This story appears in the December issue of VICE magazine.
Astra Taylor is a documentary filmmaker, writer, and political organizer. She is the director of two films about philosophy, Zizek! and Examined Life, and a contributor to the Baffler, n+1, the London Review of Books, the Nation, and the New York Times. Earlier this year, she won an American Book Award for The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age. Astra also co-founded the Debt Collective, a 21st-century debtors' union, and she's part of the team behind the Rolling Jubilee, which has liquidated more than $30 million in medical and educational debt for people across the United States. Badass.
READ: Here He Comes
Andrew Miksys is a photographer currently splitting his time between the US and Lithuania. His work has appeared at the Seattle Art Museum, Vilnius's Contemporary Art Center, Amsterdam's De Appel Arts Center, and elsewhere around the world, and he's the recipient of grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Fulbright Program, and the Aaron Siskind Foundation. For his new book, Tulips, Andrew journeyed to Belarus to document the country's ongoing love affair with Stalinism. As if traveling back in time, he photographed Stalin-themed amusement parks, fanboys dressed in vintage Soviet uniforms, and revelers handing out red tulips at parades.
Stacy Kranitz's photos have appeared in numerous publications internationally, including VICE. Throughout her career, she has explored how history and otherness are represented in photography, and her latest portfolio, set in Appalachia, is no exception. Working with local writers, Stacy traveled through Appalachia in hopes of reversing the stereotypes that have plagued the region since Lyndon B. Johnson made it the focal point of his War on Poverty. She investigated drug abuse in the mountains, the decline of the coal industry, and biases surrounding "hillbilly" culture. We're excited to feature highlights from the ongoing series, which premiered in our 2015 Photo Issue.
SEE: Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down
Jake Hooker taught English for two years in southwestern China as a volunteer for the Peace Corps and then worked as a translator at a small health clinic for Tibetan nomads and farmers in Qinghai Province. Afterward, he joined the Beijing Bureau of the New York Times as a researcher. He was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for a group of news stories on a drug ingredient, made in China, that was responsible for mass poisonings throughout the world. Nowadays he's working on fiction, and we're proud to publish his debut story, a travelogue about scorpion hunters and dead child brides.
READ: The Yellow River
Jason Jaworski is the photographer responsible for both our cover and our Full Bleed column this month. Currently based in Los Angeles, Jaworski is a seasoned traveler known for immersing himself in batshit-crazy scenarios to get amazing photos. For the images featured in this issue, he befriended a little person with a revolver at a bar called Dimples in the Philippines who gave him tours of the Manila slums for two weeks. They blew up cars, dressed as women, and set off fake-blood packets. Jason got home with 40 rolls of film that he processed and slapped together into an amazing book called Labyrinth, which is now available at Dashwood Books.
SEE: Full Bleed
JUAN CAMILO MALDONADO TOVAR
Juan Camilo Maldonado Tovar slaved away for seven years at Colombia's most respected newspaper, El Espectador, until we rescued him and made him editor-in-chief of VICE Colombia. For this issue, he got the super-rare opportunity to spend a week in the jungle with his country's most notorious guerrillas, the FARC. He almost blew the whole assignment before he even got there—two of his crew's SUVs got stuck in the mud somewhere in the mountains. The cars were in such bad shape that Avis had to come and tow them. "Avis must have sent a pretty expensive bill to VICE's headquarters!" Juan told us. Yes, Juan, they did.
READ: Guerillas in the Mist