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Street at Night, Photographs by Gregor Schlatte
Gregor Schlatte

Street at Night

Violence, joy, poverty, and fun are found in the nighttime streets of Austria, where drug dealers, young party goers, and extremist political parties intermingle throughout the streets.

Bonded Labor in Bangalore's Quarries, Photographs by Nick Spiker
Nick Spiker

Bonded Labor in Bangalore's Quarries
In Bangalore's granite quarries, bonded laborers, heavily indebted to the quarry owners, work in slavelike conditions.

Lignite Mine Kolubara, Serbia, Photographs by Goran Popović
Goran Popović

Lignite Mine Kolubara, Serbia

Miners in Kolubara, Serbia, work in extreme conditions to provide energy to Serbia.

Farmworker Housing in California, Photographs by Richard Street
Richard Street

Living in the Bushes: Farmworker Housing in California

Farm workers in California live in squalid conditions due to self-sacrifice and a lack of affordable housing.

New York: Off-Off-Off-Broadway, Photographs by Zurab Getsadze
Zurab Getsadze

New York: Off-Off-Off-Broadway

Homeless people of midtown Manhattan face a lack of understanding about their everyday hardships and hopes.

Tibetan Buddhist Pilgrimage, Photographs by Andri Tambunan
Andri Tambunan

Tibetan Buddhist Pilgrimage

Since 1950 China has been moving ethnic Chinese into Tibet, and today Tibetans are an ethnic minority in their own country.
SPOTLIGHT/ March 22, 2010

Cuba: Campo Adentro
Photographs by Susan S. Bank


Pepo and Chi-chi. Photograph by Susan S. Bank

In a valley on the western side of Cuba, small farmers grow up to seventy percent of Cuba's cigar tobacco. Located in the province of Pinar del Rio, the Viñales Valley covers an area of approximately 50 square miles. Here farmers and their families work the land, without the aid of modern farming techniques or equipment.

In 2002, American photographer Susan Bank stumbled upon barrio Cuajaní, a small farming community in the Viñales Valley, while taking a break from photographing in Havana. What was originally meant to be a short side trip became a long and involved personal journey, and she returned often over the next five years to photograph ten of the families living and working in the valley.
Cuba: Campo AdentroBank's book, Cuba: Campo Adentro, shares with us the everyday agricultural life of her ten "adopted families" in the valley. The black and white images, taken with a Leica M6 and natural light, poetically depict scenes of children playing, farmers tending to crops and animals, women caring for their homes, and family members interacting. Many of Bank's photographs intertwine the figures of the human inhabitants with the land, animals, and objects in the images. A feeling of unity is created: unity of farmer and land, unity of life and work, and unity of work and play. In "Tobacco Birdman," a figure shrouded in tobacco leaves stands in the center of the image against an ominous sky. Identity masked by leaves, the human figure has become enmeshed with its surroundings, becoming one with the land. In "Hands at the net," children play behind a netted fence. Only their small, uncalloused hands are visible at the top of the net, pulling it down until the line is taut and tense. Beneath the tension of the line, the ripped net flows in the wind like a dusty cobweb.
Many of the images delicately straddle a line between documentary and poetry. As Bank says in her preface, she had to be careful to "guard against drifting into a romantic vision of a way of life that on the surface appeared to be exotic and perfectly harmonious." Beyond the poetry and romance of the images, there is a darker current that runs beneath the surface. It is in that undercurrent that Bank was successful in guarding her viewers from the romance to which she feared she herself might fall prey. Cuban art critic Juan Antonio Molina, in his essay at the end of the book, sums up this idea well with his insight: "[U]nderlying the beauty of Bank's photographs I also sense the conflicts and frustrations experienced by Cuban farmers struggling to subsist under precarious conditions. Yet these photographs compel me to conclude that between the precariousness and the poverty there is room for hope and vitality to survive."
The photographs in Cuba: Campo Adentro were taken by Bank between the years 2002 and 2007. The book is bilingual, and both the preface and Molina's essay are presented in English and Spanish. Click here for more information about Cuba: Campo Adentro.

Click here to view the exhibit.
People of Cuba
Photographs by
Jay Dorfman

People of Cuba, Photographs by Jay Dorfman
Young Cuban woman in apartment, 2009. Photo by Jay Dorfman

In Havana, Cuba, unemployment is a way of life, and those fortunate enough to have jobs rarely earn more than 30 dollars a month. Many are forced into jobs way beneath their skills. It is not uncommon to find doctors, lawyers, and other professionals driving taxis and engaged in physically laborious jobs. And yet the Cubans remain resilient. They are hospitable, open-minded, and eager to engage in conversation about their fates.

Click here to view the exhibit.

SDN News

Three Stage National Tour
Brought to you by Hasselblad and Resource Magazine

Three Stage National TourHasselblad and Resource Magazine are hitting the road together to bring today's top photographic companies to photo communities across the US. The Three Stage events will celebrate the release of Hasselblad's new H4D line of cameras, and offer photographers a hands-on and interactive experience with this and other selected equipment.
Attendees will be able to test the latest photography gear, talk with company reps, and participate in demonstrations. Each event will include "Three Stages," or three separate shooting spaces representing a different field of photography (still life, fashion, and portrait), and will end with a cocktail party.
New York City, March 25, 2010
For additional locations and more information, visit http://threestagetour.com.

Photo Awards, co-sponsored by Daylight Magazine and the Center for Documentary Studies

In recognition of their mutual interest in documentary and fine art photography, Daylight Magazine and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University have started an international competition, the Daylight/CDS Photo Awards, to honor and promote talented and committed photographers, both emerging and established. More >>

Exhibition catalog from SDN Call for Entries on global recession now available.

Photo by Mike BerubeSDN has just released the catalog of the winners from Crisis & Opportunity: Documenting the Global Recession. This full-color 32-page catalog includes a preface by Lori Grinker and a report on the global economic crisis by the Center for Economic and Social Rights, the co-publisher of this catalog.
$12.00 per copy.
Purchase online.

SDN is seeking other venues for global recession exhibition
After the debut showing at powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn of Crisis & Opportunity: Documenting the Global Recession ends in mid-March, we are looking for other venues for the exhibition. Click here for information on the Call for Entries and exhibit. For more information or to inquire about a showing, contact Glenn Ruga.
About SocialDocumentary.net
SocialDocumentary.net is a new website for photographers, NGOs, journalists, editors, and students to create and explore documentary websites investigating critical issues facing the world today. Recent exhibits have explored oil workers in the Niger River Delta, male sex workers in India, Central American immigrant women during their journey north, and Iraqi and Afghan refugees in Greece. Click here to view all of the exhibits.
Spotlight Credits
Editor: Glenn Ruga
Writer/Copy Editor: Jessica Hosman