All posts tagged: Documentary

An archive for modern times

When a chance encounter in 2010 saw an archive of several thousand prints and negatives come into Ania Dabrowska’s possession, little did the Polish-born artist know she would have her hands full for the best of part of the next four years. Dabrowska had been running an artist residency programme in north London with Space Studios at Arlington House, a London hostel for homeless men and women, when Diab Alkarssifi – a resident at the hostel – came to her with an archive spanning 100 years of Middle Eastern cultural and political history. Alkarssifi – a former photojournalist from Lebanon – had immigrated to the UK with his family in 1993, and brought with him as much of his 27,000-photograph strong archive as he could carry. The collection, which dates from 1889 to 1993, features photographs taken by Alkarssifi documenting family and public life in his home city of Baalbeck, the Lebanese Civil Wars, and his student days in 1970s Moscow and Budapest, as well as family albums of his extended family, friends and neighbours, among others. It lay hidden for 17 years until Alkarssifi brought it to Dabrowska’s attention. …


View from a window

An exhibition of photographs taken from train windows is on show at London’s St Pancras International station. World Off Track features images of landscapes and people taken by New York-based photographer Jarret Schecter, and marks the tenth anniversary of The Denan Project, a non-profit organisation which provides healthcare, education, and assistance to disadvantaged people in the developing world. [bjp_ad_slot] The images were taken during train journeys in countries including the US, China, Russia, India, Brazil and Japan, among others. Through his images, Schecter presents a socio-economic commentary of the world that is literally “off track”, and asks London commuters to reflect on lives far removed from their own. World Off Track, curated by Hannah Watson of Trolley Books and Emma Blau, is on show in the Market Area of St Pancras International station until 18 September. For more information, or to make a donation, visit Stay up to date with stories such as this, delivered to your inbox every Friday.


Documenting Scotland

On 18 September the Scottish Independence Referendum takes place, and it looks like it will be a close call. Bradford’s Impressions Gallery is marking the moment with an exhibition called Beyond the Border: New Contemporary Photography from Scotland, featuring images shot by photography collective, Document Scotland. [bjp_ad_slot] Document Scotland is made up of four Scottish photographers – Sophie Gerrard, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Stephen McLaren and Colin McPherson – and their work deals with Scottish issues and identities in some unexpected ways. Gerrard’s images, from the series Drawn to the Land, look at women who work the land in Scotland, from Highland crofters to Lowland farmers; McLaren’s project, American Always, Scottish Forever, depicts one strand of the Scottish diaspora, attending California’s burgeoning Highland Games season. Sutton-Hibbert’s Edge of an Empire follows the Antonine Wall, the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire as the wall crosses through central Scotland; McPherson’s A Fine Line follows the border between Scotland and England. Document Scotland formed in 2012, and aims to keep going after the referendum, whichever way the vote goes. “We share …


Amateur photography: a revolution that wasn’t

On 7 July 2005, a series of co-ordinated suicide attacks hit the London Underground during the morning rush hour. Fifty-two civilians were killed and more than 700 injured. The BBC, unable to send its reporters to the scenes, asked those caught up in the attacks to be its eyes and ears. By the end of the day, the network had received 22,000 emails; 300 contained photographs, 50 of which had been taken within an hour of the attacks. A picture shot by Alexander Chadwick with his Nokia 6630 camera phone, showing a single-file line of commuters heading down a tunnel in search of an exit, made the front page of The Washington Post, The New York Times and many more publications. Soon after, these titles and others followed up with articles hailing a new era in which everyone would be a journalist. Five years later, World Press Photo awarded a special mention to a screenshot from a video showing the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, a young Iranian woman gunned down during protests after the country’s …



Before he was killed in Libya, war photographer Tim Hetherington talked of “the feedback loop” – the self-perpetuating link between the reality of conflict and its portrayal in popular culture. But where such fictions were once tightly controlled, the internet has opened the floodgates, creating an ever-increasing circle that is seemingly more gruesome than ever before. A few months before he died, Hetherington submitted to Vanity Fair a series of photographs of US soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. At the time, Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam epic Apocalypse Now was getting a re-release. The designers at Vanity Fair mixed the images up, mistakenly using Hetherington’s shots to illustrate a review of the famously conceptual rendering of war. It was an ironic mistake. Just before the photographer died covering the uprising in Libya, he wrote of what he termed “the feedback loop” – the way in which servicemen echo fictional depictions of war while in combat, and vice versa. “You had this idea that young men in combat act in ways that emulate images they’ve seen – movies, photographs …


Channel 4 airs Zed Nelson immigration film

Zed Nelson has never shied away from covering difficult topics, and in his new documentary film, which premieres tonight on Channel 4, he stays true to form. The 30-minute film, Europe’s Immigration Disaster, tells the story of the Lampedusa migrant boat tragedy, which took place on 03 October last year; 360 of the estimated 500 people on board a boat headed for Europe drowned off the coast of the Mediterranean island after the vessel capsized. The migrants had been making their way from North Africa to seek asylum in Northern Europe. Nelson’s film tells their story through testimonies from the survivors. The Institute photographer was commissioned to make the film by Channel 4 for its investigative current affairs programme, Dispatches. The commission came shortly after the disaster and following a three month-long residency that Nelson had been doing with arts organisation Photoworks in Rome. During the residency, Nelson had started to develop a photography and film project about migration in the Mediterranean. [bjp_ad_slot] “Channel 4 liked what I’d done and wanted me to leave the next day …


An English Landscape

“I have written about surveillance, and am critical of it, but I don’t think images can make arguments,” says Trevor Paglen. “They can only draw attention to things and help people learn how to see. They can only hold things up for consideration – but holding things up for consideration is very powerful.” Paglen was speaking at the opening of his installation at Gloucester Road Underground station – a 62m photograph of an idyllic English landscape which extends along the whole of one of the platforms. Slotted in between 19 brick arches decorating the wall, the image creates the trompe d’oeil effect of looking out into the countryside – a vista that includes the white domes of an American Surveillance Base. It was commissioned by Art on the Underground and will be on show for one year; it has also been included in 75,000 leaflets that will be distributed in all zone 1 Underground stations in London. “Other people have tended to work with each space between the columns; I thought the columns create a very nice Arcadian view and wondered what would happen if I thought of them as …


Gregory August - Cape Town © Dale Yudelman, from the series Life under Democracy

Dale Yudelman’s Cape Town – Life Under Democracy

A child in thin clothing hangs from the rifle of a public war memorial. Scarred, bare legs end in Winnie the Pooh slippers on dirty concrete. A man in a tattered coat sits at the pavement’s edge, staring up and through the camera. At first glance, Life Under Democracy is typically social-realist; the South African photographer Dale Yudelman showing the souls of men, women and children, some impoverished, some almost, on the streets of his native Cape Town. But don’t be fooled. Yudelman sees his career as an exercise in how photography “is able to escape the bounds of the real”. Life Under Democracy is specific to a place, a time and a culture – a complex and diverse study of an endlessly complex and diverse country. Inspired by an exhibition by Ernest Cole at the National Gallery in Cape Town, which showed life under apartheid, Yudelman decided to create a contrasting sequel; life under democracy, 20 years since the election of Mandela and the African National Congress. It’s a study of how much has changed in …


IdeasTap and Magnum Photos announce award winners

Abbie Trayler-Smith, Souvid Datta and Lee Price have been named winners of the 2013 IdeasTap and Magnum Photos Photographic Award. Each photographer wins £5000; in addition, Datta and Price will receive paid placements with Magnum Photos in London or New York. Panos Pictures member Trayler-Smith won the 31+ age category with The Big O, a long-term personal project that looks at childhood obesity; Mumbai-born Datta won the 16 to 22 category with his series that looks at the human cost of pollution in China; and Manchester photographer Price was named winner of the 23 to 30 category for his series, Against the Order of Nature, which explores LGBT communities in Uganda.  The announcement was made last night at the Truman Brewery, off Brick Lane in east London, where an exhibition of work by all nine shortlisted photographers is on show until 25 May. [bjp_ad_slot] The award, now in its fifth year, aims to identify, showcase and celebrate emerging documentary photographers, and to help them “take their careers to the next level”. Self Publish, Be Happy founder Bruno Ceschel, who was one of the judges, said: “We were looking for projects we felt were heading …


Observance, an exhibition by The New York Times’ James Estrin

James Estrin is usually the one writing about new photography exhibitions. The senior staff photographer and co-editor, with David Gonzalez, of The New York Times’ Lens has presented the work of hundreds of photographers, often for the first time, in the four years since the blog’s inception. This month, however, the spotlight is on him as an exhibition of his work goes on show at the Milton J. Weill Art Gallery, 92nd St Y Center in New York. He answers BJP‘s questions. BJP: The exhibition is called Observance. Has this been a particular project you’ve been working on, or is it a curated exhibition of images you’ve taken over the years? James Estrin: I’ve been interested in photographing spiritual experience for pretty much all of my photographic life. Whenever I can, whether by assignment or through my own story ideas, I try to make photos around the subject. About half of the photos were taken in 2005 during a three-month personal project published in The New York Times. The rest were taken between 1999 and last year during various assignments for …


BJP Staff