“Throughout human history the depiction of the human body has been curiously investigated,” writes BJP‘s assistant editor, Izabela Radwanska Zhang. “In its rawest form, artists have dedicated their lives to perfecting it on paper – god and icons of religion and spirituality rendered in perfect anatomy. This changed with the arrival of the camera, and gradually our viewpoints of the figure became manifold.” We contemplate some of these viewpoints in this issue, which looks at the depiction of the human form and the ways in which contemporary image-makers are pushing its representation. From Amsterdam, we have Carla van de Puttelaar and her compelling work on the female nude, which takes inspiration from the Old Masters. Photographing female figures of the art world, Van de Puttelaar creates portraits that are both elegant and empowering in her ongoing project Artfully Dressed: Women in the Art World. Elsewhere, we feature a new three-part project by co-curators Holly Hay and Shonagh Marshall titled Posturing: Photographing the Body in Fashion, which explores the changing representation of the body in the ever-morphing fashion world. “It’s about …
Photography is often considered a solitary pursuit, but the Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) in Toronto, Canada hopes to overturn this conception with a research project led by artists, scholars, and curators such as Ariella Azoulay, Wendy Ewald, Susan Meiselas, Leigh Raiford, and Laura Wexler. Now an exhibition at RIC called Collaboration: A Potential History of Photography is putting their work on view. Featuring approximately 90 photographic projects the work on show demonstrates some of the many ways photographers have collaborated with their subjects and other participants. It includes Wendy Ewald’s Reciprocating in Arabic installation, which combines image and text in an attempt to show the experience of walking through the Arabic language, and WEB Du Bois’ The Potential of the Archive I, a look into the history and present challenges of black America, among many other projects.
In the late 1980s, while studying, David Moore made a series of colour photographs depicting the everyday lives of working class communities in Derby. In Pictures From the Real World, since published as a book by Dewi Lewis, we meet married couple Lisa and John, among others. Intrigued by the notion of returning photographs to the contexts from which they came, Moore had the idea for a new imagining of the work as a piece of verbatim theatre (drama derived from unedited spoken transcripts), through which the photographs could be ‘returned’ to the couple. Moore invited Lisa and her now ex-husband John to work with him on what he calls an “archive intervention” – to create new dialogues from the photographs. From this The Lisa and John Slideshow was born, a 45-minute play written and directed by Moore, assisted by Gavin Dent, where actors played the couple.
Why is it important to possess an understanding of photography as both a medium and subject?
Tackling excessive consumption and its parlous effect on the environment and on mental health, Excessocenus uses brightly-coloured, staged images rather than the gritty photojournalism more familiar in this field. “On one hand we wanted to point out the culture of excess that is driving the planet to a total collapse, but on the other hand we also wanted to make a point about how this dramatic situation is normally presented to the audience,” says its creators, Cristina de Middel and Bruno Morais
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“Photography is a universally understood language. No matter where you’re from, anyone can read an image and understand what’s going on,” says French photojournalist Michael Bunel. Bunel has been working as a photojournalist for the last five years and is committed to communicating important stories through images. He’s documented the 2013 unrest in Turkey’s Taksim Square, the crisis in Ukraine, and the Calais Jungle. But now he’s turning the lens on a crisis unfolding right on his doorstep in Paris. “For several months, hundreds of refugees have been roaming the capital for lack of a better reception facility,” explains Bunel. Despite the French President Emmanuel Macron’s purported wish to make France ‘the land of the welcome’, refugees continue to sleep rough in the streets, mostly grouped in makeshift camps like those at the Canal Saint Martin in Jaurès and the Avenue of the Porte des Poissonniers. With snow falling in the French capital at the start of February and now again at the end, they’re facing freezing conditions in tents. When he was just starting …
Carolyn Drake first visited Ukraine more than a decade ago, as part of a year-long Fulbright fellowship investigation of changing notions of gender in the former USSR. Coming of age at the end of the Cold War, and with preconceptions about the region, she “saw it as a chance to step out of my present frame of reference, as a way to look at the malleability and impermanence of beliefs,” she recalls. Searching for expressions of female identity in the West of the country, she met the hosts of a church-run orphanage, who directed her to an older institution nearby called Petrykhiv Internat. Tucked away in a forest on the outskirts of Ternopil, it was a state-run boarding house, where around 70 girls marked as ill or disabled had been sent to live. Labelled abnormal, they had been deemed unfit to live beyond the home’s towering walls. That first trip took place in 2006; eight years later, she returned, eager to find out what had become of the girls and their home. “I expected to show up and ask someone on the staff how I could find the girls,” she says. “But when I arrived, I found most of them were still there, now in their twenties.
“Folkestone is a hidden gem – inspiring, by the sea, relatively affordable, and only an hour from London,” says Lee Brodhurst-Hooper. “It is easier for me to be a photographer here. I can afford to be an artist here, and I couldn’t in London. There is a thriving creative community, with lots of active, enthusiastic, friendly people who want to push the agenda for the town forward. “But at the same time it is a town struggling with its identity. As one of the 10% of most deprived areas of the country, it has high rates of deprivation and low scope in terms of jobs and careers. There is dilapidation, it is rough around the edges, there are barren spaces and roads you should avoid.” Originally from the Midlands, Brodhurst-Hooper moved to Folkestone two years ago, after a long stint living and working in London. Studying first at the University of East London and then on the prestigious MA Photography at the London College of Communications, he had built up a successful career in trendspotting, picture …
Kathleen Fox-Davies and Anna Kirrage first met when they worked together at a Mayfair gallery. Eight years later, they’ve set up their own outfit – Black Box Projects. “We always attended art events together, so we retained a continual dialogue about the art market and our respective interests,” Kirrage tells BJP. “We have always worked in small businesses where there wasn’t necessarily room for growth, so the obvious step was to start out on our own.” Fox-Davies is a photography specialist with over a decade of experience in galleries such as Michael Hoppen, Hasted Hunt and ATLAS, while Kirrage’s experience is in managing art organisations’ PR and strategy. Drawing on their complementary skills, they’ve decided to break the traditional gallery mould and will run Black Box Projects as a series of pop-up installations, rather than opening a permanent space.