“Tu sais qu’est-ce que c’est le rayon vert?” Marie Rivière’s listless character Delphine asks, her legs swinging, in Éric Rohmer’s 1986 film Le Rayon Vert [The Green Ray]. The film – a portrait of its main character’s halting search for summer romance – was based on Jules Verne’s 1882 novel of the same name. While in theory its title refers to an optical phenomenon – in which the appearance of the sun as it rises or falls beyond the horizon creates a brief flash of green, and with it a supposed moment of mental clarity for all those who see it – in reality its subject matter is far more elusive. “I related the ‘rayon vert’ phenomenon to the process of photography – this special and quick moment that happens rarely,” Swiss photographer Senta Simond explains, referring to her project of the same name. Her series, which will be published by Kominek and shown at London’s Webber Gallery soon, adds a new, compelling layer to the meteorological event/Jules Verne/ Éric Rohmer mix of references. Indeed, Simond, a former student of ECAL, University of Art and Design Lausanne, from which she graduated last summer, first encountered the concept via the 1986 film.
“The atomic structure of materials, and the influence of DNA on the appearance of people and all other living organisms, rely on the language of mathematics for their expression,” says British photographer Peter Fraser, whose new exhibition is called Mathematics. On show at the Camden Arts Centre, it’s a wide-ranging series which brings together seemingly disparate, people, objects, and landscapes, shot in various places and locations.
For Fraser they’re linked by the fact they can all be described mathematically. “I’m inviting the viewer to imagine that mathematics is the code behind everything we see in each of these images,” he says. “And therefore the encyclopaedic nature of the way the subjects jump and change around is really important, for me, to try to suggest the totality of our environment mathematics can describe.”
When Robin Hammond started work on his project Where Love Is Illegal, he changed his approach to photography. Shooting members of the LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex] community who have faced persecution and punishment in countries in which such prejudice is enshrined in law, he relinquished much of the creative control to the sitters.
Up until then, he’d worked in the tradition of great photojournalists, committing extended periods of time to documenting stories as they unfolded in front of his lens. His acclaimed project Condemned, for example, a study of the treatment of the mentally ill in Africa, was shot over 10 years. But during his numerous trips to the continent, he had become acutely aware of the deep-rooted homophobia there.
“Wherever I went, I was surprised by how extreme the views on homosexuality were,” he says.
“I recently did a talk for students and none of them were taking any pictures or trying things out,” says Jack Davison, a self-taught photographer from Essex, and one of BJP’s Ones To Watch talents in 2016. “They were all writing down ideas and planning projects, but not shooting. I kept telling them, ‘You need to make all your mistakes now, before you start showing people’.”
Growing up, his dream was to become a marine biologist, and when it came to choosing a degree subject, he opted for English literature and the University of Warwick. But he was also interested in photography and, curious about the trend for sharing photographs online, grew his Flickr profile and developed his technique all the way through his studies. “Experimenting is a big part of my work,” he says.
“In my 20 years working in the industry I have never been asked if I have a degree; the only thing that really matters is the quality of your portfolio”
Internet penetration in Kenya has grown so rapidly over the past decade that the country has been dubbed the “Silicon Savannah”. In 2009, a submarine fibre optic cable linking Mombasa to the rest of the world was launched, and construction of “Kenya Vision 2030” is now underway – a £11.2bn, 5000-acre technology city expected to create around 60,000 jobs in the IT sector.
Household tech names such as Google, Intel, Microsoft, Nokia, and Vodafone all have a presence in Kenya, and, says 27-year-old German photographer Janek Stroisch, “young entrepreneurs are seizing this opportunity as a chance to make change”. “Hundreds of youths have used the internet to launch start-up companies to try to create jobs for themselves,” he adds, “because sadly there aren’t enough to go around.”
Antonin Kratochvil has been suspended from the VII Photo Agency, pending an investigation into accusations he sexually harassed female photojournalists in the agency. The allegations were made in an article written by Kristen Chick for the Columbia Journalism Review, which contends that sexual harassment is widespread in photojournalism, and cites Kratochvil as just one example.
The report includes quotes from photographer Anastasia Taylor-Lind, a one-time member of VII, stating that Kratochvil physically groped her at a VII Annual General Meeting in Paris in 2014. “She says she was approached by founding member Antonin Kratochvil, a well-known photojournalist who has won three World Press Photo first prizes over his long career,” the article reads. “Taylor-Lind was wearing a long skirt, and said she stood with a group of people near a window during a break from the meeting.
“Without warning, Kratochvil slid his hand between her buttocks, she says, and pushed it forward until he was touching her vagina over her clothing. He held his hand there for several seconds, she says. She froze until he removed his hand and then she walked away.”
“If you live in Russia, you’re taught to love your family, and love your nation. It’s part of your life and education, we even have classes teaching patriotism at school,” says Alexander Anufriev, whose new project takes a closer look at what makes a modern Russia.
The idea for Russia Close-up came while he was studying at The Rodchenko Art School in Moscow, and starting to feel disillusioned with documentary photography. “At the time, it was important for me to tell stories and for them to be the truth, but it started to feel like a little bit of a lie,” he explains. “Even if you’re trying to be totally objective, it is always a bit subjective.
“I stopped shooting for six months, and I was about to quit photography, but then I thought, ‘What if I tried to be completely subjective?’ So I cropped the images very tightly, and included only the elements I wanted to show. It was a farewell to convention.” Unconventional it may be, but the series has already had some success, exhibited in Cardiff, Sydney, and Saint Petersburg, and winning third place in the Moscow Photobookfest Dummy book award.
Nadia Shira Cohen has won the $10,000 Women Photograph + Getty Images grant for her work on the abortion ban in El Salvador – and the five grants of $5000 awarded by Women Photograph with Nikon have gone to Tasneem Alsultan, Anna Boyiazis, Jess T. Dugan, Ana Maria Arevalo Gosen, and Etinosa Yvonne Osayimwen.
Nadia Shira Cohen’s series Yo No Di a Luz documents the effect that the complete ban on abortion in El Salvador has had on women – particularly on those forced to give birth to children conceived as a result of rape. “Doctors and nurses are trained to spy on women’s uteruses in public hospitals, reporting any suspicious alteration to the authorities and provoking criminal charges which can lead to between six months to seven years in prison,” writes Shira Cohen. “It is the poorer class of women who suffer the most as doctors in private hospitals are not required to report.
“Talking to people in Gaza, you realise how much the drones are burrowed into their daily lives,” says Daniel Tepper, an American photographer who has been researching and documenting the production and militarisation of drones in Israel since the 2014 conflict in Gaza.
In Arabic, unmanned aircrafts are referred to as ‘zenana’, local slang for the buzzing of a mosquito; in English ‘drones’ take their name from the male honeybee, and the monotonous hum it makes in flight. The Israeli military pioneered the use of drones in combat, employing the technology during the 1982 Lebanon War, and since then people in Gaza have become accustomed to the insidious noise of drones, sounding so close “they could reside beside us”, as Dr. Atef Abu Saif writes in his first-hand account of the 2014 conflict, The Drone Eats With Me. “It’s like it wants to join us for the evening and has pulled up an invisible chair,” he adds.
Despite this familiarity, what’s most scary about the drones is the fact it’s always unclear why they’re out – if they’re doing surveillance, if they’re armed, or if they’re about to strike. During the summer of 2014 the people of Gaza lived under constant surveillance, so much so you couldn’t distinguish a star or a satellite from a drone at night, says Vittoria Mentasti, an Italian photographer who experienced the conflict while reporting on it. According to Hamushim, a human rights group based in Gaza, drone warfare was responsible for almost a third of the 1543 civilian casualties in the 2014 war.