Bocafloja in the Borderlands

I attended the Bocafloja concert in Phoenix, Ariz. last Thursday. The Mexico City artist narrates the experience of the body of the oppressed as a vehicle of transgression to hegemonic structures in his most recent album Patologías del Invisible Incómodo, released in 2012. Thank you wikipedia for condensing something so complex into one sentence. The concert was held at the Herberger Theater and put on by the ASU borderlands initiative which is putting on some of the most unique shows you could see in the greater Phoenix area.

Chandler Fashion Center for a day

I spent Saturday shooting an event for Haute photography at the Chandler Fashion Center in Chandler, Ariz. There is something really fun about the eagerness of all these kids who patiently sat in line for hours to see Stefanie Scott from the t.v. show Ant Farm. I think malls are such an original American experience and this Saturday definitely reminded me of that.

Nintendo!

I had a chance this weekend to photograph the Play Nintendo Tour at Arrowhead Towne Center this weekend. Several games, most of which I never played, were out for kids and adults to try out. I think I’ve spent less than a day playing video games in my lifetime so it was a fun experience to see how many young and old fans came out. From toadstool babies to grown Zelda fans.

ASTRA toy convention

I recently shot at the ASTRA toy convention where attendees were able to go and put together toy kits from various different companies. So much fun for an adult to put together kits! Some of these were great exercises in creativity while learning how to follow directions.

Comicon is the Best Thing

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It’s a bit late, but I wanted to post some photographs from this years Phoenix Comicon in Downtown Phoenix. I found that Wiki had an interesting history and background on the San Diego Comicon which first convened in 1970. I have to say this was my first visit, but I loved it. The creativity and freedom of expression through creating your individual costumes or dressing up as your favorite characters was such a wonderful change of pace. Doubled with the intense Arizona heat and bright light, it was just such visual fun. I hope in the future to shoot again and spend more time shooting.

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A trip to the Navajo Reservation at Monument Valley

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We got the chance to travel with Humphrey Fellows from Arizona State University to visit the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona/Utah. During the trip we were given a tour of monument valley, including different rock formations and mountains before dinner and some traditional dancing and ending the night in a traditional hogan. I was able to shoot some photographs of the fellows enjoying their trip and tour, I wish I had more images, but there are too many to share. I shot some night images before the moon rose and some of the cloud streaks are jet streams that continued throughout the night. We finished up the visit with a group portrait which turned out okay given the ridiculous nature of the Arizona sun.

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Arizona Literature

I am considering myself lucky this week. Yesterday I attended a talk/reading held by Alberto Rios, Arizona’s first poet laureate, at the Phoenix Public Library. Rios joins the “Peacemaker,” palo verde and the bolo-tie as things so purely Arizonan they are actually recognized as unique representations of the Arizona experience. Some examples of Rio’s work can be found here.  He spoke to the role in language and the relativity of experience growing up in a mixed culture.

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And today I drove down to Tucson to see Junot Diaz speak, a MacArthur Genius grant recipient, who is a writer that speaks to the immigrant experience (though that is a very quick and superficial description of his work). His social thought and perception of larger issues of masculinity, relationships and love in our larger American (immigrant) culture are prominent in his writing but weaves itself fluidly into his writing.

I read his books while living in my village in Samuteba, Zambia during my Peace Corps service. I found myself consuming, figuratively but borderline literally, a book a day. I stumbled on  The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao which spoke to me differently than Crime and Punishment, Lolita or the multitude of other books.

I managed to find Drown and bought This is How You Lose Her in Nairobi and spent $25 on the book, an 1/8 of my monthly stipend. I could continue writing about what a great author he is, but reading the book is best.

 

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Late Puente Protest in Phoenix

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Realize this post is a bit overdue, but on Wednesday April 2rd I had my students meet at the Puente organized protest in front of ICE so they could have a chance to shoot the marchers as they started their 70 plus mile journey to Eloy, Ariz. The photo above is of three of my students photographing from a light post and palo verde to get a slightly higher vantage point of the press conference that preceded the march. You can see their photographs at the class flicker page here.


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Randomly after a protest against deportation I met a group of refugees undergoing a training on how to use the valley metro system. So at one point all the Puente protesters were occupying the street corner, some who aren’t legal residents in the U.S. while at the same corner the newest immigrants, legally and through much hardship explored downtown Phoenix. 

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Senators and American Longspurs at Crescent Ballroom

Saturday night I had a great chance to see some local music live at the Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix. Usually when someone brings up Arizona and senators I brace myself for the worst intentions or just odd uses of time, so imagine what a truly wonderful surprise it was to hear the Senators play. They are an amazing local group and they played along with the American Longspurs whose photographs are featured first. Being home I constantly miss the music I listened to in Zambia. It was a completely different type of music, rooted with strong beats or religious sense and playing from early morning to late evenings with artists like Mampi or the religious Zambian gospel music. For good measure I lived in Lunda land and you could hear this music playing from the first Bamayo rising to the last person tumbling into bed.

 

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The photographs below are of the Senators and you can see some of their music here. The Crescent Ballroom venue has beautiful lighting and it really showed how great the 5D MarkIII handles low lighting situations.

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Fans listen to music below:

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Santa Rita Center, si se puede y Cesar Chavez

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Today several organizers that worked with Cesar Chavez at the Santa Rita Center in downtown Phoenix spoke to children from Herrera Elementary School. They touched upon their memories with Chavez and the origin of the phrase “Si Se Puede” which has become a focal point of modern day Latino organizing. Chavez always supported Aztec dancers and the day began with two young women going by the names Tonatzin dancing. Later Jose Cortez and other organizers took the front to speak to sixth grade students about their history with Chavez. What struck me was by the emotion that still hung in their voices 42 years after Chavez’s 24-day fast and their urging for children to look up to this figure who in many non-Latino communities is not well known. Organizers spoke about their experience working in the fields, organizing communities to strike and demonstrate together. At one point organizers spoke of the terrible conditions farm workers faced and described weeding on their knees for hours on end. They asked the children to get down and attempt to pick up stones from the ground on their knees and of course the children laughed at the novelty of the experience, it was so outside the realm of their own experience. Some children later said they wanted to be like Cesar Chavez and when asked, responded that they were good leaders. There was such true happiness exuding from the organizers at hearing these words, they stressed that we can be good followers but leaders, strong leaders like Chavez, were hard to find. One speaker provided quotes from Chavez, prompting me to search his other quotes. This one stuck in my mind:

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”

The Santa Rita Center is being considered in a federal proposal as a site to honor Cesar Chavez Phoenix Historical Property Register. Currently it holds a variety of murals, but there is no running water and electricity as shown in the silhouette photograph. It was a site of such importance for a generation, it will be interesting to see what it becomes for future generations.

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