Author: Donatella Montrone

Portraits of the 30,000 Somali Diaspora in Minneapolis, America

In the early 1990s, when the world watched TV footage of a Somalia once again devastated by recurring famine, the United States started taking in refugees as part of an international humanitarian relief effort. Many settled in Minneapolis, where they soon found jobs and integrated into the wider Minnesota community.

2016-09-12T12:24:44+00:00

My Winter Holiday in Beijing

Cedric Van Turtlebloom’s contemporary documentary style centres around everyday life – but not as we know it. Currently editing his second photobook, in which he takes a quizzical look at China’s burgeoning middle class and its penchant for artificial ski slopes, his visual stories are anything but conventional.

2016-09-09T22:51:30+00:00

Mimasu: a visual diary of observations

Karim Skalli understood as a child, when visiting his family in Casablanca, that light is not merely a source of illumination – it’s sensorial, evoking a mood or a feeling when it beams through crevices in curtains and on to objects in the home. One of six children, his mother and father would pile them all into a big red van and travel across continents – through England, France and Spain – to reach Casablanca, the birthplace of his father. “We couldn’t afford to fly because there were just too many of us, so my father would drive: it would take days. There wasn’t much to do on those trips, so I used to stare out the window, looking at all the different landscapes, the different cities, the different people. I was captivated by the soft tones the sun cast as it set. Those trips were my window into the world beyond – almost literally,” says Skalli. Light shapes our relationship with both interior and exterior spaces; for example, it plays a significant role in …

2016-08-09T15:10:25+00:00

Divination: the modern-day Pagan

Jack Pidduck recalls a particular holiday with his parents, driving along a mountain road in north Wales, overlooking a deep valley below. He remembers how the light caught the slopes and bounced off the folds. They pulled over on a lay-by to look out over the blanket of clouds and watch the gleaming tufts shift. “I asked my mother if I could borrow her 8-megapixel point-and-shoot to snap a few pictures – it was an amazing camera at the time. I was so proud of how they came out. I remember loving the feeling of seeing something beautiful and being able to capture it and share it with others. I spent the rest of the holiday taking photographs and haven’t really put a camera down since.” He was 14 at the time and remembers the moment vividly – the way the camera felt in his hands, its ability to capture a moment in time. Now 22, the Nottingham Trent University graduate has shown his final-year project, Divination, in the Nottingham Trent graduate portfolio exhibit, Emerge, which formed part …

2016-08-03T16:53:14+00:00

The cemetery in Guatemala that exhumes babies’ graves

When a child dies, some parents quell their pain with the belief that their child is among the angels. Others find comfort in knowing their child is at rest. They know there is a place where, in moments of quiet despair, they can drop to their knees and grieve the absence of their little body to hold. So when photojournalist Saul Martinez learned that, in his home country of Guatemala, deceased children were being exhumed from their places of rest and being disposed of in a public burial pit, it struck him as inconceivable. “I set out to find this cemetery that I had heard about. It was somewhat difficult to get access to it; the workers didn’t really want to let me see much at first. “I was so shocked when I saw the remains of children being pulled out, not only because of the fact that babies were being exhumed but because a job like this actually exists.” And so began Forgotten Children, Guatemala City, a documentary short and series of images that …

2015-10-19T12:25:10+00:00

Alessandro Bavari – in the belly of the beast

There are many disparate moments in Alessandro Bavari’s childhood that inform the artist he is today – watching tadpoles hatch, the first time he walked into a Gothic church in Burgundy, losing grip of a balloon and seeing it bob away, meeting its fate against a rose bush. He says these impressions are so profound – a sensation, a feeling of wonder, a sound – they occasionally crop up in his work. Bavari uses mixed-media techniques to create a unique body of work that incorporates both photography and film. He often draws on literary influences, offering his own interpretation using model sets, organic objects, photography and digital manipulation. The results are often macabre, and sometimes irreverent. His ongoing series, Sodom and Gomorrah, is one such unique fusion of media. “Sodom and Gomorrah was first conceived 15 years ago. I was inspired by Invisible Cities, a novel by Italo Calvino, written and published in the 1970s, but which he cultivated over many years through travel notes and reflections, and organised by themes – the five senses, …

2015-08-11T14:29:17+00:00

Emi Anrakuji – ‘1800 millimetres. It’s the size of my bed’

The elusive Emi Anrakuji. Her work seems to have exploded onto the photography scene in early 2000, attracting the attention of Daido Moriyama in 2004. “He was very much impressed,” says Emi, whose body of work is a series of self-portraits in which she often focuses on the most intimate details of her anatomy while simultaneously concealing her identity. It’s this contradiction that obfuscates the viewer. Legs splayed, crouched on a bed on all fours, a finger inserted into her vagina – the self-portraits in 1800 Millimètre, Emi’s latest body of work, “are not erotic at all,” she says. “1800 millimetres is just the size of my bed.” A bed to which she was confined, which came to represent her world – the very world from where her work originated. “It’s work that came out of my sickbed.” In 1800 Millimètre, Anrakuji poses nude, in solitude, in close shadowy settings – the confines of her bedroom staged for the gaze of a lens. She describes herself as “an alchemist of images”, blurring the contrived and the authentic …

2015-07-17T12:48:37+00:00

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

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 female derobed: Neola McDavid’s untainted nudes

“Trust is very important when you ask someone to take their clothes off so you can photograph them nude,” says Neola Loretta McDavid, who will soon graduate from the University of Roehampton with a BA Honours in Photography. “Your subjects need to have confidence in you as a photographer, and they need to feel comfortable in themselves.” McDavid’s series of nude portraits, Denudate 2015, exudes strength – stripped back, it presents women in a state of undress, stoic in their own personal space, the only props being the intimate objects in their homes. Her series, like the meaning of the title itself, bares all – it strips women of the labels imposed upon them by society and returns them to their natural state, as “supreme beings” – equal to men, neither subordinate nor superior. “The women in my portraits signify empowerment. They are not obstructed by the mores of society or media in the way that influences how women are portrayed today. The women aren’t sexualised, nor are their poses meant to be suggestive. I’m not using the female …

2015-06-25T16:30:44+00:00

BJP Staff