What six of the saw. . . Part four

 

Cornell_Capa_Papers-Burroughs-005“What six of them saw” is a project from 1971 produced by the International fund for Concerned Photography. The original idea of the project was for the young photographers to work on something that they were “into”, some facet of life to investigate during their summer holidays. The age of the participants ranges from 13 to 25; they came from all over the country and their projects were extremely varied and an intriguing.

 

Robert J. Burroughs from San Diego, California from the WSTS – What Six of Them Saw project from 1971. His project began on the 4th July . . .”I will put on a pack with everything I need to survive (minus food) and stick out my thumb on interstate 5 and go wherever the cars take me. I will carry my cameras and all the Tri-X I can get my hands on and photograph the people I meet and the ones I get rides with and the places I stay and what I do. I will come back, develop the film and print the pictures if they are successful.”  Thus began “A Hitch-Hiking nomad’s Impression of his Native Land” a project that didn’t always go to plan according to the correspondence between Robert and Cornell and Robert was not entirely happy with the result. However, looking at these images today I feel that it really does capture something of this time.

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What six of them saw. . .part three

Chester Higgins, Jr 

cornell_capa_papers-higgins_jr-003.jpg“What six of them saw” is a project from 1971 produced by the International fund for Concerned Photography. The original idea of the project was for the young photographers to work on something that they were “into”, some facet of life to investigate during their summer holidays. The age of the participants ranges from 13 to 25; they came from all over the country and their projects were extremely varied and an intriguing.

Chester Higgins, Jr  was a recent graduate in Business Management from Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and these are his posts from the WSTS – What Six of Them Saw project from 1971. Chester had already published a 96 page photo essay in 1970 called “Black Woman” (McCall Publishing Company) and he was already an extremely professional and competent photographer at this point, published in many magazines including LIFE, even though he was still under 25 years old [meeting the criteria for the WSTS project].  Chester was working on his “Black Children” book for this summer project. His mother was an elementary school teacher in Alabama and he was very much deeply connected to this local community. His photographs are simply beautiful.

 

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What six of them saw. . . part two

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“What six of them saw” is a project from 1971 produced by the International fund for Concerned Photography. The original idea of the project was for the young photographers to work on something that they were “into”, some facet of life to investigate during their summer holidays. The age of the participants ranges from 13 to 25; they came from all over the country and their projects were extremely varied and an intriguing.

https://icplibrary.wordpress.com/2017/03/16/what-six-of-them-saw/

Arthur Sirdofsky was a New York City native and his work from the WSTS – What Six of Them Saw project from 1971 was “A Community Project with Apache Indians”.  It was a profound project about social change in a community that had already suffered virtual genocide, re-organization and now possible termination.  Arthur traveled into the different reservations of the Blackfoot, Ute and Whiteriver Apache and engaged with the radical movements of Indian youth like “Red Power”.  Extraordinary images

Long ago this was their summer. This was their 1971. 

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What six of them saw. . .

 

“What six of them saw” is a project from 1971 produced by the International fund for Concerned Photography and was funded by ‘modest grants’ and the financial support of the PR Company Ruder and Finn (David Finn was closely connected to the Fund and he was on the original board of the ICP in 1974). The original objective of the project was for the young photographers [Cary Wolinsky, David Coleman, Lucinda Fleeson, Chester Higgins, Jr ,  Robert J. Burroughs, Arthur Sirdofsky and Mark Strimbu]  to work on something that they were “into”, some facet of life to investigate during their summer holidays. For these six “young American photographers of varied cultural, geographic and racial backgrounds” this was a great summer of photographic exploration.

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The projects created by the “What six of them saw” group are filled with such enthusiasm and energy it is almost contagious. In the end the project was expanded to include twenty photographers. What these amazing young photographers chose to share with us about their summers was really remarkable. For me, to find these projects, which have been patiently sitting in boxes, in Cornell Capa’s Papers, for over 40 years, was truly wonderful.

What was it that made these projects so important, interesting and unique? The age of the participants ranges from 13 to 25; they came from as distant points as Marblehead, Massachusetts to San Diego, California. Their subjects range from “Conservation and Pollution”, “the Black Child”, “Summer Camp for Spastic Children”, “A Community Project with Apache Indians”, “A Hitch-Hiking nomad’s Impression of his Native Land”, “A Peurto Rican’s Search for His Own Identity”, “A Look at the Lives of a Commune’s Children” and “A Girl-Photographer’s Glorious Summer”, soaking up everything, living and working fully and creatively.  These are projects that provide such deep insight into the time in which they were created and simultaneously they highlight the beautiful timelessness and energy of youth.

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These young person’s back in time had such great awareness and concern for the world around them and for the people that they shared the world with. Their cameras explored and examined subject and material with clinical keenness. They are filled with the optimism and beauty of youth.

Long ago this was their summer. This was their 1971.

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While the project is incomplete (the archive presently does not include the work of each of the twenty photographers, nor their essays and correspondences with Cornell Capa) as it stands the project is outstanding, and a gift to come across. Nothing is ever really a complete totality in the world of archives. What we get to see all these years later is a little snapshot of a slice of time, perfectly capturing idiosyncrasies, unique impulses, and the creative space made possible by the International Fund for Concerned Photography.

Over the next few days I will be sharing some of the images from respective summer projects of some of the participating photographers. Included in this post are photographs by Cary Wolinsky.

The photographer Cary Wolinsky at the time was a recent graduate of the photojournalism program at Boston University. Cary had made a proposal to carry out two projects: One on the atmosphere and the people to be found along route one, and another project on old carnivals. In the end Cary left America altogether and he spent his summer in Ireland with Tinkers*  Cary’s summer with Irish travelers in 1971 produced a truly profound body of work. The work includes both incredible black and white images and some beautiful  kodachrome slides.

* Tinkers or Irish travelers – aka, Pavee, Minceir or in Irish Lucht Siúil, meaning literally “the walking people” they are technically not Romanies (gypsies) but there are connections between these two distinct ethnic groups.

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JAARS, The Wycliffe Bible Translators and Cornell Capa

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JAARS (Jungle Aviations And Radio Service) Pamphlet, ca. 1970s

Cornell Capa kept a long standing relationship with the Missionary group, The Wycliffe Bible Translators. Cornell traveled with this group while working with author Elisabeth Elliot for the 1961 book Savage My Kinsman, shooting for Cornell and Huxley’s 1964 photo book Farewell to Eden and Who Brought the Word (1963), a book published by the Wycliffe Bible Translators explaining their missionary and linguistic work with tribesmen.

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In 1972 Capa resumed his project with the Wycliffe Bible Translators with an updated version of Who Brought the Word titled, Language and Faith. In Language and Faith, the Wycliffe Bible Translators focus on the work they have been doing in Papua New Guinea and the JAARS program.

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JAARS pamphlet, Ca. 1970s

“JUNGLE AVIATION AND RADIO SERVICE, a department of the Wycliffe Bible Translators, was formed in 1947 in order to meet more adequately the needs of translators in remote areas of the world.

By 1960 it was apparent that a home base was need to provide adequate training for personnel, dependable preparation of materials and rapid coordination of the total program. A tract of land located south of Waxhaw, NC was chosen as a suitable area for a base. A gift of 256.4 acres by a local business man and the leasing of approximately 200 additional acres provided sufficient land. This has proven to be an excellent choice because of its central eastern location, its proximity to important distribution centers and its excellent radio reception. Center facilities border the 330 ft. runway with accompanying hangar and shops. Other buildings include shipping and purchasing, telephone equipment, administration, communications, maintenance, private homes, duplex and a mobile home park.” — Wings for Wycliffe, pamphlet c. 1970s

While Capa was capturing the images for Language and Faith, he created some amazing shots of a JAARS helicoptor arriving at a villiage located in Papua New Guinea, and the reaction of the pilots and tribes people.

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Tariri and the New York’s World’s Fair

 

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Pamphlet announcing The Pavilion of 2000 Tribes, 1964

Through the 1960’s Cornell Capa began working with a group of Christian Missionaries who were dedicated to living with and studying the language of indigenous communities, some without any written language, in order to make translations of the bible. The Missionary was founded by “Uncle Cam” or W. Cameron Townsend and the linguist project extended to two branches: Wycliffe Bible Translators and The Summer Institute of Linguistics. In 1963 and 1964 Capa traveled with these groups, mainly visiting tribes located in Peru, Mexico and other Latin American countries. Capa photographed the Missionaries and the locals and these photographs produced two very different books: Who Brought the Word published by the Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics in order to promote their work, and William Huxley and Cornell Capa’s more traditional photobook, Farewell to Eden. Unlike Who Brought the Word, Farwell to Eden illustrates, documents and attempts to preserve the lifestyle and customs of the Amahuaca tribe, located on the border of Peru and Brazil and makes no mention of the Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Capa’s “Missionary” or “Linguist” stories are deserving of multiple blog posts, he met with Peruvian students, corresponded with other missionaries and linguists and interviewed tribes people. However, I came across two fascinating snapshots to share with you. First, some background: occurring in parallel with his projects photographing the Missionary groups and the different tribes’ men and women, a proposal was sent by the Wycliffe Bible Translators to the 1964/1965 World’s Fair to host the Pavilion of 2000 Tribes in Flushing, Queens.

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Pamphlet announcing The 2000 Tribes Pavilion, 1964

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Weegee, Snow man in front of Unisphere, International Center of Photography, 13052.1993

This pavilion contained photographs and billed events and tours hosted by missionaries and tribespeople. The proposal was accepted, and became one of the permanent pavilions installed on the fairgrounds. On July 28th 1965, the fair announced that it was to be Wycliffe Bible Translators Day, and a celebration was to include Tariri, Shapra Chief of Peru as the honored guest at The Pavilion of 2000 Tribes.

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Invitation sent to Cornell Capa to attend the Wycliffe Bible Translators Day, 1965

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Note written to “Magnum Tribe” to attend Wycliffe Bible Translators Day”, 1965

Tariri was a popular figure for the Wycliffe Bible Translators, and was featured in several tracts and bulletins. In the program for the World’s Fair event, The Missionaries describe Tariri as a “former headhunter” and declare that he is now a converted Christian.

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In August of 1963, while photographing in Yarinacocha, Peru Cornell received a letter  containing a number of loose 3 ¼” negatives, with the following description:

“..The other chief with Uncle Cam is Tariri of the Shapra (Candoshi) tribe. Tariri is also in the dental chair, but his perfect teeth got only an inspection. The dentist is Robert Wildrick. The other patient is an Aguaruna – Also with excellent teeth.”

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Tariri, in dentist chair

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Aguaruna man, in dentist chair

 

Although Cornell was working closely with these missionary groups, he questioned and voiced some concern about the Worlds Fair Project in correspondence with the organizers. It seems that Capa’s involvement with the project did not go beyond updates and invitations to attend from other Missionaries and Uncle Cam, but some records show he may have photographed Tariri’s journeys across the United States.

In a report issued by the Wycliffe Bible Translators titled “ON CHIEF TARIRI’S TRIP TO THE USA AUGUST 1965” missionary Don Burns details Tariri’s trip in New York, and his travels to countries across the United States.

“…Often standing before large audiences he would be inspired to give a real sermon but would fail to pause to let the girls interpret. When they would have difficulty in rending his long sentences he would get a bit impatient. One evening, before a crowd of some 3,000 people he said. ‘Tonight I am going to talk in short, short sentences. My sister Monchanki is just a woman and it frightens her to be in front of so many people like this. Her hear is going pitter pat, pitter pat, and she’ll forget what I have said!’ When the crowd had finished a hearty laugh he added, “Well, I guess she is doing pretty well because you understood my words and laughed!” He then promptly launched into six paragraph phrases that kept Lorrie jumping.

Sometimes he would address the crowd and say, ‘Are there any headhunters or killers in this crowd? Hold up your hand!’ When no one would respond he added, ‘Well, a headhunter has just come among you and your had better listen carefully what he has to say!'”

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Ford Motor Company Report 1959

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As a group photograph I think that Cornell Capa’s Ford photograph rivals the famous Coney Island beach spectacular photograph by Weegee the famous (July 1940).  In Capa’s Ford image we see rows and rows of (mainly white) men in crisp white shirts, all smartly sporting neck ties and all proudly arranged behind the great symbol of the Ford motor car. This is Fordist logic and the paternalistic corporate model visualized.

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This image was taken at a time when the American Dream seemed like it might actually be real and obtainable to most (middle class) folks. This was an image taken in an age when Detroit was one of the richest cities in America, the car industry was booming and nothing was more American than the motor car and the road trip.

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These images were taken by Cornell Capa for the Ford Motor Company Annual Report in 1959. As well as being a Concerned Photographer Cornell like many photographers was a working photographer and earned money working for Magnum Photo Agency on various assignments all over the world. The brochure he helped to create for the Ford Motor Company is a very beautiful and well designed document. The report imagery is perfectly balanced with both colour and black and white images. The photographs in the report are as clean and crisp as the white shirts worn by the Ford Company men.

The brochure was produced at a time when everything was seemingly in the right place and the only choices that needed to be made were simple ones of vehicular choice: Should your vehicle be designed for the country, the suburbs or the city? Should you go for the Tractor or the pick-up truck or will you need both? Will it be the station wagon or sports car for you? Gasoline or diesel? Are you looking at American models for the American market or is it European models for Europe?

 

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