No matter how hard you try, sometimes Arles can be just like Glastonbury (sans mud) – lots of things going on and you get sidetracked, and don’t get to see the one thing you wanted to. However I did manage to get round a diverse group of exhibits this year, one of my favourites actually being the Alice Neel painting show at the Fondation Van Gogh. Here is my round-up of what I saw of note this edition. The House of the Ballenesque, Roger Ballen This was very talked about in Arles – an old ramshackle house that Ballen has taken over, to express somewhat of what goes on in his mind and informs his photography. Like a giant walk-in sketchbook, it’s part fun-house and part mental asylum, with lots of creepy figures and dolls heads stuck on mismatching bodies. It’s worth seeing because it’s a bit different, though it doesn’t quite feel like the main event – it’s more of a fun sideshow to his practice, but interesting nonetheless. Try to go on a …
From the dimly-lit back alleys of Belfast, right into the interiors of its inhabitants’ homes, Chad Alexander’s graduation project Entries takes us on a reflective journey through the streets where he grew up. The 27-year-old first picked up a camera after seeing an exhibition that combined scenes of the Northern Ireland conflict with vignettes of daily life; he has since been developing his own take on documentary in this series. “It was work that I had always wanted to make, but until that point I wasn’t exactly sure how to approach it,” he explains.
Born in 1908, Minor White lived at a time when being openly gay was risky. He remained in the closet for much of his life, fearful of losing his teaching positions at institutions such as the California School of Fine Arts, Rochester Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology – a factor which helped shape his aesthetic vision, argues an exhibition of his work currently on show in Madrid, “employing close-ups and cropping to express what couldn’t be shown”.
“I try to use photography to investigate the aspects of my family life that have been deliberately set aside,” says Thomas Duffield. His final-year project, The whole house is shaking, pays tribute to an idyllic childhood on a small farm on the outskirts of Leeds, while simultaneously confronting a darker enclave of family history. Composed from small details of everyday life and portraits of his mother, sister and grandfather, the project also dwells on his father’s clandestine heroin addiction, hidden from the children while they were growing up.
Val Williams is co-curating a show on seaside photography for Turner Contemporary – and is asking photographers to submit their work for consideration. The exhibition will launch in Margate in summer 2019 before going on tour around the UK, and is being curated by Val Williams and Karen Shepherdson – director of the photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC) at the London College of Communication, and director of the South East Archive of Seaside Photography respectively. They want to produce a collection which explores “how the medium of photography has both shaped and exposed the multiple layers of the seaside resort”, they say.
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.
Born in Ukraine but now based in Berlin, Viktoria Sorochinski, a photographer and teacher, is documenting disappearing rural communities back home in her ongoing project, Lands of No-Return – which was recently shortlisted for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2017. Her personal connection to the villages comes from her childhood, which she spent enriching her imagination playing in the magical woods surrounding the house of her grandparents, who are now buried there.
Swedish documentary photographer Loulou d’Aki’s Make a Wish has been a long time in the making. The project, which was shortlisted for the Grand Prix at Lodz Fotofestiwal this year, revolves around the aspirations and dreams of young people across the globe, recorded in a sweeping compilation of portraits and landscapes. Shot alongside commissions for international publications such as Le Monde, The New York Times and Die Zeit, it evolved over a number of years, charting the photographer’s life on the move.
The Homeric idea of the lotus has endured and today it still represents something that is sweet and addictive, capable of inducing a dreamy forgetfulness and a gentle sense of complacency. Lotus, the new photography book by Max Pinckers in collaboration with Quinten De Bruyn, sets out to question just these tempting qualities.
“I like to think that I’ve been giving myself time to find my own way of taking pictures – which of course means making a lot of mistakes, blowing a lot of resources and being very confused,” says fast-rising star Albert Elm