Month: June 2015

Kid criminals: tagged, tracked and cast off by society

“My dad left us when I was four or five, and I’ve been estranged from him ever since. Things were rough for my mum trying to raise two boys on her own,” says 28-year-old Zora Murff, whose series Corrections is informed in no small part by his experiences growing up disenfranchised, with a family diminished by low income, lack of opportunity and alcohol abuse. Born and raised in Des Moines, where one in three children live below the poverty line, Zora could easily have become a write-off. His mother was forced to take jobs out of town at weekends to provide for her two boys, often leaving them unsupervised for many hours. “My brother and I were very close when we were young, and I spent a lot of time following him around, until he got to the age where it wasn’t cool to have your little brother tagging along any more. When that happened, I had to learn to be alone – I started to read a lot and draw.” As Zora got older – with …

2015-07-06T15:26:20+00:00

VIDEO: Cristina de Middel, Benedicte Kurzen and Robin Maddock show different sides of Nigeria

It isn’t often a group photography show can boast the names of Cristina de Middel, Benedicte Kurzen and Robin Maddock. This collaboration, titled Shine Ur Eye, brings together and explores their recent response to living in Lagos, Nigeria, while contrasting each photographers’ dramatically different photographic process. Each photographer found themselves in Nigeria for different reasons, and have responded to the complex layers of Nigerian society in different ways. Exhibited together, their work forms an original photographic essay on Nigeria, recognising the intermingling traditions and practices that shape Nigerian culture. British photographer Robin Maddock is displaying, for the first time, digitised images he discovered in the Nigerian National Museum archive. It contains, he says, “piles of slides, many in a state of decay, like a treasure trove.” The slides are presented as found, with no interference from the photographers, save to present these ethnographic images of masks and other objects as significant insights into Nigerian cultural history and heritage, as well as fascinating photographic records in their own right. The Spanish photographer Cristina de Middel, a former photojournalist, began working  conceptually with the first self-published …

2015-07-10T15:40:33+00:00

Photographing the Patrulleros – the violent vigilantes of Guatemala

“Photojournalism allows me to get close to events on the ground, so that I may better understand them as they unfold,” says award-winning photojournalist Daniele Volpe, who left his birthplace of Priverno, a small town in Latina, south of Rome, and made his home in Guatemala. “This kind of intimacy allows me to share my reportage and maybe draw the viewers in, making them feel closer to the subjects.” Volpe, now 34, started his career as a news photographer but soon felt unfulfilled. “There’s often little continuity in covering news, because news itself doesn’t always allow for follow-ups,” he explains. “As a natural consequence, I felt drawn to reportage, which allows for a more thoughtful approach to image-making, enabling me to tell a story, to create a narrative.” Guatemala is one of three countries in the Northern Triangle buckling from the strain of the gang-related activity that permeates every aspect of society. It has long been besieged by criminality, much of it attributed to two prominent gangs – Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, and Barrio 18 …

2015-07-07T17:02:05+00:00

The New Medium: exhibiting the first photographs ever taken in India

It is a cool midsummer’s evening in Mayfair’s Cork Street – the nucleus of London’s contemporary art world. Number 33 is the professional home of Prahlad Bubbar – collector of Indian and Islamic art – and the location of his new exhibition, The New Medium: Photography in India 1855-1930. The New Medium is a neat survey of the birth and rise of photography as a major art form in the subcontinent. Twenty-five photographs are ordered chronologically around the bright, airy rooms of the gallery, each one chosen to reflect a distinct decisive moment in Indian photographic history. Driven by Bubbar’s background in art history, his recognition of context binds the project together as the beginnings of a technological and artistic revolution in the context of one distinct and, in itself, rapidly evolving culture. In the middle of the 19th century, photography took over from painting as the new mode of representing the world – hence the name, The New Medium. The exhibition frames an era in which the diverse customs of India – the temples, animals and people – could all …

2015-06-19T10:09:02+00:00

Evgenia Arbugaeva took an icebreaker through the Arctic Ocean

When Evgenia Arbugaeva boarded an icebreaker ship in the Arctic Ocean, little did she know that the trip of several weeks would lead to a project that would have a profound and lasting effect on her. Arbugaeva, an award-winning photographer who was born in Tiksi, a settlement on the Arctic coast in northern Russia, hoped that something – a project – would come of the trip, but it would be many more weeks before she found her subject. The photographer, who graduated from the photography programme at New York’s International Center of Photography in 2009, first came across the polar north’s meteorological stations – outposts that are home to a handful of scientists whose job it is to measure temperature, snowfall and wind – while out on a husky sledding expedition with her father (he breeds husky dogs, she tells me when we speak on Skype). Bad weather forced the pair to stop at the research stations, which are located in areas that are otherwise uninhabited. Intrigued by the people who live there and their way …

2015-07-07T17:01:34+00:00

The Photocaptionist on David Fathi’s Anecdotal

The Photocaptionist pairs an image from David Fathi’s series Anecdotal with a quote by Vice Admiral Blandy, Commander of the Operation Crossroads, quoted in Gerard J. DeGroot, The Bomb: A Life, 2005: “The bomb will not start a chain reaction in the water converting it all to gas and letting all the ships in all the oceans drop to the bottom. It will not blow out the bottom of the sea and let all the water run down the hole. It will not destroy gravity. I am not an atomic playboy, as one of my critics labelled me, exploding these bombs to satisfy my personal whims.” When French photographer David Fathi started his project on the Cold War-era nuclear arms race, his intentions were serious and documentary. But as he gathered research material, his interest gravitated towards the uncanny and at times surreal anecdotes surrounding nuclear testing – stories of bombs lost and never found (or inadvertently dropped in the back yard of a family home), vaporised chickens, parties and pageants, and a bikini described by its French …

2015-06-16T18:04:15+00:00

BJP #7837: Look and Learn

What does the perfect art college look like? The Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne in Switzerland, profiled in our July issue (now on sale at newsagents in the UK and selected countries abroad, or via iTunes for our iPad edition, or directly from The BJP Shop), must come pretty close, with its balance of the vocational, the conceptual and a dash of the downright weird. Not to mention first-class facilities housed in a state-of-the-art building near Lake Geneva, sensibly priced course fees (€800 per term), and a workshop programme made up of visiting lectures by some of the world’s leading photographers, including Thomas Mailaender’s now legendary woodland survival course. If that all sounds a little different to your own art college experience, then how about this for a schedule: “I think something very specific about ECAL is that we are very pragmatic – we start at 8am in the morning and we finish quite late,” says Milo Keller, the photography course leader since 2012. “The students have to work really, really hard – we don’t …

2016-02-12T11:22:14+00:00

Delicate Demons: do women belong in the home?

Delicate Demons is a collaborative, ongoing project between Finnish photographers Satu Haavisto and Aino Kannisto, in which women are meticulously staged in domestic spaces. The spaces in the photographs are tight, with a room corner in most of the scenes, compressing the viewer and the subject into an uncomfortably proximal relationship and emphasising the sense of home as a potentially oppressive place. The women appear as mysterious characters, deep in thought. They feel heavy and complicated, physically embodying difficult emotions and experiences. The gaze of many of the women is strikingly intense. In one image, Woman on Balcony, her stare out of the frame feels somewhat over-constructed until, with a jolt, we see in a reflection she is in fact gazing directly at the camera. Face on, her look is more vulnerable, more anxious and raw. Props and settings combine to hint at troubling, ambiguous backstories: one figure clutches a kitchen knife, barely visible between her knees. Delicate Demons comes from the same vein as Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novella The Yellow Wallpaper, in which the apparently innocuous wallpaper …

2015-06-25T16:26:40+00:00

Olivia Arthur photographs Dubai’s obsession with wealth

Stranger, the latest photobook from Magnum photographer Olivia Arthur, is a journey through contemporary Dubai – a city which, since 1960, has expanded from a population of 90,0000 to over 2 million, metamorphosing from a modest fishing settlement into a land of promised riches, the ultimate playground of excess. Moving through the images in Stranger, we are presented with golden beaches, men clad in white flowing robes, sunlight illuminating towering skyscrapers, and many, many flash cars. “In Dubai, everybody, from all backgrounds and walks of life, come to make money,” says Arthur. In Stranger, the consumerism and extreme wealth synonymous with the ‘City of Gold’ is palpable. But photographing Dubai in a straight documentary mode didn’t interest Arthur. “I wanted to avoid looking at Dubai through my western eyes,” she says. “I wanted to force myself to see things afresh.”

2015-06-25T16:27:13+00:00

Breathless cool: the enduring influence of the Nouvelle Vague

The Nouvelle Vague began, more or less, with Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960), and it came in a rush. Upstart and “arsehole” Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is a man in motion. On the run and racing off in a stolen car before his female accomplice has time to get in with him, he speeds down the motorway, cursing anyone who dares slow his breakneck pace. Michel embodies a fugitive brand of modernity, too fast and fleeting to pin down, so even Godard’s innovative editing is jumpy and restless – and yet he will come crashing to a halt in Paris, while he waits on his American lover Patricia (Jean Seberg) to decide whether she will move on with him to Rome. Patricia wants to stay and to finish her studies – and yet far from representing the stasis of the past, she is in fact younger than Michel, sports a thoroughly modern hairstyle, and wants her own independence, rather than to play a pre-written rôle in Michel’s story.

2015-07-06T15:25:55+00:00

BJP Staff