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Social Change Photography

Archive for September 2009

FiftyCrows gallery opens with an exhibition by Ed Kashi – Oct. 1 to Nov. 15

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We are very excited to announce the opening of the 2009-2010 exhibition season at the FiftyCrows Gallery. We will open the season with internationally renowned photojournalist Ed Kashi. The exhibition is in two parts, the first part is a series of triptychs from his newly published book Three. The second part, Curse of the Black Gold, is from Ed’s years of documenting the oil crisis in the Niger Delta.

Please join us in welcoming Ed back to San Francisco for the exhibition opening and book signing.

(Note that there are two openings. October 1st is First Thursday San Francisco gallery opening night and October 8th is an opening with Ed present for book sigining.)

WHERE: 49 Geary St Suite 225, San Francisco, CA 94108

WHEN: Thursday October 1  (First Thursday SF gallery night)

Thursday October 8 (Book signing with the artist)

THREE is a series of triptychs that explore the relationship between individual photographs, rather than relying on the isolated image. Every day we are surrounded by a cacophony of imagery, and Kashi has used this visual multi-tasking to his advantage. Whether they portray off-beat moments of human interaction, the contrast between barren landscapes and over-development, or subtle gestures that become universally significant, these triptychs are captivating visual harmonies that demand our attention.

CURSE OF THE BLACK GOLD is Kashi’s graphic exposé on the effects of 50 years of oil in the Niger Delta. Despite having one of the world’s largest oil reserves, the majority of people in the Niger Delta survive on just one dollar a day. Shot over a three-year period, images from Curse of the Black Gold have appeared worldwide in magazines, newspapers, documentaries and exhibitions. The exhibition will feature two multimedia pieces created by Ed Kashi.

Curse of the Black Gold: Oil in the Niger DeltaNIG06018_8823NIG06018_11663

To receive an invitation to the openings, book signings and more, please email us at

Written by Zara Katz

September 24, 2009 at 9:13 am

affect/effect: Photographs That Create Change -Ed Kashi’s Story

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Consider the metaphor of a grain of sand: one grain in a thousand is insignificant, while it can also be unique in shaping everything that it touches. Now apply this idea to photography. Countless photographic images give us a consciousness about what is going on in the world, but our lives are awash with powerful images, most of which fall away by day’s end. A sub-clause to the metaphor: even if that one image (grain of sand) does produce an emotional response, it is rare the feeling that the image elicited will inspire action.

But what happens when one grain of sand (image) gets stuck in your eye so persistently that you must make a move to change the way you feel? The affect/effect: Photographs That Create Change series will feature stories from photographers and friends of photography that share how one image affected an individual to make a profound effect in the world.
Our first story comes from internationally renown photojournalist and close friend of FiftyCrows, Ed Kashi. It is close to impossible to make a short list of Kashi’s credentials as he has worked extensively in Israel, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria, Europe, and the United States, to name a few and often shoots stories for National Geographic and the New York Times. During a three year period, Kashi documented the effect of the oil industry on the people and environment of Nigeria which he titled Curse of the Black Gold. Although Nigeria has one of the highest oil revenues in the world, most of the people live on less than one dollar a day. Kashi gives a brief recount about one of his photographs that created change for a boy in Nigeria:


“A month or so after it came out we got a call from a woman named Betty in upstate New York. She asked for a copy of the picture and we thought, Oh gosh, this is some crackpot. (Because the image is so intense) Anyway, we gave her a copy of the picture and then six months later she contacted us and she said, “I just want you to know that through my church I found that boy and he is now enrolled in school and I’ve extracted him out of this absolute dead end – because this job, which was also a very dangerous and unhealthy job … and now he’s going to school.” When those things happen…. I’ve been fortunate that that’s happened a few times in my career so far where there’s actually an image or a body of work that catalyzed action.”

Written by Zara Katz

September 18, 2009 at 4:27 pm

And the list goes on….. FREE Event at the Annenberg Space for Photography with 30 international photojournalists

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An amazing photography event is happening in two days (Thursday, September 17th) at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. Some of the best international photojournalist, including several FiftyCrows IFDP winners and important friends of FiftyCrows will be featured among 30 photographers. This event is free and open to the public so don’t miss it if you are in the area.

Slide Show Night

Following the great success of the Slide Show Night hosted by the Annenberg Space for Photography, during the L8S ANG3LES exhibit last April, the Photo Space is pleased offer an evening dedicated to the talents of international photojournalists. On September 17, 2009 the screens of the Photo Space will display a new array of exciting images which both compliment the mission of Annenberg Foundation, as well as the current exhibition.

This Slide Show night is inspired by Pictures Of Year, International (POYi), which focuses on photojournalism and documentary photography. The images gathered for this presentation have been culled from the work of 30 photographers, covering current subjects as varied as addiction, Native American socio-economic issues, International Affairs, Migrant Fishing in the Bering Sea, the fervor of Michael Jackson Fans, the cultures of Chinese Turkistan and Ethiopian Jews.

The program is a non-seated event. Complimentary food and beverage will be provided to registered guests.

Date: September 17th, 2009
This event is fully booked.
Time: 7:00-9:00pm
Location: 2000 Ave of the Stars #10
Los Angeles, CA. 90067
Free Event

Parking:  $1.00 with validation in visitors parking lot
For more parking information visit this page.

Participating Photographers:

NIG04020_1771Cory Arnold
Nina Berman
Larry Brownstein
David Butow
Philippe Engelhorn
Deanne Fitzmaurice
Yves Gellie
Masaru Goto
Katja Heinemann
Ryan Heffernan
Lisa Hogben
Aaron Huey
Kenneth JareckeThe Julie Project
Ann Johansson
Irene Fertik
Catherine Karnow
Ed Kashi
Brenda Ann Kenneally
Rita Leister
Gary Dwight Miller
Mike O’Meally
Darcy Padilla
Ryan Pyle
Benjamin Rasmussen
Espen Rasmussenrodriguez
David Rochkind
Joseph Rodriguez
Marissa Roth
Q. Sakamaki
Lourdes Segade

Also, friend of FiftyCrows, Colin Finlay will be leading a workshop at the Annenberg space on:


Description: Colin Finlay’s workshop is committed to exploring the photograph and the written word. To finding that sacred place within your soul, your other voice. To creating your new language, not constricted, taught or created by anyone but yourself. The day will seek to open wide a new level of self examination and explore the uncharted levels of your potential, a sharpening of the knife you hold within. During the course of this hands-on workshop, Colin will explore his process and photographs along with his own storytelling narratives and how they both inform and expand the visual language of the photograph.

Students should bring a digital portfolio/presentation of 20 images of their work and written journals if you have them.

Time: 10 am to 5 pm with a break for lunch

Fee: $250 per person and includes a signed copy of either TESTIFY or ANTARCTICA/SUDAN

Registration: Please register here.

Class Limit: 16 students

Written by Zara Katz

September 15, 2009 at 11:46 am

Painted Photos – IFDP winner Florencia Blanco creates new histories with old histories

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In 2002, Florencia Blanco won the FiftyCrows IFDP for her images of the people and place that she grew up in – Salta, Argentina. The essay, Salteños, titled after the name used for residents of the area, documented the daily life in the city, which holds a peculiar diversity and strangeness. A thick tension exists between those with native heritage and those with European heritage. Blanco depicted the class difference in Salta by photographing the elaborate parties and costumes of the rich and the rural simplicity of the poor lower class. She also captured this separation by highlighting the interiors of people’s homes from barren, religious icon adorned walls to plush, colorful, oil-painting and family photography rich living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms. Seven years after winning the IFDP, Blanco is having a book published on the Salteños project.

13 Habitación de la Coco-Coco´s bedroom 200010 Vestíbulo-Vestibule 200002 Quinceañera-Girl on her fifteenth birthday 2000
Blanco’s new work seems to extend from her Salta images of oil paintings and family photography in people’s homes. With Painted Photos, Blanco’s fascination with vintage hand painted photographs leads her to create new venues for viewing the images. The setting that she photographs the painted photo in creates a different history for the image that might have lost its roots. With others, she tries to connect the image back to their family through the environment that she places the photo in.

Blanco gives a short history of painted photographs in Argentina and explains how her new images strive to establish a connection between past and present.

Oil painted photographs were a very popular type of portraiture in Argentina during the mid 20th century. Although the companies that produced these photographs were often located in the bigger cities they were rare within the city limits. Traveling salesmen would venture to rural areas to sell these images door to door. Painted photographs offered families access to visual representation of themselves in the way that rich city dwellers commissioned oil-painted family portraits.

Painted photos were usually used for families to make homage to their most beloved family members. Being quite expensive with elaborate frames, they held prestige for the buyer who often had to pay in installments or with a group of people. Most of the portraits were made from photographs of deceased relatives who they wanted to make look distinguished. Immigrants that came to Argentina in the first half of 20th century used these painted portraits to remember their family members that they left behind. Often the clothing depicted in the portrait was completely invented and painted on in accord with different religious celebrations, weddings, or mourning periods.
I find painted photographs in people’s homes or at flea markets. I photograph them in a new settings which is some way related to the image, making a whole new scene and connection for the image that has been in a box or gathering dust on a shelf for decades. I explore the relationship of these images with new spaces in a way that links the lives of the portrayed people with the relatives that bought the photo.

Sometimes they collide. Sometimes they work together.

I am dealing with their power as images themselves, as icons that can deliver certain mood, give a precise atmosphere. And it’s a deeply mysterious one. At the same time, I’m writing the history about these photos in Argentina.

Written by Zara Katz

September 10, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Posted in Family, History, Photo Fund Winners

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Photo Fund Winner Update: Victor Sira

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As an immigrant himself from Venezuela, IFDP winner Victor Sira focuses his work on other immigrants in the United States, Latin American and Europe. His winning photo essay for FiftyCrows, Uprooted, showed the fragmented existence of Latin American immigrants who travel and establish a livelihood in the US. Sira states that: receiving the IFDP grant in 2002 from the FiftyCrows Foundation was a tremendous help during financially difficult time. In a more fundamental way, though, the IFDP grant gave me the confidence to experiment, to take risks, to take my ideas and run with them. For that I’m most grateful.


Sira goes on to discuss his most recent work and how it has evolved from the time that he was in school until the present. He continues to look at the state of immigration in a series about border crossing in Europe and the United States. Using both film and video, his interest in film-making has grown out of fifteen years of work.

01_© Victor Sira_Calais 200302_© Victor Sira_ Spain2005

At the age of twenty-two, while studying at the International Center of Photography in New York City in 1992, I began my first documentary project. I photographed different immigrant experiences in New York City. I continued to photograph extensively for several years, in the United States, Latin America and Europe.

A close examination of my works produced during the pass years led me to re-evaluate my entire photographic approach. In considering my work—all still images—I came to realize that I wanted to capture movement and sound building upon and improving on my previous photography efforts. I began to envision a new project that would record fragments of reality containing a range of human emotions such as pain and isolation to examine the social, political, and historical burdens of the people and landscapes that I had photographed years before.

I realized that video as the ideal medium for this new project. During the summer of 2006, with the support of a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, I began the initial research for the project and wrote the first draft of the treatment for the film that would be based on my own experiences photographing immigrants along the border in the United States and Europe.

03_© Victor Sira_ MOLDOVA 2000504_© Victor Sira_ Arizona 2007

Three short films from a serie about the border will be showing at “THE ELECTRONIC ART AND VIDEO FESTIVAL, TRANSITIO_MX 03” in Mexico City at the beginning of October.

Written by Zara Katz

September 2, 2009 at 5:36 pm