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Photography

The World's Best Photographers Take Us On a Journey

Photos from the latest Magnum square sale, in partnership with Aperture, where photographers were asked to pick images of theirs which fit within the theme of "crossings".

by VICE Staff
29 October 2018, 1:29pm

Ferry between Helsinki and Stockholm. Finland. 1991. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos. “In the early 80s, I was teaching in Helsinki and would often go to Stockholm for the weekend on the ferry. This would involve buying cheap alcohol and consuming it en route. The Finnish love a sauna, and this guy is popping out to catch the cool."

The legendary Magnum Photos represents some of the best photographers in the world. Yes, the "quality" of photography is very much subjective, but also: objectively, this lot are the best.

Until Friday of this week, the 2nd of November, the photo agency is doing another one of their square print sales – this time, in partnership with Aperture – where they ask their photographers to choose an image from their archives which exemplifies a specific theme, and then sell museum-quality prints of those photos for $100 (£78) a pop. This time around, that theme is "crossings".

Below are some of the photos on sale this year, with quotes from the photographers explaining why they think of them as representing the theme of "crossings".

Bruce Davidson

bruce davidson gang photo
Backseat of a car. From the series "Brooklyn Gang". New York City, USA. 1959. © Bruce Davidson / Magnum Photos

"You're looking at Lefty and his girlfriend, members of a Brooklyn gang who referred to themselves as 'The Jokers', on a trip to Bear Mountain State Park. This photograph is not meant to be risqué. These were young, teenage kids who had a great deal of spirit, energy and love in lives that were reckless, unstable and oftentimes dangerous. In the words of Pauley, who was a friend of gang member Bengie, 'We didn’t come from dysfunctional families, the whole neighbourhood was dysfunctional.'

"At the time, I thought it was a little strange to be photographing The Jokers on the way to a state park, a trip sponsored by the Youth Board. The gang was completely out of their element. No mean streets, not a worry on their minds, just time to explore themselves and their surroundings. They were free, and it was captivating."

Nan Goldin

nan goldin oxy
Drugs on the Rug, NYC, 2016. © Nan Goldin, courtesy Aperture

"I was addicted to OxyContin for four years. I overdosed but I came back. I decided to make the personal political: I've started a group called P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) to address the opioid crisis. We are a group of artists, activists and addicts that believe in direct action. We target the Sackler family, who manufactured and pushed OxyContin, through the museums and universities that carry their name. We speak for the 250,000 bodies that no longer can."

The photographer’s proceeds from the sale of this print will help fund the work of P.A.I.N.

Harry Gruyaert

Harry Gruyaert
Crossing in the Ginza district. Tokyo, Japan. 1996. © Harry Gruyaert / Magnum Photos

"Since my first trip to Tokyo in 1996, I have always been fascinated by Japan; it's so different from China or Korea. The attitude of the people is distinctive. You have an incredible sense of security: school children take the metro by themselves; you have the feeling you could leave your camera in a restaurant or a phone booth and would still find it there when you came back a few days later. There is also such a sense of discipline, like at this crossing where everybody waits patiently for the light to change before moving forward.

"Something else about Japan: nobody looks at you. It's paradise for a photographer, but after a while you wonder if you still exist."

Joel Meyerowitz

Joel Meyerowitz
New York City, 1965. © Joel Meyerowitz, courtesy Aperture

"A girl on a Vespa on her way to 'who knows where', when the light stopped her at the 72nd Street crossing near the Dakota, where John Lennon would one day cross paths with his fate. She takes this moment to finesse a fingernail before she resumes her downtown journey, while I, stopping at the same crossing, but on foot, leap into the street to capture this vision of a dream girl before time takes her on her way."

Tyler Mitchell

tyler mitchell twins flatbush
Untitled (Twins). Brooklyn, USA. 2016. © Tyler Mitchell, courtesy Aperture

"This image was shot in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn. I set out with an image in my head of black masculine freedom emanating from the pictures. And specifically, a fictional image of black men having a full and free range of expression. This started with adorning these two twins, Torey and Khorey, in pearls, fabrics and natural light to create a world where documentary and fantasy intersect."

Alex Webb

alex webb mexico us
Tijuana, Mexico. 1995 © Alex Webb / Magnum Photos

"I've long been fascinated by the transience and paradoxes of the US-Mexico border. Between 1975 and 2001, I crossed the border numerous times, photographing this unique region to try to make sense of it. Even though these two countries were culturally worlds apart, it sometimes seemed that the border region was a kind of third country between them – 2,000 miles long and ten miles wide, a place where two countries meet, sometimes easily, sometimes roughly, and often with a confounding note of surrealism. Looking back, I realise that Crossings (2003), the book I made from this work, reflects the last days of a more porous border between the United States and Mexico, so different from today's militarised border.

"In 1995, while walking through the outskirts of Tijuana, I was surprised to find this box of brightly coloured shoes, which seemed so out of place on this dusty, isolated embankment. I looked around for some kind of explanation. Was there a market here earlier – and these shoes left behind? Had women exchanged these high heels for more comfortable footwear, before heading to work in a nearby maquiladora? Or had the shoe vendor simply left during the hottest time of the day? In my bad Spanish, I asked a passerby if he knew. The old man just shrugged his shoulders.

"To this day, this surreal scene remains a mystery."

"Crossings" – Magnum's Square Print Sale in Partnership with Aperture – runs from 1PM GMT, on Monday the 29th of October until midnight EST on Friday the 2nd of November, 2018. Signed and estate stamped, museum quality, 6x6" prints from over 100 artists will exceptionally be available for $100 (£78), for five days only, from shop.magnumphotos.com.