Andi Schreiber Documents Middle-Age And The Need To Be Desired

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Andi Schreiber refuses to disappear. In her ongoing series, “Pretty Please”, she documents life as an aging suburban mom in a youth-obsessed culture. “Middle-aged mom” must be one of the least sexy descriptors around, redolent of yoga pants and stretch marks and sun-damaged skin. Yet as the years have passed, Schreiber has continued to feel young and sexual, even as she’s felt that society has closed those roles to her. She says:

“When I was in my thirties I heard the expression “Invisible Forties.” I couldn’t imagine how sexually inconsequential I’d feel throughout this decade.”

The powerful documentary style photos in “Pretty, Please” beg you to look. Honest and vibrant, they are not always comfortable. Victoria’s Secret has trained us to expect sexy lingerie on a young, taut body, not on folded and stretched skin. And yet, why isn’t this just as beautiful? Grow old or die, those are the only options. Why can’t we appreciate the child-scarred body of a woman who wants to be seen?

Self-portraits are interspersed with images from Schreiber’s life. A drop of blood on the toilet seat symbolizes her ebbing fertility; the lit interior of her closet holds neatly hung clothes and shelves of shoes, but also, stashed up and away, naked kewpie dolls, whimsical and eerie.

“You get into your 40s and things are very different, your perspective changes, and the way the world looks at you changes as well.”

In “Pretty, Please” we’re looking at Andi Schreiber and she’s looking back. This is definitively her — her life, her body, her blood — and yet this desire to be seen, to be valued on her own terms, could also represent the scores of middle-aged women who chose family and stability and have had their sense of self sacrificed to their suburban houses, and diapers, and carpools.

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Striking Portraits Of Mutilated Acid Attack Survivors By Ken Hermann

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Shocking photographs of acid attack victims shine light on Bangladesh’s cruel reality of frequent mutilation acts. The project called “Survivors” was made by an award-winning photographer Ken Hermann and video journalist Tai Klan. The duo visited Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, aspiring to document the heartbreaking stories of people disfigured by acid attacks.

Rejection to have an affair, refusing to get married, land or marital disputes are the most common reasons for attacks often performed by close relatives, neighbors or a spouse. Majority of such violence acts are directed against young women and children who then are scarred for the rest of their lives. Medical treatments and surgeries are a mere utopia.

But there is an unbelievably inspiring side even to this tragedy: people captured in Hermann’s photographs refuse to see themselves as victims. Their portraits radiate extreme resilience and profoundness. According to the photographer, his goal was to portray these people by emphasizing their beauty and strength rather than displaying them as freaks.

“I have nothing to hide. I look at myself and love myself for who I have become in spite of what I have suffered”,says Umma Aysha Siddike Nila, who was 15 years old when her husband burnt all of her face and parts of her upper arms with acid.

Many people whose lives were affected by acid attacks have devoted themselves to fight against the rooted custom. Thanks to people like Nila and bigger organizations such as Acid Survivor Foundation, there has been an 85% decline in recorded acid attack cases.

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Pieter Hugo Documents South Africa’s Scars Of Colonialism

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Pieter Hugo’s “Kin” is the photographer’s closer look into his motherland and a personal approach to the incredible human diversity surrounding him. Hugo’s photo series from South Africa depicts the issues of race, social status, economical despair, sexuality and his own place in such “fractured, schizophrenic, wounded, and problematic place”.

Despite being complicated in content, Hugo’s photographs carry a distinctly serene, calming style and the sense of connection between the photographer, camera and the subject. Regardless of who’s in frame, an unknown homeless drifter, domestic servant, or his pregnant wife, Hugo captures their essence and tension in a simple static shot.

“[Kin] is an engagement with the failure of the South African colonial experiment and my sense of being ‘colonial driftwood. [South Africa] is a very violent society and the scars of colonialism and apartheid still run very deep. Issues of race and cultural custodianship permeate every aspect of society, and the legacy of forced racial segregation casts a long shadow.”

Based on his photographic approach, Pieter Hugo raises questions to himself and searches for answers through his work. How should one live in this diverse society? Should one accept the historical aftermath for granted or try to change it? How to raise a family in these circumstances?

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A Peek Into The Mystical Lives And Rituals Of Urban Peruvian Shamans

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Italy-based photographer Andrea Frazzetta gives us a little glimpse into the lives and rituals of modern healers from Lima, Peru. His project called “Urban Shamans” peeks behind the doors of the rear private shops where shamans, or the so called curanderos, perform their traditional mystical rituals which are not subject to the laws and orders of today’s world.

Up to this day, curanderos are trusted by the majority of Peruvians and are considered to be in line with psychiatrists and physicians. At some point, the parliament of Peru considered regarding them as doctors. However, bigger part of the healers are frauds as they don’t really deal with physical disorders, rather with emotional issues like fear, evil eye or even business and love life related questions.

“Nestled in plain sight throughout the streets of Lima, these generations of shamans and their sometimes shocking ritual practices toe the line between cultural fixture and anomalous spectacle.”

In his pictures, Frazzetta managed to capture even the very intimate, strange and eerie details of these healing ceremonies. Most of them include the use of a small animal (guinea pig, black hen or a white dove) or a doll to whom the illnesses of the patient are transferred. (via Feature Shot)

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The Poignant Story Of Courtroom Sketch Artist Gary Myrick

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The prevalence of any technology forever alters the way we previously understood the world before it. Photography changed painting, audio recording changed our relationship to music, and the internet changed print media such as books and magazines. What is most often lost is the human touch, a closer connection from the source to the viewer or listener. Such is the story of courtroom sketch artist Gary Myrick, the focus of a documentary produced by Ramtid Nikzad of the New York Times as part of the Op-Doc series. A compelling figure who narrates the history of the tradition, Myrick  Myrick explains the difference and importance of his craft, “Illustration is story-telling. The difference between the camera in the courtroom and an artist might be the difference between just a cold, dry, factual transcript as opposed to a novel.” 

Beginning with Myrick explaining his work, the documentary covers the history of the medium, the advent and fall of courtroom photography, and the eventual decline of the courtroom sketch artist. “The artist at one time was the media,” says Myrick, relaying the history of artist documentarians, from war reporting through history to multi-tasking newspaper reporters who considered their drawings as important as their words. “When you funnel the story through a human being, its got a different quality than simply doing a mechanical recording of it,” says Myrick. “A lot of things going on about me are channeled through my heart, and my soul and my brain and my fingers…I like to convey just how it feels in that moment.”

Despite his immense talent, Myrick and so many other sketch artists are no longer able to work exclusively in the dying industry. Myrick poignantly notes, speaking more indicatively of so many industries that are being lost to the ease of technology, “I’m trying to draw to communicate to those that aren’t there, what it was like to be there. And maybe some of that has been getting lost.” (via juxtapoz and newyorktimes)

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Diane Arbus: Photographing Freaks Or The Costumes We Wear Year-Round

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As we wave goodbye to Halloween, let’s take a minute to mediate on the innately striking work of Diane Arbus and her unbiased approach to documenting not just the spookier side of humanity, but even more so, the masks or costumes we present to the world as a species, as human beings, as ourselves . . . year-round.

Now, when I use the word “unbiased” here I am not suggesting Arbus’s eye is roaming and invisible. Quite the contrary. Her eye is always distinctly there: focused, from one frame to the next. This “unbiased” quality has more to do with her indiscriminate examination of each subject in the same oddly intimate and unflinching way– regardless of class, age, gender, sexual preference, or race. In other words, a child with a toy hand grenade in the park looks equally as strange as the a woman lounging next to a toy poodle or a handful of residents dressed up on Halloween at a home for the mentally retarded. No one person, group, or act is more privileged. No one is all the more beautiful. We are all playing dress-up as far as identity and image is concerned.

By seeking out each individual’s innate desire to present him or herself and critically or creatively twisting that into her own perception of costume in each person’s presentation, Arbus became not just a photographer, but an alchemist, shifting our ideas of self, reality, and personal intention. Whether you are a part of celebrity culture or a more marginalized society spread out along the fringe, Arbus’s certain way of looking did not glorify one way of living over the other.

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Landfill Harmonic And ‘The Recycled Orchestra’

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Landfill Harmonic- The world sends us garbage… We send back music. from Landfill Harmonic on Vimeo.

Recycling is a way of life in Cateura, Paraguay.  Many people there earn money by scouring the huge landfill for items that can be recycled.  A certain garbage picker, though, began recycling for much more than money: for the young people in his community.  Nicolás Gómez began creating instruments – violins, cellos, drums, guitars – from the trash he sifted through and gave them to local children.  The idea picked up steam and children’s orchestra known as “The Recycled Orchestra” came to life.  Landfill Harmonic, a documentary on Gómez and the orchestra, is slated to capture the inspirational story.  [via]

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Guillermo Bert’s QR Code Textiles at the PMCA

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of dropping by my neighborhood museum, the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA), to check out new work by Guillermo Bert. The digital age has managed to find its way into places the mechanical age was never quite able to get to. In the exhibition’s accompanying essay, Peter Frank claims that this phenomenon has resulted in the poor becoming “confident operators” of this advanced technology. Of course accessibility is a good thing, but one can also argue that the arrival of this kind of technology can also put indigenous culture and tradition at risk. By combining QR Code technology with the very traditional art of textile weaving, Bert is bringing this infiltration of culture to the surface. The codes, when scanned with your mobile device, play one of a series of documentary films that contain several engaging protagonists who help unfold the story of the Mapuche people. Throughout history, textiles have been used by indigenous cultures to pass on the story of a culture from generation to generation. Perhaps Bert’s “encoded textiles” are a strange evolution of that tradition.

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