Wednesday 28 October 2015

Jane Drew, Architect

Dame Jane Drew (1911-1996) was one of Britain's most distinguished architects and urban planners. Brought up by a humanist father who "despised the profit motive and abhorred cruelty", she had a compassion for both architecture and humanitarian concerns and worked on the principle that architecture had to provide a space in which human being could flourish (via).

"The first thing I learned from Jane was that the Office did not employ men and women, but architects and each was rewarded on merit unrelated to sex." Frank Knight, employee at the practice from 1947
Jane Drew, born Iris Estelle Radcliffe Drew and registered as Joyce Beverly Drew (via), had made a secret pact with her classmate Peggy Ashcroft that they would pursue a career and keep using their own names (via). Nevertheless, she was often introduced as "Mrs Maxwell Fry", the wife of the well-known architect - an architect's wife rather than an architect in her own right (Jackson & Holland, 2014). Once, when she was introduced by her married name as "Mrs Fry", she pulled the speaker's sleeve and corrected him quietly: "I'm sorry Mrs Fry can't be with us tonight, instead Miss Jane Drew has kindly accepted to replace her." (via).
In the 1930s, it was not easy for a female architect to find work and in order to succeed, "women were forced by social and cultural expectations to tread a very fine line with regard to gender identity". Women were expected to be gentle and modest and Drew did not adhere to these rules. For her, gender was a non-issue. As a reaction to the discrimination she had experienced as a graduate, she decided to employ only women staff when she set up her own office (Jackson & Holland, 2014), which she initially did (via).

The "Jane Drew Prize" is an award given by the Architect's Journal to persons who show "innovation, diversity and inclusiveness in architecture" recognising a "contribution to the status of women in architecture" (via).

- Jackson, I. & Holland, J. (2014). The Architecture of Edwin Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew: Twentieth Century Architecture, Pioneer Modernism and the Tropics. Farnham & Burlington: Ashgate
- photographs of Jane Drew (with Le Corbusier and husband Maxwell Fry in Chandigarh, (c) FLC/ADAGP) via and via and via

Monday 26 October 2015

Ku Klux Klan Reality, captured by Anthony Karen

The Ku Klux Klan, founded in 1865, had four million members in 1925. Today, the Ku Klux Klan has a maximum of 8.000 members and is called a former terrorist power that "has become a curiosity" (via). Photographer Anthony Karen spent eight years documenting Klan organisations as a nonjudgmental observer (via).

Above: Son of an Imperial Wizard in North Carolina (first picture), Klan gathering in North Carolina (second picture) granddaughter of an Imperial Wizard (third picture), and sacred altar used to "naturalise" prospective members into the "Invisible Empire"
Below: Carl, an imperial wizard of a Southern-based Ku Klux Klan realm (or state-level group), takes aim with a pellet gun at a large cockroach (on the piece of paper just below the clock), while his wife and goddaughter try to avoid getting struck by a possible ricochet. (via)

Ku Klux Klan nomenclature (excerpt from second Klan era, via):

Imperial Wizard - national head of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan often referred to in documents as president.
Imperial Klonsel - Supreme attorney
Imperial Kleagle - executive, recieves reports from the Grand Goblins.
Grand Goblin - ruler over a "Dominion" which is now defined as a multi-state area.
King Kleagle - manager of state known as a "Realm."
Kleagle - field organizer over a certain territory or part of a "Realm."
Exalted Cyclops - president of the Klavern
Terrors - officers of the Exalted Cyclops which consists of:
Klaliff - vice president of the Klavern
Klokard - lecturer
Kludd - the Chaplain
Kligrapp - secretary
Klabee - treasurer
Kladd - the conductor of ceremonies
Klarogo - inner guard
Klexter - outer guard
Klokan - Head of the three-man Klokann Board which investigates prospective members.
Night-Hawk - Custodian of the fiery cross and person incharge of new candidates or "aliens"

Above: An imperial officer from a Midwestern-based Ku Klux Klan at the home of his imperial wizard and wife shortly before departing for a Christmas party for members at a local church (via)

Above (second one): “Little Charlie” of the Louisiana-based Dixie Rangers of the Ku Klux Klan displays her custom-made wedding veil as her fiancé looks on. (via)
Last row, left: Candidates wishing to become initiated into the Ku Klos Knights of the Ku Klux Klan take their oaths as part of a naturalization ritual. Candidates are blindfolded and led through the woods at a sometimes vigorous pace. They are questioned about Klan craft and history, and they swear certain oaths. They are then "knighted" through anointing with sacred waters, a sword touch on both shoulders, and a benediction. The new members are greeted and welcomed by the officiating officers. (literally via)

In general, white robes indicate a rank-and-file member, green robes indicate state leaders (Grand Dragons), black robes indicate Knighthawks. The Imperial Wizards, the leaders, choose among a variety of colours (via). For the highly interesting and complete "Catalogue of Official Robes and Banners. Knights of the Ku Klux Klan" from 1925 see the amazing internet library Internet Archive.

Above: Richard Bondira, former Grand Wizard and Grand Blufustin of the KKK. (via)

"Aryan Outfitters": Ms Ruth sews hoods and robes for Klan members every day. A red satin outfit for a so-called "Exalted Cyclops" costs about $140,- Ms Ruth comes from five generations of Ku Klux Klan members and has a quadriplegic daughter who was injured in a car accident (via).

photographs via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and
via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via, copyright by Anthony Karen

Friday 23 October 2015

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Dear Hillary Clinton, ...

Hillary Clinton recently received a letter from 12-year-old feminist Olivia:

Hillary Clinton's response:

“Thank you for writing to me; it put a smile on my face. … Please know that I join your dads in cheering you on for great success. Keep up the great work, always care deeply about what you believe in, and never stop reaching for the stars!”

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image and information via and via

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Black Faces, by Marta Azevedo

"I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where nearly half of the population is Afro-descendent. During my childhood, I spent my summer vacation in the black neighborhood where my father grew up. His mother and siblings still lived there but my father’s family were the only white people around.

Because of this, I had the opportunity to experience black culture in many forms: Jongo (an African dance), Umbanda (an Afro-Brazilian religion) and Samba. I’ve carried these memories and experiences through my life. The black population in Brazil, as in many other countries, is not accurately portrayed in books and media. In 2003, I started a personal project about the African-Brazilian population to portray the beauty and culture of these people. By photographing individual faces, I hoped to convey the wide range of attitudes and lifestyles in the community.

In 2004, I moved to United States—but that didn’t stop me. I decided to include the African-Americans and the Africans who lived in America as well. Once a year, I came back to Brazil to photograph the Afro-Brazilians again. My portraits reflect the value, uniqueness and worthiness of self. They also provide a sense of the presence of this population that is often ignored or misrepresented. In my images I try to reflect a sense of the person, the individual who lies beneath the image. My work portrays people in a non-traditional way. Generally, the people I work with are not models, but regular people that simply wish to be photographed.

From an aesthetic perspective, I like the contrasts and textures that I get when converting photographs into black and white. The conversion of each picture is a different process. It depends on the lighting, skin color, hair and the clothing or head dressing. I keep the pictures as simple as possible so that nothing will distract the eye from the main idea. I try not to spend too much time in post-processing because I prefer to achieve most of what I have in mind when I am photographing."

Marta Azevedo

photographs via

Friday 16 October 2015

Women Artists, photographed by Barbara Yoshida

“One Hundred Portraits: Women Artists,” American fine art photographer Barbara Yoshida presents a fascinating photographic survey of women artists through portraits that reveal a key aspect of each artist’s identity. Since 1990, Yoshida has travelled the world to document more than one hundred women in their studios and homes. Her diverse subjects, who range from art world luminaries to artists starting their careers, work in a variety of styles with no distinction between fine art and craft. Collectively, they can be seen as a community of artists that fearlessly pushes forward the boundaries of art making." (via)

Above: Louise Bourgeois, 28 February 1992

Above: Toshiko Takaezu, 17 October 1993

Above: Malado Camara Sidibeh, 22 November 2010

Above: Lynda Benglis, 21 November 1991

Above: Alicja Zebrowska, 24 May 2010

Above: Elizabeth Murray, 29 April 1992

Above: Hannah Wilke, 21 February 1991

Barbara Yoshida started taking photographs of women artists in the early 1990s when the Guerilla Girls drew attention to sexism in art, when female artists had difficulties to find recognition within galleries, museums and the public imagination. A great many of the women photographed by Yoshida were members of the Women's Action Coalition, an organisation founded in 1992 to fight discrimination against women in the art world (via).
"Given that Yoshida herself worked as a painter, printmaker, and sculptor for two decades before ever picking up a camera, her photographs of these women are not just acts of affirmation but also of solidarity. That comes out in the way she chose to photograph her subjects — not posing them stiffly, but letting the images evolve over conversations about art and life. Each resulting portrait is not merely a representation of the artist shown, but an encounter between two women leaning on and encouraging one another in a male-dominated world." Laura C. Mallonee
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information and photographs by Barbara Yoshida via the marvellous Hyperallergic

Monday 12 October 2015


"I am one man among seven billion others. For the past 40 years, I have been photographing our planet and its human diversity, and I have the feeling that humanity is not making any progress. 
We can’t always manage to live together. 
Why is that? 
I didn’t look for an answer in statistics or analysis, but in man himself. It is in faces, looks, and words that I find a powerful way of reaching the depths of the human soul. Each encounter brings you a step closer. Each story is unique. 
By exploring the experiences of the Other, I was in search of understanding. Do we all have the same thirst for love, freedom and recognition? In a world torn between tradition and modernity, do our fundamental needs remain the same? Deep down, what does it mean to be human today? What is the meaning of life? Are our differences so great? Do we, in fact, share more values than we might have imagined? And if so, why can we not manage to understand one another?" 
Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Over more than two years, French photographer, director (and genius) Yann Arthus-Bertrand filmed in 60 countries and interviewed 2.020 people who told their life stories in 63 languages. All interviewees were asked the same questions - no matter where they were from or how old they were: Do you feel free? What is the meaning of life?... With this film, Arthus-Bertrand wants us to encounter "the Other", to make us reflect on our existence. Human is an ode to humanity (via) and one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand is known for his breathtaking aerial photography. He is also an activist and a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program (via).

The film had its premiere on 12 September in the General Assembly Hall of the UN headquarters in New York. It is free to local authorities and non-profit organisations. There are eleven variations of the film and some can be watched on YouTube, for instance:

::: Official trailer: WATCH
::: Extended version vol. 1: WATCH
::: Extended version vol. 2: WATCH
::: Extended version vol. 3: WATCH

images via and via and via and via and via and via and via, copyright by the respective owners

Thursday 8 October 2015

Ageing in Prison

“Our federal prisons are starting to resemble nursing homes surrounded with razor wire. It makes no sense fiscally, or from the perspective of human compassion, to incarcerate men and women who pose no threat to public safety and have long since paid for their crime. We need to repeal the absurd mandatory minimum sentences that keep them there.”
Julie Stewart, president and founder of 'Families Against Mandatory Minimums

“Why are we keeping someone behind bars who is bedridden and needs assistance to get out of bed and feed and clothe himself? What do we gain from keeping people behind bars at an enormous cost when they no longer pose any danger to the public if they were released?”
Jamie Fellner, Human Rights Watch

“Prisons simply are not physically designed to accommodate the infirmities that come with age. There are countless ways that the aging inmates, some with dementia, bump up against the prison culture. It is difficult to climb to the upper bunk, walk up stairs, wait outside for pills, take showers in facilities without bars and even hear the commands to stand up for count or sit down when you’re told.”
Jamie Fellner, senior advisor at Human Rights Watch
Today, inmates 50 and older are the fastest growing population in correctional facilities. From 2009 to 2013, their percentage increased by 25% (via). Since 2014, the number has increased 330% and prisoners over 50 make up about 18% of the prison population in the U.S.; figures are expected to rise to 28% by 2019. According to a report, this is the fastest growing age group because a) people enter prison at an older age as part of the ageing society and b) people are growing old in jail as prison sentences became longer during a certain period (via). Some prisons have reacted to demographic changes and set up geriatric wards. A great many inmates are seriously ill, require around-the-clock medical care and finally die in prison. Health care expenses for prisoners increased 55% from 2006 to 2013 and are now equivalent to the budget of the U.S. Marshals Service or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The spiraling costs can surely be spent more wisely once the federal prison population is reduced (via). Per-older prisoner cost is put at double that of a younger offender and can be as much as five times the average amount. Medical issues can easily multiply at any age in prison since "the 'physiological' age of the average prisoner - due to the stress of being incarcerated - can be as much as 15 years higher than their actual age" (via).
"This facility mirrors a hospital more than a prison. We provide long-term care."Kenneth McKoy, assistant to a warden at Butner (prison)
“Inmates get very good care here. But on the outside, maybe you would give a patient a hug or he would hug you. Here, you have to be able to maintain your borders. It’s a prison.”
Michael Renshaw, clinical nurse and corrections officer

Photograph above: Bruce Harrison, a 63-year-old Vietnam veteran from Tampa, is shown during an interview inside Federal Correctional Complex Coleman in Florida. The grandfather was sentenced to nearly 50 years in prison and has been incarcerated for the past 21 years (literally via). Harrison was caught up in a drug sting in 1994.

Photograph below: Luis Anthony Rivera, a 58-year-old from Miami who has been imprisoned for 30 years, works in the commissary at Coleman. Rivera, a former pilot and an artist, was charged with federal drug offenses (literally via). He is sentenced to life plus 140 years for "conspiracy to import cocaine".

In the 1980s and 1990s, during the years marked by the "war on drugs", harsh sentences were introduced with mandatory minimums. Harrison and Rivera are just two examples. Now, federal sentencing guidelines have been revised and prison terms have become less severe (via). In addition, the Justice Department has just decided to release about 6.000 inmates early from prison - mainly because of overcrowding and over-incarceration. 46.000 of the 100.000 drug offenders who received harsh sentences during the "war on drugs" qualify for early release, the 6.000 will be the first tranche in this process. This will be the largest one-time release of federal prisoners (via) and the decision is very much welcomed by the United Nations (via). Currently, the U.S. has less than 5% of the world population but almost 25% of the world's prison population (via). That certainly has implications for the ageing population in prison.

Photograph below: Michael E. Hodge, 51, sits in his wheelchair during an interview at Butner Federal Medical Center in North Carolina. Hodge submitted several requests for compassionate release over the past few years, but none were approved by officials. He died April 18, according to prison records (literally via). Hodge was sentenced to 20 years for possessing and distributing marijuana and possessing a gun. He died of liver cancer in prison.

photographs Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via and via and via and via and via