“I’m not concerned with being an environmental photographer, I’m concerned with making images that make you feel something you can’t quite understand. There’s something that happens when you’re presented with what you can’t quite fathom.” In Matter, Michael Lundgren explores deserts in Spain, the US and Mexico but his landscapes are a departure from more traditional photographs in this field. He wants us to question the world around us and find a magical realism in life, death and our environment.
A young boy who became a French resistance fighter as just a teenager; a German fighter who lost an arm; a Kazakhstani field nurse; an Indian deployed to fight the Japanese in Burma; a Holocaust survivor who is today a Donald Trump supporter. Sasha Maslov’s photobook Veterans travels the world to meet with some of the last surviving servicemen and women of the Second World War, a conflict whose impact is still being felt some seven decades after the conflict finished.
“It’s a culture fixed in heteronormativity, with social expectations like dress codes and cocktail hours, and the continual performance of leisure.” Alexander Coggin’s decade long series takes us to an exclusive golfing community on the shores of Lake Michigan. His photographs may at first glance cast an image of a colourful and carefree retreat, but there is more than meets the eye. “There is a dissonance, especially with the kids, of learning and maintaining protocols of behaviour,” he says.
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.
“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.