The “fictive hellhole” of Soham Gupta’s Angst makes for challenging viewing. Since 2013, with the night as his backdrop, the 29-year-old has been creating a haunting constellation of portraits of those living on the margins of Calcutta society. Drawing on a troubled youth spent struggling with societal expectations, Angst is a despairing, personal reckoning with a world in which the weakest and most vulnerable are neglected. The project started following a workshop with Antoine d’Agata and Sohrab Hura (a Ones To Watch in 2011) in Cambodia, where Gupta was encouraged to move away from his background in photojournalism and build on his innate interest in loneliness and vulnerability. Setting out on his own nocturnal journey through the streets of his hometown, Gupta began photographing and writing short fictional texts about the people he encountered. After instigating conversation, he would then collaborate with them to create a portrait.
The 18-year-old Hamburg Triennial will be directed for the second time by Polish curator Krzysztof Candrowicz, who moved to Hamburg four years ago and set about transforming the it, bringing people and institutions together, and determined to make it more relevant to the viewing public. The 2015 edition was, he says, “The first holistic attempt to create the collaborative framework of the festival. Before, the museums were basically highlighting their own exhibitions, but there was no actual curatorial collective structure.” The determinedly political and environmentally-conscious theme this year was inspired by an amalgamation of many factors, he says, including spending a year “away from structured, mechanised and commercial reality”, travelling around Latin America, Nepal and India. “Breaking Point became, for me, a metaphor for rapid and sometimes unexpected transformation on a personal and global level.”
Half a century on, the events of May ‘68 still burn in the memories of its provocateurs. Morphing from a frenzy of student protests into a nation-wide revolt, embroiling seven million people at its height, France was dragged out of its post-war complacency that summer and into seven weeks of turbulent action and police brutality. The fire of the rebellion was first sparked on Valentine’s Day, when students of Nanterre University in the Western suburbs of Paris, held a residents’ strike to promote the right to move freely between male and female dorms. The university hesitated over making any change, so on 22 March, 600 frustrated students gathered to occupy an administration building in protest against the old institution’s ageing values.
In the UK nobody lives more than 72 miles from the sea, and the seaside is entrenched in our culture because of it. “The coastline is significant to Brits whether we live there, or not,” says Simon Roberts, who lives in the seaside town of Brighton, and who has returned to the coast again and again in his work. Now his images are appearing in an exhibition called The Great British Seaside at the National Maritime Museum this spring, alongside work by David Hurn, Martin Parr and the late Tony Ray-Jones.
Late in 2010, Michele Sibiloni left the sleepy town in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy where he had lived all his life and moved to Kampala in Uganda, a city eight times larger. He had come to cover the lead up to the 2011 general election in the country, which many had predicted might depose its leader, following the lead of the Jasmine revolution in North African countries. But, despite the jitter, all Sibiloni witnessed once the voting had ended was the swearing-in of President Yoweri Museveni for his fourth term in office since he helped overthrow Idi Amin in 1979. Even so, Sibiloni was hooked. “It’s so different to where I come from,” he tells me, by telephone from his apartment in Kampala. “At the beginning I found it really chaotic, but the more time I spent here, and the more I got to know about the surrounding region of East Africa, the more fascinated I became. In fact, I got really excited.”
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.
If you caught the documentary What Do Artists Do All Day on him on BBC Four a year ago, you’ll have an idea of what Dougie Wallace is like – upfront, funny, and very, very energetic. You could say the same for his photography too, which though it’s been shot in a variety of places ranging from Mumbai, to East London, to outside Harrods, always bears his trademark wit and momentum. Now Wallace is showing his five book projects to date at the Bermondsey Project Space in London – Stags, Hens & Bunnies, Road Wallah, Harrodsburg, Shoreditch Wildlife, and a new title, Well-Heeled. A dogs-eye view of pampered pets, it’s now being published as a book by Dewi Lewis.
When Jordan Baumgarten and his wife moved into the neighbourhood of Kensington in Philadelphia in 2013, they were shocked by what they saw – sex workers, dealers and drug use, all in plain view on the street, with almost no oversight from the police. Faced with these scenes daily on his doorstep, Baumgarten turned to his camera in an attempt to make sense of the area. “Photography forces an interaction and relationship with the world because it demands that you go to a certain place,” he says. Kensington is “a nexus for those in and around the city seeking heroin and all that it entails. It co-exists alongside everyday life in the neighbourhood and its surrounding landscape,” Baumgarten explains. But he adds that while this work focuses on Philadelphia, it addresses a much larger issue: “The city serves as a microcosm to discuss issues tearing apart the fabric of our social landscape.” Born in Philadelphia in 1983, Baumgarten stumbled across photography almost by accident after breaking his leg in 6th grade – keen to keep …
“I never had trouble walking up to people and asking them to take their picture,” photographer Arlene Gottfried (1950-2017) told The Guardian in 2014. Largely unknown to the public for the majority of her career, it was her black-and-white photographs of New York in the 1970s-80s that first sparked an interest in her work. Looking at them, it’s clear that Gottfried had a way with people as well as with images. “Arlene had a way of looking at the world with curiosity and love that was distinctly her own,” says Daniel Cooney, who runs a gallery of the same name currently showing Gottfried’s work.
The Sony World Photography Awards prides itself on being a truly global competition, and this year it received almost 320,000 entries from over 200 countries and territories. The awards cover four separate competitions – Professional, Open, Youth and Student Focus – which are themselves categorised into areas such as Architecture, Contemporary Issues, Landscape, Portraiture, and Travel. The winners will be revealed on 19 April, and a curated exhibition of the work will take place at Somerset House, London from 20 April-06 May.