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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Tracking down the Diamonds

One of the most appealing aspects of processing an archival collection is discovering mysteries! For example: this news clipping, attached to a letter to Cornell Capa.

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Mark Diamond’s humorous dog photo essay, 1970

The article (from November 12, 1970) introduces readers to a young photographer named Mark Diamond and Diamond’s missing muse, Whitey the dog.  The handwritten note at the top of the clipping assures Cornell (as well as your concerned archivist) that the Diamond family “found the dog after the pix came out!” The article goes on to mention that Mark is a 13 year old photographer in a family that includes photojournalists. A clue!

As one might expect, Cornell Capa kept company with many photojournalists, both professionally and personally. But that still didn’t fully explain why the clipping ended up at ICP.

Our next clue is the letter that introduced the newspaper article about Mark Diamond and his (then) missing dog:

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Hindi Diamond’s introduction letter to Cornell Capa, 1970

But who was this Hindi Diamond? What became of her request, and what happened to her precocious son Mark?

My sleuthing soon led me to a December 16, 2014 Miami Herald obituary. Here was a capsule biography of Hindi Diamond, detailing her work as a journalist interviewing such figures as Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller and Argentine president Juan Perón. Hindi’s photograph of Peron (in his underwear!) was published in an 1955 issue of Life Magazine, which features a fabulous cover photograph of Carol Channing. The obit also contains a slideshow of Hindi and her work—with image credits to none other than (you guessed it) Mark Diamond!

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Life Magazine, November 28, 1955

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Juan Peron, photographed by Hindi Diamond, courtesy of Mark Diamond

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Juan Peron, photographed by Hindi Diamond, courtesy of Mark DIamond

The final element of Hindi’s letter to Cornell Capa was a handwritten “resume” of the then-14-year-old Mark Diamond, describing his multitude of photographic skills, as well as his experience and knowledge of photographic processes:

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A young talent, indeed! The dog story is mentioned in the list of “Freelance + Personal” projects, tying all the threads together – it seemed pretty clear that Mark Diamond of the Hindi Diamond letter was, indeed, the young man who wrote this resume and was featured in the newspaper article AND was certainly the source of the images of Hindi in the Miami Herald obituary.

Mark Diamond’s legacy website includes a sidebar menu eerily similar to the 46-year-old resume in our collection: 3-D photos, Holography, Holo-portraits, Animation, music images and much more.

The evidence seemed irrefutable. Even so, in the pursuit of the full truth, I sent an email to the address listed on the website. The next day I received a reply from the man himself:

“Yup that’s us. I guess I don’t remember meeting Cornell even though I was a few feet away from him in this attached jpg. If I am not mistaken it’s Cornell and my mom in Panama, uh, she was pregnant with me at the time.

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Hindi Diamond, Cornell Capa [and Mark Diamond], courtesy of Mark Diamond

…My own cursory connections with the ICP go back to the foundation of the Museum of Holography 11 Mercer Street. I too was a photojournalist and I built the first laser lab on the east coast south of NYC and migrated my image making practice to holography and 3D imaging and was a founding member and exhibitor in NYC at the museum’s opening in 1975.

…I will say that I did subsequently become either the youngest member or one of the youngest members of ASMP as shortly after that letter was written (within a couple years or less) ASMP instituted a student membership parameter, I would assume for college age budding photojournalists, and I did attend the Wilson Hicks Conference at the University of Miami as a Student Member. I was really impressionable and having people like Minor White, Arthur Rosthstein , Norman Rothchild, Duane Michals , Flip Schulke, Bruce Davidson and others talking about the craft all day for days was something I’ll never forget. I think Duane Michals made the greatest impression mainly since he was the first adult I had seen use the word “bullshit” in front of a distinguished crowd.

…Really amazing. Thanks for having the intuition and stick to it ness to ferret out this odd ephemera. My mom woulda loved you, in addition to being one of the few female shooters back then she was an ace detective when it came to getting the scoop.”

In addition to his generosity of time and information, Mark has donated a book about his mother and her life as a photojournalist to the ICP library. Be sure to stop by and check it out or view an exerept with some of Hindi’s photography here.

Many of Mark Diamond’s photographs can be viewed online. To view more about Mark and his lifetime of experimentation with imagery, you can visit his website or his blog.

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The OPC in 1968

What could possibly be hiding under there?

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Ah, there he is. . .Bob! Robert Capa!

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In 1968 the Robert Capa Award [artifact] had a new unveiling to a special select audience of the OPC – Overseas Press Club, Inc. Cornell Capa introduced the new bronze Robert Capa award to a crowded and excited room. In the room that day according to the unknown documenting photographer there was an as yet unidentified blonde woman coyly flirting with the very handsome Robert Capa trophy.

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The Robert Capa Gold Medal is an award for the “best published photographic reporting from abroad requiring exceptional courage and enterprise”. It has been awarded annually since 1955 by the Overseas Press Club of America Inc. (OPC) to a war photographer/photojournalist of merit. The award was created in honour of Robert Capa and the first Gold Medal was awarded in 1955 to Howard Sochurek. In 2015 the award was given to Bassam Khabieh. Previous winners of the prestigious Robert Capa Award include: Yung Su Kwon, James Nachtwey, Larry Burrows, W.Eugene Smith, Susan Meiselas, Steve McCurry, Christopher Morris and Carolyn Cole amongst many others. In 1969 the Robert Capa Award was given to an anonymous Czech photographer who had had his negatives smuggled out of Prague and published anonymously in The Sunday Times Magazine under the initials P. P. (Prague Photographer) for fear of reprisal to him and his family. The 1969 award winner was later revealed to be none other than the legendary Josef Koudelka.

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The Overseas Press Club of America Inc, (OPC) was founded in 1939 in New York by a group of foreign correspondents. In 1967 the Overseas Press Club of America awarded the “Robert Capa Award for Superlative still photography requiring exceptional courage and enterprise abroad” to David Douglas Duncan. The award ceremony took place in 1968 and in that year the Chairman of the Overseas Press of America Inc., was the charming Cornell Capa.

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David Douglas Duncan or DDD (born January 23, 1916 -and will be 101 in a few days) is an American photojournalist who is best known for his dramatic war images and combat photography. DDD won the Robert Capa Award of 1967 for his photograph and written story in LIFE from October 27 1967.

Program Guide for the OPC Annual Picture of the Year.

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Cornell invites John G. Morris to be a judge.

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The extremely charismatic OPC Chairman Cornell Capa ‘working the room’ at the awards ceremony in 1968.

 

 

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ASMP and the Declaration of Conscience

The American Society of Magazine Photographers (ASMP) was established in 1944 by a pair of New York based photographers. The ASMP was, and still is dedicated to connecting fellow photojournalists in order to advocate for their rights to decent wages and copyright protection.

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ASMP 1957 Picture Annual, yearly publication highlighting various ASMP members magazine work that year.

Ten years after their formation, from approximately 1954 to 1968, the ASMP was becoming increasingly  troubled by Magazine editors mistreatment of freelance photographers. Cornell Capa was particularly upset by several actions and disagreements with the staff of Time-Life. In an undated note, Capa outlines the escalating issues between photographers and Life Magazine staff members.

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Part of Cornell’s timeline of precipitating events with Time-Life staff.

  • APR. 1954: Ed Thompson releases stories five years old to staff.
  • 1957: Group of freelancers + Mackland reaches agreement to release stories in one week.
  • 1960: [Richard] Pollard [Photo editor at Time-Life] creates “contributing photographers” category with full rights to photographer. Pollard sets up Helen Fennell to assist and facilitate the sale of staff and freelancer’s stories, as a most helpful move to photographers working for Time Inc. Up to this point all signs pointed to a most liberal era of handling photographers.
  • 1962: Jim Linene’s memo abrogating all previous understandings including the “Thompson memo” of 1954.
  • 1963: The beginning of Time-Life syndication, which began the era of making arrangements to hold and sell Life stories (staff + non-staff).
  • 1964: “Time+ Life book assignments letter” requiring “all rights”
  • 1967: Abolishing of “life contributing photographer” category. Time Magazine’s memo to stringers and buileaus [sic], referring to a linen memo, requiring “all rights” to all black-white takes now.

In light of these disagreements, the ASMP Board of Governors, Cornell Capa, ASMP President Toni Ficalora, and ASMP lawyer Howard Squadron decided to draft a “Declaration of Conscience.” The Declaration was released on December 2, 1967, and included the list of resolutions decided on by the board. The Declaration highlighted the board’s desire that magazines engage in rightful payment and respect of copyright of photojournalists. Copies of the declaration and personalized letters were mailed to editors of major picture-publishing magazines, including National Geographic, Sports Illustrated and (perhaps most pointedly), Life Magazine Photography Director Richard O. Pollard.

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Draft of “A Declaration of Conscience.”

In the letter addressed to Richard Pollard, ASMP president Toni Ficalora stated:

“…For several months. the ASMP has been receiving complaints information from members and other photographers that a number of publishers — including Time, Inc. -are increasing economic pressure to retain all rights to photographs. We have received confirming evidence in the form of memos and proposed contracts prepared by various publishers. I wish I could transmit to you the feeling of sorrow I had talking to a number of photographers whose pride as artists and men have been compromised, because they have been afraid, as individuals, to express their true belief concerning ownership of their own photographs…”

On December 3rd, 1967, the Declaration of Conscience (including a list of supporting photographers) and the Photographers’ Bill of Rights was mailed to all ASMP members. Signatories to the list included such photographers as Diane Arbus and Edward Steichen, in addition to working photojournalists.

Photographers continued to contact the ASMP to add their name to the list of undersigned photographers. This letter, from Magnum Photographer Marilyn Silverstone, arrived while Silverstone was on assignment in New Delhi, India. (Marilyn Silverstone’s book Ocean of Life can be found in the ICP library! [TR790 .S55 1985])

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Photojournalist, Marilyn Silverstone’s request to be added to ASMP’s undersigned photographers

The Declaration of Conscience was published to the public in the January issue of Infinity, ASMP’s monthly magazine. Although this effort did create a dialogue between editor and photographer, the squabbles continued, and Capa ultimately departed Life Magazine in November 11, 1968.

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Cornell Capa’s copy of January 1968 issue of Infinity, including “A Declaration of Conscience” and “Photographers’ Bill of Rights”

The resignation came first in a memo to friends and colleagues wherein Capa announces “he has severed his working relations with Life Magazine and requested that his name be removed from the masthead.” In closing Capa also states, “If this impotence to be continued, we may consider the use of an epitaph on our tombstone, a quote from an unnamed assignment editor of Life: ‘Photographers will never stand together’. I did not think he was right.”

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Young Capa

Combing the Cornell Capa papers, we came across an envelope with a mysterious note. One Emery Florian from Jackson Heights, Queens writes to Edie and Cornell: cornell_capa_papers-class_portrait-01

Dear Everyone of You:

Enclosed is a very valuable photo which was taken a couple of years ago. I wish we would be that young again!

After you have enjoyed the picture, please return it or call us. I would like to introduce my wife to you – why don’t we go out one day?

Unfortunately for Florian, the photo was not returned but I hope he and his old friend were able to reconnect after relocated in the United States.

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Class of 1935-1936

Can any astute readers identify our hero, Cornell Capa? This archivist always starts by looking for those distinct eyebrows…

Keep reading to find out which young student grew up to be the founder of ICP.

Continue reading

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The Documentary Aesthetic of Walker Evans

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In the fall of 1971 there was an amazing photography lecture series hosted at NYU by the International Fund for Concerned Photography Inc.  The lecture series was the Concerned Photographer III iteration and the line-up was filled with photographic stars. A Walker Evans lecture took place on the auspicious day of November 18th 1971.

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Cornell Capa in correspondence with Walker Evans suggested “Documentary Aesthetic” as the title listing for his lecture.

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It is great to see two legends like Walker Evans and Cornell Capa in such animated conversation. I love this image of Walker Evans and his cup and his thermos beside him.

Walker Evans was having a great year in 1971. His career retrospective “Photographs by Walker Evans” images selected and installed by John Szarkowski opened at the Museum of Modern Art (January 27 through April 11, 1971) containing two hundred of his photographs from 1924 to the present.

“It is ourselves we see, ourselves lifted from a parochial setting. We see what we have not heretofore realized, ourselves made worthy in our anonymity.” — William Carlos Williams, writing about Walker Evans’ photographs (1938).

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The kids in class in 1971 looked like this. . .

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Walker Evans is one of the greatest photographers of all time and he is the documentary visionary of American photography. He is the creator of an encyclopedic visual catalogue of modern America. During the 1930s Walker Evans was one of the extraordinary photographers employed during the Depression for the Farm Security Administration’s photographic unit to record the life of the rural American poor. His work is an amazing record of twentieth century America and it is also filled with subtle poetic nuances that still resonate today. The Estate of Walker Evans handed over its entire holdings to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1994.

Some Walker Evans History & Facts

1903 November 3rd Walker Evans was born in ST. Louis, Missouri. Walker Evans grew up in Toledo, Chicago, and New York City.

1926 Walker Evans lives in Paris for a year with the intention of becoming a writer.

1927 Returns to New York and gets a job as a clerk for a stockbroker firm in Wall Street until 1929 and the economic crash.

1928 Walker Evans takes his first photographs with a small hand-held, roll-film camera.

1930 His first publication of three photographs (Brooklyn Bridge) in the poetry book The Bridge by Hart Crane.

1931 Evans completes a photo series of Victorian houses in the Boston vicinity. Evans shares studio in Greenwich Village with FSA photographer Ben Shahn (through 1932).

1933 Photographic trip to Havana, Cuba – provides illustrations for Carleton Beals’s book The Crime of Cuba. Meets with Robert Capa’s good friend Mr. Ernest Hemingway.

1935 Walker Evans begins a photographic tour of the Southern American states.

1936 July/August: three-week stay with sharecropper families in Hale County, Alabama, together with James Agee.

1938 “Walker Evans: American Photographs,” exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the first exhibition in this museum devoted to the work of a single photographer. Exhibition catalogue published with an essay by Lincoln Kirstein.

1941 “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” is published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.

1943 Articles for Time magazine (through 1944).

1945- 1965 Walker Evans works continuously as a phototgrapher for Fortune.

1948 Exhibition (retrospective) at the Art Institute of Chicago.

1950 Walker Evans produces a photo series of the American industrial landscape seen as though from the window of a moving train.

1965 Walker Evans becomes a Professor of photography on the Faculty for Graphic Design at the Yale School of Art and Architecture.

1966 “Many are Called” is published. Publication in book form of his subway photographs.

1971 Walker Evans, exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Catalog with an essay by John Szarkowski.

1971 Walker Evans lecture in the Fall at NYU as part of the Concerned Photographer III series.

1975 April 10: Walker Evans dies in New Haven, Connecticut.

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