This N' That: Keep Up With The Know In Photography News
By Ashley Yu
Zehra Doğan Freed
In 2017, Turkish journalist, artist, and activist Zehra Doğan was in Nusaybin, a city bordering Syria, when she was arrested. Her crime? Posting a watercolor painting of the destruction of Nusaybin on social media. In the eyes of Erdoğwan’s government, not only was it unacceptable to show the Turkish flag fluttering over the ruined city after sanctioned violence, but it also supposedly linked Doğan to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is considered a terrorist organization. Authorities sentenced her to 2 years and 10 months imprisonment. There was a riotous upsurge amongst human rights advocacy groups, journalists, and artists alike. Even street artist, Banksy painted a mural on the Houston/Bowery wall to shed light on her plight.
Doğan founded JINHA, a Kurdish publication staffed fully with female reporters, but it was shut down after the failed military coup in July 2016. In October of last year, she received the International Women’s Media Foundation’s 2018 Courage in Journalism Award.
Zehra Doğan was finally released last Sunday.
2019 Whitney Biennial Announced Amidst Controversy
The Whitney has been battling protests after drastic action was taken against Warren B. Kanders. As Vice Chair of the Museum’s Board, Kanders has been revealed as board chairman and owner of Safariland, the manufacturer that sells tear gas to the government. Safariland’s tear gas has been involved in riots during Ferguson, Standing Rocks, Gaza, and recently against migrants crossing the Tijuana-San Diego border in November 2018. Activists, led by Decolonize This Place, have not only signed a petition with more than a 100 Whitney staff members, but also burned sage in the museum’s lobby.
Standing with the New York Times, prominent artist Michael Rakowitz refused to participate in the event in opposition of Kanders’ “toxic philanthropy.” To Rakowitz, “often times what an artist doesn’t do is more important than what they said they will do.”
Despite this, curators Jane Panetta and Rojecko Hockley have enlisted 70 individual artists and five artist collectives for the Biennial on May 19. The prestigious event boasts the presence of painter Nicole Eisenman who has won the Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as the collective Forensic Architecture, whose work digitally reconstructs the reality of human-rights violations. This year, the artist demographic participating in the Biennial is mostly female and leans young, the youngest artist aged 28.
This is not the only controversy that the Whitney Museum has faced during their Biennials. In 2016, Dana Schutz’s “Open Casket” painting of Emmett Till in his coffin resulted in accusations against Schutz for exploiting racial violence and the unjust death of a young boy for profit.
You can see the list of artists at the upcoming Biennial here.
Plan B for VOLTA Artists
With the help of gallerist David Zwirner and collector Peter Hort, VOLTA artists have no more need to scramble for last-minute arrangements as pop-up spaces have been offered in two Chelsea locations to replace the canceled art fair. The event, aptly named “Plan B”, will be open March 6 - March 9, offering over 30 gallery spaces. Admission will be free of charge.
The original VOLTA art fair was canceled less than a week before the opening due to unsafe structural concerns. While the Armory Show has simply been relocated, VOLTA canceled so as not to compromise the work of those who contributed.
“We are supporting this initiative,” says VOLTA director Amanda Coulson in a statement, “because we believe in facilitating the production of lemonade out of these lemons.” Instead of a “sob story,” it becomes an empowering story of the art community rallying together so the show can go on.
You can read more about the participating artists at “Plan B” here.
Congresswoman Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez Gets Her Own Comic Book
Hitting the bookshelves on May 15, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez, or AOC, is the superwoman protagonist of a new comic book called Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez and the Freshman Force. Published by Chicago’s Devil’s Due Comics, a portion of the proceeds go to RAICES Texas, an organization that provides low-cost legal aid for detained migrants and separated families at the Mexican border.
AOC received national recognition during the Midterm Elections, when she won the Democratic Party’s primary election for New York’s 14th congressional district against 10-term incumbent Congressman Joe Crowley. Not only is she the youngest Congresswoman ever elected, but she has also garnered a major following amongst the younger population, particularly on Twitter, because of her radical left-wing policies. She has been claimed as the most progressive speaker of the house and was recently praised for her incisive line of questioning during Michael Cohen’s Congressional committee appearance.
Many comic fans will enjoy seeing the familiar roster of contributors for the comic book, including Emmy-winning title designer Dean Haspiel, one of the artists behind Lego Movie 2, Jose Garibaldi, and illustrator for Batman, Tim Seeley. The comic has been praised as an empowering story for young girls and an encouragement for the younger generation to become more politically active.
You can take a look at the comic book here.
Guy Webster, The Man Behind Your Favorite Album Covers, Passes at 79
On February 5, rock photographer Guy Webster died at the age of 79, after a long battle with diabetes and liver cancer. He is survived by his daughter, Sarah Webster.
“I never meant to be a commercial photographer,” said Webster in a 2011 interview, he “was going to be a fine art photographer,” until he met record producer Terry Melcher. Despite that very lucky accident, Webster’s biographer Harvey Kubernik has praised him for “his reputation as a photographer capable not only of capturing the emotional nuance of the era, but also of helping to define it.”
Born in L.A. in 1939, Guy Webster was the son of Oscar and Grammy-winning songwriter Paul Francis Webster. His rise to success accompanied his photographs for music’s most famous albums, including The Doors’ self-titled album in 1967, Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence, and the Rolling Stones’ Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass). He has also taken images of numerous iconic faces of the music industry, including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger, Cher, and Bob Dylan--often times these icons would face Webster’s camera long before they became household names.
Oscar Winner and Inventor of Gaffer Tape dies at 92
Ross Lowell has passed at 92 in his New York home on January 10th. As a cinematographer, filmmaker, inventor, and founder of company Lowel-Light, he has made immeasurable contributions to the development of film and TV since the 1950s. He is survived by 4 children, 10 grandchildren, and a sister.
Born in 1926, Lowell began as a war photographer for the US Navy during and after WWII. In 1957, he was working on set for Walter Cronkite’s The 20th Century series. Frustrated by the limited options of lighting when shooting outside of a studio, Lowell essentially McGyvered a temporary and unobtrusive lighting technique for mounting lights, known as the swiveling ball-and-clamp that is still much used today. In 1959, Lowell would eventually modify the Johnson & Johnson tape to create Gaffer tape, which would stick to vertical surfaces and be entirely heat-resistant. Lowell would open his own company dedicated to the manufacture and development of studio lighting equipment and had 20 patents throughout Lowell’s life.
In 1966, he was the cinematographer for the Academy Award winning short A Year Toward Tomorrow and again in 1980 for Technical Achievement. He was also nominated for Best Short with his 14-minute film Oh Brother, My Brother, featuring his two young sons.