WATER: Our Thirsty World - New Exhibit with National Geographic Opens

Yes we've reached another great moment at the Photography Space...a new exhibit in conjunction with National Geographic's special single-topic issue focuses on the world's freshwater crises. We also celebrated our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY! On hand to help us launch the new show and offer a hearty happy birthday were all the nice folks from National Geographic: (L-R) Sandra Postel (NG Freshwater Fellow & Director of the Global Water Policy Project), Terry Garcia (NG Executive VP, Mission Programs), William Marr (NG Director of Photography; rear) Wallis Annenberg (Annenberg Foundation Chairman of the Board, President and CEO; front), Sarah Leen (Senior Photo Editor for National Geographic magazine), Lynn Johnson (featured photographer - "The Burden of Thirst"), Jonas Benkdiksen (featured photographer, "The Big Melt"), John Stanmeyer (featured photographer, "Sacred Waters"), Chris Johns (National Geographic magazine Editor in Chief) and Dennis Dimick (National Geographic magazine Executive Editor) This is another shot without the photographers but with our own Pat Lanza, the Talent and Content Manager for the Space. And here's one with just Wallis and the photographers who attended. (L-R; John Stanmeyer, Wallis Annenberg, Lynn Johnson, Jonas Bendiksen) What is the show like? It's intense. The print show mirrors the NatGeo issue, covering six major themes - The Big Melt, California's Pipe Dream, The Burden of Thirst, Parting the Waters, Silent Streams, and Sacred Waters. At a small cocktail party/reception we hosted a few hundred people who took in the images - some beautiful and some tragic - before gathering in the digital gallery to hear a few words and watch the digital feature. Among the guests were previous exhibitors in the Space like Laurence Ho (L8S ANG3LES Exhibit), ...and Lauren Greenfield (L8S ANG3LES Exhibit) ...not to mention a number of our lecturers like Juergen Nogai (with his lovely wife Jeannie) ...Gerd Ludwig who is also actually an exhibitor in the current show. (here with Chris Johns of NatGeo) ...Rick Rickman (seen here with some party crasher). ...and Douglas Kirkland's divine wife Françoise! We were also graced by the new Director of MOCA, artworld emprassario Jeffrey Deitch! Once inside the Digital Gallery, we were treated to a small introduction by Leonard Aube (Annenberg Foundation Executive Director) ...and then some lovely words from Lauren Greenfield who heralded our first year, revealed that her first job was as a NatGeo intern, and brought Wallis to the podium. ...then Wallis introduced NatGeo Editor in Chief Chris Johns, who ...wait for it...wait for it... ...introduced the show! You can watch it online by clicking the image above, but if you really want the full experience, I think our 7'x14' screens are a better way to see it. So come down to the Space, Wednesdays through Sundays, 11am-6pm (Except Thursdays when we close at 5pm to prepare for the lecture). And take a look at the upcoming lectures to make sure you don't miss any speakers in this vital series about Our Thirsty World! (all images © Angela Weiss for the Space)

David Butow Brings China To IRIS Nights

Last night POYi award-winning photojournalist David Butow was our guest lecturer at the Space, speaking on the subject he has covered for much of this decade - China.

China's economy and culture have been rapidly changing over the last 10 years and David has been there to document those transformations every step of the way. During that time, he's made at least one annual trip to the Middle Kingdom.

David presented three photo essays for his IRIS Nights lecture. First, was the deadly Sichuan earthquake that struck the region in 2008.

Second, was his documentation of the Uighur people, an ethnic minority who live mainly in the Northwestern part of the country and who are largely of the Muslim faith. A Uighur uprising in 2009 threw the region into turmoil.

And lastly was David's look at China's trendy twenty-something culture. He explained that while the largely 'only-child' youth face desires, expectations and obstacles that are unique to their country, they are still essentially just like every other young person in the world.

At one point David asked the audience how many of them had recently visited China and was surprised to see how many hands shot up.

David took questions at the end of each of the three sections so the audience could discover more about each individual body of work. This was the first time IRIS Nights deviated from its format of a sole Q&A session.

Through David, we got a special window through to the many different faces that populate a country with a population of 1.3 billion people and growing.

We can't wait to see more photos from David documenting his future travels to China and elsewhere around the globe! Travel safe!

You could learn more about David's work on his official Website.

(All images © Unique for the Space)

Jill Greenberg Launches IRIS Nights, The BEAUTY CULTURE Version

Opening up the BEAUTY CULTURE season of IRIS Nights last night was award-winning photographer Jill Greenberg. Jill has shot for such magazines as Time, Wired, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly - the list really just goes on and on and on.

Jill has been taking photographs since she was a little girl. She showed us this adorable photo of herself holding a toy camera, portending things to come in her adult life!

Jill's photographic work has a strong feminist point of view. One of her series features the United States Olympic synchronized swim team wading in a swimming pool - all while wearing heels!

Jill has quite a bit of experience photographing some of Hollywood's most famous beauties. She's shot her signature style of portraits for a slew of female celebrities including Hollywood stars Drew Barrymore, Jada Pinkett Smith Lindsay Lohan (above).

Jill has found herself under criticism for her "End Times" series in which she photographed several two-and-a-half and three-year old crying children. During the shoot, Jill took candy away from the kids in order to make them cry.

Jill defended herself explaining that the toddlers's tears don't mean that they were in any sort of pain during the photo shoot or will have any kind of permanent damage. As she said, her own kids cry when they refuse to go to sleep at bed-time!

Jill's been photographing animals pretty often these days. She's taken portraits of bears, horses and monkeys. Art collectors all over the world have been buying up prints for her popular monkey series.

The local NBC affiliate in LA came down to cover the exhibit and interview Jill about her IRIS Nights lecture. You can watch that news clip here.

Thanks to Jill and everyone who attended the lecture for making the first BEAUTY CULTURE version of IRIS Nights such a big success!

Watch Jill's entire IRIS Nights lecture here and learn more about her on her own website.

(All lecture images by Unique for the Space. Childhood photo by Jill Greenberg)

IRIS Nights Sneak Peek: Alex Kuczynski

As we enter our final weeks of BEAUTY CULTURE here at the Annenberg Space for Photography, one of the most frequently asked questions from visitors who watch our feature documentary continues to be "Who is that woman in the pearls and blue dress?" The woman whose statements have left such a lasting impression on visitors is our November 17th IRIS Night lecturer, journalist and author, Alex Kuczynski.

Since Kuczynski will grace us with her presence, along with photographer (and previous IRIS Night lecturer) Susan Anderson, during our final IRIS Night lecturers during the run of BEAUTY CULTURE, it's a great time to learn more about "the woman in the pearls."

The ambition that would ultimately lead to Kuczynski's success as an award-winning author and reporter appears to run in the family. Her father, Pedro, was a candidate in last year's Presidential election in Peru. John Casey, The National Book Award Winner and novelist, is her maternal uncle. Kuczynski, however, isn't interested in resting on family laurels. Carving out a name for herself as a reporter for The New York Times, she took it one step further and authored an uninhibited, behind-the-scenes examination of the cosmetic surgery industry in her book, Beauty Junkies.

Beauty Junkies is a revealing view at what is now a demographic-defying $15 billion fixation on youth and physical vitality. In a recent article for Harper's Bazaar, Kuczynski sums up the obsession saying, "The pressure to stay young, and to remain young looking, is at a fever pitch in America. Those seeking the holy grail of youth are driving up the number of cosmetic procedures—with Americans getting more than 13 million of them every year—in their quest for a smooth forehead and taut cheekbones."

In her book and featured role in the BEAUTY CULTURE documentary, Kuczynski readily admits to experimenting with a few cosmetic procedures in her 20s and 30s, but ultimately realized that "Living out west [in Idaho] has made me release all the ideas I used to have about success, including the quest for that perfect age-defying forehead. In fact, I've discovered that the more I give up, the greater the reward. I stopped trying to think I could do it all—and in part, I was forced to....you can't worry about your hair or your skin because the one practicing dermatologist in our town doesn't even do Botox."

We hope you'll be joining us for our final IRIS Night lecture with "the woman in the pearls" Alex Kuczynski and High Glitz photographer, Susan Anderson on November 17th for what is certain to be an entertaining and very enlightening conversation. If not, you'll still have a few days to visit BEAUTY CULTURE one more time before its closing day on Sunday, November 27th. We hope to see you soon here at the Space!

Beltra Offers First IRIS Nights Lecture for WATER Exhibit

Daniel Beltra kicked off the IRIS Nights Lecture series for the WATER: OUR THIRSTY WORLD exhibit last night with a wake-up call of a lecture.

A very soft-spoken but decidedly NOT timid man, Daniel took us on a virtual tour through the hills of Patagonia, Alaska, the Ross Sea and the Amazon Rain Forest.

Through the process he was able to address glaciers shrinking, ice caps melting,

animals being threatened with extinction,


drought,


flooding,

logging,

mining,

massive fires


and all the other fun stuff you'd expect to hear about on a Thursday night out.

It was pretty intense stuff - A perfect match for our current exhibit.

Thank you, Daniel, for a great launch.

(All photos © Unique for the Space)

Kitra Cahana - Mature Work From A Young Photojournalist

Yesterday we were host to Kitra Cahana, the photographer whose powerful portraits of nomadic youth became our street banners for the current exhibit "The Year".

We all have Kitra Cahana's father to thank for encouraging her interest in photography starting at a very young age. Last night, Kitra described to the audience at IRIS Nights how, as a young teen, he would ask her to capture her emotions with a camera.

Amazingly, Kitra's never had any kind of formal training in photography - going out and photographing the world was her only education in the medium. Talk about being born with a keen eye!

Kitra's professional career began at the very young age of 17 when one of her photographs covering the Israeli Disengagement of Gaza made the front page of the New York Times. A few years later, she would go from the pages of the Times to their physical offices where she ended up as an intern with the paper.

One advantage of photodocumenting dangerous conflicts in places like Gaza and the Congo at a young age, is that you may not realize how much your life is in jeopardy while in these situations.

Kitra revealed that the danger aspect of the job never crosses her mind! This kind of wide-eyed invincibility might be what helps Kitra produce such riveting pictures from around the globe.

In attendance were several members of the Rainbow Family, whom she featured in her popular Rainbowland series.

It's nice to see that she's remained friendly with some of her photo subjects!

Kitra's talents don't lie exclusively in photography. During the lecture, she read some of her own poems inspired by and created from her still images.

Kitra explained that she uses poetry to create a more comprehensive body of work and intends to continue to explore the marriage of different artistic mediums in future projects.

Such great insight into the mind of an incredible natural. And to think, Kitra still has many more decades of work ahead of her!

Can't wait to see more!

For more information about Kitra and her projects, visit her official Website.

(All images © Unique for the Space - except iPhone photo of the Street Banners)

Susan Anderson's Illusion of Womanhood

Susan Anderson, an internationally known photographer and expert on the High Glitz culture of child pageantry, recently gave us her take on the industry at our Iris Nights Lecture.

Although she abstained from giving any formal opinion on the controversial subject of beauty contests, she did claim that this is not a new issue we are dealing with. Anderson put on the screen a classical painting of Aphrodite and the golden apple and posed the question, "could this have been the first beauty pageant?"

Her question was meant to explain that society has always idealized women and we have always been fascinated with the fairy tale ending.  The fake eyelashes, the artificial tans, the thousand dollar hair dos, and the sparkly dresses all play into a preexisting culture that we are all partially responsible for creating.

Anderson admits that the most popular responses to her work are either to moralize or to laugh.  But she offers a different response: to just present.  She suggests that the little girls collaborate with her, that they have fun with it and it is their way to act, play a role and take a reality and make it their own.

She offers and interesting perspective because from where she stands it is simply art, it is fascinating and it is visually stunning.

To see more of Susan Anderson's work click here

Richard Ehrlich Steps Up to the IRIS Nights Podium

Photographer Richard Ehrlich opened up his IRIS Nights lecture last night by saying that he loved quotes so much that he would incorporate many of them into his presentation. His first quote of the night was a light-hearted one by photographer Elliott Erwitt: "It's about time we started to take photography seriously and treat it as a hobby."

Richard stressed that he wanted his lecture to provide him an opportunity to be an advocate for photo manipulation, or rather, photo optimization as he prefers to call it. Tinkering with photos, he said, has been a part of photography since the medium's inception in the 19th Century.

He pointed out that the cannonballs in this photo taken during the Crimean War had been added to the original photo over 150 years ago. A convincing image even by today's standards.

Another favorite quote by Richard is credited to Richard Avedon: "A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth."

Richard talked in depth about the "decisive moment," the point in time that a photographer finds the right image. Learn more about his thoughts on this when his lecture is posted on our website very soon.

He also spoke about recent technological advances with digital cameras, detailing the impressiveness of Femto photography and the amazing Lytro and Red cameras.

One of our favorite quotes of the night was said by none other than the man of the hour himself. Said Richard, "There's nothing like the ability to realize your dream and the imagination than the digital." We couldn't agree more.

Thanks for such a great lecture, Richard! Check back soon to view his lecture online.

You can learn more about Richard on his official website.

All images by Unique for the Space

Balazs Gardi returns to the Space

POYi winner Balazs Gardi, who was one of the featured photographers in the 66th POYi Exhibit last year, returned to the Space to present an insightful and heartfelt lecture on marginalized communities facing water crisis.

Balazs, whose works are mostly independent, started his presentation with his images documenting conflict situations in Afghanistan. His presentation also covered communities experiencing water related crisis in Australia, Dubai and even Las Vegas.

Balazs is known for using photography as a base but layering it in way that reaches out to people. His unique presentation was a multimedia feature that included audio, still images and motion graphics.

At the end of the lecture, Balazs shared his views on modern social utilities, such as Twitter, as an independent voice and alternative to traditional media outlets. Social media is a new way for like minded people to share experiences on water related issues that won't appear in traditional media sources.

The lecture was followed by some very pointed and interesting questions from the audience, fielded by an unflappable Balazs.

Despite the gravity of the discussion, the lecture was well balanced with fear, hope and even some humor.

One question in particular focused on the frustration of solving the problem of water crisis and whether an actual solution exists.

Balazs answered very adamantly with "I think every problem has an answer to it...

...I am a very optimistic person with a lot of cynicism."

(All Photos © Unique for the Space)

IRIS Nights Proudly Hosts Katie Falkenberg's First Lecture

We first met Katie Falkenberg during last year's POYi exhibit when her "Sugarcane Worker" portrait had just been honored by the acclaimed photojournalism contest. Her work is featured again in the current exhibit and this time she made sure to come out and speak at IRIS Nights. You wouldn't know it based on how at ease she was in front of the audience, but last night's IRIS Nights talk was the first time Katie had ever given a lecture. What a natural! She displayed an immensely charming presence and a warm smile that captivated the audience the entire evening. Katie divided her lecture into two halves, dedicating each part to a specific photography project. The first half focused on her series of photographs about domestic violence in Pakistan titled "In The Name of Honor." Shockingly, 70-90% of women in Pakistan are victims of domestic violence and Katie's moving images helped shed light on their stories.  Her series "Mountaintop Removal" tells of the drastic effects Mountaintop coal mining has on certain communities in Kentucky. At the end of the evening, a still smiling Katie shared more about her work by graciously spending time answering questions from those who came out to hear her speak. We're honored to have hosted your first lecture, Katie. You did a great job! We hope to see you speak again at the Space very soon! For more information about Katie visit <a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.katiefalkenbergphotography.com/" href="http://www.katiefalkenbergphotography.com/" "target="_blank">her official Website. (All images by Unique for the Space)

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