Afterglow – New York Times Lens Blog

My photographs produced in the days following the  September 11, 2001 attacks were featured on the New York Times Lens Blog,  September 7, 2016 along with an interview with Lens Blog editor James Estrin.

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Organ Vida festival

My work on sexual violence during the  Bosnia War will be shown at the Organ Vida photography festival in Zagreb, Croatia in the group exhibition “Lessons from ’91.”

The festival runs from September 12 – 24, 2016.

Thank you to curator Sandra Vitaljić for organizing this important show.

 

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Watching the Press at the RNC and DNC

I’m covering the 2016  Republican and Democratic National Conventions for Columbia Journalism Review.

Below is an excerpt from my first report.

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 9.57.08 PMIn 1969, the photographer Garry Winogrand set out across the United States to document  “the effect of media” on events. His work, funded by a Guggenheim fellowship, was published as the book Public Relations. With a wide-angle lens, he documented in black and white an emerging culture dependent on the act of being seen.

“For Winogrand these events all shared the fact that they were public occasions, and that they had been called to order as much for the benefit of the media that recorded them as for the direct pleasure or ritual relief of those participating in them,” wrote Tod Papageorge in the opening essay.

Winogrand’s work feels particularly relevant as 15,000 credentialed press and many more freelance journalists descend on Cleveland for the Republican National Convention.

Covering a political convention is an assignment journalists love to hate. It’s like being an animal trapped in a red, white, and blue cage, constantly prowling for the juicy morsel that will make the entire spectacle worth enduring.

As journalists seek the unexpected and unscripted, convention organizers aim for the predictable. There should be no news but official news, conveyed through elaborate stagecraft designed to mesmerize the media and embolden the electorate.

At this year’s RNC, the ratio of credentialed journalists to delegates is 6 to 1. Filing is a round-the-clock affair. Members of the press must now tweet, post, live stream, Facebook, and Periscope, all the while scrambling for coveted floor passes. Competition is not just with each other, but with the delegates, protesters, and assorted onlookers tweeting, posting, and streaming from their phones and other devices. Perhaps sensing an opportunity for humor amid this swirling circus, late-night comedy hosts will also be broadcasting from the convention this year. Yes, Seth Myers, Stephen Colbert, and even Bill Maher are among the credentialed press.

Indeed, given Trump’s hostility to the press, which he has characterized as “scum,” the biggest story out of Cleveland may not be the protests or the speeches—notwithstanding the charisma of soap opera star Antonio Sabato Jr. and Melania Trump—but how many journalists end up being yanked from Trump’s showbiz cage. To capture this spectacle, CJR will be photographing the dynamics of press coverage at the RNC, from the convention floor to the street protests and everything in between.

Apart from Instagramming the delegate with the silliest hat, there are some priceless ironies to contemplate. Fifty million dollars in federal money will be spent on security. But since Ohio is an open carry state, gun owners will be permitted to carry rifles and handguns, while someone with a metal- tipped umbrella, tape more than six inches long, or even a tennis ball can be subject to arrest within the event zone. A prohibition on gas masks has prompted concerns from news organizations that journalists could risk arrest simply by trying to protect themselves during demonstrations. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will be staffing a 24-hour-a-day hotline for journalists in need of legal help.

Photographers covering demonstrations face the possibility that their images of impassioned protesters may actually be pictures of undercover cops posing as outraged citizens. Tampa police in charge of security measures at the 2012 RNC have bragged about their success at infiltrating protest groups, including taking over leadership positions.

This will also be the first year since 1976 when the conventions willnot receive federal funds (excepting the DOJ security grant), signaling a near-complete dismantling of post-Watergate era campaign finance reforms. And Cleveland will be the first convention since 1996 to deny credentials to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), also known asOpenSecrets.org, which reports on campaign finance and corporate influence on politics. CRP has provided a fascinating list of off-site activities not found on the RNC website, including an NRA-organized Stars and Stripes Shootout at a hunting club outside Cleveland and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame party with Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

 

 

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Public Culture event: May 13, 2016

Please join me in a panel presentation and discussion celebrating the release of a special issue of the journal Public CultureClimate Change and the Future of Cities: Migration, Adaptation, and Social Change on an Urban Planet.”
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May 13
5 – 8pm
20 Cooper Square  5th floor
NY, NY 10003
I’ll be showing my fracking work.  Other contributors include Daniel Aldana Cohen, Gökçe Günel, Eric Klinenberg, Liz Koslov, and Andy Lakoff, followed by a reception.
The special issue of Public Culture includes essays by Eric Klinenberg, Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer, Andrew Lakoff, Daniel Aldana Cohen, Gökçe Günel, Valeria Procupez, Liz Koslov, Austin Zeiderman, and Jerome Whitington, a photo essay from Colin Jerolmack and Nina Berman, and interviews with experts from Rebuild by Design’s international working group, including Henk Ovink, Mindy Fullilove, Edgar Pieterse, Fernando de Mello Franco, and Maarten Hajer. This exciting collection represents the culmination of years of international research and collaboration on the impacts of climate change in cities, and was produced with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. The entire special issue is available free online for a limited time.
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Pittsburgh Center for the Arts May 6

I’ll be presenting new photographic and video work at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in the exhibition “Marcellus Shale Documentary Project: An Expanded View, ” opening May 6 – July 31, 2016.

The exhibition continues a multi-year collaboration between photographers  Noah Addis, Brian Cohen,  Scott Goldsmith,  Lynn Johnson and Martha Rial,  organized by  Brian Cohen, and curator Laura Domencic.

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One of the works to be exhibited is a large scale mosaic of a drilling rig combined with 1740 images captured with a wildlife camera by Frank Finan showing truck traffic during a fracking operation in Susquehanna County, PA

 

©  Nina Berman 2016

 

 

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Baffler Issue 30

Four images from my ongoing Homeland series is published in Issue 30 of The Baffler,  Panic! Room

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2016 Aftermath Project Grant

The Aftermath Project has awarded me the 2016 grant to produce a new body of work  Acknowledgment of Danger which will investigate the environmental legacy of the American military and the war economy on the American landscape.

I’ve been researching the subject for years and now thanks to Sara Terry , the Aftermath Project founder and to the 2016 judges,  I can begin.

From my proposal:

Vietnam, 1987, was the first time I saw the effects of war; conjoined twins were lying on a bed, their bodies connected at the waist. In utero, they had absorbed dioxin, also called “agent orange”. In the photograph I made that day, one child holds a nurse’s hand, the other fingers a cash bill offered in meek apology by a visiting U.S. war veteran.

The twins lived the pain of war even though they hadn’t yet been born when the US introduced environmental destruction as a war tactic. Defoliate the landscape, and the enemy would have no place to hide. It was a chemical version of the old “smoke ’em out” strategy.

War is the dirtiest business in the world and the United States is the planet’s most prolific and chronic polluter.

Decades and generations after armed conflict ends, civilian populations live amid war’s residue. Rarely is the American military held accountable. It dumps, it discharges and returns home, leaving someone else -­‐ from the Philippines to Iraq, from Vieques to Okinawa-­‐ to clean up the mess.

The situation within the United States is much the same. We live in a constant state of war’s aftermath with vast stretches of the American landscape contaminated by the business of war and armed aggression: unexploded ordnance, toxic chemicals, depleted uranium, radioactive particles, a filthy legacy stretching from World War II to contemporary wars of democracy.

Scratch a cancer cluster or dive into a superfund site and the likelihood is that the US military played a role. Some of the history is known -­‐ the down winders in the atomic west for example -­‐ but a great deal more is obscured, covered up, artfully redefined, with the lasting impacts of environmental pollution rarely connected to armed conflict and the American war economy.

With the Aftermath grant, I will document the toxic legacy of war on the American landscape.

I’ll be posting pictures along the way, beginning in New Jersey and the Passaic River, which is contaminated with dioxin as a result of agent orange production for the Vietnam War.

 

 

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