Beautiful photographs can be momentary. They can exist without context, surviving simply because the composition was thoughtfully constructed. These are everywhere. What is so rare and much more difficult to achieve is making a beautiful photograph that evokes within it the the soul of subject, the intention of the artist, and sometime later, the empathy and awe of the viewer. This is what Burk Uzzle does so well.
f/11 and Be There is a feature length documentary about both the history of Burk Uzzle's photographic legacy, and his contemporary photographic work which continues today. Seriously, as you read this, he is either taking a portrait in his studio, or working out the idea for one during his 4am daily bike ride.
Just the history of Burk Uzzle's photographic work, told in his words, through his eyes, would have made for a great film. Though here he is, more than 60 years after he began taking pictures, as vibrant and relevant an artist as he's ever been. Burk is a photographer who who recorded many of the 20 century’s defining moments in pictures - the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King Jr’s life and funeral, the war in Viet Nam, the Cambodian killing fields and the festival at Woodstock. In his archive, there are portraits of Robert Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Hunter S. Thompson, Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Gates, Robin Williams, Joan Baez, The Rolling Stones, and the list goes on ad infinitum.
During the process of making this film, it has been easy to see that the way in which Burk Uzzle approaches the photographic process is ontological - it is a way of being. He does not merely use his technical wizardry and vast experience to photograph a subject in an interesting way, rather, he is endlessly seeking to present the aura of the individual through a picture. His artistry continues to connect us with appreciation and understanding of the anima of a particular place or person. f/11 and Be There is a film about how he locates core moments that amplify how we see our collective selves, values, and communities. A current project documenting the African-American South is a prism into his affinities and priorities, and his belief that portraiture is still a new frontier in photography.
This film is currently in production through April of 2017. Most of the production will be in and around Burk's home and studio in Wilson, North Carolina, with some shoots in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and New York City. Burk and Jethro will take a road trip across the US in March of 2017, capturing landscapes and making portraits.
Burk Uzzle’s career, like his pictures, is a nuanced composition blending American culture, individual psyches of particular places or people, and an atypical way of seeing ourselves, our values, and our community. Always respectful yet locating the poignant or quirky, the history of his narrative belongs to all of us.
Initially grounded in documentary photography when he was the youngest photographer ever hired by LIFE magazine at age 23, his work then grew into a combination of split-second impressions reflecting the human condition during his tenure as a member of the prestigious international Magnum cooperative founded by one of his mentors Henri Cartier-Bresson. For fifteen years, Uzzle was an active contributor to the evolution of the organization and served as its President in 1979 and 1980. During the sixteen years he was associated with Magnum, he produced some of the most recognizable images we have of Woodstock (album cover and worldwide reproduction of its iconic couple hugging at dawn) to the assassination and funeral of Martin Luther King Jr. to our comprehension for the experience of Cambodian war refugees.
His archive spans almost six decades. His current work rests deep in photographic appreciation of the quiet, strong, and eloquent beauty he discovers in America’s small towns and its people. Uzzle’s current body of work is the production of artful and constructed reflections of his subjects, many of whom are African-American residents proximal to his studio in North Carolina. Their layers of experience are conjoined with Uzzle’s fundamental appreciation for unseen characteristics, which he ably captures in a collaborative, interpretive context along with his eye and his heart. interpretation, of art, of independently produced projects.
David is a film-maker, artist, art collector and curator.
He directs and produces films that primarily have a socially conscious message. He is currently co-directing and producing two documentaries in Vietnam with artist Trong Nguyen; DONG and The Last Letter Writer and one in the US with Jethro Waters; f/11 and Be There.
A sampling of film’s that David executive produced include; Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America, directed by Tony Stone, premiered at the 2007 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and won the jury prize at the 2007 Leeds Film Festival. It was greeted with widespread critical acclaim upon it's theatrical release and has become a cult classic. The Toe Tactic, directed by Emily Hubley was greeted with such enthusiasm by the Museum of Modern Art that they not only asked to have their name on the film, but they also purchased a print for their permanent collection. Graceland, directed by Ron Morales, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2012 and was distributed theatrically in the United States in the spring of 2013. Two films by Andrew Dosunmu, Restless City(2011) and Mother of George (2013), premiered at Sundanceand both were distributed theatrically.
In 2012 he directed, wrote and produced his first short, The Leaf about an encounter he had on a New York street.
He has been an internationally recognized collector of contemporary and vintage photographic works for over twenty years. Numerous publications, including Art and Antiques and the Art Market Guide, have named David as a top-100 American collector. In 2008, Worth Magazine profiled his collecting habits. In 2007, the Cleveland Museum of Art acquired and was gifted a portion of his surrealist and modernist photography collection. The exhibition, Forbidden Games; Surrealist and Modernist Photography, The David Raymond Collection opened in the fall of 2014-2015 at the CMA and a catalogue was co-published by the CMA and Yale University Press. From 2000-2004, he served as an advisor to the Getty Museum and helped them put together their Dorothea Lange and Manuel Alvarez Bravo collections. In 2006, he served as the Artistic Director for Magnum Photo's Paris Photo presence. He was a portfolio reviewer and lecturer at the 2008 Festival de la Luz in Buenos Aires, Fotofest 2010 and 2012 in Houston and the MIA fair in Milan in 2013. David creates art in addition to collecting and supporting it. He is both a photographer and a video maker and his video works have been shown in New York, Paris, Berlin, Los Angeles and Miami. In 2011, a show of his conceptual work, Other People's Pictures was exhibited at the Centro Cultural Borges in Buenos Aires and in 2014 at the Western Carolina University Art Museum. In addition, David has lectured around the world on the subjects of collecting and the art market. He has appeared at the Ministry of Culture in Paris, Art Miami, Lincoln Center, the Festival de la Luz in Buenos Aires, Fotofocus in Cincinnati, Paris Photo and various other venues. In June 2016, he gave a lecture on surrealist photography and film at the new Black Mountain School.
David was a founding board member of Performa, which produces New York's performance art biennial and he is on the advisory board for the Manuel Alvarez Bravo Foundation.
Jethro is a cinematographer, director, photographer, writer and editor based in Asheville, North Carolina. His work is often published on The Guardian, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NPR, Spin, Billboard, Consequence of Sound, among multiple other publications.
Jethro has directed films for Angel Olsen, Matthew E. White, Flo Morrissey, Eric Slick, River Whyless, and a host of other musicians and artists. From documentary films to features, short features, music videos, and animations, he can often be found working in a myriad of roles on any given project: Director, Cinematographer, Editor, and Colorist.