Tag Archives: USA

Book Presentation of “Down and Out in the South”, Naarden, May 18, 2013

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Dutch photo book publisher Ipso Facto (IF) is pleased to announce the release of Jan Banning’s latest photo book Down and Out in the South on May 18, 2013.
The book contains 42 portraits of homeless men and women from the southern United States. While not the first to photograph modern society’s outcasts, Banning’s approach is unusual. Eschewing caricaturizing depictions, Banning places his subjects in a studio setting without their stereotypical belongings, focusing instead on their individuality — on who they are rather than what they are commonly labeled.

“Rather than the expected treatment of a marginalized population, Banning takes a more artful approach… [He] builds their identity back up in his soulful portraits [and] confers a serenity on people who we normally try desperately not to contemplate.”
Felicia Feaster, Atlanta Celebrates Photography 2012 Festival Guide

Appended to the photo book is a “Giveaway Edition,” designed to create easy access to the photo project in public spaces and to raise questions about property. The book also contains a fiery introductory essay by the young Atlanta-based writer James Swift and an Artist’s Statement by Banning. Down and Out in the South is simultaneously launched as a digital edition (for iPad), with sound and video fragments. Customers can now purchase this iBook or download a free excerpt here.

Special Price till May 18, 2013:
Including shipping costs:
NL: EUR 30 – Europe: EUR 35 – USA: USD 46.71 – Australia: AUS 53.47
After May 18, 2013 (including shipping costs):
NL: EUR 35 – Europe: EUR 40 – USA: USD 53 – Australia: AUD 60

Book Presentation
You are welcome to attend the book presentation of “Down and Out in the South”, May 18, 2013 at 5.30 PM in de Grote Kerk, Sint Annastraat 5,  (1411 PE) Naarden, Netherlands. Here, you can also visit the exhibition (of 23 of the photos), which is part of the FOTOFESTIVAL NAARDEN 2013.
The book presentation is sponsored by


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Obama’s popularity in Africa

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Mr. Obama in popular culture in Africa Uganda photos

The young rhino in Uganda’s Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary was the first baby rhino to be born in Uganda in 28 years. His mother is from the USA and his father is from Kenya. The Ugandans who imported his parents have named him, in an endearing way: Mr. Obama.Since the end of WWII, Barack Obama is likely the U.S.’s biggest public relations asset in the Third World. I was in Indonesia when he was elected for the first time in 2008, and I experienced the Indonesians’ jubilation because they considered him to be one of them. In the early 2000s, when I was visiting Indonesia and a few African countries, I saw a considerable number of Osama Bin Laden t-shirts, but now I see “Obama” restaurants, “Obama” beauty salons and “Obama” Unisex (haircuts for men and women) in Uganda. And while attending a show of the Ndere Troupe in Kampala, the moderator explained that Obama was an acronym for the phrase “Original Black African Managing America.” According to my friend Jantien Zuurbier, living in Kampala, the number of fans of Obama may have decreased somewhat since the last US elections, however on my many travels since the mid-1980s, I have never seen such strong feelings of friendship for the United States as I do now under Obama.The owner of this Obama restaurant serving Obama samosas (snacks, originally from India), however, was slightly suspicious of the inquisitive muzungu (white man) with camera; he may have thought I was a copyright infringement lawyer.

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Law and Order in Uganda, Part 2: Luzira Women’s Prison and the Death Sentence

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I’m back to photograph for my Law and Order project. On Friday February 15, I had my first day of photography at the Luzira Women’s Prison in Uganda, Africa. I was here already in 2010 as I began the first chapter of the project. Again, in only a matter of a few days, the permission papers were signed and ready, thanks to the JLOS people in Kampala. If only it was that easy in other countries.

This prison is very different from those I visited with my assistant (Jennifer King) in the United States, in Georgia recently; this one here is almost homey, in an African way.

Death Sentence

After three years, I met again with Susan Kigula, probably Uganda’s best-known prisoner, who was convicted of the murder of her husband on July 9, 2000. A vital piece of testimony came from her five year old stepson; he said he had witnessed Susan, together with her house maid, Nansamba Patience, cutting his father’s throat with a brand new panga, a machete she had brought home the previous evening and hid under the bed.

In September 2002, Susan was sentenced to death by hanging, which is the standard method of execution in Uganda. At that time, the death sentence was mandatory, meaning that upon conviction for the offense of murder, death was the only sentence possible. After this conviction, Kigula became the leading figure in the landmark case “Susan Kigula and 416 Others vs Attorney General” (all on death row) in an attempt to have capital punishment declared unconstitutional and abolished.

No abolition of the death penalty

On the 21st of January 2009, the Supreme Court of Uganda passed the judgment concerning the imposition of the death penalty in Uganda. Susan and the others lost: the court refused to outlaw the death penalty. In addition, it ruled that no sufficient evidence was brought to show that being hanged caused more pain and suffering to the person being executed than any other manner of execution.

Life sentence

However, the 418 also won in part. The judges made several rulings. With the first, they ruled that the death sentence should not be mandatory because that prevented courts from taking into consideration all specific circumstances of the defendant and of the crime. The sentencing would now be in the hands of the trial judge. Secondly, they ruled that the condemned person should not be kept on death row indefinitely and that a person should either be executed within three years or his sentence commuted to life. The Ugandan Supreme Court also said that that the convicts on death row could go back to the High Court and mitigate over the sentence. Since these rulings in 2009, a small number of prisoners have been released and approximately 180 death sentences have been commuted to life sentences. In November 2011, in what Ugandan media describe as an emotional High Court session, Susan Kigula’s sentence was reduced to 20 years imprisonment. According to Uganda Radio Network, “dramatic scenes after court session ensued when Kigula knelt down before Nakuya and her stepson and pleaded but the old woman openly told her that her offence was too grave to be forgiven. Nakuya demanded to know why Kigula with the help of her housemaid killed their (her. JB) son.”

The charismatic Susan (now 33) told me, however, that she expected to leave prison in three years. She has started to study while in prison. After finishing high school she is now supposedly the only female prisoner in Uganda studying at the university level; she is studying law with a main focus on human rights.

The others

The Uganda people are now waiting for the authorities to speedily re-sentence all remaining persons in the same position as Susan Kigula, and to develop consistent sentencing guidelines for this purpose.

Part of the remaining cases are still awaiting new hearings that should lead to individualized sentences. However, there seem to be inconsistencies within the courts’ re-sentencing and there is an absence of clear sentencing guidelines, which should include requiring the medical and social history of the convicted. Another inconsistency is that some judges take time already served into consideration when re-sentencing while others do not.


Out of 54 countries in Africa, 16 have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and 22 are abolitionist in practice. In 2010, Amnesty International recorded executions in four countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and death sentences imposed in 24, including Uganda. The last execution in Uganda was carried out in March 2003.


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EXHIBITION Down and Out in the South, opens tomorrow

Tomorrow is the opening of the exhibition Down and Out in the South in Atlanta, GA, USA. It is being exhibited as part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography (ACP) Festival. Down and Out is being shown in two different events, beginning October 18, 2012.

The first is a public outdoor screening/digital projection of 42 homeless portraits beginning Thursday October 18, 2012 at Georgia State University’s Digital Education and Arts Lab (D.E.A.L.) located at One Park Place Northeast, #100, Atlanta, GA 30303. This is on the corner of Pryor Street and Edgewood Avenue at the SE corner of Woodruff Park. The digital projection will begin at approximately 5PM every evening beginning Oct 18, 2012 and run through through Oct 31, 2012.  This screening includes portraits of homeless men and women from Columbia, SC, Atlanta, GA, Vicksburg, MS and Greenville, MS.

Secondly, twenty portrait prints from Down and Out in the South, will be exhibited at Big House Gallery located at 211 Peter Street, SW, Atlanta, GA as part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography’s festival. This exhibition also begins October 18, 2012.

There will be an Artists Reception on Thursday, Oct 18, 2012, from 6:30pm – 8:30pm, at Big House Gallery, 211 Peter Street, SW, Atlanta, GA, USA. The details for both of these events can be found here: http://festivalguide.acpinfo.org/listings/view/1181

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Documentary “BECAUSE WE WERE BEAUTIFUL” at film festival in USA

The film documentary “Because we were beautiful”, about Indonesian Comfort Women (and our search for them) will be shown at the Big Muddy Film Festival, February 18-27, 2011 at the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL (USA). It was made by by Frank van Osch and broadcast on Dutch national television, August 15, 2010.

Van Osch and his team accompanied Hilde Janssen and me during part of the search for these women. Apart from the film, this project resulted in the (Dutch language) text book “Schaamte en onschuld” (ISBN: 9789046807132) and the bilingual photo book “Comfort Women/Troostmeisjes“.

Comfort Woman – “Because we were Beautiful” (Vimeo)
Troostmeisjes – “Omdat wij mooi waren” (Vimeo)

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