I just made this epic tome of my images from Peru. I built it as a book dummy and portfolio piece. Its about 160 pages and is being printed on high quality, Ilford Pearl Lustre paper with archival end pages, an oatmeal colored linen cover with this cool, wrap around cover sheet. You can view it here and even order one though its damn expensive. My concept for the book was to show different vignettes and photo stories from my 9 months of travel in Peru in 2009 and have fun, colorful chapter breaks with grids of various cultural items. Some examples below.
Frederick Jermaine Carter, a 26-year old native of Sunflower, Mississippi was found hanging from this tree in the white section of Greenwood on December 3, 2010.
I recently started a new project that attempts to document (and in the future, help to create memorials) at historical sites of racial violence in the US. My main reference material was the amazing and disturbing book “Without Sanctuary”, which reproduced about 80 postcards that were used as souvenirs from lynchings throughout America. Here is a short video from the book. Unbelievably, many lynchings (which in many instances took the form of people being burned alive) took place on court house squares and whose huge audiences of the town folk, sometimes numbering in the thousands, came to view the incidents as entertainment. The project idea had been fomenting for years and I feel strongly that until these crimes are recognized and memorialized and we as a society reconsile our past our racial relations can’t move forward in a positive and productive way. I travelled thru three states to track down and photograph a handful of the locations of these racial atrocities that still go unmarked & unacknowledged today.
While in New Orleans I had a productive meeting with Professor Alex Mikulich at Loyola whose expertise lays in racism, lynching history and white privilege . He was interested in my project and we discussed its future and implications and he had great advice. He later selected one of my photos from the series to accompany his article for the magazine of the Jesuit Social Research Institute, “Just South Quarterly” a theology based social justice organization from Loyola University. Here is a PDF of the article and another of the entire issue. The layout with my image is below.
I ventured to the deep south a little while back in search of rural juke joints. Project was a failure as I couldn’t locate what I was looking for but did spend some time with this amazing man in North East Alabama. A gravedigger who went on to own his own cemetery and still works everyday, he has also been a blues guitarist for the better part of 70 years and his musical history includes playing with John Lee Hooker in Detroit in the 1940′s. Here is an article about him.
Here is a small video of him playing.
Here is some film images from my recent three week trip to Peru. These are all from Peru’s capital city of Lima. Pizarro founded the city in 1535 in the valleys of three conjoined rivers, hence the overcast and smoggy air quality as the surrounding desert mountains don’t let the air circulate out to the ocean. Its said to be a dangerous place but I really dig it. Its medieval, depressed, gritty and alive…much more then the more up-scale suburbs that most tourists and Limenos prefer.
Because of the cold temps in NYC during the dates actual carnival parades and festivals around the world take place, the 100,000 or so West Indian residents of NYC throw the largest annual gathering in the United States every year around Labor Day, The West Indian Day Parade. Upwards of two million people come and line Eastern Parkway, a tree-lined boulevard designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, to view upwards of 50 different “bands” (groups of about 100 different dancers) who load up tractor trailers with dozens of giant speakers and, dressed up in classical carnival garb, make their way down the street. “Winding”, an amazing dance women do which involves somehow shaking their ass rhythmically up, down and around, without moving their upper body, is an incredible thing to watch (its featured heavily in the videos later in this post). The streets are also lined with tasty food including Kosher jerked chicken and Nation of Islam fried chicken and shrimp..we had both.
I photographed more “Nature of Detroit” the other day. I explored a neighborhood just off 8 mile and John R whose parks have gone to seed, every 2nd house is abandoned or burned and where crack rules the roost. One local told me their is a pair of hawks nesting in the roof of an abandoned home but I failed to catch a glimpse on a couple attempts. I was also told that deer have been walking thru the area in the winter.
A couple of weeks ago was Haitian day here in NYC and a sparsely attended parade and street party was just down the street from my apartment. I wasn’t aware (somewhat naively I suppose) that just around the corner from me on Nostrand ave. in Brooklyn, a 1/4 mi. away, I would not be able to communicate with 65% of my neighbors as French is the first language. The recent tragedy was referenced at the affair and felt to be sure but it didn’t seem to dampen the communities spirit as the energy was high, especially for the participants entranced by Ra-Ra music , a repetitive, chanting music with drums and handmade horns which made its way down the parade and with whom I was lucky enough to be enthroned amongst..walking backwards for a half mile.
Peru has one of the oldest bullfighting rings in the world. It dates back to the 1700′s. It was my first bullfight and was an intense experience. Hot, dusty, bloody & cruel but steeped in tradition with colorful pomp and circumstance, this spectacle is a cultural relativist’s dream debate. Is it a sport? Not sure. The world’s top matadors were there, mostly from Spain. It goes like this:
The bulls are ushered out to applause as they madly dash into the ring (one lucky one was disqualified after breaking off one of his horns after smashing into a wall). The other 5 where not so lucky. They start by fighting a number of different matadors or others, some on horseback. Colored spikes are thrown into the neck which helps to tire out the bull as he loses blood as well as correct any certain ticks he has while charging. After about 30 minutes when he is good and tired and in shock , the matador tries to deliver a long sword into a small spot on the bull’s neck where it can pass all the way into his heart. This never happened and a Peruvian assistant would have to deliver a series of knife blows to the head to finally kill the bull. When dead, they are dragged out of the ring by horses and then butchered immediately. Here is some more technical info.
Yes, it was cruel no doubt, but the life these 1000 lb. animals get is a hell of a lot better than the lives the animals we eat experience on the factory farms that 99% of our meat comes from. I wasn’t too impressed with the sporting aspects of it much as it seemed by the time the matador does his little dance the bull is so tired he is barely charging. Makes me wonder what the Peruvian cultural would be like if it hadn’t been squashed and stripped by the Spanish.