“The work that I make tends to comment on contemporary issues that disproportionately affect young people,” says Ollie Ma’, whose big projects to date were inspired by Grand Theft Auto and Adam Curtis
From vacant parking lots to intimate street portraits via expansive stretches of the Mojave Desert, the Las Vegas of Jack Minto’s project, Maryland Parkway, is somewhat unfamiliar. Bypassing the glitzy lights, flamboyant buildings and raging commerce that characterise the famous Strip, the 21-year-old photographer turns his lens on a nondescript parallel road, two miles east of the action and home to many “misplaced” local residents, in a bid to expose the harsh reality of a city divided by economic inequality.
The September issue brings the otherwise invisible into sharp focus. Invisible World explores forgotten conflicts, intimate retreats, abused landscapes and remote islands to uncover the hidden realities and unknown societies behind ordinary backdrops. “As social beings, we all demand to be seen,” says Hoda Afshar, whose latest series, Behold, takes us to an exclusive male-only bathhouse. Her point resonates with all the photoseries explored in this issue: how do we negotiate our surroundings, how do we see our societies, how do we interpret our world? We need to first see the invisible to answer these ever salient questions.
For over four decades, the documentary photography course has forged a reputation as one of the UK’s leading photography teaching destinations. In fact, the very first photography class can be dated back even further to 1912, when it was introduced by the head of the school of art at Newport Technical Institute. The course, however, was set up in 1973 by Magnum photographer David Hurn as a 12-month Training Opportunities Scheme to ‘re-skill’ miners and steelworkers.
In the Middle Ages, it was widely believed that pandemics, such as plague and cholera, were caused by breathing in impure air, poisoned by decaying matter. Now, Polish-born Gosia Cwiech has decided to resuscitate the obsolete hypothesis in a series which explores the contemporary, post-truth framework.
The classic British butterfly house acts as the backdrop to Alexander Mourant’s Aurelian, an evocative study of the passing of time and the slippery nature of memory. “These hot, artificial environments are used through the work to probe the nature of experience, such as an assembly point, or an artist’s studio, as an envisioned idea where time is not absolute but continuously contained and all-encompassing,” says the 23-year-old, who recently graduated from Falmouth University.
From the dimly-lit back alleys of Belfast, right into the interiors of its inhabitants’ homes, Chad Alexander’s graduation project Entries takes us on a reflective journey through the streets where he grew up. The 27-year-old first picked up a camera after seeing an exhibition that combined scenes of the Northern Ireland conflict with vignettes of daily life; he has since been developing his own take on documentary in this series. “It was work that I had always wanted to make, but until that point I wasn’t exactly sure how to approach it,” he explains.
“I try to use photography to investigate the aspects of my family life that have been deliberately set aside,” says Thomas Duffield. His final-year project, The whole house is shaking, pays tribute to an idyllic childhood on a small farm on the outskirts of Leeds, while simultaneously confronting a darker enclave of family history. Composed from small details of everyday life and portraits of his mother, sister and grandfather, the project also dwells on his father’s clandestine heroin addiction, hidden from the children while they were growing up.
For Lisa van Casand, photography provides carte blanche to investigate places and people she would otherwise not have access. Her projects often revolve around waarheidsvinding, a peculiarly Dutch term best – if imprecisely – translated as ‘truth-finding’, an interest she attributes to her upbringing. “I grew up with people around me that had quite a variety of strong beliefs,” says the 26-year-old from Eindhoven. “Which is not necessarily a bad thing in itself but it did confuse me at a young age – how people could believe so strongly in opposite things?” Though interested in the idea of photography as evidence and document, it was the fallacy of the tools we use to order reality, and the limitations of seeing, that she often reflects on in her research-led projects. “I am drawn to things that are shrouded in mystery. The bigger the impossibility of reaching the object of investigation, the better,”says the final-year student at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. Clarity and knowledge are not the desired outcomes of her research: it’s the …
In our third annual edition focusing on photography education, BJP visits schools around the world to discover what it takes to “see photographically”. From one of the oldest photography schools in the UK, to pioneering institutions in Germany and Denmark, tutors stress the need to appreciate the mechanics of a photograph – light, shape, space and perspective. “Our bodies learn to adapt to the camera that is shaping our experience,” explains Thomas Sandberg, photographer and co-founder of the Ostkreuz School for Photography in Berlin.