What does it mean for a young Native American girl to come of age? Is the ceremony a kind of guidebook to maturity? I had no idea how to answer these questions when I was invited to photograph for the family the sacred and private Coming of Age Ceremony.
If there was one word that best summed up the current status of humanity it would be difficult to find a word more appropriate than “transition.” As the world expands and contracts from the impact of a pandemic the ripples from this event flow without discrimination. Each of us, in our own way, is impacted as are those among us considered to the creatives. Maintaining a career in the creative arts comes with the reality of perpetual transition. This could be the work transitioning from one genre to another, or from one technology to another, or it could mean documenting a subject that in itself is in transition. The career of an artist is like staring a river knowing you will never see the same water twice. Issue Two of AG23 features five artists who fully embrace this ideology through focus, dedication and courage.
Before the Second World War my maternal family fled Korce, inSouthern Albania, and immigrated to the United States. After the borders were sealed by the paranoid dictator Enver Hoxha, we were cutoff from those who remained behind for nearly fifty years. We sent a steady stream of letters and photographs but never received a response.In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, I traveled to Albania for the first time. There, I was stunned to discover that the letters and photographs sent by my family in the United States framed and hung. I have since made dozens of return trips to explore the people and place that were off-limits for so long.
In Dec 2009, I began photographing my mother at the nursing home where she had been living for nearly thirty years. She entered the facility after her second husband beat her so badly that she suffered permanent brain damage.
As a creative, I feel as if I move back and forth through time. The first decade of my career was spent creating images that I saw through the lens of Shakespeare and all of his tragedies. Genocide, Apartheid, war zones and famine, all took center stage and consumed the last of my innocence.
Iraq and Singapore are separated by a swathe of continent, generation, history and situation which are as different as can be. But fellas here are as particular about sculpting their hair into impressive constructions as the fellas there. Any older man is an uncle (although an older woman in Iraq is not necessarily an aunty). The fullness of a woman’s hair, an equal obsession (don’t even start with the horror that greets unusual hair fall), as is the fairness of her skin.
We are more alike than we know.
One of our goals at AG23 is to support the creative world and storytellers in general. One method of doing so is our plan to award micro-grants to contributors with an important story to tell. These awards, while modest, will potentially help to kick start a project, finalize a project, rent equipment, purchase an airline ticket or be used in any other way that helps the artist accomplish their mission. A large portion of the proceeds from AG23 merchandise will be used to help launch our grant program. Thank you for your support.
I lied. There are eleven words and photographers. But who is counting? I did this same film as a YouTube Live last week or the week before but I liked the idea enough to redo it here with more information.
This is a work in progress, and probably always will be, but the AG23 Zine collaboration is one of the best projects I've ever been involved in. Like many good projects, this one is somewhat complicated and somewhat unique and it takes a bit of explaining. My goal with this film, part one, is to give a little background on what AG23 is and how it came to be. The players, the parts, and the process. With a simple goal of promoting understanding through dialogue and art, AG23 is open to anyone with a story to tell. A twice-a-year, 2000 copy 6x9, softcover with #70 paper and a matte cover. (In a slipcase!) A non-precious object meant to educate, illuminate, and inspire.
I've known Andrew Kaufman for years. In fact, I traveled to Panama with Andrew in 2010 to see for myself what all the canal fuss was about. We drank ice cold beers, wrote in our journals, and spent DAYS making pictures. I knew Andrew's canal project was perfect for AG23 and was something that more people should be exposed to. The canal doesn't make headlines here in the states, but it should.
Good grief. If you watch this entire thing I'm nominating you for a humanitarian award. Part Two in all its glory. There are more specifics here but there is still a lot to cover in regard to doing long-term work. Each of us navigates photography in our own way but I've learned a thing or two that might be of benefit. Take my opinion for what it is, my opinion nothing more.
AG23 is open to any and all people with a story to tell. AG23 is both a printed zine and a digital storytelling platform. The zine works as a catalyst, driving readers from the print piece to the website where stories can be further detailed, explained and promoted.Learn more