stefano giovannini's journals

photos and stories from new york and elsewhere

Haiti, La Font. Food distribution. Spaghetti lunch, Soccer team.

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La Font, Haiti

September 16, 2008

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People kept telling me they were hungry. I was in La Font , an hamlet up on the hills a few kilometers outside Jacmel.

The river had flooded and the hurricanes destroyed most of the banana crops.

The day had started early in Jacmel. 7 am coffee from the lady outside with my host Dodo and his friends. The judge from across the street wanted to take my picture. Photography was his hobby and had a few old computer in his house. Due to the state semi permanent blackout he could only use a few hours every few days.

A guy was wearing a "No Wave - Lower East Side" T shirt from the 80s. He could not understand why I wanted to take that photo. In Haiti I saw the most amazing T Shirts that probably here would be sold as vintage at Urban Outfitters.

So I took a moto taxi to La Font. 10 minutes of bumpy ride on uphill dirt roads.

The Haitian Red Cross was unloading big heavy bags of soy, a gift from Canada,  to distribute to the hungry rural people of the area.

As I had press credential they told me at some point I could not shoot the operation.

I walked around, hungry people telling their story, willing to be photographed with a proud look on their face.

A family down the street had a small convenience store business. I liked their home painted light blue with white dots with the family tomb/mausoleum beside.

The daughter made some really good spaghetti for me. Al dente and spicy.

A local amateur soccer team stopped by. They mentioned Maradona's " Hand of God" referring to that goal he infamously scored at the World Cup in Mexico back years ago.

Their dream was to have a uniform for their team.  Everyone at the moment could wear all different jerseys.

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April 15th, 2009 at 3:15 pm

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Jewish Satmar kids and Mexican delivery man bike crash

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April 09, 2010

I was biking bike home and I turned left from Myrtle ave into Skillman instead of the usual Bedford ave. The traffic was stopped and I could see a crowd around a schoolbus.

A Mexican delivery person on a bike got hit by school bus. He appeared unhurt but shocked as he almost got ran over. He filed no report with the police. He needed an interpreter as he spoke no english even if he worked for the  kosher butcher Simon's just around the corner. The Hasidic  kids surrounded me as they wanted to see the pictures I took. They appeared very curious after an initial suspicion. I had to tell them I was not Jewish and from Italy which is in Europe and it was a bit confusing, I asked the kids how many siblings they had and they replied "between 3 and 4 or so". But someone said they know of a family of 15 kids and another one where the israeli mother has 20 children.

They wanted my business card but I told them I could only give it to a parent. There was a mother with a balck turban at the window, I gave her my info and told her I would email the photos.

A few blocks down took photo of chair in the window and hasidic woman told me it would be a nicer picture if her 2 year old daughter would be sitting on it but she was now asleep.

I remember in 1997 I was going to a loft party in the area and the Hasidic women would not even stop when I asked for directions. Now they are ok at being photographed sometimes and have Mexicans with big crosses on their chests working for them by doing deliveries or selling flowers.

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April 10th, 2010 at 7:27 am

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Dollar van, Flatbush avenue

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April 09, 2010

I took a dollar van on Flatbush avenue. Private vans pick up and drop off passengers for a dollar between Kings Plaza and Downtown Brooklyn. The subway stops at avenue I and MTA buses are slow and not very frequent. Some vans are legit and licensed while some are not. You can tell just by looking at the license plate.

In the West Indian neighborhood private drivers imported the transportation concept of their native countries like the Tap Tap in Haiti and the Route Taxis in Jamaica.

Toanna Nixon of Flatbush got on the dollar van after the gym and said: "I take the dollar van because it is easy to commute from home to work and it is perfect to take when I am running late".

Torianna E. Merritt got on to go to work at Kings Plaza: "I ride the dollar van because it's convenient. They get me to work as quick as possible. They don't make as many stops as the city bus. I am a make-up artist so sometimes I need to finish my face on my way to work. It is a challenge but I get the job done."

The driver is Winston Williams. He runs the company which includes other vans and drivers.

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April 10th, 2010 at 7:13 am

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Kim Gordon art opening. Upper East Side Champagne.

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Gallery on E64th and Madison. Hard to see from the street but a whole townhouse. Veuve Cliquot Champagne and words on the wall. Old friends and acquaintances here and there. Got there too early biking from Gravesend Brooklyn after a brief stop at home. Some water and countless of glasses of champagne, after which I could not drink the too sweet Prosecco,

Artist Tony Oursler had a show in Milan just before I moved to NYC. I remember the opening after party at Bar Jamaica. Chloe Sevigny told me she has still one of my photos on her wall. I remember the day I moved to NYC getting off teh subway and walking up on E7th street with my life in a couple of suitcases on wheels.

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April 8th, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Good Friday Procession in Carroll Gardens.

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Good Friday Procession in Carrol Gardens on April 2nd, 2010.

Italian immigrants from Mola di Bari have been doing this procession every year since 1948. They all came 60 years ago from the same small fishing village in the deep south of Italy. Many families moved away from Brooklyn but they all come every year. They were happy to speak to me in Italian, but when they spoke their dialect among themselves I could not really understand what they were talking about.

I ran into Mr. Buddy Scotto that owns a succesful funeral home. He grew up in Brooklyn in the 1930 from Sicilian immigrants. His parents did not teach him Italian as they wanted to assimilate. At the time there was a lot of racism against the Irish, Italians and Jews.

Outside the church the old Italians from Mola were joking saying that Mr Scotto is not Italian, he is a Sicilian.

I went to the social club on Court st. You could only be a member if you were from Mola di Bari or Puglia I remember someone told me 3 years ago.

The procession looked like something frozen in time. All the women were dressed in black and they were chanting prayers while walking with a candle in their hands. It looked like a funeral from another era.

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April 6th, 2010 at 1:11 pm

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Sonic Youth fans. For show at Colette gallery, Paris.

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A  selection of photos I took in the past couple of years at Sonic Youth shows. For the most part of these gigs the band on stage was in the shade. Moving images being projected in the background and spot lights from behind. The audience in the front was often lit up and I started to take photos of these faces that could appear joyful, ecstatic, raptured.

from the Colette show Release:

http://www.colette.fr/#/a/581/now/5/galerie/13/bientot/

Music Loves You" April 6-30, 2010

Colette Gallery - 213 rue Saint-Honoré 75001 Paris  www.colette.fr

Concerts Crowd Photography by Beck, Drew Carolan Josh Cheuse,  Lenny Kravitz, Nick Zinner, Philip Andelman, Poppy De Villeneuve, Stefano Giovannini.

Music Loves You began from a desire to talk about music, artists, fans, and in a larger sense, all that surrounds concerts. The desire to show all those moments where an artist and his public become one. Here is an exhibition that deals with all these things, through snapshots taken by photographers, but also by the artists themselves. A tribute to all that contribute to make a concert so special and unforgettable."

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April 6th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

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Pre-Passover. Rain and fire in Hasidic Williamsburg

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Pre Passover/Pesach celebration in the Satmar section of Williamsburg. Religious jews burn leftover food that is forbidden during Passover. Mostly leavened bread and container.

Small fires scattered around the neighborhood. More people joined and threw boxes containing various items. I saw even brooms and toasters in the burning pyre.

Fire alarms went off and a truck of FDNY ladder 11 extinguished the flame. I had a good photo of that but the fireman realized that he was not wearing his helmet and might get in trouble if the picture ends up in a paper.

A man posed for me and told me I could take his picture standing in front of others.

Other hasids asked me if I had a card and a website.

The fire at some point was hot and the smoke was toxic. It dried my pants but my feet and socks remained soaked and made me smell like a chimney sweeper.


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March 29th, 2010 at 11:07 am

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Vodou Ceremony for Damballah. Newkirk ave Brooklyn NY

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Vodou celebration for Damballa (sometimes represented by St Patrick) in East Flatbush.

Many Vodou celebrations have been cancelled after the quake in Port au Prince. The woman that gave me a plate of rice and beans at the end of the ceremony told me with teary eyes that she had lost family and friends.

There were many young kids, especially the priest's daughter being active part of the ceremony.

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March 21st, 2010 at 2:13 pm

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The Mayor and Beyoncé Knowles

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Hard to shoot at some crowded press conference photo op. A ton of photographers and videographers nervous and jumpy carrying expensive  heavy cameras and a folding step stool.

My camera is not as fast as a Nikon D3, so it makes me think about how to get a shot that is not a photocopy of a photo op reality show.

At least I do not have to carry a ladder on my backpack and no heavy telephoto lenses as I just find it nicer to get close.

I do not know much about Beyoncé Knowles. She was here to let the media know about her cosmetology school that will possibly offer opportunities to people that have difficulties in finding a career path and having a satisfying life.

Beyoncé Knowles looked exactly how she appear on magazine covers. Perfect make up and fake eye lashes.

I am more attracted to more natural looks.

A reporter found ironic that she was giving this press conference at some addiction recovery program location, and her school was targeted to many recovering addicts while her partner Jay-Z songs are all about drugs.

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March 16th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Holocaust Survivors lunch

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Coney Island Avenue and Avenue K, Brooklyn NY

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Josef Ostrowicz was in the Warsaw ghetto for 2 years. after the war he was one of the founders of Israel. He has been married with Galina, originally from Russia, for 18 years. They speak Hebrew, Yiddish, German, Polish, Russian but almost no English. 5 years ago they moved to the USA, Benson Hurst Brooklyn. She said the services and support for the Holocaust survivors is much better in the USA than in Israel.

The 2 ladies became friends at the concentration camp, the person from the organization told me. She told me they would not let me take their picture, she could not take a photo of them herself. But when I asked they said yes and they even gave me their first / last name.

We ate some chicken and vegetables. I asked Joseph, the holocaust survivor if he only ate kosher and he said no with a smile. But I wonder if we got lost in translation.

I told his wife I love Borodinsky bread. She asked me why I like that. she said Kiev bread is a lot better and that I should learn Russian or Hebrew so we could have a conversation.

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March 16th, 2010 at 11:25 am

Jamaica + Haiti exhibit at Habana Outpost – Brooklyn NY [June 29 to July 13]

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Last minute show after my quick but dense trip to Jamaica.habanaflier- haiti + jamaica-email

an instinctive edit.

Opening at Habana Outpost on Monday 29th of June. 6 to 9 pm

757 Fulton street in the Ft Greene section of Brooklyn NY.

pass it around

http://cafehabanablog.wordpress.com/

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=113901361404&ref=nf

“A display of photos I took on my trips to Jacmel, Haiti and the West End of Jamaica.

In September I spent 2 weeks in the South East of Haiti. The town of Jacmel had been hit by 4 hurricanes. Food crops and many homes had been wrecked by storms and floods. I witnessed the daily life of different people. Daily struggle combined with dignity and passion.

This June I spent a week in the West end of Jamaica. The town of Negril with the contrast between the inclusive resorts with partying tourists and the peace of the countryside and the west end. I rented a bicycle and went over the mountains on the other side of the west end. I met people that shared food and stories. Windswept rocky coasts, goat trails and mountains with lush mango trees.

15 miles away from Negril, a different reality”

Prints will be for sale at affordable prices.

I will use part of the net profits to send some additional funds to Guerline Laguerre.  A single pregnant  Haitian woman I met on the beach in Jacmel.

I  raised money through Facebook fundraiser so she could pay for  a Cesarian section delivery as in Haiti health care is not free.

She now has a baby daughter she named Stefania and very little money for food.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=43964902495

Another part of the sale will help me cover the costs to send photos back to all the nice people of Jamaica that showed me a bit of their lives. Many had no camera nor many photos of themselves. They loved the idea of having a good photo of themselves.

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June 27th, 2009 at 7:59 am