With its dungeon-like chambers, ghostly corridors, and casemates on which guns would have stood, Coalhouse Fort in East Tilbury, Essex, is an unlikely art gallery. But on 28 April 2018, the 144 year fort on the edge of the Thames Estuary will open its doors to the public for a pop-up exhibition, featuring artists such as Felicity Hammond, Dafna Talmor, and Corinne Silva. Caught between a military past and its current use as a tourist attraction, the fort’s identity is shifting. The building is deteriorating and being reclaimed by nature – the antithesis to its original role as a robust military base. A team of volunteers is working with the local council to restore it, and keep it from falling into obscurity. But while it may be ramshackle, it is a space full of artistic possibility, and that is what captured my imagination when I was invited by artist and lecturer Michael Whelan to curate a pop-up exhibition there. Whelan had been working with Thurrock Council to digitise its rich archive of photographs, documents, and military-related artefacts and, noticing the site’s potential as a space to show art, decided to put on an exhibition.
“Tu sais qu’est-ce que c’est le rayon vert?” Marie Rivière’s listless character Delphine asks, her legs swinging, in Éric Rohmer’s 1986 film Le Rayon Vert [The Green Ray]. The film – a portrait of its main character’s halting search for summer romance – was based on Jules Verne’s 1882 novel of the same name. While in theory its title refers to an optical phenomenon – in which the appearance of the sun as it rises or falls beyond the horizon creates a brief flash of green, and with it a supposed moment of mental clarity for all those who see it – in reality its subject matter is far more elusive. “I related the ‘rayon vert’ phenomenon to the process of photography – this special and quick moment that happens rarely,” Swiss photographer Senta Simond explains, referring to her project of the same name. Her series, which will be published by Kominek and shown at London’s Webber Gallery soon, adds a new, compelling layer to the meteorological event/Jules Verne/ Éric Rohmer mix of references. Indeed, Simond, a former student of ECAL, University of Art and Design Lausanne, from which she graduated last summer, first encountered the concept via the 1986 film.
Lucus Joyce’s weekly People’s Choice winning portrait is a haunting image of his friend Ashley, who lives with pernicious anemia. Inspired by the thousand yard stare, a term often used to describe the blank, unfocused gaze of soldiers who have become emotionally detached from the horrors around them, Joyce sought to use the portrait to depict the many aspects of Ashley’s life and identity.
In a first for BJP we have partnered with the Hamburg Triennial of Photography this issue, catching up with the festival’s artistic director Krzysztof Candrowicz and examining the festival’s theme Breaking Point: Searching for Change. “For Krzysztof, photography provides a pertinent tool for examining these big subjects,” writes BJP’s editor Simon Bainbridge, “not just as a visual document of environmental emergency or hi-tech Armageddon, but as a tangible, thought-provoking exploration of transition.” From the 320 artists included in the festival’s open submissions, we bring you our favourites – including Salvatore Vitale and his project on Switzerland’s obsession with security, which scrutinises the ways in which it shapes not only the environment, but also the Swiss mentality. Sarker Protick draws our focus towards Bangladesh’s Padma River, offering a stark warning of rising water levels, while Gábor Arion Kudász’s Human is a study of mankind via the metaphor of a humble brick. We highlight more of the thought-provoking work on show in Hamburg in our Projects section, including Carlo Lombardi’s series on an endangered loggerhead sea turtle. Gretje Treiber’s …
Founded in 2012 by Swiss artist Benjamin Füglister, the Contemporary African Photography Prize aims “to raise the profile of African photography and encourage a rethinking of the image of Africa”. Open to photographers from anywhere in the world whose work engages with the African continent or its diaspora, it picks out five winners every year and shows their work at major photography festivals around the world. This year 800 photographers entered, of whom 25 have made it to the shortlist.
“Disgusting”. “Perverted.” “The British Judiciary should hold him accountable for what he’s doing.” These are just a handful of reactions to Dougie Wallace’s new body of work: Harrodsburg. Lauded for his documentation of the puke-tinged hedonism of Blackpool in Stags, Hens & Bunnies, the “total fucking chaos” of Shoreditch Wild Life and the Mumbai cab driver portraits Road Wallah, Harrodsburg finds Wallace on the hunt for richer prey. Wallace prowled the pavements of London’s richest post-codes, flash and camera primed, waiting for a suitable subject. When he spotted one, he approached, snapped a quick close-up and was gone, before they’d had time to process what had happened. Neatly, the roots of Harrodsburg come from BJP, after its December 2014’s Cool and Noteworthy issue mentioned (incorrectly) that you might spot Dougie working outside Harrods. This germ of an idea dovetailed neatly with an existing project that contrasts the people of Knightsbridge, London, and Calton, Glasgow. A resident of leafy Kensington can expect to live to their 80s, explains Wallace, whereas in the Calton area of Glasgow, near to where Wallace …
“Throughout human history the depiction of the human body has been curiously investigated,” writes BJP‘s assistant editor, Izabela Radwanska Zhang. “In its rawest form, artists have dedicated their lives to perfecting it on paper – god and icons of religion and spirituality rendered in perfect anatomy. This changed with the arrival of the camera, and gradually our viewpoints of the figure became manifold.” We contemplate some of these viewpoints in this issue, which looks at the depiction of the human form and the ways in which contemporary image-makers are pushing its representation. From Amsterdam, we have Carla van de Puttelaar and her compelling work on the female nude, which takes inspiration from the Old Masters. Photographing female figures of the art world, Van de Puttelaar creates portraits that are both elegant and empowering in her ongoing project Artfully Dressed: Women in the Art World. Elsewhere, we feature a new three-part project by co-curators Holly Hay and Shonagh Marshall titled Posturing: Photographing the Body in Fashion, which explores the changing representation of the body in the ever-morphing fashion world. “It’s about …
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.