The Bronze Medal - Album Launch

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The Bronze Medals album launch at Thekla, Bristol (03/10/14)

They’re performing tomorrow at The Nest, Bath. 

https://www.facebook.com/events/451058948365249/

For print enquiries, please contact: jazz@jazzchandler.com

No.2 Marco Kesseler

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This Land of Ours That Is Not Ours - Marco Kesseler

Social documentarian, Marco Kesseler (b.1989), is a young buck making great waves in the photographic world. Born in 1989, he has already gained notoriety, partly thanks to his success with the Magnum Ideas Tap Award (winner); The Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize; New York Photo Festival; Magnets Flash Forward Award (highly commended); The Peter Kirk Memorial Fund; Renaissance Photo Prize (shortlist); Photo Ireland Festival and the MP Award, to name a few.

I’m giving him no favouritism due to his age, simply, his images supply the viewer with incredible insight, whilst expressing events in rich symbolism - Though I would like to stress, being the same age, kudos for the achievements and commitments to-date; Marco’s projects could not be achieved by simply - and quickly - composing current affairs inventively with great aesthetic appeal, there’s much more than that; Kesseler’s work requires him to know the people he photographs, to understand the complex ontology of a given situation, and ultimately embed himself in the location.

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An Uncertain Winter: Valery Shankin - Marco Kesseler

An Uncertain Winter, which won him the Magnum IdeasTap Photographic Award, was my first encounter with Marco Kesseler. The photoessay chronicles citizens of Belarus, “the last dictatorship in Europe”. Directly and indirectly he shares with the audience the subversion of free speech across the nation. Visually it’s a beautiful series, with a deep ominous aura throughout. One solemn shot shows Valery Shankin, a veteran and human rights activist, whose own opposition party was dismantled in the rise of an autocratic power, holding his military uniform in a subdued stance against dwindling light. It’s implication on the older generation of democratic campaigners being fairly obvious, however, juxtaposed next to it is a photograph depicting a child of a displaced family ambitiously climbing the furniture, atop a piano whilst wielding a book. Again the implication is fairly clear, there is hope in the next generation.

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Gjakmarrja: Albania’s Revenged Blood - Marco Kesseler

The youngest child learns to walk, whilst watching a calf being slaughtered.

The precursor to this project, Gjakmarrja: Albania’s Revenged Blood, is by no means a lesser series, or even an easier route into documentary for Marco. Dealing with blood feuds, an apparently commonplace cultural law (not legal) equivalent to ‘an eye for an eye’. The practise forces many people and often children, into self-imprisonment for fear of murder, thanks to a family members past actions and an archaic belief held by some. For me, one of the most powerful images of the series is a heavily allegorical shot of a skeletal tree’s shadow stretching across and around a small child, whilst out of shot a calf is slaughtered. To me, the tree’s cadaverous state is synonymous with horror, whilst in a double-entendre it hints at family history.

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This Land of Ours That is Not Ours - Marco Kesseler

Kesseler borrows the acute title of his latest series, This Land of Ours That is Not Ours, from Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko. Poignantly, Marco documents the tension in the air in-between the Euromaiden protests of Kiev. Never showing much action, but always alluding to something darker; a situation about to erupt, parallel to the eye of a storm.
Please view his website, attend exhibitions and view the images in a context he intended.

No.1 Alejandro Chaskielberg

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Alejandro Chaskeilberg - The Woodcutters, High Tide (2010)

Interning a few months ago, I started the masturbatory task of proclaiming the apparent genius of photographers whom, I believe, had achieved exceptional output or at the very least work of distinct note.  

Copying the old tirades to this blog, I intend on adding new gushes of appreciation to their ranks-  aiming to spread works that I believe deserve celebration and discourse.

Acclaimed Argentinian photographer Alejandro Chaskielberg, a graduate of the National Film and Audiovisual Art Institute, is a contemporary practitioner whose walked a beautifully strange line between documentary and stylisation. Not surprising when you learn that the man has spent significant time as both a photojournalist and a director of photography for television

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Alejandro Chaskielberg - The Hunter, High Tide (2010)

Chaskielberg’s High Tide series was the first of his to draw me in; A semi-staged documentation of the lives of those living in a rural community along the Parana River Delta. Alejandro embedded himself within the community for two years, getting to know the complexities of the residents lives and situation. To capture there images, after much rehearsal, he shot them at night with a long exposure against a backdrop of the full moon, with various flashes and torches, in what Martin Parr refers to as a “virtuoso exploration”. Overall, his images amount to a stunning dream like exposition of the real.

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Alejandro Chaskielberg - Burning Willows, High Tide (2010)

So far Alejandro Chaskeilberg has won the Magnum Foundation Emerging Photographer Grant; The Sony World Photographer of the Year Award 2011; The National Geographic Society of America: All Roads Award; SCAN Festival - Talent Latent Award; POYI Best Latin American Portrait Award; Curriculum Cero award; been hand picked by Marin Parr for the Brighton Photo Bienial and has been listed in PDN Magazine’s 30 New and emerging photographers to watch. He is currently 37. 

Please visit the photographers website and exhibitions; appreciate the work how it was intended.

Depictions of dignity, whilst suffering.

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Sera Brazillia - Sebastiao Salgado

Since birth, photography has held a strange dualistic grip on representation “The credentials of objectivity were inbuilt. Yet they always had, necessarily, a point of view.”[1] These contradictory characteristics have given the medium a powerful position in conveying information, since the information transferred from image to viewer is controlled by the photographer, yet the photograph is often taken at face value. In Susan Sontag’s words, “the photograph is like a quotation”[2], like a quotation it contains some information, but not the whole story, and it can be taken out of context.

A few days ago I wrote a post loosely around ‘our’ relationship with photographers depicting suffering: The Vultures and Kevin Carter. I argued against the accusations of pitiless self-interest that he faced, aiming to highlight the real wolf closer to home. In an asterisk, noting that although I am defending him for those accusations, there is an argument of representation; like most that have come before him and many since, the image in question solely represents those violated by poverty and famine, as victims – which they are, but that is not their only facet.

Due to the very nature of photography, every photograph is a photographer’s expression and their representation of the subject before them, “To represent is to aestheticize: that is, to transform. It presents a vast field of choices but it does not include the choice not to transform, not to change or alter whatever is being represented”[3]. With much ‘documentary’ photography in the developing world being taken through the westerner’s eyes, the representation is less ‘real’ than might be expected.

Pier Paolo Pasolini, a scholar of many forms, gives a description of a new fascism: “The idea that the greatest ill in the world is poverty and that therefore the culture of the poorer classes must be replaced by the culture of the ruling class”[4]. In general, documentary photography focusing upon the Global South seems to be stuck within this ‘new fascism’, with the very people depicted being culturally and individually ignored, reducing them to nothing more than victims. Thus conditioning the belief of poorer cultures being obsolete by default.

Sebastiao Salgado is one photographer whom I accredit with demonstrating that it doesn’t have to be so.

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Seca No Mali - Sebastiao Salgado

Through a westerners eyes, psychoanalytical analysis could run wild with this image. Its contents, or lack of, seem very surreal and dreamlike, but this would be steering in the wrong direction. The image is loaded with meaning - not abstract but direct.

Politically it’s highly charged, filled with sorrow, guilt and urgency, but equally expressing pride, dignity and grace. The viewer is seeing someone who has been affected by severe droughts - an emaciated child. The connotations would be the same if he where an adult, but the fact that he is still young adds a layer of vulnerability to him. Although the photograph is embedded with sympathies to his plight, it represents him as a strong figure. He is naked whilst standing straight and tall, with his head held high - all of which highlight his strength and dignity. Whilst standing, he is looking into the distance. He is not passive; with the squint on his face it appears as if what he is looking at, or for, has great significance. The camera is on his level, if not slightly below, thus asserting his power within the image. The fact he holds a bag again shatters any notion of passivity; he is in the middle of doing something, with purpose. The skeletal tree does not just echo his stance but also his situation. The non-distinction between sky and sand emphasises the barren landscape. Altogether this implies that yes, he is agriculturally poor and lacks access to resources - which a resolution of is imperative - but he is not confined solely to being a victim; he is a person, not passive but active and is not suffering from poverty of the soul. “They have been stripped of everything but they have dignity. That is the source of their ineffable beauty”.[5] This seems to be a power reversal of the token representation of the ‘third-world’.

Salgado is a social documentarian who works on long projects; he is not after the photo to sell to a front page but seeks to create essays that truly speak. On examining the connotation of any of his other images, the power balance would typically be the same.

On reflection of his work, photographic theorist and critic David Levi-Strauss points out that “other images end at pity and compassion, Salgado’s images begin at compassion and lead from there to further recognitions.” [6]

By Jazz Chandler

[1] Sontag, S., 2003. Regarding the pain of others. London: Penguin Books - p23
[2] Sontag, S., 2003. Regarding the pain of others. London: Penguin Books - p19
[3] Strauss, D. L. 2003. Between The Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics. New York: Aperture Foundation. - p9
[4] Pasolini, P.P., 1983. Intervention at The Radical Party Congress. In Lutheran Letters, trans. by Stuart Hood. Cited from Strauss, D.L., 2003. Between The Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics. New York: Aperture Foundation - p45
[5] Galeano, E., (N.D). Salgado, 17 times In Salgado, S., 1990. An Uncertain Grace. London: Thames and Hudson - p8
[6] Strauss, D. L. 2003. Between The Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics: Epithany of the Other. New York: Aperture Foundation. p397
[7] Sontag, S., 2003. Regarding the pain of others. London: Penguin Books - p24

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The Bronze Medal - Thekla, Bristol

For print enquiries, please contact - jazz@jazzchandler.com

Hiroshima anniverary, and Anecdotal Radiations by David Fathi

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images from “Anecdotal Radiations" (2014) - by David Fathi

Today marks the appalling anniversary of the US dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. After your own reflection on the atrocity, I recommend viewing the series ‘Anecdotal Radiaitons’ by David Fathi; I couldn’t imagine a more apt time.

I wrote this short review of ‘Anecdotal Radiations’ a few weeks ago, with a slightly different context in mind, but the day is fitting. 

The title of David Fathi’s latest series, Anecdotal Radiations, implies some bizarre marrying of the casual and the sinister; Off the cuff stories of radiation are largely few and far between.

Anecdotal Radiations is essentially a document of absurdity, both horrifying and entertaining; It’s a hard topic to present with humour - nuclear weapons - , but pointing out the slapstick nature of their history really does bring home the ridiculousness of their existence. Fathi has made an unwieldy heavy subject digestible for those frightened by it’s severity, and for those already engaged, it’s alarmingly insightful and entertaining - I know it’s a strange line, but it works.

I don’t want to say too much about the collection, as you’ll see for yourself, but in terms of it’s application, it’s made up of pack-shots, photos from road-trips, archival images, satellite imagery and significant accompanying text. The array of visual media helps juxtapose and decontextualise the subject, allowing it to be seen for what it is, ridiculous.

Fathi, is a relatively young artist based in Paris. As far as I’m aware Anecdotal Radiations exhibited at the PhotoIreland Festival (2014) is his first international display, although I may be wrong. My point is, he’s caught my attention, and I hope he’ll get yours.

Please check out his website and view the work in a way he intended - www.davidfathi.com

Note: To be clear, I’ve omitted the accompanying text from the above image. Check it out on his website.

Written by Jazz Chandler

www.jazzchandler.com

The Vultures and Kevin Carter

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Sudanese child stalked by vulture - Kevin Carter 1994

Whilst accompanying an aid drop in a United Nations food camp in Sudan, Kevin Carter photographed this emaciated child, seemingly being stalked by a hooded vulture. The New York Times published the image, which Carter received a Pulitzer prize for. Understandably, the image gained a lot of attention from the public, with many writing to the paper asking of the child’s fate, which The New York Times did not know. At this stage Carter faced a heated backlash from the public for not directly helping the child. He was compared to the vulture, preying on the starving. Within fourteen months of taking the image Carter committed suicide, aged thirty-three.

It’s not known whether the public accusations were the reason Carter took his life; He had chronicled many harrowing events in the name of raising awareness of apartheid era South Africa. Through this, he had been a member of the ‘Bang-Bang Club’, a name coined by the South African magazine Living, for the photojournalists that seemed to take on large personal risk in documenting the violence of the time. His close friend Kevin Oosterbroek, also in the Bang-Bang Club, was killed in 1994 at a clash between peacekeepers and the National African Congress, he was shot by the peacekeepers. Carter blamed himself.

Regardless of his mental situation, or the reasons for his death, the criticisms Carter faced were wholly unfounded; Whilst accompanying a UN supply plane, they landed in a food camp with a thirty-minute window to unload and move on. Everything that could be done to help the people at the location, with the resources available to those aid workers, was being done. Practically he could not have done much more. Carter was there as a photographer in order to raise awareness of the situation, to act as the eye that looks where most cannot. The camera would not have helped that child at that moment, but for many others in the same plight, the awareness he spread has. That’s the entire reason he was there, to give those people representation.*

According to Portuguese photojournalist Joao Silva who also accompanied the UN food-drop with Carter, the parents had left the child briefly to collect food from the drop off. The vultures where there to feed on the scraps of grain that where left. Although morbidly in starvations grasp,  the child was in no danger from the vulture - like most photography, Kevin composed the image to create an allegory. After Carter got the photo he deemed most iconic, he chased the bird away.

It seems that society had a problem with Carter being rewarded, and gratified for a piece of work that relied on the suffering of another, which makes sense at first, but Carter did not cause that suffering, and devoted his life to end it. Risking your life on a daily basis and seeing horrors that most - himself included - would want to forget, is not a way to take advantage of that child or the situation. Legitimate disgust at the existence of such an appalling situation was loaded upon him, unfairly. The undeniable self-serving manipulation of the Sudanese child was done (and continues to be) by demanding unfair interest on corrupt loans made to African nations generations ago. The vultures in this scenario are us.

*You could argue that he is not representing the child with dignity, or how it may choose. That is a big argument in representing those afflicted by poverty, but it has nothing to do with his supposed self-interest or lack of compassion.

Related:

Ted Talks: The Way We Think About Charity Is Dead Wrong - Partly covers the issue of a skewed perception for those working within the umbrella of aid. Great watch.

The Bang-Bang Club - Short documentary on the group of photojournalists.

Written by Jazz Chandler

www.jazzchandler.com

Palestine Solidarity March - Dublin, Ireland 02/08/14

Organised by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, thousands marched peacefully in the rain, from the Garden of Remembrance to the Dept of Foreign Affairs.

Much anger was directed at Ireland’s Taoiseach, Edna Kennedy, for abstaining in the recent UN vote on an inquiry into war crimes committed in Gaza. His name was accosted with shaming the nation. Along with mass demands to boycott Israeli goods, there was a majority voice calling for the Israeli ambassador to be expelled, with speakers pointing out that Irish tax-payers are inadvertently financing the embassy in which racist propaganda is produced - presumably referring to the Twitter image posted by the Israeli Embassy of the Molly Malone statue wearing a traditional Islamic headscarf and the text “ISRAEL NOW DUBLIN NEXT”, alongside the claim “Israel is the last frontier of the free world”. The series of imagery also depicts a headscarf adorned Mona Lisa casually holding a rocket, Michaelangelo’s David wearing a keffiyeh and a belt of dynamite, and Denmark’s statue of the Little Mermaid holding an automatic rifle. In the wake of a backlash, the have been taken down: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/israeli-embassy-removes-molly-malone-in-muslim-garb-images-1.1880575

This is the fourth week in a row in which thousands across Ireland, and a myriad the world over, have taken to the street to denounce Israel’s actions in Gaza. The coming weekend sees plans for a national march staged in Dublin.

Badbadnotgood - The Sugar Club, Dublin (30/07/14)

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Crazy-good show by Badbadnotgood.

I hope your screens are turned up to full brightness.

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God Knows - The Sugar Club, Dublin (30/07/2014)

Supporting Badbadnotgood.

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Mike Barnett & Max Blunos.

Mock editorial feature.

© Jazz Chandler

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© Jazz Chandler

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©Jazz Chandler

The Bronze Medal - Colston Hall 2, Bristol - 30/11/2013

Live debut of the bands recently recorded album.

For print enquiries, please contact - jazz@jazzchandler.com

©jazz chandler