Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – 26 February 2021

This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – two exhibitions, one in gallery and one virtual (that’s the world we are now in folks). The “in gallery” exhibition is “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” a survey covering 40 years of Australian documentary photographer Ruth Maddison’s practice. This show opens today at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP) in Melbourne, part of Photo2021. The virtual show, LAPD 1994, is being hosted by the Bronx Documentary Center in New York and features photographs by American Joseph Rodríguez from his new book of the same name.

A reminder too, if you haven’t already, please check out the latest video interview for Photojournalism Now: In Conversation with James Whitlow Delano.

Gallery Exhibition:

Ruth Maddison at CCP

1981/2020 Hiroshima Day, Melbourne. Pigment print from scanned black and white negative. Hand coloured and digitally enhanced (C) Ruth Maddison

“From an early age, Ruth Maddison knew her father, Sam Goldbloom, was being watched. “He used to tell us not to worry about the men sitting in the car in front of the house … we were aware the clicks on the phone meant ‘they’ were listening too,” the award-winning Melbourne-born photographer says”… this is how my article for The Guardian on Maddison’s new show begins. Published yesterday. Read the full story here. I loved writing this piece. Maddison was so generous with her time and her stories. The survey – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” opens at CCP tonight and runs until April.

Virtual Exhibition & Book:

LAPD 1994 – Joseph Rodríguez

After the brutal assault on Rodney King at the hands of the LAPD in 1991 which was captured on video, and the ensuing riots when the officers’ were acquitted the following year, the LAPD was keen to repair its image. Photographer Joseph Rodríguez was invited to ride along with officers for a New York Times piece, “Wanted: A Kinder, Gentler Cop” which was published in 1995. These photographs appear in Rodríguez new book, LAPD 1994.

Celebrating the launch of the book is a virtual exhibition at the Bronx Documentary Center (BDC), Curated by BDC’s Michael Kamber and Cynthia Rivera, the exhibition, and book, provide an up-close and personal look at the LAPD, its officers, and “the victims and violent perpetrators in working-class communities of Pico Union, Rampart, and South Central Los Angeles.” Rodríguez spent weeks with the officers of the 77th Street, Pacific and Rampart Divisions, the latter now infamous as the station embroiled in the “biggest scandal in LAPD history” one that involved murder, robbery, and drugs.

Rampart Division Officers detaining an arrested woman.© Joseph Rodriguez
Officer Llanes and his partner check out a garage where a man who was sleeping and using drugs there in the cabinets.© Joseph Rodriguez
Los Angeles police officers (Rampart division) are feeling the heat from all sides: from the mayor, from their superiors and from citizens like this man, who was assaulted by gang members and complained about the lack of police protection. This is the original caption that ran in NYT Magazine January 22,1995.© Joseph Rodriguez
Rampart officers search an abandoned motel for a murder suspect. The building is just a few blocks from Charlie Chaplin’s old mansion.© Joseph Rodriguez

As Rubén Martínez writes in the introduction to the book, Rodríguez’s body of work visually encompasses, “another moment that tore open the soul of America” and is evidence of the journey that has led the country to the point it currently finds itself. Rodríguez’s photographs are raw, capturing intense situations that play out daily on the streets of LA. The energy and menace in some of the photographs is literally breathtaking. Yet Rodríguez does not allow the drama to supplant the fact that police are humans too and at times deal with scenarios that are soul-destroying. It is a fascinating collection of pictures that will no doubt spark much-needed conversations.

Murder suspect is arrested as his family watches.© Joseph Rodriguez
Officer Hoskins responds to a car accident, truck has turned over to its side and driver and passenger were locked in. Hoskins tries to pry the door open.© Joseph Rodriguez

LAPD 1994 by Joseph Rodríguez Foreword by Lauren Lee White Introduction by Rubén Martínez. Published by The Artist Edition.

View the exhibition at BDC here.

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