The Producer’s picks for this week’s news relevant to the photography, art, design and production industries:
1) Ami Vitale Quits Facebook, Cites Political Interference, Lack of Accountability
Last week, National Geographic photographer Ami Vitale announced on Facebook that she was leaving the platform because she objects to its business practices. “I cannot continue to be part of a platform that fuels hate, thrives on conflict and untruths, facilitates the clear manipulation of elections strictly for profit, and operates in a cloud of secrecy.” In an email to PDN, Vitale says the departure is also due to her “disapproval of Facebook’s treatment of the newsfeed and the way information is shared on the platform.” Vitale, who has more than 15,000 followers on Facebook, has used it and other social media channels to promote her projects and speaking engagements, to publicize conservation and photo organizations she works with, and to encourage her followers to take action on the conversation issues she has photographed.
2) A New Photo Contest for Those with Dementia, Alzheimer’s Offers Revealing Images
This is Elia. Elia Luciani was born in 1923 in Carrufo, Italy, a small mountain village northeast of Rome. She lived a full life — she had her first child at 16, moved to Canada in the 1950s and worked for 30 years as head of a clothing factory’s sewing department. In her 90s, she was diagnosed with dementia.
“This wonderful photo mom took encapsulates her life,” said her son, Tony. “Here she is, taking a self-portrait shot in a dresser mirror, partially hiding her aging face behind a small camera and surrounded by meaningful family photos.”
Elia’s self-portrait is one of the three winners in the first edition of Still Living, a photography contest for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It was organized by the Bob and Diane Fund. The other winners are Cynthia Huling Hummel of New York and Pauline Singier of France with Susan Rioult, who were selected from among 75 entrants in eight countries.
3) Getty Images Awards $20,000 LGBTQ+ Stories Creative Bursary to Three Emerging Photographers as Part of Broader Effort to Encourage Diverse, Inclusive Storytelling
Getty Images, a world leader in visual communications, has named three recipients of its bi-annual global Creative Bursary, titled LGBTQ+ Stories, with each photographer receiving one-time grants of $10,000, $7,000 and $3,000, for first, second and third place respectively. As part of Getty Images’ global mission aimed at moving the world with images, the Bursary endeavors to elevate the work of emerging creatives, as well as foster a more visually-inclusive world, by encouraging artists to use their talents to create inclusive visual stories. For the first time, the latest Getty Images Creative Bursary centered its focus around sourcing content that celebrates the lives and narratives of LGBTQIA+ communities.
“We are thrilled to recognize Vaughan Larsen, Myles Loftin and Texas Isaiah as three incredibly talented emerging photographers who are actively using their creativity to capture and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Andy Saunders, Creative Bursary program director and Getty Images’ Senior Vice President of Creative Content. “Our mission is to move the world with imagery and LGBTQ+ Stories aims to do just that—by celebrating the visual narratives of these communities, and in turn, creating a more realistic and inclusive depiction of the world in which we live.”
4) Whiteness Must Undo Itself to Make Way for the Truly Radical Turn in Contemporary Culture
Some beginning structure: I do not have a work in this year’s Whitney Biennial, though I do have friends whose works are included and am close to one of the curators. This text comes in reflection of critiques about the exhibition, mostly written by white art critics, which, after viewing one after another, read as problematic, condescending and dismissive of the curatorial and artistic production in the biennial, labelling it “not radical enough”. This text also does not touch on the saga over the Whitney's board member Warren B. Kanders, although acknowledgment is due to Decolonize This Place for their rigorous response.
The impetus for writing this comes from being a contemporary artist, living and working in the US, whose citizenship is tightly linked to the country’s foundational narrative, which is forged primarily by the construction of race, a culture built for oppression and the real consequences of both. It comes with an understanding that America has, for 400-plus years, operated under a state-crafted racial caste system that shapes every aspect of every minute of everyone’s life—down to how an art critic crafts words on a page. This applies whether you are at the apex of this structure or at its very bottom.
5) The Underrecognized Photographers Who Showed Queer Life in the 1960s
Today, there is no shortage of images showing what it means to be queer. The internet is a vast album of photographs that show representation in all forms. But before the first LGBTQ+ movements blossomed in the 1960s, pictures showing gay, lesbian, or trans individuals were exceedingly rare. Young artists and activists didn’t have an image of what queer life actually looked like—it was dangerous to be depicted in such a way. The people who first loaned their faces to the cause and had their images disseminated through the early LGBTQ+ press were not just brave, but making history.
Kay Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davies were two members of the small faction of photographers determined to give the U.S.—and the world—real images of LGBTQ+ daily life and activism. Their images are showcased in a new book, Love and Resistance (2019), as well as an accompanying exhibition, “Love & Resistance: Stonewall50,” on view at the New York Public Library through July 13th.
6) In Hungary, an Online Photo Archive Fights Revisionist History
Miklos Tamási, founder of Fortepan, launched the free online photo archive after finding a collection of pictures in a pile of garbage on a Hungarian curbside. He named the site after the Forte film factories in Hungary, and debuted it in 2010 with 5,000 images. Since then, Fortepan has quickly expanded. Today it contains over 114,000 photographs taken by Hungarians between the years 1900 and 1990, and its first-ever exhibit opened in April at the Hungarian National Gallery.
Fortepan’s manager András Török shared the archive’s story last week while lecturing at Manhattan’s American-Hungarian Library. The timing of the lecture was impeccable. The European Parliament election results had just come in, and the far right had made gains across the continent. In Hungary, the right-wing Fidesz Party won an additional seat and 52% of the vote. Its leader is Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Since his election in 2010, he has rewritten Hungary’s constitution, taken control of newspapers, and propagated anti-immigration conspiracy theories. In such a political climate, it’s no wonder that Fortepan, which is devoted to visual fact and testimony, has become a national phenomenon.
7) Women in the Spotlight, but Few Behind the Lens
Susan Meiselas, the much-lauded Magnum photographer perhaps best known for her arresting 1979 shot of a Nicaraguan revolutionary lobbing a Molotov cocktail, said she was caught by surprise when Sam Stourdzé, the director of the Rencontres d’Arles photography fair in France, phoned in April to say she had won a major new award — from a luxury fashion group.
“I am the least fashionable person you might ever know,” the 71-year-old Baltimore-born documentarian said last month during a hot summer evening in her studio on Manhattan’s Mott Street. “I mean it.”
She was dressed in a short-sleeved madras shirt that she had bought in India “about 35 years ago,” black trousers and fuchsia running shoes. She wore no makeup and her reading glasses were perched atop her head of shoulder-length auburn hair. The space — the naturally cool basement of a Victorian building where she has lived since 1974 — was crowded with long tables stacked with photography books, newsmagazines and other detritus of a life spent, as she said, “humping about” war zones and backwoods, Leica M4 in hand.
So why, she wondered, was she receiving the first Women in Motion photography award from Kering, the Paris-based conglomerate that owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga? Was fashion, which has been co-opting art photographers for some time, now turning its attention toward documentary and news domains to give its wares a more serious — or at least less frivolous — air?