The Muslim Face of America

Detail, The Silence of Others, © Bharat Choudhary

HE STANDS ON A BUSY THOROUGHFARE, UNNOTICED, a young man surrounded by people but alone.

He’s one of the subjects of an award-winning photography project, “The Silence of Others,” by London-based photographer Bharat Choudhary.

The portfolio documents young Muslims in a post 9-11 and 7-7 world, which for many is a world defined by social alienation, racial profiling, and negative perceptions.

Detail, The Silence of Others, © Bharat Choudharty

The work in “Silence of Others” looks mostly at young people in Illinois, with a few portraits also taken in the U.K. Most are contemplative scenes, capturing private, introspective moments, drawing the viewer into the subject’s thoughts and emotions.

Choudhary, who is not Muslim, undertook the project to “understand the psychosocial experiences of a community.”

You can view the gallery at his blog.

Can A Photo Change the World?

© JR

JR IS A STREET ARTIST who works in large format, mounting portraits on outdoor walls around the world. His work has a social angle: in one project, he placed photos of Israelis and Palestinians alongside each other, and his film “Women Are Heroes” portrayed the lives of oppressed women worldwide.

In 2010 he was awarded the TED2011 Prize, granting him a “wish” to change the world. Last week he revealed that wish: a global participatory art project called Inside Out.

It works like this: you take a B&W portrait, upload it to Inside Out’s website, and JR will send it back to you in poster form. Then it’s up to you to find the “right” wall.

The project encourages individual or group action. (You can even “donate a wall” to display art if photography’s not your thing).

JR believes a photo can change perceptions and turn around prejudices—he aims to change minds and “make the invisible visible.”

Inside Out is certainly the kind of project that gets people off their couches and engaging with the world. And in this current narcissistic culture it’s good to take the focus off ourselves.

And, by working on a scale usually reserved for advertising and billboards, JR’s project brings a little social action to photography.

But politically-minded art begs an outcome. Will Inside Out inspire people to follow-through and take real action, or is this another cool, “hip” exercise? Is the world ready for street art with a conscience?

Learn more at Inside Out Project.

Honor the Treaties: The Lakota of Pine Ridge

THEY ARE “AMERICA’S NATIVE PRISONERS OF WAR,” and although the last battles between the European the Lakota were fought over a century ago, the Lakota are still suffering from the legacy of that war.

The suffering of indigenous peoples is the cause of photojournalist Aaron Huey, who documents the poverty experienced by the Lakota in his photo essay, “Pine Ridge.”

Huey’s relationship with the Lakota spans five years and he’s a passionate advocate for native rights. Last fall he spoke about Lakota history and showed his photos at TEDxDU. During his talk, he urged people to action to help the indigenous of this country.

Huey is currently collaborating with artists Ernesto Yerena (one of the initial designs, left) and Shepard Fairey to produce a campaign advocating for Indian rights.

See more of Huey’s work at Pine Ridge at his website. More about the Indian Movement here.

Searching for Disappeared Loved Ones

© Paula Allen Photography

IN CHILE’S ATACAMA DESERT is the city of Calama, the site of human rights violations committed during Augusto Pinochet’s regime.

After the military coup on September 11, 1973 that brought Pinochet to power, the military engaged in its “Caravan of Death” campaign, targeting four cities where 72 people were murdered.

Calama was the final stop on the caravan. Twenty-six men were disappeared. Their wives, sisters and daughters, who became known as the “Women Of Calama,” searched for the men’s remains in the desert. It was not until 2007 that the truth about what actually happened to their family members was revealed.

© Paula Allen Photography

The story of the Women of Calama is captured in the photographs of Paula Allen, a social documentary photographer and human rights activist, who documents the lives of women around the world who face oppression and violence. This year sees the reissue of her 1999 bilingual book, “Flowers in the Desert/Flores en el Desierto,” which shows the story of her trips to Calama.

You can view photos from this project at Allen’s website.

More about Pinochet and the Caravan of Death

The Importance of Indigenous Peoples

THE TRIBAL WORLD IS IN TRANSITION, and at risk of disappearing altogether due to factors like globalization, climate change, and conflict. And though the actions of the global north deeply affect indigenous communities, the people in them are rarely seen by most of us. A new book by photographer Dana Gluckstein lets us share in the lives of the people she’s photographed over the past thirty years.

The book is Dignity: In Honor of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which can be appreciated for its powerful and compassionate images of indigenous peoples worldwide. It’s also reminder and call to support those communities.

In this short video, Dana Gluckstein talks about her work and why she’s an activist for the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples:

The book’s publication honors the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and is published as part of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary year.

View a gallery of photos from Dignity at PhotoKunst.

Bringing Human Rights to the Surface

Image: © Projekt Desap

THE USE OF GRAFFITI TO HIGHLIGHT HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS is the subject of a new post from the New Internationalist by Filipino journalist Iris C. Gonzales. But this is no ordinary graffiti—Dikit-rato, or “photo-graffiti” are photos pasted on walls.

The practice was developed by members of the group Surfacing, who paste blown-up photos of family members of journalists, activists, and ordinary citizens who were murdered or forcibly disappeared.

Exposing the faces of the victims and their families on this kind of large scale grounds the fight for human rights in everyday conversation. It not only raises awareness, but hopefully brings about action and change.

Read more about the group’s work at their blog, Surfacing, and Facebook page.

More about human rights and the Philippines.

Reel Politics: The Films of Jean-Gabriel Périot

JEAN-GABRIEL PÉRIOT IS AN AGITAGOR: his short films confront and comment on current politics, historical events like WWII and Hiroshima, and socio-economic issues, including unemployment and gay rights.

While not exactly documentaries, the films use archival footage and images from the news. Périot edits the images together to create a story-montage, but it’s still up to the viewer to draw her own conclusions about the ultimate meaning.

Despite this, Périot’s voice and intent comes through clearly: he wants a reaction from the viewer.

His latest work, “The Barbarians,” (2010), begins with a slow montage of photo-op portraits of world leaders and other public figures, the kind of static images we’re used to seeing after a summit or conference. One image replaces the other, then adding in another layer to include ordinary citizens, shots from weddings and school events. It speeds up until you can’t quite keep up with each image.

Eventually the images slow down, to reveal the individual, in action, striking against society and its structures: police, buildings, vehicles.

The questions arise: how do I feel about the demonstators? What is the connection between the group and the individual?

Watch all Périot’s short films at his official website.

Here is an article about the exhibition of Periot’s work currently on view in Jakarta.

Photographing the American D.R.E.A.M.

Marketing, Age 2. Image © Lupita Murillo Tinnen

THEIR FACES ARE HIDDEN, THEIR BACKS TO THE VIEWER, but every person in photographer Lupita Murillo Tinnen’s portfolio, “American D.R.E.A.M.,” reveals the identities of undocumented students through body language, and their environments: the rooms in which they live and work.

Tinnen, a Fort Worth native and Texas-based photographer, confronts the recently-rejected Development, Relief & Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act in this series. The title of each portrait gives the student’s major and the age they were when they came to the U.S.:

Art, age 18 months. Image © Lupita Murillo Tinnen

Political Science, age 7. Image © Lupita Murillo Tinnen

See more of American D.R.E.A.M. as well as Murillo Tinnen’s other portfolios at her official website.

Five Stories About the Aftermath of Conflict

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CRISIS ENDS, in the aftermath of a conflict? Life does indeed go on for the people affected by conflict, even though the media may turn away to a new story. The Aftermath Project supports photographers who stick around and document those stories.

This year, two photographers were awarded grants for their long-term projects about Central Asia and Native Americans. Three other photographers were recognized for their work covering Chechnya, the Vietnam War, and World War II.

1. Monica Bulaj‘s photos of daily life in “Afghanistan: Not the War Only” have the quality of oil paintings. In her award-winning portfolio, she captures moments of family and religious life. The portfolio will be part of a larger project on Central Asia.

2. Danny Wilcox Frazier examines the aftermath of the 19th century Wounded Knee massacre and the stand-off between the American Indian Movement and the US government in 1973 in “Wounded Knee: Generations Endure a Massacre.”

Three other finalists were recognized by The Aftermath Project:

3. Jessica Hines, US: “My Brother’s War”

4. Olga Kravetz, Maria Morina, Oksana Yushko, Russia (joint application): “Grozny: 9 cities”

5. Helena Schaetzle, Germany: “9,645 kilometers memory”

View selections from all these portfolios at The Aftermath Project. More about social documentary photography.

How You Can Support Social Issue Photography

Image: © Krisanne Johnson

HOW DOES A PHOTOGRAPHER ENGAGE WITH A SOCIAL ISSUE? An initiative by Magnum Photos called The Emergency Fund aims to support independent photographers who are committed to engaging with social issues over the long-term and on projects that need more media attention.

The projects are selected by an editorial board that reviews proposals from 100 professional photographers. Up to twenty projects are chosen from this field.

You can donate to The Emergency Fund to support the work of the selected photographers. Magnum has partnered with Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects, to manage fundraising.

At the moment, the fund’s interactive website features a world map pinpointed with several of the fund’s projects currently underway; most are “Coming Soon” but right now you can view “I Love You Real Fast,” (above) about young H.I.V. positive women in Swaziland; “Crisis In Afghanistan,” which documents heroin addiction; and “Land of Cush,” which captures the mood in Sudan as it edges closer to a referendum in 2011.

View these visual essays at Magnum’s Emergency Fund site. Read more about the Fund in this story from Wired, including images from nine photographers supported by Magnum’s program.