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Weekly Update: Soviet Photoshop Edition

What we were reading this week, from a roundup of pre-digital USSR photo edits to news of Beyoncé’s history-making Vogue cover.

Our Weekly Update is here to bring you our favorite links from the past week: art and design news you might have missed, must-see stories, and the best new contests and calls for entry.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of Soviet Photoshopping

This hilarious and alarming photo roundup from PetaPixel takes a look at the questionable pre-Photoshop editing techniques of the Soviet Union. Photo manipulation was an important tool for the Kremlin censors, who often went so far as to completely remove offending people from photographs, as PetaPixel notes:

“Image retouching to prettify portraits was widely popular during the early 20th century, but in the Soviet Union, highly skilled retouchers were also employed for a more sinister role: as comrades fell out of favor with Stalin and were removed from office or executed, the politically inconvenient figures were carefully scratched and painted out of the frame.”

Beyoncé reportedly selects first-ever black photographer for Vogue’s cover

According to rumor, Beyoncé has been given “unprecedented control” over the cover of US Vogue’s upcoming September issue—and she’s selected a black photographer to shoot the cover for the first time in the publication’s 126-year history. News recently broke that Beyonce would be on the cover of the magazine, and apparently she’s picked 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell for the job. Huffington Post reports:

“Wintour typically prefers to hire fashion photographers with more traditional experience and likely would not have selected Mitchell for a cover shoot, according to a source familiar with Vogue’s editorial process.

“'The reason a 23-year-old black photographer is photographing Beyoncé for the cover of Vogue is because Beyoncé used her power and influence to get him that assignment,‘ the source said.”

Re-examining the life and work of Nico

A fascinating read in The Paris Review takes a deep dive into the history of a late musical star who’s often poorly understood, in the context of new biopic Nico, 1988. Michael LaPointe writes:

“When she landed a part in Federico Fellini’s La dolce vita (1960), Nico thought she might become an actress, but she lacked the discipline. Instead, she turned to singing. In some regards, it was an odd choice. Her musical upbringing consisted of opera and the love songs of her mother’s favorite singer, Zarah Leander. Nico couldn’t play an instrument, she couldn’t write songs, and she had an incredible lack of rhythm, almost an antirhythm. Nevertheless, she felt she could make an impact in pop music. She just needed the songs.”

New Stonehenge study reveals identity of people buried there

The Guardian shares that recent results of tests performed on the 5,000-year-old remains found at Stonehenge have revealed that some of the people buried there originally came from Wales:

“More attention has been paid to how and when Stonehenge was built—from the earliest earth works and totem pole-like timber posts to the final creation of the famous silhouette of the post and lintel circle of the gigantic sarsen stones—than to the people who built it. This is partly due to the difficulty in extracting evidence from the early human remains.

"The new discovery, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, is the result of success in extracting strontium isotopes—which can reveal where the individuals spent the last years of their lives—from cremated bone, something which had until recently been thought impossible.”

Call for entry: Red Bull Arts Detroit Residencies

Red Bull Arts Detroit has just opened the call for submissions for their next Artist Residency, as well as their new Curatorial Fellowship and Visting Writer Fellowship programs. The Artist Residency comes with studio space, housing, and a $12,000 stipend, as well as a slew of other benefits. Applications are open only to those who are US citizens or residents; they’re open until August 24.

Call for entry: Help launch Ello PRIDE

Artist platform Ello is launching a LGBTQ+ focused vertical, and they’re seeking 50 talented creatives to feature online. Six winners will also have the opportunity to show their work IRL at Soho House London. Submissions are open on Ello until August 24.

Call for entry: Have your art decorate a New York City transport barrier

Here’s an unusual opportunity for New York-based artists who specialize in murals or large-scale paintings. DOT Art, which organizes temporary public art installations on New York City Department of Transportation property, is seeking proposals for artist designs to beautify concrete barriers bordering sidewalks and bike lanes. The selected artist will receive a $2,500 honorarium and their work will be on view for 11 months. The deadline to submit is August 17.

Resource of the week: The Something To newsletter

Recently launched by New York-based photographer Aundre Larrow, Something To is a biweekly email list that’s packed full of interesting articles to read, updates on the art and photo world, and also includes a very useful roundup of creative job openings in the United States and beyond. Sign up here.

Cover image via Wikimedia Commons.

Have a tip or call for entry to share? Did you write an article or publish a project that you think we’d like? Let us know.

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