by Yumiko Utsu - Vice Photo Issue 2012

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Waxy Chunks by Elizabeth Renstrom
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Waxy Chunks by Elizabeth Renstrom

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In this episode of Picture Perfect, VICE visits Zeng Han in Guanghzhou to talk about the balance between East and West and new and old in contemporary China. He tells us about his latest projects and we then acompany him as he documents modernization efforts around the city for his ongoing series titled Hyper-Reality China.

Watch the episode

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Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and friend, Hultsfred, 1987.
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By this point, so many photojournalists have made the trek to the West Bank and Gaza Strip that the Plight of the Palestinians has become a predictable subgenre, complete with its own lame clichés: young men throwing rocks, protesters waving flags and screaming, children walking through rubble, checkpoints, rocket explosions, Israeli Defense Forces storm troopers busting down doors, and, of course, the wall. It’s one of those instances of something being so well documented that one has to question whether we have become desensitized to the severity of the situation due to oversaturation. 

Linda Forsell’s new book, Life’s a Blast, avoids these well-worn tropes. The 101 impeccably composed, square-format photos contained within were taken on a series of trips between 2008 and 2010, and somehow Linda found a different, more human way of telling this familiar story. Palestinians and Israelis aren’t reduced to anonymous victims of history or heavily armed occupiers. Instead, the stunningly ordinary activities of daily life are used as a prism to reflect the crushing weight of what appears to be a conflict that will never end. Depictions of violence are subtle, which makes them all the more terrifying—a store mannequin with its jaw blown off; a little boy using a crayon to draw a house, stick figures, and a tank. 

The photos are interspersed with vignettes by Linda that draw on years of conversations with Palestinians and Israelis and underscore the poisonous atmosphere created by decades of armed conflict. Linda writes about a street in Hebron where settlers are notorious for standing on the roofs and peeing on Palestinians passing underneath. “When I go to my school, I sit between two settlers,” a Palestinian man tells her in another account. “Both of them carry machine guns. We always offer each other tea if we have it, but none of us accept.”

You could say that Life’s a Blast is definitive—a good argument for why photographers who cover the conflict need to put down the camera for a little while and reflect on how they could be telling this story in more impactful ways. For now, we’ll just let them take a cue from Linda with this small selection of what you can find inside. 

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By Maggie Lee and Sandy Kim

Starring Maggie Lee and Sandy Kim

Photo Illustration by Angie Sullivan

Styling by Miyako Bellizzi

Production: Serena Pezzato and Ellis Jones

Times Square 1983-1984

Photos by Bill Butterworth

More HERE

Times Square 1984-1984 

Photos by Bill Butterworth

More HERE

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Times Square wasn’t always the hellscape of capitalism run amok it is today. Hard as it is to believe, fanny-packed tourists and Herculean chocolate candy didn’t always reign supreme at the Crossroads of America. Yes, the ancestors of today’s Times Square inhabitants were crackheads and transvestites, and the buildings now occupied by the Disney Store and Red Lobster were once shooting galleries and brothels housing 300-pound whores. Ahhh, sweet mem’ries.

Luckily, that Times Square is still alive in The Forty-Deuce, a new book of photos taken between 1983 and 1984 by Bill Butterworth set to be released by Powerhouse in June. Bill wasn’t a “social tourist,” photographing the misfits of 42nd street as an outsider, he was one of them. He made a living selling his medium-format portraits, and in the process created a record of a time and way of life that the people walking around Times Square right now probably can’t imagine.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE!

Born 182 years ago today, Muybridge was an accomplished bookseller, inventor, and businessman. He began pursuing his interest in photography in San Francisco in 1867, and went on to pioneer new ways of documenting the nature of movement. Today, Muybridge is known as one of the most influential and innovative photographers of his time.

Featured here: Muybridge’s Daisy with Rider1887

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In this episode of Picture Perfect, VICE visits Patrick Brown in Bangkok to talk about the craft of photography and his forthcoming book, Trading to Extinction, which documents the illegal trade of endangered animals in Asia. We then travel with Brown to Guangzhou, China, where he finishes his decade-long project.

Support the book and find out more about Patrick Brown’s project by visiting his Emphas.is page.

Photos courtesy of Patrick Brown / Panos Pictures.