Launched on 11 December, a brand new biannual, Clove, has a refreshing take on art and culture. Founded by London-based, British-Indian journalist Debika Ray, the magazine focuses on creative work from South Asia and its global diaspora. “My impression was always that, in Western media, there was a narrow frame of reference when it came to covering parts of the world beyond North America and Europe,” says Ray, who until recently was senior editor at the architecture and design magazine Icon. “Stories from South Asia or the Middle East are often handled in a distant way, focusing on problems or crises and how people battle against odds to overcome things. I wanted to tell stories from those parts of the world in a way that were instead built on their own merit.”
Examining the cultural, religious, and ceremonial practices passed down through generations of African descendants in Cuba, Lo Calzo highlights the variety of identities within the country, and the ways in which they complement one another. Cohabiting “within a personal culture of exchange”, he says, they “borrow each other’s visions, customs and narratives”. He points to the “precarious balancing act” between the familiar Cuba, largely defined by the communist revolution and the society born out of it, and the diverse communities that actually make up the country.
Inspired by personal identity, the natural world, and the fear of dying, the three young artists in this year’s Jerwood/Photoworks Awards exhibition are presenting very different work. Picked out as winners in January 2017, all three have received a year of mentoring on their work from industry specialists such as photographer Mitch Epstein, publisher Michael Mack, and gallerist Maureen Paley. They each also received a bursary of £5000 and access to a production fund of another £5000, to make new work which goes on show in London’s Jerwood Space from 17 January-11 March then tours to Bradford and Belfast.
The Walther Collection has kicked off an 18-month exploration of vernacular photography with a show titled The Shadow Archive: An Investigation into Vernacular Portrait Photography. Taken from the 1850s to the present day, the collected portraits depict groups such as ‘migrant laborers’, ‘inmates of an asylum’, ‘criminal photographs’, and ‘G&G Precision Works Photographic Identity Badges’, and, says the organisers, show how “identification photographs have been used to sort, shape, segregate, and select subjects based on occupation, social group, body type, or political affiliation”. The title references a phrase used by writer and photographer Allan Sekula to reference “the entire social field of human representations, comprising both heroes and deviants, within which every portrait takes its place as part of a moral hierarchy”.
“I was born in 1968 in West Germany – that’s 23 years after 1945,” says Frederike Helwig. “One of my first memories of seeing images of the war was at my grandmother’s house, watching an antiwar movie about 16-year-old German soldiers defending a small village against all odds. I must have been 8 or 10 and I climbed into my brother’s bed that night utterly terrified by what I had seen with no explanation or guidance whatsoever. “This ‘shock’ education continued throughout school, where my generation was taught facts and figures about war crimes and atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. Nobody was able to articulate guilt or shame, or elaborate on the emotional side of what this meant for modern German society. No one ever asked the question why this had happened, let alone gave an answer. Why didn’t the history teachers encourage my generation to ask our grandparents about their experiences in the war? The perpetrators were always the others – names in history books.” Moving to the UK to study photography when she …
The visual language NGOs use to show the developing world is often sombre, designed to shock our senses by highlighting the desperate situations of communities fleeing persecution or natural disaster. Think of Ethiopia, for example, and the images that immediately come to mind are of a country plagued by drought and famine. What is less recognised is that the country, which stretches over the Horn of Africa, is also home to fields of lush agricultural land, and expanses of green nourished by mountainous lakes. But it was this vibrant image that Oxfam sought to convey in its 75th- anniversary collaboration with Annie Sloan paint, a brand more often seen on the pages of glossy interiors magazines. The idea for the collaboration came when Ellie Farmer, a film and photography producer at Oxfam, was on a trip in Sicily and noticed brightly-coloured refugee boats lined up on the beach. Spurred into thinking about the influence colour can have on storytelling, she approached Sloan – who in turn was inspired to create a new chalk-based product, referencing the colours of Ethiopia, in which Oxfam has an established aid programme.
“These pictures were originally intended as a sort of ‘Fuck you’ to the Bush administration,” says Sean Hemmerle. “I never thought after he was gone we would eventually end up with someone that made him look good. They’re a ‘Fuck you’ to someone else now.” On the morning of September 11 2001, former sergeant turned photographer Sean Hemmerle was travelling past the World Trade Centre, on his way to The New Yorker to drop off a portfolio of pictures. “Then some massive calamity interrupted my morning,” he says, wryly. “I photographed the towers as they fell, the people at the sight, ground zero. Somehow I got in there. I guess some of those pictures ended up becoming sort of ‘iconic’, and from them I made what, to me, at that time was a tonne of money.” The success of those photographs brought internal conflict and a sense of moral duty, says Hemmerle, as he struggled with the idea that he was profiting from the “smouldering hole in the centre of my community”. He decided that …
When New York-based photographer Marc Ohrem-Leclef first travelled to India eight years ago he was struck by the “small, shared moments of intimacy” that he saw men displaying towards one another in public – admiring the openness with which they made what he assumed were public displays of romantic love. “As a gay man, I was quite excited by what I thought was romantic freedom,” he says. “Men would be holding hands or leaning against each other in public. There was a connectivity that I thought was really beautiful.” He quickly learnt that things were not as he had first thought, that the men he saw were not necessarily romantically involved at all and were often just expressing friendship.
“The moment I entered the refuge, I felt connected to their mission,” says Susan Meiselas of her recent work in the Black Country, at a refuge for women who have escaped domestic violence. “When I walked into the place it felt intuitively interesting.” Meiselas was invited to Britain’s Midlands by West Bromich-based arts organisation Multistory; making a series of visits over 2015 and 2016, she honed in on the refuge and started working with the women living in it – photographing them and their living spaces but also, crucially, getting their input.
It’s the 21st year of the prize, and this year the shortlisted projects by Mathieu Asselin, Rafal Milach, Batia Suter, and Luke Willis Thompson all “reflect a shared concern with the production and manipulation of knowledge and systems of representation through visual formats”, say the organisers of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018. Mathieu Asselin (b. 1973, France) has been nominated for Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation, which was published this year by Actes Sud and exhibited at Les Rencontres d’Arles, and which has already won the First Book of the Year in the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards 2017.