British photographer Matt Stuart and Armenian photographer Diana Markosian join the world's most prestigious photography agency.
London-based street photographer Matt Stuart and 26-year-old Armenian-American Diana Markosian have been named as the latest members of the legendary Magnum Photos agency.
The pair, both supported by Magnum’s current president, Martin Parr, were announced as nominee members today following the agency’s Annual General Meeting, which took place in east London last week. Nominees are invited to apply for full membership having proved themselves after a period of usually one or four years. Jérôme Sessini and Bieke Depoorter, who both became nominees in 2012, have now both progressed to full member status.
Markosian is well known to BJP readers as one of the brightest new talents in the field of documentary photography, first featuring as one of our Ones To Watch in 2015.
Born in Russia and growing up in California, she’s since returned to her homeland to make work, including a series of portraits of the almost grown-up survivors of the Beslan school massacre.
For Inventing My Father, she created a highly charged series about finding and reconnecting with her estranged father from whom she was separated when she was seven. Markosian’s mother abandoned the marital home in Moscow one day, emigrating to California with Diana and her young brother; she never even had the chance to say goodbye to him. Her mother cut her father’s image out of all the family photos and in time Markosian forgot what he looked like.
“I stopped thinking about him and instead invented my own father,” she told BJP in an interview. “I had a cast of characters; the black man on TV who wore bright sweaters. He lived in New York or Chicago. Then there was Jason Seaver from the TV show Growing Pains,” says Markosian. At 22, she eventually travelled to Armenia, where her father had settled, in search of the man whose face had been all but wiped from her memory. And so begins Inventing My Father, a project she doubts will ever be finished.”
More recently she has been exploring the consequences of the Armenian genocide of 2015, photographing some of the few remaining survivors who fled as children, but who through her photographs of landscapes from present day Armenia, are reunited with their homeland.
“My work comes from within,” Markosian said of her developing photography career in an interview with BJP last year. “I am constantly searching for a moment of silence between myself and whatever it is I am photographing. It is an emotional process that transcends anything else I’ve experienced. It is ultimately an expression of myself: all of my feelings, revealed in a moment, in an image.”
Skateboarder turned photographer, Stuart has been shooting on the streets of London for two decades, claiming her gets through at least three rolls of film per day.
“I am not sure which came first, being nosey or an interest in ‘street photography’, but a fascination with people and the way they live their lives is why I enjoy the business so much,” he says. “I can’t hide behind lights and technology, I am reliant on a small camera, patience and lots of optimism. But what I get in return is the chance to make an honest picture which people know immediately is a genuine moment and which hopefully burrows deep into their memories.”
He recently published a book of his work in London shot between 2002 and 2015, titled All That Life Can Afford. Solo exhibitions of his work have been staged in London, Helsinki, San Francisco and Washington, and he was featured in the 2010 book and travelling show, Street Photography Now.
Sessini just his teeth during the Kosovo conflict in the late 1990s, and over the next decade spent five years in Iraq as well as covering events in Palestine, President Aristide’s fall in Haiti, the conquest of Mogadishu by Islamic militias and the war in Lebanon.
In 2008, he began working on a long term project, So far from God, too close from the US, focusing on the war among drug cartels in Mexico, which was supported by an F-Award and a Getty Images Grant. More recently he has been working in the Ukraine.
“I don’t like rigid categories,” says the French photographer, who was named among BJP’s Ones To watch in 2011. “Sometime there is art in journalism and journalism in art. Conscience, heart, beauty, balance and loss of balance are essentials for me.”
After graduating seven years ago, Belgian photographer Depoorter has embarked on a series of personal projects, the first of which, Ou Menya, saw her travel throughout Russia, photographing the people whom she stayed with one night at a time.
The work won several prizes, including a Magnum Expression Award, and was published as a book in 2011. Her second book, I Am About To Call It A Day, shot in the US, was published two years later.
More recently she has been working on a project Egyptian families, titled In Between. Of her practice, she says: “Photography guides me into the routes where I can stay amazed.”
The Annual General Meeting takes place in June each year, alternating between its main offices in London, paris and New York. The 69th AGM took place over four days last week, led by Parr and London-based executive director David Kogan, with much to discuss regards the agency’s recent change in direction, soft-launching a consumer-facing website aimed at engaging directly with a wider public.
It’s ‘Pro’ website remains, with a focus on image sales. The AGM meetings were complemented by program of public events, including a book fair, quiz (led by Parr, and reportedly rather difficult) and an exhibition of the work of Peter Marlow, who died in February, as well as a lively party, all held at Protein Studios.
“It’s been another hugely exciting year for Magnum,” says Parr. “The refocus of the agency led by our executive director, David Kogan, has manifested in both the launch of our new content-first website and over 20 self-commissioned stories. Another two full members and two new nominees mark our commitment to both supporting new talent and expanding the agency.”
Kogan comments: “This year’s AGM marked a significant change for Magnum as we begin to plan out our 70th anniversary in 2017. Our investment in Magnum’s digital future realises our ambitions of becoming a self-publishing entity and a renewed commitment from our photographer members future proofs our endeavors over the last year.”
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