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- Chernobyl-Frozen in Time
Click top image to view larger and caption Chernobyl: Frozen in Time Ukraine by Gabriel Romero Published December 2023 On April 26, 1986, the world’s worst nuclear disaster occurred in reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine, then known as the Ukrainian SSR of the Soviet Union. The fallout from the meltdown and subsequent explosion released radioactive contamination across Ukraine, neighboring Belarus, Russia and Northern and Eastern Europe. However, there was measurable contamination detected worldwide. Officially, 31 people are known to have died directly from the disaster, unofficially the long-term effects of radiation poisoning have led to the deaths of thousands. The nearby city of Pripyat, with a population of approximately 50,000 inhabitants, was evacuated in the days and weeks to come. Pripyat was a city that housed the families of the workers of the nuclear power plant. It was a functioning city like any other. There were homes, shops, schools and even an amusement park that was scheduled to open on May 1, 1986. Five days before the park was set to open, the disaster occurred and the park was never used. The legacy of Chernobyl is a lesson to the world on the responsible use of nuclear power. Gabriel Romero Gabriel Romero is a Photojournalist based in Los Angeles, California. He specializes in national and international news in the areas of conflict, political, and humanitarian coverage. His work has been awarded and exhibited across the world. Most recently, he has focused on Ukraine, as well as the Middle East and Latin America. < Previous Next > comments debug Comments Write a comment. End comment with your name (optional) Write a comment. End comment with your name (optional) Share Your Thoughts Be the first to write a comment.
Chernobyl-Frozen in Time Ukraine by Gabriel Romero Read More » On April 26, 1986, the world’s worst nuclear disaster occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine. Officially, 31 people are known to have died directly from the disaster, unofficially the long-term effects of radiation poisoning have led to the deaths of thousands. Shishmaref - A Native American Struggle Alaska, United States by Nima Taradji Read More » Shishmaref, Alaska is a remote village located 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle. It sits atop rapidly melting permafrost, and coupled with rising sea levels, is forcing the native Iñupiat to leave and find a new home. La Caravana Del Diablo Mexico by Ada Trillo Read More » In January 2020, due to violence and poor economic conditions, Honduran citizens formed a migrant caravan and traveled through Guatemala into Mexico. This is their story. Drowned History Turkey by Mustafa Bilge Satkin Read More » The construction of the Ilısu Dam in Turkey had devastating impacts on the local community and environment in the Dicle Valley. Indigenous Peoples of America Parade United States by Lisa DuBois Read More » The Indigenous Peoples of America Parade is overdue. Approximately 90% of the Native population died as a result of invading forces within 150 years of arrival on a territory that was called a new world to the conquerors, but for the Natives it was their world. Indigenous Autonomy in Mexico Mexico by Scott Brennan Read More » Two Nahua indigenous communities — Santa Maria de Ostula and Cherán K’eri — fight for social and environmental justice in the notoriously violent southern Mexican state of Michoacán. What My Daughter Learns of the Sea United States by Brian Frank Read More » A look behind the walls of the Las Colinas women’s jail in San Diego, CA. Quests for Authenticity United States by Peter Merts Read More » Incarcerated men and women creating and performing artworks in California prisons. Still Doing Life United States by Howard Zehr Read More » In the early 1990s, Howard Zehr photographed 75 men & women serving life sentences. In 2017, he revisited 22 of these same prisoners. Go Home and May God be With You Cuba Dany del Pino Rodríguez Read More » During the height of the Covid pandemic, Dany del Pino Rodríguez photographed his father while hospitalized in Cuba and would be the last photos that Rodríguez would take of him. Life After Life in Prison United States By Sara Bennett Read More » Sara Bennett photographs formerly incarcerated women in their bedrooms. All were convicted of serious crimes — mostly homicide. The Prison Within United States by Katherin Hervey & Massimo Bardetti Read More » Photographs taken inside San Quentin Prison contrasting the healing and community created by the men inside with the cruelty and isolation of mass incarceration.
- ZEKE Magazine | Visual Storytelling on Global Themes
Click on photo to view caption. Chernobyl-Frozen in Time Ukraine by Gabriel Romero On April 26, 1986, the world’s worst nuclear disaster occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine. Officially, 31 people are known to have died directly from the disaster, unofficially the long-term effects of radiation poisoning have led to the deaths of thousands. Shishmaref - A Native American Struggle Alaska, United States by Nima Taradji Shishmaref, Alaska is a remote village located 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle. It sits atop rapidly melting permafrost, and coupled with rising sea levels, is forcing the native Iñupiat to leave and find a new home. Indigenous Peoples of America Parade United States by Lisa DuBois The Indigenous Peoples of America Parade is overdue. Approximately 90% of the Native population died as a result of invading forces within 150 years of arrival on a territory that was called a new world to the conquerors, but for the Natives it was their world. Indigenous Autonomy in Mexico Mexico by Scott Brennan Two Nahua indigenous communities — Santa Maria de Ostula and Cherán K’eri — fight for social and environmental justice in the notoriously violent southern Mexican state of Michoacán. Still Doing Life United States by Howard Zehr In the early 1990s, Howard Zehr photographed 75 men & women serving life sentences. In 2017, he revisited 22 of these same prisoners. Go Home and May God be With You Cuba Dany del Pino Rodríguez During the height of the Covid pandemic, Dany del Pino Rodríguez photographed his father while hospitalized in Cuba and would be the last photos that Rodríguez would take of him. ZEKE: The perfect gift for the holidays Send a gift subscription to ZEKE. We will include a personalized card with first issue. Incarceration of a Nation by Christopher Blackwell The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, imprisoning 664 per 100,000 people. On any given day in the U.S., we imprison an estimated 1.9 million people and each year spend an estimated $182 billion on the criminal legal system. Open Eyes Within Hidden Places by April Harris April Harris is an author who is incarcerated at the California Institution for Women in Chino, California. Her experiences are a powerful insight to advocate for incarcerated people and the betterment of their environment. Interview With Jamel Shabazz by Ryan M. Moser Jamel Shabazz, a Brooklyn-born Army veteran and master of street photography, is best known for portraying African American communities . What many do not know is that the New York City icon had a career as a correctional officer at Rikers Island and that Shabazz took photographs of the residents Book Review: Death in Custody; How America Ignores the Truth a nd What We Can Do Ab out It Roger A. Mitchell Jr., MD and Jay D. Aronson, PhD View More Other recent stories Spring 2023: ZEKE Awards Women's Bodies as Battlefield Ethiopia by Cinzia Canneri This project analyses the condition of Eritrean and Tigrinya women who moved across the borders of three countries geopolitically linked: Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan. Connecting the Caucasus | Georgia by Nyani Quarmyne Aiming to boost tourism by getting businesses online, a group of volunteers set out to bring the Internet to the Caucasus Mountains. The Queens of Queen City Maryland, US by Michael O. Snyder A documentary project exploring the courage, risks, and repercussions of openly expressing LGBTQ identities in rural, conservative America Displaced | Georgia by Jean Ross Long before the invasion of Ukraine, Russian military forces intervened in multiple wars in Georgia; first in Abkhazia in the early 1990s and later in South Ossetia. Red Soil: Colonial Legacy in Maasai Land | Kenya by Rasha Al Jundi This is a story that spans generations. About the man in a redshuka, and the woman with a beaded necklace. Indigenous peoples, once mighty, controlling territories that spanned borders... Picturing Atrocity: Ukraine, Photojournalism, and the Question of Evidence by Lauren Walsh This essay explores these questions through the lens of photographing atrocity in one of the deadliest conflicts in Europe since World War II. Interview with C hester Higgins by Daniela C ohen C hester Higgins, Jr. has spent over five decades documenting the African American experience while also working as a photographer at the New York Times for nearly forty years. Book Review: Chris Killip by Michelle Bogre Killip’s black and white images, a mix of portraiture and candid reportage, are an empathetic rendering of working class life in 1970s and 1980s Britain Profile: Cinizia Canneri by Daniela Cohen For Canneri, it is important to document women’s strength, as they raise their children and support each other across ethnicities.
- Final Exposure
Click top image to view larger and caption Final Exposure Portraits from Death Row United States by Lou Jones Published September 2023 The Final Exposure project started for me at about age 15 when I argued on the issues of the death penalty with my father. Throughout the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, in college, and afterward, it stayed with me. Six years of my life have been devoted to documenting the unseen, unheard stories of an American subculture – people on death row. I wanted to see if art could make a difference. I realized before I began that we don’t have to travel halfway around the world to find some unique phenomenon or recently discovered civilization to pique our jaded curiosity. The problem of our government-sanctioned murder lives with us. My crew and I endured bone-chilling snowstorms, cheap motels, greasy meals, and numerous episodes of having our bodies frisked in order to bring this story to light. We explored the darkest side of the human condition even though it was our objective to humanize the people that the federal government and the states execute. We made sure we understood who was being killed in order to start a real debate about capital punishment. Many of the men/women are stoic when marching to their demise. But even though we admire the stamina that it takes to endure this ordeal in the super-macho environment, these are not heroic voyages these men are taking. And we must never be seduced into thinking otherwise. Lou Jones When not traveling, Lou Jones exhibits at schools, museums, galleries, libraries, and institutions around the world. Throughout his career, Jones has undertaken personal long-term projects, such as Japan, tall ships, jazz, pregnancy and photographing people on fourteen death rows in the USA, resulting in two books and many exhibitions. In recent years, Jones has been documenting all 54 countries in contemporary Africa, trying to change the narrative from stereotypical negative topics of poverty, pestilence, and conflict: www.panAFRICAproject.org . Follow Lou Jones < Previous Next > comments debug Comments Write a comment. End comment with your name (optional) Write a comment. End comment with your name (optional) Share Your Thoughts Be the first to write a comment.
- Nicola Ókin Frioli | Ecuador | ZEKE Magazine
Click large image to view caption A Document on the Resistance of the Native Peoples of Ecuadorian Amazon Against Extractivism | Ecuador By Nicola Ókin Frioli Published April 2023 This documentary tells the story of the resistance that the Indigenous people of the Ecuadorian Amazon have waged against extractive companies that threaten their territories through continuous concessions and contamination caused by Texaco during its presence in the country. In 1964, Texaco (now Chevron), arrived in Ecuador with a concession of 1.5 million hectares in the provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana. At that time, they were extracting oil from 450,000 hectares. The oil giant admitted in court to having dumped 19 billion gallons of crude oil and harmful chemicals directly into unlined rivers and pools in a particularly biodiverse region of the Ecuadorian rainforest over decades. The health and future of the inhabitants were affected by contaminants present in the soil and groundwater, quantities exceeding permissible levels in Ecuador. Following the events that indelibly marked the future of many families, the Native peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon applied different defense methodologies against mining, oil companies, and the government. Armed confrontations, national strikes and their presence in the courts were the strategies that the Indigenous nationalities used to stop the loss and destruction of their territories as they consider their environment part of their body and plants and animals are the other members of their society. Nicola Ókin Frioli Nicola Ókin Frioli is an Italian freelance photographer. A fine arts graduate, he has worked for 20 years in documentary photography and advertising campaigns, traveling mainly in Mexico and the Ecuadorian Amazon. His work has been published in magazines such as Washington Post, Time Magazine, The Guardian, Stern, El País Semanal and others. He has received numerous awards and held exhibitions in various countries. Subscribe to print edition
- Antonio Denti | Vatican City & Canada | ZEKE Magazine
Click large image to view caption The Longest Way Home | Vatican City and Canada By Anto nio Denti Published April 2023 In April 2022, it was quite something to see Indigenous Canadians, proud in their costumes, under Bernini's colonnade at the Vatican waiting to meet the Pope. When the impressive monument was being built in 1600, their colonial catastrophe was starting. It was also quite something only a few months later to see the aging Pope, in deep pain due to a troubled knee, travelling to Canada's desolate plains, to the Arctic frontier, to the sacred lakes, to the ancestral lands to say: “I am sorry.” Systemic change may have started then as the beginning of a difficult path of reconciliation in the scarred lands. Anto nio Denti Sicilian-born Antonio Denti is an award-winning news cameraman, in love with still photography. A Reuters staff video journalist for over 20 years, he covered conflict in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Gaza, Lebanon. His award-winning still pictures have been featured in various international online photography publications. He believes that visual story-telling can help counter the contemporary tendency towards results-focused, standardized journalism, creating more authentic, respectful narratives. Subscribe to print edition
- The Queens of Queen City | Maryland, US | ZEKE Magazine
Click large image to view caption The Queens of Queen City | Maryland, US By Michael Snyder Published April 2023 America is, by admission of most of its political leaders, a nation shaped by deeply held religious beliefs and cultural values. And perhaps nowhere is this truer than in Appalachia, a mountainous swath of America’s eastern midsection, known for its Rust Belt work ethic and its Bible Belt conservatism. Here, Cumberland, Maryland was once the “Queen City,” a hub of industry and culture. But the story of Cumberland has paralleled that of many once-great cities throughout the Appalachian region: the gradual departure of industry and, with it, a slow descent into economic stagnation and cultural decline. But even here, flowers are growing in the cracked pavement: a queer community has banded together, created a thriving drag scene, and—against all odds—built the largest Pride movement in the region. The “Queens of Queen City” is a documentary project exploring the courage, risks, and repercussions of openly expressing LGBTQ identities in rural, conservative America. The project charts the course of this queer community over five years as they struggle with loss, bigotry, and acts of arson, to build an inclusive, vibrant community. This project is funded in part by the Pulitzer Center and will be published in the summer issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review. Michael Snyder Artist, educator, and environmental activist, Michael O. Snyder is a photographer and filmmaker who uses his combined knowledge of visual storytelling and conservation to create narratives that drive social impact. Michael is a Portrait of Humanity Award Winner, a Cli mate Journalism Fellow at the Bertha Foundation, a Blue Earth Alliance Photographer, a National Geographic Contributor, and a Resident Artist at the McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, among others. Subscribe to print edition
- Still Doing Life
Click top image to view larger and caption Still Doing Life 25 Years Later United States by Howard Zehr Published September 2023 In the early 1990s, I interviewed and photographed 75 men and women serving life sentences in Pennsylvania. Fifty of these were included in the book, Doing Life: Men and Women Serving Life Sentences in 1996. In 2017, I was able to revist 22 of these same men and women, re-interviewing them and making new portraits. Conversations focused on life sentences, what they had learned and how they were coping. The 2022 book Still Doing Life: 22 Lifers 25 Years Later (co-author Barb Toews; The New Press) presents the portraits and interview selections from the two years side-by-side. The primarily goal with this project has been to humanize people, encouraging thought and dialogue about crime, justice and life sentences drawing upon real people instead of the usual stereotypes and generalizations. My similar book project, Transcending: Reflections of Crime Victims (Good Books, 2001), did the same with violence survivors. Taken together, these projects reflect the restorative justice philosophy that guides my work as well as that of co-author Barb Toews. Howard Zehr Howard Zehr is Distinguished Professor of Restorative Justice at Eastern Mennonite University, VA. He is internationally recognized as one of the founders and leaders of restorative justice and has been active as a professional photographer throughout his career. His publications include six photo books, including one on children whose parents are incarcerated, one highlighting Virginians and their pickup trucks, and The Little Book of Contemporary Photography , which presents a meditative approach. < Previous Next > comments debug Comments Write a comment. End comment with your name (optional) Write a comment. End comment with your name (optional) Share Your Thoughts Be the first to write a comment.
- La Caravana Del Diablo
Click top image to view larger and caption La Caravana Del Diablo Mexico by Ada Trillo Published November 2023 In January 2020, Honduran citizens formed a migrant caravan due to violence and poor economic conditions. They traveled through Guatemala and into Mexico, but their journey was met with challenges. Upon crossing the Suchiate River into Mexico, they encountered the newly established Guardia Nacional, deployed by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in response to threats of tariffs from the Trump administration. This marked a reversal of López Obrador's previous support for migrant’s safe passage. The caravan split into two groups upon attempting to enter Mexico. The larger group was met with tear gas and forced to retreat to the riverbank. After a second unsuccessful attempt, they were apprehended by the Guardia Nacional and returned to Honduras on buses. The smaller group entered into Guatemala, but they were ultimately detained and deported without the opportunity to seek asylum. Since the election of President Biden, there has been a renewed movement of asylum seekers. However, the upcoming 2024 presidential elections suggest continued border conflict, with politicians from both parties engaging in disputes rather than offering long-term human rights and social justice solutions. Ada Trillo Ada Trillo is a first-generation, Queer Mexican American artist who combines documentary and fine art elements in her photography. A native of the US-Mexican border raised in the Juarez-El Paso binational metroplex, her work is informed by a deep interest in national and metaphorical borders and modernization processes. She has focused on walls of inclusion and exclusion, such as forced prostitution, climate, and violence-related international migration, and US internal exclusions resulting from long-standing barriers of race and class. Trillo's goal is to bring attention to the impact of these borders on exploited and marginalized people and amplify their voices. Trillo's work has appeared in publications such as The Guardian, Vogue, Smithsonian Magazine, and Mother Jones, among other publications. She was also awarded The Me & Eve Grant with the Center of Photographic Arts in Santa Fe and received First Place in editorial with the Tokyo International Foto Awards. Trillo has exhibited nationally and internationally in New York City, Philadelphia, Luxembourg, England, Italy, Germany, and Japan. Trillo holds degrees from the Istituto Marangoni in Milan and Drexel University in Philadelphia and is a member of Diversify Photo. Follow Ada Trillio < Previous Next > comments debug Comments Write a comment. End comment with your name (optional) Write a comment. End comment with your name (optional) Share Your Thoughts Be the first to write a comment.
- Shishmaref - A Native American Struggle
Click top image to view larger and caption Shishmaref - A Native American Struggle Alaska, United States by Nima Taradji Published November 2023 Shishmaref, Alaska is a remote village of about 600 people located 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle, flanked by the Chukchi Sea to the north and an inlet to the south, and sits atop rapidly melting permafrost. The melting permafrost coupled with the rising of the sea levels due to melting glaciers has resulted in an accelerated sinking of this isolated island. The native Iñupiat that have inhabited this island for many generations need to find a new location and the funds for the necessary relocation. Both of which, as of now, are not secured. Nima Taradji Nima Taradji is an Iranian-American editorial and documentary photographer focusing on cultural, social and political themes. His aim is to photograph people and create stories that witness the multiplicity of human experience. His photographs have appeared in various national and international publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times - Lens, CNN, CBS Chicago, ABC News, and Time . He is a proud member and co-founder of Argo Collective. Follow Nima Taradji < Previous Next > comments debug Comments Write a comment. End comment with your name (optional) Write a comment. End comment with your name (optional) Share Your Thoughts Be the first to write a comment.
- Go Home and May God be With You
Click top image to view larger and caption Go Home and May God be With You Cuba Dany del Pino Rodríguez Published November 2023 In September 2021, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in Cuba, photographer Dany del Pino Rodríguez took photos of his father Juan del Pino and some objects that accompanied him during his hospitalization period. This photographic project “Go home and may God be with you,” would include the last photos that Rodríguez would take of his father. He died at home a few weeks later. According to the medical report, lung cancer killed him — and probably COVID-19 accelerated his death. But the malignant tumor was not the only cause; the indifference and the abhorrent policies of institutional bureaucracy also were responsible for his death. The Covid-19 pandemic in Cuba came amid the country’s worst economic collapse in decades and has helped to exacerbate decades-long medicine shortages. Cuba — a Communist country where access to healthcare is considered a sacred right — faced one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 globally, which came as a shock to many on the island nation. The pandemic also happens within the wider context of the U.S trade embargo, which has made importing raw materials and finished medicine products difficult. Juan del Pino was discharged from the Joaquín Albarrán hospital in Havana when his health was most fragile. He never received the care he needed, and he did not die with dignity. He was abandoned by the health institutions of his country — the same ones he trusted. Nothing will be able to bring Rodríguez’s father back. But in materializing his life and death through photography, Rodríguez wants to bring attention and justice to him and many others that have suffered just like him, so that their deaths will not be in vain. Dany del Pino Rodriguez Dany del Pino Rodriguez is a documentary photographer born in Havana, Cuba in 1976. Since 2023, he has been a member of the Photographer Without Borders community. At the same time, he has been an Assistant Professor at the Technological University of Havana since 2012. There he teaches about photographic technique and methodology of photographic projects to architecture students. His interest in photography started after he finished his veterinary studies in 2006. From then on, he attended multiple workshops linked to the photographic world and visual arts. In 2012, he obtained a diploma in Photographic Codes at the Cuban Institute of Art and Cinematographic Industry (ICAIC). Dany del Pino has participated in several solo and collective exhibitions and his work has been exhibited locally and internationally in countries like Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, USA, England, Spain, Italy and Holland. His documentary work has also been published in print and digital magazines, such as Lens Magazine, Docu Magazine, Camera Owner and FotoArgenta . His photographs have also been published within Death in the Family book, a project developed by MechanicalSoft Press in Brooklyn, New York City. He was one of the founders of the “F8 Photographic Group", an artistic collective that was active in Havana between 2011 and 2015. He also worked with 3stado Sólido, a visual artistic project in Havana. As part of his work in the educational field, he has collaborated with Circuito Líquido, a pedagogic and artistic project. In 2016, Dany del Pino earned a special mention in the photo competition of Havana Times Magazine . In 2018, he won the Raul Corrales grant, the most important recognition the Fototeca of Cuba gives to Cuban photographers every year. That same year, he also received a special mention in the photo competition of the Water Integrity Network (WIN Photo Competition). In 2020, he was one of the winners of “In front of the Mirror '' a photo competition developed by CCEMiami. Follow Dany del Pino Rodríguez < Previous Next > comments debug Comments (7) Write a comment. End comment with your name (optional) Write a comment. End comment with your name (optional) Sort by: Newest Guest 4 hr. ago Dany is really talanted person and great photographer. I am really lucky, that i get acquainted with Dany's this year during my journey to Cuba! It's really pity, that not so many people now about this masterpieces of documental photography. Let's try to share the link to the article in different social media in order more people now about Dany's works. Like Reply Guest 1 day ago Dany's work is incredible. His photos are beautiful and through strong visual language, he is able to communicate issues that affect us all. Like Reply Guest 1 day ago Replying to Guest Thanks for this comment! For me, the photography is an important tool for social communication and also for the social change. For this reason my photographic projects always are focused toward the multiple realities that impact in our societies! Like Reply Guest 1 day ago Desgarrador testimonio, reflejo de la dura realidad de miles de familias dentro de la isla. Cada una de las fotografias que lo componen se convierten en una potente y desmitificadora denuncia contra un sistema que se nos ha vendido siempre como uno de los más humanista del mundo, pero que en realidad desecha a su suerte a los miembros más vulnerables de su sociedad. Admiro la fortaleza y valentía de su autor, al tratar un tema tan doloroso, personal y a la vez tan controversial. Like Reply Guest 1 day ago Replying to Guest Gracias por tu comentario! Es un fenómeno que subyace en lo más profundo del alma del sistema. Se llama burocrácia y su metástasis se extiende a cada uno de los aspectos de nuestra vida diaria. Por supuesto, la salud pública no escapa a este flagelo. Like Reply Guest 2 days ago A very talented photographer who managed to convey a lot of emotion and atmosphere in his photographs on various subjects and in this case documenting a not easy but very important subject: his father before he died. Like Reply Guest 3 days ago Beautiful and poignant Like Reply
- Incarceration of a Nation | ZEKE Magazine
< Incarceration Issue Index Incarceration of a Nation The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world , imprisoning 664 per 100,000 people. On any given day in the U.S., we imprison an estimated 1.9 million people and each year spend an estimated $182 billion on the criminal legal system. Photograph by Michele Zousmer By Christopher Blackwell Christopher Blackwell is an award-winning journalist currently incarcerated at the Washington Corrections Center, Shelton, WA. He is serving a 45-year pr ison sentence for taking another human’s life during a drug robbery—something he takes full acco untability for. He was raised in a mixed Native American/white family in the Hilltop Area of Tacoma, Washington, one of the roughest places to live in the country– ravaged by over-policing, gangs, violence, and drugs. Pub lis hed September 2023 I was 12 years old the first time I was incarcerated. This wasn’t uncommon where I grew up, in the impoverished and overpoliced Hilltop area of Tacoma, Washington. One day in 1993, a cop frisked my friend and I while we were on our way home from school. I had a small amount of marijuana in my sock — but enough to change my life forever. The cop found the weed in my backpack and my school books were replaced with handcuffs. I was hauled off to juvenile detention, the beginning of my long journey through the carceral system. Thirty years later, I’ve still been unable to free myself from its grasp. This is the system we have created in America, one that targets the poor to feed the monster of mass incarceration. It is a system sustained by fear and misconceptions that crime is, somehow, always on the rise and that we must take action to keep our communities safe. This narrative is reinforced daily, from TV shows like Law and Order to breathless news coverage of crime, which often lacks context about broader trends or the specific circumstances that led to a particular crime. The only solution, we are told, is to incarcerate more and more people for longer and longer periods of time. In r eality, the “overall crime rates remain near historic lows,” the Prison Policy Initiative wrote in a recent report. Even during a spike in homicides in 2020, whi ch is now declining , homicide rates remained far below their peak in the 1980s and 1990s. “What has actually changed the most is the public’s perception of crime,which is driven less by first-hand experience than by the false claims of reform opponents,” the report continued, citing public polling data. Politicians responded by using the violent crime spike in the 1980s and 90s to justify a tough-on-crime crackdown. They spread the racist myth that the country would be overwhelmed by a wave of “super-predator” youth — mostly used to refer to Black and Brown boys — who would kill for no reason at all. In this climate of fear, voters and lawmakers throughout the country dramatically increased prison sentences and worked to oust from office those who didn’t fall in line. In my home state of Washington, voters passed Initiative 593, commonly referred to as “Three Strikes,” mandating life without parole sentences for people convicted three times of certain crimes. Until recent legislative reform, hundreds of people were struck out, serving life without parole sentences for second degree robbery offenses, which can include stealing food from a grocery store. For some, their “strikes” date back to cases from when they were kids, waived into adult court. Some even had crimes committed under the age of 18 used against them to get stuck out, often because they refused a plea deal for decades in prison by prosecutors. Disproportionate Harm Just two years after three strikes, Washington imposed weapons enhancements under a bill called the Hard Time for Armed Crime Act of 1995, resulting in longer prison sentences. Despite the promise that these harsh laws would reduce crime, there is no evidence that occurred. Rather, crime rates were already declining nationwide , both in states with similar laws and those without. Meanwhile, prison populations exploded. In Washington, the state’s prison population nearly tripled from about 9,800 people in state prisons and jails in 1983 to 26,913 by 2015, according to the Vera Institute. The expansion of life without parole sentences has created a ballooning aging population, at great cost to the state. In 2001, the Sentencing Commission found that elderly prisoners cost more than four times as much to imprison as the average prisoner — a finding the commission found “even more troubling” given how rarely the elderly recidivate. Today, the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world , imprisoning 664 per 100,000 people. For reference, Canada imprisons just 104 per 100,000 people. On any given day in the U.S., we imprison an estimated 1.9 million people (1.26 million in state and federal prisons and about 514,000 in local jails). The U.S. spends an estimated $182 billion on the criminal legal system per year, including $81 billion for prisons, jails, probation and parole. Over the past 50 years, the state and federal prison population has grown by a staggering 700% . It is clear that impoverished communities of color are disproportionately harmed by increased incarceration. Although Black people make up 38% of the prison and jail population, they represent only 12% of the U.S. population. “Incarceration is a traumatizing experience both for those who are locked up and for those who love them,” Melissa R Lee, the assistant director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality wrote in an email. It “deprives loved ones of their children, their parents, their partners, their friends, and of the experience of living together. It also deprives communities, especially communities of color, and society at large, of vast amounts of talent and resources.” Having spent most of my life in the criminal legal system, I have witnessed one heartbreaking story after another. Like Jonathan (Jon) Kirkpatrick, now serving a life sentence for a murder he committed at the age of 19. Jon grew up in extreme poverty. His mother, who had been married six times during his childhood, struggled to support her children. Some of the men she brought home were abusive. One of his stepdads was an escaped convict who took him and his family on the run, evading the U.S. Marshals for years. They lived in rundown motels, where drug addiction, violence and sex work were common. Looking to escape this toxic environment, Jon moved in with his biological father. He quickly realized that this living situation was no better. His father beat him often and by the age of 11, Jon was using meth. He spent much of his childhood in juvenile group homes and eventually dropped out of school. Living on the streets of Los Angeles, he did sex work to pay for his drug addiction. He was a kid trying to survive in environments that would jade him forever. Jon leaned further into drug use, the only thing that helped him forget the cards he’d been dealt. As he struggled to afford his habit, he fell into a dangerous path of robbing drug dealers and stealing anything of value. Tragically, someone lost their life and Jon lost his freedom. Now three decades later, Jon is drug-free, a mentor to younger prisoners, and a successfully published writer. These changes were possible because people began to see who Jon really was and invest in him. Older prisoners in mentorship roles taught him how to facilitate non-violent communication dialogues. He connected with others who struggled with addiction through Narcotics Anonymous and learned to lead those meetings. Eventually, he partnered with the nonprofit group Empowerment Avenue, which supported him in publishing his writing in mainstream media outlets. (Empowerment Avenue also supports my writing.) One step at a time, Jon developed his confidence and grew into the man he was always meant to be. It has become exceedingly apparent that the majority of people in prison are here due to the circumstances they grew up in, which were often out of their control. They are the victims of being born into poverty, abusive or neglectful families, over-policed neighborhoods, and the violence that these conditions create. In short, they have spent their entire lives living to survive, not to thrive. They carry generational trauma and often lifelong connections to the carceral system. “Prison exacerbates all of those feelings,” James King, the co-director of programs at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, said in an interview. “If you felt low self-worth in your family, wait until you see an indictment that says, ‘The State of California vs. James King.’ You’ll feel a little bit more isolated.” Unjust Financial Burdens “If you have feelings of low self-worth or low self-esteem, prison increases those feelings and significantly contributes to the lack of tools to deal with trauma that underlie where a lot of harmful activities come from in the first place,” King said. It’s not just the people imprisoned who are harmed by the status quo — our family members and loved ones bear an enormous emotional, logistical and financial burden as well. First there’s the cost of legal support, for those who can even afford to hire a lawyer. Families often borrow from friends, take out loans, or even sell their homes to hire lawyers they hope can bring their loved ones home. But the cost doesn’t stop there. Once inside, prisoners are faced with a deluge of fines and fees related to victim’s funds, court costs and the cost of incarceration. If my family sends me any money, roughly 50% of it gets taken out for these fees. As a result of these high fees and low wages, many prisoners rack up institutional debt just by purchasing things like soap, toothpaste and stationery to stay in touch with friends and family. Everything in jail and prison — from phone calls to Top Ramen to a sheet of paper — costs exponentially more than in the free world. And because prisoners typically earn pennies per hour for their labor, the costs of basic necessities fall to our loved ones. Private companies that provide commissary goods or phone services to prisons bring in $2.9 billion per year, the Prison Policy Initiative estimated in 2019. Inflation in recent years has only driven up the prices of food and personal hygiene products. Maintaining relationships is expensive too. Visiting requires taking time off work and often spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in travel and accommodation. “I hate that they need to support me in this way,” Bud Fraser, who is incarcerated in Washington state, said in an interview. “Knowing they struggle to do it is frustrating.” Inside of each and every prison in the U.S., you will find a humanitarian crisis. The infrastructure is rotting , the pipes are eroding, the water is often contaminated, the heat and the air conditioning are constantly broken (or non-existent), flooding is common, mold spreads freely, and infectious diseases run rampant. We subsist on a diet of processed foods — even the prisoners put to work growing crops often do not have access to the fresh fruits or vegetables they grow. Violence is commonplace, both from guards who operate with impunity, and from other prisoners, many of whom are in desperate need of mental healthcare. We have minimal access to medical care and plenty of reasons not to trust the medical professionals inside . (In my state of Washington, the prison ombudsman found that medical staff in facilities throughout the state delayed for months in diagnosing and treating cancer patients, sometimes resulting in death.) Many facilities operate beyond their intended maximum capacity, the risk of which was made especially clear as COVID-19 tore through prisons and jails. It is no coincidence that incarcerated people have accounted for a disproport ionate amount of the pandemic’s death toll. Forced to live in these unsafe environments, we are often sentenced to more than simply a loss of liberties and freedom. Spending time in prison can be a death sentence, even if that wasn’t the assigned punishment. Each year that someone spends in prison decreases their life expectancy by two years, the Vera Institute fo und . Although prisons pay lip service to rehabilitation, carceral environments encourage violence and often punish efforts at self-betterment. The few rehabilitative programs that do exist are often watered-down classes that exist to justify more funding for the prisons. Prisons function primarily to warehouse people until their time is up, at which point they are released back into the community with limited resources, extensive unprocessed trauma, and a criminal record that restricts their employment and housing opportunities. Alternatives to Incarceration True change doesn’t come from spending an arbitrary number of years locked up — it comes from accountability and learning to love and respect yourself. Those of us who learn to take responsibility for the harm that we have caused and have the sense of self-worth to hold ourselves to a higher standard have done so in spite of, not because of, the prison system. It doesn’t have to be this way. We do not need prisons to keep us safe — and there’s plenty of evidence that they only put us in more danger. Although prison abolition sounds like a far-off reality, we already have a model of an alternative way of addressing harm. “When I think about the principles of abolition, I think about many of the wealthiest and most resourced communities among us, and look at them as a template in the roadmap for what, in an ideal world, would be available for everyone,” said King. “They have the resources needed in those communities to address trauma, for people to have a living wage, for people to have affordable housing, for people to live in healthy environments. Their basic needs are taken care of so they are able to work towards better communities.” “Equally important to that is, as they’re growing up and they are sometimes creating harm in their neighborhood, it’s not criminalized, it’s treated as something that needs to be addressed through means other than the criminal system,” King continued. Se eking alternatives to incarceration does not mean abandoning accountability . As a society, we will always need ways to address harm that is caused, but the U.S. criminal legal system and incarceration rarely do a good job of making anyone feel whole,” Lee said. “Locking people up doesn’t result in healing for either the person who was harmed or for the responsible party. Creating more possibilities to address the harm itself will result in much better outcomes for everyone involved.” Subscribe to print edition
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- Svet Jacqueline | Ukraine | ZEKE Magazine
Click large image to view caption Too Young to Fight | Ukraine By Svet Jacqueline Published April 2023 “Too Young To Fight” focuses on the lives of Ukrainian children since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The stories are heartbreaking. I first arrived a week after the invasion started. I was thrown into the worst parts of this conflict. I spent my mornings at funerals, my afternoons watching fathers say a tearful goodbye to their families boarding trains, and my nights in bunkers listening to the echoes of artillery fire. I have now spent over five months documenting this cruel and unnecessary attack on Ukraine—and democracy. The landscape of this war changes daily. As of September 2022, over 1,000 children had been killed in Ukraine—some have been tortured and their bodies burned. Others have sustained injuries from shelling and are spending birthdays and holidays in hospitals getting fitted for prosthetics. Thousands are accepting a new life of living underground dreaming of a day when they can go back to school—or just to dance class. The rest—those who account for the over five million refugees who were forced to flee since the war started—are doing their best to assimilate in places that will never feel like home. The beautiful thing about children is the joy they find in the most unlikely of circumstances. They embody the Ukrainian spirit in its purest form. They run, play, and laugh in the face of the evil that has become their reality. As they grow older, some of them will be drafted into the war as young adults. Some will help raise the siblings that their parents died to protect and some will never return to their childhood homes or cities again. I will continue to photograph their stories—the ones that capture the innocence that war destroys. As the world starts to turn away from the headlines from the war, I ask that we recognize that the shadows of this period in history will follow us, reflected through the eyes and stories of Ukrainian children as they find a more permanent identity. Svet Jacqueline Named by All About Photo as one of the best modern photographers, Svet Jacqueline documented the Black Lives Matter movement in her book 100 Days of Protest , migration at the U.S.-Mexico border and the cycle of poverty on Skid Row. After Russia invaded Ukraine, she focused on visual stories around childhood trauma in conflict zones and is a photo essayist in Relentless Courage: Ukraine and the World At War. Subscribe to print edition
- Book Review of "Chris Killip" | ZEKE Magazine
BOOK REVIEW Chris Ki llip Thames and Hudson, 2023 256 pages / $75 By Michelle Bogre Published April 2023 The book opens with two softly lit, full bleed head and shoulder portraits of a young brother and sister. The faces stare back at us, one (four-year old Chris), with a slight smile, a hint of rascal, open with possibility. The other, (five-year old Anthean) is already set, tinged with sadness, maybe a bit of anger, resigned to a life without possibilities. It is impossible not to wonder what happened to them. This begins our journey through Chris Killip , the aptly titled monograph of one of Britain’s most important, but least well known, documentary photographers. Killip’s black and white images, a mix of portraiture and candid reportage, are an empathetic rendering of working class life in 1970s and 1980s Britain when jobs disappeared and communities were destroyed by gentrification and then a spiral into poverty. The book is divided into four chapters that roughly mirror Killip’s main projects: work from the Isle of Man; the Edgelands, which included projects from Askam, Skinninggrove and the seacoalers from Lynemouth; the North Country; and The Last Stories, a hodgepodge of work made later in Killip’s life. Each section features an essay either about Killip or his work. Killip’s images do what traditional documentary photography does best: create an origami of time as past present and future converge and unfold like warped spacetime. He describes photographs as “a chronicle of a death foretold’ and that awareness is clear in his photographs. It is not only the death of the person, but the death of a way of life. These are people to whom history happened. Cookie in the snow, Seacoal Camp, Northumbria, 1984 © Chris Killip Photography Trust/Magnum Photos Killip photographed with a large format camera, not the traditional 35mm of his peers. The detail and expanded tonality from a large negative, while not so apparent in the book, is on display in the amazing retrospective and traveling exhibit at the Photographer’s Gallery in London, curated by Ken Grant and Tracy Marshall-Grant. (The book is an expanded exhibition catalogue.) The prints are exquisite and proof that whenever possible we need to see photographs on the wall. In part because Killip was not shooting with a 35mm camera, his work is quintessential slow documentary. The simple act of setting up a bulky camera on a tripod creates a performative space for the subject and photographer. Often, we characterize portraits as either mirroring the subject or revealing the photographer. His do both. Also, these are not extractive images. Killip knows the people and places and because of that we know them and him. The photographs are familiar and intimate, and you sense that Killip would return to visit these people without his camera. A lot of current debate in the documentary world swirls around the idea of insider versus outsider or who should be allowed to photograph whom. Killip’s images tilt towards the value of being an insider or being willing to stay long enough to become one. While clearly an insider for the photographs he took on the Isle of Man (where he grew up), he became an insider for his other projects through persistence. For example, in his project on the seacoalers, (men who make their living by driving horse-drawn carts to collect and sell coal washed up on beaches when the tide recedes), he was chased off several times until a serendipitous meeting at a local pub with a man he had previously photographed gave him a slight inside edge. Still he didn’t feel he understood the seacoalers well enough, so he bought a caravan and parked it on the beach at Lynemouth so he would have a sense of the rhythm of the place, and to better understand these men, he often invited them into his warm caravan for tea. This is very slow photography indeed and because of that he makes the random, accidental, and fragmentary details of everyday existence meaningful while preserving the actual details of the scene. Killip’s image, “Cookie in the snow, 1984” —only possible because he was living in the caravan—features “Cookie” looking like a black apparition, leaning into the wind and snow carrying a bag (maybe of coal). The image is so visceral we feel what a bone-weary job Cookie has. If the book has a weakness, it is the editing and design. Less is more, but not in this book. Trying to include too many photographs, while understandable for a retrospective, forces a design of often cramming too many small images on a page, which doesn’t do any of them justice, or the odd choice of always staggering two vertical images per page, which creates a checkboard pattern. The design works best with one image per page, large enough for us to get lost in the details of a large negative. —Michelle Bogre Subscribe to print edition
- The Prison Within
Click top image to view larger and caption The Prison Within United States by Katherin Hervey & Massimo Bardetti Published September 2023 These photographs were taken inside San Quentin Prison during the filming of The Prison Within documentary; contrasting the healing and community created by the men inside, with the cruelty and isolation of mass incarceration. Prisons represent the darkest parts of ourselves, where we lock away that which is most difficult to confront—the poor, the addicted, the other, anybody or anything that slightly threatens our sense of safety. Using trauma-informed restorative justice models based in accountability and compassion, the men pictured here — Sam J., Eddie, H., Michael N., Nate C., Phoeun Y., and Barry S. — are showing us another way. Their courage and commitment to healing and forgiveness reveal how every one of us, on both sides of the wall, can break out of our own personal prisons. Katherine Hervey Katherin Hervey is an artist and award-winning filmmaker interested in what is hiding in the dark crevices of the American landscape and collective psyches, believing truth is found in the dark before it shines in the light. Her first feature film, The Prison Within , won eight awards. A thought leader in criminal justice reform, Katherin has been featured in various media publications. Her mixed media artworks and creative fiction have been showcased in galleries and literary journals. Follow Katherin Hervey < Previous Next > comments debug Comments Write a comment. End comment with your name (optional) Write a comment. End comment with your name (optional) Share Your Thoughts Be the first to write a comment.