- Location: The Paramount Theater
- Date: June 7, 2012
- Interviewed by: Jean-François Leroy
- Title: Black Passport
- Date: June 1-29, 2012
- Location: 306 Main Street Gallery (Bank of America building)
About Stanley Greene
Stanley Greene has called a camera in the right hands the most powerful weapon ever made. Greeneʼs hands are deﬁnitely the right ones. Over the last two decades, he has brought back haunting images from troubled places like Croatia, Rwanda, and the post-Katrina Gulf Coast. His photographs are iconic, but they can also make you sweat: drug addicts squat in a hovel in Kabul; men ﬂee a ﬁery explosion in Kirkuk, Iraq; a dirty American ﬂag is draped over a pew in a New Orleans church still in ruins two years after Hurricane Katrina. Greene has covered wars, migrations, drug-use, and long invasions, perhaps most notably in his work in Chechnya. A ﬁrm believer that photographers should not just parachute into a place and then leave when the next story comes along, Greene spent more than a decade documenting Chechnyaʼs struggle for independence from Russia. “He stands his ground,” notes guest curator David Grifﬁn. “Heʼs very impassioned and refuses to compromise his values.”
“There are artists who populate this gray world, whose work penetrates the primordial stillness, unwrapping truths with a clear message about our tomorrows. They work in many mediums, speak in different tongues, but among each other need no translation. We listen, because their efforts strike us silent with fear. Call them what we will, conduits, spirit dancers, monks; they hold us hostage to our follies and half-truths. Such an artist is Stanley Greene.” – Lester Sloan
Greene did not start his career photographing conﬂict–rather, his early work chronicled the rock music
and fashion scenes. Black Passport, his most recent book, tells the story of his transformation to
photographer through a series of vignettes: in one scene, a would-be model girlfriend helps him make
inroads to the fashion world in Paris. In another, he ﬁnds himself near the Berlin Wall as it falls in 1989 and takes a photograph that is used all over the world to symbolize the event. In Scene 17, he cries after seeing the charred bodies of some American security ofﬁcers in Fallujah. The book, deeply personal, raises important questions about the role of the photojournalist in covering traumas and wars and about the effect of confronting death and misery. “I think you can only keep positive for eight years,” he says. “If you stay longer than that, you turn. And not into a beautiful butterﬂy.”
Born in New York in 1949, Greene spent his youth rallying for the anti-war movement and the Black Panthers. He was also a founding member of SF Camerawork, an exhibition space for avant-garde photography. Currently, he is a founding member of Noor Images. He has won ﬁve World Press Photo awards, the W. Eugene Smith Award (2004), and a Katrina Media Fellowship from the Open Society Institute (2006). His work has been exhibited at museums and festivals all over the world, including Centre dʼart contemporain de Saint-Restitut, France; Noorderlicht Gallery, The Netherlands; and Musee dʼart contemporain de Lyon, France. He has published a photo book on Chechnya, Open Wound, and more recently, Black Passport (2010).
About Jean-François Leroy
Jean-François Leroy is the Founder and Director of the international photojournalism festival Visa Pour l’Image in Perpignan, France. Every September in this medieval village in the south of France, Leroy presents a week of print exhibitions and evening screenings reporting on the news of the year, from war to natural history, the environment to religion, as well as the great scourges of our time.
“Jean-François has long given much of his time and heart to photojournalism; he is one of the most important curators and editors in the world, and an enduring, passionate defender of photojournalists.” – Alexandra Avakian.
Born in 1956, Leroy’s career began as a journalist and passionate enthusiast of photography. He first worked for Photo-Reporter, Le Photographe, Photo-Revue and Photo Magazine through the Sipa-Press agency. In 1989, in collaboration with Yann Arthus-Bertrand, he realized “3 days in France,” a project painting a portrait of France in 150 years after the invention of photography. Leroy is a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres (a Knight in the Order of Arts and Literature) in France in recognition of
his contributions to photography.