From China’s Tiananmen Square to music festivals in Los Angeles, discotheques in Moscow, and the fall of the Berlin Wall – Magnum is letting you own a slice of history for $100
Historically, 1968 is a landmark of a year. The world fought for the political and social freedoms that had so far seemed out of its reach. Student protests, as well as ongoing anti-Vietnam ones, declarations of independence, and the civil rights movement, were just a few monumental examples. The latter for which Martin Luther King Jr. was hugely influential on before he was tragically assassinated on April 4.
Using the freedoms fought for in 1968 as a jump-off point, Magnum has searched through its archives to launch a new edition of its Square Print Sale – aptly titled “Freedom”. Featuring the lensman and lenswomen who have spent their careers at the forefront of the world’s most seismic moments, those who have seen more intimate, personal, and quiet achievement, and also photographers whose work questions the very idea of freedom and who has access to it. From Bruce Davidson at the centre of the civil rights marches to Stuart Franklin in Tiananmen Square in 1989, Robert Capa capturing the liberation of Paris in 1944, and Dennis Stock at the Venice Beach Rock Festival. Elsewhere, Marilyn Silverstone sneaks onto the Dalai Lama’s train, Ragdu Rai details how she found her freedom after purchasing farmland near Delhi, India, and Newsha Tavakolian shares an image of women entering the sea in Iran.
As Magnum launches its $100 print sale which runs over the next five days, we look at some of the moments which made both world history and personal history.
ALEX WEBB IN MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA, 1989
"In the late 1980s, I often found myself stuck in the Miami airport en route to Haiti, a vibrant and troubled Caribbean country I'd been photographing for a decade. From time to time, election-related riots would engulf Port-au-Prince in violence, and force the shutdown of its airport. While stranded in Miami, I started to take a closer look at Florida-this strange and often confounding state of immigrants and senior citizens, land speculators and migrant farm workers, theme parks and strip malls, alligators and sunseekers. Born out of the frustration of waiting to return to Haiti-and the freedom to wander wherever the Floridian light led me-this series of photographs ultimately became my third book, From the Sunshine State. Would I have seen this beach scene unfold before my eyes if I hadn't already spent years photographing in Haiti, with its tropical light and volatile weather? This particular afternoon on Miami Beach, a gust of wind caught this boy's tangerine-coloured towel as he rushed off the beach before the storm. Only later did I notice how the sweep of his beach towel echoes the sweep of the dark clouds overhead."
RAGHU RAI IN INDIA, 2013-2015
"Twenty years ago, my love for nature and all of its earthly delights drove me to purchase farmland near Delhi. The ravine-like ground was a challenge, as it needed both a landscaper and gardeners to create the magic. But, as my architect wife Meet said, 'Being a creative photographer, you'll just have to do it yourself.' Somewhere she had challenged my sensibilities. Every day I went there along with a bulldozer and a few other hands-and walked around waiting for inspiration to speak to me. It took me four-five months to landscape, putting in a variety of plants, shrubs, creepers and even trees. Whenever on assignment travelling in my own country, I'd pick up plants and shrubs, which, along with inspiration from all over the world, I'd bring back for my six acres of canvas that I have been painting on all these years. India is a hot country, June the hottest month, and it was almost dark when there was a sudden dust storm followed by intense rain-the pearl-like magic drops covered my whole space and how desperately I Wanted to capture them all. When passion is charged with intensity, intuition provides you with the freedom to capture something beyond that which is known."
GUEOGUI PINKASSOV IN MOSCOW, RUSSIA, 1993
"As The New York Times correspondent in Moscow, I encountered all kinds of fascinating characters and subcultures and felt the new powerful wave of youthful energy, vitality and passion amplifying social changes. I might compare it with the Russian avant-garde of Malevich, Mayakovsky and Eisenstein, which went hand-in-hand with the revolution beginning in the 20th century. It was like a tsunami. The previous generation was not able to protect their values of national unity and traditional social order-the tsunami was rising, flooding and overthrowing the unsteady and corrupt political power. To me, this was not unlike Europe in the 1960s, a conflict of generations, youth overthrowing their corrupt parents, yearning to come to power and proclaim new justice."
MARILYN SILVERSTONE IN LHASA, TIBET, 1959
"Marilyn received an assignment from Life (I believe it was her first) to cover the Dalai Lama's escape from Lhasa, Tibet. He was en route to asylum in India, seeking religious freedom, and she went to Tezpur, in Assam, to await further news. Upon his arrival, the Dalai Lama mounted a train platform to address the gathered crowd before boarding a train that would take him westward into the Indian interior. Magnum photographer Brian Brake, who was also there at the time, told Marilyn that he'd give her $500 if she would sneak into the train and get shots of the Dalai Lama. She took up the challenge and boarded the train. As the train left the station, a railway security officer, who had seen Marilyn get on, chased her through the moving train and caught her as she tried to hide. After six hours of intense questioning, finally convinced Marilyn posed no threat, the CID brought her back to Siliguri station and left her on the platform. Marilyn got the photos-and the $500. One of these photos appeared in the May 1959 issue of Life."
(Vivian Kurz, Director of Dilgo Khyentse Fellowship/Shechen, The Estate of Marilyn Silverstone)
GUY LE QUERREC IN BERLIN, GERMANY, 1989
"A few days after the fall of the Berlin Wall (the 9th of November, 1989), joy and enthusiasm were continuous. The euphoria grew even greater on New Year's Eve. A very dense human tide had gathered around the Brandenburg Gate: warmth, embraces here and there ... In this incessant frenzy, tears blended with laughter. People of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities were becoming closer as the fireworks and squibs exploded relentlessly. Champagne was flowing. After photographing the jubilation of this overexcited crowd, I decided to move to a quiet place. I glimpsed, hidden by a row of shrubs, a young couple sitting astride the top of the wall. They were surrendering to this intimate and peaceful moment to love each other and celebrate this new freedom."
NEWSHA TAVAKOLIAN IN IRAN, 2017
"The young woman in red hesitates as she enters the water. Perhaps this is the first time she has seen the open sea. I did not ask her. I just watched. Her two female family members rest in the sand, their feet in the water. Everywhere in the world, freedom and eternity find one another on the far horizon of the endless sea. Freedom is often described with big words, but we encounter it every day in the little things we do."
MATT BLACK IN FLINT, MICHIGAN, 2016
"America calls itself 'the land of the free,' but fewer and fewer people enjoy the reality of that ideal. This picture is from Flint, Michigan, where I photographed the aftermath of lead contamination that exposed a generation of kids to developmental delays and other health problems. When your town is collapsing, and you can't afford to change your circumstances, then what does freedom mean?"
"Fifteen years since my first trip West, I have some new thoughts about gloryville. Every idea that western man explores in his pursuit of the best of all possible worlds will be searched at the head lab-California. Technological and spiritual quests vibrate throughout the state, intermingling, often creating the ethereal. It is from this freewheeling potpourri of search that the momentary ensembles in space spring, presenting to the photographer his surrealistic image. However, to the Californians, it is all so ordinary, almost mundane. The sensibility of these conditioned victims is where it is all at, right, left, up and down. Our future is being determined in the lab out West. There, a recent trip blew my mind across this state of being, as I collected images along the way to remember the transient quality of the Big Trip."
(Taken from the preface to California Trip, Grossman Publishers, 1970)
“Freedom” Magnum’s Square Print Sale runs from 8am EST Monday 4 June until 6pm EST Friday 8 June 2018. Signed and estate stamped, museum quality, 6x6” prints from over 70 artists will exceptionally be available for $100, for 5 days only. Click here to buy