Watch This New 'No Strangers' Video

For no strangers, we're partnered with our friends over at SHFT who put together this great video about the exhibit. The 3-minute piece featured curatorial advisor Wade Davis as well as Angela Fisher & Carol Beckwith, Chris Rainier, Thomas Kelly and Aaron Huey. Click above to watch it now.

Who Shot Rock & Roll Extended

 © Edward Colver. Flip Shot, Pasadena, CA, 1981. Part of the film accompanying the exhibit Who Shot Rock & Roll.

The show will rock on!

Due to unprecedented popular demand, Who Shot Rock & Roll will be extended an additional two weeks. That means you have until October 21, 2012 to see the show for the first time or the 20th time. After that date, the show will leave the United States and travel abroad. Who Shot Rock & Roll will travel to its final stop later this year: the Auckland Art Gallery in New Zealand. Once the exhibit closes, the Space will shut down until November 17 to prepare for our next show.

Up next at the Space is No Strangers. Click here for more information about that exciting exhibit.

Spotted At The Space: The 'No Strangers' Edition

Over the weekend HGTV host Vern Yi and Facts of Life star Mindy Cohn stopped by to take in no strangers. Here are the two posing with WAG-A-LOT CEO Craig Koch. Hurry up and experience the exhibit for the first, second or third time - this weekend is your last chance before it closes for good!

Watch The 'No Strangers' Video Teaser

We've just extended the exhibit run for Who Shot Rock & Roll and, at the same time, are also prepping for the opening of our next show, no strangers: Ancient Wisdom in a Modern World. The exhibit is about the wonder of culture and the plight of indigenous people throughout the world and opens on November 17, 2012. Watch the video teaser above to get a sense of what to expect from this important show.

Spotted at the Space: Josh Radnor

It's the final weekend for the no strangers exhibit. How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor stopped by today to take in the exhibit before it closes. He came by just in time as the show will end on Sunday at 6pm. Come see it if you haven't had a chance. Hope you enjoyed the exhibit and documentary, Josh!

Steve McCurry on His Image of the Shaolin Monastery Monks

 © Steve McCurry

By Steve McCurry

This image is of young monks training in the art of kung fu at the Shaolin Monastery in Hena, Province, China.

The original Shaolin Monastery was founded on Mount Shaoshi in the 5th Century. Though the practice of martial arts actually originated in China several hundred years before its construction, the temple has a long history associated with kung fu.  

There are many thoughts as to the beginnings of Shaolin kung fu.  The most common begins with a man named Bodhidharma.  According to the Yijin Jing, Bodhidharma stood facing a wall in total silence for nine years.  It is said that his stare created a hole in the wall.  After completing this task, he wished go back west to India.  The only thing he left behind was an iron chest which contained two books: the Marrow Cleansing Classic, which was taken by one of his disciples, and the Muscle Tendon Change Classic, or Yijin Jing. The story goes, that this second book was extremely coveted by all of the monks as well as the obsession for practicing the skills within.  The Shaolin have garnered a wealth of fame through their fighting skill.  If the stories of origin are true, the credit is due to their possession of this manuscript.

In Buddhism, there is a pervasive sense of the impermanence of life.  There is a cycle.  Things are born and they pass away.  Having spent a great deal of time in Buddhist monasteries, I’ve gained a strong appreciation for the unique way the monks look at life.  Rather than fear the certainty of aging and death, they expect and also embrace it.  Wander through the monastery or talk to devotees and you will see that their priorities and the things that they care about seem more sensible and more sane than in other parts of the world.

no strangers: ancient wisdom in a modern world opens at the Annenberg Space for Photography on Saturday, November 17 and runs through February 24, 2013. Learn more about Steve McCurry's work on his official website.

Thomas Kelly on Kayapo Dance

 © Thomas Kelly, Kayapo Dance

By Thomas Kelly

Sexual activity is regarded among the Kayapo as a natural and desired part of life. Rules regarding sexual activities are complex and vary between different sex and age groups; sexual faithfulness is a matter of individual choice rather than a common rule. "There are those men who do not like their women to be with someone else; there are others who do not mind," says Kwyra Ka. "Those who do not mind stay together, those who mind separate." It is a normal custom for Kayapo Indians to marry, split up and remarry several times, and as a rule chiefs have several sexual partners at the same time. Gorotire, Xingu Reserve, Brazilian Amazon.

In 1991, activist Anita Roddick founder of The Body Shop International, U.K. asked me to join her to document their fair-trade practices with the Kayapo Indians deep in the Brazilian Amazon with hopes the Kayapo wouldn’t surrender to outside pressure to sell out to gold miners, cattle rangers and forest destruction. 

We arrived in time for a ceremonial dance; the deafening sounds of wooden clubs beating against the central hut pillars by chiefs and warriors resounded through the moist air and within minutes I was focusing head on at a procession of freshly painted Kayapo women- plucked of their eyebrows, faces painted with red arucum seed paste, macaw parrot feathers in their hair, red and blue beads strung down to their waist and thighs, beads adorned their calves and ankles. I had a Canon F-1and 85mm 1.2 fixed lense loaded with Tri-x B&W film. After the dance, I set up a back drop at the ceremonial hut and had the extra-ordinary priviledge to make portraits of all the dancers. I spent the next ten days documenting the day and the life of the Kayapo.

Their seamless living in harmony with nature, uninterrupted by outside forces, afforded a way of life which supported their cultural values. 

I remember being awe-struck and not a little envious at the time of the Kayapo’s ease with their natural nakedness deep in the Amazon, and feeling awkward and overdressed in shorts in a shirt. That didn’t last long. After the ceremony, a gaggle of women laughing, hauled Anita and I over into a hut and stripped off our clothes and painted us naked. They were curious about our body hair and made comments about it.  They painfully plucked off our eyebrow, eyelash, and pubic hair. “That’s ugly,”they said. ”Now you are one of us.” They took Anita off into the forest and wrapped her waist with the root of a vine. Paikhan the chief turned to me and said, “You can take any woman you want now.” It makes me sad to think that very few Kayapo are likely walking around the village naked anymore. I guess this is considered progress, but I am not so sure. Like Octavio Paz who advocates the plurality of being as the very spice and color of life, what happens to us as humans when we start to wear clothes?

What is it we are concealing or what are we ashamed of? I loved their ease of being in their own natural skin. The Body Shop International created a Brazilain nut oil extraction business at source cutting out middle men and gave a cash injection that allowed the Kayapo to use the cash in whatever way they choose.

no strangers: ancient wisdom in a modern world will show at the Annenberg Space for Photography and runs through February 24, 2013. Learn more about Thomas Kelly's work on his official website.

Announcing The No Strangers IRIS Nights Lecture Lineup

Our first IRIS Nights lecture for no strangers takes place this upcoming Saturday, the same day that the exhibit opens. This sold-out debut lecture will feature the amazing Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher.

We've just released the full list of presentation for this very popular series. Click here to see that list, which includes Chris Rainier, Bonnie Folkin, Caroline Bennett and Aaron Huey.

We expect the lecture series to conitune to be popular so  reserve your free spot as soon as tickets are released. You don't want to miss out on these great talks!

Hamid Sardar-Afkhami: 'The Duhalar Depend on...Domestic Reindeer Population'

© Hamid Sardar-Afkhami

By Hamid Sardar-Afkhami

The Duhalar reindeer people live in Hovsgol — the land of the blue lake — a territory of about 65,000 sq. km in Northwestern Mongolia bordering the tiny Russian Republic of Tuva. The Duhalar are the guardians of this hidden realm, patrolling a maze of evergreen forests and snow-capped mountains on the backs of their stocky reindeer. They gain a meager existence by hunting for furs and antlers, which they sell in a nearby Mongol town.

The Duhalar depend on a healthy domestic reindeer population not just for their milk and as a means of transport but also for their spirituality - to move through a forest haunted by the spirits of their ancestors who counsel the living through the shaman’s songs. If the reindeer vanish, the songlines of the ancestors will also cease to exist.

There are hundreds of ghost shrines, called “asars,” in the Hovsgol taiga. The entire forest is a burial ground. This explains why the Duhalar are so opposed to government plans to disfigure their landscape with mines. “I will become immortal in this forest after I die,” Tsuyan, the old shaman matriarch explained. 

“What is Dark Heaven?” I asked her. “It is the dark space on the other side,” Tsuyan says, “full of colors, sounds and voices from where the ancestors appear and reveal their message to the living.” On odd days of the waxing moon, Tsuyan would transform herself into a deer and fly off to a place called the Dark Heavens, a twilight world full of light, sounds and voices from where the ancestors reveal their hidden messages in the guise of various birds and beasts. “We exist in relation to three things she would say, “...our forest, our ancestor spirits and our reindeer. If we lose this connection, our spirits ‘ongots’ will abandon us and the demons will take hold of our destiny.”

The Duhalar choose one reindeer and mark it as a ‘totem deer’ that serves as a mount for the invisible guardian spirits of the tribe. In addition, every individual person is ceremonially linked to an individual deer that is believed to protect them throughout their life and follow them into the other worlds.

I was very much keen to express this ‘spiritual’ relationship between man and deer in my photographs. But after traveling with the Duhalar for several seasons and shooting thousands of pictures, I didn’t have anything that came close to what I would consider an iconic image. One day, after a long Autumn migration, I was talking photographs of the women milking the reindeer with children playing nearby. A young infant-girl sat next to her mother and soon fell asleep. Her mother gently placed her on the side of a white deer and continued milking. Suddenly, there it was. The composition of the sleeping child lying on the side of a magnificent antlered creature who was looking down at her with a protective, almost transcendental expression, perfectly captured my thoughts.

no strangers: ancient wisdom in a modern world will show at the Annenberg Space for Photography and runs through February 24, 2013. Learn more about Hamid Sardar-Afkhami's work on his official website.

Chris Johns On His Photograph of Botswana Bushman, Klaas Kruiper


© Chris Johns/National Geographic Stock

By Chris Johns

Klaas Kruiper could read the tracks left by wild animals the way other people read books. He was a bushman, one of southern Africa’s indigenous people.

Bushmen—there are about 85,000 left—teeter on the brink of cultural extinction. Klaas, who’d been a ranger in the Kalahari-Gemsbok National Park in Botswana, but who’d gone back to tracking—was tall and slender. He was quiet and shy, a man of few words.  He didn’t walk—he glided across the red sand dunes of the Kalahari. If an animal made a mark in the sand, he could say who made it, when, how fast it was traveling, its weight, and if it were well fed.  He could examine a blade of grass and calculate how long ago it had been bent by a passing wind or animal, taking into account temperature, humidity and the size of the animal.  He studied ants to calculate how many grains of sand they had moved inside a track in a specific interval. In short, he was a man completely in tune with his surroundings.

Dispossessed, displaced, many bushmen live lives of quiet desperation and Klaas was no exception. He’d struggled with addiction.  He had marital problems. I’ll never forget the awful moment when I got a phone call from Paul Funston, a lion researcher working in the Kalahari who had invited me to track lions with Klaas.  I had known Klaas for five years at that point, and jumped at the chance. Then one day the phone rang. “Our trip is cancelled,” Paul said, and I could hear the sob in his voice. “Klaas has been murdered.” I never found out why he was murdered. Only that he’d been stabbed with a knife. There are those you meet on assignment who become deeply embedded in your memory and, even, your soul.  They are extraordinary humans and their loss becomes a loss, not just for friends and family, but for all of humanity. Klaas Kruiper was such a man.

no strangers: ancient wisdom in a modern world will show at the Annenberg Space for Photography and runs through February 24, 2013. Learn more about Chris John here.

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