Rollfilm

Albert Kahn Photograph collection

Posted in Books, History of Photography, Photography by Rollfilm on February 27, 2009

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Albert Kahn, born at Marmoutier, Bas-Rhin, France on March 3, 1860, died at Boulogne-Billancourt, Seine, France on the night of November 14, 1940, was a banker and French philanthropist.

He was born into a Jewish family, one of 5 children of his parents, Louis and Babette Kahn.

In 1879 he became a bank clerk in Paris but studied for a degree in the evenings. His tutor was Henri Bergson who remained his friend all his life. He graduated in 1881 and continued to mix in intellectual circles making friends with Auguste Rodin and Mathurin Méheut.

In 1892 he became a principal associate of the Goudchaux Bank which was regarded as one of most important financial houses of Europe.

In 1893 he acquired a large property in Boulogne-Billancourt where he established a unique garden containing a variety of garden styles including English, Japanese, a rose garden and a conifer wood. This became a meeting place for French and European intelligentsia until the 1930s when due to the wall street crash Kahn became bankrupt, the garden was turned into a public park in which Kahn would still take walks. Kahn died during the Nazi occupation and so escaped deportation.

In 1909 Kahn travelled to Japan on business and returned with many photographs of the journey. This prompted him to begin a project collecting a photographic record of the entire Earth. He appointed Jean Brunhes as the project director and sent photographers to every continent to record images of the planet using the first colour photography, autochrome plates, and early cinematography. Between 1909 and 1931 they collected 72,000 colour photographs and 183,000 meters of film. These form a unique historical record of 50 countries, known as “The Archives of the Planet”.

Kahn’s photographers began documenting France in 1914, just days before the outbreak of World War I, and by liaising with the military managed to record both the devastation of war, and the struggle to continue everyday life and agricultural work.

He also promoted education at the highest level through travelling scholarships.

The economic crisis of the Great Depression ruined Kahn and put an end to his project.

Since 1986 the photographs have been collected into a museum at 14, Rue du Port, Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris, at the site of his garden. It is now a French national museum and includes four hectares of gardens, as well as the museum which houses his historic photographs and film.

[wikipedia]

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These and many more images have been published  in “The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn”

cover

Got to www.albertkahn.co.uk for more information and images.

Joakim Eskildsen – The Roma Journeys

Posted in Art, Books, Documentary, Exhibition, Joakim Eskildson, Photography, Roma by Rollfilm on May 8, 2008

The Roma Journeys

Between 2000 and 2006 I together with writer Cia Rinne undertook travels in seven different countries with a view to gaining an insight into the life of the Roma and the conditions they face. We always tried to spend a considerable length of time among the people whom we wanted to learn about and, if possible, to live with them for a while.

It was our own interest that initially took us to the Roma streets in Hevesaranyos in northeast Hungary, where we spent four months at the home of Magda, an elderly Roma. The other journeys to Romania, India and our travels in Finland came about through personal contact, while in Greece and Russia we were initially assisted by human rights organizations and in France by the Centre de recherches tsiganes in Paris.

These Roma journeys were by no means meticulously planned, and instead the product of a number of coincidences that enabled us to come into contact with the Roma. We endeavored to communicate directly with them. In most countries this was possible, and while in Russia and India we were accompanied on our travels, and thus had willing assistance.

We have frequently been asked what had triggered our interest in the Roma, but we were unable to provide a definitive, let alone exhaustive answer. What is certain is that once we hard started we were unable to simply stop continuing with the project. The more we found out about the Roma and got to know them, the more our interest in and liking for them grew.

In keeping with the different countries traveled, the photographic body of work is divided into seven series, the sequence of which roughly corresponds to the chronology of our journeys.

[via official site: Joakim Eskildson]

hu 011

Hungary

in 009

India

gr 008

Greece

ro 004

Romania

fr 010b

France

ru 006

Russia

fi 016

Finland

See more images at Joakim Eskildson’s website. The project has been published as a book as well.

Pieter Hugo: The Hyena and Other Men

Posted in Books, Nigeria, Photoessay, Photography, Pieter Hugo by Rollfilm on November 30, 2007

Pieter Hug: “The Hyena and Other Men”

These photographs came about after a friend emailed me an image taken on a cellphone through a car window in Lagos, Nigeria, which depicted a group of men walking down the street with a hyena in chains. A few days later I saw the image reproduced in a South African newspaper with the caption ‘The Streets of Lagos’. Nigerian newspapers reported that these men were bank robbers, bodyguards, drug dealers, debt collectors. Myths surrounded them. The image captivated me.

Through a journalist friend I eventually tracked down a Nigerian reporter, Adetokunbo Abiola, who said that he knew the ‘Gadawan Kura’ as they are known in Hausa (a rough translation: ‘hyena handlers/guides’).

A few weeks later I was on a plane to Lagos. Abiola met me at the airport and together we took a bus to Benin City where the ‘hyena men’ had agreed to meet us. However, when we got there they had already departed for Abuja.

In Abuja we found them living on the periphery of the city in a shantytown – a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons. It turned out that they were a group of itinerant minstrels, performers who used the animals to entertain crowds and sell traditional medicines. The animal handlers were all related to each other and were practising a tradition passed down from generation to generation. I spent eight days travelling with them.

The spectacle caused by this group walking down busy market streets was overwhelming. I tried photographing this but failed, perhaps because I wasn’t interested in their performances. I realised that what I found fascinating was the hybridisation of the urban and the wild, and the paradoxical relationship that the handlers have with their animals – sometimes doting and affectionate, sometimes brutal and cruel. I started looking for situations where these contrasting elements became apparent. I decided to concentrate on portraits. I would go for a walk with one of the performers, often just in the city streets, and, if opportunity presented itself, take a photograph. We travelled around from city to city, often chartering public mini-buses.

I agreed to travel with the animal wranglers to Kanu in the northern part of the country. One of them set out to negotiate a fare with a taxi driver; everyone else, including myself and the hyenas, monkeys and rock pythons, hid in the bushes. When their companion signalled that he had agreed on a fare, the motley troupe of humans and animals leapt out from behind the bushes and jumped into the vehicle. The taxi driver was completely horrified. I sat upfront with a monkey and the driver. He drove like an absolute maniac. At one stage the monkey was terrified by his driving. It grabbed hold of my leg and stared into my eyes. I could see its fear.

Two years later I decided to go back to Nigeria. The project felt unresolved and I was ready to engage with the group again. I look back at the notebooks I had kept while with them. The words ‘dominance’, ‘codependence’ and ‘submission’ kept appearing. These pictures depict much more than an exotic group of travelling performers in West Africa. The motifs that linger are the fraught relationships we have with ourselves, with animals and with nature.

The second trip was very different. By this stage there was a stronger personal relationship between myself and the group. We had remained in contact and they were keen to be photographed again. The images from this journey are less formal and more intimate.

The first series of pictures had caused varying reactions from people – inquisitiveness, disbelief and repulsion. People were fascinated by them, just as I had been by that first cellphone photograph. A director of a large security company in the USA contacted me, asking how to get in touch with the ‘hyena group’. He saw marketing potential: surely these men must use some type of herb to protect themselves against hyenas, baboons, dogs and snakes? He thought that security guards, soldiers and his own pocket could benefit from this medicine.

Many animal-rights groups also contacted me, wanting to intervene (however, the keepers have permits from the Nigerian government). When I asked Nigerians, “How do you feel about the way they treat animals”, the question confused people. Their responses always involved issues of economic survival. Seldom did anyone express strong concern for the well-being of the creatures. Europeans invariably only ask about the welfare of the animals but this question misses the point. Instead, perhaps, we could ask why these performers need to catch wild animals to make a living. Or why they are economically marginalised. Or why Nigeria, the world’s sixth largest exporter of oil, is in such a state of disarray.

Text: Pieter Hugo


Mallam Mantari Lamal with Mainasara,Nigeria 2005


Abdullahi Mohammed with Mainasara, Lagos, Nigeria 2007


Mummy Ahmadu and Mallam Mantari Lamal with Mainasara,
Abuja, Nigeria 2005

got to Pieter Hugo’s website for more photographs.

Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes

Posted in America, Books, Kyle Cassidy by Rollfilm on October 15, 2007

Kyle Cassidy traveled 15,000 miles over two years photographing Americans in their homes and asking one question:

“Why do you own a gun?”

I love history and I love old mechanical devices — guns are both. I also enjoy target shooting.”

When I was diagnosed with cancer I found myself and my family in need of protection. I was too old to fight, too sick to run, and since cancer took my vocal cords, I couldn’t yell for help. I purchased
my first ever firearm.”

My family had guns the whole time I was a kid. then i went off and joined the army and went away and come back. I have guns now largely for the same reason I have fire extinguishers in the house and spare tires in the car. I’m a self reliant kind of guy. and there could come a time when I need to protect my family and i’m a self reliant kind of guy.”

I have one for self protection. I was raised to never rely on anyone else to protect me or watch my back. It took me a year to pick out one that I liked.”

Check out http://www.armedamerica.org/ for more informations and photos!

Humanism in China

Posted in Berlin, Books, China, Exhibition, Photography by Rollfilm on June 10, 2007

Shadows of the East

Article by Tilman Spengler on signandsight.com [1]

In a bleak upland region in central China two cheerful women walk out of a cave, above whose entrance a large sign proclaims “Fashion Store”. On a branch of the Yangtze River village children stand up to their hips in the freezing cold water dangling souvenirs on the ends of long bamboo poles, hoping to attract the custom of the tourists on the passing excursion boat. A group of six blind story-tellers is led over a stony mountain pass in the north-east. Curious onlookers hiding behind their sunglasses crowd round the two victims of a traffic accident. A happy, exhausted mother breast-feeds her triplets.Those are just five images out of almost 600 photographs from the People’s Republic of China that went on show on May 20 at the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt. This is a reproduction of an exhibition that first opened three years ago in Guangzhou before moving on to Shanghai and Beijing. In the original show 250 Chinese photographers showed works covering the past 50 years; the curators had a total of 100,000 photographs to choose from.

Now the photo show with the unusual name – the original version was also called “Humanism in China” – has landed in Frankfurt for its first stop in Germany. It will go on to Stuttgart, Munich, Dresden and Berlin, whose museums have also made a major contribution to the work of bringing the documentary pictures over to Germany. Visitors will be grateful, for nowhere in any other contemporary exhibition has it been possible to get closer to the ordinary life of the nation that makes up a quarter of the world’s population.

The term “humanism” in its current Chinese form made its way into the cosmos of Chinese thought as a rather lonely stowaway in a Japanese translation of Schopenhauer: “The belief that mankind is the root”. Of course today, when Chinese people speak about what we in the West would define as “humanism” they find their own idioms and metaphors, where Schopenhauer’s role is naturally only a subsidiary one. So how did the courageous curators in Canton come up with this term? Two simple thoughts perhaps hold the key. “Humanism” has, as already mentioned, the premise that “mankind is the root”. The decisive thing here is the idea of the root. The word “capitalism”, which radiates a so much bigger promise in today’s China, accordingly means “The belief that capital is the root”.

Every Chinese person, if you will excuse the exaggeration for a moment, thinks in signs, in the characters of his culture. “Capitalism” and “humanism” are only a single character apart. Man against capital. A blind storyteller being led over the mountain pass will understand that, as will a mother trying to breast-feed triplets – as will even an onlooker staring through his shades at a victim on the road.

The semantic ballistics of the word “humanism” can, however, also be understood through the prism of the country’s most recent history. The “brightest lighthouse that ever appeared as a character on a Chinese screen”, as one prominent documentary film called him, Chairman Mao, staged an ideological battle against the “spirit of bourgeois humanism” shortly before launching the Cultural Revolution. Any intellectual who was able to imagine that passion, fear, violence, joy and compassion did not necessarily have to be the direct fruit of correct (or “false”) socialist consciousness, and was able to express those thoughts, was put through the mill – if not by choice then by compulsion.

Today – bearing China’s scarcely healed modern history in mind – anyone who brings up the word “humanism” is also evoking the socialist campaign that almost forty years ago led to the eradication of “humanist” culture in the name of socialism, or the no less devastating attack in the name of capital that began fifteen years ago. In both cases, it is important for posterity to record what made the two women so happy on their way out of the “Fashion Store” cave, and what souvenirs the tourists in the boat took with them. And what stories the blind men are going to tell after they have been led over the mountain pass.

Glücklicher Gewinner der Wohlfahrtslotterie - Liu Dewang

Fuhrwerk, Lastwagen und ein zur Landung ansetzendes Flugzeug - Wu Jialin

Ein Soldat verabschiedet sich von seiner Frau und seinem Kind, die ihn besucht haben und heimkehren - Feng Jianxin

Fischer vom Zhelang Fischereihafen - Zhang Jianguo
picture source: [2]
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[1] article: Tilman Spengler on signandsight.com

[2] photos: hr-online.de

[3] catalogue: “Humanism in China

[4] exhib. in Berlin: “Museum for Photography” – 4May-8July 2007