Press & Media
DARIUSZ LABUZEK FEATURED IN GQ:
ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: WHISBE
December28,2015 Lifestyle by Rachel Feit
As part of Dream Downtown’s rotating art program, our latest installation, entitled “Variety Pack,”
is an exclusive collaboration with street artist Whisbe. The install consists of 85 12″ x 16″
vandal gummy bears which combine to make a full color spectrum. The piece will be on display at
Dream Downtown in the Swing Room through January 2016. Each Gummy bear is priced at
$1,176.46 cents totaling $100,000 for the entire installation.
“I wanted to create a piece which is both visually stimulating and interacts with the living environment
of a hotel. The opportunity to install in a room which is a blank canvas challenged me to scale my
past work and create something greater.” – Whisbe
This installation represents the 2nd installation in Dream Downtown’s art program which
previously featured an installation by renowned contemporary street artist, Shepard Fairey.
“Whisbe’s art further tells Dream’s commitment to culture and creating memorable guest
experiences at Dream Downtown. This piece is one of the most engaging we have ever installed
in the hotel and is great addition to our rotating art program”
– Rohit Anand, Director of Brand Partnerships and Activations
ABC7 INTERVIEW WITH FIDEL RODRIGUEZ
CHICAGO (WLS) — The Ñ Beat is an Emmy award- winning show that turns the spotlight on
Chicago’s vibrant Latino community… from the medical and educational fields, to the culinary
scene… and the entertainment business! ABC7’s Stacey Baca is the host. Correspondents
include Michelle Gallardo, Roz Varon, John Garcia and Rob Elgas.
Fidel Rodriguez is convinced he was born an artist. From a childhood in Venezuela, this
talented painter has made stops in the Dominican Republic, Italy and Mexico before finding
a home in the United States. He’s worked as a graphic designer and set designer along with
lighting dance companies. He’s now Director and Co-owner of ArtSpace8, a two-floor gallery
at 900 N. Michigan building.
Saturday June 18 2016 at 6pm on ABC 7. THE N BEAT is a rich tapestry of stories highlighting
the contributions of Chicago’s vibrant Latino community. The half-our program covers
everything from business to education to food and the arts. THE N BEAT is an Emmy Award-winning
series of special programs produced by ABC 7 Chicago.
10 MINUTES WITH JIMMY FISHBEIN:
March 12 2012 12:30 pm
When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?
After spending three years in college trying to find some direction in life, I picked up a camera
at home on summer break for the first time ever and decided to play around. After getting
positive feedback from none other than my mom I decided to experiment a little more. When
I went back to school the next semester I took my first photography class, which was shooting
and developing black and white film. It was the moment I first saw the image appear on
paper in the darkroom that turned me on to learning more about photography.
Who were some of the first photographers that inspired you, and who’s work are you loving now?
Being that my first full time photo-assisting job in NYC was for Arthur Elgort, it was hard not to
be inspired. He was contracted with Conde Nast publications and shot editorial spreads as well as
covers for Vogue and GQ. He also shot Cover Girl commercials and a regular lunch guest in the
studio was Cindy Crawford. Hard not to be inspired! After a full year with Arthur, I freelance assisted
for other inspiring photographers such as Bruce Weber, Matthew Jordan Smith, Ellen Von Unwerth
and George Lange. These days I don’t see much of anyone else’s work, just my own… but I’m always
trying to think outside the box and shoot in new and creative ways.
What is a typical day like for you?
First, my stop at Starbucks to meet my friend for a coffee and a laugh. Then I arrive at the
studio at nine a.m. (seven days a week) and work on managing the in-house operations and
my business relationships and until around 8pm or until I need to get some rest. The
transition from photographer to businessperson has been a long road and constantly a learning
experience. I’ve found that having a workflow for all operations is crucial to the organization
and seamless flow of everyday business-life at the studio.
f you could go back ten years and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Ten years ago I was living in New York City going on my sixth year. I had spent five years
assisting hundreds of photographers and learning everything I possibly could have about the
field. Ten years ago was my first year out on my own and I was doing everything I could have
to get started. I learned a lot about life and work in the five years of my apprenticeship and
already had the idea of moving forward and staying focused… that’s all I would tell anyone else
in terms of advice.
ON PRISON PHOTOGRAPHY:
CAPTURING A WORLD BEHIND BARS
September 07 2016
Let me start out by putting this piece into the cultural context of the United States. Incarceration
has achieved all-time high levels in terms of our own history, and in a global context as well.
According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (in 2013 reports): 2,220,300 adults were incarcerated
in US federal prisons, state prisons, and county jails–which constitutes about 0.91% of adults (1 in 110)
in the U.S. resident population. This number is truly astronomical, and there is no doubt that the
structure of the system itself has been questioned by many. One way we begin to better understand the
issues, doubts, politics, and realities of the U.S. prison system is through looking at artists, scholars,
and activists who have attempted to capture life behind bars, and report back from the field.
Jimmy Fishbein captured life in the Louisiana State Penitentiary as a part of his personal
photography series. To give a little background, LSP, which is also known as “Angola,” is a maximum
security penitentiary in Louisiana. It also happens to be the largest maximum security prison in
the U.S. to-date, with approximately 6,300 prisoners. The property is a massive 18,000 acres—and
is named after the former property, “Angola Plantations”, that used to sit upon it (named Angola, for
the country the slaves who worked on it originated from). Over 85% of the prisoners at LSP are
serving life sentences.
Fishbein’s project is one of many that uses photography to capture the lives of inmates, especially
those sentenced to life without parole—or rather, sentenced to death. In fact, LSP has been the
subject of many photographer’s personal projects. Benjamin D. Weber, an Adjunct Professor at the
University of New Orleans, collected stories from prisoners at LSP who had lost a loved one
during their time in prison, and created a website which documented these stories using both text letters,
photographs, and maps to depict memories these inmates wanted to share with the world—he entitled
his project, “Stories from Prison / Honoring Ancestors.” Weber and his undergraduate students actually
performed the commemorations that the prisoners requested, to honor the lives of their ancestors when
they could not themselves. Others, like Pete Brook, who has started a project on prison photography,
derived their interest from scholarly pursuits. Achieving his master’s in museum studies at the
University of Manchester and then moving to California, Brook became interested in prisons and
prison culture after moving to the United States. His work has taken a historical, cultural, and artistic
approach—looking first at the expansion and emergence of prisons in the United States and then
traveling across the country himself looking at photographers who were working with prison inmates
as portrait subjects. A subsequent project (other than his primary academic interest) was developing a
Prison Photography blog, where he has documented the interest of other photographers in capturing
life in prison, and explored what these kind of projects actually do in popular media and social sharing.
In speaking with LENS, a photography segment of the New York times, Brook claimed:
“It fascinates me that there is a prison system with 2.3 million people in it and no one seems to see
that as a problem. At what point was that normalized? After the prison population was quadrupled
in 30 years, when did everyone accept that as O.K.? At what point did the alternatives not matter
and not get to the table?”
Photography projects have emerged alongside of a desire to understand and perhaps advocate
for the transformation of the criminal justice system, it is a subject gaining a great deal of attention
in academic circles and beyond. Dr. James Kilgore, a professor based at the University of Illinois,
argues that legislative action ultimately holds the key to change in this system—and that this can
be achieved with bipartisan efforts. His recent book Understanding Mass Incarceration A People’s
Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time has been called a “An excellent, much-needed
introduction to the racial, political, and economic dimensions of mass incarceration” by Michelle
Alexander (an associate professor of law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law;
a civil rights advocate and writer). This text is ground-breaking in the sense that it describes and
problematizes the criminal justice system in an accessible way—something not just intended for an
academic audience, while still maintaining scholarly rigor and a deep exploration into this
convoluted cultural phenomenon. When asked about prison photography, and why these projects
have worth and impact, Pete Brook told the New York Times:
“Well, a lot of people don’t want to talk about prisons. There’s no incentive for anyone in society to
look at prisons for the failure that they are. Politicians don’t win if they appear to be soft on crime.
And then you have the media, which is after ratings. It wins by stoking up emotions. With
‘American Idol,’ it’s making people sentimental. With politics, it’s making people divided and angry.
And with crime, it’s making people afraid”.
Of course, different photographers who take on these prison-based projects have different motivators
that inspire, and they hold different stakes. Deborah Luster took portraits of Louisiana State
prisoners for their loved ones,to capture themselves as they would like to be portrayed—in the setting,
with the object, or using the expression that they personally felt represented their own bodies and
circumstances, as an act of both communication and explanation. Each prisoner also chose what
supplementary information they wanted used alongside their portrait, such as their inmate number,
date of entrance, place of birth, tattoos, birth date, sentence, or whether or not they had children.
Luster left this up for them to decide. Jamel Shabazz, who is thought of as an icon in New York, and has
achieved major commercial success, actually worked as a corrections officer at Rikers Island for 20 years.
In one of his more famous prison photographs, “Lock Down” Shabazz places himself in a cell with a
defendant who was awaiting a court hearing. As someone who worked so closely with the prison
system, his photographs take on a unique perspective:
“Throughout my career I would often place myself in this same cell to be reminded of how
my life could have been drastically different if I had not made the right choices.” —Jamel Shabazz
These are just a few of the many projects that have been grounded on an interest in criminal
justice space—whether for advocacy, art, capturing subjectivity, or social awareness. Just as these
photographers capture a certain dimension of life in prison, so to does Jimmy Fishbein capture
individuality in portraits of inmates in the LSP. After his shoot at the LSP Fishbein finds prison to
be a surreal experience. In speaking with me about the shoot he stated that these prisoners:
“Fucked up at one moment and now they are paying their entire lives. It bewilders me. I don’t know
why I feel that way but, one mistake changed their entire lives”
In addition to capturing portraits of some of the male LSP prisoners, Fishbein also had a chance
to attend and photograph the rodeo which is held once a year. It is one day out of the year that
prisoners get to let loose, get out, and be apart of the local community. Only the prisoners with the
best record are allowed to participate—that means a clean record for a year gets an inmate one
day to participate and be a part of a community event. It allows for a certain amount of release for
these individuals, a moment to play and feel a sense of freedom. Fishbein noted that these
individuals wore no helmets and no protection, and that he felt it gave these men the opportunity
to feel real, physical pain.
“The rodeo is an escape from the same drudgery day-in and day-out. The rodeo makes me
feel like I’m still alive and have some kind of control of my surroundings again, even if only
for a few seconds. I choose to do that. I’m not told by someone wearing a badge to do it.”
—Bernard Denham (LSP Inmate)
Behind bars, 2,220,300 American adults are living their lives–which is nearly 1% of our
country’s residential population. That prodigious number has certainly inspired a close look
into our criminal justice system by academics, journalists, photographers, artists, and
popular media. Often, inmates are cloaked in a veil that does not allow them to be seen. They
are criminals removed and segmented from society at large. Truthfully, this veil serves many
purposes: an illusion of safety, a system of law and consequential social order which does
not need to be seen or discussed by the law-abiding, and, of recent interest, inmate labor and
production. However, even if just for a moment in time, prison photography creates a
window on behalf of those behind the curtain to shine a light on the lives that are being lived
DARIUSZ LABUZEK ART:
KRISTA HARRIS FEATURED IN NEIGHBORS: