The initial impetus for the award came after I received an electronic invitation to the opening of Jason Eskenazi’s “Wonderland: A Fairytale of the Soviet Monolith.”  I am familiar with Jason’s work and knew that it wasn’t receiving the attention it deserved so I spontaneously gave him this award and forwarded the email to everyone on my list.

I told Derek Stroup the story of how I made up this award and he laughed.  He was very encouraging and said, “Just keep doing it, the next thing you know people will be sending you their portfolios.”

A month or so later, Jay Nubile happened to send me a You Tube link to a video he and Toby Kaplowitz made for an experimental video workshop.  I tried giving him five stars but the You Tube software had a bug in it and only three stars were given!  This made me mad so I gave Jay what he rightfully deserved -– 6 GOLD STARS ******!

The idea stems partially from my discomfort with traditional media’s methodology for reviewing books, films, art, etc.  I feel these large entities have too much power over what is promoted nationally.  How often does the New York Times review a photography or multimedia book?????  Most of the decisions to review something are coming from editors with an expertise only in writing and editing text.  The visual arts are so dominant in our society yet only a handful of these editors have a strong background in this area.

I’ve always had complex feelings about awards because they foster competition and if someone doesn’t win, the individual often feels sad.  I’m not a person who likes competition or believes people need to be validated by awards, especially in journalism, photography and the arts.  However, awards often promote stuff that might go unnoticed and the psychology behind an award is still very powerful……so the intent is for this to be a friendly, quirky, happy, nice award.

The name of the 6 GOLD STAR AWARD is derived from my early pre-internet days in photography when I used to star my favorite slides so the editors would know which ones to choose.  The best slides were exuberantly given numerous stars.  Despite my not so subtle efforts, these editors have a mind of their own and often choose photographs I don’t want published.  As anyone in field of communications knows these listening skill problems persist to this very day.

And of course….we can’t forget our days in elementary school when we eagerly awaited our gold stars.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jules Mattsson Wins the SL6™ for Standing up for Free Speech

I herby give Jules Mattsson the Steve Lehman 6 Gold Star Award for Standing up for Free Speech. I love this kid! You go get 'em Jules!!!!!! I love the fight in this 15 year old. Thankfully there are still some people in the world like him. It gives me some hope. He has greatness in him.

At just 15 years old, Jules Mattson, was photographing a military parade in the United Kingdom. Jules broke no laws. In an attempt to control information and increase their power, the police/government bullied, intimidated, and arrested Jules because he was a photographer. He valiantly stood up to authoritarianism and defended his right to free speech. After he was released from police custody, he stuck to his principles and fought for justice. He received an apology and was awarded a undisclosed settlement from the police. It's hard to take money off the cops. To reach in their pocket and give them a giant fuck you is hard. We need that lawyer of yours over here too!

I love how he shoved it up those cops ass for fucking with him. I can't stand when the police flagrantly break the law and waste taxpayer money. I want every New York photographer up the cops asses as hard as Jules for violating the First Amendment. That's what I want out of all the artists and photographers. That's what I want see....tough on artists' rights issues.

Three cheers for Jules. If you are ever in America you have place to stay. We like you. You go Jules. You made a name for yourself. You have a seat at the table in the world of photography. We don't want loser, REMF types, slithering around cheating people. We want passionate, idealists like you. This kid got some heart! Amen brother! Thank you.

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