Press

An Uneasy Peace: In Afghanistan After the War
Photo Essay by Connie Frisbee Houde
http://www.metroland.net/back_issues/vol_26_no10/index.html

Site for Sore Eyes by Travis Durfee
http://www.metroland.net/back_issues/vol_27_no18/features.html

First Election in Afghanistan a note of Pride by Connie Frisbee Houde
http://www.fourthbranchofamerica.com/pdf/nov2004tic.pdf

China: A Land of Many Contrasts by Connie Frisbee Houde
http://www.fourthbranchofamerica.com/pdf/february2005tic.pdf

REVIEWS

Posted by David Brickman on his blog

http://dbgetvisual.blogspot.com/2009/02/connie-frisbee-houde-at-ccc.html

Connie Frisbee Houde is much more than a photographer, and she’s also more than a reporter, though she is darn good at both. It would perhaps work to call her a cultural anthropologist, but to my mind intention is the main thing, and I think Frisbee Houde’s intention is to wage peace in the world. So, can I call her a peace warrior?

The exhibition The Forgotten: Afghanistan & New Orleans ties together two diverse locations that have seen devastation under the Bush administration and continue to struggle against that devastation while much of the world ignores their condition. Frisbee Houde has filled the somewhat labyrinthine galleries of the Chapel + Cultural Center at Rensselaer (that’s RPI before the rebranding http://www.chapelandculturalcenter.org/) with pairs of photos that juxtapose oddly similar images from the two locales.

Taken during multiple trips to both places, and with text printed directly on the borders of the digitally printed pictures, they make a strong effort to inform without preaching. Some of the pairings are really visually arresting, and all of the images are well seen. Still, this is an exhibition that I would categorize as educational more than artistic – again it’s that intention thing. Frisbee Houde has shown work as art (most notably in last year’s Mohawk-Hudson Regional at the Albany Institute), but this time the emphasis is clearly on the content.

It’s an age-old stratagem to combine images and text to get a point across, and Frisbee Houde has been doing it for years. This may be the most integrated presentation she has put together as a wall-mounted exhibition (she has also done a lot of slide shows over the years, where her voice provides the words) and I found that it works well to communicate her message: That we should not forget those we have allowed to suffer unnecessarily, and while some are very far away in strange and exotic cultures, others are right under our noses.

It is not the job of artists, reporters or anthropologists to offer solutions. Rather, they find facts, ask questions, point out problems. Frisbee Houde does all this very well, and with the quiet conviction that makes you want to listen and – this is a reach, I know – take action.

The show hangs through Weds., Feb 25, and the gallery’s hours are extensive. See it if you can.

Art Review Metroland April 3-9, 2003
Beyond the Box by David Brickman

Afghanistan: A Fragile Peace
Fulton Street Gallery

Another Troy show featuring photographs drawn from a traveling adventure is on view at Fulton Street Gallery as part of their “Blink” (as in “you blink you miss it”) series of short-duration exhibitions. But Connie Frisbee Houde’s Afghanistan: A Fragile Peace is hardly meant as a tourist’s view; rather she aims to get beyond personal impressions to capture the heart and soul of Afghanistan and its people in her pictures.

To a great extent, this section of 22 photos and a collage succeeds in that goal, Houde is adept at portraiture and her close ups of bearded men, beggars and street kids are sensitive and affecting. She also presents a number of landscapes, in which the fragility of human structures and machines is dominated by a majestic and brutal-looking mountain range.

One of the better examples shows a graveyard on the outskirts of Kabul. In the photo, the barely adequate stones of the graves reflect a similar pathetic quality to the low buildings of the city beyond. One is reminded of the painful legacy of recent wars that have left scarcely one stone on top of another in this unfortunate country.

Perhaps the best picture in the group however, could almost have been taken anywhere, and this is its strength: A man rides a bicycle through a park; snow –covered trees in the background frame the sunny scene. The message seems to be that, despite the worst having happened here again and again, life goes on—the human spirit has survived.


Posted by David Brickman on his blog:

http://dbgetvisual.blogspot.com/2009/02/connie-frisbee-houde-at-ccc.html

Connie Frisbee Houde is much more than a photographer, and she’s also more than a reporter, though she is darn good at both. It would perhaps work to call her a cultural anthropologist, but to my mind intention is the main thing, and I think Frisbee Houde’s intention is to wage peace in the world. So, can I call her a peace warrior?

The exhibition The Forgotten: Afghanistan & New Orleans ties together two diverse locations that have seen devastation under the Bush administration and continue to struggle against that devastation while much of the world ignores their condition. Frisbee Houde has filled the somewhat labyrinthine galleries of the Chapel + Cultural Center at Rensselaer (that’s RPI before the rebranding http://www.chapelandculturalcenter.org/) with pairs of photos that juxtapose oddly similar images from the two locales.

Taken during multiple trips to both places, and with text printed directly on the borders of the digitally printed pictures, they make a strong effort to inform without preaching. Some of the pairings are really visually arresting, and all of the images are well seen. Still, this is an exhibition that I would categorize as educational more than artistic – again it’s that intention thing. Frisbee Houde has shown work as art (most notably in last year’s Mohawk-Hudson Regional at the Albany Institute), but this time the emphasis is clearly on the content.

It’s an age-old stratagem to combine images and text to get a point across, and Frisbee Houde has been doing it for years. This may be the most integrated presentation she has put together as a wall-mounted exhibition (she has also done a lot of slide shows over the years, where her voice provides the words) and I found that it works well to communicate her message: That we should not forget those we have allowed to suffer unnecessarily, and while some are very far away in strange and exotic cultures, others are right under our noses.

It is not the job of artists, reporters or anthropologists to offer solutions. Rather, they find facts, ask questions, point out problems. Frisbee Houde does all this very well, and with the quiet conviction that makes you want to listen and – this is a reach, I know – take action.

The show hangs through Weds., Feb 25, and the gallery’s hours are extensive. See it if you can.

COMMENTS
Carolyn Smith – 5/2003: I did enjoy your presentation Sunday – I liked the diversity of the overview of history, show and tell, picture and comments. I think the whole audience was very appreciative!

Manijeh Sabi, Russell Sage Professor – 11/2003: I want to thank you for your inspiring presentation you gave our students. I me with my students today and they all enjoyed your slide show and talk. Students told me, “She is awesome.”

DeWitt Ellinwood – 12/03: A belated thanks for your moving presentation on Afghanistan. It made the country and people, especially the women, come alive.

Rev. Maggie Sebastian – 4/13/04:  Just so you know that I read all the emails that Frank forwards to us. I am sure that the suffering you are seeing is quite over whelming. Know that I have you on our prayer list at the hospital. I feel that you are there in Afghanistan on our behalf – all of us who cannot/will not go. Through YOUR eyes WE will see – as the doctors restore the sight of the injured, perhaps we will have our sight restored through your photographs and stories to see injustice and be moved to action. Thank you Connie – please continue to practice presence – for all of us.

Dr. Thalia Cunningham – 9/04: I thoroughly enjoyed seeing your spectacular images from your trip. Your love for the country and its people shine through.

Elsa de Beer – 9/13/04: I was very moved by your photographs and the NOOR project. It is startling to know that $50 can remove cataracts and help a person see! So here is my check and good wishes to you and the project.

Carol Dove — 9/18/04: I especially loved listening to the CD’s that accompany the pictures. It made me realize that apart from the political rhetoric there are real live people in these lands and I found their stories enlightening and fascinating.

Paul Grondahl, Albany Times Union reporter — 10/12/04: Your Afghanistan exhibit [Visions Gallery, Albany, NY] is superb. Not only the quality of the photography, but the interviews, the textiles and objects and the rest all add up to a really strong piece of work.

Joe Quant – 10/14/04 I recently finally saw your incredible show [Visions Gallery, Albany, NY]. What a wonderful way to spend a rainy couple of hours — going off to Afghanistan. You know beyond the incredible scope of the show, what shone through for me this time was how much you’ve grown in sheer technique, in the ability to “find” the subject, and as a photojournalist, just in the time I’ve know you. I hadn’t seen most of these pics; I feel you’ve outdone yourself on this trip. And the breadth of the work: the clinic, character studies of men (there’s one guy pointed out to me by one of the other patrons who looked strikingly like George Bush!), of children, and particularly of women, seen and unseen, the drama and color of the country, day to day life, war, health, hope, the spirit, the history, the actual sound of voices; you are, witting or not, documenting this time for this nation, in a way that probably no one else is.

Alice Schrade — 10/24/2004: Just wanted to say thank you for your presentation [A Day in Afghanistan] and make a comment. I felt during the presentation, that I was watching a moving film and decided it was because of the tapping of the voices and city noises as well as the way the slides ran into each other. I’ve never seen that method before and really appreciated the way you presented your work.

Jeanne Williams – 10/16/04: Your photographs are stunning! They just hooked you into believing that the subject matter wasn’t half way around the world…but right in front of you…and that there wasn’t anything strange or unusual about the subjects.. Just comfortable… like you – the viewer – belonged there.

LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION
2006

Sybillyn Jennings, PH.D
Professor, Psychology
Co-coordinator, World Program
Russell Sage College
Troy, New York

First to give you some background. As a part of our general education program at Russell Sage our first year students are required to take a course, “Women in the World”; later as seniors they take the paired course “Women Changing the World.” In the first course, we work to widen our students’ vision of the lives of women in different parts of the world, the forces that shape their lives, and the ways in which women themselves are a force….Then they read usually four autobiographies written by women. Last year we read….and Zoya’s Story (a young girl growing up under the Russian occupation and then the Taliban in Afghanistan). For each of these texts, we ask a faculty member or a member of the wider community who is knowledgeable about that part of the world — its history culture, and circumstances —to speak to the assembled students. It was in that context that Connie Frisbee Houde made her presentation on Afghanistan. Ms. Houde had been recommended to be by my colleague, Professor Stephen Leibo.

Connie Frisbee Houde’s approach is both inventive and direct. Through the splendid photographs, accompanied by traditional music, the audience travels along with her as she accompanies the optometrists/ophthalmologists of NOOR into the rural and quite isolated regions of Afghanistan. One of the reasons I think the presentation is especially powerful is that Connie does not claim authority: her talk is open-textured. She tells the audience what she has seen, bur she is also careful to point out things she cannot see. Her own deep respect for the courage and generosity of the people of Afghanistan as well as its terrible beauty come through loud and clear. Our students have been most moved by her presentation. Many of them are planning to work in the health professions and so find NOOR’s particular outreach relevant to their goals. Films like Ossama and Kandahar, which we have also shown at times, dramatize the political horrors against women. There is none of this in Ms. Houde’s presentation — just a burka that members of the audience can try on — and her wonderful, sometimes humorous observations about photographing families with the women covered according to their traditions

One Comment on “Press

  1. Pingback: Talkin’ about a revolution « Jazz and Poetry

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