All posts filed under: Documentary

The urban alienation of Moscow’s harsh winters

On the one hand, Catalan photographer Salvi Danés’ series Black Ice, Moscow depicts daily life in the Russian capital; on the other, it addresses more universal fears about personal alienation and isolation. The 31 year old, who was born in Barcelona and has lived in the city all his life, decided to turn his attention to Moscow after completing a project in Tokyo. “It was the winter of 2011-12 and my intention was to face another urban reality, to find common elements along the same lines as the previous project,” he says. “My first project focused on the alienating urban dynamics of Tokyo – a modern, highly connected society with new technologies and an economic and social situation admired by many nations. I wanted to transport this concept to a city with different traditions.” Danés spent almost a month photographing in Moscow, looking for busy places where he could stop and observe without being noticed. He talks of the city as being “full of companions but empty of partners”, and in most of the images, people are pictured alone. Many …


© Laura Boushnak/RAWIYA

Delhi’s Just Another Photo Festival wants to prove that it’s different from the rest

While Martin Parr describes photography as “the most accessible, democratic medium available in the world”, the industry that has built up around it has not always followed suit. Often confining itself to intimidating, inaccessible museums, galleries and organisations, photography as an art form doesn’t always interact with the public at large. A new Indian festival, Just Another Photo Festival wants to remedy this, aiming to “democratise photography across the country.” The initiative of photographer Poulomi Basu, Emaho Magazine founder Manik Katyal and British independent filmmaker CJ Clarke, the New Delhi festival will be showcasing 150 photographers from over 35 countries. Work from the likes of Roger Ballen, Philip Toledano and Sim Chi Yin will be displayed in 11 different locations. This guiding idea of expanding the base of photography lovers is being put into action by bringing photography to open, public spaces including malls, universities and even slums. “We’re showing it at a school in a slum,” Katyal says. “They’ve told me they would never imagined that they would get to enjoy photography in this space. We’re …


Minty, Isle of Mull, May 2015. From the series Drawn To The Land.

Scotland’s wild, untameable countryside and the women who work it

“The land was forever, it moved and changed below you, but was forever.” These words from Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s literary elegy to the world of Scottish farming, echo loudly in Sophie Gerrard’s lyrical photography series Drawn to the Land, which captures a similarly fierce bond between Scotland’s wild, untameable countryside and the women who work it. Gerrard began the project two and a half years ago, when she moved back to her native Scotland after years based in London, as a way of exploring her own relationship with her home nation. “When you’re a Scot living away from Scotland, a lot of the questions you get asked about your home country often reflect on the image of this bonny land, the picture-postcard setting and the heather,” Gerrard told us by phone from her home in Edinburgh. “I realised I didn’t know Scotland any better than that, so I wanted to get to know my landscape as it is a real symbol of our national identity for many people.” She couldn’t have chosen a …


Union, Nebraska, 2013

A visual journey along the Oregon Trail

The plastic flamingo was designed in 1957 by Don Featherstone. Gloriously kitsch and garishly pink, the garden ornament fast became an icon of Americana. “People would stick it in their astroturf lawn, by their white picket fence, and it was a way of exoticising their landscape,” says Welsh documentary photographer Jack Latham. His debut book takes its title from Featherstone’s design that became a pop culture classic. “I saw the flamingo almost as a parody of the American flag,” Latham explains. “When America planted the flag in the moon, they were saying, this is my land. When people followed the Oregon Trail, moving east to west, they foisted a flamingo in their gardens as though to say, this is my home.” A Pink Flamingo, which launches at Cardiff’s Diffusion Festival this October, takes us on a melancholic, visual journey along the Oregon Trail, a historic route established in the 1830s by fur traders. Since then hundreds of thousands of settlers, missionaries, farmers and gold seekers have trampled across the trail from Missouri to Oregon in …


A street preacher in New York appeals to Wall Street to repent; 2011
© Christopher Anderson / Magnum Photos

Examining the 1% through the lens

With defiantly left-wing political candidates all over the globe sweeping to prominence on agendas condemning inequality, issues such as gentrification, wage disparity and the allocation of resources have moved from the academic lecture halls to the streets and living rooms. With the public discourse beginning to reach fever pitch, Time associate photo editor Myles Little’s ambitiously international group exhibition One Percent: Privilege in a Time of Inequality grapples with this era-defining issue by depicting those at the top of the pyramid. The group exhibition will be touring all continents, taking in Pingyao, Dubai, Berlin, Lagos, Lishui, Guatemala City, Sarajevo, Sydney, Chicago, Aberystwyth and Addis Ababa. Photographers exhibited include Zed Nelson, Christopher Anderson and Juliana Sohn. “It’s a topic that’s hard to avoid these days, whether you’re interested in photography, or politics, or economics. The Pope has spoken very eloquently about it, even billionaires have spoken out against it,” Little says. “Living in New York City, it’s in your face everyday. It’s Dickensian here, you see the best and the worst of everything very close together, …


The day 100,000 Iranian women protested the headscarf

On 7th May 1979 the Iranian newspapers announced a new law had been passed stating all women must wear a headscarf in public. The following day, more than 100,000 women took to the streets to protest. Photographer Hengameh Golestan was there to capture it. “They were demanding the freedom of choice,” Golestan says. “It wasn’t a protest against religion or beliefs, in fact many religious women joined the protest, this was strictly about women’s rights, it was all about having the option.” Despite these demonstrations, the law remained, and newspapers declined to publish Golestan’s pictures. One of only a handful of female photographers working in Iran at the time, Golestan had started taking photographs seven years earlier, at the age of 18. She was inspired by her husband, the late Kaveh Golestan, who died in 2003 after while working in Iraq for the BBC. “I started as his assistant and then continued from there,” she says. “In the days before selfies, Photoshop and citizen journalism, photos were vital, a visual document that might otherwise not …


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 …


Transnistria Conglomerate © Anton Polyakov

Finalists revealed for top Boundaries prize at Zagreb’s Organ Vida photography festival

Organ Zida, the impressive new independent photography festival from Zagreb, Croatia,  has announced the ten finalists to compete in their main prize, orientated around the theme of Boundaries. Each of the finalist’s photography whose photography will be presented at the main festival exhibition, at the Klovićevi Dvori Gallery in Zagreb from the 3rd to the 18th September 2015. The exhibition is the central tenant of a diverse offering of photography from the only documentary photography festival in the Balkans. Sorting through over 300 projects from 47 countries was no small feat for the international panel of judges, consisting of photography heavyweights such as internationally-acclaimed photographer Roger Ballen, editor of Aperture magazine Michael Famighetti, Dutch photographer and publisher Rob Hornstra, Italian photographer and former World Press Photo winner Alessandro Imbriaco, British photographer Hannah Starkey and Croatian academic and photographer Sandra Vitaljić, as well as BJP editor Simon Bainbridge. Rob Hornstra says of the judging process: “The way the finalists distinguish themselves is because they go beyond registration and make a personal interpretation of theme they are working on. There is …


USA. Teviston, California. 2001. Boy with an old farm truck.

Matt Black’s ‘moral’ photography of America’s sprawling poverty

“It’s a very simple idea: to say no, this is not isolated, it’s literally everywhere and it’s something we all need to address squarely,” says Matt Black.  For newly appointed Magnum nominee Black, photography is as much an exercise in morality as it is one in aesthetics and artistry. That high-minded idea has been put, steadily and consistently into practice, evidenced by the two decades he’s spent exploring the rural United States, meeting communities that have been excluded and neglected. His work caught the attention of Magnum Photos, who named him as a Magnum Nominee this year alongside Carolyn Drake, Lorenzo Meloni, Richard Mosse, Max Pinckers and Newsha Tavakolian (featured in our September 2015 issue.) Black’s current ongoing project, The Geography of Poverty, is perhaps his deepest foray into these strongly-felt concerns. He’s travelling across the United States photographing communities with poverty rates of over 20 per cent, the official level for a ‘poverty area’. There are over 70 towns that meet the ’20 per cent’ standard and this in itself, Black finds appalling: “I …


Python, 2013

How did a Scottish photographer get inside America’s strip club scene?

How did Ivar Wigan, a Perth-born, London-based photographer, infiltrate feared gangs and Atlanta strip clubs? “I lived in this motel and went to the club every night for eight or nine weeks,” he says of his series The Gods, recently exhibited at P-A-M, “until I knew all the dancers, all the security, I knew the management, the bar staff, I was the guy who was there every night.” The Gods focuses on the street culture of America’s southern cities; Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles. The communities depicted — largely black, often deprived of resources and driven to alternative sources of income — represent a side of America that inspire fear and fascination in equal measure among many of its inhabitants. There is a charged dynamic implicit in a middle-class, European photographer documenting their lives for consumption in the cosy environs of a west London art gallery. Wigan distances himself from a grander, societal interpretation of his photos and stresses that his motives were relatively simple: “I was really looking to see what made this scene tick, …


BJP Staff