Sunday, 1 April 2012

A look at Photographer Kevin Kunishi

All photographs in this post are Kevin Kunishi’s who holds copyright to these images, you can view the rest of his work at his website here.

The grave of Benjamin Linden

I don’t remember what publication notified me of the work of Kevin Kunishi, it could of been Foam, it might have even been Vice, (in fact a google search reveals that it was Hey Hot Shot!). Now that I can recall, this photographer who studied History first 10 years prior to a MFA in Photography at San Francisco has certainly interested me a great deal. 
I begun looking at his project Los restos de la revolucion, a body of work that looks at his prolonged stay in the highlands of Northern Nicaragua, studying Sandinistas and their opposing Contra veterans.
His artist statement is as follows;
After receiving my undergraduate degree with an emphasis on U.S. foreign policy in Central America, I wanted to move beyond the broad recital of policy and ideology within textbooks and explore the personal experiences of individuals directly affected by those policies. This body of work was created between the years 2009 and 2011, during a prolonged stay in the highlands of Northern Nicaragua. These photographs are from a larger series consisting of portraits of Sandinistas and their opposing Contra veterans, as well as artifacts and landscapes significant to the civil war that took place in Nicaragua during the 1980s. In 1979, after over a decade of struggle, the socialist Sandinista movement in Nicaragua overthrew the dictator, Anastasio Somoza. The Sandinistas quickly began the work of applying their social and ideological values in the hopes of creating a better Nicaragua. Unfortunately, the United States government had other plans. In the cold war environment of the 1980s, the prospect of a socialist/communist government gaining a foothold in Central America was deemed unacceptable. The CIA began financing, arming and training a clandestine rebel insurgency to destabilize the government. These anti-Sandinista guerrillas became known as Contras. Between 1980 and 1990, Nicaragua became the battleground of conflicting political ideologies; the promise of a bright future was lost as the nation descended into civil war. Although these two sides held polarized political philosophies, their survivors are united by the burden of a war-torn history. As political ideology evolves, dilutes or disappears, the horrors of war endure.
              • Kevin Kunishi 

This is just a few from Los Restos de la Revolucion the full work is here

The photographs that came from Los Restos de la Revolucion told a narrative of exactly what was going on there. Visually Kunishi uses photography as a tool and is not held back in any way, producing and combining moving portraits, focused still life’s, and beautiful landscapes. I was very captivated from viewing Los Restos de la Revolucion that I almost missed out on some of his other projects and his portraits.

The portrait of Carlos, only has one actual portrait photograph, and the other two are still life photographs. I find the way he has documented this is 100% effective. A portrait is also about where a person lives, and what a person owns and their interests. It is hard to capture all of that in one image, Kevin Kunishi composes the portrait of Carlos in between a what could the place where Carlos sleeps and a photograph of a hand-made boat imitation. 
It made me think about the way I have been laying my own work out, something that is just as important as the content of the image. You want it to be at its most effective stage, because of the lost ownership of the work once handed over to the audience.

Here is Kunishi's feature in Hey Hot Shot!  

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