“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.
It is difficult to unravel, in many of the stories that Max Pinckers tells, where fiction became unstuck from fact. Or how the characters in his photographs can look back out at the world so boldly, shake their heads at reality as most people see it, and tell stories that fly in its face. But for the Brussels-based photographer, the six curious individuals in his latest book, Margins of Excess – including a boy who compulsively hijacks trains, and a private detective with prosthetic hands – lead the way to understanding documentary photography’s role in the ‘post-truth’ era.
One such character, an American amateur inventor with a mane of silken hair, sat at the kitchen table of his home in Dunnellon, Florida and told Pinckers that he believed he had become the media’s new Osama bin Laden. “My name is Richard Heene. A few years ago I got into a bit of trouble,” said the forty-something showman, detailing the events that led him to end up behind bars.
Since graduating from the documentary photography course at the University of South Wales last year, Lua Ribeira has gone from strength to strength. In addition to the Firecracker Grant, which she was awarded in 2015 while still a student, her work was recently selected by Susan Meiselas to appear in Raw View magazine’s Women Looking at Women issue. She is also making a name for herself commercially and with editorial clients such as Wired; her images have been shown at international festivals, including Photo España in 2014 and Gazebook Festival in 2015, and she has also been awarded a Jerwood Photoworks Grant for future projects in 2018. Thus far, Ribeira is best known for Noises in the Blood, an ongoing investigation into Jamaican dancehall culture,
Magnum Photos just completed its annual AGM and has announced five new photographers are to join as Nominees – Rafal Milach (Poland), Sim Chi Yin (Singapore), Lua Ribeira (Spain), Gregory Halpern (USA), and Lindokuhle Sobekwa (South Africa).
Under Magnum’s system, photographers first join as Nominees, before graduating to become Associates a couple of years later. After a spell as Associates, they then become full Members – a status which confers life-time membership of the world-famous agency. Magnum has also announced that previous Nominees Sohrab Hura (India) and Lorenzo Meloni (Italy) have become Associates.
It was while working as an art director that rising talent Justine Tjallinks decided she wanted to make her own images. Born in a small village in the east of the Netherlands, the 32-year-old moved to the Dutch capital to study at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute before immersing herself in the commercial world, working on several leading fashion publications.
Out of a 1200km-stretch of grassland in northern Kazakhstan, glistening skyscrapers shoot up into the landscape. Among the impressive buildings rising out of the otherwise sparse terrain are two identical golden towers, a fantastical presidential palace, and a looming centrepiece that blossoms into a large golden sphere. It packs quite a visual punch, but what’s most impressive is that it’s all been built in just 15 years.
Astana became the capital of Kazakhstan in 1997, and has since developed into one of the most modern cities in Central Asia. It’s futuristic buildings are designed by world-famous architects such as Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid, their work paid for via the country’s recently-discovered oil reserves.
For the past five years, Ulla Deventer has been working on a project about women and prostitution in Europe – specifically in Brussels, Athens and Paris – but also, more recently, in Ghana. Several of the women she met in the project’s early days were from West Africa, and Deventer developed close friendships with some of her subjects, who inspired her to travel to their home countries to experience first-hand what life is like for women living there.
In May 2017, Deventer, who was born in Henstedt-Ulzburg in north Germany and is now based in Hamburg, spent six weeks in Accra, the capital of Ghana, where she focused her attention on the living conditions of the city’s youth, particularly its female sex workers. She recently returned to the country to continue to work on Butterflies Are a Sign of a Good Thing – an extension of her original project.
“Contrast, characters, dark humour, forms, shapes, awkward gestures and actions interest me,” says Noma Osula. In his portraits, the Nigerian photographer punctures the staid conventions of portraiture with playful gestures. A man, hands folded formally on his lap, blows a chewing-gum bubble; a woman, resplendent in a jade-green dress and doused in a painterly light, sucks on a red lollipop. At just 25, Osula’s sharp eye for colour and atmosphere already makes for a distinctly offbeat aesthetic. Using his vision to counter mainstream narratives has been an important drive for Osula, and a crucial part of his development as an artist. “First, it was changing the narrative of the so-called ‘Africa stigma’, then embracing imperfection, just like the Japanese idea of wabi-sabi,” he explains. “This projection of Africa as a completely dark and primitive continent, as well as what we represent, is obviously incomplete and inaccurate.”
The “fictive hellhole” of Soham Gupta’s Angst makes for challenging viewing. Since 2013, with the night as his backdrop, the 29-year-old has been creating a haunting constellation of portraits of those living on the margins of Calcutta society. Drawing on a troubled youth spent struggling with societal expectations, Angst is a despairing, personal reckoning with a world in which the weakest and most vulnerable are neglected. The project started following a workshop with Antoine d’Agata and Sohrab Hura (a Ones To Watch in 2011) in Cambodia, where Gupta was encouraged to move away from his background in photojournalism and build on his innate interest in loneliness and vulnerability. Setting out on his own nocturnal journey through the streets of his hometown, Gupta began photographing and writing short fictional texts about the people he encountered. After instigating conversation, he would then collaborate with them to create a portrait.
José David Valiente’s graphic flash-lit images render his native Spain in an uncanny light. Drawn to the peculiar and mysterious, his projects steer towards the oddities of everyday human behaviour. From documenting the surreal atmosphere and prized pigs of the Semana Porcina – an annual food-farming fair held in his hometown, Lorca – to capturing the dark energy of the underground punk scene, the 31-year-old’s offbeat vision sheds light on diverse aspects of Spanish society.