Invisible Britain, a forthcoming book of portraits, shows people who have been left out of the media narrative and left behind by government policy – people who for whatever reason fell on hard times, and found there was little or no support, beyond what they might be able to set up for themselves. Running through the book are references to austerity, the programme of public spending cuts introduced in the UK after the recession, and the impact it’s had on the people here – whether it’s in the lack of support for the full-time carer Greg, who ended up committing suicide, or the patchy probation offered to Matt, who’s spent the last decade falling in and out of prison. The spectre of Brexit also looms, and the uncertain future, but all too obvious intolerance, it’s brought in its wake.
“For me, photography was more of a need, because I was going through a personal crisis. I had lost a friend, and I had to find a way of living again.” At the beginning of last year Debmalya Roy Choudhuri travelled to Rishikesh, a city in northern India, at the foot of the Himalayas, known as the “yoga capital of the world”.
He wanted to remove himself from the urban chaos and violence in his hometown, Kolkata, and challenge the idea of home as defined by four walls. “I had a very difficult childhood where I had to confront a lot of darkness,” says Choudhuri, who was sick for a long time. “I grew up in a very confined space. My parents went through a lot of problems and my family fell apart.”
Multiple jigsaws, almost completed, are laid out in the living room. On the sideboard, porcelain creatures jostle for space with family photos – a marriage scene, a smiling elderly couple, kids in the park. Dolls are piled high on a chair in the corner, arranged in a chaotic arc. White masks, like those from the Venice Carnival, are positioned across one wall. The wallpaper is a scene from a seaside town – spinning Ferris wheels, winding rollercoasters, fairground murals – yet the paper itself is pockmarked with holes and stains.
Richard Billingham, who grew up in this environment, describes the room as “carnivalesque”. When he lived here, in Cradley Heath in the West Midlands, he did so with his mother Liz and, after she moved out, his father Ray. This jam of decorative stuff was all Liz. She had winding, flowering roots and flowers tattooed across her arms. She wore floral dresses and she smoked until the ashtrays overflowed.
When Billingham was 10 years old, Ray was laid off from a job as a machinist. The family sold their home for two grand – a cash-in- hand job to a local conman – and moved here, to what was quaintly referred to as public housing. Ray, who until this point only drank in the pub, began his life as a committed alcoholic and a full-time hermit.
Would you like to join Magnum Photos? The agency is inviting photographers worldwide to submit their portfolios online by 31 January to be considered for nominee status.
Magnum will accept digital submissions from all professional photographers, and entries for June 2019 can be made through this website: https://contests.picter.com/magnum-photos/submissions-2019/ Applicants are required to submit two to three projects, with up to 80 photographs in total. The new nominee members will be announced on 01 July 2019.
In addition MACK is accepting open submissions for its First Book Award this year – in contrast to previous years, in which photographers were nominated by a panel of industry insiders. The prize is open to any photographer or artist who has not previously published work with a third party company, and entries are invited from 12 November 2018 – 21 January 2019. All entries must be paper book dummies; digital submissions are not accepted.
“Most people would walk by a dump pile and assume that there’s no picture there,” says global industrial landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky. “But there’s always a picture, you just have to go in there and find it.” Born in Canada in 1955, Burtynsky has been investigating human-altered landscapes in his artistic practice for over 35 years, capturing the sweeping views of nature altered by industry; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, and silicon. “Of course, it’s important to me to make sure that my pictures are attractive to the eye,” he says. “But beneath the surface there’s always a bigger, deeper environmental issue.”
In Aldershot, a town in Hampshire, England, there is an old 1930s Art Deco theatre called the Empire. Since its renovation several years ago, it operates mainly as a Nepalese community centre. On the top floor there is a restaurant and a temple; downstairs is a function room, where groups of Nepalese men meet up every so often to play xbox, table tennis and traditional Asian games like carrom.
Aldershot is home to the largest Nepali community in the UK and, because of its close proximity to an army base, Gurkha families make up a large proportion of the population. The Gurkhas are Nepalese soldiers who were recruited into the British Army following the Anglo-Nepalese war in the early 19th century. Over 200,000 Gurkhas fought for Britain in both world wars, but they were unable to settle in the UK until 2004. Since then, after a campaign famously championed by the actress Joanna Lumley, the population of Nepalis in the UK has increased from 6,000 to an estimated 100-150,000.
British-Nepali photographer Nina Manandhar’s most recent project, Gurkha Sons, questions the challenges and benefits of coming from a Gurkha family in the UK. The group she photographed calls themselves the k-BOYZ – the “k” standing for Kaprukka, the Nepali word for “frozen stiff” as that’s how they feel when they go out on their motorbikes in cold British weather. Manandhar asks how living in the UK informs their sense of identity, and most importantly, where home now lies for them
Stakle recently won the New East Photo Prize organised by Calvert 22 Foundation, with a series titled Heavy Waters. Shot in Crimea in 2011, the series shows towns and villages scattered along the coast on the Crimean Peninsula – an area that was at the time part of Ukraine, but which became part of Russia after the Ukraine-Russia crisis in 2014. To date, Crimea remains an internationally unrecognised part of Russia. Crimea was one of the most popular resorts of the Soviet Union but, says Stakle, “being on the crossroads of trade routes has always been risky”. “Since times immemorial, the Crimean Peninsula has been coveted by different countries, near and far,” he writes in his introduction to the series.
Alice Mann has won the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018 with a set of four images of South African drum majorettes – the first time the award has gone to a series not a single shot.
Mann’s photographs show five young girls from Cape Town dressed as ‘drummies’ – a popular hobby for children from some of South Africa’s most disadvantaged communities. Mann, who is now based in London but originally from South Africa, spent three months photographing drum majorettes, and says her winning portraits come from a much larger series.
“The images are part of a much larger body of work, which is a combination of a more documentary approach and portraits,” she explains. “These four portraits are some of my favourite images, especially the one of Riley and Wakiesha because they are so charismatic.
When the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, most of the land in New Zealand belonged to the Māori tribes. The treaty prevented the sale of land to anyone other than the Crown, and was intended to protect the indigenous people against other European colonial forces. But within a century, the Crown had either bought, occupied, or outright confiscated huge portions of the country, leaving the Māori with only a few pockets of their sacred land.
The Whanganui river is New Zealand’s third longest river, home to the Whanganui tribes and seen as both their ancestor and source of spiritual sustenance. The land surrounding the river was once one of the most densely populated areas in New Zealand. But with the arrival of colonial settlers, it became a major trading post.
On 15 March 2017, after 140 years of negotiation – New Zealand’s longest-running litigation – the Whanganui river was granted the same legal status as a human being, meaning it would be treated and protected as an indivisible whole. Hundreds of members of Māori wept with joy as the lifeblood of their tribe, from which they take their name, spirit and strength, was given recognition as one of their ancestors.
Alec Soth’s first book, Sleeping in the Mississippi, was so sweeping in its epic statements, it seemed that Soth had nothing left to photograph. What could he do next? The answer is Niagara, a portrayal of the town that has traditionally been the romance capital of North America. In Niagara, Soth sets out to capture the grand passion of life, to do for love and marriage what Sleeping in the Mississippi does for the American Midwest.
“Niagara is part of American mythology. It’s a place of romance, where people go to get married,” says Soth. “But when I got there my view of the place totally changed. The American side is economically devastated. It’s bleak.” As Mack Books republishes Alec Soth’s classic book, BJP revisits our review first published in 2006