On 13 February, Çağdaş Erdoğan will stand trial in Istanbul accused of membership and support of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a separatist group classified as a terrorist organisation by the Turkish government. Erdoğan is of Kurdish descent, grew up in the region and, as an adult, embedded with affiliates of the PKK during the complex, multifactional conflict that has crossed the borders of Syria, Iraq and Turkey. But he did so, he claims, purely as a photojournalist intent on documenting an unseen conflict for the world’s media and without any alliance with or allegiance to any organisation. His only allegiance was to photography.
Last month BJP focused in on group work; this month we’re looking at a different kind of collaboration – projects in which photographers engage in a two-way dialogue with their subjects. One of the best – and the best-known – examples is Jim Goldberg, who works with subjects such as teenage runaways and migrants to tell wide-sweeping stories of marginalisation and economic disparity. Using an eclectic mix of photographs, archive materials and video, and both marking up himself and invites his subjects to write on, he creates complex montages guided by his sense of “intimacy, trust and intuition”. Incorporating the perspectives of the communities and subcultures he represents, his work is informed by his own background in a blue-collar family in New Haven.
“The Magnum/BJP series of workshops have been extraordinarily rewarding for me,” says Beren Patterson. “Despite being only two intense days per topic, the depth, coverage and expertise from Magnum photographers, industry speakers, and fellow attendees is incredible. I can’t recommend the workshops strongly enough for those wanting to be inspired and grow as a photographer.” Patterson has attended all of the Magnum/BJP workshops to date – and has already signed up for the 2018 series, which kicks off on 17-18 February with session titled Editorial Assignments – How to succeed in the editorial market.
The British Journal of Photography’s editorial director picks out his top five of 2017 – including Sam Contis’ Deep Springs
BJP asked for your thoughts and ideas about what you would like to see featured next year. Here we share a selection.
“Great storytelling is never merely about facts,” explains Donald Weber. “D-Day actually happened, and as such it can be studied in detail. As an historical event, however, it has the potential to vibrate myth. Together, quantifiable and relative aspects are defining the essence of storytelling which, in itself, is the ultimate art performed in War Sand.” Weber is referring to his latest project, born of the idea that sand is mnemonic and, for this photographer, it is a repository that has retained the war stories of his grandfather, a commando in the Canadian army. Shortly after publishing Interrogations in 2011, Weber says he “needed to recover from my experiences in Ukraine, where I documented all-too-real interrogations of suspected criminals”.
The visual language NGOs use to show the developing world is often sombre, designed to shock our senses by highlighting the desperate situations of communities fleeing persecution or natural disaster. Think of Ethiopia, for example, and the images that immediately come to mind are of a country plagued by drought and famine. What is less recognised is that the country, which stretches over the Horn of Africa, is also home to fields of lush agricultural land, and expanses of green nourished by mountainous lakes. But it was this vibrant image that Oxfam sought to convey in its 75th- anniversary collaboration with Annie Sloan paint, a brand more often seen on the pages of glossy interiors magazines. The idea for the collaboration came when Ellie Farmer, a film and photography producer at Oxfam, was on a trip in Sicily and noticed brightly-coloured refugee boats lined up on the beach. Spurred into thinking about the influence colour can have on storytelling, she approached Sloan – who in turn was inspired to create a new chalk-based product, referencing the colours of Ethiopia, in which Oxfam has an established aid programme.
Collaborations form a big part of some of the year’s most notable works. We have Rick Pushinsky teaming up with his dad, a keen amateur chef, to put together a collection of recipe cards inspired by the family’s Jewish heritage that are as satisfying and experiential on the eye as they are on the tummy. Elsewhere we have the mischievous pairing of Erik Kessels and Thomas Mailaender who, with Photo Pleasure Palace, brought a tremendous sense of fun to this year’s Unseen Amsterdam photo fair. A fun fair-like atmosphere featuring installations like a Smash Gallery and a Toilet Obscura, this collaboration used a tongue-in-cheek playfulness and spontaneity to make one of our favourite photographic events of the year. From photographic fun fairs to fashion shoots, the unlikely collaboration of conceptual photographer Barbara Probst and luxury fashion brand Marni really struck a chord. By encouraging the models in the brand’s Spring/Summer 2017 shoot to take their own photographs in a very active manner under her watchful eye, Probst sought to recalibrate the balance of power that so …
Sue Steward is remembered on 16 November with music and tributes at The Tabernacle, London. Even Sue, a writer who excelled in celebrating lives, might have struggled to write an obituary that unravelled the vibrant meshing of her own. She lived with ferocious energy and enthusiasm, and a genuine gift for friendship so innate that she never realised how unique it was. When Sue died recently from a brain haemorrhage, sustained in her beloved East Sussex garden, grief ricocheted through an extensive global network of friends and colleagues.
“I am always trying to challenge myself and develop new ways of exhibiting work that defy the trap of the exhibition shuffle.”