Works in Progress (blog)

     (to remind myself)

      “Make a place to sit down.
      Sit down. Be quiet.
      You must depend upon
      affection, reading, knowledge,
      skill — more of each
      than you have — inspiration,
      work, growing older, patience,
      for patience joins time
      to eternity. Any readers
      who like your poems,
      doubt their judgment.

      Breathe with unconditional breath
      the unconditioned air.
      Shun electric wire.
      Communicate slowly. Live
      a three-dimensioned life;
      stay away from screens.
      Stay away from anything
      that obscures the place it is in.
      There are no unsacred places;
      there are only sacred places
      and desecrated places.

      Accept what comes from silence.
      Make the best you can of it.
      Of the little words that come
      out of the silence, like prayers
      prayed back to the one who prays,
      make a poem that does not disturb
      the silence from which it came.”


  • On Long-Distance Collaboration: After the Storm, a Case Study Presentation


    The third annual Photography, Expanded Symposium kicked off with a quote from Nelson Mandela:

    Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.

    Wendy Levy, Director of the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, began the day with a call for deep collaboration: “Today’s programming is about inspiring What Ifs! We’re looking for new ideas– for a bright spark to get you to reframe or rethink of reimagine your own work in the context of community. Today is about collaboration and innovation.” She continued, “We’re going to look at storytelling inside social movements and inside culture to question the ways in which we can embed our stories more deeply. We’re going to look at how we can open up our work to the marginalized– not to give voice, but to share voice.”

    Collaboration remained the dominant theme of the day as presenters articulated the importance of partnerships between storytellers, designers, technologists, educators and activists, as well as the communities and individuals represented. From presentations on technological advances in media-making to panel discussions on the opportunities and challenges present in our contemporary media environment, each speaker touched upon the power of interdisciplinary dialogue.

    This theme was central to the first case study of the day, After the Storm by filmmaker Andrew Beck Grace and designer Alex Wittholz of Helios Design Labs. Their presentation offered invaluable insights into the process of long-distance teamwork and on the importance of having the shared goal of utilizing emerging technologies to express a powerful story.  

    Please stay tuned as we share more videos and highlights from the 2015 Photography, Expanded Symposium. To learn more about the Photography, Expanded initiative, please visit our website.

    Follow along as we share blog posts from Magnum Foundation’s 2015 Photography, Expanded Symposium!

  • “The Mars Desert Research Station, Utah,” video still from EXIT by Eline Jongsma & Kel O'Neil, 2014-2015

    9:00AM TO 5:30PM
    Register here:…

    A full day of innovative documentary storytelling with presentations on emerging ideas in digital media and reportage on social justice issues. Co-presented by Magnum Foundation & The Photography Parsons The New School for Design.

  • Burnt white picket fence, West Columbia, South Carolina.

  • 1 - Three memorials sit at the edge of the woods on Cromwell Street in West Columbia, South Carolina. Several residents of Columbia described the Western end of the city as the “other side of the tracks”. Seeking additional perspectives regarding the rally and the presence of the Confederate flag, I pulled off of Meeting Place and onto a small street lined with bungalows.

    A large family sat on their small porch in the mid-day heat. Their daughter translated that they emigrated from Mexico in 2001 and worked for a home cleaning service for $55.00 a day ($7,000.00 per year). When asked how they felt about the removal of the flag they responded, ““I’m happy about the removal of the flag. The hardest part about living here is fearing for the safety of my (biracial) children. That flag always felt like a warning.”

    The mother said she feared for the safety of her bi-racial children in South Carolina. When asked why they stay she said, “I love this land, it feels like my own. It feels like my own. My children were born here. We lost and buried loved ones here. It is our home.”

  • A statue in the yard of a gated residence on Alexander Street and Calhoun, located three blocks from the AME Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Alexander Street is in the heart of Charleston’s historic district, where wealth from the cotton industry was concentrated and is still evident in the large, sprawling homes and private yards.

    Glenn McConnell, Confederate re-enactor, president of the College of Charleston and former South Carolina State Senator, responded to Governor Nikki Haley’s decision to remove the Confederate flag by stating,

    “I support Governor Haley’s call to remove the Confederate soldier’s flag from State House grounds as a visible statement of courtesy and good will to all those who may be offended by it. At the same time, I also urge all public officials and activists who are focusing on this issue to come together, the way the good people of Charleston joined hands following the terrible tragedy we suffered, and agree not to transfer the fight to other physical vestiges and memorials of our state’s past.  In a spirit of good will and mutual respect, let us all agree that the monuments, cemeteries, historic street and building names shall be preserved and protected. … Let us all pledge to respect each other and stand together in firm opposition to any efforts to sanitize, rewrite or bulldoze our history.“ 

  • 1 - A family poses for a group portrait in front of the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial, outside of Atlanta, Georgia. The United Daughter’s of the Confederacy commissioned this carving of Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis in 1916. It was officially completed in 1972.

     Initially, the carving was supposed to include a Ku Klux Klan ceremonial alter. The commission was initiated by UDC charter member Helen Plane, who was deeded the rock face by the Venable Brothers. At that time, Samuel Hoyt Venable was involved in the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan and granted the Klan an easement to the mountain in 1923, where they held cross burnings and regular meetings. 

    Stone Mountain is located in what was once ‘Shermantown’, a small, predominantly African American suburb of Atlanta, named by emancipated slaves to honor Union General Sherman.

    2 - A woman sells raffle tickets to a cruise, in the theme park surrounding the Stone Mountain Confederate memorial. When asked to share her feelings on working in the park she stated, “It’s not my history and I know that. When you grow up in South Carolina you get used to it. It’s always there. Working here is no different than (working) any other place around here; it’s just more out in the open. I just don’t even think about it anymore.” She opted not to share her name for this project. 

    3 - A crowd gathers before the Stone Mountain Laser Spectacular. The laser show is directed towards an audience of both children and adults. It begins with Pharrell’s Happy, as a cartoon hat jumps rhythmically between the heads of Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. Over the next hour, the generals are woven into various narratives about the Civil War, contemporary American patriotism and popular youth culture. In a closing gesture towards audiences that may be sensitive to the glorification of southern history, there is a historically inaccurate depiction of the three generals breaking their swords over their knees as a symbol of solidarity with the northern union.   As the final fireworks were released above the mountain and the façade was illuminated for the last time, everyone rose for a standing ovation.

  • 1 - Captain Charles Seton Fleming, (2 FLA INF CSA). Killed at Cold Harbor on June 3rd, 1864 at age 29. Buried in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond Virginia. 

    Charles was the brother of Francis Fleming, the governor of Florida from 1889 - 1893– Francis was a firm supporter of segregation and fought against civil rights for African Americans in Florida. He signed poll taxing and literacy tests into Florida law.

  • 1 - William Buck, security guard for Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. 

    Hollywood Cemetery increased its patrol following the June 17 massacre of 9 African American members (Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; Myra Thompson, 59) of the AME Emanuel Church, by a 21 year old white supremacist (Dylann Storm). 

    William spoke of the debate to removal the Confederate memorials that flank Memorial Avenue and Hollywood Cemetery as “ a bunch of horse shit”, stating “It’s part of history, it’s in the past. Get over it!”. In July, a Confederate flag that flew alongside the large, pyramid-shaped Confederate memorial, was stolen in broad daylight. 

    Since then, William has patrolled the over 16,000 Confederate graves to ensure that their flags remain in place and that the monuments are not damaged. When asked about the response of the wider community, William stated “More black visitors have come since the shooting happened. In fact, one black lady drove all the way up from North Carolina to visit the Confederate graves, carrying her own flag and chanting ‘heritage not hate’”. 

    When asked about the response of the African American community in Richmond, he said “There are people who still think we owe them something, but I tell them to do their history.”. 

    2 - A memorial in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia. The cemetery is cared for in perpetuity through donations, and still holds up to 5 burials per week. 

  • Malik (8) with a palm rose he wove to sell to mourners outside of the AME Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina. 

  • 1 - Brothers Dustin & Benjamin Byrd at a Ku Klux Klan rally at the Columbia, South Carolina State House. Although Dustin & Benjamin have no affiliation with the KKK, they attended to stand in protest of the state’s removal of a Confederate flag from the State House grounds.

    Dustin and Benjamin were confronted by a group of 20 - 30 protestors as they walked with the Confederate flag. They stood with the fabric cradled in their arms to keep it from touching the ground as members of the group challenged them on their assertion that the flag represented a “beloved and bygone era of chivalry and hard work”. When questioned about the Civil War and its contextual history, Dustin spoke of agriculture and the preservation of “southern culture”. When asked if he was racist, he said “no”.

    He spoke of ancestors and of growing up in South Carolina, where the flag was flown above the Capitol or on the State House grounds his entire life. He spoke of fighting in Afghanistan and of the importance of honoring veterans, your history and your nation. After a rock was thrown and the group surrounding the brothers grew, two police officers intervened and walked Dustin and Benjamin to the street. Placing his hand on Dustin’s solider, one of the officers offered an apology, stating: “I’m sorry, you didn’t do anything wrong. You know we’re just trying to keep you safe.” Dustin shook his hand and thanked him for his service.

    2 - A monument dedicated to Confederate soldiers, on the northern lawn of the State House. From 1962 until 2000, a Confederate flag flew from the dome of the capitol building. In 2000, the flag was moved from the capitol building to this monument, where it remained until its removal on July 10, 2015. Despite ongoing protests and petitions for its removal, the flag remained on the sovereign grounds of the State House until Governor Nikki Haley called for its removal, following the massacre of 9 African Americans (Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; Myra Thompson, 59). The flag is currently on display at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.

    Metal barricades surround the perimeter of the monument during concurrent Black Lawyers and Educators for Justice and Ku Klux Klan rallies on the northern and southern ends of the State House lawn.

  • 1 - Clarence, his nephew and three nieces Lauren, Keiahra and Keimiya at their home on 30th Street in Church Hill, Richmond, Virginia. Clarence grew up in Jackson Ward, a neighborhood that spans part of downtown Richmond and the urban campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. Clarence stated that housing in Jackson Ward became unaffordable two years ago, after an influx of transitional students moving into the neighborhood. Last year, he moved his family to the outer edge of Church Hill.

    2 - Over 16,000 Confederate graves are cared for in perpetuity at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. The Four Cemeteries at Evergreen, located less than a mile from Clarence’s new home, is the final resting place for some of Richmond’s most celebrated African American leaders, activists and community members. Despite numerous attempts to clear the sprawling Kudzu and English Ivy that covers a majority of the headstones, a large portion of the cemetery remains inaccessible to visitors and mourners.

  • 1 - Don, an attendee at the Ku Klux Klan rally at the Columbia, South Carolina State House. Don, a native South Carolinian, stated that he was attending to protest the removal of a Confederate flag from a memorial on the Capitol building’s property.

    Governor Nikki Haley called for the removal of the flag after Dylann Storm, a 21 year old white supremacist, killed nine congregants during a bible study at the AME Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Although the flag has been removed for the first time since the 1960s, Confederate symbolism still lines the yard of the Capitol building and Columbia’s streets.

    2 - A home that sits on the corner of Confederate Avenue and Marion Street, in the historic Cotton Town district of Columbia, South Carolina.

  • 1 - Malik (8), Daron (15) & Michael (12) weave palm roses to sell to mourners outside of the AME Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina. A month before, a white supremacist (Dylann Storm, 21) took the lives of 9 congregants of the church during their evening Bible Study (Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; Myra Thompson, 59).

    Hundreds of their hand-woven palm roses decorate the facade of the church, which has become a sprawling memorial for mourners and community members. 

    In the wake of this tragedy, the Governor of South Carolina (Nikki R. Haley) called for the removal of a Confederate flag from the Columbia, South Carolina State House grounds. In solidarity with this gesture, cities across South Carolina pulled down their flags from the Confederate Memorials and sites.

    2 - “King of the South” (Cotton) on display at the Ft. Sumter Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. Ft.Sumter removed a Confederate Flag from the courtyard of their museum after the massacre at the AME Emanuel Church, yet the memorial and island fort remain celebrated entry points into the first shots fired by Confederate Secessionists.

    “[H]istory, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past.

    On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations.” -James Baldwin

  • Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness

    Richard Wright, Black Boy
  • The very beginnings of a new project, ‘Confederates in the Attic’.

    1 - A memorial dedicated to the 18,000 Confederate soldiers buried in   Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. Completed in 1869 and cared for in perpetuity by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, this towering granite pyramid remains the tallest structure in the cemetery. The granite blocks were mined from the James River.

    2 - A young man drapes a Confederate flag over his shoulders at a Klu Klux Klan rally outside of the Columbia, South Carolina State House. Over two thousand people protested in opposition to, or in support of, the Klan’s march against the removal of a Confederate flag from a memorial on Capitol grounds.

    This man said that he was not attending the rally in support of the Ku Klux Klan, but wanted to defend his South Carolinian heritage. He spoke of ancestors that fought in the Civil War to “protect their way of life”, a way of life that he asserted was based in agriculture and a celebration of the land.

    That evening, I researched South Carolina’s Declaration for Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Succession of South Carolina from the Federal Union,

    ..A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

  • Memory is always incomplete, always imperfect, always falling into ruin: but the ruins themselves, like other traces, are treasures; our links to what came before, our guide to situating ourselves in a landscape of time. To erase the ruins is to erase the visible public triggers of memory; a city without ruins and traces of age is like a mind without memories.

    Rebecca Solnit
  • Fredericksburg, Virginia from the hillside at Chatham Manor-- a southern plantation that served as a Union hospital during the Civil War. Cameron, Stone Mountain, Georgia-- A young man at a day camp at the Confederate memorial and theme park in Stone Mountain, Georgia

    The very beginnings of a new project, ‘Confederates in the Attic’. 

    In the Southern city of my childhood, Walt Whitman bandaged the wounds of Union soldiers in the airy rooms of a Confederate estate. More than a century later I collapsed onto its lawn, sticky with sweat, to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July. It was here that I found the corroded shells of canon balls, settling into the soil like tumbled rocks. I carried one of these hollowed shells with me for months before burying it in my own backyard alongside an aged, golden wedding ring that my father found.

    As a young child I lacked an understanding of war — its origins and remains. The fragments of cannonballs carried the same historical weight as a discarded or misplaced wedding ring, both relegated to the status of buried treasure. As I trampled through the woods and battlefields surrounding my home the graves of unknown soldiers became the ghosts of my imagination, whom I sought and challenged many times throughout my adolescence.

    Over a century has passed since the Civil War tore across this landscape, where in my youthful innocence and naivety I brushed up against the legacies that surfaced as I played and explored.

    In 1998, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Tony Horwitz traveled throughout the south, documenting ephemeral links to our burdened past and the endurance of Southern mythology surrounding the Civil War. In his travels, he passed through the places of my childhood– Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Shenandoah and Richmond, Virginia, meeting with reenactors, politicians, citizens and historians. The resulting document was the award winning book Confederates in the Attic.

    Seventeen years later, and in the midst of a powerful discussion surrounding symbolism and representation in the south, I am following in Horowitz’s footsteps to explore the spaces and histories he encountered. By this revisitation I seek to discover the changes in the southern political and rhetorical landscape and to make sense of my own complicated relationship with history, revisionism and romanticism.

  • The picture of nature today may testify to the damage men have done to their environment, a damage possibly so extreme as to hasten human and animal fate. With both the earlier moralizing tradition and the current instance of it, landscape is conceived as an artifact of culture. But unlike its predecessor, the present culture leaves new traces of disorder and anomaly within the old landscape construct. We glimpse a prelude to a future that once was inconceivable but now may not even be remote: the irrevocable extinction of certain living things. The pastoral tradition had been expressive in its awareness of the natural cycle in which death and birth replace each other. Now, instead of discovering the ephemerality of sensate life in an enduring scene of beauty, the viewer must face the fragility of the scene itself — a tableau of repulsive contingencies that do not strike us as either culture or nature.

    Max Kozloff: Ghastly News from Epic Landscapes
  • Participants in our workshop with photographer Jessica Backhaus in Berlin, Germany!