Studio Malick, Bamako, 16 and 17 September 1977 © Malick SidibÈ
When we see photographs from Africa, they’re often dispatches from war or famine zones. It’s a sad truth that there are enough “hot spots” in Africa to supply us with a steady stream of such images for many years to come. But there are happier sides to Africa too, some of which have been documented by native photographers like Malick Sidibé.
Sidibé, who was born in the 1930s, has spent a long career taking portraits of his fellow citizens in Bamako, Mali. Up until recently, few Malian families could afford to buy cameras, so it was customary for people to visit a studio photographer when they wanted to document something significant–from the birth of a baby to a new hairstyle or motorbike. In Sidibé’s portraits you see pride and a sense of occasion, but there’s also a playfulness in the way he gets his subjects to pose, shirt-sleeves rolled up, sunglasses covering their eyes, mimicking styles from the covers of magazines and pop music albums.
Suri Children by Giordano Cipriani
Giordano Cipriani won Grand Prize in the General Category of our 4th Annual Global Travel Photo Contest. Cipriani is an Italian photographer who began his career as an underwater documentary photographer. His work is influenced by the human body, the element of water, and his travels, which have earned him shows everywhere from Japan to Washington, D.C. Of his winning shot, Cipriani says, “I loved my journey to Ethiopia discovering the Suri tribe. Shots of that beautiful culture came out from my heart before from my lens.”
All images by Daniel Kukla
Born with an inquisitive passion for science, Daniel Kukla documented 12 zoos across the U.S. and Europe, capturing a synthetic peculiarity we often take for granted. Captive Landscapes
, unravels the artificial habitats of zoos– spaces which are normally hardly paid attention to. Taking inspiration from his experience working in the natural history department of a museum and his most cherished companion, his pet octopus, Kukla’s work has been shown at the Milk Underground show last autumn and has recently completed a series of work that explores a phenomenon that is a direct result of global warming, known as post-glacial rebound.
What was intriguing to you about artificial landscapes?
I’ve long been fascinated by the educational and research mission of zoos and yet equally frustrated. After visiting countless zoos I began to notice the common of manufacturing theatrical environments for the enclosures and the all too familiar experience of expecting to see the inhabitant, but being confronted by a seemingly empty habitat. I began to photograph these enclosures devoid of the animal or with it on the periphery. Without the distraction of the inhabitant we see the dressed-up concrete and metal surroundings for exactly what they are.
Tim Hetherington Untitled, Liberia, 2003 Digital C-print © Tim Hetherington, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
At the time of his death, in a Libyan mortar strike in April of 2011, Tim Hetherington was one of the most well-known and respected conflict photographers working. This was due in part to his role as co-director on Restrepo, the 2010 documentary that followed the day-to-day life of an American platoon in Afghanistan in immediate, intimate detail.
But Hetherington was entrenched in more than filmmaking, and more than Afghanistan’s fighting. His approach to photojournalism meant pushing the boundaries of image-making, and working across several types of new and digital media to build a more communicative message. But as grand a scale as he worked on, Hetherington’s project was always to immerse the viewer in an individual’s story. His larger body of work—photographing civil war in West Africa, a short film, portraits, interviews, and firsthand accounts of life in war zones—depends on that same depiction of the personal used so grippingly in Restrepo.
The first major exhibition of Hetherington’s photographs, opening at the Yossi Milo Gallery in April, spans his short and extraordinary career. Protagonists appear from all sides, and at all moments in the day life. Liberian women juggle babies and handheld missiles. American soldiers sleep in one photo and wrestle in the next. Hetherington was adept at catching the beauty of these terrains and the bleakness of a war zone in the same frame. This makes for compositions both aesthetically gorgeous and emotionally volatile, and a collection of work that offers as many moments of peace as it does conflict. Hetherington’s legacy will be his gift of seeing the whole picture.
All photographs by Cass Bird
For two consecutive summers, photographer Cass Bird visited Sassafras, Tennessee with a group of beautiful, masculine young women from New York City. She brought along party dresses and tutus, and asked the women to forego cutting their hair in the months leading up to the second summer’s shoot. Rewilding
, Bird’s new book, is the photographic story of these summers – an inquiry into and observation of the broadening paradigms through which we understand gender. The photographs in Rewilding
are intriguing; they evoke a sense of the ethereal while exploring the spaces beyond the generally accepted confines of masculinity and femininity.
As with all of Bird’s work, Rewilding
’s depth is uncontrived, its beauty authentic. Bird will be at the Lead Apron in Los Angeles on March 15 and at Dashwood Books in New York City on March 22.
In the introduction to the book, Jack Halberstam writes about how you depict gender as contrast. What do you think of this idea?
I had actually never thought about it in those terms. I think that gender is expressed as a contrast, and I am curious about how that contrast or that divide fades away at times. There’s a hetero concept where if you put a masculine girl into a hetero-dress, she’ll be cured of her masculine nature. But it actually does the opposite: if you stick a masculine girl in a tutu or a dress, she looks even more masculine.
All images by Richard Renadli
Richard Renaldi has had quite a career. His first book Figure and Ground
was published by the Aperture Foundation and since then he has been included in shows at the ICP and the Yossi Milo gallery. Naturally an extrovert and fascinated by people– “I’m the youngest of five from an Italian-American family,” he tells PLANET– Renaldi has documented a vast and colorful array of subjects from sexual minorities to civilians from small suburban towns such as Fall River, Massachusetts.
Renaldi’s work is consistently from a poignant and respectful perspective and is often humanistically humorous. Bus Travelers
likewise embodies these trademark characteristics that is prominent in Renaldi’s work. These attributes are not only results of Renaldi’s character but also due to his choice of medium. Working with a large-format 8 x 10 camera, also Richard Avedon’s choice of medium for creating In The American West
, the slow and meticulous process of photographing the subjects require the cooperation and patience of both the photographer and subject.
Loretta Lux Portrait of Antonia, 2007 © Loretta Lux, Courtesy of the Artist and Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
Despite a cold and rainy night, the Yossi Milo Gallery was barely navigable at the opening for First Look
, the inaugural show in the gallery’s new space. A group exhibition of photographers whose first solo shows in New York were presented at Yossi Milo, First Look
brings together disparate images in a way that highlights their similarities and elucidates their shared truths.
Welcoming visitors to the gallery are two photographs by Pieter Hugo; in one a slum-dwelling Ghanaian girl clad in all white looks out from atop a gigantic mound of smoldering electronic waste, a bowl balanced on her head for the collection of valuable debris. Hanging opposite are three portraits of pink-lipped, primly dressed children taken by Loretta Lux. They are so wan their blue blood is almost visible beneath their skin, while their empty eyes render the images eerie, rather than the portraits of young idyll they may seem at first. This juxtaposition of Hugo’s and Lux’s images tempts the viewer to imagine that the girl on the garbage mound and the children in the portraits could look outside their frames to see each other across the room, and find some solace in their very different, yet equally terrifying worlds.
All photographs by Lee Jeffries
Lee Jeffries’ portraits of the homeless are neither documentary photography nor the kind of detached, quick-fire street photography practiced by artists like Weegee. Each photo begins as a conversation, in which Jeffries approaches a person living on the street and simply attempts to get to know him a little better. It’s an everyday gesture, but one that most people would never make—and one that informs the resulting portrait tremendously. Jeffries’ photos, with their lyrical surfaces and intimate framing, make for one of the medium’s most empathetic and affecting tributes to a group of people who remain either de-humanized or flat out invisible in the public discourse.
Jeffries began the project in 2008, back when he still counted himself an amateur photographer, and since then has only expanded its reach. In addition to his native England, he’s shot the homeless populations of Rome, Paris, New York, Las Vegas, and, several times, Los Angeles. His first book of the portraits, Just Talkin’, is a non-profit publication that donates all its proceeds to charity. We spoke to Jeffries as he finishes his latest collection, a series on the homeless people of Miami.