All posts filed under: Documentary

Tulip: Quiet Images of a Mother’s Struggle with Cancer

“I like the fact that it’s very delicate,” says the London-based photographer as she leafs her newly published photobook. “The white cloth gets dirty and scuffs very easily, which says something about the book. It’s a delicate project.” She closes it, passes it over the table, and returns her hands to her lap, nuzzling them into an oversized forest green jumper. A minute ago they were covered in the oil of a broken bike chain. We are sitting at one of the clusters of rickety tables and chairs in a cafe in Dalston, just below her studios, which the photographer shares with a host of artists and architects. To our left, an empty stage; a roaring baby to the right. Tulip, so-called after her mother’s favourite flower, is a collection of 84 images. Each is powerful, yet also quiet, disinterested in bombast. On each page, the eye is drawn to a detail, as subtle as a strand of hair or as prominent as a half-eaten plate of food. Together, the images gently develop into a deeply emotional …


Inside The European Union Theme Park

In 2012, Lewis Bush travelled around Europe, trying to document the effects of the global recession and the Euro crisis. “I found myself continuously getting caught up on what seemed to me to be the major role being played by the past in the problems of the present,” he says. On his travels, he found a small theme park, one made to celebrate the harmonious idyll of The European Union – “a bizarre vision of an idealised Europe.” The park contained the national landmarks of each EU member states, reproduced as scale models. From the French Arc de Triomphe, to The British Houses of Parliament, from the Channel Tunnel to the Brandenburg Gate. “I had this really strong feeling that one of the great mistakes being made in Europe was the way difficult histories hadn’t really been resolved or laid to rest,” Bush says. “But had often been brushed aside in the rush towards economic prosperity and closer union between member states.” Bush captures how the nature of the park created unintended juxtapositions, like national landmarks positioned by litter bins, with the logos …


REVIEW: HBO’s new documentary on the turbulent life of Robert Mapplethorpe

“Perfection. That’s the Mapplethorpe characteristic,” says Robert Mapplethorpe’s younger brother Edward Maxey as he leans back in his chair, his chin piercing catching the light. He, along with artist Sandy Daley, singer Debbie Harry and art critic Carol Squiers, are just some of the host of artists and friends interviewed in a compelling new film available to view in cinemas from 22 April. The film’s directors, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, follow Mapplethorpe’s life from his Catholic childhood upbringing through to his final days in New York, charting how the bisexual man from Queens, NY, became perhaps the most controversial photographer in history. We begin in Los Angeles, 1989, amid the violent protests provoked by Mapplethorpe’s deeply controversial erotic imagery he displayed at his self-curated final show, The Perfect Moment, at the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art. We then cut to the present day, to the serene J. Paul Getty Museum. There, curator Paul Martineau and Britt Salvesen, head of photography and curator at LACMA, delicately unwrap Mapplethorpe’s archived black and white prints in preparation for the two retrospective exhibitions of …


LIBYA. MISRATA. April 20, 2011. 16:38:05. Photographer Michael Christopher Brown at Hikma hospital after being hit by the mortar.

After Libya, understanding war

A record of Michael Christopher Brown’s life both inside and outside Libya during that year, this new photobook details is about a young man going to war for the first time and his experience of that age-old desire to get as close as possible to a conflict in order to discover something about war and something about himself, perhaps a certain definition of life and death. Brown, who is represented by Magnum Photos, worked as a freelance photojournalist for seven years prior to photographing in Libya. When he learned about developments in Libya, he felt a strong attraction to know more about a country that was, until that point, largely closed to the world. In Libya he was injured twice and lost colleagues, including the celebrated photojournalist Tim Hetherington, while they tried to photograph the violence. The experience  “caused him to search for meaning and the relationship between Libya and his home in the United States.” The book reveals the physical and emotional toll on the storyteller and their loved ones. As a follow up …


IRAQ. Albu Ajeel. February 2, 2016. 10-year-old Sara Adnan Mohamed, draws in a room in the partially burned down house that she shares with her family in the predominantly Sunni village of Albu Ajeel, on the outskirts of Tikrit. Albu Ajeel was under the control of the Islamic State until their retreat from Tikrit in the Spring of 2015.. 

Sara and her family recently returned to Albu Ajeel after being displaced to Kirkuk for almost two years. Upon their return, Sara's family found their village mostly destroyed and their home partially burned down.

In order to help Sara and other families cope, the International Committee of the Red Cross distributes food parcels to returnees and has also rehabilitated the water supply to Albu Ajeel residents.

Moises Saman on Iraq’s civil war

Moises Saman is one of the leading conflict photographers of his generation. In recent years, he has worked in Afghanistan, Egypt and Libya. But the Spanish photographer is best known for his ongoing ability to photograph the war in Iraq, first the American war with Saddam Hussein, and then their occupation of the country, and then the ongoing civil war that still besets Iraq. In 2016, 13 years after the invasion, Iraq is no closer to being a settled, secure nation.  Following the “surge” of American combat troops in 2007, a fragile ceasefire seemed to descend over the majority of the country, a peace which sustained until the last soldiers departed in December, 2011. But, when the Americans left, they also left behind unresolved problems that, after a period of relative calm, have reared again. Now he has returned to Iraq, on commission for The Red Cross, to show displaced families unable to access the most basic sanitary needs, due to their failed state and total lack of local governance. Photographing on commission for The New Yorker (for whom he has also covered the Arab Spring and …


Muhammad Ali – Fighter’s Heaven

In October 1974, Muhammad Ali would attempt to regain the world heavyweight boxing championship title that was stripped from him when he refused the Vietnam draft seven years earlier. He faced the undefeated George Foreman in Zaire, Africa, in the fight dubbed ‘The Rumble in The Jungle’. Only weeks before, on August 24-25, photographer Peter Angelo Simon was invited to experience the private world of the iconic boxer as he prepared, mentally and physically, for the biggest fight of his life. “Forty-two years ago, I photographed Muhammad Ali in the rural Pennsylvania sanctuary he called ‘Fighter’s Heaven’ as he prepared for the greatest contest of his career,” says Peter Angelo Simon, who has photographed on commission for the New York Times magazine, as well as exhibiting in museums and galleries internationally, including the Smithsonian. “Here was the most famous and contentious personality on the planet in his private retreat – the eye of the public hurricane – which was most of his life. While a global audience was fixated on his fate, I was able to record aspects of Ali …


Havana, Cuba 2015. Book 'Cuba, La Lucha'.

Carl De Keyzer’s Cuba – From Communist to Capitalist Country

“I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas,” President Barack Obama said in Havana. With the speech, President Obama became the first US President to visit Cuba in almost 90 years, following the reinstatement of the diplomatic relations between the two countries. Before President Obama’s speech, which saw the relaxation of a trade embargo between the two countries that lasted 56 years, the British photographer and Magnum member Carl De Keyzer had already began to explore Cuba’s transition from a regime communist to a capitalist system, and the consequence of this change on the country’s population. The images from de Keyzer’s new book, Cuba, La Lucha, capture the unique character of the Cuban people struggling to survive in an outmoded, authoritarian system. Through crumbling buildings, we see the residue of a bygone era, as well as a population ready to open a new chapter in its history. Carl De Keyzer shows the ambivalence of a changing country, torn between the desire to preserve its traditions and the desire to improve its economy, …


Chernobyl: 30 Years After the Disaster

At 1:23 am, on the morning of 26 April, in 1986, in the Ukranian town of Pripyat, an explosion tour through the sky. The explosion took place at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, under the jurisdiction of the Moscow authorities of the Soviet Union. The plant was derelict, and operators had botched what should have been a routine safety test. The reactor went into meltdown, they couldn’t contain it, and Chernobyl spewed radioactive particles high into the  atmosphere. The nuclear waste, with a half-life of hundreds of thousands of years, spread over much of the western USSR and Europe. Even sheep on the remote islands off Scotland were found infected with radiation from Chernobyl. Long-term effects on the local and global environment are still being investigated. Today, the Chernobyl Power Plant sits fenced inside a 30 kilometre Exclusion Zone. The reactor itself remains encased inside a 24-story concrete and steel sarcophagus, one erected in a few hours after the accident. Chernobyl is the subject of $2.2 billion clean-up. Workers, wearing protective suits and breathing respirators, can still only work one 15-minute shift …


With Floris

A Year in the Life of a London Priest

Kit Gunasekera is the Vicar of St James Church in Clapham, South London. Born in Chiswick in 1972, Kit is of Sri Lankan descent and spent his early childhood in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Kit found God when he was 17 at a Sunday church service in Holy Trinity, Hounslow.  He was ordained in 2006. Of things not seen, the series by local Clapham photographer Jim Grover, which is exhibiting at the Oxo Tower gallery in South London now, shows Gunasekera’s role as a priest in a church community, juxtaposing the calling of his faith with the everyday challenges of running a church, ministering to a diverse group of parishioners while trying to increase his congregation. We speak to Grover about the creation of a series, over a calendar year in 2015: How did the project come about? I had been challenged by a photographer friend to find a local story here in Clapham, South London.  Being local was important to me.  From a very practical perspective, I needed to be able to effortlessly dip in and out of it so …


Alex Majoli and Paolo Pellegrin go deep into Congo

In presenting Congo, a large-scale project published in book form by Aperture and realised as a spectacular exhibition at the Rencontres d’Arles festival in July 2015, Alex Majoli and Paolo Pellegrin deliberately avoided credits and captions, bringing their individual perspectives together to create a single “meta voice”. At no point are we told who took which image, but, somehow, this adds to rather than takes away from the collective strength of the work. The goal of the project, which has its roots in Off Broadway, the first work the Magnum photographers collaborated on 10 years ago, was to have fewer constraints and therefore greater freedom of expression, says Pellegrin. “By removing the captions, you’re asking the viewers to make an effort to engage, hopefully in a deeper way, with what’s in front of them.” Majoli echoes this sentiment, saying: “Providing contextual information is very much related to photojournalism and the idea of ‘documenting a place’ “We wanted to leverage photography to create a place where the viewer is free to make his or her own …


BJP Staff