All posts filed under: Documentary

Tim Hetherington Visionary Award gives £20,000 grant to experimental conservation documentary

Dutch-American filmmaking team Eline Jongsma and Kel O’Neill have been named as the first winners of the new Tim Hetherington Visionary Award. The duo saw off 64 other nominated artists to win the £20,000 prize, which was set up by the Tim Hetherington Trust in 2014, in memory of the celebrated British photojournalist who was killed covering the civil war in Libya in 2011. “We’re still processing the news,” says O’Neill on Skype from California where the couple lives. “It’s something we regard as much a responsibility as an honour. We have such an immense amount of respect for anything done in Tim’s name, [which] carries a resonance, and has to be respected… this is a certificate of validation for us.” Speaking exclusively to BJP before the announcement, Stephen Mayes, executive director of the Trust said: “The true essence of Tim was about moving forwards, innovation, and trying to solve the ‘media puzzle’ – how do we use the media in a way that is really effective? By setting up the award in Tim’s name, we …

© Janette Beckman

Hip-Hop Revolution – Museum of the City of New York

Hip-Hop Revolution, a brilliant and wide-ranging new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, showcases more than 100 photographs captured between 1977 and 1990 by three pre-eminent NYC photographers: Bronx born-and-bred Joe Conzo, who came of age in the 70s; esteemed documentary photographer and former NY Post staffer Martha Cooper; and London-born Janette Beckman, who chronicled the UK punk scene, then “visited a friend in New York in 1982 and never left”. The exhibition largely focuses on the key pillars of hip-hop culture in its formative days: music (rapping and DJing), breakdancing, graffiti and, of course, the fashion. The subjects are a beguiling mixture of local and cult heroes (Shack Crew, Treacherous Three) and those who’d one day achieve megastardom (Run DMC, Beastie Boys, Queen Latifah) — all of whom seem to share an uncanny confidence and a sense of pride in their local environs. Before you make the right turn into the main gallery space, you’re met front-on by a giant canvas of a Conzo snap from 1981. It depicts the …

Alec Soth – Songbook

On my way out from interviewing Alec Soth, navigating the stairs from his publisher’s office, out into the rainy late-November evening outside, it seems appropriate – significant even – that it happened on London’s Denmark Street. This tiny diagonal lane on the flanks of Covent Garden has been a draw for musicians since Dickensian times, when the music halls and theatres nearby bought sheet music in bundles from the terraced shops on its route. Later, in the 1950s, it was host to a flourishing music publishing industry, becoming known as the British ‘Tin Pan Alley’, and later still The Rolling Stones and David Bowie sang into microphones in recording studios on their upper floors. These days, most of what’s left of that illustrious, sing-song past is a clutch of guitar shops and specialist music retailers – all under threat of redevelopment – the brassy-yellow light from their windows reflecting in the sheen of wet, gum-dotted pavement. Soth is here in London to lay the ground for a retrospective of his photography opening at Media Space …

Tod Papageorge – Studio 54

Bianca Jagger rode a white horse through it on her birthday. On Andy Warhol’s special day, the owners gave him bin full of dollar bills for his. New York’s Studio 54 opened in 1977 and closed less than three years later, but it’s gone down in history as the most glamorous, most louche, best nightclub in history. It was also one of the most photographed. Populated by celebrities and party people, decorated with literally tonnes of glitter and an illuminated, coke-snorting man-on-the-moon, Studio 54 was a treasure trove for image-makers. Tod Papageorge was one of them, first arriving at the new year’s eve party of 1977/78 and going back again and again until it closed. But while most of the photographers were shooting on assignment, or shooting celebrities with a view to selling them on, Papageorge was working for himself, free to capture the whole scene on his own terms. “I was on my own kind of self-assignment,” he tells BJP. “It had nothing to do with celebrity, and all to do with making what I hoped would be …

Dead on a sidewalk, martyred online

On 17 July 2014, Eric Garner was choked to death by a New York Police Officer. Footage of the event, shot on the camera phone of Ramsey Orta, Garner’s friend, was shared online millions of times within a handful of hours, and Garner’s death energised a nationwide debate about police brutality and institutional racism that continues today. In the days following the video’s circulation, Deputy Photo Editor of TIME magazine Paul Moakley managed to track down Orta, 22, who still held the last moments of his friend, an unarmed father of six, in his hand. “Since I started at TIME, it’s been ingrained in me to get the full story behind any picture,” Moakley says. “I realised no one had talked in depth to Ramsey, so I thought it would be useful to let him tell the story.” Moakley, who lives a few blocks away from where the tragedy took place on Staten Island, encouraged Orta to recall the event, editing his words over sections of the Garner footage and two other videos of aggressive police behaviour Orta had …

Tim Matsui – The Long Night

Between one and three hundred thousand women are being trafficking in the USA today. Many of the girls started on the streets at twelve or thirteen. Around 85 per cent ran away from home. This is the subject of Tim Matsui’s The Long Night, which won the 2015 World Press Photo’s Multimedia competition for best feature documentary this month. As one of the oldest and most respected photojournalism and documentary photography competitions, World Press Photo’s award is testament to the subtlety and strength of Matsui’s film, and the years he spent researching the subject. Although the film began life with a grant from the Alexia Foundation, Matsui first began looking at sexual violence and victimisation fifteen years ago, before creating a non-profit organisation that tries to engage communities in the tragedies taking place in their midst. “As a result, I think I’m able to bring a fairly deep understanding of the issue and its root causes,” Matsui tells BJP. Set in Seattle, The Long Night explores a street-view perspective of sex trafficking, following the police charged with trying to limit it, and the …

Jiehao Su – Borderland

Chinese photographer Jiehao Su started taking photographs when, at the age of 18, he suddenly lost his mother. “It was the first shock in life,” he says. “It led me to realise the impermanence of the world.” Around this time, a friend gave him his first camera, which became “a way to escape the painful reality.” He quickly became obsessed with photography. He set out on a nomadic journey through Asia and Southern, Eastern and Western China. The aim of the trip was simple, to “seek comfort in [his] heart.” After revisiting familiar and nostalgic places from his past, the series Borderland was born in 2012. The series has two themes: “On one hand, the series is an intimate work,” explains Jiehao. “On the other, it is my perspective of a contemporary China in its process of urbanisation.” Now aged 26, he has since trained at the Beijing Film Academy, and is still working on the project, which he plans to finish this year. He’s already exhibited it internationally; last year it was shown in China and …

Syngenta Photography Award exhibition – Review

As you walk through the Syngenta Photography Award, its difficult to shake off the feeling that the future looks grim. We know we’re consuming resources at an unsustainable rate. And still we carry on the same. Oddly, the sheer scale of the problem makes it easier to shrug off. Now in its second edition, the Syngenta Photography Award hopes to counter such apathy by highlighting photography that explores global challenges. Last year’s theme was Rural-Urban, this year it’s Scarcity-Waste. On this theme, and currently showing at Somerset House’s East Wing gallery, is winning photo essays by the 2015 winners of the professional award Mustafah Abdulaziz (1st), Rasel Chowdury (2nd), Richard Allenby-Pratt (3rd) and open award Benedikt Partenheimer (1st) Camille Michel (2nd) Stefano De Luigi (3rd). Worrying statistics accost visitors from the walls – “By nearly 2025 nearly 3.4 billion people will face water scarcity”, one reads – and objects in display cases, including a carrot discarded by a supermarket as too ugly to sell, signal an educational intent. Environmental photography can sometimes struggle to engage …

Emine Gozde Sevim – Embed in Egypt

A fortnight after Emine Gozde Sevim arrived in Arizona as a high school scholarship student, two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. “It made me realise how powerful an image can be – how pictures can serve as a record,” she says, by phone from her apartment in New York. “If nobody makes a record, we can’t connect to what happened in the same way.” She took up photography soon afterwards. As a child, Sevim had adored making little films with a video camera but, until 9/11, she’d had no real contact with photography proper, she says. She grew up in Istanbul, “which differs from the rest of Europe – visual culture is not paid much attention”. Born in Turkey, with Afghan roots on her mother’s side, she felt personally as well as intellectually affected by 9/11. “It felt like a big historical breaking point, that the world was separating into East and West, more distant than they had ever been,” she says. “I was being educated in America, and I come from a …

Ken Grant – No Pain Whatsoever

I was in Ken Grant’s MA class when he was teaching Documentary Photography at Newport in Wales. You’d bring out an unedited mess of pictures and Grant would start talking in his mellifluous poet’s voice, his thoughts weaving in and out of the pictures, connecting music, literature and photographers to them. He touched on places where life shone, where soul came through, and left the rest alone; it was never about you, or the images, but about the wider world, the quiet moments, what you might do and what you could do. Then you’d leave the room, never quite sure what had happened, but always knowing that what mattered was the meaning and the rhythm and the soul, and that what you could do was what you hadn’t done. It was the gentlest of eviscerations. The same poetic thoughtfulness infuses Grant’s photography, much of which is based around his hometown, Liverpool. It is work that, through acclaimed shows at the Format Festival in 2013, and the publication of two books last year, No Pain Whatsoever …