interview

Shut Down In Egypt: One Artist’s Story Of Struggle And Oppression

DURING THE 2011 REVOLUTION in Egypt (commonly referred to as the January 25th Revolution), artists in Egypt began to express themselves in ways they never had before. Their work caught the world’s attention, inspiring us all to believe in change. Ganzeer was one of those artists whose work covered the walls of Cairo, documenting the spirit of the revolution, supporting its call for “bread, social dignity, and justice.”

Fast forward 3+ years, and artists and revolutionaries in Egypt are facing uncertain times. On May 29, after a two-day election, a new leader — Abdel Fattah-Sisi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) — was elected Egypt’s president. Support for SCAF has created divisions between revolutionaries in Egypt, and the leaders of SCAF have often been a focus of Ganzeer’s work.

Today, Egypt is undergoing a counter-revolution driven by the supporters of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which believes former President Morsi’s ouster — as demanded by many Egyptians in July 2013 and enforced by the army — was unwarranted. This accusation has led them to be labelled as “terrorists” who are now facing mass trials and much worse. In addition, the government has been widely criticized by human rights groups for the mass arrests of protesters and members of the media.

But the ongoing revolution hasn’t stopped Ganzeer from fighting for positive changes in Egypt’s future. I interviewed him to discuss the role of art in Egypt’s struggles. He also talks about his childhood pleasures and the daily issues he faced as a resident of one of the world’s largest metropolises, Cairo.

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Ganzeer stands to the left with a friend and fellow artist in front of one of his murals depicting a zombie soldier. Ganzeer has been critical of the role of the army and other groups in power throughout the ongoing revolution. Photo: Abdelrhman Zin Eldin

 

Did you grow up in Cairo and what were some of the best things about growing up in the city? 

Yeah I grew up in Cairo. In a little neighborhood in Heliopolis called Ard El-Golf, which is right behind the abandoned Baron Empain Palace constructed in 1911. Far from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Cairo, or even Egypt’s lifeline: The Nile River. I feel like I never really got a taste of “city life” till much later. Today Ard El-Golf is a go-to hangout area, with many popular cafes, sushi spots, and bridges and tunnels and high cake-like buildings and what have you. But back in the 80s/90s it was pretty much a semi-quite residential neighborhood with many stray dogs befriended by me and other kids my age. My school was around the block and the couple friends I made were in the neighborhood.

I feel like I only really faced the city – understood the scope of the city and all that – when I had to go to college which was in a town called Banha, a 30 minute train ride from Cairo. But I would spend roughly an hour and half in public transportation just to get to the train station. I don’t think I’m a big city kinda guy. I find myself much more comfortable in more intimate communities that are more connected with nature. But don’t get me wrong! I am fascinated by cities, and megacities and how they function. Cairo’s crazy in just the layers of history that are apparent in every facet of the city. The architecture, the food, the conversations, it’s such a culturally rich city but it’s also one that carries a lot of baggage!

What are some of the most important things that are needed for a better quality of living in Cairo and Egypt right now?

First off, about seventy-five percent less people! There’s no way any city on the planet can accommodate [over] twenty million people! The number of people living in Cairo are having such a huge toll on the transportation system, the architecture, the environment. On the urban planning front, the city just can’t keep up – it’s always much, much behind. I’d put most of the development money into the rest of the country’s towns and villages, get people to decentralize and spread out.

Secondly, private cars need to be banned. Of course, it’s difficult to get around a city and spread out in Cairo without a car, but seriously, it’s just out of hand. I understand that it’s easier for the government in the short run to let people buy cars (making money in the process), but in the long run, it becomes unbearable for everyone. The city really needs to ban cars and focus entirely on developing its public transportation options to reach capacity and maintenance.

A view of the Baron Empain Palace built between 1907 and 1911. The architecture was inspired by Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and by palaces in India. (Amr Moustafa Shalaby)

A view of the Baron Empain Palace built between 1907 and 1911. The architecture was inspired by Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and by palaces in India.
Photo: Amr Moustafa Shalaby

Thirdly, all this stuff should be running on solar energy or electricity or whatever. I’ve seen solar energy panels cladding the roofs of farm houses in freakin’ Germany. GERMANY … it’s cloudy most of the year. But Cairo, the sun shines bright even all winter. It’s just dumb to depend on gas the way we [all] do. It’s the only way if we don’t want our people [in Egypt] to all drop dead and die from lung disease, which by the way, a lot of us already suffer from.

And lastly, water canals. It’s ridiculous to grow up in some part of the city two hours away from the Nile, with no direct access to it and only read about the Nile and its significance in history books. If they expect to teach us the importance of the Nile and our historical connection to it, then whenever a new extension of the city is planned, a Nile artery should be the first thing in that plan. Plus, it would offer a good alternative to getting around the city, much better than overcrowded asphalt roads (which discharge so much heat throughout Egypt’s extended summer months).

Did you ever join the sit-ins in Tahrir or any protest gathering points in Cairo? What was it like for you?

I just so happened to be there on January 25, 2011 when the revolution first broke out and boy it was the most thrilling and exhilarating time of my life. Seeing people band together and sacrifice themselves in the face of armed troops with nothing else but their voices, and all for what? For other people, people they don’t even know, future generations they will never meet. It was such a glorious thing to experience, the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to seeing God or something. Indescribable.

Photo taken by Mostafa Hussein. On his blog on March 16, 2011 Ganzeer wrote this about his project to create murals of martyrs, “The goal is to, on one hand, honor the martyrs, and on another hand provide passers-by with a reminder of Egypt's struggle for freedom, democracy, and equality.” This particular mural depicts 16 year old Seif Allah Mustafa who lost his life during the January 25th Revolution.

On his blog on March 16, 2011 Ganzeer wrote this about his project to create murals of martyrs, “The goal is to, on one hand, honor the martyrs, and on another hand provide passers-by with a reminder of Egypt’s struggle for freedom, democracy, and equality.” This particular mural depicts 16 year old Seif Allah Mustafa who lost his life during the January 25th Revolution. Photo: Mostafa Hussein

When did you first realize that you enjoyed art?

[When] I was about four or five years old. My older brothers had lots of Dungeons and Dragons catalogs, and Nintendo game cartridges, and superhero comic books, and I was just always fascinated by the art in those things and would spend many hours trying to copy them.

What’s the first work you did on the walls of Cairo as part of the Revolution? 

The very first thing I did was not at all planned. Nor was it an artwork at all really. But being in Tahrir Square on January 25th when the revolution broke out, and just so happening to have a can of spray paint, I climbed an NDP (Mubarak’s National Democratic Party) billboard in the middle of Tahrir Square and spray painted what people were chanting “Down with Mubarak”. The crowd erupted with cheers and whistles.

The first “artwork” I created however, was on February 2nd – a black stencil of visual symbols that pretty much visually stated that Mubarak does not equal Egypt. This was after Mubarak’s second public speech since the revolution broke out – a highly emotionally charged one that many, many, people were actually starting to fall for.

A protester holds up one of Ganzeer's stencils on February 11th, 2011. This was the day when Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak's three decade presidency in Egypt had finally come to an end.

A citizen holds up one of Ganzeer’s stencils which expresses that “Mubarak does not equal Egypt” on February 11th, 2011 in Cairo. This was the day when Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that former President Hosni Mubarak’s three decade presidency in Egypt had come to an end. Photo: Ganzeer

Was street art common in any part of Cairo before the revolution? How did people react to it before the Revolution?

Not really. Just a hand-full of rather content-less stuff in Heliopolis and Alexandria [Egypt’s second largest city]. Very cool and pretty to look at but without much meaning to it.

Egyptian jail cells have gained a notoriously bad reputation in the world’s eyes since the Revolution began in January 2011. For your work as a multi-medium artist helping the Revolution you were briefly arrested. Would you be able to tell me about your experience and how it happened?

So far, I’ve been lucky enough to not have to set foot in a jail cell at all. When I was detained, I was welcomed into the office of a high-ranking military officer who offered me a soda and later in the day a Nescafe. They were all eerily very nice and I was released on the very same day.

This design entitled "Evil Military" by Ganzeer references "the girl in the blue bra". After a video was released online during a December 2011 protest, showing the brutal beating of a female protester – whose shirt during the beating was opened, revealing her blue bra underneath – by soldiers, the video became a rallying call for protesters demanding an end to the military's power.

This design entitled “Evil Military” by Ganzeer references “the girl in the blue bra”. After a video was released online during a December 2011 protest, showing the brutal beating of a female protester – whose shirt during the beating was opened, revealing her blue bra underneath – by soldiers, the video became a rallying call for protesters demanding an end to the military’s power.

Read more about Ganzeer’s incident in jail in his own words here.

Much of your work is critical of (SCAF) or establishments – ie. Political, Religious, Art, etc. – that oppose freedom or change and growth. Have you faced a lot of negative reaction to your work by these groups?

All the time. Hardly anything I do is not met with a negative reaction from someone [such as Ibn Salaama].

This work, Tank vs. Biker, is one of Ganzeer’s internationally recognized murals which clearly shows in black and white stenciling his opinion about the relationship between the army and the people. On the left, a huge tank rolls forwards aiming its main gun at a target. A young man riding his bike on the right carries the city on his head in place of a loaf of bread. The Arabic word for bread sounds similar to that for life. Photo: Mehri Khalil

Has the SCAF or any other group in your opinion taken the Revolution away from the people and their goals of gaining “bread, social justice, and dignity”?

Yes. Particularly SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as Salafist groups.

How do you feel about the proposed law to ban graffiti in Egypt and send accused artists to jail for four years? Do you fear being a target?

Well, it’s not like the revolution itself was ever legal. It was illegal but we did it anyway. And it’s not like doing graffiti was a totally safe game up to this point either. One could easily have been charged with plotting against the state with the type of graffiti we’ve been doing so y’know… we’ll always try and do what we think is the right thing to do even if the government oppresses us. It’s always been that way anyway.

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Check out Ganzeer’s website for more of his work: www.ganzeer.com.

For more insight, read my profile piece on his work and the events on Mohamed Mahmoud Street — a street not only recognized for its revolutionary street art but for the stories of struggles that occurred on it: markermagazine.com/paint-tear-gas.

See this interview on Matador Network: matadornetwork.com/change/shut-down-egypt-artist

The Photographer who Climbed Egypt’s Great Pyramid [Q&A]

You’ve probably seen the famous black and white Depression-era photo where  construction workers sit on the ledge of a crane with New York City beneath  their feet as they eat lunch. Influenced by the idea of capturing the world from  as high as “Lunch atop a Skyscraper” did, young photographers have been scaling  rooftops to take photos just as memorable.

Vadim Makharov, a young Russian photographer who helped advance this new  trend, sees “roofing” or “skywalking” as a way to make people see how big the  world really is in an age where technology and communication have made it so  conveniently small. He works with fellow photographer and friend Vitaliy  Raskalov, walking on ledges and wandering the underground to give people a view  of the world they may never have seen before. Together, they’ve gained the  media’s attention, in particular for their climb to the top of the Great Pyramid  of Giza in March of 2013.

Some criticized them for disrespecting the site and efforts to preserve it,  while others praised the art that resulted from the climb. Despite the positive  attention, Vadim and Vitaliy still apologized in an interview with CNN, saying  “we didn’t want to insult anyone. We were just following [our] dream.”

As I discovered over the course of this conversation, Vadim will continue to  live his dream, traveling and revealing secret places and unique perspectives of  the world’s iconic sites.

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You recently visited European countries like Sweden, Spain,  Germany, and France. What inspired your recent trip throughout  Europe?

It was not our first visit to Europe, but [Vitaliy and I] haven’t done  such a long-scale trip through Europe before. Our goal was to visit the most  famous places in Europe and to climb them — and we’ve done it.

Photo taken by © Vadim Makhorov.

Photo taken by © Vadim Makhorov

You collaborate with Vitaliy on a lot of these projects, from Egypt  to your recent trip to Europe. What’s it like to work with him?

He’s my very good friend. I’ve traveled with him all throughout Russia and  then we started exploring other parts of the world. We achieve better results  when we do photos together than alone.

Do you have a favorite or memorable image you captured from your  trip?

Most of all, I remember Cologne Cathedral and the way we climbed it. We  didn’t like the city very much, but the Cathedral was fantastic! I liked the  size and the architecture. We liked climbing the flagpole [as well], which was a  little more than 150 metres. Another memorable climb was the Sagrada Familia and  also Notre Dame. All together, these three cathedrals made our trip really stand  out.

Photo taken by © Vadim Makhorov

Photo taken by © Vadim Makhorov

Many of your photos are “daredevil” shots – pictures taken on the  edges of buildings and iconic landmarks, or even behind subways leaving  underground stations. Why do you take images from this view?

These are the places where people usually don’t go, so I have a chance to  make unique pictures. I have a possibility to show people the city from  different points of view, and underground it’s a completely different story.  Usually it’s hard to get there, but unlike rooftops, which you can see from the  ground, being underground is about what you cannot see — not many people are  aware of these places. In order to get there, you have to work hard and this is  appealing [to me].

Since your photos show perspectives of the world we don’t see too  often, do you think they’re historical records for the future, to remember the  world as it once was?

Perhaps one day, they’ll have some historical significance. But I don’t think  about it now in this way. In my photos — it’s my art. They’re not related in any  way to my points of view on social issues. I just want to show the way that I  visually see the world.

Egypt is one of the places I have always dreamed of visiting. You’ve  had the chance to visit in March of this year, and I think it’s fair to say that  your trip was more memorable than most people who have traveled to Egypt,  because you climbed the Great Pyramid in Giza. What did it feel like to reach  the top?

I dreamed for a long time to be in Giza and to see the pyramids close up.  Then, when I started climbing roofs [of other buildings], I realized I could  climb the pyramids. Why not? When I reached the top, I had a feeling similar to  what a mountain climber must feel, like a conqueror, reaching the top of the  mountain.

Photo taken by © Vadim Makhorov

Photo taken by © Vadim Makhorov

Did you find anything interesting at the top?

At the top there were words scratched in the stones in many different  languages. It means others have climbed the pyramids in the past. We are not the  first and won’t be the last. Another interesting thing we found was a book by  Moses Gates — he does a lot of traveling and climbs roofs and goes  underground.

There have been a lot of opinions about your climb [of the Great  Pyramid] — some people admire what you did and the photos you took, while others  criticize you for illegally climbing it. Why did you do it?

First, we did it for us. That’s why we don’t care about the critics. Second,  we do it for the people. We make beautiful shots that are delivered and given to  the world. I don’t think we do anything that can truly be called bad. What we’re  doing [with our photography] is beneficial work.

Have you ever run into trouble trespassing in areas to take your  photos before?

Oh yes, we’ve had some problems with the police. In Russia, we know the  process: Once you trespass on secured property, if [the] police catch you, you  pay a fine of 500 rubles [about 12 euros or 16 US dollars]. But these cases are  rare and usually nobody catches us.

Has this or any negative criticism from the media ever made you think  about stopping or changing the style of pictures you take?

I rarely encounter my work with negative criticism…I take shots from heights  because I like it. But someday in the future I’ll be tired with it. Even now, I  don’t do all my shots from the roof. My second favourite POV is commercial or  industrial plants. I like taking shots of plants, electric stations, and  different manufacturing facilities.

Where would you like to travel to next to take pictures?

Our next trip planned is Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and possibly Afghanistan.

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What are your thoughts about this new photography movement? Do you think it’s ok to break the rules in the name of art? Share your thoughts on this post or comment on my twitter @beckyhaganegyir. I look forward to reading your thoughts and opinions!

Take time to see more of Vadim’s work here: http://500px.com/dedmaxopka

See the original interview here: http://matadornetwork.com/notebook/the-photographer-who-climbed-egypts-great-pyramid-qa/#J0VYzAoMcW8cwT47.99

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Update from February 2014 :

Check out this recent vid of Vadim and Vitaliy’s climb to the top of Shanghai Tower (at over 650 meters!):

Smart Choices: An Interview with Fairtrade Canada’s Michael Zelmer

Fair Trade is a movement with an ambitious goal to change the way that we live for the better. [“Fair Trade” refers to the need to promote fairness in the market and treat people — from farmers to consumers — with respect whereas “Fairtrade” refers to the organization that created the certification system for Fair Trade products.]  Farmers and artisans are provided with an opportunity to celebrate and share their work, and buyers are given a chance to support them by purchasing their products, and in the process change the way trade and business relations operate. This is an interview about the principles of Fair Trade and why according to Michael Zelmer of Fairtrade Canada, we should consider becoming involved in this growing movement.

What year did Fair Trade arrive in Canada?
Fair Trade happened here [in Canada] in the 1960s. And it originated with Ten Thousand Villages back in the 1940s. The certification system began in 1988 in the Netherlands and the first certified product came here [to Canada] in 1997.

Within the past year, how much have Fair Trade sales increased in the Canadian market?
On our website there are tables that show these figures. These surveys are done every couple of years. There’s also a survey of Canadian perceptions of Fair Trade.

(You can find these charts and the survey by clicking this link: http://fairtrade.ca/en/about-fairtrade/facts-figures.)

Zelmer1Michael Zelmer of Fair Trade Canada

When we talk about local and buying Fair Trade, it seems to have distance implicit in that. People buy chocolate, they consume coffee, etc. made from local or international farmer’s products… the principle for dealing with farmers and international farmers should be similar, regardless.

The University of Alberta in Edmonton is attempting to become a Fair Trade campus. Why is it important for cities and schools to promote Fair Trade?
The town or university doesn’t get certified [only products are certified], but they get a status that recognizes their leadership in promoting Fair Trade. If you have cities and universities that are purchasing [Fair Trade] products, then they get goods that provide information. People buy items with limited information. With Fair Trade certified products, they’re able to know that there are certain standards related to the environment, related to social relationships between the buyers and sellers and the general labour and human rights standards that are all put into place. So it gives [buyers] at the University the advantage of knowing that there’s a set standard in place… so they have a positive impact with their purchases.

Once a town and/or university become certified do Fair Trade sales, overall, tend to increase?
Sales tend to increase and it influences ethical purchasing policies developed by cities and institutions like universities. What we see is that when a large institution makes a decision like this, it sends a signal to the marketplace to show that Fair Trade is important. It also creates an incentive to make more Fairtrade products available. Companies now have a way to do a bit of good, through the products, making the symbolism of their actions spread as well.

What’s the relation between buying local and buying Fair Trade?
When we talk about local and buying Fair Trade, it seems to have distance implicit in that. People buy chocolate, they consume coffee, etc. made from local or international farmer’s products… the principle for dealing with farmers and international farmers should be similar, regardless. There’s an issue of understanding the system that supports the production of these products. When you’re buying local it’s not fair to think “it’s from nearby so that makes it local”. Buying local is about security—making sure we have the necessary infrastructure to grow our own food and to support local farmers. Those same principles are in play when it comes to Fair Trade.

How does the middleperson function to decrease farmer’s sales?
When we speak about the middleman, we’re not trying to implement a rule that they must be removed from the supply chain. We’re looking at them to point to at a problem that often comes up. If you think about a product from the point where it comes from the ground to the point where it’s consumed, there are many intermediaries [middlepersons] at either end. When you have many intermediaries, money will be removed and put into the hands of companies shipping out products. So, if I’m a farmer selling a product and there’s only one person or intermediary between me and that consumer, then in principle, there’s a greater likelihood that I, the farmer, will get a greater share of money. There’s another important thing to think about: power. It’s not just a question of how many people there are between the producer and the buyer. It also has to do with who has the power to determine who gets how much money. So you can have a supply chain with just three people in it, and one person can balance the funds equally. We [Fairtrade Canada] want to increase the likelihood that more resources will flow back to the farmer and to level out the playing field to give farmers a chance.

Do you think that artisans and farmers who participate in Fair Trade are less likely to be marginalized, when we can see how Fair Trade is influencing business dealings in the world?
It’s a difficult question to answer. All [Fair Trade] products are coming from small scale farmers and when they get their products certified, it has benefits for them. Whether or not they’re less likely to get exploited in the trade relationship, it tends to depend on the percentage of Fair Trade certified products they’re able to sell. Coffee is by far, the most commonly understood Fair Trade certified product you’ll find in Canada. But, on average, coffee co-operatives are only selling about a third of certified [Fair Trade] coffee. What that means, is that there’s a large percentage of their coffee that isn’t managed by Fair Trade… that’s why this question is difficult. The important thing is that what we’re doing is providing a structure for the co-operatives themselves to flourish. A quick example is twenty-five years ago all cocoa in the Dominican Republic was controlled by five rich families. But a small scale co-operative of farmers challenged this, and they now control over twenty-five percent of the region’s cocoa. So as a result, they have become important and there’s a structure for farmers to be powerful.

The key thing is to understand is that it’s [Fair Trade’s mission] about allowing farmer’s to become powerful above and beyond Fair Trade and certified products. The relationship to people here in Canada is that we’re supporting them, and not in a charitable manner with donations, but by making smart choices. We may be paying a bit more for those smart choices but they support all these transformative things that are happening out there in the world.

See the interview here: http://markermagazine.com/smart-choices-an-interview-with-fair-trade-canadas-michael-zelmer/

Street Love: Interviewing the Photographer Behind The Last Street

Stephanie Last’s collaborative projects are changing the way we look at street photography. This interview shows the UK photographer’s love for street photography and for the people who walk down those streets.
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1. Have you always been drawn to photography?

Stephanie: From a young age I have had a camera. My Dad is a great photographer, and has taught me a lot of the key attributes to this discipline, particularly on a technical side. At school, drawing and painting were more what I was interested in, however I have always appreciated good photographs. Since being at University, I have become really interested in photography and the element of chance it entails.

2. What photographer(s) inspire(s) you?

Stephanie: Henri Cartier-Bresson and Martin Parr are my two main inspirations. I feel that when their works are in juxtaposition with one another, this makes for a fascinating result. Cartier-Bresson’s implicit, “poetic” black and white street photographs and the tribulations found with his labeling of the “decisive moment” interest me. Parr’s explicit, greatly saturated documentary photographs are also very appealing.

3. Your photos and photographic projects seem to show your impressions of life. What draws you towards the moments you choose to portray in your photos?

Stephanie: Well actually, I’m not trying to insert my own views on society, or life in general. I am interested in seeing other people’s outlooks and ways of representing life. However, when thinking about it, sometimes I do interpret what I feel are the main subject matters of the images I receive, and then work with these. So yes, I guess here, there is sense of my own personal preference and subconscious image selection applied to the photographs.

4. Is the city (with its skylines, heritage and cultural districts, etc.) your muse, or are the people in the city (and the way they interact with city environments) your muse?

Stephanie: Good question! I think with my first two Leeds, UK street photography projects, that I would say the associations with place and the building of a cultural identity were definitely the most important factors. With my most recent projects (5-A-Street and Sur L’heure) where there are no restrictions over locations, the way that people interact with certain places and their responses to the different tasks I set, particularly interests me. Although when I receive photographs from all over the world, and compare a photograph taken in say London with one from Sydney, Eskilsden’s idea of the “uncharacterized city” is an idea I find stimulating. I am interested to see whether different places and countries look different from each other. In fact, Martin Parr tried to capture these “cultural icronyzies” within some of his work whereas Cartier-Bresson avoided them.

5. On your website, you mention that the public’s opinion towards street photography is often negative. What made you want to do a collaborative project with the public?

Stephanie: Street photography is my favourite type of photography, as I feel it is the most realistic yet ambiguous of all. I knew I wanted to incorporate this into my photography practice somehow…although I was very aware of the negative response this discipline can receive due to worries over child-protection and terrorism, etc. So, I thought, ok, if people don’t want me to take their photographs in the streets, why don’t I ask them to take the photographs for me! And my collaborative photography projects began! At a time where street photography is sometimes frowned upon, community participation is an effective way of reengaging people with the discipline.

6. Many French Impressionists beginning in the 1870s were inspired by street scenes and they were also inspired by industrialization’s effects on French society. Japanese Provoke photographers beginning in the 1960s wanted to document post-war society and its values up until the 1970s. How important is the idea of capturing history through art to you?

Stephanie: I think art is great way of preserving history for future generations as it brings about both connotative and denotative signification. The Terezin’s Children Drawings Collection in Prague really hit me emotionally. The exhibition contained touching drawings by Jewish children who were in the Terezin Ghetto conveying their thoughts and feelings in the Second World War. Reflecting on street and documentary photography, I like to think that this is a realistic way of presenting history, and even if there is an absence of it (due to public fears) this can also teach future generations a bit about our society’s way of thinking.

7. What was the focus of your last project 5-A-Street?

Stephanie: The focus was to show the public the potential that street photography has and how it can be both “documentary” and “artistic”, and how they too can be part of it. I asked people to take 10 photos in 5 minutes, taken from the same viewpoint, and then send them into me and then I digitally combined them into one image known as a “dynamic capture”. Each time I created a dynamic capture, I sent a copy to the participant, so they gained something from the project too. Despite the “5-A-Street Rules”, I hoped that the viewer would play curator when considering my process. The final image was just as significant as the technical process, so I tried not to reveal the technical details too much. Through photo editing street and studio came into place, as typically studio photography is where post-production occurs whereas street photography is realistic.

8. What is the focus of your most recent project, Sur L’Heure?

Stephanie: I am interested in the relationship between “the decisive moment” and artistic license. I am asking people to take a photograph exactly on the hour, (1:00, 2:00….), wherever they are at that exact time. By recommending hours on a daily basis I’m hoping this will keep the shots quite random and reduce the artistic license involved with documentary/street photography nowadays. But any random shots taken on the hour are great too! From the images I have received, I am then going to build two digital photo clock animations—one in the style of Henri Cartier-Bresson and one in the style of Martin Parr—where the pictures change every time the digit changes.

9. How can people become involved in Sur L’Heure?

Stephanie: I update my website daily with the day’s capturing time and the pictures taken that day. Once you have taken a photograph, please send it to stephlast@hotmail.co.uk . If you want to be part of my mailing list and receive more daily updates on Sur L’heure please email me also on stephlast@hotmail.co.uk . I currently have 80 participants and am determined for this to be my biggest collaborative project yet!

10. What are your plans once you graduate?

Stephanie: I’m honestly not sure. I would love to carry on with photography projects after University. Or go into photo-journalism, digital marketing, or something like that. So if you have any contacts in this field, please feel free to pass my name on!

Steph at work 1

Stephanie at work.

For more info on The Last Street check out Stephanie’s project websites http://www.thelaststreet.co.uk and www.surlheure.com and also take a look at the BBC’s display of her work at www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-20729484.

*Update: 117 people from around the world participated in Sur L’heure, Stephanie’s 24 day project.