for purchase at www.nikokallianiotis.com/book or at the publisher’s website: https://www.damianieditore.com/en-US/product/669


This is an edited version of the article originally published at http://www.lensculture.com 
Photographs by Niko J. Kallianiotis
Book Review by Cary Benbow

Land – Sea : New Work by UK Photographer Andrew Mellor

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Andrew Mellor is a photographer based in Lancashire in the North West of England. His photography explores natural and man-made environments; and the interaction between the two with concerns over how we use the landscape and the social and political issues surrounding it. His work explores change and human impact.

Land – Sea : Artist Statement

For centuries Blackpool was just a hamlet by the sea. But by the middle of the 18th century, the practice of sea bathing to cure disease became very fashionable amongst the wealthier classes and people were making the journey to Blackpool solely for that purpose. Our current perceptions of the British seaside were formed during this Victorian period – childish innocence, the fun of the fair and the tranquillity of the sea itself; simple ‘old-fashioned’ fun – are all the stronger for having these Victorian roots.
Between the years 1856 and 1870, a Promenade was built along the sea front to prevent continual erosion and potential flooding and over many years the coastline witnessed significant geological and geographical changes.

It was built in several sections, which vary in height and profile, with the first completed stretch of sea defence being erected from Talbot Square to the site of where Blackpool tower was to be later built. All sections were subsequently designed by a succession of Borough Surveyors and landscape architects, which were also built in stages. This has resulted in different architectural compositions of varying construction and design. The visual stimulus created by the differing architecture is a fascinating feat of engineering and can be used to improve society, both socially and environmentally.

The marine frontage is approximately 12 miles long, from Blackpool to Fleetwood, and is in constant need of maintenance, as it is estimated that the average life span of a seawall is 50–100 years. Hard-erosion control methods provide a more permanent solution than soft-erosion control methods and because of their relative permanence, it is assumed that these structures can be a final solution to erosion.

There are many fabled stories, which provide a mythical backdrop to the seafront, with tales of bells tolling from lost villages and the revelry of the patrons from the penny o pint, which superstition says is supposed to signify a stormy night. Maps from before the late 1500’s indicate the North West coastline ventured out possibly a mile or two further than it does presently. Supposedly, several villages stood along this peninsula and were said to have been destroyed during a tidal flood, around 1554 or 1555; some archaeological evidence suggesting the existence of these villages has been found.

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To see more of Andrew Mellor’s work, or connect to him via social media, check out his website and links below:

Email: andy@andrewmellorphotography.com

Website: http://www.andrewmellorphotography.com

Instagram: https://instagram.com/andymellorphoto/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Andrew_J_Mellor

Also: Read about On the Fringe by Andrew Mellor

Book review: Nirvana: The Spread of Buddhism Through Asia by Jeremy Horner | Goff Books

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Nirvana: The Spread of Buddhism Through Asia, authored and photographed by geologist Jeremy Horner has been awarded the Silver award in the Best Coffee Table Book category by the 29th Annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards. The IBPA celebrates vibrant independent publishers through the Benjamin Franklin Awards for excellence in book editorial and design and is one of the highest national honors for independent book publishers.

This is a journey of spiritual as well as visual enlightenment, as the reader traces the origins of Buddhism and following its evolutionary paths from its birthplace at Bodh Gaya, India to northeast Asia, along the Silk Road through China, down to Sri Lanka, and across to southeast Asia.

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From its origins at Bodh Gaya on the plains of northern India, the book leads the reader through travels up into the Himalaya of Ladakh, where Buddhism thrived and split in the five different sects. The journey takes us to Nepal, historically a receptive home for Buddhism, to Tibet in Exile in Dharamshala, and to Sikkim and Bhutan paying homage to the sacred sites of Mahayana Buddhism along the way. Maps with reference to the photographs will guide you along the routes.

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Then we venture along the silk route into the mountainous region of Xinjiang in China, and to the largest monastery in the Buddhist world at Labrang in Gansu Province, home to the Yellow Hat sect. We visit the Longman Caves and the legendary Shaolin Monastery, with its extraordinary Kung Fu monks, before eventually embarking for Korea and Japan to trace Tantric Buddhism. There we sample the tranquility of Zen temples and the fresh mountain and sea air of the most sacred pilgrim sites.

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We follow the story of how the once precarious belief emerged as Theravada Buddhism and found a haven in Sri Lanka before progressing eastwards to Burma, and on into southeast Asia, as far as central Java.

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We explore the exquisite temples of Luang Prabang in Laos, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and Sukhothai in Thailand where Buddhist art reached a certain zenith. Finally we traverse the Tibetan plateau to reach the fabled capital of Lhasa, with its spiritual center of the Jokhang Temple and the iconic Potala Palace, the abandoned home of HH the Dalai Lama. Maps with reference to the photographs will guide you along the routes. The illuminating text by Denis Gray provides an authoritative perspective of Buddhism in 21st century Asia and assists in navigating the reader through the book’s journey.


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About the author: 

Nomadic by nature, and as a qualified geologist, Jeremy wandered into the Himalaya in 1987, teaching himself photography. His work from the Nepali Himalaya was immediately published in Hong Kong to high acclaim, sparking a romantic career which has taken him to over a hundred countries across the globe.

 

To purchase a copy of Nirvana: The Spread of Buddhism Through Asia  please visit: Goff Books website

Through Darkness to Light by Jeanine Michna-Bales

Look for the Grey Barn Out Back. Underground Railroad Station with Tunnel Leading to Another Conductor’s House; Centerville, Indiana

They left during the middle of the night – oftentimes carrying little more than the knowledge that moss grows on the north side of trees. An estimated 100,000 slaves between 1830 and the end of The Civil War in 1865 chose to embark on this journey of untold hardships in search of freedom. They moved in constant fear of being killed outright or recaptured then returned and beaten as an example of what would happen to others who might choose to run. Under the cover of darkness, ‘fugitives’ traveled roughly 20 miles each night traversing rugged terrain while enduring all the hardships that Mother Nature could bring to bear. Occasionally, they were guided from one secret, safe location to the next by an ever-changing, clandestine group known as the Underground Railroad. Whether they were slaves trying to escape or free blacks and whites trying to help, both sides risked everything for the cause of freedom. From the cotton plantations just South of Natchitoches, Louisiana all the way north to the Canadian border, this series of photographs can help us imagine what the long road to freedom may have looked like as seen through the eyes of one of those who made this epic journey.

Moonrise over Northern Ripley County. Overlooking Southern Decatur County, Indiana

Much like fellow Hoosier Michna-Bales, I grew up hearing about how Indiana played a role in the Underground Railroad. I recently found myself travelling at night through some of the same towns listed in Michna-Bales’ photographic journey. Both Richmond and rural Centerville, Indiana appeared and disappeared in the headlights of my car while travelling recently on a clear, starry night. Driving these lonely country roads made me think about trying to navigate those same hills, valleys, and rivers with only the stars as a guide. As she mentions in her introduction, Michna-Bales’ experience of shooting her photos at night made her think about how she felt history surrounding her, and how strange and forbidding these remote places must have felt to the people making the journey. These words were on my mind as I travelled silently through the same countryside as so many had done before me.

Decision to Leave. Magnolia Plantation on the Cane River, Louisiana

Michna-Bales photographed numerous locations along a journey from Louisiana to Ontario, Canada. Her mysterious, haunting images of Underground Railroad locations are printed in the book on black paper stock, which intensifies that feeling of strangeness and uncertainty. The images emerge from the darkness and give even greater importance to the light captured during her long exposures. That same light was the guide and the hope that so many oppressed people were drawn by, and moved toward freedom. Light plays such an important role in this book. It is important enough that Michna-Bales chose the last image in the series, the sunrise in Canada, to be the only daylight image – symbolizing the final destination and realized freedom.

Hidden Passageway. Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Eagle Hollow from Hunter’s Bottom. Just across the Ohio River, Indiana, 2014

I was especially glad to be able to review this book during Black History Month, and bring attention to this project and Michna-Bales’ photography. The book includes text by Fergus M. Bordewich, Robert F. Darden, Eric R. Jackson, and Andrew J. Young. Young is a former congressman, diplomat, and member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as a key strategist and negotiator in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Through Darkness to Light is a wonderful collection of researched historic documents, engaging photographs and text that creates an insightful narrative to events that occurred over 170 years ago. When one considers how many people are still fleeing oppression and moving toward freedom around the world, the Underground Railroad is just as poignant today when seen through the lens of present day social injustice. The desire for freedom and the interracial assistance of others was, and is, an important lesson to be told and retold.

Freedom. Canadian soil, Ontario, 2014


Through Darkness to Light by Jeanine Michna-Bales
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press (March 21, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616895659
ISBN-13: 978-1616895655


Jeanine Michna-Bales is an award winning photographer based in Dallas, Texas. To see more work, visit her website at http://www.jmbalesphotography.com. To purchase a copy of Through Darkness to Light, visit Amazon.com

This is an edited version of the article originally published in February 2017 in F-Stop Magazine.