“When 9/11 happened, I was four, so obviously I didn’t really know what was going on. But in terms of now, of how Muslims are portrayed in the media, I think it’s a very one-sided story. We’re all terrorists, evil, who want to take over this country. I mean, thinking back now, I was only four, so all I’ve experienced is that this country hates me.” So says one of the sitters in Mahtab Hussain’s You Get Me?, a series of portraits shot over nine years in Birmingham, Nottingham and London. It shows young, working class, British Asian men, a group which has been negatively depicted in the media since 9/11 but which Hussain hopes to portray in a more nuanced way.
“I think politics affects every decision in daily life – it’s hard to remain on the sidelines,” says Musuk Nolte. “For me, photography is a visual element to work on these very complex issues. “With all the problems we have in our country, we have the responsibility to leave a visual document,” continues the photographer, who was born in Mexico in 1988 but is now a naturalised Peruvian.”I felt the desire to leave a document of what was going on, that it could serve as a visual and historical record. It was my way of relating to my country, but it’s important that this work also has an impact outside the community.”
“I’m reclaiming my blackness, which I feel is continuously performed by the privileged other,” says South African photographer Zanele Muholi. Born in 1972 in Umlazi, a township close to Durban, Muholi defines herself as a visual activist using photography to articulate contemporary identity politics. In her latest series, Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness, she uses her body to confront the politics of race and representation, questioning the way the black body is shown and perceived.
Shot in Japan over two years, Tokyo is Yours is inspired by manga, surrealism and film noir, and uses a gritty monochrome that Meg Hewitt first experimented with back in Sydney
“During the daytime people are so busy with their lives, but during the night they are more truthful, this is what I want to capture in my walks,” says Arko Datto, who has just completed What news of the snake that lost its heart in the fire, the second chapter of the trilogy started with Will my mannequin be home when I return. The Indian photographer, who was nominated for the Gomma Grant in 2016, started Mannequin in 2014, first using black-and-white then moving to colour to create a “more advanced, elaborate and a visually solid work”. Shot in India on a walk he repeated many times, it explores “what it means to be in direct confrontation with the night”. The project is open to several layers of interpretation, and includes fictional stories that run through the documentary images. SnakeFire – or, to give it its full title, What news of the snake that lost its heart in the fire – is based in Indonesia and Malaysia, and also explores the night. “Different places have their own characteristics,” explains Datto. “I’ve been …
“It’s a story that starts at its end, in death. We have an evocation of a life which has been lost, which then becomes another kind of life, one whose presence or absence is conjured up in various states of remembrance.” So says Tim Clark, editor-in-chief of the online magazine 1000 Words, who has curated an exhibition of Peter Watkins’ series The Unforgetting at Webber Gallery. It’s a highly autobiographical piece of work, showcasing photographs and sculptures produced after a long inner exploration of a traumatic loss. On the 15th of February 1993, Watkins’ mother walked from Zandvoort beach into the North Sea, to her death. The heart of the artist’s project is his reconciliation to that loss, through an examination of their shared German heritage. “This is a work that explores the machinations of memory in relation to the experience of trauma,” says Watkins. “The culmination of several years work, The Unforgetting is a series made up of remnants, as well as the associated notions of time, recollection and impermanence, all bound up in the objects, places, photographs, and narrative structures …
“When I started researching the pornographic visuals, it hit me that there’s a clear formula in the way women are portrayed in them,” says Ina Jang. “I printed out some of the images, cut out the body figures and photographed them. From there, I kept making images with similar positions.”
Intrigued by the huge wooden towers torched every year in Northern Ireland, Polish photographer Mariusz Smiejek got to know the people involved in building them, and found divides still being enforced years after the Good Friday Agreement – and being handed on to the next generation
A psychotherapist for 15 years, Sian Davey switched careers to photography in 2014 and has made a success of it – she’s now represented by Michael Hoppen Gallery, for example, and her book Looking for Alice was nominated for the Aperture Best Book Award at Paris Photo 2016, and the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation Book Awards 2017.
How can art contribute to our understanding of justice in a time of global conflict? Award-winning photographer Edmund Clark considered the question with former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg and human rights lawyer Cori Crider at the IWM London – home to his ongoing show, War of Terror