Rose Marie Cromwell went beyond the cliches to build an expressionistic homage to the Cuba she knows and loves. “I wanted to make images that investigated my complicated relationship to this specific place, rather than trying to document something ‘about’ Cuba,” she says.
Hundreds of people crowd in the city of Ukraine, wearing helmets and holding flags, while a fire breaks out. A person in white-gloves wipes the blood off the face of a young man. Police line up with their bulletproof shields; one stands on the bonnet of a van preparing to fire his rifle. Maxim Dondyuk is a documentary photographer. His 2013-2014 project, Culture of the Confrontation, showcases perspective-shifting images of Euromaidan, the three-month long protests that erupted in Ukraine against the government, characterised as an event of major political symbolism for the European Union.
Think about conspiracy theories and the initial topics that come to mind often occupy a realm that’s beyond an everyday belief system – stories such as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot or similar tales that are better contextualised as ‘urban legends’. While those stories might not have much truth to offer, there are many other theories within the category that, although fantastical, contain far more fact than fiction. These include the secretive workings of those in power which lead to a mutual feeling of suspicion between the authorities, government and citizens.
What is arguably more interesting than the concepts themselves, however, is the way that some individuals compile their own investigative research on suspicious topics, creating accessible and expressive visuals soaked in data, philosophy, and their take on the truth. From 18 September to 06 January, The Met Breuer in New York will exhibit the expansive show Everything Is Connected: Art and Conspiracy, featuring 70 works by 30 artists who represent an alternative to postwar and contemporary art from 1969 to 2016. The media presented in the exhibition includes painting, sculpture, video, installation art and, of course, photography.
“There were things happening in black America that lend themselves to the conversation in Italy in a way that perhaps people never would have imagined,” says Theaster Gates, a social practice artist and curator of a new exhibition,The Black Image Corporation, dedicated to exploring the legacy of the Johnson Publishing Company archive and its two acclaimed magazines, Ebony and Jet.
Presented at the Fondazione Prada from 20 September to 14 January, the exhibition gathers photographs from the company’s extensive archive of more than four million images, focusing primarily on the work of two photographers – Moneta Sleet Jr and Isaac Sutton. “When the Prada Foundation invites you to do a project, you know there’s already this big and ambitious living legacy; and so it felt really amazing to then put the Johnson Publishing Company in the context of this other fashion family,” explains Gates.
It is difficult to unravel, in many of the stories that Max Pinckers tells, where fiction became unstuck from fact. Or how the characters in his photographs can look back out at the world so boldly, shake their heads at reality as most people see it, and tell stories that fly in its face. But for the Brussels-based photographer, the six curious individuals in his latest book, Margins of Excess – including a boy who compulsively hijacks trains, and a private detective with prosthetic hands – lead the way to understanding documentary photography’s role in the ‘post-truth’ era.
One such character, an American amateur inventor with a mane of silken hair, sat at the kitchen table of his home in Dunnellon, Florida and told Pinckers that he believed he had become the media’s new Osama bin Laden. “My name is Richard Heene. A few years ago I got into a bit of trouble,” said the forty-something showman, detailing the events that led him to end up behind bars.
Belgian photographer Max Pinckers has won the prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack Award with his series Red Ink. He receives €25,000, plus a Leica M camera and lens.
Red Ink was shot in North Korea while Pinckers was on assignment for The New Yorker magazine, accompanying journalist Evan Osnos on a four-day trip in August 2017 – the height of the propaganda war with the US. Pinckers’ access to the country was heavily stage-managed by the North Korean government, which carefully set up scenes for him to photograph. Knowing that this would be the case, Pinckers shot the images with a flash, creating a sense of the artificial that tipped the scenes presented to him into the surreal.
Holly Hay’s induction into publishing came by way of the fashion communication and promotion BA at Central Saint Martins. “That course was like training to work at a magazine,” she explains. “It was photography, journalism and graphic design, all meshed into one.” While on it she started taking her own photographs and after she left, she had a stint as a photographer. “It was all going quite well until I met more photographers, and realised I liked their work more than my own!” she laughs. “I discovered that I could create the images I wanted through other people, rather than myself.” Following this revelation, she shifted to a producer role, commissioning photographers, writers and stylists at the newly-conceived Garage magazine, before spending three years as the photographic editor at AnOther, fostering an extensive network of image-makers and collaborators. Now, just over eight months into her tenure as photography director of Wallpaper*, she’s making her presence felt in artist collaborations and visual journalism. How has the way you commission changed since joining Wallpaper*? I would describe the …
It’s six years since the inaugural edition of Unseen Amsterdam arrived with the mission to shake up the art fair model, focusing on emerging photographers and collectors, and instilling a welcome dose of fun to proceedings. And despite its beginnings during difficult times for arts funding, the ‘fair with a festival flair’ has largely succeeded, developing into something more ambitious than a glorified trade show, with its own public programme and a city-wide celebration of the medium in one of the world’s great photography capitals.
The emphasis remains on championing new talent, and with this in mind, the latest addition to Unseen is Futures, a cross-European photography platform bringing together 10 cultural institutions from around the continent, each with their own talent programmes.
In Dave Eggers’ novel The Circle, recent graduate Mae Holland joins a highly successful social media corporation in California. The Circle, as the company is named, demands 24/7 loyalty from its staff but, seduced by its power and glamour, Holland is quickly drawn in and starts sleeping at the on-site dormitory and almost exclusively hanging out with its employees. By the end of the book things have taken a dystopian turn, and The Circle has morphed into a totalitarian regime, governed by slogans such as ‘Privacy is Theft’ and ‘Secrets are Lies’, poised to take over the world.
It’s a compulsive read, and is currently being turned into a film starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks, so you’d think it would be required reading for young entrepreneurs relocating to San Francisco to set up their own tech businesses. Photographer Laura Morton agrees, but says most of them have never heard of the book. “You have to understand, most of them are completely dedicated to their work,” she says. “They have to launch faster than the next guy, quickly scale up their business… They’re not looking outward a lot.”
American photographer Laura Morton has won the 2018 Canon Female Photojournalist Award. The award gives her €8000 funding towards a new project, which will be exhibited at the 2019 Visa Pour l’Image festival.
Originally trained in Political Science and Journalism, Morton has previously shot projects on FARC guerrillas in Colombia, the segregation and oppression of Pashtun women in Pakistan, and military sexual assault survivors in the US, and her project on young tech entrepreneurs in San Francisco, Wild West Tech, was funded by the Magnum Foundation and published in BJP’s April 2016 relaunch issue. But she won the award with a pitch for a new project titled University Avenue, named after a road which runs through two very different districts of her home town, San Francisco.