Anderson quotes Reinaldo Arenas, the displaced Cuban writer best know for his memoir, “Before Night Falls,” in a 1983 interview with Ann Tashi Slater: “Everyone who lives outside his context is always a bit of a ghost, because I am here, but at the same time I remember a person who walked those streets, who is there, and that same person is me. So sometimes I don’t really know if I am here or there. And at times the longing to be there is greater than the necessity of being here.”
The photographer Rena Effendi, whose pictures accompany Anderson’s piece, documented many of the neighborhoods and enclaves that appear in the work of Padura and other Cuban artists. In her photos of Havana, we see a city almost frozen in time. Relics of another era dot the streets, like props from a period film. Effendi also depicts the city’s lively street life, photographing people in motion against a backdrop of vivid murals and Havana’s signature pastel colors. “Cuba is neither a paradise nor a hell but, rather,” Anderson writes, “more of a purgatory, where some of us have the possibility of salvation.”
For six months earlier this year, the photographer Elena Dorfman covered the Syrian refugee crisis for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, one of the organizations that mobilized to build the Za’atari refugee camp, in Jordan, which David Remnick wrote about in August. Of the millions of Syrians displaced by the civil war, Dorfman was drawn most strongly to the teen-agers. “They seemed particularly shell-shocked and bereft,” she said. “They spoke to me of powerful longing and frustration.”
In these portraits, Dorfman documents a small fraction of a population disproportionately affected by the war. As Remnick writes of Za’atari, “The dispossession is absolute. Everyone has lost his country, his home, his equilibrium. Most have lost a family member or a close friend to the war.” The same is true for the teen-agers Dorfman photographed in camps in Lebanon and Iraqi Kurdistan. “They all talked about missing out on lives,” she said, “on futures that now seem lost.”
A hostess takes a cigarette break in the Kabuki-cho region of Tokyo.
A three-year-old girl’s Shichi-Go-San (a traditional right of passage) at the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, in the city of Kamakura.
Sakamaki’s mother leaves a Buddhist temple in Mikawa.
A farmer in Mikawa Province.
Katsura River, in the Arashiyama district.
A surfer headed to Shichirigahama Beach in Shonan, along the coast of Toyko.
Surfers after a day at Shichirigahama Beach.
A view of the city of Kyoto from Jojakkoji Temple, in Sagano.
Last week, New York-based Japanese photographer Q. Sakamaki hosted The New Yorker’s Instagram feed. Photographing during a visit to Japan, Sakamaki provided a pocket-size window into life all over the country, from daily commutes in Tokyo to the surf culture along the coast of the Sagami Bay, in central Japan. On this trip, Sakamaki, whose work generally has an international-affairs focus, documented his first trip in over two decades to his family’s home town, in the rural province of Mikawa.
Sakamaki took these pictures using the Hipstamatic app on his phone: “Logistically speaking, shooting with Hipstamatic is the same as shooting film: I decide which film and lens I will use before I take a photo,” Sakamaki said, adding that that Instagram has been a source of inspiration in the past year, exposing him to work that he wouldn’t encounter otherwise, as well as providing him with an outlet for sharing his more experimental photographs.
Wolfgang Tillmans’s newest exhibition, “central nervous system,” signals a return to portraiture-based work and a departure from the pictures in his latest book, “Neue Welt,” which explore the diverse landscapes and life styles of people around the world. Of this shift, Tillmans reflected, “I’ve found that portraiture is a good levelling instrument—it always sends me back to square one.”
The title “central nervous system” refers to Tillmans’s focus on the subtleties of the human body; the work is an in-depth, dramatic offshoot of his early portraiture pieces. The images have a simplistic depth and a frankness, qualities that Tillmans considers an implicit aspect of portraiture photography. “Making a portrait is a fundamental artistic act, and the process is a very direct human exchange,” he said. “The dynamics of vulnerability, exposure, embarrassment, and honesty do not change, ever.” The photographs in this collection highlight a dualism inherent in portrait photography—the work is equally revealing of subject and artist.
The show is on view October 14th through November 24th, at Maureen Paley, in London.
Seventeen years ago, the South African photographer Gideon Mendel, then thirty-seven, received the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography for his work on H.I.V. and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Tomorrow night is the thirty-fourth annual Smith Fund grant ceremony, at which Mendel will reflect on his body of work and present the new short film “A Broken Landscape,” an eloquent synthesis of his impressive career. (Note: the film contains some graphic images.)
Mendel got his start as a news photographer in the early eighties, documenting the violent resistance to apartheid in South Africa and, later, the country’s first free elections. He eventually began photographing the impact of H.I.V. / AIDS in South Africa, moving away from a documentary practice toward more overtly activist work. Mendel aligned himself with various AIDS-prevention organizations, and his work took on stronger conceptual undertones.
With recognition came criticism; Mendel was accused of being a so-called victimologist who presented his subjects as powerless, nameless people headed for death. He countered this critique by introducing text and short films to his work, literally giving his subjects a voice. In 2001, he published his first monograph, “A Broken Landscape: HIV & AIDS in Africa.” For Mendel’s most recent piece, “Through Positive Eyes,” which he considers the final chapter of his work on H.I.V. / AIDS, he asked people to photograph their own lives—the result is an acutely intimate portrait that further empowers the subjects to combat the stigma surrounding H.I.V.
Mendel’s current work, “Drowning World,” which depicts victims of extreme flooding as a response to climate change, is currently on view at the International Center of Photography’s Picture Windows.
“A Broken Landscape” (2013). All photography and film by Gideon Mendel. Edited by Lara G. Reyne and Mo Stoebe.
The Smith Fund ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the S.V.A. theatre on Wednesday evening, at 7 P.M.