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Painting with Light: Incredible portrait photographs of young outsiders
06.23.2017
06:19 am
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‘Iris’ (2011).
 
At a cursory glance, I thought I was viewing some small figure detail from a Baroque painting or maybe a canvas by a Dutch Old Master. The richness, depth, and subtly of light fooled my eye. This was the photographer’s intention—to make the viewer re-examine what is seen.

The photographer is Pierre Gonnord. He previously turned his talents to photographing the last coal miners working in the pits at Asturias and Castilla y León, Spain. His portraits gave these men a dignity and nobility. They were “a tribute” to the lives being destroyed by economic cuts and governmental indifference—or as Gonnord described it “social genocide.”

Now Gonnord has thrown focus on to a series of painterly portraits of young people. He is specific in who he chooses to photograph, selecting “the person, the individual, alone in the margins of his social group…”

‘When I travel and meet a community, I have time enough to establish contacts and connections, to know individuals that move me for their charisma, sensitivity, intelligence, shyness, beauty … and this is why I decide to invite them (and no others) to do a portrait’

Gonnord takes his time photographing his subject and almost makes it sound almost like a forensic process:

‘Installed in the silence of a room, generally a very small space, sometimes with daylight, sometimes with a lamp, a flash, just one spot … in a short distance, in the same living area, I can talk with the individual, my fellow, a chosen human being, and looking at him I repeat once again this old ritual. A very short moment. Probably the most ancient since man has been on Earth. Strip little by little all the details, and in silence try to catch what maybe is under the skin’

His passion for portrait photography offers Gonnord the chance learn what he describes as “life experiences” allowing him to:

‘Learn from others, listen, watch, see, feel, express. It’s to open one’s eyes to the world, to know other universes, other realities in order to go beyond one’s own small frontiers in the urban environment and enter little by little into the sharing and the understanding of humanity’

and

‘To look into the eyes of these models is to feel in a certain way that we are looking at our own essence as human beings.’

See more of Gonnord’s portraits here.
 
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‘Attia’ (2010).
 
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‘Sophie’ (2012).
 
See more of Gonnord’s beautiful portraits, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.23.2017
06:19 am
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Vintage Japanese Young Person’s Guide to Sex
11.30.2015
09:30 am
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You may have read last week about the young man who ‘fessed up to having spent his “entire life” masturbating the wrong way—an unfortunate experience that left him unable to have sex without severe and debilitating pain. If only this poor kid had consulted one of the many sex guides available online or at his local library, or even spent a few hours browsing Tumblr for all the gifs of people wanking then he may have avoided considerable inconvenience and discomfort.

I am generally of the mind that sex guides hinder rather than enhance what should be an intuitive and mutually pleasurable experience—one ideally where individuals tell their partners what they want and share the enjoyment of sex together. But I know this isn’t how things pan out, as in the case of Twerking Seahorse’s alleged masturbatory misfortune—so maybe it’s for the best that people do have handy guides to help them on the way to pleasuring themselves and others.

Yet sometimes sex guides can seem strange and slightly off putting—like those creepy illustrations of hirsute men enjoying the missionary position in Alex Comfort’s The Joy of Sex—or even cold and scientific, like a technical drawing from Popular Mechanics. This Young Person’s Guide to Sex from the 1960s is a case in point. It starts off practical enough with courtship rituals and hints about handholding and flirtation, before suddenly switching into a kind of Ballardian handbook on sex—with test tubes for cocks, and artist mannequins attempting to straddle a young woman. From what I can figure out, this handy little guide was pretty popular in its day—so it did help youngsters scratch that itch—though I’m not sure if Twerky Seahorse would have been any the wiser from reading it.
 
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Handholding for beginners.
 
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Hair combing or shoe-shining is a practical way to show interest in someone of the opposite sex.
 
More handy sex tips after the jump, some of them highly confusing…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.30.2015
09:30 am
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Photographs of the ‘supreme Beatnik chick’ who inspired Patti Smith (NSFW)
11.04.2015
11:19 am
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In the early 1950s, a young Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken arrived in Paris to begin his career as a photographer. By day he worked for Magnum, by night—inspired by Weegee’s photographs in Picture Post—Van der Elsken documented the emerging underground youth culture of the city’s Left Bank.

In 1954, Van der Elsken compiled a volume of photographs Love on the Left Bank that followed a young Beatnik girl “Ann” through the gangs of bohemians, musicians and vagabonds who hung around the bars, clubs and flophouses of St Germain-des-Prés. Ann was in fact “played” by Vali Myers—an Australian artist, model, muse and associate of Jean Cocteau and Jean Genet, who Patti Smith later recalled as:

...the supreme beatnik chick—thick red hair and big black eyes, black boatneck sweaters and trench coats.

As described on its first publication in 1956, Love on the Left Bank was “a story in photographs about Paris”—a freeform impressionistic tale of Ann and her life among the “young men and girls who haunt the Left bank”:

They dine on half a loaf, smoke hashish, sleep in parked cars or on benches under the plane trees, sometimes borrowing a hotel room from a luckier friend to shelter their love. Some of them write,or paint, or dance. Ed van der Elsken, a young Dutch photographer, stalked his prey for many months along the boulevards, in the cafés and under the shadow of prison walls. Whatever may happen in real life to Ann and her Mexican lover, their strange youth will be preserved ‘alive’ in this book for many years.

Ed Van der Elsken‘s photographs changed perceptions about youth culture and anticipated the changes a younger generation brought to culture during the 1960s. Love on the Left Bank is available again, having been republished by Dewi Lewis publishers.
 
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More after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.04.2015
11:19 am
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Queer, boho or just plain gorgeous: Photographer captures the beauty of counterculture youth
04.02.2015
08:47 am
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Like every generation before them, millennials endure the scorn of their amnestic elders with obliviousness and eyerolls. I’ll concede that bitterly railing about “kids these days” is the prerogative of anyone over 45 forced to listen to Miley Cyrus, but I truly think intergenerational amity is a worthy and plausible goal—and I’d advise all those baffled by millennial bullshit to start by looking at the margins of youth culture, rather than their commercial representatives, who are obviously appointed by old millionaires anyway. 

Photographer Poem Baker‘s captivating series,Hymns from the Bedroom, shows a gorgeous array of young people—some bending gender, some subverting conventions, some simply looking beautiful. Her subjects are her friends, and she captures them with a vulnerability that reveals the intimacy of the shoot—an informal affair where she might snap only a few unpretentious candids before putting away the camera. From her site:

Hymns from the Bedroom is a personal journal of friends and people I’ve encountered whilst wandering around London. Most of whom are creative twenty-something’s on the threshold of their dreams and ambitions, ranging from performance artists, musicians, actors and fashion designers to strippers, transvestites and those who live on the fringes of society.

 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Amber Frost
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04.02.2015
08:47 am
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‘Streetwise’ - excellent 1984 documentary about homeless kids
05.15.2011
10:01 am
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Last week I posted about a new series of videos by the band In Flagranti, one of which (”On The Fringe”) features some great footage of street kids from the 1980s. Well, thanks to commenters Mister D and Steve Lafreniere I now know what that film is - not only that but I know it’s on YouTube and I have seen it. And so should you. It’s brilliant.

It’s called Streetwise. Directed by Martin Bell and shot by his wife Mary Ellen Mark, it was inspired by an article on homeless youth from Life magazine written by Cheryl McCall. At times it’s harrowing, but it’s really very good, and was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1984.

It follows the exploits of a few different children living on the streets of Seattle, at that point apparently the States’ “most livable city”. There’s the tough, smart Rat and his older mentor Jack, who live in an abandoned hotel, sell drugs, scam pizzas and raid dumpsters. There’s teenage prostitutes Kim and Erin, waiting to get picked up off the kerb by older johns and discussing which local pimp is better to work for. Erin is also known as “Tiny” and has a troubled relationship with her alcoholic mother, who knows she is a prostitute but describes it as a “phase”. She thinks she may be pregnant after having unprotected sex with a john - that’s her in the picture above. Like Paris Is Burning this film deals with people society regards as the lowest of the low - and what on paper looks like being a major celluloid bummer is actually funny, insightful, tender and at times uplifting. Surprisingly a lot of these kids are still alive, though not kids anymore.

Mary Ellen Mark was also the photographer for the original Life magazine article, and has built up a large portfolio of stunning photographs of these kids, like the one above. She and her husband still see them occasionally too. From Steve Lafreniere’s excellent interview with Mark for Viceland (well worth reading as she’s a brilliant photographer who’s had an extraordinary career):

I’m still in contact with Tiny. A few years ago, Martin and I went back to Seattle and we updated her life. And I’ve been photographing her—I haven’t been back there in three years—but I have been photographing her. I photographed her after she had her ninth baby but we couldn’t make it out there for her tenth.

Here is part one of Streetwise:
 

 
Streetwise parts 2-11 after the jump…

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Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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05.15.2011
10:01 am
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How to do news: Al Jazeera spends 25 mins. with actual young Egyptian & Tunisian activists

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As bewildered analysts on the sidelines wring their hands over “what’s next in Egypt,” Al Jazeera continues to very simply shame the American news media with regards reporting on the region’s issues.

Jane Dutton, the host of the network’s “Inside Story” show, does what we used to call actual insightful reporting by bringing into AJ’s Cairo studio Egyptian activists Gigi Ibrahim, Amr Wakd and Wael Khalil and, remotely, Tunisian graduate student activist Fidi Al Hammami. And while these kids may represent a somewhat elite and educated part of the thousands on the streets, Al Jazeera goes a long way here beyond the usual news formula of interviewing either excited guys in the middle of a protest yelling at the camera or annoyingly hedging news “contributors.”

At around the 18-minute mark, Khalil makes the crucial remark that puts the American punditry’s narcissistic agonizing into perspective: “We don’t need the US.” In short, Uncle Sam, the EU and the international community are rather irrelevant to this struggle. The paradigm’s changed, and the old powers need to get over themselves.
 

Posted by Ron Nachmann
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01.30.2011
12:19 pm
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