If you don’t want to shout “FUCK CHEVRON & TEXACO” at the end of watching Crude I’ll give you a dollar. I’m disgusted by yet another example of greedy corporate companies taking advantage of the innocent and the poor. Okay I’m done venting. Here is what Crude is about.
Three years in the making, this cinéma-vérité feature from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) is the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial environmental lawsuits on the planet. The inside story of the infamous “Amazon Chernobyl” case, Crude is a real-life high stakes legal drama, set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures. Presenting a complex situation from multiple viewpoints, the film subverts the conventions of advocacy filmmaking, exploring a complicated situation from all angles while bringing an important story of environmental peril and human suffering into focus.
Liz Hickok is a San Francisco-based artist working in photography, video, sculpture, and installation. Hickok received her MFA from Mills College in Oakland, California. She earned a BFA and BA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. Hickok lived and worked in Boston for over ten years before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. “Hickok’s Cityscapes in Jell-O” series has received extensive media coverage, such as The New York Times, NPR, and The CBS Early Show. Her artwork has been exhibited across the United States and is included in international collections.
Hickok will be showing work at The Emerald Tablet in San Francisco October 20 – November 18 as part of A.D.D., a group exhibition. (via)
In his new series of collages entitled Love is like a Butterfly, artist/musician Wildcat Will delves into the absinthe drenched demi-monde of Parisian cabaret, and uses his own pop art inclinations, and other contemporary elements to create original pieces. This new series in based on the powerful imagery of the butterfly, its transitional phases, and its ephemeral and intense beauty as a parallel for the beauty and tragedy of human life.
His collages combine photographs from the Parisian cabaret Les Folies Bergère with texts. The intricate backgrounds of his collages incorporate elements such as zebra print, oversized flowers and, butterflies. The combination of old photographs with modern typography and colorful, ornate details leave room for the viewers to get lost in his work and examine the world of cabaret from a different perspective.
The clashing of old photographs and typography work together towards creating a sort of punk aesthetic which Will attributes to his cultural upbringing . He equates the ladies of the Folies Bergère to the punk rock movement and, by doing so gives another level of depth to his collages. Through these pieces, Will has created a magical platform for us to meditate on our morals and standards.
French artist Gregory Chiha’s gripping and curious works conjure dark, imaginative inquiry. Realistic backgrounds are populated by vague, distorted figures depicted with thick, abstract, primary-colored strokes of paint. Dense forests and calm interiors stand solid and immortal in stark contrast to the fleeting vision of denigrating souls that vaporize amidst forces unknown. At times they seem aware of their morphing physicality, holding up their hands as if to shield their faces; other times they stand with arms loose and at their sides, giving in and letting themselves be overtaken by this unstoppable force. Some subjects appear to be participating in everyday motions when the event occurs: lounging in the living room, playing in a room strewn with children’s toys, staring into a mirror; others are roaming through sylvan groves – perhaps they went outside to address an unnerving sound or vision? One figure sits at the kitchen table staring at a loaf of bread; the subject ignites, though the bread, indissoluble, withstands. Are these figures ghosts trapped in limbo? Are they in the midst of taking their own life, or victims of an unspeakable tragedy such as a modern day Pompeii? Could these paintings be the depiction of the exact moment of death? Whatever is the nature of their contents, Chiha’s paintings lead to an abyss of theories subjective. However, their immediate intuitive impact stands inarguably emotional and compelling, dark and disturbing.
Camilo José Vergara’s 40-year project, “Tracking Time,” chronicles urban transformation in some of the poorest and most segregated communities in the Northeastern United States. In Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest cities he regularly visits during his documentation, he captures what he calls “Paired Houses”: two dwellings that share a wall, one of them occupied, the other empty. Because each dwelling is part of the same building, Vergara is able to capture the stark contrast between deteriorated and maintained habitats, reflecting the declining state of Camden’s housing market. For some of the photographs, Vergara returns to a building he’s previously documented in order to chronicle the absence of formerly dilapidated buildings.
In his photo essay for Slate, Vergara writes,”If a resident of a middle-class neighborhood dies or moves to a nursing home, or if a dwelling burns, the empty house is usually guarded or secured by the owner’s family. The police keep an eye out for it. Neighbors, well-aware of the impact of a deteriorating eyesore on property values, alert city officials whenever they see a house falling into disrepair. The situation is quickly brought under control.
It’s different in a crumbling inner city like Camden. Even Walt Whitman’s old house at 328 Mickle St.—the only home he ever owned—was by the 1980s adjacent to a vacant three-story dwelling and just two houses away from a ruin. House values in Camden are low and likely to remain so since the population of the city is declining, unemployment is high, and there is little new demand for houses. The number of vacant houses is likely to increase; many will eventually be acquired by the city, which is too poor either to board them up or to demolish them.”
Kris Knight’s portraits are presented in such a settled and graceful manner, yet underneath the surface of the subjects in question, he is able to portray various feelings of awe and mystery. Who are these characters who candidly stare back at the viewer? Such hidden emotions are portrayed through a muted color palette and calculated brushstrokes, giving the viewer plenty to look at, yet with a feeling of wanting to know more.
At this summer’s TED Conference, photographer Taryn Simon gave this excellent talk (which is having embed problems) about her work. TED’s description: Taryn Simon exhibits her startling take on photography — to reveal worlds and people we would never see otherwise. She shares two projects: one documents otherworldly locations typically kept secret from the public, the other involves haunting portraits of men convicted for crimes they did not commit. I’m not sure which is more impressive – the photos themselves or Simon’s gall in asking to document some of these subjects. Some of these photos are after the jump, many more are included in her lecture.