Between 1930 and 1964, Liberty Theater was the name of a non-whites only cinema owned by Rosalind Fox Solomon’s family in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “There was an irony in the name. I chose Liberty Theater as the title of this book because of its multiple meanings,” she says. “In a broader context, the title relates to performance and pretence in the theatre of life.”
The photographs Liberty Theater collects together were taken through the 1970s to 90s in the southern United States, and have never before been published as a group. From Georgia to South California, through Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana, Solomon captured the complexity of race, class, and gender divisions.
“I had no idea that photography would change my life,” says Solomon, who began photographing when she was 48, after graduating from college, getting married and raising two children. In 1977 she moved to Washington DC, where her husband worked for the General Services Administration, and visited New York City to study privately with Lisette Model.
“Placed anonymously and often hidden from view, ‘Ex-Votos’ are offerings left by pilgrims as signs of gratitude and devotion,” explains Alys Tomlinson of the subjects of Ex-Voto, a series exploring offerings of religious devotion found at Christian pilgrimage sites. These small donations of gratitude take the form of handwritten notes neatly folded and hidden in the crevice of rocks, crosses etched into stone, or lengths of ribbon tied around piles of twigs, creating a tangible narrative between faith, person and the landscape. Ex-Voto explores this narrative through formal portraiture, large format landscape photography, and small, detailed still lives of the objects and markers left behind. Last year, the series was shortlisted for the BJP International Photography Award, and it has garnered global attention ever since. “To have my interests recognized as resonating beyond my own curious impulses is both exciting and encouraging,” says Alys of being shortlisted for last year’s BJP IPA, “While to receive recognition from judges with such distinctive reputations is a huge boost for my confidence, and gives me the motivation to …
Born in 1993 in the Philippines, Ezra Acayan has won the 2018 Ian Parry Scholarship Award for Achievement for his series Duterte’s War On Drugs Is Not Over, which records the fall out from the war on drugs which President Rodrigo Duterte announced in 2016.
Threatening those connected to drug consumption and sales with the death penalty, Duterte urged members of the public to kill suspected criminals and drug addicts, and allowed the police to act with brutality. In the two years since, an estimated 20,000 people have been murdered and a state of emergency has been declared. The United Nations has appealed to the Philippine government to investigate extrajudicial killings and to prosecute the perpetrators, while the International Criminal Court has announced preliminary examinations into killings linked to the campaign.
Tough and hard-hitting, Acayan’s images aim to “illuminate the violent acts carried out in the Philippines as well as the questionable methods of Duterte and the police”.
“I have still never seen the first work I made as a photographer,” says Sabelo Mangleni, who started his career as a delivery boy for a local photographer in his hometown in Driefontein, four hours drive east of Johannesburg. The photographer he worked for had been asked to shoot a wedding but, unable to attend herself, asked Mangleni to cover it – sending him off with a camera around his neck and a crash course in photography. After the wedding the newlyweds quickly picked out the images they wanted to remember their day with – so quickly, Mangleni never got to see them.
Still, the experience of looking for a good photograph and working with people from within a community, got him hooked, and in 2001 Mangleni moved to Johannesburg and joined the Market Photo Workshop. Set up by renowned documentary photographer David Goldblatt in 1989, this well-respected organisation supported young black photographers during apartheid South Africa.
It was an excellent start in photography, but arriving in Johannesburg, Mangleni felt alienated. “I couldn’t understand what people were saying,” he says, describing the struggle to communicate with people in English, which he was still learning at the time. To avoid speaking, he channelled his feelings into photographs of the buildings and architecture, which lead to his first, and ongoing, series Big City.
Food Not Bombs is a 30-year-old global movement. Initially based in Massachusetts, US, the grassroots organisation has now spread worldwide, working to unite and care for people by feeding them, and maintaining an ethos of anti-poverty and non-violence. In recent years, the Yangon, Myanmar sector of the Food Not Bombs movement has become well-known. Mohawked, black-clad and silver-studded, the group spends their time recording and performing punk music, and caring for Yangon’s homeless community. Recently, they have also developed plans to set up a school for children living in the city’s slums. Nico Djavanshir’s series Punk, Love and Kindness follows Yangon’s punks through their daily lives, in the hopes that his work can shed light on their own. The series combines our shared values of individuality, community and unity, and embodies the aims of Portrait of Humanity; we see the subjects with their families, singing into microphones, teaching groups of smiling children, and sometimes campaigning for the Food Not Bombs movement. “I wanted to take positive images,” says Djavanshir. “We’re used to seeing tragic work …
After the economic crisis in Argentina in 2002, Sebastián Bruno’s family moved to a small town in Castilla La Mancha in central Spain. It was then that the photographer decided to re-read Don Quixote, the iconic 17th-century novel about a traveller who slowly converts from hero to bandit. The tale was foremost in Bruno’s mind when he returned to the region years later to retrace the 2500km route of the fictional legend, while studying for a BA in Documentary Photography at the University of South Wales in Newport.
“I thought it was a beautiful metaphor to re-interpret,” he says. “I was walking, cycling and hitchhiking, but no one ever really stopped. The landscape was very flat, the sun was hot and there was not a single tree to hide under.”
In our latest issue, Reframing History, we speak with Patrick Waterhouse about his project collaborating with the Warlpiri people in Australia. We talk with Andrew Moisey, who reveals the dark secrets of US all-male frat houses. And 100 years since the end of the Great War, Nicolas Thomas Moreno turns his lens on memorials to this terrible history in Topography of Remembrance. We also journey to the French capital to highlight two shows exhibiting alongside Paris Photo. The cover feature for this month’s issue is the work of Patrick Waterhouse. Over the course of eight years, he has travelled to and from Australia’s Northern territory, culminating in his latest project: Restricted Images. Made in collaboration with the Warlpiri people, he hopes to give agency to his subjects by asking them to contribute creatively to each image. Through his artistic process, he addresses the problematic break in representation, respect and consent between the first anthropological photographs of the indigenous groups of the past. A professor at a US College, Andrew Moisey has devised a comprehensive insight into …
“You’re always looking for that time where everybody forgets you’re there and becomes themselves. Surprisingly, they do, sometimes to the detriment of what you knew about them,” says Eugene Richards, who has devoted his career to documenting social injustice in America, and injecting himself into intensely personal situations.
Richards’ style is up-close and unflinching, “ironically it’s the process of becoming as not there as you possibly can, if you hang around long enough people don’t care”, he says. Though his photography has been described as poetic and lyrical, he has never thought of himself as an artist. “I went in with some knowledge of photography, but mostly with the idea of providing information,” he says.
“This is a unique time for African photography,” says curator Ekow Eshun. “There’s a wave of thrilling, artistically ambitious talent emerging across the continent.”
He’s gathered some of the best of it for a new show called Africa State of Mind, opening this week in New Art Exchange – the UK’s largest space devoted to culturally diverse contemporary visual arts. Including artists such has Emmanuele Andrianjafy, Sammy Baloji, and Musa N Nxumalo, the exhibition shows off talent from a new generation of African artists, exploring how they interrogate the idea of ‘Africanness’ in their work, and ‘Africa’ as a psychological as much as a physical space.
“South Africa is a deeply religious country,” says Giya Makondo-Wills, whose work-in-progress, They Came From the Water While the World Watched, maps out the interplay between Christianity and ancestral religion in the region. With four trips to the country under her belt so far, the 23-year old has travelled as much into the past as in the present, tracing the indelible repercussions of 19th-century European migration as they resonate through South African culture today.
Makondo-Wills, who is British-South African, became interested in her African grandmother’s faith while shooting another project. “She’s very Orthodox Christian but she also still practises ancestral religion, and that’s a core part of who she is. She prays to a God and the gods,” the photographer explains.
This duality got her thinking about the intersections of belief systems and how they were brought into contact. How did Christianity become so influential? How does it co-exist with indigenous religions? Building on her interests in race and identity, these questions soon elicited many others, spawning a long-term project that has carried her from a BA to an MA at the University of South Wales.