Author: Gemma Padley

“God’s flock”

You may remember the image: a girl looks apprehensively at the camera, her fingers covering her mouth as stray strands of hair fall across her face. She is dressed simply – in a patterned dress – and sits in sparse surroundings. This portrait of a young Mennonite woman – Margarita Teichroeb – won the 2012 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize (and made the cover of BJP). The judges praised the use of muted colours, the image’s “otherworldly feel”, and its timeless quality. Indeed, it is an image that could have been taken many decades ago; there is little to suggest this is a contemporary portrait. Its creator is Spanish photographer Jordi Ruiz Cirera, who between 2010 and 2011 spent time in Santa Cruz in Eastern Bolivia, photographing the Mennonite communities that live and work there. These are notoriously tight-knit communities, isolated colonies that are “remote and difficult to access” as Ruiz Cirera writes in the text for his new book, Los Menonos. They are people, he tells us, who view themselves as “God’s flock”, and …

2015-02-11T18:17:13+00:00

Eduardo Leal – Forcados

“Portuguese forcados lie somewhere between the bullriders of the Americas and the bloodier bullfighters of Spain,” says Eduardo Leal, Leal, who is graduating from the Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Masters at London College of Communication in 2014. “Unlike in Spain, where the bull is stabbed to death if the matador wins the contest, the forcados wrestle the animal (its horns are capped) with their bare hands as a display of determination and bravura.” Leal embarked on the project in a bid to rediscover his country, he says. Having lived away from Portugal for some years, exploring its traditions would, he reasoned, allow him to get back to his roots. “I don’t support bullfighting, but Forcados have always captured my attention. I remember stopping in front of the television to look at these crazy men wrestling bulls and wondered what motivated them.” [bjp_ad_slot] Wanting to better understand this tradition, the 34-year-old set about fostering a relationship with a group of forcados; he was unable to take pictures straight away as it was necessary to spend time getting to know the …

2015-02-11T18:15:15+00:00

Project Manchester – Dan Dubowitz and Alan Ward

In 2010, Manchester City Council partnered with engineering firm Laing O’Rourke to embark on an intensive multimillion pound refurbishment of two of the city’s historic buildings, its grade II listed Town Hall Extension and Central Library, both of which re-opened to the public in March this year. Photographer Dan Dubowitz and Alan Ward, artist book designer and publisher, were given unfettered access to the buildings during the renovations, spending 18 months creating Citizen Manchester, a project jointly funded by the developers, which draws on the idea that architecture can shape society and culture. “I believe there is an important dynamic between society and its buildings,” says Dubowitz, who previously collaborated on book projects with Ward including, The Peeps. Ancoats: the presence of absence, which focused on the regeneration of one of the city’s former industrial zones. “We create the buildings, but they shape who we are because of the way we experience them – for example, by physically walking through.” This idea of capturing the shifting relationship between Manchester’s flagship buildings and the city’s residents …

2014-12-17T12:30:02+00:00

Louis Porter – Crap Paint Jobs

Crap Paint Jobs is a visual record of the kind of badly bodged brushwork you probably come across on a daily basis without it barely registering your attention. But for Louis Porter they are one of numerous obsessions he documents and collects in his exploration of the vernacular of the terrain vague of the city. Put them together and they take on a mischievous quality, disrupting the mundane urban status quo with their jarring colour contrasts and can’t-be-bothered attention to detail. The series is part of a larger body of work, The Small Conflict Archive, for which the 36-year-old photographer, currently living in London, goes out in search of a collection of objects or phenomena, documenting “the subtle ways in which conflict permeates modern life”. He begins with a set of headings and topics as the starting point of his collecting habit: “Some of the subjects are quite blunt, like Suburban Swastikas or Bad Driving. Others are whimsical – Emergency Assembly Points. By ‘conflict’, I don’t mean the type that makes the evening news; I’m interested in the perforations in everyday …

2015-10-19T10:49:18+00:00

Sara Cwynar – Flat Death

The starting point for Sara Cwynar’s Flat Death is a term Roland Barthes uses in his seminal book, Camera Lucida, the Vancouver-born photographer says. “Buried in the latter part of the book, Barthes talks about ‘flat death’, and this idea that photography can bring back what has gone, and also remind you of what’s [no longer there],” says Cwynar, who lives and works in New York. “I started to think about this idea in relation to discarded objects and images, and [how I could] resurrect them. Collecting and reworking found images has always been part of my practice, but this gave me a new framework in which to work.” Cwynar, who studied graphic design before taking up photography, started the project last June. She uses images sourced from darkroom manuals, old encyclopedias, flea markets and the New York Public Library Picture Collection, which she manipulates “to create altered versions of the original image”. Her process involves scanning and enlarging the images to create prints on which she “rebuilds” the original images using collected objects and …

2014-12-04T13:14:30+00:00

Ross Paxton – A General History Of Timeless Landscapes

If you‘ve ever lived in a popular tourist destination, you’ll be familiar the kind of guided tours Ross Paxton has been capturing for the past three years while completing an MA in photojournalism and documentary photography at London College of Communication. Shot using a large format camera, the project was inspired by a bus tour he took on a trip back to his home town, Whitby, and he was struck by the image of the bus load of tourists as they passed the town’s landmark Abbey. “I felt as though I was looking into the past and the passengers were looking forward into their futures, and since we were moving, it was like past, present and future had been flattened into one moment,” he says. The York-based photographer estimates he’s now taken pictures of 35 tours in total, starting off locally then moving further afield, but always trying to include “a relic, sign or important monument from that particular town in each image”. He always asks the guide’s permission to take pictures, but since the …

2014-12-02T18:01:56+00:00

Carl Kleiner – There Will Be Blood

“This series came to life when I was sketching out a project for Google this spring,” says Stockholm-based photographer Carl Kleiner. “The brief was to create strong, graphic compositions with paper as the raw material. The images had to be easy to use as backgrounds for lots of formats. In previous work my paper arrangements have been flat, sometimes using a trompe l’oeil effect, but always layered flat. In an attempt to move forward I changed from using a very soft ambient light to a razor sharp, hard, direct light. The shadow suddenly became a key player… I liked this technique so started to develop it in my own time.” Kleiner, who is represented by London photography agency, Mini Title, began experimenting with different levels and angles, folding, cutting and bending the paper to create compositions playing with shape, shadow and colour. The images from There will be blood were created in front of or under a camera, he says, with each composition “giving birth to itself”. “I tried to do sketches first, but found …

2014-12-01T18:10:08+00:00

Mayumi Hosokura – Crystal Love Starlight

In 1992, the owners of Crystal Love Starlight were arrested for allegedly allowing prostitution in their restaurant in the Gunma prefecture of Japan; 34-year-old photographer Mayumi Hosokura came across the case while looking through old copies of a local newspaper, Jomo, and was inspired by both the story and the restaurant’s trashy moniker. The resulting series, also called Crystal Love Starlight, has just been published by Tokyo-based Tycoon books. “The charming meaninglessness of the flashy name – Crystal Love Starlight – and of the numerous snack bars, cabarets and love hotels throughout Japan appeals to me,” she says. “This series considers various aspects of urban life. I use images of nude girls and boys because I want to think about the gaze, especially the sexual gaze. The people in this series are the ‘anonymous youth’ and we can see them as us.” It’s not the first time she’s shot nudes, or the transience of youth; in a previous series the Kyoto native combined softly lit nudes with hazy landscapes. This time she mixed nude studies …

2014-12-02T14:36:17+00:00

Valerio Polici – the global graffiti community

With its roots in New York ghetto subculture, modern graffiti has long been viewed as an outsider art associated with law-breaking youths. Over the years the graffiti community has become increasingly international, yet a life lived outside of the law is far less romantic than it sounds. Italian-born Valerio Polici started documenting members of the graffiti movement two years ago. “I was in a subway station in Lisbon and noticed a group of guys who were changing their clothes and covering their faces while hiding from surveillance cameras. They walked along the platform and entered the tunnel. My first reaction was a mixture of adrenaline and curiosity; then I saw their bags were full of spray cans. I spotted security guards running towards the tunnel so I told the lookout. Before long I began hanging out with them and photographing their missions.” Following the graffiti writers across Europe to South America, Polici became part of their cocoon-like community, documenting their every move. “Living, running, sleeping together, I found myself in the weirdest places and situations,” …

2014-12-02T14:35:58+00:00

Laurent Millet – Translucent Mould of Me

In his recent project, Translucent Mould of Me, Laurent Millet, who lives and works in Rochefort, France, takes the traditional self-portrait as his starting point, although what he creates is far from conventional self-portraits. In keeping with his interest in the manipulation of space and his exploration of the links between photography and sculpture, Millet created these images by choosing a space and using wire to construct shapes before improvising moves and poses in front of his view camera. The final images created with a degree of chance have the feel of performance art, and it is unclear which elements exist in the physical space inhabited by the photographer and which in the pictorial space of the image. “The idea for the project came from a desire to experiment with the possibility of creating self-portraits in a weird space that would be in between the two-dimensional and three-dimensional,” he says. “The body seems to be diluted in time and space, and the corners of the room and the wire seem to pass through it, just …

2014-12-02T14:35:30+00:00

BJP Staff