Interrogation In Ukraine

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It’s still almost unbelievable to me that these photos by Canadian photojournalist Donald Weber aren’t staged. Lens culture’s Jim Casper describes being “stopped cold” the first time he saw them and I agree. They are terrifying, to the point of, again, seeming unreal. Worse still is Weber’s insistence that this is not a case of a small portion of the law enforcement community in Ukraine, it’s systemic. It is the way police are taught to question suspects:

I remember first being shocked at some of the methods, but my friend said to me, “Don, you must understand that these are their methods of policing, this is how they’re taught.” He then told me a horrifying story of his own arrest and subsequent interrogation while working in St. Petersburg almost 20 years earlier; this helped me understand the cultural and democratic differences in methods of policing.

The police I worked with were respected in their departments; they rose through the ranks and did the job required. I have my personal feelings of how and what they do, but then as a photographer I think I’ve said enough about that with my work.

What I strongly believe is that this is not a rogue set of cops; this is standard practice. It is what it is. It’s the utter terror of a wayward bureaucracy.

Beginning after his first trip to Ukraine during the Orange Revolution, it took Weber years to assemble this series of photographs, as most prisoners, understandably, declined to have the ordeal documented. The result is an unsettling look at unchecked, State-sanctioned power.

"LastBreathe" by Robert Wun

The ghostly garment resembles magically symmetrical wisps of smoke curling around the model. Below, zip ties are used to create a striking crown of thorns.

These images are from a series called “LastBreathe” by fashion designer Robert Wun. A recent graduate of the University of the Arts in London, Wun creates textured, airy garments such as the ones pictured here. This series was photographed by Bobby Sham, and the model is Lauren H.

[via JUST_MONK3Y]

Astronauts & Amazons: Lado Alexi's Fashion Photography

While most of Lado Alexi’s photography falls squarely in the realm of traditional, commercial fashion photography, a few of his photos are too magical not to share here. The character in the image above looks like an spellbound Russian princess, while the fetish gladiatrix below resembles a rendering or a sculpture more than a real person.

After the jump, a couple more of Alexi’s stranger photos from the series Fin de Siecle, Amazones, and Astronaut, including a priestess wearing a decrepit doll head, a blue-faced woman wearing Saran wrap, a colorful circus girl, and an astronaut resting in a mysterious room with red lanterns. Overall, the photos might be more compelling if the agency models didn’t all employ the same thousand-yard stare (and, in fact, if some of them weren’t agency models), but the colors are beautiful, the fashion is astonishing, and the makeup is very inspired.

[via Wicked Halo]

To the Center Within: Photographs by The Silent Infinite + Asha Beta

Last summer, photographer Abigail Amalton, who publishes moody, meditative images under the name The Silent Infinite, met artist Asha Beta (previously on Coilhouse) at the Coilhouse Black and White And Red All Over Ball in Brooklyn. The result was a series of photos titled “Immanence” and “To the Center Within“: a collaboration that explores personal mythology and self-transformation. With piercing assistance from Venus Pain, Asha and Abigail created a three-part sequence taking place outdoors, and a second shoot in the studio.

paxil and zoloft

“We can use art for deep change – when we undertake the journey of individuation, we can move beyond survival needs and encounter truly beautiful territory,” writes Abigail in a description of this series. “These images remind me that I can always hold myself to my greatest possibilities, that I no longer need to pretend that the conventional is something I want in any form at all … what I want is real, deep, never-ending change. A feeling of the power of choice in creating reality. The second we free ourselves of the half-truth that we are bound to the organizational templates of society and culture is the precious moment we start to self-define and steer our own ship … Who knows where we will arrive?”

More images after the jump, and even more on Flickr and on Abigail’s site.

“That Heartbreaking Invisible Place”

“She makes visible that heartbreaking invisible place between the appearance and the disappearance of things,” wrote Richard Avedon about photographer Lillian Bassman, who died at 94 in her home at Manhattan last week.

Like her contemporary Irving Penn, who passed away last year at age 92, Bassman worked on her art until the very end of her life. The photo above, titled “It’s a Cinch,” was taken for Harper’s Bazaar in 1951. At that time, model Stella Tennant, who appears in the shot below (part of this shoot for Vogue Germany), wasn’t even born yet – and wouldn’t be born for another 19 years.

Bassman lived an extraordinary life. The daughter of bohemian Russian-Jewish immigrants living in Brooklyn, she moved in with her husband, fellow artist Paul Himmel, when she 15. Together they survived through the Great Depression: Bassman worked as an artists’ model, while Himmel taught art. They were involved in political strikes of the era, and Bassman once picketed in the nude to protest arts financing cuts. Soon, she got a job co-art-directing Junior Bazaar, one of the most creative and experimental teen girl magazines that ever existed. Junior Bazaar failed because it was too out-there, but it launched Bassman’s fashion photography career, landing her gigs for Harper’s Bazaar.

Over the years, Bassman’s painterly, impressionistic style fell out of fashion.  Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow  famously said to her during a shoot, “I didn’t bring you to Paris to make art; I brought you here to do the buttons and bows.” Fed up with fashion photography, Bassman famously destroyed most of her negatives in the 60s. It wasn’t until the early 90s that a fashion historian urged her to revisit the few negatives she had left. Bassman began experimenting anew, and re-emerged as a force in fashion photography. She embraced new technologies, discovering Photoshop when she was 87.

After the jump, a collection of Bassman’s work, past and present.

Auberon Shull’s “Desert Dance”, and an Interview with Director Sequoia Emmanuelle

LA-based imagemaker/mover/shaker Sequoia Emmanuelle has just premiered this video of dancer Auberon Shull (definitely watch it full screen):

Filmed, edited and directed by Sequoia Emmanuelle
Dance by Auberon Shull
Hair and makeup by Ashley Joy Beck
Costumes by Tiffa Novoa and Auberon Shull
Music by Distance and Adventure Club

Auberon is a powerhouse. Sequoia, too, is a force of nature who has shot countless portrait series and fashion editorials with all manner of West Coast lovelies: SkingraftEskmo, Zoe Jakes and Rachel Brice (for Tawapa/Wild Card/Five and Diamond), Galareh, Kucoon, Beats AntiqueLucent Dossier Vaudeville Circus, El Circo… the list’s about a mile long. In addition to her photography portfolio and video work, Sequoia’s also got a well-established background in fashion design (check out her S&G Clothing line), wardrobe styling, painting, and graphic design.

Recently, she took the time to answer a few questions about her collaboration with Auberon, and to let us know what’s coming next. (Thank you, Sequoia! Always a pleasure.)

Much of the Coilhouse readership is already familiar with your photography, but this may be the first time many of us have (knowingly) watched a video by you. Can you tell us a bit about the differences and parallels between your creative process shooting/editing film and your photography methods?
Sequoia Emmanuelle: I grew up watching music videos, [they're] a huge inspiration to me, and I have always planned on getting more involved with film/video as well as photography. In the last year I have been working on several videos for fashion, music and dance. It feels very natural to the way I see things for photography, but of course it is very different, too. For one thing, everything you shoot needs to be horizontal, so it changes the composition of how you set things up. Your lenses change, and lighting changes. You can’t use strobe lights for video, so you have to set things up quite differently. When it comes to editing, it’s quite involved, because you have to pay attention to all the moving details and make your cuts flow in an interesting and creative way, not to mention syncing up the music. Right now I am focusing on simple ways of creating artistic videos… using less is more for the time being, and I’ll surely get more experimental as I keep working at it.

Astronaut Ghosts


“Space Suits”

The San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives Flickr Photostream has a lot of beautiful vintage photographs related to flight. You’ll fighter jets, airships, factories, control centers, aviation posters, lushly-illustrated training manuals, and lots of neat historical tidbits.


ST-124 Inertial Guidance Platform

Of particular interest is the set titled Space Related Images. After the jump, a selection of photos from this set. Space food, astronaut training and retro machinery galore.

Related:

[via Surrogate Self]

Eyepatch Party!

Eyepatches have long been a staple of alt fashion. From visual kei to burlesque, the eyepatch has been used to accentuate elements of romanticism, glamour, and mystique throughout the ages.

Advertising giant David Ogilvy knew this in 1951 when he created “the man in the Hathaway shirt,” a campaign that put a tiny company on the map by featuring a distinguished-looking man with a mysterious eyepatch in a series of ads that continued to run for over 25 years and inspired dozens of copycats.

David “Wear the Eyepatch” Bowie knew this in 1972 when he popularized the patch during his Ziggy Stardust era, influencing everyone from Peter Burns to Rihanna. And of course, film directors know that an eyepatch can create the character, from Quentin Tarantino’s Elle Driver to John Carpenter’s Snake Plissen. It can be said that the most (come to think of it, the only) memorable thing from Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow was the sight of Angie with an eyepatch.

Of course, stylish eyepatches aren’t just for show. For centuries, people with eye ailments have incorporated the patch into their personal style. The first chic eyepatch-wearer may have been Spanish princess Doña Ana de Mendoza y de la Cerda. Around 1545, young Ana lost her eye in an accident during a playfight with one of her guards. Donning an eyepatch only fueled her popularity at the court, and it is said that she had a bejeweled eyepatch for every dress she owned.

Film director Fritz Lang’s eye problems started in 1916, the same year he stumbled into film. While recuperating from war wounds that would eventually cost him his eye, he began to write scripts and took up acting. In his younger years, he wore a monocle over his injured eye; later in life, an eyepatch under dark glasses. Knowing the director’s struggle towards monocular vision, Maria’s lingering robot wink in Metropolis somehow feels much more significant. Other fabulous/functional eyepatch-wearers include Slick Rick, James Joyce and Momus.

I never thought I’d have to wear an eyepatch for any reason other than a fashion shoot or a fancy night out. But following some recent eye problems, I have to wear one for at least a portion of each day, for at least a little while. Thus began my trawl through Tumblr, Flickr, and fashion blogs in search for the perfect patch. The search uncovered dozens of beautiful images from Coilhouse friends and family. After the jump, an epic collection of over 60 eyepatches featuring Mother of London, Salvador Dali, PUREVILE!, James Dean, Amelia Arsenic, Chad Michael Ward, Shien Lee, Antiseptic, Jane Doe, Alyz Tale, Atsuko Kudo and many others. I suspect that many of you have eyepatch photos as well. If you’ve got one, post it in the comments!

Bristol Punks, 1977

They look like a macabre traveling circus troupe out of a Neil Gaiman novel. These images are from the Bristol Archive Records’ photostream, and were taken by John Spink. More from this set here.

See also:

[via fuckyeahurbantribes]

“Fotoshop” by “Adobé”

A deftly crafted satirical fauxmercial by Jesse Rosten sings the praises of an beauty industry secret known as “Fotoshop”:

“You don’t have to rely on a healthy body image or self respect anymore. [...] There’s only one way to look like a REAL cover girl: Fotoshop by Adobé.” OH SNAP.

Rosten’s piss-take nails the spooky Stepfordian tone and presentation of the average beauty commercial. He’s so crafty, in fact, it takes a few seconds for the “I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE” to kick in. Just in case anyone’s confused, a statement beneath the Vimeo embed reads: “This commercial isn’t real, neither are society’s standards of beauty.”

Invasive, absurd digital manipulation’s not going anywhere. Still, it’s nice to know we’re at the point of not just openly discussing its ubiquity, but mocking it mercilessly!

Previously on Coilhouse: