Sleeping by the Mississippi has been ranked with the great representations of the United States, including Walker Evans’ pictures of the depression, Robert Frank’s harsh vision of the 1950s and, more recently, the colour work of Joel Sternfeld. As Alec Soth’s seminal work goes on show in London and is given a handsome reprint by MACK, we revisit an interview with him from back in 2004 – when the series first came out.
Long before the public sat up and took notice of the staggering number of refugees risking everything to make their way to Europe, Alessandro Penso had made migration to the continent the focus of his work. Since 2009 he has been documenting the conditions of refugees who have attempted to cross borders in search of safety and the hope of a better future for themselves and their families. Beginning with detention centres in Malta, which many migrants had mistaken for Penso’s homeland of Italy, the photographer then travelled to Bulgaria where, between 2012 and 2013, the number of refugees surged from 1700 to 10,200. He followed migrant agricultural workers in Italy as they moved from one harvest to another. He also accompanied young adults from the Middle East trying to make their way from Greece (which refuses the majority of asylum seekers’ applications), to its neighbouring countries and beyond, capturing the moment when one, Mostafa El Mouzadhir, was deliberately hit by a car in a hate crime, sustaining multiple injuries. When Penso visited him in …
“They are places you go to when you’ve lost everything – but not before,” says Klaus Pichler of the Viennese bars that feature in his latest book, Golden Days Before They End, released in June and now in its third reprint. It’s one of two books Pichler shot in 2016. The other, This Will Change Your Life Forever, currently in the design stage and due to be published in October, is a sarcastic critique of the esotericism industry and the photography that feeds it. Pichler collaborated on Golden Days with journalist Clemens Marschall, who was familiar with Vienna’s rapidly disappearing old dive bars and the often ‘colourful’ patrons that clung to them. “Clemens has always gone to these bars,” explains Pichler. “He doesn’t like to go to fancy places. Five years ago he noticed that these bars are beginning to close down because of increased regulation, an inability to adapt to a changing city, and a dying clientele.”
The camera is like a divining rod and I have lived my life letting instinct show me what I am interested in, says Joel Meyerowitz, who quit his job in advertising in 1962, after seeing Robert Frank at work. A native New Yorker, he became known for his early colour work on the city streets
“Where are ‘we’ going as a collective society?” That’s the question posed by this year’s Getxophoto Festival, back for its 11th edition under the stewardship of new artistic director, Bilbao-born Monica Allende. The festival, which opens on 31 August and runs until 01 October 2017, comprises 20 main exhibitions, many of them outdoors, and a lively programme of activity and events unfurling around the coastal town of Getxo in the Basque country. “‘Transitions’, the theme for the next three instalments of the festival, starts from the idea that we are entering “a period of post-globalisation”, says Allende, a former photo editor at The Sunday Times. “This concept has been on the fringes of debate for some time but is gathering momentum in mainstream discourse. “We see its effects through increased polarisation of political debate around the threats of climate change, the refugee crisis and the rise of nationalist populism. This is a moment of major uncertainties, where the status quo of the state and global free-market agreements are being questioned as solutions for a balanced …
“I admit didn’t really get the fuss about Hawkesworth when he first started to make ripples in 2010 with his portraits shot in Preston Bus Station (a centrepiece of Brutalist architecture set for demolition ahead of a successful campaign to have it saved and listed), and his signing to Julie Brown’s M.A.P agency, but I have been won over by the ongoing developments in his work,” wrote Jason Evans for BJP in 2015; two years later and the institutions are also catching on, as Hawkesworth’s forthcoming solo show at the Huis Marseille in Amsterdam shows
The September issue brings the otherwise invisible into sharp focus. Invisible World explores forgotten conflicts, intimate retreats, abused landscapes and remote islands to uncover the hidden realities and unknown societies behind ordinary backdrops. “As social beings, we all demand to be seen,” says Hoda Afshar, whose latest series, Behold, takes us to an exclusive male-only bathhouse. Her point resonates with all the photoseries explored in this issue: how do we negotiate our surroundings, how do we see our societies, how do we interpret our world? We need to first see the invisible to answer these ever salient questions.
For over four decades, the documentary photography course has forged a reputation as one of the UK’s leading photography teaching destinations. In fact, the very first photography class can be dated back even further to 1912, when it was introduced by the head of the school of art at Newport Technical Institute. The course, however, was set up in 1973 by Magnum photographer David Hurn as a 12-month Training Opportunities Scheme to ‘re-skill’ miners and steelworkers.
Jens Olof Lasthein, a Swedish-born photographer brought up in Denmark, has spent much of his career travelling around the European hinterlands, where international boundaries have been shifting for centuries. His new book, Meanwhile Across the Mountain, published by Max Ström, is a stunning survey of the Caucasus – the part of southeastern Europe that used to belong to the Soviet Union, but is now a collection of sovereign states and breakaway regions such as South Ossetia, Dagestan and Chechnya.
In our third annual edition focusing on photography education, BJP visits schools around the world to discover what it takes to “see photographically”. From one of the oldest photography schools in the UK, to pioneering institutions in Germany and Denmark, tutors stress the need to appreciate the mechanics of a photograph – light, shape, space and perspective. “Our bodies learn to adapt to the camera that is shaping our experience,” explains Thomas Sandberg, photographer and co-founder of the Ostkreuz School for Photography in Berlin.