Posts Tagged ‘Havana’

TWO LOOKS: Havana, 2012

February 6, 2012

Alex Webb, Playa, Havana, 2012

Usually after we complete a book like “Violet Isle,” it marks the end of a project, and we find it difficult — if not impossible — to continue photographing in the place where we made the book.  Besides completing a joint book on Cuba, we had both recently completed two complicated solo projects as well — Alex’s survey book of 30 years of color work, “The Suffering of Light,” and Rebecca’s upcoming “My Dakota,” a photographic elegy for her brother that’s been difficult for her to let go of probably because it is so personal.  After our recent trip to Havana, however, the city was just too enticing not to pick up our cameras — even though Alex’s right arm was in a sling.  

So, instead of a photographic dead end, Havana may have offered us new beginnings.  Rebecca found herself attracted to twins — from girls to women — for a series she’s started called “Sister Ship.”  Alex wandered the Cuba streets, which although they’ve changed since our last trip to Havana in 2008, they haven’t changed as much or as fast as the rest of the world.  Additionally, there’s also a small collaborative project we started working on in Havana, too, called “Together and Apart.”  Where will this all take us?  Like usual, we don’t know for sure.  What we do know is that we’re excited about returning to Cuba in midJanuary 2013 to teach with Nordic Light again and to see what happens next photographically — both for workshop participants and for ourselves.

Thanks to Cuba and to the workshop photographers for making our 12th trip to Cuba memorable.—Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb.

Rebecca Norris Webb, from the series, "Sister Ship," Playa, Havana, 2012

UPCOMING WORKSHOPS WITH ALEX AND REBEBECCA

“Teaching taught me how little I knew and it forced me to think.  I had to teach to get an education.” –––Harry Callahan, from “Harry Callahan @ 100″ at the National Gallery of Art

–WEEKEND WORKSHOP @ APERTURE, NY, Friday evening, March 23, thru Sat., March 25, 2012. Do you know where you’re going next with your photography –– or where it’s taking you?   An intensive weekend workshop with Alex and Rebecca. You can reserve a spot in the workshop at the Aperture Foundation website.  There is a discount for students and Aperture patrons, which you can arrange by emailing Anne Lewis at Aperture at this email: alewis@aperture.org   

––WEEKEND WORKSHOP IN MILANO @ FORMA; Friday evening, May 4, thru Sunday, May 6th, 2012.  An intensive weekend workshop @ Forma with the Webbs during Alex’s upcoming spring exhibition there, “The Suffering of Light.” Included in the workshop will be a gallery talk by Alex as well as a copy of Alex’s recent survey book of 30 years of his color photographs, “La Sofferenza della Luce,” (Contrasto).  The workshop will be taught in English with Italian translation.  For more information here’s the link.

–FINDING YOUR VISION WORKSHOP @ CAPTION GALLERY, BROOKLYN, NY.  Sunday May 20 thru Friday May 25, 2012.* A week-long photographing and editing workshop where each photographers begins to explore his or her own way of photographing and how to edit intuitively.  Will include exercises, light room tutorials, and a presentation by a noted book editor. APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN.  Early acceptance notification will start on February 29, 2012.  Check the workshop page of the webbnorriswebb website for fees, application process and further details.  Apply to this email: webbnorriswebb@gmail.com

*If there is enough interest, we will explore offering a second session of the Finding Your Vision Workshop @ Caption Gallery the week before —  Sunday May 13 thru Friday May 18, 2012.

Chuck Cannon photograph of the Webbs, 2012

FEBRUARY & MARCH EVENTS WITH ALEX AND REBECCA

–– WEDNESDAY, FEB. 29, 2012, 7:30pm, Alex Webb slide talk at the Baker Center Theater, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio

––FRIDAY, MARCH, 9th, 7-8:30: “Together and Apart: Photographs of Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb,” National Museum of Singapore, Singapore.  National Museum of Singapore is a venue sponsor of this free public event.

––MONDAY & TUESDAY, MARCH 12 -13, 2012: BLOGGING ON PRESS FOR THE “MY DAKOTA” BOOK IN SINGAPORE (with Rebecca, author, Alex, editor, and David Chickey, designer and Radius creative director).  Check the blog for updates.  If you’d like to submit a question ahead of time about being on press, please email your question to Alex and Rebecca by MARCH 1, 2012: webbnorriswebb@gmail.com

––FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 7-8:30 pm, “Together & Apart: Photographs of Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb,” Aperture Foundation, 547 W. 27th St., 4th Floor, New York, NY.  Free Event.

––LAST WEEKEND IN MARCH: Alex Webb booksigning at AIPAD. Details to come soon.

Alex Webb slide talk at Ohio University on Feb. 29, 2012

VIOLET ISLE at the MFA, BOSTON

May 23, 2011

Rebecca Norris Webb, "Havana, 2007" from the book, "Violet Isle"

What better way of celebrating our exhibition of Violet Isle at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, than with our work set to our favorite Cuban duet, “Silencio,” just launched as the latest Magnum in Motion?

We’d like give a special thanks to the Magnum In Motion team, especially to Phil Bicker and Adrian Kelterborn, who produced this presentation of Violet Isle.—Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

Alex Webb, Cienfuegos, Cuba, 2007, from "Violet Isle"

TWO THANKS: Violet Isle

January 24, 2011

Rebecca Norris Webb, "Violet Isle" cover, Radius Books

We have some good news to share:  VIOLET ISLE was selected as one of the “Best Books of 2010″ on the Photo-Eye website by independent curator/photography blogger, Elizabeth Avedon.  We’re pleased and honored to be included among such photographers as Alec Soth, Martin Parr, Sally Mann, Lee Friedlander, Tim Hetherington, Taryn Simon, Jean Gaumy, Mark Powers, Jason Fulford, Thomas Demand, David Taylor, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Carl De Keyzer, and others.  To read more about the various authors and books, visit the Photo-Eye site. Thanks so much, Elizabeth.

And thanks again to award-winning Cuban poet, Reina Maria Rodriguez, for allowing us to use her wonderful quote below in VIOLET ISLE.  Recently Reina, who lives in Havana (she’s photographed below), received our gift to her — a copy of our book, whose title was inspired by the title poem of one of Reina’s poetry books. –– Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb


fue una ciudad con puerto

donde ya no se ha ido ni ha vuelto nadie más…

–de “Violet Island” por la poeta cubana, Reina María Rodríguez

once it was a city with a port

where now no one else has come or gone…

–from “Violet Island” by Cuban poet, Reina María Rodríguez

TWO QUESTIONS: On Photographs that Inspire and Confound; On Birds and Returning

January 4, 2011

This month’s TWO QUESTIONS column features questions posed by two U.S. photographers. Based in Austin, Texas, BILL MCCULLOUGH makes his living predominantly from photographing weddings.  However, he is far from your typical wedding photographer — his pictures are witty, surprising, spontaneous; they take us into social worlds not often seen so perceptively.  His humor is gentle and good-natured, very much like Bill himself.  EMILY PEDERSON is currently studying photography, languages (she has mastered Portuguese, Spanish, and Czech), and social justice at New York University.   Her grandfather was a noted underwater photographer, so she grew up with photography in her life.   She has photographed in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and New York, as well as in her home state of Rhode Island.--Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

Robert Frank, "Elevator Girl, Miami, 1955" from "The Americans"

BILL MCCULLOUGH: In photography, music, painting, and many other forms of expression, there is work that strikes the perfect balance of technique and emotion that can leave one in awe.  You may ask yourself, “how did they do that?” You are both photographers who have been in the trenches and attempted many things; therefore, you also have insight, understanding, and respect of what is truly difficult to accomplish.  Is there a photographer, dead or alive, who both inspires you and stumps you?  If so, who and why?

ALEX WEBB:  Ever since I first picked up a copy of Frank’s The Americans –– sometime in the late 1960′s –– my favorite photograph in the book has always been the mournful elevator girl.  I hesitate to say much of anything about it because Jack Kerouac in his introduction to the book said just about everything that needs to be said:  “And I say: That little ole elevator girl looking up sighing in an elevator full of blurred demons, what’s her name and address?”   What Kerouac latches onto is what has always most intrigued me about Frank’s work, its emotive heart.  Somehow, Frank managed to make deep and surprising poetry out of the mundane stuff of the world of America.

That quality is still what interests me most about Frank’s work. But looking back now at this photograph, I am also intrigued by how it speaks of another era in America.  I can’t recall when I last saw an elevator girl.  The notion seems quaint.  It makes me almost nostalgic, nostalgic, among other things, for a more intimate world, where human beings –– including those in more menial positions –– somehow seemed to count.  Now, soulless elevators in Miami gleam of burnished chrome.  Chimes denoting each floor have replaced the human voice.  Modern demons may sometimes stalk these elevators, but mournful elevator girls are long gone.   I guess today, Kerouac would have to go elsewhere to find a name and number.

Robert Frank, "Barber shop through screen door, McClellanville, SC, 1955," from "The Americans"

REBECCA NORRIS WEBB: From the moment I first saw a print of Robert Frank’s barbershop in McClellanville, South Carolina, the image has lingered with me, a sign –– I’ve learned to trust over the years –– of a truly poetic image.  Like the strongest and most resonant poems, the image sends me into a kind of reverie each time I view it.  I think this has something to do with the fact that it’s a reflection, one that blurs inside and outside, like a daydream. So, for me at least, Frank’s mysterious barbershop blurs into the barbershop in my small town in southern Indiana where I was born.  Like Frank, I, too, have pressed up against a small town barbershop’s screen door, have seen into the interior thanks to my own shadow.  Come to think of it, the screen door itself seems somehow quintessentially American (I don’t recall coming across that many screen doors in Europe, for instance…).  The screen door is welcoming yet protective, practical yet vulnerable, luring both june bugs and photographers alike.

ROBERT FRANK LINKS:

Link to NPR story:  “Robert Frank’s Elevator Girls Sees Herself Years Later”:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112389032

Link to Robert Frank’s book, “The Americans”:

http://www.amazon.com/Americans-Robert-Frank/dp/386521584X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1294157675&sr=8-1

Link to reviews of the “Looking In: Robert Franks” The Americans” show:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/14/090914fa_fact_lane

http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/2009/sep/29/looking-in-robert-franks-emthe-americansem/

Links to reviews of Robert Frank’s,  “The Americans”

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100688154

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/01/0082794

Rebecca Norris Webb, Havana, 2008, from "Violet Isle"

EMILY PEDERSON: Rebecca, what is it about birds?  In Violet Isle, birds are constantly appearing in your photographs. Why is that? What is it that draws you to birds?

RNW:  As someone who comes out of the street photography tradition, I only photograph what I come across in the world, and the most common creature I found in Cuban menageries was the bird –– from roosters and peacocks and woodpeckers to cockatiels and pigeons and parrots.  I love the rich and resonant questions this suggests:  Of all the creatures, why are birds the most popular animal in Cuban menageries?  What does this suggest about the individuals who have these menageries?  What does this suggest about Cubans and their relationship to nature?  And what does this suggest about Cuban culture more generally?

What I love about photography –– and poetry –– is that sometimes images have the ability to suggest these sorts of questions.  One of my favorite lines about birds is by the poet, Li-Young Lee:

Only birds can reveal to us dying by flying.

And just yesterday I came across these two wonderful lines by T.S. Eliot in his poem, “Four Quartets”:

…a hollow rumble of wings…

…wait for the early owl…

Personally, when I first started photographing birds in Cuba, it was a period in my life that roughly corresponded to my acquiring my first pair of professional birding binoculars, inspired in part by the red-tailed hawks in Prospect Park near my apartment, the same kind of hawk that’s also found in my home state of South Dakota.

During one of my last trips to Havana, I remember the delight of watching a hawk attempting to open her wings just inches away from me –– instead of my observing the raptor from the usual distance of my field glasses.  Yet simultaneously I also felt a something catch in my throat as I watched the hawk fumble, unable to spread her wings fully in so small a cage .  Looking back, I realize that I often had this complicated and seemingly contradictory emotional response –– delight and discomfort –– while photographing caged birds throughout Cuba.

Li-Young Lee link:  http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/291

LInk to T.S. Eliot’s poem, “Four Quartets”:  http://www.tristan.icom43.net/quartets/

Alex Webb, Havana, 2008, from "Violet Isle"

 

EP: Alex, when you photograph you seem to go back again and again to a particular place. You don’t move there for a while to carry out your work, but you return over and over. How does that affect the way you see, the way you work?

AW: My meanderings in a country are rarely planned.  For instance, in Havana, even when I find myself working in the same neighborhood, it is often somewhat by chance: I wander into the same locale three days later –– or even, perhaps, a year later.  And even if I contemplate returning to a specific area, it is often a spur of the moment decision: I find myself completing work in one street or block and suddenly decide to return to somewhere that I have been before.  Sure, sometimes I may decide that a street or a market that I photographed in the morning might be more interesting in the afternoon or vice-versa, but as often as not the return to a particular locale is serendipitous.

For instance, the above photograph was taken during my last of 11 trips to Havana over 15 years.  Who know how many times I had walked down this particular street during my other trips.  But the particular mood and color and feel of the street caught my eye in fall 2009.

EMILY PEDERSON

Emily Pederson, Prague, 2009

I was born in Newport, Rhode Island in 1989. I study photography, Portuguese, and Spanish at the Gallatin School at New York University.

My grandfather was an undersea photographer and cinematographer, and documented undersea life in the Bahamas in the 50s and 60s. So there were always neat old cameras in my house as I was growing up, and I started to take photographs early on. The summer after my junior year in high school I lived in Peru for a month doing volunteer work at an orphanage. It was my first true experience of life elsewhere, and it played out like a fever dream. I took thirty rolls of film, and after that was significantly more fascinated by photography.

After graduating high school, I moved to New York City and have lived there since, except for four months last year, which I spent studying in Prague, learning Czech and traveling in Eastern Europe. I’m currently working with Alex Harsley at the 4th Street Photo Gallery, which he established in 1971, helping him distribute his work and documenting the history the gallery has witnessed. I see photographs as agents of information and as records of light. What allures me the most is how photography gives us the ability to freeze time.–Emily Pederson

My website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/emilykpederson/

BILL MCCULLOUGH

Bill McCullough, Waco, Texas, 2005

American photographer Bill McCullough was born in 1963, in Dickenson Texas. He graduated with a degree in Plan II economics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1986. He is a self taught photographer. His work has been published in Spot (Houston Center of Photography), United States; and Photonews, Germany. In 2008,  his work was purchased for the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. His first solo show will take place at the SRO gallery at Texas Tech University in March, 2011. He has been chosen as a 2010 Fotofest discovery. He currently resides and works in Austin, Texas.

Bill’s webswite:  www.billmccullough.com

TWO VIEWS: Cuba

October 5, 2010

Lee Lockwood, Fidel Castro

There are two exhibitions about Cuba at the Center for Cuban Studies/Cuban Art Space: “Cuba: The Decade After,” photographs by LEE LOCKWOOD and “The Years Before: 1945-1958,” photographs by CONSTANTINO ARIAS.  Both photographers’ work — in very different ways — give insights into Cuba’s past.  Lockwood, who died this past summer, was a committed political photojournalist (and journalist) who was probably best known for his marathon interview with Castro, which apparently took place over a week and was published as a book with Lockwood’s photographs.  It’s fascinating to see his intimate photographs of the young Castro.    He was also a founder of the Center for Cuban Studies.  Arias, known familiarly as the “Cuban Weegee,”  recorded Cuban life in the 1940′s and 50′s.  His work gives a palpable sense of the world of that era, documenting nightclubs, society, as well as life on the streets.  A catalogue of Arias’s work, with an introduction by Max Kozloff, is also available from the Center for Cuban Studies.  You’ll also find both photographers work is in the current ICP exhibition, “Cuba in Revolution,” which also includes work by KORDA, CORRALES, CARTIER-BRESSON, BURRI, GLINN, among others, and which is up through January 9, 2011.—ALEX WEBB and REBECCA NORRIS WEBB

Constantino Arias, Havana, Cuba

TWO EVENTS: Slide Talk and Book Signing

September 22, 2010

AW, Havana, 2008, from "Violet Isle"

Please join us for our joint slide talk, TOGETHER AND APART, at 11 AM in the Ambassador Room on Saturday, September 25th , at the South Dakota Festival of Books in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We will present a variety of work, including a selection of photographs from our joint book, Violet Isle: A Duet of Photographs from Cuba.  We’ll discuss other bodies of work as well, including some books we’ve worked on together –– such as Istanbul: City of a Hundred Names (photographs by Alex; photo-edited by Rebecca) –– and some books we’ve worked on individually, such as My Dakota (Rebecca’s upcoming book), which is an elegy for Rebecca’s brother who died unexpectedly.   We  will also attend two book signings –– featuring Dave Eggers, Pete Dexter, NPR’s Deborah Amos, among other noted authors –– on Friday and Saturday.–– Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

RNW, Havana, 2008, from "Violet Isle"

TWO CITIES: Montreal and Philadelphia

February 26, 2010

Alex Webb, Gonaives, Haiti, 1987

Please join Alex and Rebecca for their slide talk in MONTREAL on Monday, March 1st at Dawson College. The lecture is called “Together and Apart,” and is open to the public.  It will feature Alex’s work from Haiti, Rebecca’s work from the American West (including the recent photograph below), and their joint work from Cuba.

Rebecca Norris Webb, Poet's House, Rapid City, South Dakota, 2010

And please join Alex and Rebecca for an artists’ reception/book signing for their joint exhibition, “Violet Isle: A Duet of Photographs from Cuba” in PHILADELPHIA on Thursday, March 4th, from 5-7 pm.  It will be held at Gallery 1401 at the University of the Arts, as will a second SPE event and book signing on Friday, March 5th, also from 5-7pm.  PhotoEye will also host a book signing for Alex and Rebecca at SPE on Friday from 1:30-2:30pm.  For more information about all three events, visit Magnum Events.

Alex Webb, Havana, 2001

RNW, Havana, Cuba, 2007


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