What I am reading

We travel around the world in this week’s photography links, touching on culture, poverty, urbanization and daily life.

– New Yorker profiles Caroline Drake’s work on Central Asia with rather insightful captions. She has been photographing the region for a long time, delving layers into the region, transcending culture, ethnicity and politics. Her latest book “Two Rivers” follows the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, the region’s major rivers.

– The Atlantic features how photographers are telling the story of China’s warp-speed urbanization at the San Jose Museum of Art. I was quite taken by Weng Fen‘s work. In his earlier series Sitting on the Wall and Bird’s Eye View, Weng’s images has young girls sitting/standing on a wall, bridge and platform staring out into the abyss of technicolor urbanism in cities such as Haikou, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

–  Photographer Russian Vlad Sokhin captures an under-reported plight of children in servitude called “Restavek: Child Slavery in Haiti” which I found very unsettling. Sokhin’s photos are disturbing without being graphic, but not as distressing as what he did not photograph:

“Sometimes he (Sokhin) was forced to put down his camera so he would not be participating in mistreatment, he said. In one photograph (Slide 20), a man who refused to have his identity revealed nonetheless slung his arm around the shirtless shoulders of his restavek boy while Mr. Sokhin was shooting. His head is cut off, a lit cigarette dangles from his hand, and the effect is creepy.

Even creepier, Mr. Sokhin said, was what he declined to photograph next: the man put the cigarette in the little boy’s mouth, laughing.”

The ethics of photographing such vulnerabe subjects are always murky to me, but I hope the ends justify the means. Writer Deborah Sontag wrote an extensive article about the plight of restaveks.

– Martin Parr’s saturated and trippy “USA Color” should perfectly lift your spirits.

As always, you can read more related links on the blog’s Facebook page.


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