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"Rites of Passage" by Przemyslaw Pokrycki

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For three years, Warsaw-based photographer Przemyslaw Pokrycki has been traversing his country, stopping at one family gathering after another. By now he has photographed about 80 festivities: baptisms, first communions, weddings and funerals. Some take place in old-fashioned, simple community halls where they wash down their cream tarts with Pepsi-Cola served in paper cups; other are held in ostentatious halls with stucco ceilings and covered upholstery. This is a journey to the heart of Poland.

Pokrycki's images show family members carrying out traditional rituals. "The whole environment reveals something about people's social background. Even if I wore my best Armani suit, my surrounding would betray my origins", say Przemyslaw Pokrycki, describing his work. In keeping with a tradition of Polish photography, he is creating a sociological archive of society, much as Polish photographer Zofia Rydet did until 1991.

Pokrycki explains his interest in his own country: "My photos are my way of describing the world around me. It's a reality I know well, but sometimes it surprises me, too. I don't seek to document extreme situations in my photography, like war, hunger or catastrophes. For me, the most exciting subject is society itself - especially given the changing conditions of daily life since the political changes of 1989."

Przemyslaw Pokrycki was born in 1974 in Poland; he lives near Wassaw and works as a free-lance photographer for several Polish magazines. He studied photography at the film academy in Lodz. in 2007 and 2008 "Rites of Passage" was shown during Photomonth in Krakow, in 2007 Pokrycki also took part in a group show in Houston, Texas. His representative in Poland is the ZPAF i S-ka Gallery in Krakow. The exhibition is actually shown in V8 Gallery in Cologne/Germany.

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Inga Schneider

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Juan Manuel and his trip to the sun

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Perú, Viaje al sol by Juan Manuel Castro Prieto

Perú, Viaje al sol is a revealing exhibition by Spanish photographer Juan Manuel Castro Prieto that has been traveling through Latin American since October 2008. The project started in one of the most captivating cultural contexts of the world: the sacred valley of the Incas. From his first contact with the Peruvians, Castro Prieto has developed an extensive body of work that has taken him through nearly all of Peru's regions -the 'jungle eyebrow', the highlands, the coast, the Amazon Jungle- as well as through many of his personal and professional interests.

Castro Prieto began taking pictures of Peru in 1990 when he traveled to Cuzco to print the work of the early 20th century Peruvian photographer Martin Chambi. Chambi was a perfect paradigm for Castro Prieto and the resulting prints are widely regarded as the finest ever made. He packed up his recently opened black and white print studio in Madrid and disembarked to Lima to what was to be an experience that changed not only the way the work of Martin Chambi is read throughout the world but also the way Castro Prieto understands photography and Latin America. Since then, he has made 11 return trips that have marked his photographic practice, guided his personal growth and strengthened his interest for all things Peruvian: from its people to its literature. The photographer has become, indeed, a connoisseur of Peru through its faces and its landscape.

The exhibition Perú, Viaje al sol is made up of some 130 impeccable black and white prints first shown Madrid's Centro Cultural de la Villa in 2001. Since then, it has been waiting for the opportunity to be shown in its original context. As part of a large program of exhibitions and conferences, Juan Manuel, along with his multiple Peruvian friends and memories, is now touring Latin America.

The exhibition can be read, as its title suggests, like a journey. Not only the journey of Castro Prieto to Peru, but that of the viewer towards the fascinating land of the Incas and beyond, that of the photographer towards the legacy of Martin Chambi, and also and perhaps most importantly, that of Juan Manuel to the depth of his self. He describes the various series of images as having sprung from a possibly naïve approach to the new, the exotic, which then turned into a questioning of his own values and the ideas that the West has of all things foreign. With the same honesty that the artist read in Chambi's work, he now faces his own production to find a different Peru than the one he dreamt of when he was a child. This is, in a way, is the visual story of a dream come true.

The images, with a documentary and anthropological shade are, needless to say, stunning. Large formats combine with smaller prints to convey a diaristic impression where images and places take up space in our notebooks and memory. The exhibiton is exactly that: the journal of a trip into the inner self of a land, a man, and a civilization.

'Perú, Viaje al sol [Peru, A Journey to the Sun]' will continue through Latin America in 2009.

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Emiliano Valdes

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Greg Stimac

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Invites 2, Greg Stimac

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This month latently, we have our 2nd Invite. I first met Greg Stimac while working at the Museum of Contemporary Photography. Greg and I shared a love of photography and troublemaking, as epitomized through our work. In fact I still cherish those long days of driving around suburbs with Greg in slow motion, listening for the far off sounds of a lawn mower. With some photography there is a keen sense of disbelief in wondering how it gets made and watching Greg in action did little to try to comprehend what motivates him to walk up to a man pushing his lawnmower on a Sunday and instantly direct him to keep on mowing for his picture. Since, Greg has made videos, photographs, some drawings and generally pushed the boundaries of what one vehicle, his car, is able to perform in it's lifetime (maybe Amy Stein will bring him some gas on the side of the road one day).

Greg's currently making new work, some of which may not even be photography some of which may, I have seen little but expect to be intrigued. Greg's Invite will may in fact contain more of an online sketchbook than a journal.

Currently you can see Greg's work in the exhibit of works from the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art here in Chicago, USA Today until March 15. His work is also included in the traveling exhibition and catalog for World's Away: New Suburban Landscapes next at the Yale School of Architecture in New Haven, CT.

If you have questions for Greg, add them to the comments, he may or may not answer!

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Brian Ulrich

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PHOTOESPAÑA visits Latin America: Call for regional photographers

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PHotoEspaña, by now one of the important photography festivals in Central Europe is going Latin American. After 10 years, the event that began in Madrid as a group of local exhibits on contemporary photography has increasingly become a platform for the diffusion of the still image in the Old Continent. Until now.

Descubrimientos, a parallel program dedicated to young photographers in which the participants who apply will have the chance to have their portfolio reviewed by photography professionals from around the world and engage in dialogue with them, is now, for the first time, also holding Visionados [critique sessions] in Lima, Peru and Mexico City. In addition, the program involves a competition –Premio Descubrimientos PHE Epson – whose prize consists of a solo exhibition in the following edition of the festival in Madrid, Spain.

Descubrimientos PHE Lima and Mexico City are inviting all photographers living in Latin America to submit their applications. The selected artists will then present their work to curators and gallerists in either of the mentioned cities and participate in a curated exhibition in the next edition of the festival (the travel costs, however, remain at the participants' expense). The show will then itinerate to a wide selection of cities in LA. Finally, the participants' information will be published in the official festival book that serves as references to both visitors and the press.

In Latin America, where photography still suffers from being perceived as a lesser form of art, this kind of initiative can only stimulate further dialogue and strengthen the production of images. Particularly in countries with broken narratives (due to their historical backgrounds), photography could aid in the fabrication of a national sense of identity. This is not only welcome but also necessary. The reviewers, some of the most interesting people working in the field both regionally and abroad, will hopefully trigger discussions in that direction and make of these sessions something more than an opportunity for young photographers to hit the market.

Characterized by a high standard of production and presentation, it is exciting that Latin American photographers now have a dedicated section.

For more information visit:
www.phe.es/descubrimientos/

To apply, fill in the form at:
www.phedigital.com/anteriores/html/phe09/es/html/descubrimientos_form_09...

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Emiliano Valdes

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