Out of a 1200km-stretch of grassland in northern Kazakhstan, glistening skyscrapers shoot up into the landscape. Among the impressive buildings rising out of the otherwise sparse terrain are two identical golden towers, a fantastical presidential palace, and a looming centrepiece that blossoms into a large golden sphere. It packs quite a visual punch, but what’s most impressive is that it’s all been built in just 15 years.
Astana became the capital of Kazakhstan in 1997, and has since developed into one of the most modern cities in Central Asia. It’s futuristic buildings are designed by world-famous architects such as Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid, their work paid for via the country’s recently-discovered oil reserves.
“Most of my initial photography projects have grown by asking myself questions about my heritage, culture and where I come from,” says Kovi Konowiecki, who’s currently based between his native California and Mexico City. Brought up in a Jewish home in Long Beach, the 25-year- old former footballer has intimately captured his hometown and its surrounding areas, as well as travelling further afield, to document the wider Jewish diaspora. The nebulous concept of home – what it means and what it is like to voyage beyond it – is a recurring theme in his work. From exploring contemporary notions of Orthodox Judaism in England, the US and Israel, to the racial and cultural discrimination faced by Ethiopian Jews in Israel, Konowiecki’s drive to better understand aspects of his own identity has brought him into contact with a broad range of distinct cultures and communities. Over the past three years, he began to trace similarities between the people he was photographing, who all tended to occupy a liminal space between belonging and isolation. His latest project, …
Yassine Alaoui Ismaili (Morocco), Paul Botes (South Africa), Anna Boyiazis (USA), Tommaso Fiscaletti & Nic Grobler (South Africa), and Phumzile Khanyile (South Africa) are the five winners of the seventh CAP Prize. Open to photographers of any age or background, the CAP Prize is awarded to work that engages with the African continent or its diaspora.
Born in 1984 in Khouribga, Morocco, Yassine Alaoui Ismaili – aka Yoriyas – lives in Casablanca and has been awarded his prize for the series Casablanca Not the Movie (2014–2018). “It is both a love letter to the city I call home and an effort to nuance the visual record for those whose exposure to Morocco’s famous city is limited to guide book snapshots, film depictions or Orientalist fantasies,” he says.
Unexploded landmines are responsible for the deaths of 15-20,000 people every year, and currently contaminate 78 countries worldwide. Nagorno Karabakh, a landlocked, mountainous region in South Caucasus, Eastern Europe, has one of the highest per capita incidences of landmine accidents in the world, and a third of the victims are children. Eva Clifford, former online writer at BJP, spent a week with the world’s largest mine clearance organisation, HALO, and their first female demining team in Nagorno Karabakh. Since employing its first female demining team in 2015, HALO now employs 11 women, with more undergoing training this year.
Between 1960 and 1997, the idyllic Italian island of Sardinia witnessed a series of kidnappings at the hands of the anonima sequestri sarda – a group of vigilantes meting out justice according to a traditional, local code of honour known as the codice barbaricino. Over 37 years, 162 people were kidnapped for ransom, with some of them killed. The kidnapping of seven-year-old Farouk Kassam in 1992 is particularly vivid for Sardinian-born-and-raised Valeria Cherchi, who was the same age at the time. The case instilled in her a profound fear. “I clearly remember the news, during his fifth month of imprisonment, that the upper part of his ear was found by a priest on a mountainous road in Barbagia, central Sardinia,” she recalls.
Roland Barthes’ tear-jerking account of his confrontation with his mother’s photograph captures the emotions that a picture of a loved one can evoke, and the significance of a family photograph. From early formal portraits of upper-class families shot in studios to contemporary snaps, images have welded families together under the premise of memory. But with private pictures now becoming more public, family photographs are evolving in the way we document our histories. Rie Yamada’s family photographs take it a step further: instead of documenting her nearest and dearest, in her series Familie werden (which translates as Become a family), the photographer plays every relative herself, highlighting gender stereotypes and social archetypes with a good dose of hilarity and absurdity.
Phoebe Kiely was 14 years old when she first picked up a camera. It was terrible, though: a four megapixel digital device from Aldi. But despite the poor quality, Kiely became obsessed with taking pictures. One of the earliest photographs she remembers was of her best friend, Amanda, captured in the garden of Kiely’s family home in Ingoldsby, Lincolnshire. “It’s a picture of her on a small trampoline,” she says. “I’m above her and she’s curled up, looking up at me.” The Aldi camera was replaced with a film camera when Kiely hit her late teens and the “buzz” of shooting, developing and seeing the final results of her pictures became stronger. It was what helped her get through three years of working in retail after finishing her A-levels in 2009. “I remember running into town during my 15-minute morning break to drop my film off,” she says. “I would walk back during my lunch hour to pick up the pictures. It was the most exciting part of the day.” Kiely graduated in 2015 with …
Famously described by Susan Sontag in her 1964 essay Notes on ‘Camp’ as “a sensibility (as distinct from an idea)”, the appreciation of camp was born out of artifice and opulence, a vulgar fascination with theatrical exaggeration. And while it has long been tied up with LGBTQI culture, it has become a compelling way to convey messages without limits. “To me, camp is a very powerful thing,” says Phillip Prokopiou. “It’s a form of satire – a way to exaggerate and ridicule things that are very serious.” Prokopiou, a South Africa-born, London-based photographer behind an eponymous studio, which he co-founded with his partner-in-life-and-art Panagiotis Poimenidis, has long been fascinated with the power of kitsch to communicate our deepest hopes, fears and fantasies – whether they manifest in the form of a moustachioed Virgin Mary (stage name: Virgin Xtravaganzah) sitting chastely in the glow of ‘Gawd’’s glory, or an otherworldly extraterrestrial gazing into the distance.
James Hyman Gallery opened in 1999, aspiring to deal in museum quality fine art of art historical importance, with a particular focus on twentieth century British artists. In 2008, James Hyman began to develop a programme of photography exhibitions, which led to the creation of a new company, James Hyman Photography. The gallery has since hosted many high-profile photography exhibitions, including one devoted to the work of Linda McCartney, co-curated by Paul McCartney and James Hyman. As well as exhibitions, art fairs, scholarships, and selling and loaning works to museums and public collections across the world, James Hyman maintains a core business as an art advisor. He supplies bespoke, expert advice to both first time and experienced collectors of art and photography. In this interview, he gives us an insight into the UK’s current photography market. What excites you the most about exhibiting your artists at Photo London? We have exhibited at Paris Photo and the Aipad Photography show in New York for many years, but it’s very exciting to be part of something so …
Travelling to Kiev in the wake of protest, revolution and civil war, Belgian photographer David Denil set about documenting the aftermath of conflict in the minds of ordinary people still coming to terms with the country’s sharp divisions. The resulting series, Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking, departs from journalistic record, instead attempting to depict “the psychological state of this Ukraine looking at its future while haunted by its past and memory,” he says. “The images are metaphorical representations from the everyday life encountered where time seems frozen but dreams of hope still linger.”