“Tu sais qu’est-ce que c’est le rayon vert?” Marie Rivière’s listless character Delphine asks, her legs swinging, in Éric Rohmer’s 1986 film Le Rayon Vert [The Green Ray]. The film – a portrait of its main character’s halting search for summer romance – was based on Jules Verne’s 1882 novel of the same name. While in theory its title refers to an optical phenomenon – in which the appearance of the sun as it rises or falls beyond the horizon creates a brief flash of green, and with it a supposed moment of mental clarity for all those who see it – in reality its subject matter is far more elusive. “I related the ‘rayon vert’ phenomenon to the process of photography – this special and quick moment that happens rarely,” Swiss photographer Senta Simond explains, referring to her project of the same name. Her series, which will be published by Kominek and shown at London’s Webber Gallery soon, adds a new, compelling layer to the meteorological event/Jules Verne/ Éric Rohmer mix of references. Indeed, Simond, a former student of ECAL, University of Art and Design Lausanne, from which she graduated last summer, first encountered the concept via the 1986 film.
Born in 1876 in the German mining town of Herdorf, August Sander discovered photography while working at a local slagheap. Serendipitously meeting a landscape photographer working there for a mining company, he went on to assist the image-maker, and by 1909 had opened his own studio in Cologne. Around this time he also started taking portraits of his fellow-Germans, deliberately eschewing the then-prevalent pictorialist approach in favour of recording as much detail as possible. “Nothing seemed to me more appropriate than to project an image of our time with absolute fidelity to nature by means of photography,” he stated. “Let me speak the truth in all honesty about our age and the people of our age.”
“I’m reclaiming my blackness, which I feel is continuously performed by the privileged other,” says South African photographer Zanele Muholi. Born in 1972 in Umlazi, a township close to Durban, Muholi defines herself as a visual activist using photography to articulate contemporary identity politics. In her latest series, Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness, she uses her body to confront the politics of race and representation, questioning the way the black body is shown and perceived.
Bristol’s Centrespace gallery will host a solo exhibition by London-based photographer, curator Lola Paprocka, whose publication Blokovi was awarded first prize for Unveil’d Photobook Award 2016. Shot mainly on medium format, the project is a photographic series exploring the New Belgrade apartment blocks and their residents during 2015. “The conversation started with my friend, Mima Bulj, who wanted me to capture her hometown from the perspective of an ‘outsider,’” Paprocka tells BJP. “Mima was born in Belgrade and lived there till she was eight years old, before moving to New Zealand with her family. I was born in Poland before moving to the UK in my late teens, so we have always shared a feeling of being stuck somewhere between the Eastern and Western worlds.” “The book combines both portraiture and images of Brutalist estates – both are real interests of mine,” says Pabrocka. “I was keen to include some social documentation in there too, to capture spontaneous interactions with strangers on the streets. But, these social interactions would always come secondary; the Brutalist architecture would inform the …
Lucus Joyce’s weekly People’s Choice winning portrait is a haunting image of his friend Ashley, who lives with pernicious anemia. Inspired by the thousand yard stare, a term often used to describe the blank, unfocused gaze of soldiers who have become emotionally detached from the horrors around them, Joyce sought to use the portrait to depict the many aspects of Ashley’s life and identity.
When Seydou Keïta (1921-2001) was given a Kodak Brownie Flash by his uncle in 1935, his career path took a new route. Originally an apprentice carpenter for his father, Keïta spent the following years teaching himself the technicalities of photography and eventually opened an outdoor studio in 1948 in Bamako Koura. As word quickly spread, it wasn’t long before Malians began flocking to his studio to have their portrait taken. “My experience taught me the positions that my customers liked best,” Keïta said. “You try to obtain the best pose, the most advantageous profile, because photography is an art, everything should be as close to perfection as possible.” As well as ornate backdrops, Keïta kept an array of props in his studio – from paper flowers to Vespas – and occasionally sitters would bring their own. In the black-and-white images he took during the late 1940s and 1950s, Keïta captures members of Malian society radiating with confidence, dignity and grace, epitomising Mali’s emerging freedom from colonialist rule and portraying them how they wished to be …
When Polish photographer Wiktoria Wojciechowska first heard about the ongoing Ukrainian conflict she was in China, shooting a project titled Short Flashes, which went on to win the 2015 Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award. “I was cracking the internet but everything was so blocked I couldn’t get any information,” she says. “I was asking all my friends, then I realised not many people knew about it, even though it’s so close [as Ukraine borders Poland]. I was really inspired to go by fear, by wondering how I would react if the same thing happened in my country.”
It’s the biggest and best-respected photo festival in the world – it’s Arles and it’s back from 02 July-23 September, with a special opening week from 02-08 July. With the blessing of the French Minister of Culture François Nyssen – who declares that “Arles wouldn’t be Arles without photography” in her welcome to the festival – the 49th year of the festival is lead by director Sam Stourdzé, who took over its organisation in October 2014. As you might expect, the momentous events of May 1968 are commemorated at Arles this year, with a group of exhibitions titled Run Comrade, The Old World is Behind You. Considering events such as the student demonstrations and strikes in France, and the assassination of Robert F Kennedy that year, this section includes shows such as 1968, What a Story! which uses previously unseen images from police archives, Paris Match and Gamma-Rapho-Keystone. Elsewhere Arles looks to the future with a group of shows titled Augmented Humanity which includes work by Cristina de Middel & Bruno Morais, Matthieu Gafsou and Jonas Bendiksen; and in the Emergences section, which includes the ten photographers included in the New Discovery Award this year.
In 1972, while studying photography at Manchester Polytechnic, Daniel Meadows took over a disused shop in Moss Side’s Graeme Street and turned it into a ‘free photography studio’. Shooting people for nothing, and sending them their portraits or putting the prints in the shop window, Meadows was able to keep going for eight weeks before he ran out of money. Troubled by the fact that those whose images were in the shop window could no longer see the photographs, he laid out the remaining prints on wooden boards and nailed them to trees in the local park. He later realised this had been his first exhibition.
Thomas Morgan’ winning portrait is of Malick Darbo, a young model just starting out in the industry. The aim for the image and wider series was to highlight the beauty of dark skin, which has been underrepresented in the fashion industry for many years. Thomas maintains a particular interest in fashion photography. Since being given his first DSLR camera on his 17th birthday, he has spent time curating shoots with his family and friends. In 2016, he arranged a shoot with a friend he thought could be a model. Off the back of those images, his friend got signed to a modelling agency, and Thomas was invited to test shoot and build up portfolios for new models, giving him room to experiment with style and technique. Being selected as our People’s Choice Weekly Winner is the first public recognition Thomas has received for his work. Can you tell me about the portrait you entered into Portrait of Britain 2018? What is the story behind it? For a while I have wanted to do a series …