VII Photographers: exhibitions on view in Brooklyn and Woodstock, New York and Winchester, Massachusetts

VII Photo presents the work of three photojournalists Marcus Bleasdale, Ron Haviv, and Donald Weber, who witnessed this swift and intense conflict between Georgia and Russia, providing a sweeping narrative of both the media’s prominent and controversial role, as well as the sheer senselessness of the war that erupted in August.

There will be an opening reception at VII’s gallery in Brooklyn on November 18, 6 p.m.

The exhibition is curated by Denise Wolff with support from Human Rights Watch and will remain on view at VII through December 31st, 2008.

The exhibition is open to the public from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Monday – Friday.

For more information, call the VII office: +1.212.337.3130 (office)

VII Photo is located at 28 Jay Street, in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.

OTHER EXHIBITIONS featuring the work of the VII photographers are on view at the Center for Photography in Woodstock, New York, and at the Griffin Museum in Winchester, near Boston, Massachusetts.

HUMANKIND is now on view at the Griffin Museum in Winchester, Massachusetts through January 11, 2009.

Organized by Hasted Hunt Gallery, NY, in collaboration with VII, Humankind showcases the work of international photographers Marcus Bleasdale, Alexandra Boulat, Lauren Greenfield, Ron Haviv, Gary Knight, Antonin Kratochvil, Christopher Morris, James Nachtwey, Franco Pagetti, and John Stanmeyer.

From the exhibition website:

“The 1955 exhibition, The Family of Man, which explored man’s indomitable nature, was seen internationally by tens of thousands of people and the catalog sold millions of copies.

Humankind, a contemporary response to that classic exhibition featuring images by members of the photo agency VII, is on display in the Main Gallery of the Griffin Museum November 13 through January 11, 2009.

Edward Steichen, curator of The Family of Man exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art more than 50 years ago, wrote, “It was conceived as a mirror of the universal elements and emotions in the everydayness of life – as a mirror of the essential oneness of mankind throughout the world.”

The exhibit was noted for its affirmative point of view and its look at man’s perseverance in the face of adversity. It toured the world for many years and the book was believed to be the most successful photography book every printed.

The exhibit was also criticized for its collectively upbeat portrayal of a world full of happy children and uncomplaining workers.

Mostly, however, The Family of Man is viewed as a record of classic photographs.

In Humankind, the photographers see a world that is different than five decades ago, with conflicts in the Middle East, AIDS, and concerns about the environment. Yet, it is also much the same.

Humankind is a mighty vehicle for understanding our global civilization as each VII photographer portrays her/his unique view of humanity,” says Paula Tognarelli, executive director of the Griffin Museum of Photography. “The world has changed in 50 years. Despite the opportunities and challenges that have come with the passage of time, the human face is constant in how it reveals our many emotions.”

The Griffin Museum of Photography is open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 am – 5 pm; Friday 11 am – 4 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, noon – 4 pm. The Museum is closed on Monday. Admission is $5 for adults; $2 for seniors. Members and children under 12 are admitted free. Admission is free to all every Thursday. For more information, call 781-729-1158.

VII photographer Lauren Greenfield‘s work is included in the exhibition Converging Margins at the Center for Photography in Woodstock through January 11, 2009

From the exhibition website:

“Historically, artists have lived to some degree or another on the margins of society – seen as neither working class nor upper class. Because of such a fluid identity, artists are able to interact with people and communities from a diverse range of backgrounds. They are often drawn to life on the margins as it represents a distancing from the norm and allows for more freedom of thought and action. By choosing not to belong to any one sector of society and by remaining ‘unclassifiable’ artists can break through existing barriers between often disparate sectors of society.

Converging Margins highlights 11 photographers whose work shows us what it is to be human and how mutable identity is even in a time in which people are becoming more attached to concepts of race, beauty, class, religion, and ethnicity. The photographers featured in Converging Margins have established and maintained long-term relationships with their subjects, and through the act of photographing, they become a fixture of these communities and transcend any perceived barriers by making their art.

Paul D’Amato happened upon the Mexican neighborhood of Pilson in Chicago in 1988. Feeling drawn to the energy of the poor and “rough” neighborhood, D’Amato spent the next 15 years returning to photograph the people of Pilson. He began by photographing the notorious gang, “La Raza”, whose trust gained him access to the community at large, inviting D’Amato to weddings, quinceneras and dinner. He photographed as a member of this community, from the inside looking out.

Juliana Beasley has been photographing in the Rockaways region of Queens, New York for several years. Her images are imbued with the mystery and melancholy her subjects exude. Over the years Beasley has become friends with many of the people she photographs and has come to consider the Rockaways a place full of magic and wonder. Her portraits reveal the raw human energy of challenged people living life fully on the edge of mainstream society.

Artists often move away from the towns or small cities in which they grew up in only to return seeking a sense of connection to family, friends, and places left behind. Richard Gary, Rachael Dunville and Deana Lawson have each returned to photograph people and places from their past in order to capture the essence of the moments and relations that shaped them. They view their hometowns with a removed perspective but with the genuine desire to connect and reexamine the moments and people from an earlier chapter of their life.

Lauren Greenfield’s multi-media project, Thin documents women who are fighting their obsession with making their own bodies painfully and dangerously thin. Not only have these women marginalized and become psychologically detached from their own bodies, but they show the human mind’s ability to marginalize us from ourselves and others. Through her process of filming, interviewing, and photographing her subjects, Greenfield allows us to witness their struggle, understand its complexity, and see the fragility of the human body under self-imposed stress.

The series The Girl of My Dreams began when Stacy Renee Morrison accidentally found a trunk of keepsakes once owned by Sylvia DeWolf Ostrander, a woman born 133 years before Morrison’s own birth. Compelled by the mysterious trunk, Morrison began to research Ostrander’s genealogy. Shortly thereafter, Ostrander began appearing in Morrison’s dreams. Through her photography, Morrison created a place where the two women could converge. With Morrison serving as Ostrander’s surrogate in the images she effectively connects the living and the dead and brings a long-forgotten woman to life.

Each year, Miles Ladin photographs the fashion shows at Bryant Park during NYC’s Fashion Week as well as the after parties that are attended by the ‘rich and famous’. Ladin has been photographing these events for several years and as a result of his familiar presence, he has become part of this culture. With the intimacy of an insider, Ladin’s images allow us to peak into such exclusive private gatherings and consider the spectacle of public identity.

Lucas Foglia’s photographic portrait of a neighborhood garden in Providence, Rhode Island reveals such endeavors as a place for people who live within a larger community but come from different backgrounds to gather, work side by side, and transcend cultural and societal boundaries. Foglia’s images additionally celebrate the community garden as a meditative space where locals are able to participate in a collective enterprise and create beauty.

Ed Templeton began skateboarding at age thirteen in California. Through skate culture Templeton found a forum to discuss racism and homophobia and in turn has come to serve a pioneering role in making skateboarding a leading cultural force. Skateboarding, now a worldwide culture (and industry) attracts people from all sectors and margins of society. Ed Templeton’s photographs and site-specific installations echo the feeling of a living scrapbook and suggesting skaters as a nomadic collective family.

Stephen Schuster has said that “Nobody knows the city like the graffiti writer”. His documentation of graffiti writers and their environments reveals their vision of the city and its discarded spaces as the experience of subject and photographer collide in this show.

Collectively, the artists in Converging Margins cross real and perceived boundaries through the process of photographing to show us that life is extraordinary in every way, in every place.

— Leah Oates, Curator

LEAH OATES is an independent curator and artist who has organized over 30 exhibitions and projects over the past 10 years at venues such as Nurture Art Gallery, Artists’ Space, OIA Gallery, Chashama Gallery, Peer Gallery, and The Kaufmann Arcade Gallery all in NYC. In 1999, Oates served as the in-house curator for Chicago’s Peace Museum where she organized historical exhibitions about the peace movement in the US as well as readings and lectures. Oates currently writes for NY Arts Magazine and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.”

To learn more about Oates’ curatorial projects, visit http://www.stationindependent.com.

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