Letter from Editor
ZEKE: Vol. 2/No. 2, Fall 2016
Dear ZEKE readers:
Welcome to the fourth issue of ZEKE magazine! After publishing four issues of a print magazine, we are now ready for something new and innovative with the documentary image.
From September 22–25 at Photoville in Brooklyn, NY, we presented a totally new concept in documentary—LiveZEKE. Building on the foundation of a feature article in the spring 2016 issue of ZEKE, “The Forgotten Caucasus,” we did something that has never been done before. We brought the subjects of a documentary into live video conversation with the viewers of the exhibition. Why? Why not? The technology already exists. We didn’t need to invent a new app or device. Rather we invented a new concept whose time is ripe. Throughout 175 years of photographic history, the subjects of photographs were not in direct conversations with the viewers—until last month at Photoville. There is a lot of discussion about documentary photography empowering marginalized communities and giving voice to the voiceless. Now we are doing exactly that with LiveZEKE.
LiveZEKE is not meant to cut out the photographer. On the contrary, it is essential that the photographer and their work are part of this concept; not only to give it a creative and conceptual framework, but also because no one is more motivated to bring their subjects into the gallery, and no one has greater respect for their subjects than the photographers themselves. And it is that sensitivity that is essential for LiveZEKE to succeed. Please visit this link for photos and videos from LiveZEKE at Photoville. www.zekemagazine.com/livezeke
It is always an honor to present the feature articles in each issue of ZEKE because I am in awe of the power of these images and the stories they tell. Isadora Kosofsky’s essay, Vinny & David: Life & Incarceration of a Family, was the winner of our last Call for Entries. Kosofsky has been exploring the deleterious effects of mass incarceration on family members, and in this article she intimately follows a family in New Mexico, focusing on two of the children, Vinny and David, and the family that keeps them together. The other two features—Cuba and the Rohingya—come from work submitted to the SDN website, as do all features in ZEKE. We chose these features because of the merit of the work and because these themes are relevant to our times and to our readers. The Cuba feature is unique because this is the first article where we have presented only one image per photographer. I hope you appreciate these images and stories as much as I have.
Cuba: Photo Gallery
Most ZEKE articles feature 2-3 photographers, allowing us to show at least two images from each. But there is probably no other subject on SDN that has brought in more quality exhibits than Cuba and we have felt compelled to offer breadth here rather than depth.
Why has Cuba been such a popular subject? It is certainly not because it is easy for norteamericanos to travel there—the embargo makes sure of that. It is beautiful, as these photographs attest. But so is Panama, Costa Rica, and many other places in the Caribbean and Central America that have not produced a fraction of the submissions to SDN as Cuba. I have not been there myself, but I am fascinated by the patina of an aging infrastructure that is the backdrop to everything. But perhaps more than anything, it is the Cuban people who have held on against the relentless pressure of their northern neighbor, and have done so with dignity and grace.
Yes, Cuba has its problems. I am not an apologist for the Castro regime, but somehow this tiny island nation has produced a highly literate population that is vibrant, productive, and both physically and emotionally healthy. The infant mortality rate in Cuba is lower than the United States and is among the lowest in the world. Cuba ranks #10 in world literacy (the U.S. is 45) and has avoided the dire poverty, drug abuse, gangs, and violence that many of its Caribbean neighbors are plagued with. All this is a ripe backdrop for a documentary photographer to focus their attention on.
Walker Evans has given us some of the most memorable images of Cuba prior to the revolution in 1959. The revolution itself spurred iconic images of Castro by Raymond Burri and others. And in the intervening 75 years, many photographers have produced extraordinary work including Alex Webb and Ernesto Bazan among the most well-known.
I am thrilled to present here the work of six SDN photographers, each who have documented Cuba in their own unique vision. I only regret that we are unable to show more work of each and I encourage you to visit their full galleries on SDN to see the extent of their extraordinary work.
Open a typical travel guide to Cuba, and you’ll see pictures of grandiose squares, crumbling facades, street dogs sleeping in dusty doorways and alleys draped with dangling electrical wires. Cuba is a country frozen in time, or at least that’s what the guidebooks say. It’s a country where, according to legend, progress stopped in the 1950s, where vintage cars bump along cobblestone streets in Havana and pristine beaches stretch along the coasts.
But since the curtain began to lift between the United States and Cuba after the countries announced a renewed relationship in 2014, that romantic imagery has begun to fade. Guidebooks once described how to sneak into Cuba through Canada and how to skirt fines associated with violating the 1963 Trading with the Enemy Act that barred Americans from spending money there, now they point out shopping malls and souvenir shops. Tourists can catch a Rolling Stones concert, stay in a Starwood hotel, fly direct from Chicago or float down on Carnival Cruises. There’s no denying it: Cuba has changed.
Some say these changes are for the better. In his speech announcing that the U.S. would restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, President Obama argued that increased engagement with Americans through commerce, travel and free flow of information would improve the lives of the Cuban people.
“Today, the United States wants to be a partner in making the lives of ordinary Cubans a little bit easier, more free, more prosperous,” Obama said in his December 17, 2014 speech.
But many fear that a sudden rush of American tourists has put a strain on the country and its tiny tourist industry. Christopher P. Baker, a travel writer and Cuba travel expert, believes that Cuba as America imagines it is already beginning to fade.
“The past two years has witnessed a massive surge in foreign visitors to Cuba. First, U.S. travelers traveling primarily on people-to-people group tours,” Baker said. “But also Europeans—especially young adults—flocking to Cuba as never before to experience it ‘before the Americans ruin it.’”
Baker and others who have a long history of traveling to Cuba before the restrictions were lifted worry that tourist towns and historical sites won’t be able to withstand the sudden influx.
“Certain core destinations, such as Trinidad and Vinales, are already beyond the tipping point of sustainability due to the throng of new visitors. In these places, the ‘innocent’ Cuba of fame is already fading into myth,” Baker said.
To understand America’s romanticization of “innocent” Cuba, it’s important to understand the nation’s long and tangled history with the U.S. Cuba became a Spanish colony after Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492, and continued as one until the end of the Spanish-American War. In 1898, a defeated Spain signed the rights to its territories, including Guam, Puerto Rico and Cuba, over to the U.S. But by 1902, Cuba gained independence, with the understanding that the U.S. could intervene when it deemed necessary and that it be granted a perpetual lease on its Guantánamo Bay naval base.
Following independence, Cuba flourished with new economic development and investment from the U.S. But the country suffered from political corruption and a succession of tyrannical leaders until January 1959, when Fidel Castro overthrew President Fulgencio Batista. The U.S. initially recognized Castro’s new regime, but his communist leanings, nationalization of private land and companies, and heavy taxation of American goods led the Eisenhower Administration to levy trade restrictions on the country. From there, tensions escalated; Cuba warmed its relationship with the Soviet Union and the U.S. cut all diplomatic ties, with President Kennedy making the embargo permanent in 1962.
Cuba suffered. While its economy stalled from the sudden removal of American-made products upon which it relied, the U.S. launched a series of poorly executed missions aimed at toppling the government, from the disastrous Bay of Pigs to several attempts on Castro’s life. In 1962, tensions peaked during the Cuban Missile Crisis when U.S. spy planes discovered Soviet missiles being built on Cuban soil.
For the next 20 years, relations simmered and Cubans fled in droves to seek asylum in America. When the Soviet Union crumbled in the 1990s, the Cuban economy began to nosedive, subjecting citizens to frequent food shortages and power outages. But by the time Obama took office in 2008, America’s stance on Cuba had become rapidly outdated and unpopular both at home and abroad. The embargo had failed to change Cuba’s political system and caused needless hardship for the Cuban people. In response, Obama slowly shifted the policy on Cuba: his administration made it easier for Cuban Americans to travel and send remittances, and he spent months secretly negotiating to open relations. Finally, in December 2014, Obama announced that the two countries would restore full diplomatic relations. And in March of this year, he became the first American president since 1928, when Calvin Coolidge was in office, to visit Cuba.
The benefit of this increased engagement between the two countries is clear-—American travel to Cuba has increased 54 percent since 2014, American companies are widening their reach into Cuba, and the Cuban government has taken steps to expand internet access for its people. A new middle class of Cubans is emerging, with more ready cash than ever, spurring spending on private enterprise and consumer goods. But what isn’t clear is the long-term effect this will have on Cuban society.
According to Baker, the influx of money and American influence will undoubtedly chip away at the traditional Cuban way of life: “much of this money is being invested in businesses, but much is now being spent on conspicuous consumption items—a first for Cuba—such as iPhones and flashy watches. Values are shifting towards a monetized consumerist way of thinking that is inevitably weakening Cuba’s exemplary community and family-focused system.”
Where is the Revolution Headed?
Others worry that the changes will undo the gains of the revolution by restoring inequality and classes of “haves” and “have-nots.” But according to a report from the Pew Research Center, the Cuban government remains the source of more than 75 percent of the country’s economic activity. The communist party still rules, headed by General Raul Castro, and according to Pew, 49 percent of Americans believe that exposure to U.S. tourists and culture will do little to promote democracy in Cuba. So while Cubans now have better access to American consumer goods, pop culture and celebrity tourists, it is still a communist nation that prioritizes common effort above individual enterprise.
Has Cuba fundamentally changed? It’s far too early to tell. But we know that American attitudes towards Cuba fundamentally have: a Gallup poll from February of this year showed that for the first time, a majority of Americans have a favorable view of Cuba. Seventy-three percent of U.S. citizens approve of the thaw in relations, according to Pew. Americans are learning more about Cuba than ever before, by experiencing it first-hand as tourists or by reading about it from the flood of journalists who have entered the country since the restrictions ended.
As Obama said in his December 2014 speech, this new outlook on Cuba will benefit both countries by promoting a better understanding of the values and beliefs on both sides. “I believe that we can do more to support the Cuban people, and promote our values, through engagement. After all, these fifty years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.”
For two young boys living in New Mexico, America’s criminal justice system is about more than statistics and trends--it’s a harrowing tale of love, loss and sorrow.
Vinny and David’s story, illuminated in Los Angeles-based documentary photographer Isadora Kosofsky’s intimate portraits, begins when 13-year-old Vinny is sent to juvenile detention after stabbing his mother’s attacker. Before he’s released, his beloved 19-year-old brother David is also imprisoned for aggravated assault. Kosofsky’s photographs document Vinny and David’s lives through several years as they struggle to find stability amidst a tumultuous criminal history and troublesome home life.
The photos shed light on the realities of America’s criminal justice system, and how it affects the vulnerable population of children left behind when a loved one goes to prison. Vinny and David humanize the challenges that families and communities affected by incarceration face—the stigma, poverty, instability and inequality. Kosofsky captures, in heart-wrenching detail, the melancholy world of these two boys as they struggle to raise themselves and search for a loving and supportive family structure in each other.
We live in an era of mass incarceration in America. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 2.2 million individuals are currently in jail or prison. That amounts to 1 in 110 adults. Even more individuals—4.5 million—are currently on parole or probation.
The “war on drugs,” started in 1971 by U.S. President Richard Nixon, has had a profound effect on the American population, and disproportionately its minority population. Policies aimed at eradicating the illegal drug trade have placed millions of nonviolent offenders in prison serving often unjust and harsh sentences. But today, many are calling for reforms. According to a 2011 report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, “the global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.” Now, advocates are promoting reforms that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences and focus on rehabilitation and treatment rather than incarceration. Politicians are taking up the cause--this year, the federal government announced it would phase out the use of private prisons that offer questionable benefit to public safety.
But while politicians and advocates confront the complexities of mass incarceration, often overlooked is its effect on those who remain on the outside--those left waiting at home for their father, mother, husband, son or daughter to come home.
Incarceration can be a vicious cycle, one that affects low-income communities more than others, and one that can spread like a virus within a single family or community. The problem touches men more than women, and has ballooned in recent years. In the two decades between 1980 and 2000, the number of children with a father in prison rose by 500 percent, according to the report, A Shared Sentence, from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Scot Spencer, associate director of advocacy and influence at the Annie E. Casey Foundation who has worked in Baltimore and similar cities to break the incarceration cycle, believes that children like Vinny and David are placed at a significant disadvantage when a parent or guardian is incarcerated. “Almost two-thirds left behind have a difficult time meeting their basic needs…often this means that family policy decisions have to be made, like do they pay rent and forgo buying necessary medicine? Do they not buy food in order to pay utilities?”
In state and federal prisons, 45 percent of men age 24 or younger are fathers and more than half of incarcerated women in the same age group are mothers. This places a significant financial burden on families left behind, and is perhaps the largest barrier children with a parent in prison face to leading happy and successful lives. It is even more difficult for children whose incarcerated parent is the family’s breadwinner. According to A Shared Sentence, the result perpetuates poverty “from one generation to the next.” When families can’t provide basic needs like food and healthcare, children are less likely to succeed in school and grow into productive adults. They are more likely to experience housing instability, and are often sent to live with relatives or forced to relocate to more affordable homes. And this uncertainty in a child’s formative years, when they need it most, often results in longer-term insecurity.
Spencer expresses specific concern for the education of these children: “the instability in the household and in school can be really difficult--just imagine being a child and having to move from one school to another in the middle of the school year and how disruptive that might be.”
The emotional toll on children whose families are broken apart by prison sentences is also profound. According to the Sentencing Project, 59 percent of parents in state prisons and 45 percent in federal prisons have not had a personal visit with their children while incarcerated. For a child, that can be devastating. Even if a child is living in a stable environment throughout the time his or her family member is incarcerated, the stigma associated with it can have a lasting impact on their success in school and access to opportunity. Children typically fear discussing their anxieties about their incarcerated loved one, and counselors and teachers are often ill-prepared to help, according to Spencer.
Many of the solutions that advocates and concerned politicians suggest would allow children to maintain a connection with their loved ones on the inside while also receiving the support they need on the outside. Groups like the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Sentencing Project suggest that prisons need to better facilitate family visitation to allow children to see an incarcerated family member more regularly and in a less intimidating environment. Schools need to learn basic skills like how to help children affected by incarceration understand the feelings of loss, anger and anxiety they often experience. And the government could provide legal and financial advice, and other counseling services, to families while a loved one is in prison. Spencer believes, ultimately, that America has reached a critical point in its almost 50-year history of mass incarcerations brought about by the “war on drugs.” He therefore calls for a more intense focus on the broader impact of mass drug incarcerations on America’s vulnerable populations. “We need to learn lessons from what hasn’t worked and use other good examples from around the country to garner greater support for communities and families,” Spencer said. “That’s what’s really important.”
In his photo essay “The Stateless Rohingya” Belgian photographer David Verberckt, who is currently based in Hungary, captures the dire everyday life of the Muslim ethnic minority, the Rohingya, in Myanmar, Bangladesh and India. He portrays them as human beings deprived of the social, civil and human rights that are so often taken for granted, thereby giving them a face. In doing so, Verberckt increases awareness and brings to our attention the too often unnoticed humanitarian crisis of the Rohingya.
Rohingya women living under inhumane conditions inside IDP (internally displaced people) camps in Rakhine State, Western Myanmar (formerly Burma) provide the backdrop for Marta Tucci’s powerfully intimate images. Approximately 140,000 Rohingya are housed in these camps, hoping for the chance of a better life. In her photographic essay “Acts of Resilience” Tucci highlights the alarming living conditions these Rohingya women endure and the strength, dignity and resilience they demonstrate in the face of overwhelming despair.
Dhaka-based videographer and photographer Sheikh Rajibul Islam showcases, in his photo essay “Waiting to be Registered,” the life the Rohingya face daily in the Kutupalong camp on the border of Myanmar in Bangladesh. In a dark and brooding style, he captures the inhumane living conditions and the risks of seeking employment as undocumented migrants without work permits.
The freedom to live a self-determined life — something most people take for granted — is not available to the Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority in the predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. With severe restrictions on movement and limited access to basic services, social and legal discrimination is rampant. While there are 135 government-recognized national ethnic groups in Myanmar, the approximately one million Rohingya are neither recognized as an ethnic group nor as residents: they are stateless.
An ethnic Muslim minority with their own language and culture, the Rohingya are primarily living in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, one of the poorest in the country with a total population of approximately 3.2 million. Besides the Rohingya and the Rakhine, the state is also home to the ethnic minorities Chin, Kaman, Mro, Khami, Dainet and Maramagyi. The Myanmar government estimates 1,090,000 Rohingya live in Rakhine State, most of them in the townships of Buthiadaung and Maungdaw in the north. Historically, the Rohingya trace their origins in the region back to the fifteenth century, and thereby claim a longstanding connection to Rakhine State.
On the basis of their ethnic and religious identity however, the Rohingya have been subjected to long-standing social and legal discrimination. Exclusion by state officials, Rakhine politicians, Buddhist monks and Rakhine civil society activists is commonplace. Since the independence of Myanmar in 1948, successive governments have rejected the historical claims of the Rohingya and have not included them in the list of 135 recognized ethnic groups.
Despite the fact that the Rohingya have lived in the country for centuries, many living in Rakhine State consider them to be illegal immigrants with no social, cultural or religious ties to Myanmar. “Many Rakhine contest the Rohingya’s claims of distinct ethnic heritage and historic links to Rakhine State,” says Chris Lewa, Director of The Arakan Project, a human rights organization based in Thailand. Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law officially denied citizenship to the ethnic Muslim minority, rendering most Rohingya stateless.
The Plight of Being Stateless
Being stateless, the Rohingya are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. They have no official documents, no possibility of living in any country legally, and no access to proper medical care, education or employment. Through arbitrary deprivation of nationality, threats to life and security, sexual violence, forced labor, and severe restrictions on freedom of movement (including a ban on travelling without authorization), the state has rendered them ”persona non grata.” These non-citizens are not even permitted to marry without permission from the authorities who (theoretically) restrict the number of babies allowed per family to two and have not issued birth certificates to Rohingyans since 1994. The United Nations (UN) calls Myanmar’s Rohingya community one of the most excluded, vulnerable and persecuted minorities in the world.
Since 2012, incidents of religious intolerance and incitement to violence by extremists and ultra-nationalist Buddhist groups have increased across the country. This violence broke out between the two communities after a group of Rohingya men allegedly raped and murdered a Buddhist woman, resulting in the killing of hundreds and leaving approximately 140,000 displaced and living in makeshift camps.
The latest acts against the Rohingya’s human rights include their exclusion from a UN-backed national census in 2014 after Buddhist nationalists threatened to boycott the census. More recently in 2015, they were stripped of their voting rights in local and national elections. Additionally, there was the termination of the Rohingya’s identification cards -- the so called “white cards” that many Rohingya in Rakhine State carry but do not confirm citizenship. A citizenship verification process piloted in 2014 in Rakhine State’s Myebon township, where around 200 Muslims were granted citizenship on the basis that they registered as “Bengali,” was officially suspended following resistance from local Buddhist Rakhine. A new pilot exercise for citizenship verification was conducted in June 2016, but it lacked transparency in terms of process, its expected outcome, and trust-building.
Trying to escape the severe restrictions, discrimination, and human rights abuses perpetrated by the authorities, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh over the past decades. Others have sought refuge in various countries including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. Approximately 32,000 Rohingya live as registered refugees in official camps in Bangladesh with another 17,000 in nearby makeshift camps. An additional 200,000 denied official refugee status are living in cities in Bangladesh. But the hope of finding a better life in Bangladesh is remote at best. As in Myanmar, the Rohingya are stateless and treated as “illegal economic immigrants” without the protection of the law and legal status. They are restricted from regular sources of food, income, formal education, and reliable health care.
The Challenging Road Ahead
There is little doubt surrounding the vulnerability of the Rohingya or the necessity of a permanent resolution. It is incumbent upon authorities in Myanmar to not only address the policies of discrimination and hatred faced by the Rohingya and other minorities, but also to implement reforms against ethnic and religious discrimination. Re-integrating the Rohingya into the political, social, and economic life of the country is a critical step forward in Myanmar’s march towards democracy.
Myanmar cannot, from an ethnic point of view, be considered politically stable as the country has yet to manage not only the Rohingya tension, but also tensions between other minorities which make up 40 percent of the country’s population. Still, many pin their hopes on Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner known internationally for her fight for democracy. To this point however, addressing the Rohingya tension is not a top priority of the nation. Nevertheless, there are some initial steps being taken by the government, including the creation of a Ministry of Ethnic Affairs, the establishment of a central committee on the implementation of peace, stability and development of Rakhine State, and a national peace conference held in the autumn of 2016.
Of the hundreds of exhibits submitted to SDN each year, these four stand out as exemplary and deserving further attention.
Malin Fezehai is an Eritrean-Swedish photographer and filmmaker based in New York. She focuses on issues of migration and displacement. She is a 2015 World Press Photo recipient and regularly collaborates with TIME, New Yorker, New York Times Magazine and the Malala Fund, among others.
Caterina Clerici: How did you get into photography?
Malin Fezehai: I took photography in high school. I wasn’t great in school because I am dyslexic, and when I took this photo class I remember getting really good grades without making much of an effort, so I felt it was the first thing that I was good at. After that I became obsessed with it.
CC: How did you transition into the big themes you cover — displacement, movement of people, mostly forced migration? How did your own background and personal history influence that?
MF: I grew up with a mixed background. My mother is Swedish and my father is Eritrean and in my family we are five kids with four different fathers. I have a Swedish brother and a Moroccan brother, an Egyptian brother and one full brother. So I grew up with a lot of different cultures. Also, I grew up in the suburbs in an immigrant neighborhood in Stockholm. Never having attached to one cultural identity, as a photographer I gravitate toward displaced communities. The feeling of otherness is something I feel very connected to. We live in an age where people move around a lot — I do it because I choose to do it, but for a lot of people it’s not a choice. They are forced to because of circumstances. What I find interesting is the effect being displaced has on families and communities.
CC: One of your long terms projects was about African refugees in Israel. How did you find that story and what drew you to it?
MF: I am half-Eritrean, and a lot of the refugees in Israel are from Eritrea, and the second group is Sudanese. I’ve been watching the exodus of Eritreans escaping from Eritrea and I’ve been interested in Israel for a very long time, but for my first trip I wanted to cover something other than the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. I thought this story was a very interesting third rail in the debate about the complications of Israel’s desire to maintain its demographics. I wanted to see for myself what it was like seeking refugee status in country that was in large part founded by refugees, and at the same time, it’s a status they have only given out to a handful of people who are not Jewish.
CC: You mentioned the process of ‘othering’ and how you relate to being the odd one out. Do you think there is a need to rethink the way — even in photography — that the refugee is presented as ‘the other’?
MF: It’s really complicated because you have many different groups of people fleeing for different reasons. Syrians because of the war, then you have Eritreans because of government persecution, and many other groups that get lumped together and called “economic migrants.” I think it’s challenging for the media to depict this issue in a nuanced way, and in the long run I don’t think migration is really going to come to a halt. I think it’s going to increase, and how photography is used is really important because it becomes a bridge to understanding “the other.”
In regard to the division between refugees and economic migrants — today it’s as if it wasn’t enough to just want to make a better life for yourself, you have to be running from war to justify migrating. It’s disheartening because people just want the same things you want out of life, and whatever your opinions might be on migration, I would hope that we could agree that people shouldn’t be demonized for that.
CC: Have you ever thought of covering that end of the journey — from Europe, or maybe even from Sweden? Given your experience but also your background, you would definitely have more insight than many others on a story about resettlement and all the adjustments that requires.
MF: That’s been eating on me a lot, actually. I’ve been working a lot in refugee camps and then you go over to Europe and you just see the disconnect, people don’t understand the reality on the ground. I was in Lebanon right before the refugee crisis was considered a crisis in Europe, and I myself didn’t understand the full scope of the problem.
I have thought about covering the refugee crisis and there are some things I’m researching, but I’m still trying to figure out the angle that I want to focus on. I tend to choose stories that nobody is covering, and if I were to cover a story that’s in the news a lot, I would want to find a specific angle.
My mother right now is taking care of six Afghan boys that came to Sweden unaccompanied. So it’s something that is very present in my life because when I go to see my mother, there are refugees in my own home. It’s a reality we are going to have to deal with.
I was thinking about that when I was growing up too, because [in our neighborhood] we had refugees from Kurdistan, from Iran. You look at the news and then a few years pass and you start seeing people from these places showing up in your neighborhood and living where you live. So it’s in everybody’s interests to be concerned and informed with current events.
People are alarmed about the influx of refugees to Europe but they should think about the fact that, within Africa and the Middle East, you’re dealing with migration on a much larger scale. You can look at Ethiopia, Kenya, or Lebanon, countries that have been hosting millions of refugees. So it’s important to keep perspective because poorer countries have been dealing with a mass influx of refugees for years.
CC: Your Eritrean wedding photo was the first Instagram photo to win the World Press Photo. What was it about it that made it a special picture for you?
MF: For me, it’s just a really nice moment. Here you have these refugees and they’re celebrating a marriage. When people think about refugees they think about people living in a camp or who are destitute. They certainly have their issues, but they do their best to live their lives with dignity. They made themselves look very beautiful that day, and I also like the composition of them on the stairs. These people are displaced, but in that moment they’re trying to reclaim their dignity and live their lives and celebrate a marriage, like anybody in the world would want to do.
CC: What is your thought process for Instagram? How have you, over time, realized what works and what doesn’t and how do you integrate it with your own work?
MF: I never really put a whole story I’m working on up on Instagram, I mostly put snippets of my travels. Instagram is a home to pictures that otherwise wouldn’t have a home. Every day I upload pictures that nobody would want to publish, but they are still pictures I like. It’s interesting because with Instagram you become your own outlet and your own editor.
CC: You have a huge following. What does that do to your daily life? Do you respond to the comments, are you overwhelmed? Now you have a direct connection to the audience that you didn’t used to have.
MF: I try to not reflect too much upon it. Sometimes when people feel like they’re being seen, they start changing and becoming a little more self-conscious. I want to shy away from that, because I think sometimes people do their most authentic work when they’re not thinking too much about it.
Over the last few years, the world of photography seems to have been literally turned upside down: with unprecedented speed, the dynamics revolutionizing the field over the past decade have become trends that media companies must not discount — at least not the ones that wish to survive.
To borrow a cliché, vertical is the new horizontal, thanks to platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, whose mobile-only audience, especially the younger one, dictates the rules of the format. News websites as well as social media feeds are dominated by moving images, whether GIFS or videos on loop, or anything that can grab attention and page views. At the same time, a set of cardboard goggles to view virtual reality gets delivered directly to your doorstep, with your morning paper.
New technologies and habits have made photography an invaluable tool of documentary and journalism. And the more tangible the presence of photography around us, the more questions arise: where is the democratization of the medium leading, as far as both the creation and the consumption of the product? What audience and whose trust are photographers seeking? How do changes in labels — from photojournalism to visual journalism, and from multimedia to digital storytelling — reflect changes in practice?
The debate about the opportunities and challenges of technological change can be traced back to the first daguerreotype. In an effort to understand where the still image is moving to, we decided to open the conversation to three personalities behind the scenes of the photography world: Fred Ritchin, Dean of the School of the International Center of Photography; Kristen Lubben, a curator and the Executive Director of Magnum Foundation; and Lars Boering, the Managing Director of World Press Photo. All of these institutions have recently undergone a makeover, not only to keep up with the changing landscape of photography but to try and guide that change.
New Names, Same Practices
Since becoming Managing Director of World Press Photo (WPP) in November 2014, Lars Boering has had one mantra: act towards change, instead of reacting to it.
“Hardly anybody is arguing that multimedia will go away,” says Boering. “That’s the voodoo of photography. This will all pass. With photography, in the 175 years that it has existed, anyone who has tried to battle change has always lost.”
“World Press Photo originally started the multimedia contest because they couldn’t avoid it anymore, which is a terrible position to be in. You should be out there, you should be the first.”
That’s why Boering decided to set up an Instagram account for WPP as soon as he started with the institution just over 18 months ago. By regularly posting winning photos from the contest and having photographers do “takeovers,” WPP now has 284,000 followers. With that same mindset, he now is pushing to be the first to get rid of the ‘multimedia’ label for one of the sections of the contest, and turn it into digital storytelling.
“I don’t believe in analog anymore: the chemicals are gone, nobody is producing the film anymore, in five years it will be gone,” Boering explained in a Skype interview.
“Digital photography and digital storytelling match up very nicely — and digital involves photography, coding, data journalism, etc. This is also the reason why I stopped using the name photojournalism and changed it to visual journalism.”
A similar approach was adopted by the School of the International Center of Photography, where the one-year certificate in documentary photography and photojournalism has become a course in “documentary practice and visual journalism,” and added another one-year course of study in new media narratives to refer to a much larger sense of using imagery — from VR filmmaking to photographing with drones, not just “old school” still photography.
“We don’t want people to graduate and then find out the world is quite different from what they thought it was. We can’t just teach Eugene Smith at this point and expect it to be enough,” said Fred Ritchin, the Dean of the School.
“There is a new generation [of photographers], and things are changing fast for those who are willing to take on challenges,“ agreed Boering.
“Since everything moves at light-speed, there are no boundaries anymore: you can be a photographer today, a designer tomorrow, a writer in the afternoon, you can publish whatever you want. Everybody does it, and yet lots of photographers get stuck in being just a photographer. And they have a hard time cooperating.”
Innovation is at the heart of most of Magnum Foundation’s grants and initiatives, in particular “Photography Expanded” which started in 2013 with a series of fellowships, panel discussions, and workshops. Co-produced with Columbia’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation, the annual symposium is taking place for the fourth time this year as Magnum Photos celebrates its 70th anniversary.
Aiming to connect documentary photographers with technologies, practices, and ideas that extend far beyond still photography, “Photography Expanded” also tries to create a network, highlighting another skill photographers must have to be able to thrive nowadays: the willingness and ability to collaborate.
“Photographers are out in the field and they are deeply in connection with the community they are working with but don’t always have opportunities to talk to one another about their practices,” said Kristen Lubben, who joined the Foundation as its first full-time Executive Director in December 2015 after being a curator at the ICP since 1997.
“So that’s another thing these new tools can potentially be used for: to foster a sense of community and a network.”
According to Lubben, since photographers can’t be masters of every emerging digital tool, it’s necessary for them to collaborate with one another. Not necessarily to learn new technologies and new ways of working, but instead to connect with people who have the skills they lack in order to work on a particular project, and think collaboratively about it, whether the other is a filmmaker, a technologist, an activist, an advocate, or a writer.
Rather than photography becoming obsolete altogether, Boering argues that the big threat to photographers is to be considered image makers and thereby completely left out of the creative process. “All I see is that visuals and images are becoming more important than ever. It’s the biggest thing of our generation. So how come we’re not be able to connect photographers or image makers to their success?”
For Boering, many photographers look for answers in old places and old systems and get stuck. Hence they are frustrated and don’t think a future for photography exists. But the people who don’t get stuck succeed, Boering argues. Not only do they not get stuck, they also manage to do very important work. For Ritchin, in a similar way, it’s not the platform that dictates the work, but the creativity and ultimately the message.
“People in the old days asked what kind of camera do you use. Now it’s what platform, and how effective is it in terms of getting a readership, a viewership,” said Ritchin. “To me, the point is not the technology, it’s the creativity. You can choose between oil or acrylic, whatever works. The big issue is: are people delivering a vision the way they want to? Are they trying to have an impact in the world in the way they want?”
Ritchin cited Matt Black’s Geography of Poverty as an example of a social documentary project using Instagram effectively. Social media is the first tool that comes to mind to expand and engage a photographer’s audience, as well as increasing his or her visibility — hence the chances of making it a sustainable profession.
“I think we are way beyond the conversation of the old school versus new school,” Ritchin continued. “We just assume that there is a hybrid of options and people can just choose. But whether you do virtual reality or 35mm photography, there still are ethical questions, philosophical questions, the issue of fact versus fiction and so on, that are across platforms and we still have to deal with.”
New Platforms, Old Questions
At the last “Photography Expanded” conference in October 2015, a number of virtual reality projects were shown and Lubben recalled that it was “very experimental for a photography conference,” and probably seemed pointless for most photographers to be even thinking about VR. However, the next day, The New York Times sent its subscribers Google Cardboard VR goggles packaged with their Sunday paper.
“To me it was a real signal: this is now something that we are talking about, and it just forces us to consider what the implications are,” she continued.
Among other VR documentaries screened at the conference last year, Lubben recalled seeing Collisions, a Sundance-selected VR film about nuclear testing in the Australian outback in the 1950s.
“It attempts to use VR to describe somebody else’s view of the world. It’s a way of trying to visualize how these aboriginal elders described their experience. For me, that was very powerful as a storytelling technique.”
VR has been the most talked-about step forward in the field of visual storytelling this year, but Lubben rightly points out that it comes with a price — in terms of production costs, but also in terms of reach, as the audience that will be able to see it is very limited.
“It’s good for photographers to know what the possibilities are, but also to be really rigorous and thoughtful about why do a project in a particular way. If you are making a choice to do a very expensive, very laborious multimedia project, is there really a reason to do it that way? Is it going to amplify the story, are you going to reach an audience you wouldn’t otherwise reach?”
Sometimes the most powerful tool is still the simplest, and that’s where the debate comes full circle. As an extremely successful example of a very straight-forward documentary photography project, Lubben mentioned the work of ICP graduate and Magnum Foundation grantee Evgenia Arbugaeva, whose images from the Arctic were published in the New Yorker and other publications. Arbugaeva, who is from the Arctic, just photographed her home and her people.
“Everyone was blown away because the photographs are so surprising and they make us aware of a way of life and a place that most of us didn’t know about, which is one of the most old-fashioned and conventional uses of photography,” said Lubben.
According to her, it’s extremely important to have people photograph places they know, to photograph from within those communities, rather than continuing to see photographers coming in from somewhere else with a limited understanding of that place.
Another example Lubben picked was Eric Gyamfi, who is working in Ghana, photographing the LGBT community there: he is doing conventional photographs but wants to show them in public places, in communities, with the goal of displaying how the gay community looks just like your friends and neighbors. Or Zanele Muholi, who does portraiture of the lesbian community in South Africa and whose work has received significant attention and is also extremely important, Lubben pointed out.
“When it comes to oppressed minorities, there is an incredible power in just being pictured, showing your image, claiming your image. It’s a way of standing up and being counted.”
“The way she does these portraits is just extraordinary, she honors their dignity,” continued Lubben, “she is cataloging the community and celebrating it. And the way that she has chosen to do it, through still photography, is much more powerful than if she had been doing some technologically complex version of the project.”
Making The Still Image Move Forward — The Four Corners Idea
The first time Fred Ritchin talked about the “four corners” was during his keynote speech at World Press Photo in Amsterdam in 2004. His idea was simple: digital is not the same as paper, so it should not be treated the same way. There are layers in digital that do not exist on paper, so they should be utilized.
The suggestion was to template a photograph, so that each of the four corners would have specific information, and the reader would know that right corner, left corner, top, and bottom, contained different kinds of information.
“People were cheering and thought it was extraordinary. And then nothing happened,” he recalled.”
Over the last 12 years, Ritchin gave the lecture on the four corners idea all over the world, provoking approval and excitement but little concrete action. Last October though, he showed it again during a talk at Columbia University and Boering, who was in the audience, said ”let’s do it.”
“There is a lot of skepticism about photography. Is it credible? Who did it? What is it really about? And so on,” said Ritchin. “In the digital world, the four corners allow you to contextualize the image, to author the image and to engage the audience, all in very important ways.”
The information contained in digital photographs would be divided in the following way: the bottom right corner contains the caption, the credit, the copyright and the code of ethics, which one can choose from a list or write a new one. That allows the viewer/reader to know right away what to expect.
“The photographer for example says ‘I never move elements or change anything in my photographs.’ Or, ‘I’m a fashion photographer and I never use models that are too thin.’ Or, ‘I’m a wildlife photographer and I never photograph in the zoo and pretend that it’s in the wild,’” explained Ritchin.
The bottom left corner is the back story corner, which contains the context surrounding what happened, given by the photographer, the witness, or the subject, with video, audio or text.
The upper left corner is the image context, which is video or a photograph, maybe the one before or after, or the person portrayed in another situation, an historical image, etc.
“The one I used was the Eddie Adams photo of the Viet Cong execution, and I chose for the image context the picture right before the [execution] and the photograph right after,” said Ritchin. “I also added a video of a film cameraman talking more broadly about the event. And I must say once you see that, it’s a very different experience than just seeing the iconic emblematic image, because you have much more history to it.”
The upper right corner contains links to other articles, Wikipedia, the photographer’s website, or other photos and videos taken on the same subject, and anything else the author wants to link to the work.
“I have been asked many times what is the difference between a professional and an amateur, ... The four corners allow the professional to give all kinds of context,” continued Ritchin.
“So when somebody says so and so event didn’t happen, you just look at the corners and you look at the context and there’s a certain autonomy and independence of seeing and interpretation.”
The four corners would travel with the image on all the websites publishing it, so even with a caption written differently according to the point of view of the media company, the information would remain accurate and consistent. This would help photographers to become more of the author of the image, similar to filmmakers in the ways in which they provide more context.
Ritchin’s hope is that it will be used by conventional and alternative publications, independent photographers, agencies, staff photographers and NGOs alike. World Press Photo is probably going to require it for at least one category of the awards next year, viewing it as almost like a bridge between a conventional photograph and a multimedia piece.
“There is a growing skepticism about media in general and its credibility all across the board, not just photography. We have a very odd electoral year, in terms of national elections, with people making up things, left and right. What’s a fact, not a fact, and does that even matter?,” said Ritchin.
“That’s the question. With the four corners, you can provide context so the image has more weight or, according to your stated code of ethics, you can stray into fiction and fantasy. What is important is that the reader is informed.”
ZEKE presents these four honorable mention winners from SDN’s Call for Entries on The Fine Art of Documentary. The jurors selected Isadora Kosofsky as first place winner and the four honorable mentions presented here.
AFGHANISTAN BETWEEN HOPE AND FEAR
University of Texas Press, 2016
Once in a while a book comes along that is so beautiful to look at and so painful to contemplate that the mind gets entangled somewhere between the art of seeing and the subject matter being seen. In Paula Bronstein’s devastating Afghanistan Between Hope and Fear, what is seen is not all about beauty. It is often as shameful, criminal, and repellent as it is mesmerizing.
Afghanistan, with its open deserts and looming mountains, is stunning. The population, comprising approximately 14 ethnic groups, would offer a dream casting call for any Hollywood movie. Afghanistan’s recent history, beginning with the Russian invasion of 1978 and continuing through the Taliban regime, the US invasion in 2001, and into an unclear future, presents an endless unraveling of despicable events. Both Kim Barker’s Foreword to the book and the Introduction, “Afghan Women,” by Christina Lamb provide some much needed context for Bronstein’s heart-piercing photographs.
Kim Barker describes the pictures as “arresting,” “inspiring,” “contradictory,” “compelling,” and “complicated.” Barker also says that photographs “are almost the only way to prove the reality of life” in Afghanistan. Rather than “reality,” Bronstein’s pictures seem more like a fine art re-enactment of the aftermath of World War III. That is not a criticism. Bronstein’s visual effort is the most successful illumination of Afghanistan’s ongoing circumstances yet published. To quote her question from the book’s Afterword, “If conflict is all you ever experience, can happiness ever be defined without it?” Under such circumstances, one could also ask, can beauty ever be defined without it?
OUT OF TIBET
Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2016
Is it possible that Tibetan culture is China’s accidental gift to the world? Would Tibetans have willingly left their high mountain sanctuary had they not suffered the atrocities inflicted by their Chinese colonizers? The world has benefitted from the presence of the Dalai Lama, and most of us who have spent time with any of the more than one hundred thousand Tibetan refugees will attest to their inspiring qualities. Perhaps we, as a global community, owe it to the Tibetans in exile to learn from their stories.
Albertina d’Urso has spent the last 10 years documenting the stories of Tibetans in exile. To gain maximum benefit from her pictures, the reader should bring the same attention to detail that the author brought to the original moment. D’Urso fills her frames with telling elements that give texture to these lives lived with integrity.
In contrast to her overall photojournalistic approach, Out of Tibet opens with five contemplative landscapes of the Himalayas and the high plateau. The images celebrate Tibet’s vast spaciousness of mountains and sky. D’Urso closes this series with a graphically jagged hilltop view of mani stones. These sacred, carved texts are an apt invocation for the pictures that follow. Out of Tibet has a big story to tell. D’Urso switches between quiet landscapes and energetic camera work to illuminate the refugee’s plight in eleven very different countries.
Quotes from exiles about China’s ruthlessness and their current circumstances are interspersed throughout the book. At times d’Urso’s camera focuses on the refugee’s pain as her pictures tell the larger story of Tibetan tenacity. The strongest pictures show refugees practicing their Buddhism, such as the sand mandala at Kalachakra, and enjoying the culture of their host countries, as in playing basketball or simply participating in life on the streets of their adopted cities.
The last picture in the main body of the book is of a Tibetan reflected in his motorbike’s rearview mirror driving down a busy city street. He is not looking back. Tibetan exiles have always dreamt of returning to a free Tibet. However, there are now three generations of Tibetans born in exile. Out of Tibet closes with two more Himalayan landscapes. This time they appear darker, more distant and fuzzy. The implication is of a fading dream.
By Fabio Bucciarelli
Fabio Bucciarelli’s The Dream delivers its readers disoriented into the middle of the nightmarish reality faced by refugees fleeing persecution and violence around the world. Marked by both the darkness of the unknown and the light of hope, Bucciarelli’s black and white photographs illuminate the full spectrum of the refugee experience. He successfully documents, and thus compels his readers to feel, what it is to be a human being in limbo – the terror, agony, desire, anxiety, exhaustion, uncertainty, and above all, the hope that remains when nothing else does.
The Dream begins by plunging us into pitch-blackness. A series of blurry, layered images reluctantly transition from night to day; our eyes adjust and we recognize the familiar backdrops which frame many images of the so-called refugee crisis: the ocean, UNHCR tent villages, health inspectors in hazmat suits, and endless queues of weary bodies facing indefinite wait times. However, The Dream’s triumph is that it rejects traditional, essentialist representations of refugees and vividly illuminates the humanity of its subjects. Bucciarelli depicts the individuals he met over the course of his five-year long project in ways which honor their humanity and strength, as well as their dream “to be free of war, to recover their dignity and to build meaningful lives again.”
The Dream is a human story. It is concerned not with the aesthetics of arresting or sensational imagery, but rather with the beauty and value of each individual human life and dream. Bucciarelli befriended many of the people in his photographs, and the intimacy between the photographer and his subjects manifests throughout the book. The most important moments in The Dream are perhaps the most easily overlooked — they are the precious moments, the unguarded moments, the unapologetically human moments that can only be found and photographed by those who care to look for and truly see them.
Fabio Bucciarelli’s book, The Dream, is a collection of distilled snapshots of human interaction, characterized by the subtlety and intimacy that only genuine empathy can fully extract. Ultimately, Bucciarelli does not shy away from the sobering reality of the refugees’ harrowing situation, nor does he overlook the universal force driving their perilous journey: the dream of a better life.
A WHOLE WORLD BLIND
By Nish Nalbandian
Daylight Books, 2016
The best photojournalism also serves to remind audiences that events occurring in distant lands are not happening to some strange and unknowable species. They are happening to people who could be our own sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters.
—Greg Campbell from Epilogue
In the introduction to A Whole World Blind, photographer Nish Nalbandian states, “My vision was to make portraits of the people affected by and living with [the Syrian] conflict on a daily basis.” During the two months Nish spent photographing in northwestern Syria in early 2014, he succeeded in doing just that. Nish is not a conflict reporter in a classic sense. While he does photograph some fighting, he chooses to focus his camera on the life of Syrians going on around the war. It is this space of normalcy surrounded by chaos and violence that makes A Whole World Blind so interesting. A quick reading would lead one to think that Nish stood back and didn’t photograph the daily brutality of war. But a closer reading is that Nish wants us to know that in war, “these are just people who wanted more freedom, freedom to have political discourse or dissent, and ended up having to fight for it.” And fight for it they did, which brought the full wrath of Assad’s forces, ISIS, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, and others against them.
The other issue about which Nish, like so many other humanist photographers, feels so deeply and is driven to document in his work is that the fighters and civilian victims in war are just like us. Before we saw these individuals in TIME magazine wounded and bloodied and desperate, they went to work, to school, they drank coffee, played sports, and watched TV. The fighters just wanted a prosperous and safe life for their families.
In one of the many poignant photos, a street vendor in Idlib Province is grilling meat at an outdoor stand, while two women (one holding a child) walk by as if the war was the furthest thing from their thoughts. The smoke from the outdoor grill ominously echoes the smoke of shelling seen elsewhere in the book, but in this case it is to nourish with the scent and taste of something else. There is also the photograph of a school teacher with a class of eager students, now back in their classroom following earlier shelling, and returning to the task of learning English. Yes, there is war, but it will not stop people from doing what people do.
Is A Whole World Blind an anti-war statement? In the book’s epilogue, Greg Campbell states, “when we see ourselves reflected in the eyes of those who have suffered unimaginably throughout the years of warfare, it becomes immeasurably harder to close our own eyes, and our hearts, to their plight.” That this book can inspire us to demand that our elected leaders forge a meaningful end to this war, then yes, it is clearly a powerful anti-war statement.
ZEKE is published by Social Documentary Network (SDN), an organization promoting visual storytelling about global themes. Started as a website in 2008, today SDN works with more than 1,500 photographers from around around the world to tell important stories through the visual medium of photography and multimedia. Since 2008, SDN has featured more than 2,000 exhibits on its website and has had gallery exhibitions in major cities around the world. All the work featured in ZEKE first appeared on the SDN website, www.socialdocumentary.net.
Fall 2016 Vol. 2/No. 2
Executive Editor: Glenn Ruga
Editor: Barbara Ayotte
Copy Editor: John Rak
Intern: Kelly Kollias
Social Documentary Network Advisory Committee
Barbara Ayotte, Medford, MA
Senior Director of Strategic Communications
Management Sciences for Health
Kristen Bernard, Salem, MA
Marketing Web Director
EBSCO Information Services
Lori Grinker, New York, NY
Independent Photographer and Educator
Steve Horn, Lopez Island, WA
Ed Kashi, Montclair, NJ
Member of VII photo agency
Photographer, Filmmaker, Educator
Reza, Paris, France
Photographer and Humanist
Jeffrey D. Smith, New York NY
Contact Press Images
Steve Walker, New York, NY
Consultant and educator
Frank Ward, Williamsburg, MA
Photographer and Educator
Jamie Wellford, Brooklyn, NY
Photo Editor, Curator
ZEKE is published twice a year by Social Documentary Network
Copyright © 2016
Social Documentary Network
Print ISSN 2381-1390
Digital ISSN: Forthcoming
ZEKE does not accept unsolicited submissions. To be considered for publication in ZEKE, submit your work to the SDN website either as a standard exhibit or a submission to a Call for Entries. Contributing photographers can choose to pay a fee for their work to be exhibited on SDN for a year or they can choose a free trial. Free trials have the same opportunity to be published in ZEKE as paid exhibits.
Cover photo by David Verberckt. From The Stateless Rohingya. Children playing in makeshift refugee camp for Rohingya from Myanmar. Shamplapur, Bangladesh, June 2015.
Photographers and writers featured in this issue of ZEKE Magazine.
Susan S. Bank
Susan S. Bank lives in Philadelphia, PA and Portsmouth, NH. Largely a self-taught photographer, she studied through Maine Media Workshops with masters Mary Ellen Mark and Graciela Iturbide in Oaxaca, 1997-98, David Alan Harvey, Havana, 1999 and with Constantine Manos, Havana 2000.
Bank’s self-published first monograph Cuba: Campo Adentro, an intimate portrait of daily life of Cuban tobacco farmers and their families, was selected as “One of the Best Photography Books of the Year” 2009 PHotoEspaña and named “Best Books 2009”, photo-eye Books.
Her award winning documentary photography has been exhibited in the United States, Mexico, and Cuba, including The Fototeca, Havana. Bank’s work is collected by museums in the United States, Cuba, Spain, and Mexico, most recently The Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson.
Piercing the Darkness, a personal reflection of that maddening mythical port city of Havana, is her second monograph, published by Brilliant Press. A selection from Piercing the Darkness was exhibited in “100 Years of The History of Photography of the City of Havana” at the 9th Habana Bienal 2006. Throckmorton Fine Art in NYC recently selected work from the Havana series in a group exhibition, “Under the Cuban Sun”. Piercing the Darkness was selected for the 2016 Lucie Awards as First Place, Non-Professional Monograph. Images from the series are included in a traveling exhibition, “Los Dios” as Latin Fotografia V winners in NYC, LA, Brazil, and Brooklyn Photoville 201
Bank continues to work with her Leica M6 on projects close to home, including the Salisbury Beach series. Website: susansbank.com
Fulvio Bugani is an Italian freelance photographer based in Bologna, with more than 20 years of experience. He actively collaborates with Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International. His work has been published on international magazines and websites such as TIME LightBox, LFI–Leica Fotografie International, and Cubadebate.
Among other recognition, in 2015 he was awarded at the World Press Photo, and has received two honorable mentions at MIFA-Moscow International Foto Award, for his work about Indonesian Transgender. In 2016 his reportage about Cuba was selected as one of the 12 finalist at the Leica Oskar Barnack Award.
He has several ongoing photographic projects in Cuba, Kenya, Indonesia, Turkey and Georgia. He teaches photography in his private photographic school in Bologna, as well as in seminars an workshops around the world. More info at www.fulviobugani.com
Caterina Clerici is an independent multimedia journalist based in New York. A graduate of Columbia Journalism School, she’s currently a freelance photo editor at TIME and the Special Issue Editor at SDN. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, La Stampa, Libération, Die Zeit, among others. You can follow her at @caterinaclerici.
Susi Eggenberger is a freelance documentary photographer based in Arundel, Maine.
She originally worked as an RN for twenty years before making a career change into photography. As in her nursing career, her focus in photography is with children and her emphasis is working with non-profit organizations who address children’s issues including Seeds of Peace, Ronald McDonald House, Map International, and Camp Sunshine. She has won numerous national and international awards for her imagery and her self-generated film project on a transsexual woman living in Southern Maine was nominated for “Best Documentary Film” in the Maine Short Film Festival.
For seven years she has been documenting the journey of a young Iraqi girl who she has been bringing to Maine for surgeries after she was shot in the head by a U.S. sniper.
Isadora Kosofsky is a Los Angeles-based documentary photographer and filmmaker. She received the 2012 Inge Morath Award from the Magnum Foundation for her multi-series documentary about the lives and relationships of the elderly. She was a participant in the 2014 Joop Swart Masterclass of World Press Photo. She is the recipient of a 2015 Flash Forward Magenta Foundation Award and a 2015 Commended Award from the Ian Parry Foundation. Her projects have received distinctions from Women in Photography International, Prix de la Photographie Paris and The New York Photo Festival. Isadora’s work has been featured in The London Sunday Times, Slate, The Washington Post, TIME, Le Monde, American Photo, VICE, NationSwell, Mashable, PDN, The British Journal of Photography, The Huffington Post and The New Yorker Photo Booth, among others. “Vinny and David: Life and Incarceration of a Family” is featured in the Thames and Hudsons’ anthology Family Photography Now and Public Private Portraiture by Mossless.
Margaret Quackenbush is a freelance reporter based in Boston. She graduated with a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University in January 2016. Her writing has appeared in the Boston Business Journal, The Dorchester Reporter, Eater Boston and other publications in the Boston area.
She was the 2016 coordinator for Boston University’s annual Power of Narrative conference, and was previously the managing editor of the Boston University News Service and a teaching assistant at BU. Margaret received a BA in English and history from St. Lawrence University in 2010 and previously worked at WGBH, Boston’s PBS station.
Carolina Sandretto is an Italian photographer based in New York City. With a background in both non-profit management and documentary photography, Sandretto uses the photographic medium to foster social change. Working primarily with disadvantaged groups in Mexico and Cuba, her work seeks to increase awareness and inspire activism.
Sandretto graduated from the Catholic University of Milan in Political Sciences in 2006. In 2011, she obtained an MA in Management of the No Profit at Bocconi University, and in 2013 she completed the program in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at ICP- International Center for Photography in New York City. She was selected for the XVIII Eddie Adams Workshop in 2015.
Her past exhibitions include:
“The View from here” Group show ICP- International Center of Photography, 2013. New York City NY, USA.
ICP representative at Photoville exhibition, 2013, New York City NY, USA.
“Fiesta Mexicana” Solo show at Galleria Fotografica – Tulum, Mexico. 2014.
“Anthropological landscapes” Group show at Gallery Antonio Ricci - Carrara, Italy. 2014.
“Anthropological landscapes” Group show at Whitebox Gallery–NYC New York. 2014
Soho Photo Gallery New York, Exhibition of the winners of the National Photography Competition. Juror, Elisabeth Avedon
“Vivir Con…” Personal Show at Galleria Bianconi – Milano. 2015
Anne Sahler is an internationally published writer, photographer and graphic designer who divides her time between Japan and her homeland of Germany. She holds a master’s degree in Cultural Studies, History of Art and Religious Studies which fuels her interests in Japan, art and social activism. Her curious nature and never ending need for travel helps lend a clarity of prospective to an evermore complicated world.
David Verberckt, originally from Belgium, is an independent reportage photographer currently living in Budapest, Hungary. He has studied photography at “le 75” in Brussels, and afterwards pursued studies in International Development at Bioforce in France. After exhibiting his first documentary reportages in the early nineties, David has turned to aid agencies and has spent 20 years working worldwide in humanitarian emergency and development with Médecins Sans Frontières and later the EU.
David’s reportages portray peculiarities of an often deprived civil society affected by latent or bygone conflicts. David has been working on several projects. Frozen Conflicts in the Caucasus depicts ordinary people whose lives are in limbo following the conflicts of the nineties. Palestinian Chronicles is a continuation of a series started in the early nineties, focusing on the daily realities of the numerous refugee camps’ population.
Recently, he is working on subjects depicting hard labor and seasonal migration flows in the overpopulated Bengal Bay and documenting statelessness of Bihari and Rohingya. More information at www.davidverberckt.com