One of photography’s earliest subjects, food is still a mainstay of the medium and provides an important insight into our fantasies and beliefs, says Susan Bright – who’s just published a book on the topic
“I don’t start with intentions,” explains Elliott Erwitt. “I take pictures and then see what I’ve got and put something together.” It’s a process which has served him well throughout his career as a photographer. Born in Paris in 1928 to Russian parents, he spent his childhood in Milan, then emigrated to the US, via France, with his family in 1939; he first cut his teeth in the photography industry whilst still at high school, then built up a professional portfolio whilst serving with the Army Signal Corps in Europe. Joining Magnum Photos in 1953, he went on to apply his unmistakable style to everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Presidents of the United States. Now 89, he prefers to let his very varied collection of photographs speak for themselves, and his new collection, Cuba, is no exception. “I took a lot of pictures and sat down and made an edit. The way I always work,” says Erwitt. “[The book] seemed like a good idea since I was going to Cuba anyway
This year marked the 100th anniversary to the October Revolution; the Bolshevik coup lead by Vladamir Lenin that would result in the Russian Civil War (1917-22) and, ultimately, the foundation of the USSR and the communist regime that lasted until 1991. In the BJP’s latest issue, we try to understand something of the vast history of the Eastern Bloc.
Founded in 2006 by photographer and curator Olga Korsunova, art-manager and photography critic Nadya Sheremetova, and art historian Elena Zyrianova, FotoDepartment is a gallery, bookshop, library and education hub in St. Petersburg, Russia. Aiming to promote and develop contemporary Russian photography at home and abroad, FotoDepartment runs many events, exhibitions and workshops, and represents internationally-recognised artists such as Kirill Savchenkov, Irina Yulieva, and Jana Romanova. FotoDepartment is also currently running several digital projects. Now it’s started a publishing project called Amplitude, creating photobooks of emerging Russian photographers’ work which can be read individually, or gathered together into groups. Amplitude No.1 includes photobooks by Alexey Bogolepov, Margo Ovcharenko, Irina Zadorozhnaia, Anastasia Tsayder, Igor Samolet, Yury Gudkov, Olya Ivanova, Irina Ivannikova, Anastasia Tailakova, and Irina Yulieva. BJP caught up with Nadya Sheremetova to find out more
“When I first arrived, my military escort said, ‘Gitmo: the best posting a soldier can have. There’s so much fun here!’,” recalls US photographer Debi Cornwall. “So I said, ‘Show me the fun!’” She had just touched down at Guantánamo Bay naval base, home to the infamous detention centre established in 2002 by US president George W Bush for the interrogation of suspected terrorists, enemy combatants and “extremely dangerous individuals” – “the worst of the worst, they call them” – following the 9/11 attacks. Since then, it has forged a reputation as hell on earth, where men are held for years without charge or legal process, and are often tortured. With 12 years’ experience of working as a wrongful-conviction lawyer, Cornwall began to enquire.
Established in 2012, the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards are divided into three categories – PhotoBook of the Year, First PhotoBook, and Photography Catalogue of the Year. The winners will be announced on 10 November at Paris Photo, and all the shortlisted and winning titles will be profiled in The PhotoBook review and exhibited at Paris Photo, the Aperture Gallery in New York, and at other international venues. The year Albert Elm’s What Sort of Life is This, Mathieu Asselin’s Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation and the group book project Amplitude No.1, which is edited by Nadya Sheremetova and includes photographers such as Irina Yulieva, Igor Samolet and Irina Ivannikova, were among those to make the First PhotoBook shortlist this year
“Rwanda is a country in progress,” says Jacques Nkinzingabo, a photographer born in Rwanda in 1994 – the year of the infamous genocide in which 500,000-1,000,000 Tutsi were killed by the Hutu majority government. “It’s one of the countries with the youngest population in Africa: most of them were born after the genocide,” he continues. “Of course, they have read the news, books, seen images online, but they didn’t experience it. So now they’re building their country. There is a mind-set now that there is no Hutu or Tutsi anymore; everyone is Rwandese. These people want to look beyond the past.”
Nola Minolfi was born in Buenos Aires but raised in Milan, from where she and her family would regularly holiday in a remote village in the Italian Alps. To this day there are no cars in Chamois; in fact, there are no roads and the only way to reach the community of fewer than 100 inhabitants is by foot or cable car. The paths leading up to the six hamlets have no names, so when the postman visits he calls ahead to arrange a time to meet in the main square. A key member of the community is 84-year-old Emilio, who Minolta first met when she began work on her project The man who never saw the sea. To find him she took a snowy trail from Chamois that leads to a bridge across a river. From there she followed the instructions written on a tiny map, telling her where to go after a fork in the path: “Turn right, down towards the altiport and then right again after the wooden cross. First house on the left.”
The overwhelming sense of being surrounded by people yet feeling alone among them is a well documented facet of city life. And even if you are among the 46 percent of the world’s population living in a rural environment, you’ll be familiar with the emblematic image of urban disconnection in which tower blocks loom over bustling streets filled with scurrying figures. But what happens when the day is over and each individual retreats into their home for a moment of calm after the storm? London-based photographer Aristotle Roufanis is fascinated by this experience of collective solitude. Trained as a civil engineer, he has an affinity for the urban structures that characterise major cities all over the world.
Maria Gruzdeva is no stranger to remote and solitary parts of the world. Her last book, The Borders of Russia, saw her travel more than 6000km along the border of her home country, documenting the isolated communities at its edges. While shooting it she came across the near-forgotten town of Tkvarcheli, and became so intrigued it turned into a spin-off project in its own right. Her work on it has now been published as a photobook, The Song of Tkvarcheli, funded by the Gabriele Basilico International Prize in Architecture and Landscape Photography. “In the Soviet era, the region was widely known for its opulent nature, salubrious climate, seaside resorts and sanatoriums,” says Gruzdeva; Tkvarcheli was once heralded as one of the most perfectly designed towns in this feted area. “In better times, working and living in Tkvarcheli was regarded a privilege – not just by miners, but by engineers and academics as well,” she explains. “The town was created to embody a dream. An idea to create a perfect city pervaded the minds of Soviet architects …