Press & Media

DARIUSZ LABUZEK FEATURED IN GQ:

August 2016

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ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: WHISBE

December28,2015 Lifestyle by Rachel Feit

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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.

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“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

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This installation represents the 2nd installation in Dream Downtown’s art program which

previously featured an installation by renowned contemporary street artist, Shepard Fairey.

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“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

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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.
 

ARTSPACE 8 TV Teaser

A video posted by ARTSPACE 8 (@artspace8gallery) on

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.

 

TIMEOUT CHICAGO:

March 2016

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CHICAGO SOCIAL:

January/February 2016

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10 MINUTES WITH JIMMY FISHBEIN:

March 12 2012 12:30 pm

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

ECLAT INTERNATIONAL:

Holiday 2015

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Read the PDF or Download

 

ON PRISON PHOTOGRAPHY:

CAPTURING A WORLD BEHIND BARS

September 07 2016
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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.

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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.

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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?”

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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:

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“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.

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“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)

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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

behind bars.

 

DARIUSZ LABUZEK ART:

July 2016

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KRISTA HARRIS FEATURED IN NEIGHBORS:

August 2016

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