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we tell stories


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we tell stories


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Stray from the path


© Joel Redman

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Stray from the path


© Joel Redman

Death Valley, California perhaps an unusual tourist destination for some, though it has a unique beauty and quietness to it that attracts people to visit from all over the world. The fact that it is one of the hottest places in the world with the highest recorded temperature is not a barrier to tourism and the lure of visiting this great wilderness. 

With it’s unusual name stemming from the time of the Californian gold rush, when a group of pioneers whose story would be referred to as the “The Lost 49ers” journeyed across this immense Great Basin desert with some perishing or suffering severe hardship. Leaving the survivors to allude to this expanse through which they had traversed as, Death Valley. 

Since the story of these great pioneers, travel and access has made many previously inhospitable wildernesses accessible for people to visit or escape to. When you visit today you still can’t help but feel you have travelled to an immense and unreal world, referenced poetically in Zane Grey’s a “Wanderer of the Wasteland”. “How desolate and grand! The far-away, lonely and terrible places of the earth were the most beautiful and elevating.” 

There is undeniably a certain romance to visiting the desert. The idea of wandering off and disappearing into it is a thought that you carry with you at times. Edna Brush Perkins in her travelogue “The Heart of Mojave” remarks on this feeling in the following extract:

“When you are there, face to face with the earth and the stars and time day after day, you cannot help feeling that your role, however gallant and precious, is a very small one. This conviction, instead of driving you to despair as it usually does when you have it inside the walls of houses, releases you very unexpectedly from all manner of anxieties. You are frightfully glad to have a role at all in so vast and splendid a drama and want to defend it as well as you can, but you do not trouble much over the outcome because the desert mixes up your ideas about what you call living and dying.”

Tourism and the accessibility to these many great wildernesses allow us to travel to pretty much wherever we may aspire, though for whatever reason we still endeavor to visit those scenes that are suggested to us from previous travelers, be that the highest peak or the lowest desert basin. The path well travelled and these significant geographical landmarks still conjure an appeal in us and entice us to glimpse them for ourselves. 

This project looks at the path well travelled as well as some of the quieter surrounding landscape and history that Death Valley has to offer. Be that the Timbisha Shoshone tribe, who have an area of land recognized as their own after years of struggle, who live alongside the more affluent tourist hub which is Furnace Creek, or the surrounding beauty of the landscape away from the standout geographical highlights. Death Valley and other great wildernesses offer more than just the discernable focal points that initially attract us and unfortunately people forget sometimes to stray from the path. 


click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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UK Bikelife


© Dan Giannopoulos

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UK Bikelife


© Dan Giannopoulos

The UK Bikelife movement is young, but in the past 2 years its growth has been dramatic. Quickly becoming a fully-formed subculture and underground sport scene with hundreds of riders in dozens of groups across London and further afield.

The primary aim of the Bikelife scene is to bring young bikers together to ride, perform tricks and share videos and photos to a large and engaged social media following.

In the eyes of the police, UK Bikelife is just the latest menace to hit the streets of London. The group are seen and often portrayed as a violent criminal gang with a complete disregard for authority, and are allegedly responsible for serious and multiple levels of illegal activity; from unlawfully performing stunts on public roads, to the massive increase in motorcycle theft in London, and the rise in moped snatch-and-grab robberies. They are seen as such a threat to the public that a police task force has been set up to tackle this spike in bike related crime. From using tazers on riders to sending out helicopter surveillance -at much cost – to impounding and destroying bikes for a multitude of vague and tenuous reasons.

However the reality of the UK Bikelife scene is much more complex and far less sinister than the police or mainstream press would have the public believe.

Riders in the scene are predominantly young disaffected males from working class backgrounds who use riding as a means of escape from the harsh realities of daily life. Through social media they can create and curate modern outlaw celebrity images, and as a result they are increasingly idolized by their rapidly expanding following. Parallel to the rise in popularity is the increase in the level to which they are vilified by the media. With regular negative coverage from  major news organisations like the BBC, Channel 4 News, The Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Mirror. In 2015 a Halloween rider out event in London saw international coverage.

This series of photographs aims to subvert the stereotype that the riders in the Bikelife scene are bad people doing bad things and aims to instead emphasise their skill and dedication to performing stunts, the strength of their community and bonds, their defiantly British resistance of oppressive authoritative figures as well as the ups and downs of life in the scene from the joys of sharing deep connections with others through bikes to the unity that arises when a member is injured or dies.

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Russian Fairytales


© Frank Herfort

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Russian Fairytales


© Frank Herfort

Frank Herfort’s photographs are personal invitations to explore self-contained worlds that startle with rich detail and vibrant color. Based in both Berlin and Moscow, Frank has made exploring the contrasts and contradictions of life in contemporary Russia a central focus of his artistic work. Whether situated in the austere, crumbling remains of Soviet society or the opulent homes of modern Russian oligarchs, the spellbinding results demonstrate a singular talent for documentary storytelling. These immersive environments intrigue with people and riveting places seemingly caught out of both time and context.

 

Wondrous worlds waiting for something to happen. For his project “Russian Fairytales”, the Leipzig-born photographer captured scenes of inner states of the soul in a surreal (artistic) space. The whole world is frozen in a condition of waiting. The people on these photos seem to be totally absorbed in a deep, paralyzing, enchanted slumber. And we have the uncanny sneaking feeling that this time there is no prince on his way to kiss them awake again. “This moment of life here could go on for ever” remarks Frank Herfort. The images make a surreal, absurd impression; they raise more questions than they answer. “The storyline, these absurd constellations, develops out of the relationship between the people in the photos and the space around them,” comments the Leipzig photographer. The seminal idea for it came to him during a stay in Russia two years ago, at a time when he was beginning to develop an interest in the aesthetic aspect of public spaces. “In Western Europe everything is so neatly defined, so specific. A waiting room is a waiting room, an office is an office. In Russia, in contrast, rooms are open to interpretation, many-layered and not so prettified. And I also noticed that there seem to be many more people just sitting around in them. None of them seems at first sight to know what they are doing there. I tried to integrate people like that into my pictures.”For this, Herfort chose subtle settings with people whom he met at the scene and asked whether they would be willing to let him photograph them in the poses he wanted. Thus, in “Russian Fairytales” what we see are not classic portraits and individual emotional states. Herfort makes intuitive use of the often melancholy atmosphere of a location, influenced by building materials such as marble and dark woods, in order to give emotional states and themes such as isolation and stagnation visible expression. He finds the Russian soul mirrored (in a double sense) in these images of the Russian urban population, just as the artist-princes such as Repin or Surikov once did -  and finds himself quoting the tradition of the painters almost by accident. The ”fairytale” in these pictures is nothing more than a distant dream of another time, far, far away.  


click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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Sangre de Reyes


© Carlos Cazalis

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Sangre de Reyes


© Carlos Cazalis

Publisher: Editorial RM Hardcover 200 pages 77 images + 2 brochures 6.4 x 9.4 in Spanish edition ISBN RM Verlag 978-84-16282-75-3 English edition (includes insert in French).  ISBN RM Verlag 978-84-16282-79-1

Publisher: Editorial RM
Hardcover
200 pages
77 images + 2 brochures
6.4 x 9.4 in
Spanish edition
ISBN RM Verlag 978-84-16282-75-3
English edition (includes insert in French). 
ISBN RM Verlag 978-84-16282-79-1

The American artist Susan Scafati referred to certain experiences and iconography that include notions of right and wrong in our collective global conscious, the way meaning is organized and subject to change, and life’s ability to transform so rapidly that your mind is unable to simultaneously rationalize what you see, and she found that all these were also inherent in the bullfight.

In the book Sangre De Reyes, Carlos Cazalis explores the bullfight alongside the Spanish matador José Tomás, considered the greatest matador that has lived, from a more cultural anthropological approach, following him for nine years through Spain, France and Mexico. It is as much blatantly brutish as it is aesthetically cosmopolitan. 

Cazalis has three generations of professional matadors in his family’s dynasty in Mexico. The objective of his book is to exemplify the vitality of death, through the deep and serene bullfighting style of the matador Jose Tomas as much as the strength and nobility of the bull in a cinematic view that evokes simultaneous polarized reactions.

The Pulitzer Prize American author Ernest Becker, might have agreed in “The Denial of Death” that the matador is the prodigal son being sent to his possible death, the immortal symbol that the family, the village, or society at large can attach itself to, face death without taking the risk and thus continue to deny one’s own fate in the unconscious.  

Sangre de Reyes is thus a silent hope of images, like the silence that the matador José Tomás exerts in the arena, that moves the masses and the same he has kept now for over a decade in explaining his often brute and then poetic serene calm. Ultimately, it is a kind of disembodiment, a performance reduced to a waist, a wrist. Finally, to spirituality. If it is a disembodiment, it is a paradox because when the horns gore, it’s his body that suffers, and it is that suffering that made him shake hands with his friend the Mexican matador Fernando Ochoa on the operating table of the bullring in Aguascalientes where they were operating on him while he was awake. Awake because anesthesia would have killed him. He was already practically dead. 

In retrospect Cazalis says he does not wish to defend the actions of killing, but he knows that the bullfight guarantees the continuous existence of this particular kind of bull. The wild things exist and mankind must not try to tame them all. He found solace in the words of the American activist and naturalist Derrick Jensen, who said that for an endurable and balanced peace, as a rational, thinking, individual being on earth, that consumes both plants and animals for its sole benefit, it is the responsibility of each one of us to ensure the continuity of any species we consume, because everything comes from the earth. Anything else is stupidity. 


click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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Release The Crowd


© Nic Bezzina

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Release The Crowd


© Nic Bezzina

Text: by Nic Bezzina and Toby McCasker, Vice Journalist Photographs: approx. 80 in tri-tone black and white Pages: 140 Size: approx. 27.2 x 22.5 cm Publication date: October 2016 Limited Edition: 2,000 copies

Text: by Nic Bezzina and Toby McCasker, Vice Journalist
Photographs: approx. 80 in tri-tone black and white
Pages: 140
Size: approx. 27.2 x 22.5 cm
Publication date: October 2016
Limited Edition: 2,000 copies

Spanning five years, five countries, and nine unique music festivals. This project turns the camera away from the bands and captures the emotion of the crowd, that amorphous, vibrating creature with a thousand faces. Revealing both the intensity that comes with letting go, as well as the close communities inside which fans can truly be themselves.

Music and society have always been intimately related. When they both come together, it becomes a rite of passage for many people and just one day can create memories that will last long after the stages are dismantled and the bands move on. Live music and festivals are powerful at the individual level because it can induce multiple responses that are physiological, kinetic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioural – sometimes all at once. Few other stimuli have the power to affect such a wide range of human functions. 

With all of my projects, I like to consider them from the future. How will people respond to them 30 years from now, or even longer? It becomes an anthropological study on a scene, on a culture, on humanity in a way.

The festivals captured include: Wacken (Germany) Download (UK) Sonisphere (UK) Bloodstock (UK) Hellfest (France) Primavera Music (Spain) Big Day Out (AU) Soundwave (AU)


click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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On Deep Intimacy


© Carlos Cazalis

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On Deep Intimacy


© Carlos Cazalis

Beyond the routine and classic mechanisms that are conceived to orchestrate the novel aspects of life in Cuba and its circumstances, there is a serene and precise approach, that requires a sketchy architecture, of an anthropological mission, in order to penetrate and know the true face of the nation. 

The now deceased Cuban scholar and historian Joel James called it, La Cuba Profunda, or Deep Cuba, today a cliché emancipated by every camera that visits the island. In this photographic approach, On Deep Intimacy, curated and edited by the Cuban anthropologist and Santero, Abelardo Larduet, both him and Carlos Cazalis, set out to show an exuberant, colorful and poetic mystery, legitimized and compiled through their mutual collaboration. The result is a contrast of the varied pigmentations of the Cuban, the cultural differences between the countryside and the city; and the latent presence of religious expressions of African substrate, as permanent and tangible traces of the slave route and the cruel colonization of America and of course, of Cuba. 

Larduet and Cazalis show an imaginary conception of how Cuban culture might have been created during the colonization period into an agricultural stronghold for sugar, coffee and tobacco up until modern day. Through cultural components and various customs of both Spanish, West African and other Europeans and on why Cuba, despite its hardships due to the material deficiencies and an economic embargo imposed since the beginning of the 1960s, still maintains an international presence with all the cultural splendor that characterizes it. 

A language and a message is set, a Deep Cuba extends itself through two years of work from the eastern shores of Guantánamo into the Guajiro countryside, through the intimacy of two opposite families of color; one black, in the hills of Guantanamo amongst sugar cane workers contrasted with the whitening of Holguin and the Canary migration of a farming village in Ciego de Avila. In Santiago de Cuba, alongside Larduet, Cazalis steps into the deep religious customs, rooted from the Haitian post rebellion until he arrives to a decomposed point of the urban Havana. The images thus are an insertion into the framework of what happens today in the modern world.

 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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Summer in Crimea


© Didier Bizet

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Summer in Crimea


© Didier Bizet

On the 18th March 2014, it was announced that the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea would unify with the Russian Federation a er a winning “yes” vote in the referendum. Since then, tourism in Crimea has collapsed. In two years, the number of visitors has dropped from six million to less than three million, according to western media. Meanwhile, local press states that more than 6 million tourists have visited the area this year alone. For Ukrainians and the Crimean Tatars, the tourism industry is now a thing of the past. Building sites that had been started before the referendum took place have since been stopped and le abandoned all along the Crimean coast. President Vladimir Putin has moved to restart tourism in Crimea by introducing nancial aid to the Russian community, and by o ering cheap, all-inclusive holiday packages to Russians tourists as an incentive to visit. This in turn could be helped by the construction of a 19km-long bridge that will link Crimea to the mainland by 2019, and already scores of seaside adverts can be seen plastered all over bill- boards. “Investing your rubles in Crimea is a sure bet,” says Martina Cravcova, an estate agent manager in Ayu-Dag. A white, blue and red flag flies from all public buildings and now features on all car registration plates. The atmosphere has completely changed, especially now that Moscow is keeping the peninsula under surveillance yet again and has reintroduced security measures. Zhenya, a Ukrainian woman from Simferopol, testifies that old practices, such as giving up your own neighbours to the authorities, are reemerging now that Crimea belongs to Russia. But sixty two year later Crimea was transferred to the Ukraine, the Russian community can be found relaxing along the Lenin Embankment in Yalta. Street artists and entertainers delight the crowds, while children are having a field day eating their favourite ice creams, and the Russian national anthem could well be the hit of the summer.

 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive 

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Urbanistan


© Matjaz Krivic

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Urbanistan


© Matjaz Krivic

Urbanistan is a photography project, which explores the urban environment of the developing world. The project aims to demonstrate that urban doesn't necessarily mean modern and to draw attention to the slowly declining social values that are sinking under increasing pressures of modernisation. 
The main focus is to search and explore the points where people and communities develop and intwine in the urbanity of humanity. 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive
 

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Brazil’s Warrior Woman


© Joel Redman

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Brazil’s Warrior Woman


© Joel Redman

The humble Babassu palm provides a livelihood for communities of women across North Eastern Brazil. Bread, charcoal, oil and soap are produced from the nut and husk; the surplus is sold on. But production has not always been so peaceful. 

“Brazil’s Warrior Women” touches on the battle to maintain these communities’ way of life. In the face of intimidation and threats from farmers for years, 

Babassu women have negotiated their own terms; creating a grassroots movement and establishing the ‘Free Babassu Law’ in seven states. The law gives landless coconut gatherers rights to collect from palm groves. 

In this series states such as Tocantins show how the “Free Babassu Law” can have a positive effect whereas for some in the State of Maranhao the fight continues for access, though with legislation passed the woman are able to fight back. 

These inspiring women are now able to plan for the long-term, diversifying their business and securing their future. They fight for their families, their forests and the Amazon as a whole.

 

More information and films on the Babassu

Click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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Digging the Future


© Matjaz Krivic

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Digging the Future


© Matjaz Krivic

16-year-old Yakuba emerges from a 50-meter deep hole after another grueling 14-hour work day underneath the panorama of western Burkina Faso. Last year, his uncle and two of his friends died when a nearby mine collapsed. News? Not at all. In this part of Burkina Faso, this is just another day at the "office" for the miners.

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, yet ranks fourth in Africa's production of gold. Much of the gold comes from small-scale mines, where children work alongside their parents from dawn to dusk. They only get paid for the amount of gold they find, and sometimes they won't make any money for weeks, even months. The work is hazardous. Mines collapse frequently, and the working environment is intoxicated with dangerous chemicals like mercury, used in the process of extracting gold.

Unfortunately, there is no gold for Yakuba and his team today. Sometimes it can take up to two weeks to find just the equivalent amount of gold used in one smartphone. 

Thousands of Burkina Faso's youths live and work on these sites. Most of them have never been to school. For many of them, the mines are their only home. The International Labor Organization considers mining one of the worst forms of child labor due to the immediate risks and long-term health problems it poses with exposure to dust, toxic chemicals, and heavy metals—on top of back-breaking manual labor.

Men, women, and children dig the mines by hand, and while there are always ropes for the buckets of ore, there are not always ropes available for the boys who scrabble up and down the pits. Finding footholds and handholds in the dirt walls is not a given — but losing your grip can prove fatal. 13-year-old Nuru cannot recall how long he has worked in the mines. He has never been to school and does not know how to read or write. He believes that mining is still better than working on the fields back home where "you farm the land, but don't earn anything." 

Government-approved dealers undoubtedly turn a blind eye to the children of the mines who suffer and die dreaming of their very own "El Dorado" for the sake of our smartphones.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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Venice


© Joel Redman

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Venice


© Joel Redman

Venice is a series of images shot around Venice in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California.

It’s a place of hopes and dreams occasionally fulfilled and sometimes never quite or perhaps impossible to meet. People have headed out West from the times of the Gold Rush to those seeking adventure or new beginnings. Constantly portrayed in Hollywood movies as a mystical magical place of opportunity. 

Venice in particular epitomises this, as it’s a melting pot of ethnicities and differing types of people, be they actors, creatives, wannabes, opportuntists or folks chasing a dream. 

Shot in September 2016 at a particularly divisive time in the US, prior to the 2016 presidential elections, perhaps this point will be a moment to reflect on “The American Dream” and all that it stands for and conveys. 

As with most cities there are numerous contradictions, the hopes and dreams that people came here with and what they aspired towards, then the often reality of where they find themselves. Venice visually contrasts this at times, with those that perhaps are realising these dreams and those that still yearn too, and at the same time it feels seemingly at ease with these inconsistencies. 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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Italian Beauty


© Andrea Frazzetta

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Italian Beauty


© Andrea Frazzetta

More than half of the products used in the cosmetic world sprouts from a golden triangle of 500 companies among Milan, Bergamo and Crema, in the heart of Lombardy, Italy’s richest region. The so-called Lombardy’s “cosmetic valley”, an appealing combination of technology and creative flair.

More than 60 percent of the make up used by women around the world is developed and produced here.

This year’s exports will increase by another 8 percent, thanks to the boom of demands from the United States and from the United Arab Emirates. With the supply industry - made of chemical companies which provide basic ingredients and firms that produce machineries and packaging – the turnover increased to 14 billions Euros and to 200,000 employees.

Italian industry alone is able to run 144 billion Euros, considering the markup, i.e. the reloading of cosmetic houses, retailers and perfumeries.

And yet this is a silent excellence. It is not a practice promoted by the people involved: all brands though, from the largest to the smallest ones, from Russia to Australia, entrust Italian companies with the production of make up, creams and glazes.

The chemical pharmaceutical of these laboratories are the ones who create new recipes, side by side with creative artists, who are focused on thinking about trendy colors. People here think even about the shape of the applicator - drop, disposable or pad? - and on suggesting new advertising campaigns. So, if this year in New York gloss polished is fashionable, it is because someone in Crema has decided so.

Leonard Lauder, octogenarian emeritus president of the luxury giant Estée Lauder, invented, after World War II, the "Lipstick Index", according to which the consumption of beauty products tend to rise in times of crisis: “This thesis still stands: women seek gratification in buying beautiful products, but not being able to spend too much on clothes, they take off the whim by buying lipsticks or nail enamels. That is why many fashion houses invest in beauty, which has also the advantage of ensuring a much higher profit margins than fashion,” carries on the economist: “The manufacturers of beauty are by far the most resilient: at critical times they hold out better against marketplace in a fix."

 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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There It Is. Take It


© Carl Bigmore

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There It Is. Take It


© Carl Bigmore

'There It Is. Take It.' weaves the past, present and possible future to explore California’s relationship with water, climate change and possible migration on the west coast of America. 

Much has been made of the drought gripping California in recent years; the impact on the state’s huge agricultural industry and the plummeting levels of its vast network of dams is well documented. It is part of the fabric of everyday life, but is also a narrative submerged in the state’s history and mythology. 

In 1913 water began to flow through the Los Angeles Aqueduct from the Owens Valley, travelling 233 miles across the state. Engineered by William Mulholland it facilitated the growth of what we now know as modern day Los Angeles. But it also triggered a ruinous effect on the farming communities along the Owens River, sparking the bitter California Water Wars. It’s the story brought to screen in Roman Polanski’s ‘Chinatown’, one of power, corruption and greed, which continues to present day. 

As Los Angeles expanded, so did the state’s population. Thousands fled the Oklahoma dust bowl drought of the 1930’s to seek riches in California and its fertile lands. But increased demand for water has stretched the state’s resources, and today a new dust bowl has begun to emerge. There are predictions that Californians may face the prospect of leaving in search of a new landscape in the Pacific Northwest.

Travelling along the waterways of California and into the Pacific Northwest the project builds a narrative based around water and drought; how the decline of the environment reflects a much broader decline in contemporary American society; the corrosion of the American Dream and the people that this is impacting upon. As the narrative progresses images of every day life shift to form an epilogue of the possible future; a landscape and its people on the brink.

 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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Saint Olaf's Wake


© Kevin Faingnaert

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Saint Olaf's Wake


© Kevin Faingnaert

In Summer 2016, I was able to return to the Faroe Islands, a small protectorate of Denmark in the middle of the North Atlantic, to follow up my previous project, Føroyar. Saint Olaf’s Wake is my latest series about Ólavsøka, the biggest summer festival in the Faroe Islands, and by most Faroese considered as the national holiday of the Faroe Islands.

Originally Ólavsøka was a memorial feast for the Norwegian King Olav the Holy, who brought Christianity to the Faroe Islands and is believed to be the champion of the national independence. Today, each year on 29 July the Faroese people take their national costumes and gather from far and near to fill the otherwise quiet streets of Tórshavn, the smallest capital in the world, to celebrate Ólavsøka and attendcultural and sports events like boat races, football matches, folk music shows and other events. 

One of the highlights of Ólavsøka is the national rowing competition finals. The docks are packed with people cheering for their local rowing teams, who from all over Faroe Islands, compete in different categories, with plenty of glory and honor at stake. 

Olavsoka is a traditional festival that cherishes unity and connectedness of everyone living on the same ground: no matter who you are and where you are, you can't miss the feeling of togetherness of the Faroese.

 

click to view the complete set of images in the archive