Les Rencontres d’Arles is the most prestigious photo festival in the world – that’s beyond question. But according to a high-profile group of photographers, curators, and writers, there’s still more that it could do. They’ve got together to sign a public letter to festival director Sam Stourdzé, which urges him to include more exhibitions by women in the main programme at Arles, and which was published in the French newspaper Libération on 03 September.
The letter is signed by influential industry figures such as Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel Gallery; Victor Burgin, Professor Emeritus of History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz, and Emeritus Millard Chair of Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London; collectors Claire and James Hyman; and Olivier Richon, Professor of Photography, Royal College of Art, London, as well as photographers and artists such as Clare Strand, Sunil Gupta, and Anna Fox.
Foam founder Marloes Krijnen, curator Yumi Goto, and photographers Rob Hornstra, Mark Power and Mariela Sancari highlight the photobook that have impressed them most so far in 2018 – including Senta Simond’s Rayon Vert, Christian van der Kooy’s Anastasiia, and John Myers’ The Portraits
When Seydou Keïta (1921-2001) was given a Kodak Brownie Flash by his uncle in 1935, his career path took a new route. Originally an apprentice carpenter for his father, Keïta spent the following years teaching himself the technicalities of photography and eventually opened an outdoor studio in 1948 in Bamako Koura. As word quickly spread, it wasn’t long before Malians began flocking to his studio to have their portrait taken. “My experience taught me the positions that my customers liked best,” Keïta said. “You try to obtain the best pose, the most advantageous profile, because photography is an art, everything should be as close to perfection as possible.” As well as ornate backdrops, Keïta kept an array of props in his studio – from paper flowers to Vespas – and occasionally sitters would bring their own. In the black-and-white images he took during the late 1940s and 1950s, Keïta captures members of Malian society radiating with confidence, dignity and grace, epitomising Mali’s emerging freedom from colonialist rule and portraying them how they wished to be …
For Czech photographer Tereza Zelenkova, it is the stories behind the images that fascinate her. “I guess a good way of looking at some of my works is as if they were illustrations for a book that does not exist,” says Zelenkova, whose work will be shown in two upcoming solo shows in Amsterdam
Based in Lagos, Nigeria, A Whitespace Creative Agency is in the business of “creating narratives for a new vision of contemporary Africa”. It was set up in 2014 by Papa Omotayo after he “saw the need for creatives to have a platform and organisation that aimed to push new ideas being developed by a new generation of visual artists,” says Omotayo. “We sought to bring young dynamic creatives and pair them with local and international brands and organisations,” he continues, “whilst also developing personal projects and programmes that focused on art and culture as a currency and catalyst for change within the city of Lagos.” AWCA works with local and international brands and NGOs, creating lookbooks, campaigns, editorials, documentaries and films; it also works on projects presenting the cream of Lagos’ talent overseas. AWCA’s collaboration with Amaka Osakwe of Maki Oh won Best New Director at the Fashion Film Festival in Milan in 2016, for example; in 2016 AWCA took up a ten-day residency in London, showcasing some of its creatives, giving photographer Kadara Enyeasi a …
“I’m a bit at a loss at the moment; to say that I’m honoured feels like an understatement,” says photographer Daniel Shea, who has won the 12th Foam Paul Huf Award. “I’ve been following this award and Foam for a long time, and I feel incredibly honored, grateful, lucky, and humbled by this opportunity.” Shea has won the prize with his series 43-35 10th Street, described as a reflection on late capitalism and its effects on New York City. He wins €20,000 and a solo show at the Foam Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam, which will take place in Autumn this year.
Tackling excessive consumption and its parlous effect on the environment and on mental health, Excessocenus uses brightly-coloured, staged images rather than the gritty photojournalism more familiar in this field. “On one hand we wanted to point out the culture of excess that is driving the planet to a total collapse, but on the other hand we also wanted to make a point about how this dramatic situation is normally presented to the audience,” says its creators, Cristina de Middel and Bruno Morais
“To look ahead we first need to look back in time,” write Kim Knoppers and Ann-Christin Bertrand, curators of Back to the Future: The 19th Century in the 21st Century – an exhibition that presents contemporary artists whose experimental approach to photography echoes that of the 19th century pioneers of the medium.
Federica Chiocchetti, the writer, curator, lecturer, and founding director of the photo-literary platform Photocaptionist picks out her top five of the year – including Giorgio Di Noto’s The Iceberg, published by Edition Patrick Frey
“On s’engage, on va le faire” – that is, “We’re in, we’ll do it”. The New York-based, French-Venezuelan photographer Mathieu Asselin goes back and forth from Spanish to English to French as he recalls how Sam Stourdzé, the director of the Rencontres d’Arles, enthusiastically agreed to exhibit his five-year long, research-intensive project about the US chemical corporation Monsanto. It happened a week before last year’s festival, and Asselin was then showing the dummy of his photobook, Monsanto®. A Photographic Investigation. This year the project is being shown at the Magasin Électrique at Arles, and the book has been published in French by Actes Sud, and in English by the Dortmund-based Verlag Kettler. Asselin’s project is conceived as a cautionary tale putting the spotlight on the consequences of corporate impunity, both for people and the environment. Designed by fellow countryman Ricardo Báez, a designer, curator and photobook collector who has notably worked with the Venezuelan master Paolo Gasparini, Monsanto® submerges the reader into an exposé of the corporation’s practices, whether by showing contaminated sites and the health and …