In 2017, Brian Griffin was invited to undertake an artist’s residency in Béthune-Bruay, northern France. Griffin, who is one of the most prominent British photographers of his generation, was initially selected because of the links between this region and his native Black Country, Midlands – both in terms of landscape and industrial heritage. But Griffin soon had other ideas, drawn from the fact that Béthune-Bruay was just ten miles from the Western Front during World War One. “I’m just a basic Black Country boy and I do make some obvious decisions, which do many times turn out to be fruitful,” he says. “So I decided to focus on the First World War.”
“The truth can be hard to look at,” says an introductory essay to the exhibition Hard Truths, on show at Sotheby’s this weekend. “We all have a protective need to distance ourselves from disaster. But we ignore our neighbors’ misery at our own peril. Violence and hatred proliferate and can quickly engulf those who seek only to avoid them.” The exhibition gathers five series shot by freelance photographers for The New York Times and it shows some very hard truths – Ivor Prickett’s images from the end of the Caliphate in Mosul, Iraq; Tomas Munita’s images from a Cuba at the end of an era; Meredith Kohut’s photograph’s of Venezuela’s “collapse”, as she puts it; Newsha Tavakolian’s portraits of individuals in Tehran; and Daniel Berehulak’s hard-hitting images of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug crackdown in the Philippines. The show was organised by David Furst, The New York Times’ international picture editor, and Arthur Ollman of the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, and it will travel to PHotoEspaña this summer. There are further plans for shows in …
Peter James was an instrumental figure in British photography, establishing an outstanding collection of photography at the Library of Birmingham over his 26-year career at the institution, and researching and curating exhibitions at the V&A, National Portrait Gallery, Somerset House, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon Galley, the Library of Birmingham, and many more. He was also a modest and affable man, universally known as Pete and as at home over a curry as in a lecture hall delivering an academic paper. As Hilary Roberts, research curator at the Imperial War Museum, put it in a tribute on James’ Facebook page: “Pete has been a wonderful friend and exceptional colleague for more years than I can remember. His contribution to the world of photography cannot be overstated. It was a privilege to work with him and I will miss him more than I can say.”
Charlie surfs on Lotus Flowers, which addresses the control of the one-party Communist government, and United States of Vietnam, which looks at the slow victory of capitalism over communism and its consequences for Vietnam’s economy. Using a combination of a staged, typological form of photography in United States of Vietnam, and a more autonomous, naturalistic style for Charlie surfs on Lotus Flowers, Sapienza intends to leave something for the viewer to work out. “They have to try to put their feet in the author’s shoes,” he says. “They just need to get the leitmotiv of your project, not the full, descriptive content. In that exchange lives the real core of the project.”
“They’re all driven by motivations that are both personal and political to a degree, and they are all self-initiated projects,” says curator Alona Pardo of the photographers in the show Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins. “Some may have started as commissions, but very early on took on a life of their own. It was interesting to think about the role of the photographer, because often the photographer hides behind the camera as a facade. There is also an interesting subtext of the photographer occupying the position of an outsider within mainstream society. They are there, assertively documenting the world.”
“It is a very progressive, very independent festival. It’s not part of the city’s art establishment. It’s dynamic, because the organisers are working way out on a limb,” says Susan Bright, ‘godmother’ of the Circulation(s) festival of young European photography, which takes place in Paris from 17 March-06 May
This year, he says, all the images have been thoroughly checked before the shortlists have been announced, let alone the winners. “All the checking is already done – all raw files, where the images were shot, everything,” he tells BJP. “We know how important it is that everything can be trusted, and we keep asking questions until we are satisfied. We wouldn’t announce the shortlists unless we were.”
“If you are asked to think what is the photo of the year, you have to try to have something about the events of that year, and that sends you to a news or documentary photography,” says Magdalena Herrera, director of photography for Geo France and chair of the jury for the 2018 World Press Photo Contest. “But we were looking for a point of view, the photographer’s point of view. We weren’t looking for an opinion, but for images in which someone had been able to take the photographic tool to envisage their part. Even if you are a documentary photographer, you choose the moment when you take the shot. YOU are the one reporting.
“The works selected here have all run up against a more or less bitter-sweet reality, and their authors have liberally arranged, glued, assembled, masked and cut out the components of that reality in order to present it to us as something different, eminently subjective, and decidedly moving,” writes Raphaëlle Stopin, artistic advisor for the 2018 Prix HSBC. She’s writing of the 12 photographers shortlisted for two top prizes, which this year have gone Antoine Bruy (France, 1986) and Petros Efstathiadis (Greece, 1980). The other shortlisted photographers are: Olivia Gay (France, 1973), with the series Envisagées; Karin Crona (Sweden 1968), De la possibilité d’une image; Elsa Leydier (France, 1988), Platanos con platino; Sandra Mehl (France, 1980), Ilona et Maddelena; Shinji Nagabe (Brazil, 1975), Espinha; Michele Palazzi (Italy 1984), Finisterrae; Walker Pickering (USA, 1980), Esprit de corps; Marie Quéau (France, 1985), Odds and ends; Brea Souders (USA, 1978), Film electric; and Vladimir Vasilev (Bulgaria, 1977), T(h)races.
“It’s amazing how such a seemingly simple, common and universal concept as ‘home’ actually becomes incredibly complicated and difficult to pin down, once you really start to consider it on a personal level,” says Aaron Schuman, curator of this year’s JaipurPhoto festival in India, which is themed Homeward Bound. After discussing with the festival’s artistic director, Lola MacDougall, he discovered that JaipurPhoto was originally established as an “open-air travel photography festival”, a label he was initially wary of. For him, the term travel photography “generally alludes to a type of imagery that’s often rather simplistic, generic, stereotypical or predictable”, he says – but he liked 2017 edition of the festival, which was guest-curated by Federica Chiocchetti and themed Wanderlust.