Now in its third year, the Sicilian photo festival is tackling big issues under a theme of “Communication in uncertainty and chaos”. The idea is telling of its locale: a crucial crossing point in the Mediterranean and an entry gateway to Europe, Sicily has been at the centre of the migrant crisis as people cross the sea in search of peace and a better life. The photographs in this series cover ideas of identity, politics, war, nationality, feminism and more.
Lianzhou has developed a reputation as an important international location for Chinese photography, having hosted an annual photography festival since 2005. Now it is hoped that the opening of a brand new museum of photography this December will cement Lianzhou as a destination for national and international photographic excellence.
“Just a few days after the opening, soldiers entered the gallery and removed some of the photographs,” says Harit Srikhao, a runner-up in this year’s BJP Breakthrough Awards. The Thai photographer, whose series Whitewash uses the military crackdown in 2010 as its starting point, questions government control, censorship and propaganda. “You are able to talk about politics in public, but if you talk ‘bluntly’, you would be arrested,” says Srikhao.
“I hope the project can make the audience feel like they walking through a cloud of mist.” Zhao Qian, a Chinese photographer living in San Francisco, has recently been announced as a runner-up in this year’s BJP Breakthrough Awards. His series, Offcut, the edge, is inspired in part by the feeling of jetlag, which he describes as creating a fog on his surroundings.
“Most people I meet are not satiated or fulfilled and desire more. Desire to be heard. Desire to be seen. Desire to connect and matter,” says Phyllis B. Dooney, the American photographer behind the photoseries Gravity is Stronger Here. The project, which started as an exploration of the American South, centres on a Greenville family trying to negotiate life in middle America. Their needs and wants are the same as those across the country: to be heard, to be seen, to be accepted.
The September issue brings the otherwise invisible into sharp focus. Invisible World explores forgotten conflicts, intimate retreats, abused landscapes and remote islands to uncover the hidden realities and unknown societies behind ordinary backdrops. “As social beings, we all demand to be seen,” says Hoda Afshar, whose latest series, Behold, takes us to an exclusive male-only bathhouse. Her point resonates with all the photoseries explored in this issue: how do we negotiate our surroundings, how do we see our societies, how do we interpret our world? We need to first see the invisible to answer these ever salient questions.
Grinders, which was nominated as a runner-up in this year’s British Journal of Photography Breakthrough Awards, focuses on a community of body hackers who undergo operations to add technology into their body. Like something out of a sci-fi novel, the group hope that slicing their bodies open will enable them to solve mankind’s problems through machine. The combination of man and machine is no longer futuristic fiction.
In 1942, the Ministry of Defence launched Operation Vegetarian, a series of experiments which released lethal Anthrax bombs against cattle on Gruinard Island. The weapons were more successful than even the Ministry of Defence had anticipated and the island was declared a no-go zone for decades. This is not a unique story: Dara McGrath’s photoseries Project Cleansweep investigates over 60 sites around the UK which have been used by the MoD for the testing of biological and chemical weapons throughout the 20th century.
For his latest project, Andreas Mühe has opened a dialogue between the centuries. For alongside the photographs of austere politicians and dramatic cliffs in Pathos as Distance, he has interwoven excerpts from a novel, 1913 – The Year before the Storm by Florian Illies. In doing so, he hopes to give readers a sense of perspective about our own, increasingly fractious era. “1913 reminded me a little bit of our here and now,” says Mühe. “This unburdened and rather easy-going lifestyle right before World War One breaks out – [the start of the war] completely surprising, but very predictable at the same time.
Fiona Rogers founded her online Firecracker platform to help showcase the best talent in female photography. What followed was a community of photographers all celebrating and sharing amazing work and it wasn’t long before the Firecracker grant was born. “It felt like the natural evolution was to be even more supportive. Something that went beyond showcasing work online. It started out pretty small: everybody contributed £10 to put into the pot and then we managed to flip that into a grant that was £1,000 and now it’s grown to £2,000.”