“In Centralia, Poulomi Basu continues to focus her gaze on the interrelation between violence, state power, and gender,” says Monica Allende, member of the jury for the PHM grant. “By intertwining multilayered fictional narratives she aims to challenge the viewer’s perception of reality, as well as established neocolonialist histories. “In an era of post-truth and fake news, where we battle for control of “official” narratives, Basu’s work forces us to reflect on our own prejudices and educated preconceptions. Despite addressing such complex issues, the work is both illuminating and engaging – a testament to her innate ability as a documentarian. The result is a beautifully executed story which is thoroughly deserving of the winning grant.”
Charlie surfs on Lotus Flowers, which addresses the control of the one-party Communist government, and United States of Vietnam, which looks at the slow victory of capitalism over communism and its consequences for Vietnam’s economy. Using a combination of a staged, typological form of photography in United States of Vietnam, and a more autonomous, naturalistic style for Charlie surfs on Lotus Flowers, Sapienza intends to leave something for the viewer to work out. “They have to try to put their feet in the author’s shoes,” he says. “They just need to get the leitmotiv of your project, not the full, descriptive content. In that exchange lives the real core of the project.”
“The work represents my experience in recovering and understanding my parents, their life and their relationship towards myself,” says Marco Marzocchi of his series Oyster. “I never knew them well because they split when I was 6 years old, and they both died young.
“Drugs, addictions, jail, and dysfunctional environment, these were constant elements. This work is focused on dealing and replacing all the doubts and the fears that I had. Exorcising the pain and the searching for love.” A bold mix of colour, black-and-white, contemporary and archive images, presented with hand-written text, Marzocchi’s series has scooped first prize in the 2017 Gomma Grant. Marzocchi has worked on the project for a decade, honing down on the editing last year with distinguished photographers JH Engstrom and Margot Wallard at the celebrated Atelier Smedsby workshop.
Simone Sapienza won the Undergraduate series prize at the Breakthrough Awards 2016 with an astonishingly assured debut, Charlie surfs on Lotus Flowers. Shot in Vietnam, it explores a country that effectively defeated the US in an exhausting war, then adopted unbridled capitalism to become a new Asian tiger. “Vietnam was all built in my imagination but just thanks to the cinema, through movies like Apocalypse Now,” Sapienza explains. “I was curious to see what the country that defeated the US looked like.” It was a precocious start for someone just leaving university, but then Sapienza had already made inroads into the photography world the year before, launching the Gazebook Sicily Photobook Festival in 2015. It’s now in its third year, and has hosted photographers as well known as Martin Parr. After graduating from Newport, Sapienza returned to Sicily, where he joined the Minimum photo studio, which he runs with our other members. It’s an “atypical and transversal” place, he says, through which the photographers organise events and create new photo projects individually and collectively; it’s also based in …