As Peter Lavery’s 50-year project Circus Work goes on show, we revisit an interview with him published in BJP in 1997 – when the series was a mere 30 years in the making. “I started Circus Work at college [Lavery has an MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art]. I was visiting home in Wakefield, and I took in a a performance of the Winships Minicircus in the Queen’s Hall in Leeds. That’s where it started.”
London-based publisher MACK Books is one of the world’s best-respected photobook makers. A leading producer of contemporary books, working with some of the most established artists in the field, MACK has also won acclaim for republishing hard-to-find classics such as Masahisa Fukase’s Ravens and Luigi Ghirri’s Kodachrome, and for supporting and promoting emerging artists, particularly through its prestigious First Book Award. In addition, MACK has published several books compiling writing on photography by artists such as Joan Fontcuberta, Allan Sekula and Victor Burgin. MACK was originally set up as steidlMACK in 2004 and was part of the Steidl publishing house, but its founder, Michael Mack, left the German company to go it alone in 2010. Now MACK’s work to date under both imprints is being showcased at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Australia, in an exhibition presented by Perimeter Books which features over 200 books and special editions, including MACK’s pioneering experiments in digital publishing via MAPP Editions. In most cases, visitors are able to hold, handle and read these rare and sometimes out-of-print photobooks.
Vanessa Winship’s biggest UK show to date, the first UK retrospective of Dorothea Lange, and a huge group exhibition including work by photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark, Dayanita Singh, Alec Soth, Chris Steele-Perkins, Daido Moriyama, Diane Arbus, Pieter Hugo, Bruce Davidson, and Boris Mikhailov – they’re all coming up this year at London’s Barbican Centre, in a season titled The Art of Change.
Merrie Albion: Landscape Studies of a Small Island is a concise compendium of Britain over the past few years and is an excellent visual survey of the run-up to Brexit. The photographs examine rich and complex variations of Britain that are now even more poignant after last year’s vote. Images of election campaigning in clean and tidy suburbia, protests, the aftermath of riots in London, diamond jubilee celebrations, rock concerts, a family enjoying Brighton beach, computer screens of the trading floor of Lloyds – the list goes on. Roberts has managed to capture all the major events in juxtaposition with minor situations that are large with meaning, from the dead of the Iraq war being saluted by Army veterans through Wootton Bassett to an depiction of impoverished mothers and children at a youth club in Blackburn. Contained within each photograph are mini dramas, cheap-looking high streets with pound shops set against Victorian architecture. Roberts shows a Britain at odds with itself. Rather than a harmonious society, we sense fragmentation and awkwardness and a yearning for a glorious past that never existed.
For more than 40 years, Peter Mitchell has been quietly making photographs of his surrounding environment in the north of England. He’s done so with the minimum of fuss, without any fanfare or desire for the public eye. Now he’s finally been awarded his first major survey show, A New Refutation of the Viking 4 Space Mission, opening a week before the closing of his exhibition at Rencontres d’Arles. A recluse he may be, but Mitchell is also extremely influential. “It’s a mystery to me,” he says with a shrug, when I ask him how he’s achieved such a feat. “But there you go.”
In BJP’s latest issue, we focus on forms of collaboration. Collaboration in photography can be controversial, say the Danish collective Sara, Peter & Tobias, as “in school you’re told that you have to find your own personal interest and motive”. Yet collaboration – whether in an ad hoc duo or formalised collective – is a powerful tool to combine voices and perspectives, and create rich, multi-faceted work. In our featured projects we share work from Carlotta Cardana, for example, who teamed up with writer and tribal member Danielle SeeWalker on a 15,000 mile journey across the United States. In the resulting The Red Road Project, the dialogue between image and text paints a picture of contemporary Native American identity, and counters reductive stereotypes often fuelled by the media. Over in Europe, Belgian photographer Kevin Faingnaert entered a rural protest camp in France, where – despite initial resistance – he managed to gain his subjects’ trust and develop a deeper understanding of their alternative lifestyle. Christopher Bethell sought to capture his grandfather’s gaze in his series on memory and …
Born in Naples, Italy in 1988, Lorenza Demata was raised in Florence and took her first degree in International Cooperation and Conflict Management in the city. She went on to study photography for three years at the Fondazione Studio Marangoni in Florence, graduating in 2016 and moving to London to study for an MA in Photography at the London College of Communication. She recently graduated from the LCC with a final project called It all started when some of us left the country, which compares the movements of people and food – linking the fact that approximately 40% of London’s population is made up of expatriates, and almost 50% of the total consumption of food resources relies on imported fruit and vegetables. BJP: Your BA is in International Cooperation and Conflict Management, why did you switch to photography? Or do you feel you’re still working on similar issues? Lorenza Demata: I have always been interested in social and political issues. When I started my first BA, almost ten years ago, I wanted to understand what was happening …
You may not know it, but you’re probably familiar with Emily Shur’s celebrity portraits, from Helen Mirren and Will Farrell to Lupita Nyong’o and Larry David. Her active, vibrant and playful commissions have been seen on posters and screens the world over, and have helped her become one of LA’s most sought-after photographers when it comes to shooting comedians, actors and musicians in their most natural – or unnatural – habitats. But in Super Extra Natural!, her new book published with Kehrer, Shur trades in the digital camera and studio lighting to take us on a journey through Japan.
Federica Chiocchetti, the writer, curator, lecturer, and founding director of the photo-literary platform Photocaptionist picks out her top five of the year – including Giorgio Di Noto’s The Iceberg, published by Edition Patrick Frey