LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph

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LOOKbetween 2014

LOOKbetween is a weekend intensive for early career photographers—and the anchor event of LOOK3’s mentorship program. Taking place only once every four years, LOOKbetween is a forum for the critical engagement of ideas and craft, addressing the issues that photographers grapple with today. Attendees participate in presentations, discussions, collaborative projects, collegial critique and more with many of today’s leading photographers and industry professionals.

Attendees are nominated by an international community of photography professionals and selected based on accomplishment, commitment, and vision. With an emphasis on diversity, we’ve invited seventy-five early career photographers from seventeen countries to participate in LOOKbetween 2014.

Attendees have already been nominated and contacted.

More details TBA!

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LOOK3 2013 Recap!

LOOK3 2013 was one for the ages! Guest curators Melissa Harris and Yo Cuomo brought eight legendary photographers to Charlottesville with on-stage performances and gallery exhibitions. It was a tremendous honor to present the photographic luminaries: Carrie Mae Weems, Gregory Crewdson, Josef Koudelka, Martha Rosler, Michael Nichols, Richard Misrach, Susan Meiselas, and Tim Laman

Crowds gather under The Paramount Theater marquee. Photo by Martin Gisborne

The Paramount Theater, the Pavilion, the downtown restaurants and coffee houses were all brimming to capacity during the three days of the Festival. We were also thrilled to see such an incredible turnout at the block party outside the exhibits of Michael Nichols and Richard Misrach on the McGuffey Art Center lawn. The finale party at the Jefferson Theater with the dance ensemble Flex is Kings was an extraordinarily ending for this LOOK3 audience of photographers, editors, curators, students, gallerists, and enthusiasts who flew in from around the world to participate.

Co-Executive Directors Jessica Nagle and Nick Nichols at the 2013 LOOK3 Festival. Photo by Justin Ide

“We couldn’t host this event anywhere else. The unique setting of our special town, the sophisticated and cultured community of Charlottesville, and the passion of this audience of photographers creates the magic that happens at LOOK3.”

Thanks to all who attended and we look forward to seeing you in June 2015!

The LOOK3 staff takes a bow on the final night! Photo by Martin Gisborne

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Richard Misrach and Kate Orff

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YourSpace and BOOKStore

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LOOKing Around

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Shots and Works: Pt.2

Photography viewed on a 44 foot screen is a very, very cool thing. We gathered once again under the nTelos Wireless Pavillion to view a selection of photo essays from talented photographers from all over the world. A wide range of subjects was covered and several essays blended photography with other media. Maximillien Brice gave us an inside and beautiful view of a Hadron Collider at CERN, while Mark Moffett captured stunning images of pollinators that he delivered with good humor. Britta Jaschinski’s “Made in China” was a beautifully shot essay on the dark subject of animal cruelty in China. This piece on the systematic beating, starvation and torture of animals for entertainment or medicinal harvesting was one of the most talked about stories of the evening.

Maisie Crow’s “The Last Clinic” took an unflinching look at the last abortion clinic remaining in Mississippi and another segment of Donna Ferrato and Alex Chadwick’s “I am Unbeatable” was also screened. Both pieces were hard hitting and Ferrato’s clips, which are designed for easy sharing on social media, did not lose any impact due to their short length.

Alaa Hassan’s “The Boot” was independently produced by young Syrians from material posted by activists and propaganda videos, showing the toll of war on their community, while Ashley Gilberston continued to document the toll of war on America’s returning vets with “On the Line”, his essay on the Veteran Crisis Hotline. Paolo Pellegrin’s Gaza consisted of portraits of the wounded of the 2009 Israeli attack on the Gaza strip, dramatically showing the long term impact of conflict on society.

Lisa Wiltse’s “Mary’s Pageant” was a very balanced essay shot over 6 months and followed 8 year old Mary, a child beauty pageant contestant though the rigors of contest preparation that while taxing, also built young Mary’s confidence. The evening ended with Deidre Schoo and Michael Beach Nichols’ “Flex is King” about how a growing group of young men in Brooklyn are pioneering Flexing, a narrative dance as opposed to a life of crime and gang violence. True to form, the festival ended with a live Flexing performance that then adjourned to the closing party.

Corbis Instagram Contest Winner

In other news… Jesse Hutcheson was the lucky winner of the Corbis Instagram contest. His photograph of an old couple making a connection at the Nick Nichols exhibit beat out nearly one thousand other images to take home a brand new iPad.

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Finale Party

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Gregory Crewdson: Frozen, But Hardly Mute

“Photography has this uneasy relationship to narrative. Unlike other narrative forms like film or literature, a photograph is frozen and mute. There is no beginning and there is no end. It has a very limited capacity to tell a story. And whatever story you can manage in the end remains a mystery. It’s restriction. It’s containment.”

I’m not sure that every photographer would agree with such a bold statement, but then again, not every photographer would make a picture the way Gregory Crewdson does. The idea of making a picture is the key thing here, since Gregory doesn’t take the picture himself (it’s the cinematic DOP’s job to press the shutter). He’s too concerned with getting everything to look right—and right, in Gregory’s world, is nearly always to the left of center.

Like everyone, Crewdson is built from the experiences of his youth. Growing up in Brooklyn, he remembers the time when he put his ear to the ground to listen in on his father psychoanalyzing his patients. At the time, Crewdson was too young to understand what was going on in the home office downstairs, so he would create an image in his head of what he heard. It was secret. It was mysterious. “In retrospect, it was my earliest inkling of having a particular view of the world,” he says.

In the most literal sense, Gregory’s view is both separatist and enlightening. The protagonists—when there are more than one—typically don’t touch each other, and they are lit by far too many lights than Crewdson himself can count. The stills have a cinematic flair to match an equally cinematic budget.

Beneath the Roses is, perhaps, a good case study on eight tumultuous years of the artist’s life. Eight high-value productions—or “lonely endeavors”, as he describes them—came at the same time his second marriage was falling apart. You could say that the images might be evocative of that moment since no one touches each other, but then again, they rarely do.

Despite the lack of contact, there is no denying that his subjects have a deep connection with their environment. It’s almost impossible to tell the difference between the two. Since everything in Gregory’s work is distinct and purposefully placed, it’s hard to imagine the two existing apart from one another.

Maybe there is contact. It’s frozen and mute, but maybe there is contact.

(Story by Joe Santa / Corbis)

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Josef Koudelka: Freedom To Create

Josef Koudelka, interviewed by Anne Wilkes Tucker…How cool is that?

Named by Time as “America’s Best Curator”, Tucker took us through a chronological selection of Koudelka’s work, taking pause with each passing milestone to ask Josef questions. A lot of material was covered and a lot of insight and knowledge was shared.

Josef came onto the stage to a standing ovation. Having never really taught any classes or conducted any workshops, he had not been the most accessible of photographers. He admitted to being uncomfortable sitting in front of the packed Paramount Theater.

Koudelka started shooting when he was 14. He studied engineering and graduated in 1961—the same year that he staged his first exhibition. A few years later, he quit engineering and photography became his sole focus. He was hired by theater companies to photograph productions. He was 23 at that point. Czechoslovakia was experiencing “socialism with a human face” and Josef enjoyed the freedom to experiment, as that was increasingly prevalent. He wanted to know what could be done in photography. He agreed to shoot the theatre productions, but insisted on having control over the final result.

“Freedom is an essential thing in my life,” Josef explained to a captivated LOOK3 audience. Not too fixated on the script or the story, he would sit through rehearsals and maintain spontaneity in his work. He insisted that he be allowed to walk between the actors during three actual performances, evaluating the results each night, and trying to improve upon them the next day. Koudelka was trying to create art as much as he was trying to document. The owner of the theater told him, “Josef, you were lying, but you were lying to tell the truth.”

Koudelka embarked on a project to photograph gypsies in Romania. He vividly remembers how the entire village walked towards him as he approached. Building a relationship with them was important and he didn’t start shooting right away. Instead, Josef shared his love for folk music and played songs on an old tape recorder he carried. It gained their confidence and exposed the depth of his character. The resulting work was published in his book “Gypsies” some years later.

With the gypsies, Josef learned that he didn’t need much to live and to be alive.

In August of 1968, he returned to Prague. A few days later, the Russians invaded. Here he stressed, “I am not a courageous man.” It was an extreme situation, and when his girlfriend woke him up and told him the Russians had invaded, it was a natural reaction to pick up his camera and make pictures. He didn’t make the images so they could be sold into publications; he made them for himself.

Everything that followed was pure chance. His negatives were smuggled out of Prague and into the hands of Magnum, who syndicated them, crediting “P.P.” or “Prague Photographer” to protect his identity. Koudelka won the Robert Capa Gold Medal in 1969, still anonymous. He left the country because it was dangerous. It would not take the authorities long to find out who P.P. was.

Josef told us that the authorities were pulling people off the plane just before takeoff. You could imagine his relief when the flight took off.

From there, Koudelka became akin to the gypsies he once photographed. Travelling constantly, never staying longer than 3 months in any location. He traveled with a sleeping bag and had never paid rent for at least 16 years. Owning little, he continued to shoot for himself, never taking a full time job. “I need to travel. If I stay too long in one place, I will go blind.”

More books and awards followed. Josef stopped shooting with a 25mm and moved to a panoramic by chance. He learned composition and cropping, and his minimalistic sense continued. The panoramic gave him a new challenge—an opportunity to change and to develop. He focused on landscapes and stopped shooting people. “I love people, but I like to be alone,” he noted. His travels continue. “I go to places because I know there is a picture there waiting for me.”

In each place he visited, Koudelka would walk alone, feeling the place much as he had felt the theater. Each book that was published was different: an attempt to cover a new aspect of life. Practical and progressive, he embraced digital photography because it was less expensive to produce, liberating him from the need to raise funds. It was also lighter, which became more important as he grew older.

At the start of the event, Josef asked that we not judge him by anything that he said but by his pictures. He judges other photographers the same way and doesn’t have any heroes. He wasn’t moved to photography by the work of other photographers. The motivation was inside of him.

When asked where his home was, he said “Your home is the place where you leave from. So for me, my home is here because tomorrow, I go away.”

His journey continues.

(Story by Anil Ramchand / Corbis)



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Martha Rosler: The Art of Protest

“What do you think? Don’t sit down,” was Rosler’s reply to the audience member who had asked a question at the end of the talk.

Martha Rosler is not one to sit down. Throughout her career, she has used various vehicles to inform, question and protest. Her projects have used photography, video, installation, sound, text, and performance to draw attention to issues in our world. She’s even planted a garden in Singapore.

Over the past 30 years, Rosler has used art to draw attention to issues such as war, homelessness, gentrification, and the media. Her most recent work—which is on display here at LOOK3—raises awareness to the danger of weaponized drones. Working with fellow activists David Swanson and John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, she outlines and explains the near- and long-term impact and danger of weaponized drones; not just here in America, but also overseas.

Her portfolio of work is wide, inspiring and brave. It will certainly make you think, and it will make it harder for you to just sit down.

(Story by Anil Ramchand / Corbis — Photograph by Mark Makela)

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