All posts filed under: Ones To Watch

The surreal dreamscape of Ukrainian photographic duo Synchrodogs

Since Synchrodogs featured in our September 2012 issue, the Ukrainian photography duo have continued to gather momentum. Commissions for Tania Shcheglova and Roman Noven include Croatian eyewear design Sheriff & Cherry, a shoot for New York Magazine, and a portrait assignment for Dazed & Confused photographing their compatriots, the protest group Femen. Their recent project, Reverie sleep, sees Synchrodogs explore their dreams – the space between wake and sleep that is both familiar and remote. “The project deals with the stage of non-rapid eye movement sleep, during which some people may experience hypnagogic hallucinations caused by the natural process of falling asleep,” they explain. “Experimenting with those lucid dreaming techniques, we usually wake ourselves up in the middle of the night to make a note of what we have just seen, gathering our dreams to be staged afterwards.” This project has a distinctly surreal feel, but the duo’s work always builds on the uncanny and the strange, often including naked or semi-clothed figures hiding their faces and holding contorted poses. Their models are often shown against …

2015-09-14T12:44:43+00:00

Patrick Willocq went from corporate multinationals to the DR Congo to photograph the land of his childhood

As a child, Patrick Willocq spent seven years in the Democratic Republic of Congo; with a camera given to him by his father, he recorded the people and places he encountered. In 2009, 27 years after leaving, he returned, and the trip proved a revelation. “I totally reconnected with myself,” he says. “My passion for photography revealed itself stronger than ever. This helped me face the fact that I was fundamentally not happy with my life.” Willocq had been working for corporate multinationals in Asia for nearly two decades, but he abandoned his successful career to resettle in DR Congo. “I feel at home in the remote villages among the locals,” he says. “I have always been struck by the beauty, simplicity and dignity of daily life there. I want to go beyond the images that stigmatise the nation; for instance, I wish to bear witness to the peace that prevails in the Western part of the country.” His first series, On the road from Bikoro to Bokonda, bears testimony to the everyday challenges faced by the Batwa …

2015-09-07T11:10:50+00:00

How to photograph corruption

Photographing the ‘unphotographable’ has become Mari Bastashevskiʼs mission. Born in Saint Petersburg in 1980, she tackles entrenched and often concealed systemic failures such as corruption, abuse of power, propaganda or the economies of conflict. “I have done some frontline war work, but the result felt like ‘phoning in’. Since then, I have become a lot more focused on the system rather than its victims or results,” she says. After spending three years in Russia and the North Caucasus to produce File 126, which documents cases of abductions, Bastashevski is currently working on distinct yet concomitant series. In 2013, she was awarded a Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund grant for State Business, a scrupulous and intricate study of the paradoxes of the global arms trade industry. She is also continuing It’s Nothing Personal, an ongoing project about the contrast between the corporate branding of western surveillance firms and Privileged/Confidential, an informed look at the abuses committed by officials in the Balkans. Using both text and images, her work has a forensic quality. Precision, distance and restraint inspire her aesthetic. “Beauty and spectacle are …

2015-09-03T12:19:27+00:00

Photographing Saudi women as they evolve in British society

Since moving from Saudi Arabia to the UK in 2007, Wasma Mansour has turned her lens towards other women who have made a similar choice. Single Saudi Women takes an almost scientific approach to the ways in which these émigrés evolve in contemporary British society through three carefully crafted typologies – portraits of the women in their homes, still lifes of significant possessions in their homes, and studio images of veils packed in bags. “In the past, my awareness of photography had been limited to its use as an illustrative tool and as a means for providing visual evidence,” says Mansour, who recently completied a PhD in photography at London College of Communication. “Through collaborating with the participants when building their portraits, I became increasingly aware of the need to protect their anonymity. This led me to further revise and expand my use of photography.” Rather than imposing a personal view on how her subjects should be depicted, Mansour enters into a dialogue with each, involving them in the process – from setting the 4×5 camera to proofing the Polaroid test before taking the …

2015-08-28T11:55:10+00:00

Stark portraits from a former communist republic

“Gilles burst into my consciousness when I was judging a competition in September,” remembers Stephen Mayes, executive director of the Tim Hetherington Trust. “His Albanian study exploded with passion and vigour, which seems to flow effortlessly from frame to frame. He takes documentary to the realm of emotion and metaphor, with a rock-solid technique that never falters.” A former company executive, Gilles Roudière left his job in 2005 to move to Germany and dedicate himself to a hobby that progressively turned into a passion. He learned everything by reading library books and studying photo agencies’ websites. The day he became a photographer was the day he “stopped ‘understanding’ images, but ‘felt’ them instead”, he says. The Berlin-based photographer is profoundly interested in what makes a ‘space’ a ‘place’, and has therefore grounded each of his projects so far in a defined territory. “What is most important is how a locale is experienced, and the photographic translation of said experience, more than its straightforward depiction. I have no interest in objectivity. I want to be as subjective as possible,” he says, …

2015-08-21T15:29:55+00:00

Txema Salvans’ clandestine photos of sex workers waiting for clients on the side of Spanish highways

Txema Salvans’ book, The Waiting Game (published last year by RM), is a series of photographs of sex workers waiting for clients on the margins of highways in contemporary Spain. The images are both formal and astonishingly relaxed, and it is this mix that has impressed Martin Parr, who wrote the introduction to the book and nominated Salvans for our Ones to Watch issue in January 2014. A typical image shows a woman waiting for a client in the middle of a rural crossroads under a hazy, sun-seared sky. Orderly lines of trees stretch off on each side, but they are dusty, too, like the woman who stares straight down the road towards something we don’t see – the client. The places where the women sit play a major role but, like the client, the places where they perform their sex acts are missing. This absence gives the project much of its power – a prurient power, as is the nature of most projects on prostitution, but a power nonetheless. It’s the same power apparent in Mishka Henner’s No Man’s …

2015-08-24T11:59:37+00:00

The journalist-turned-photographer shining a light on Beijing’s underground workers

Having discovered a passion for photography as a teen, Sim Chi Yin spent nine years as an adult writing for The Straits Times, Singapore’s English daily, before returning to image making. “I’ve had to remind myself that a good text subject might not be a strong picture project,” she says of the change. “And I’ve had to deal with switching from trying to be an objective reporter to being a closely involved fly on the wall.” She seems to be making a smooth transition, though – Rat Tribe, which documents the lives of low-income workers in Beijing, was presented at Rencontres d’Arles in 2012, and her coverage of the Burmese spring was shown at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo the same year. In 2013, she was nominated for the W. Eugene Smith Grant for Humanistic Photography for Dying to Breathe, an ongoing series on a Chinese gold miner and she is also a member of VII Photo Agency, having been part of their mentoring programme. Born in Singapore, Sim is now based in China, where taking photographs – or, …

2015-08-28T13:37:29+00:00

One Stephen Shore student is setting Paris alight

“I choose to work without limits. I follow my instincts and allow my subconscious to be in control. By neither having a theme nor a structured project, I am able to keep my photographic process as natural and intuitive as possible,” says 27-year-old Louis Heilbronn. His first exhibition, Meet Me On The Surface, at the Galerie Polaris in Paris in February 2013, was a revelation for many. Brigitte Ollier, art critic for the French daily Libération, described his images as “gifted, with a captivating power”, while Claire Guillot of Le Monde wrote that their charm came from their elusive nature. Heilbronn’s large-format photos, which were shown as small 23×30cm prints, flowed like an organic stream of consciousness, mixing portraits of loved ones such as his girlfriend with shots of strangers, images of everyday objects, and an array of varying landscapes. With no indication as to when or how far apart they were taken, the images created a quiet riddle to which each spectator found his own answer. The Brooklyn-based photographer graduated from the photography programme …

2015-08-28T13:37:27+00:00

The cemetery in Guatemala that exhumes babies’ graves

When a child dies, some parents quell their pain with the belief that their child is among the angels. Others find comfort in knowing their child is at rest. They know there is a place where, in moments of quiet despair, they can drop to their knees and grieve the absence of their little body to hold. So when photojournalist Saul Martinez learned that, in his home country of Guatemala, deceased children were being exhumed from their places of rest and being disposed of in a public burial pit, it struck him as inconceivable. “I set out to find this cemetery that I had heard about. It was somewhat difficult to get access to it; the workers didn’t really want to let me see much at first. “I was so shocked when I saw the remains of children being pulled out, not only because of the fact that babies were being exhumed but because a job like this actually exists.” And so began Forgotten Children, Guatemala City, a documentary short and series of images that …

2015-10-19T12:25:10+00:00

Shooting Stars: Capturing the “arrogance and vulnerability” of the famous

Mathieu César’s aesthetic may be classic, but the approach is resolutely contemporary, and that mix has seduced some of the biggest players in the fashion world – from the former editor of Vogue Paris, Carine Roitfeld to Christian Lacroix, the woman behind the French fashion label. “Referencing past masters of the fashion image in the simplicity of his contrasted composition, Mathieu César subverts the classical genre by capturing a contemporary generation of beautiful and damned subjects in sometimes surreal scenes that somehow manage to feel uncontrived,” says another fan, Anne Bourgeois-Vignon, creative content director at Nowness. “His photographs of models, musicians and assorted cool kids flirt with emotion and raw beauty, and his subjects blend arrogance and vulnerability.” A former hairdresser, César got his break with a short film he made of his brother, the ballet dancer Jean-Sébastien Colau. For two months, the French cinema chain MK2 showed the documentary before every feature. He quit his job, joined a production company, and within six weeks was in Mongolia on assignment for Louis Vuitton. “They asked me to shoot videos and photos. …

2015-08-28T13:36:35+00:00

BJP Staff