Nadia Shira Cohen has won the $10,000 Women Photograph + Getty Images grant for her work on the abortion ban in El Salvador – and the five grants of $5000 awarded by Women Photograph with Nikon have gone to Tasneem Alsultan, Anna Boyiazis, Jess T. Dugan, Ana Maria Arevalo Gosen, and Etinosa Yvonne Osayimwen.
Nadia Shira Cohen’s series Yo No Di a Luz documents the effect that the complete ban on abortion in El Salvador has had on women – particularly on those forced to give birth to children conceived as a result of rape. “Doctors and nurses are trained to spy on women’s uteruses in public hospitals, reporting any suspicious alteration to the authorities and provoking criminal charges which can lead to between six months to seven years in prison,” writes Shira Cohen. “It is the poorer class of women who suffer the most as doctors in private hospitals are not required to report.
An international jury, comprised of Rein Desle, curator and editor at FoMu Photo Museum Antwerp; Andrea Holzherr, director of exhibitions and curator at Magnum Photos France; and Ana Morales, director of programmes at PHotoESPANA, have selected Roger Grasas as the winner of this year’s Descubrimientos (or ‘discoveries’) PHE 18 Award. They have commended Grasas’ “capacity to document a global issue from a personal perspective”, inviting him to exhibit his work at the next edition of the festival. The Catalan photographer has won the award with his series Ha Aretz, an exploration of biblical sites. Created over seven years, in ancient locations across Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, the series recalls biblical landscapes, photographed in juxtaposition to contemporary conditions, such as globalisation, tourism, consumerism, and the aftermath of war. Aiming to reflect on the possible evolution, or involution, of these ancestral regions, Grasas encourages the viewer to consider these sites in a postmodern world, where they serve as a backdrop for fast-food chains, the invasion of mass tourism, and changes in the landscape caused …
Chloe Dewe Mathews won the series category of BJP’s International Photography Award this year with her lyrical images from Caspian. But unlike many of the other entrants, she’s never studied photography. Instead she graduated in fine art at The Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University, then worked in the film industry for a few years before teaching herself how to use a camera.
“For me, photography became a solution because I could be independent, spontaneous and more creatively engaged,” she says. “In feature films, you always work within a structure and you have to plan every shoot carefully; I liked the freedom you have with a stills camera. Fine art gives you more independence, of course, but it can also become too self-referential, so I was attracted to documentary photography because it felt more outward looking. I was keen to explore what was going on around me, as well as stepping out into the wider world.”
It’s said that inspiration can be found anywhere, and revelations from otherwise unremarkable moments. It’s this subtlety that London-based photographer Rick Pushinsky has explored in his new work, Powerful Mantras, a set of 10 image-text postcards.
Pushinsky got into the habit of sharing images of the everyday via Instagram stories, which he uses to upload shots he’s taken with his iPhone. “I take pictures of things I find interesting or amusing, and I share them,” he says. “After some time, I started pairing those pictures with slices of text.”
“I was the first to move to New Brighton, and it was by sheer chance,” says Tom Wood. “I studied fine art part-time [a Fine Art Painting BA at Leicester Polytechnic], then went back to the car factory where I had worked before. Then I found a job as a photo technician at the poly [now Wirral Metropolitan College, where he went on to teach], and we moved there in September 1978.”
Thus began a golden age for photography in New Brighton, which lasted until 2003 when Wood moved to his current home in North Wales. In the intervening 25 years, Ken Grant also lived in New Brighton from 1992-2002, studying for a spell at Wirral Met, and Martin Parr was based just 20 minutes away from 1982-1985. Between them the three photographers created a huge body of work on the seaside town, which is based just across the River Mersey from Liverpool in North England.
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.”
Paul Kooiker’s latest photobook, Nude Animal Cigar, is a peculiar hybrid made up of variations on the three themes revealed in the title. It’s as if the weirdest and most beautiful nudes, mournful animals and mysterious still lifes of cigar butts have been picked out from photography’s 176- year history. But although the images look old- fashioned, they have all been made within the past five years by this contemporary Dutch artist. Applying sepia filters to all the images, he lends the series a vintage and melancholy feel, and by virtue of the treatment knits this motley trio of monochrome motifs together.
“My work is successful if it is about looking, and about photography,” says Kooiker in his studio, located in a quiet street on the southern periphery of downtown Amsterdam. “Ultimately, my work is about looking, and looking is the ultimate act of voyeurism. It makes the work accessible, as everybody is able to recognise himself in this act. It also leaves the viewer confused. What I want to achieve is to make the public feel accessory to the images they witness.”
Born in The Netherlands in 1964, Paul Kooiker is known for creating unsettling, uncomfortable work. Focusing on themes of watching, voyeurism, and distance, his exhibition at FOMU, Untitled (nude), draws the viewer into a seemingly obsessive world, which shows on everything from nudes to eggs with the same sense of queasy intensity. “Kooiker raises questions,” reads the FOMU press material, “but rarely answers them, so it’s over to you.”
The exhibition is Kooiker’s first major museum show outside The Netherlands, and he’s created a new series specially for it titled Eggs and Rarities. When studying at art school (Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten, Den Haag from 1982-1986, then the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam from 1990-1992), Kooiker made a photographic ‘encyclopaedia of life”; now, 30 years on, he’s attempting a more comprehensive version.
“In many ways Another Europe questions whether Europe is other at all,” says Hamish Park. “While this is not an explicitly political exhibition, I do hope that it will go some way to reminding the audience that we share deep cultural roots which go beyond geographic borders or treaty arrangements, and that what we share is as significant as what makes us distinct.”
Park has just curated an exhibition called Another Europe which goes on show soon around Kings Cross, London, mounted on specially-designed concrete benches. Featuring one photograph from each of the 28 European Union member states, shot by a photographer from the country, it’s been organised by the Australian Cultural Forum London to celebrate both the European Year of Cultural Heritage, and Austria’s presidency of the EU council. It’s also interesting timing for this exhibition in the UK, as the country negotiates Brexit.
It is difficult to unravel, in many of the stories that Max Pinckers tells, where fiction became unstuck from fact. Or how the characters in his photographs can look back out at the world so boldly, shake their heads at reality as most people see it, and tell stories that fly in its face. But for the Brussels-based photographer, the six curious individuals in his latest book, Margins of Excess – including a boy who compulsively hijacks trains, and a private detective with prosthetic hands – lead the way to understanding documentary photography’s role in the ‘post-truth’ era.
One such character, an American amateur inventor with a mane of silken hair, sat at the kitchen table of his home in Dunnellon, Florida and told Pinckers that he believed he had become the media’s new Osama bin Laden. “My name is Richard Heene. A few years ago I got into a bit of trouble,” said the forty-something showman, detailing the events that led him to end up behind bars.