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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pepper Spray Meme Going Too Far?

I’d like to think there is nothing more to add to the “Pepper Spray Cop” meme that’s floating all over the web. It was funny at first, as people rushed to show off their Photoshop skills by inserting Officer Pike into everything from a painting by Seraut to groups of Muppets. But then things turned serious, as he started appearing in iconic 20th century photographs.

When does something become unfunny? Is it when every aspect has been exhausted, or when it starts to interfere with our feelings about historical events and their importance?

Is putting him into the infamous Kent State photo, or Nick Ut’s photo of a screaming girl running from a napalm attack, or Robert Capa’s falling soldier going too far? Does it remove the meaning of these images and the events they portray in order to belabor a joke?

Pete Brook of Prison Photography tweeted:
“What does the pepper spray cop meme actually mean? Well, some of the mash-ups can be funny ... but some of them are distasteful. And by distasteful I mean they use a commonly recognised image to grab attention but then belittle the horror of the original event.”

Some think that this is a way to reach a younger audience who might be interested in then figuring out what the context of the photo is. I’m not so sure. I think there’s a point where you have to realize not everything is fodder for comedy. It belittles the people in the photos and the people who took the photos at great risk when they are so indiscriminately used for something that has already passed its sell date.

And even the website creator says:

“Lastly, I don’t want to post the one of the naked girl in Vietnam screaming in the road or the guy getting shot in the head so stop sending them. I literally have FIVE THOUSAND submissions of those two pictures. Arbitrary? Sure. Tough luck! Don’t like it? OCCUPY MY ASS. Figuratively.”

Enough already. I am waiting for the basket of kittens, though.

(top to bottom original photos: Bill Hudson, John Filo, Robert Capa)

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Monday, November 7, 2011

FAMBUL TOK, A Film About the Power of Forgiveness

I have been thinking a lot lately about forgiveness: of oneself, of those who have wronged us, and of all the little things we cannot let go of. Then yesterday I saw “Fambul Tok,Sara Terry’s documentary about reconciliation and forgiveness in Sierra Leone, and I was humbled.

If you don’t remember, Sierra Leone was at war from 1991-2002. Rebel groups trying to overthrow the government committed atrocities including hacking the limbs of people, kidnapping children and forcing them to kill, mass rape, and other things too horrible to mention here. You may remember that "blood diamonds" were used to fund the war. The world captured and is prosecuting Charles Taylor for his role, but the government of Sierra Leone gave blanket amnesty to all but a handful of men who led the carnage.

Fambul Tok,” or “family talk” involves bringing accuser and accused face to face before the community in order to heal. One admits their crime and asks forgiveness of the person wronged. If the person forgives, the community becomes whole again. For a war that broke communities apart, it is an incredible example of grace.

Sara Terry has been shining a light on what happens AFTER war for many years now with her work from Bosnia and her Aftermath Project. This is her first film. Along with cinematographer Henry Jacobson, they visited Sierra Leone at least a half dozen times in the company of John Caulker, the founder of "Fambul Tok," to let these African people tell their own story. It is at once overwhelming and beautiful.

None of us will ever experience anything even close to what the people of Sierra Leone have suffered. But the amazing ability of these incredible people to forgive brought me to tears over and over again. They have a strength I can only hope for.

I can’t let go of this film, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The final showing is tomorrow, Tuesday Nov. 8 at 11:30, at the IFC Center in the West Village. Don’t miss this documentary. It’s extraordinary.

You can purchase a DVD and a book of the story here. To find out more, go here I recommend you do both, and then invite your friends to watch with you. This is what grace looks like.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Crusade for Collecting

Jennifer Schwartz, Atlanta gallery owner and all around wonderful photo person, is trying to raise money to bring art directly to people around the country.

"I decided to take this show on the road. I am going to go on a ten-week, ten-city tour in a little over a year where I do pop-up shows featuring the work of incredible emerging photographers from across the country that are part of The Ten," she says.
The Ten is her highly curated monthly online exhibit of 10 exclusive photographic images promoting collecting. It's a unique idea and one that Jennifer believes in passionately.

So take a look at her clever video and consider contributing to make this happen. Be a crusader for collecting photography. Contribute here

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Another Week Full of Events

There's lots to see and do this week, so let's get right to it!

Tonight, Tuesday November 1:

Joni Sternbach will be talking about Surfland
Center for Alternative Photography
36 E. 30th St.
To register for this free lecture email or call 917-288-0343

EN FOCO presents an evening of Art + Cocktails
The home of Sidney Baumgarten & Terry Paladini Baumgarten
Battery Park City
Food is courtesy of John's of 12th Street.
Tickets start at $75
You can find out more, and buy tickets here

Wednesday November 2:

Manjari Sharma introduces the newest works of Darshan
SVA Lecture Series
136 W. 21st Rm. 418F
Free and open to the public

Caren Alpert's "terra cibus" Magnified food photos (top: fortune cookie; bottom: sprinkles)
James Beard Foundation
167 W. 12th St.

Gilles Larainne: IDOLS & House of Louda
Steven Kasher
521 W. 23rd

Thursday November 3:

Lori Waselchuk's amazing "Grace Before Dying" traveling exhibit will be showing at
Umbrage Gallery
111Front St. #208

Terri Gold "Into the Mists of Time in Guizhou, China"
Keyes Art Consulting
551 W. 21st 4th fl.

Karen Knorr: "India Song"

Danziger Gallery
527 W. 23rd

Mark Yankus "Call It Sleep"
Clamp Art
531 W. 25th ground floor

Max De Esteban "Proposition One"
111Front St. #206

Simen Johan "Until the Kingdom Comes"
Yossi Milo
525 W. 25th St.

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