Twenty-One Children and Their Bedrooms From Around the World

PolicyMic is featuring the engaging works of James Mollison, a Kenyan-born, English photographer based in Venice whose 2011 photo book, Where Children Sleep, collects photos of various children and their sleeping quarters. It was meant to draw attention to each child’s “material and cultural circumstances” and to put perspective on the class, poverty, and the diversity of children worldwide.

I strongly suggest you check it out here; it’s well worth your time. Some of these images are pretty powerful, highlighting the vast discrepancies in standard of living between (and within) countries around the world. Many of the subjects have a lot of personality and character as well (which is no doubt why they were chosen.

Beyond Sochi: Photos of Russians, By Russians

Russia has always had an image problem in the West, even before it adopted communism and became a perennial rival during the Cold War. The Winter Olympics at Sochi have only confirmed or added to the existing biases of Russia as an austere, corrupt, and dour place. And while it’s true that the country is rife with political and social problems, like any society, there is more to them than we realize.

Thankfully, some Russians have become proactive about depicting a more nuanced and down-to-Earth view of their nation. NPR has reported on one enterprising photographer in particular who is leading the way:

Russian photographer Valeriy Klamm felt that foreign photojournalists who came to work in his country arrive with the pictures they want to send back home already in their head: Bleak images of a cold and desolate place where autocrats lord over drunks.

“They already know how to take pictures of Russia, and that’s how they arrive,” Klamm said. “It’s always a wild country that’s in some kind of difficult transition period.”

Klamm, himself, had never photographed much outside of his home city of Novosibirsk, where nearly 2 million people live on the banks of the Ob River in the middle of Siberia.

But in 2000, he started to visit these small towns, camera in hand. He began to ask his photographer friends, both foreign and local, to share images of simple life the rural Russian villages that dot the vast expanse from Europe to the Pacific Ocean.

And in 2009, Klamm started “Birthmarks on the Map,” a collective photo project and website that collects these images in one place.

“Life in the middle of nowhere has always been difficult,” he said. “But I see dignity in the difficulties of these people on the outskirts of our geography. Their patience and simple wisdom gives strength and hope. And this stuff is always necessary to mankind.”

Klamm wanted to fill his site with images of real Russia life, and the result is something closer to ethnography or anthropology than journalism. Klamm actually works with ethnographers who study these small communities to find untold stories.

More than 60 photographers, both award-winning professionals and hobbyists, have contributed. One photographer is a dentist with a massive collection of classic film cameras that he takes to the villages around his city, like Rossiyka, in his spare time.

Below is a small but rich sample of photographs. You can view more of them here.

A meeting of Cossacks in Nizhny Tagil, a town in the Ural Mountains.

A meeting of Cossacks in Nizhny Tagil, a town in the Ural Mountains. Fyodor Telkov, Yekaterinburg

On Trinity Day in the village of Biysk in Altai, grass and birch branches are  brought inside to decorate an Orthodox Church.

On Trinity Day in the village of Biysk in Altai, grass and birch branches are brought inside to decorate an Orthodox Church. Valeriy Klamm, Novosibirsk

An eighth-grade student plays in a pick-up soccer match with her girlfriends in the Mari El Republic between the Russian cities of Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod.

An eighth-grade student plays in a pick-up soccer match with her girlfriends in the Mari El Republic between the Russian cities of Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod. Fyodor Telkov, Yekaterinburg

A man places reindeer antlers on a shrine in the Murmansk region, a peninsula in the Arctic north of St. Petersburg where he and others keep herds of reindeer.

A man places reindeer antlers on a shrine in the Murmansk region, a peninsula in the Arctic north of St. Petersburg where he and others keep herds of reindeer. Alexander Stepanenko, Murmansk

Meyram Moldakimov takes care of a water pump facility in a village near Novosibirsk and washes under this pipe twice a week, no matter what the weather.

Meyram Moldakimov takes care of a water pump facility in a village near Novosibirsk and washes under this pipe twice a week, no matter what the weather. Valerik Klamm, Novosibirsk

A celebratory dinner for a funeral in Altai, a region that borders Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China.

A celebratory dinner for a funeral in Altai, a region that borders Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. Igor Lagunov, Magnitigorsk

Swimmers enjoy a thermal spring with water that contains radon, a radioactive element. The locals revere the spring near the Mongolian border in Altai for its healing powers.

Swimmers enjoy a thermal spring with water that contains radon, a radioactive element. The locals revere the spring near the Mongolian border in Altai for its healing powers. Valeriy Klamm, Novosibirsk

A Cossack practices tricks on his horse in the Rostov region near Russia's border with Ukraine in 2010.

A Cossack practices tricks on his horse in the Rostov region near Russia’s border with Ukraine in 2010.Misha Maslennikov, Moscow

A boy named Zahar sits on an old car in a village called Rossiyka near Krasnoyarsk.

A boy named Zahar sits on an old car in a village called Rossiyka near Krasnoyarsk. Alexander Kustov, Krasnoyarsk

Over the past five years, Klamm has relied on this loose collective to build a massive collection of imagery that depicts a Russia you won’t see when you turn on the closing ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics this Saturday.

Grant Slater is in Siberia on a Social Expertise Exchange fellowship. He’ll be contributing to the “Birthmarks” project. You can follow along with his travels on Instagram.

A kitten loves on an old woman in the Cossack village of Velikopetrovskaya near Cheliyabinsk.

Labor of Love

The following photo, Dr. Zbigniew Religa, a Polish cardiac surgeon who was one of the best in the field, monitors his patient after a successful 23-hour successful lung and heart transplant (his assistant is sleeping in the corner). The photo was among National Geographic’s 100 Best Pictures.

The procedure took place in 1987 Communist Poland, with the technology of the time requiring constant monitoring — which Religa was willing to do even after nearly 24 hours of difficult surgery. The following is an interview with the photographer, James L. Stanfield:

He’d captured the anxious eyes of Dr. Zbigniew Religa tracking the vital signs of a heart-transplant patient. “I never let him out of my sight, never turned my back on him,” he says. “This was the payoff.”

It was 1987, in an outmoded operating room in post-Soviet Poland. Stanfield was looking for an image that would portray the critical state of the country’s free health-care system—and that’s exactly what he got.

His lens not only focuses on a dedicated surgeon’s eyes, but also on a patient hooked up to technologically outdated equipment. Stanfield also includes a weary staff member (far right) sleeping after assisting Religa with two transplants during an all-night session. “Each of these elements,” says Stanfield, “gives dimension and drama to the photograph, while helping tell a story.

Here is a touching photo of the patient:

 

Dr. Religa passed away in 2009, two years after serving as the Minister of Health of Poland.

Behind the Veil: Visions of the Islamic World

The Economist’s cultural columnist, Prospero, recently reported on a fascinating new exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts that seeks to offer a nuanced and intimate view of the Islamic world as presented by its own denizens. The premise had already piqued my interest, but the review is even more encouraging.

“She Who Tells A Story” collects the work of 12 contemporary female photographers and film-makers from the Middle East. At a time when American and European views of the Islamic world tend to be filtered through a lens of fear and anxiety, these images offer a more nuanced portrait of a culturally complicated place.

Take for example the giant triptych that opens the show. “Bullets Revisited #3″ (pictured top, 2012) by the Moroccan-born Lalla Essaydi depicts an olive-skinned woman draped across a sumptuously bejewelled bed against an ornately tiled wall. The image recalls the sensuous odalisque paintings of Western art history—a clichéd view of Eastern opulence that Said railed against in his 1978 book “Orientalism”. But closer inspection reveals that the bed in the photograph is made from shimmering bullet casings; the tiles are too. The woman’s body is covered in scar-like calligraphy. This enticingly exotic subject of Western fantasy may well be a corpse.

In the “Today’s Life and War” (2008) series by Gohar Dashti, an Iranian photographer, a couple pursues a relationship amid the detritus of a battlefield. They eat supper in front of a tank. Their laundry is strung along barbed wire. Their wedding car has been reduced to a burned out shell. Shadi Ghadirian’s “Nil Nil” (2008) series features still lifes that juxtapose combat boots with red stilettos, a grey helmet and a colourful head scarf, a grenade and a bowl of fruit. These works suggest not so much the atrocity of war but the day-to-day reality of living with it.

Largely narrative-driven and eschewing strict realism, these photographs are measured in their anger and melancholy. Newsha Tavakolian’s “Listen” (2010) series, for example, features portraits of professional Iranian singers who are forbidden to perform in public. She photographs each of them mid-song; with their eyes shut, their faces filled with tenderness and passion, these singers look a bit like classical busts articulating an ancient, nameless pain. Few photographers have used the silence of the medium more gracefully, and to such powerful effect.

The following are some of the samples of the exhibit:

As the writer concludes, this showcase does a great job of humanizing much-maligned and poorly understood group, as well as giving Muslim women a much bigger voice than they’re often credited with. I for one have learned by experience that indulging in the culture of other people — their music, cuisine, film, literature, and art — erodes much of the anxiety and distrust with which we reflexively respond to them. Culture is humanizing, it gives us a common ground to understand one another, and it allows us to see the value in groups or societies for which we have little or no understanding of.

As an agnostic atheist and secular humanist, I of course have disagreements about the Islamic view of the world (as I would with any religion). But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate its cultural and scientific contributions, or that I can’t connect with the raw human element that makes up any given ideological, social, or cultural group. It’s important to see the nuance in all things, and part of that begins by opening our minds to something as simple as an art piece, musical composition, or conversation with the “other” in question.

For those who won’t be able to see the exhibit in person (I being one of them), you can purchase a book that compiles these works here. I’ll definitely be saving up for it.

Slideshow: A Bird’s Eye View of the World

Courtesy of Foreign Policy, these 30 photos offer a breathtaking aerial tour of our beautiful Earth. Unfortunately, they’re coded in a way that prevents me from saving or sharing individual photos. But no worries, just visit the site and browse through these stunning photos yourself.

20 Historic Black and White Photos Colorized

Eupraxsophy:

What a beautiful find. Hat tip to my friend Chris for sharing this.

Originally posted on TwistedSifter:

 

One of the greatest facets of reddit are the thriving subreddits, niche communities of people who share a passion for a specific topic. One of the Sifter’s personal favourites is r/ColorizedHistory. The major contributors are a mix of professional and amateur colorizers that bring historic photos to life through color. All of them are highly skilled digital artists that use a combination of historical reference material and a natural eye for colour.

When we see old photos in black and white, we sometimes forget that life back then was experienced in the same vibrant colours that surround us today. This gallery of talented artists helps us remember that :)

Below you will find a collection of some of the highest rated colorized images to date on r/ColorizedHistory.

I’ve also provide a list of some of the top contributors (in no particular order):

- zuzahin aka Mads…

View original 752 more words

Eupraxsophy:

As I’ve said before, nature is as beautiful as any work of art. These pictures are amazing. It’s hard to believe the insects I encounter without a passing thought (other than perhaps annoyance or revulsion) harbor this much beauty deep down.

Originally posted on Why Evolution Is True:

Linden Gledhill’s Flickr page contains 32 sets of photographs, half of them devoted to biology or physical phenomena in nature. You could spend hours looking at them, for they include insects, plants, insect eggs, insect parts, fungi, as well as paint splashes, astronomy shots, and travel photographs.  Linden has given me permission to put up a few of his insect pictures, but be aware that they’re “copyright Linden Gledhill” and can’t be further reproduced without his permission.

I believe it was the stalwart Matthew Cobb who called my attention to Gledhill’s close-up photos of butterfly wings. The entire album is here (it’s two pages), and on that album you can click on each of the images to enlarge it. This array of thumbnails from the first page (screenshot below) looks like a wonderful patchwork quilt:

Picture 1

Photographers will be interested in Linden’s extensive technical notes about how he made the photos.

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My Enemy, Myself

Few people are malicious or evil for no good reason . Being evil for the sake of evil is a myth that applies only to the villains of childhood fairy tales or mainstream entertainment media.  Humans are complicated creatures who seek to rationalize everything they do. What one person thinks is evil, another may find to be acceptable, if not good. Continue reading

Your Beautiful Eyes

It’s amazing what a change in perspective can do, either to the sense or towards are perception of reality. There’s beauty all around us, depending on where, how, and – more importantly - if we look. It’s easy to take for granted the strange and amazing worlds that exist out of sight and out of mind.

Thankfully, talented photographers like Suren Manvelyan of Armenia are uncovering amazing realms of aesthetic splendor, thanks to the wonder of human curiosity. It seems like a rather simple approach too: extreme close-ups of various human eyes, which I would never have though could create the sort of alien worlds like the following:

To think that our own eyes, which we’re rarely conscious of, harbor so much beauty.

There’s much more to see if you click here. Also check out the artist’s website here.

The Haunting Works of of Richard Mosse

I stumbled upon some of these eerie photographs while carousing through Tumblr. They are pictures of the Democratic Republic of the Congo taken in infrared, which produces a surreal and almost alien feel to them. The artist is an Irishman named Richard Mosse, who has an impressive CV in cultural studies, fine art, and photography, and has been involved in a lot of showcases and projects.

Below is a small sample of work:

Vintage Violence, North Kivu, Eastern Congo, 2011.

Men Of Good Fortune, North Kivu, Eastern Congo, 2011.

Growing Up In Public, North Kivu, Eastern Congo, 2011

You can check out the rest of his work, which includes photos from the Iraq War, here.