A PHOTO ESSAY BY JOHN KAPLAN
China, Russia, Cuba, the United States. Four nations, separated by
thousands of miles and centuries of tradition.
By gathering 59 photographs from these four countries into an exhibition
titled Four Nations, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist John Kaplan
seeks to illustrate the common bonds these countries share.
"In each of these nations, seemingly disparate peoples are united in
their search for freedom," says Kaplan, who joined the College of Journalism
and Communications faculty last fall.
After a tour of major cities in Korea in 1999, the exhibit will open
at the National Art Museum of Bolivia this summer. Kaplan is seeking other
Roldobaldo Del Risco represents "Egun," a ghost in Cuba's Santeria
religion. Santeria, carried to Cuba by African slaves, synthesizes
the teachings of Catholicism and Voodoo.
Sergei: Little Big Man
Sergei Mayorov, 8, insists on smoking American Marlboro cigarettes,
even though each pack costs the equivalent of two days’ average Russian
wages. Mayorov steals or begs money to buy the cigarettes, then gives them
away to his fellow homeless at St. Petersburg’s Pulkuvo Airport.
A Teen Idol But A Mother's Worst Fear
With boyish bravado, Phil Anselmo,the lead singer of Pantera, shows
off his pet boa.
Horseman in Red
A horseman wearing traditional racing attire gathers his energy before
a village competition outside of Lhasa, Tibet.
The Face of Cuba
"Visitors to the largest island in the Caribbean are immediately startled
by the sheer will and beauty of the Cuban people; Gentle smiles form readily
on the faces of its citizenry. Most Cubans are hospitable, friendly and
surprisingly optimistic that present-day shortages are a temporary national
sacrifice that will eventually lead to better days ahead."
A folk dancer performs at a Havana street fair.
Marilyn's Legacy A housewife poses with a portrait of Marilyn
Monroe, which has adorned her wall since American culture was king in the
1950s, before the revolution.
Loyal Citizen A boy and his family protect a statue from being
vandalized at an abandoned building near their home.
China's Ethnic Minorities
"Through these photographs, I have made a conscious decision not to
concentrate on China's dramatic influence over Tibetan Life; most parts
of Llasa today look little different from dozens of other Chinese cities.
Instead, these photographs are intended to show the uniqueness of Tibetan
heritage and devotion — to photographically preserve their culture."
In China’s Sichuan Province, bordering Tibet, Xia Yongqing, 84, and
his nephew, Yang Ziyun, 82, share a joke in the village of Nanyang. The
mountainous region is home to descendents of the ancient Ba empire.
Faithful Debate At the 600-year-old Sera monastery, young monks
gather each afternoon to debate the principles of Tibetan Buddhism.
Namtso Kiss In one of the world’s most remote regions,
a Namtso Lake peasant dressed in animal skins attends to her grandson.
21: Age Twenty-One In America
"My goal for documenting life at age 21 has been to let the viewer
make his or her own conclusions about the variety of lifestyles in our
culture. There is so much right but also so much wrong in present-day America.
By looking directly into the eyes of 21-year-olds, my hope is that the
viewer will recognize positive changes in evolving America while realizing
that for some with limited opportunity, both economic and personal, time
seems to stand still."
Adrift in Appalachia
Just 21, Frank Cline's skin is already weathered by a life of poverty.
Unemployed, a high-school dropout, Cline passes his daysin front of an
abandoned pool hall in Brenton, W.VA.
A New Face In Fashion
On the runway at the Oscar de la Renta show, Tanya, a former victim
of child abuse, has suddenly emerged as one of New York's top models.
In Love At Harvard
A senior at Harvard, Malli Marshall dreams of a career as a doctor
while maintaining a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend.
Standing in Shame
Rodney Woodson, 21, stands in shame as detectives uncover the gun he
used in a Pittsburgh killing. Kaplan's coverage of this story was the basis
for a Nikon Documentary Sabbatical Grant and,
ultimately, the Pulitzer Prize.
Russia's Ruined Youth
"As the Russian economy crumbles, children are the forgotten victims
in a rocky transition toward democracy. Orphanages overflow with children
abandoned by parents unable to afford to keep them. Loving conditions for
the youngest children decay into often abominable care as orphans become
older and are deemed no longer adoptable. The failings of the Russian social
child-care system cause many to run away."
A St. Petersburg, Russia orphanage caretaker hugs one of her young
charges. Children awaiting adoption fill Russia’s "baby homes."
Solitary Stare Boris Martynov, 17, has placed an X on the wall
of his Russian youth prison cell to mark each day he has spent in solitary
confinement for battering another inmate.
Runaways and street people of all ages gather at St. Petersburg’s infamous
train station, where crime and violence are rampant.
John Kaplan is
one of America’s most accomplished documentary photographers. In 1992,
his words-and-pictures project about the diverse lifestyles of 21-year-olds
was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography, having previously
been awarded the 1990 Nikon Documentary Sabbatical Grant.
In 1989, Kaplan received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for outstanding
coverage of the disadvantaged in the United States. That same year, he
was named National Newspaper Photographer of the Year in the annual Pictures
of the Year (POY) contest, the largest photojournalism competition in the
world. He is one of just three photojournalists to win both a Pulitzer
and National Photographer of the Year titles.
An associate professor at the University of Florida, Kaplan teaches
photography, design and editing. He is the founder and director of Media
Alliance, a broad-based journalism consulting group. In 1996, Kaplan’s
first book for children, Mom and Me, was named by Parents magazine
as one of its best books of the year.
He has twice been named a photography juror for the Pulitzer Prizes.
Kaplan is a frequent lecturer at photography and journalism workshops and
seminars throughout the world and has also received national recognition
for his poetry and writing.