Today is December 31, the last day of the year, 2018. With our year-end Prescription of our reflections, here are some of the highlights of what we covered:
HUMANISM & EXISTENTIAL EMOTIONS
2018 marked the 100th year anniversary of the signing of the Armistice; it was the centennial of the birth of Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013); the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 –1968); and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights put forth by the United Nations. In short, it was a recap of history and a reminder of certain events in the face of rising uncertainty. Artists and artistic venues explored the theme of Human Rights and what it means to be human in today’s social and political climate.
Robin Hammond / W. Eugene Smith Grant 2013
Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice & peace in the world. Thus begins the Declaration. This feature surveys artists who have created in Resistance, Rebellion, and in the Struggle for Human Rights.
Samuel Aranda / Winner 2012
The Caen Memorial hosted an exhibition to mark the occasion of its 30th anniversary: World Press Photo Foundation Photo of the Year winners from the last 30 years together in one exhibition.
This year was the centennial of the birth of Nelson Mandela and we honor his life and work through a survey of photography covering the struggles of race, oppression and resistance of the Apartheid. Featuring the works of Raymond Depardon, David Goldblatt, and others.
Alexandria Bombach / On Her Shoulders
This year women raised their voices against abuse. Film Society Lincoln Center is proud to present 15 outstanding films offering perspectives on human rights, 12 of which were directed or co-directed by women.
Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos
On August 20, 1968, the Czech photographer Josef Koudelka took to the streets to document the chaos unfolding on his doorstop: some 250,000 soldiers from five Warsaw Pact countries sent to destroy the Prague Spring.
BEING & SOMETHINGNESS
2018 was a continuing year of trials for our sentiments, good and bad, our misplaced admirations, challenging our capacity to put aside our fears. We gave allowances to misguided feelings and filled ballots boxes with private interests. Meanwhile the leaders are closing out the year with the desperate ultimatums that grid-lock the government, moving embassies for political positioning and rewriting history co-authored under influences of false diplomacy. The mechanism of selective memory when convenience serves and political agendas align themselves is a startling phenomenon, ending in smiling photo ops with known oppressors. But there is also a growing sentiment of resistance. This year we covered several exhibitions dealing with themes of alienation, solitude, and the inner dialogues, of resistance and reflection, of the social, political, metaphysical, and artistic kind.
Henrike Naumann, Untitled, 2013, installation view KOW
In light of recent events, KOW changed its programming on very short notice and put together an exhibition to take a stance…a steadfast refusal to cater to a politics of cultural pacification.
Dave Heath, Sesco, Korea, 1953-1954 © Dave Heath / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery and Stephen Bulger Gallery
Published in 1965, Dave Heath’s book captured the zeitgeist in the manner of a photographic protest song. His photography depicted the fractures and feeling of unease in the American post-war.
The images in the exhibition Bright Black World fill the viewer with unease while simultaneously a profound sense of wonder. A vision, as Todd Hido says, that “pushes the envelope of darkness.”
Ryuichi Sakamoto / Coda
As Ryuichi Sakamoto returns to music following cancer diagnosis, his haunting awareness of life crisis leads to a resounding new masterpiece. This film is an intimate portrait of both the artist and the man.
Gail Albert Halaban
By connecting strangers who live across the street from each other, Gail Albert Halaban’s beautifully rendered, large-scale images encourage viewers to take a fresh look at the people they see every day.
TRAGEDY, RESISTENCE & REBELLION
2018 saw heightened occurrences of natural disasters, as well as the rise of human induced tragedies: Hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, relentless wildfires, and the rise of gun violence and mass shootings. It was a challenging year for journalists, with record high deaths and incidences of detention. Time Magazine named Persons of the Year the fallen and imprisoned journalists, if only the honor were not diminished by the unapologetic appendix that Trump was the runner up, the enemy of journalism by extension of his own logic. 2018 was a year of revived resistance, the 50th anniversary of the Paris demonstrations reignited with the Gilets Jaunes, the marches in Washington, protests in Egypte and Poland, and beyond. It was the year women proclaimed leadership roles in politics in record numbers, in the U.S. Congress, in the Canadian Parliament, in the Cabinet in Spain, as well as growing numbers in the art world. This year we surveyed Haitian Art, remembered the Natives during Thanksgiving, gave voice to the movement of #WhileBlack, celebrated International Women’s Day and honored our own growing collective of 30 Under 30 Women Photographers.
Peter van Agtmael
After returning from years of war coverage, Peter van Agtmael tries to piece together the memory, identity, race, class, and family, in a landscape which has become as surreal as the war he left behind.
The List / UNITED
The List, complied by UNITED and propagated by artist Banu Cennetoğlu, traces the deaths of over 34,000 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants who lost their lives around the borders of Europe since 1993.
A nation’s founding conditioned on colonialism, proclamation premised on the blood of the natives and sustained with slavery, driven by excess. The irony is something to bear. Featuring works of Fritz Scholder, Merritt Johnson, and the artist collective Postcommodity.
International Women’s Day: Occurring once a year like a rare solar eclipse of the male ego, each 8th of March we celebrate women, a tradition started over a hundred years ago and still a long way to go. We honor the women artists who have created, engaged, and inspired.
Zhang Kechun / Dong Community, China
This is about people, not production lines; farms not factories. This is about a farming system that regenerates the Earth and does not cost the planet, and the photographers who capture it. Featuring Rena Effendi, Tanya Habjouqa, and, Martin Parr, among many others.
The series by the publisher of British Journal of Photography, together with Magnum Photos aims to create one of the most far-reaching collaborative projects with 200 longlisted images featured in a book and 50 shortlisted images exhibited to a global audience throughout 2019. Judges include Alessandra Sanguinetti, Jacob Aue Sobol, and Newsha Tavakolian.
Thus draws to an end, our year 2018. Already, we can almost hear the fireworks. Alone or with company, let our solitude be a period of self reflection; let our presence among others be one of communion. Reach out and hold on to something good. We cannot impede the movement of time but we can pin down moments with an act, create a fracture in the flow that aspires to permanence, break down space between our peers. Create. Engage. Inspire.
Happy New Year.