It is difficult to unravel, in many of the stories that Max Pinckers tells, where fiction became unstuck from fact. Or how the characters in his photographs can look back out at the world so boldly, shake their heads at reality as most people see it, and tell stories that fly in its face. But for the Brussels-based photographer, the six curious individuals in his latest book, Margins of Excess – including a boy who compulsively hijacks trains, and a private detective with prosthetic hands – lead the way to understanding documentary photography’s role in the ‘post-truth’ era.
One such character, an American amateur inventor with a mane of silken hair, sat at the kitchen table of his home in Dunnellon, Florida and told Pinckers that he believed he had become the media’s new Osama bin Laden. “My name is Richard Heene. A few years ago I got into a bit of trouble,” said the forty-something showman, detailing the events that led him to end up behind bars.
Photobooks have been booming for the last ten years or so but one prize has been there for the last 49 years – Les Prix du Livre at Arles, which was set up at the same time as the Rencontres d’Arles festival. With its long history and prestigious jury, which is this year overseen by FOAM director Marloes Krijnen, the Prix du Livre are some of the best-respected in photography.
Three Prix are up for grabs in three categories this year – the Historical Book Award, the Author Book Award, and the Photo-text Book Award, each of which come with a €6000 prize to be shared between the photographers and their publishers. The books are on show at Arles until 23 September, and the winners will be announced in the opening week.
The Leica Oskar Barnack Award is one of the most prestigious in the business and, with a top prize of €25,000 plus a Leica M-System (camera and lens), it’s a lucrative one too. This year, 12 photographers have been picked out for the shortlist – Samuel Gratacap (France), Daniel Chatard (Germany), Max Pinckers (Belgium), Ernesto Benavides (Peru), Vanja Bucan (Slovenia), Turi Calafato (Italy), Stephen Dock (France), Mary Gelman (Russia), Stéphane Lavoué (France), Elsa Stubbé (Belgium), Christian Werner (Germany), and Kechun Zhang (China). Benavides has been nominated for Dredges, a series on illegal gold mining in his native Peru; Bucan’s Sequences of Truth and Deception looks at the ambivalent relationship between humans and nature. Calafato’s Amuninni ‘u mari [Let’s go to the sea] shows locals on the beach in Sicily; Chatard’s Niemandsland [No man’s land] documents the tense relationship between the mining industry and environmental activists in the Rhenish region. Dock’s Architecture of Violence was shot in Ireland and records the reverberations of war; Gelman’s Svetlana looks at a community of mentally disabled people in Russia. …
Established back in 2008, the Fotobookfestival Kassel was the first festival devoted to the photobook and, over the last 10 years, has made a name as one of the most interesting on the calendar. Its 10th anniversary edition looks set to bear out this reputation from 31 May-03 June, with talks by celebrated photographers and photobook-makers such as Anders Petersen, Susan Meiselas, Carlos Spottorno, Mathieu Asselin, Gerhard Steidl, JH Engström, and many more, and exhibitions by Dana Lixenberg, Daniel Gustav Cramer, and the designer Sybren Kuiper (SYB). The exhibitions programme also includes two shows devoted to Kassel’s well-regarded prizes – the Dummy Award and the Photobook Award. In total 30 books have been selected for the Photobook Award by a prestigious panel including, Laia Abril On Abortion; Mathieu Asselin Monsanto – A Photographic Investigation; Ludovic Balland American Readers at Home; Tim Carpenter Local Objects; Sanne de Wilde The Island of the Colorblind; Carolyn Drake Internat; Li Feng White Night; Stephen Gill Night Procession; Anne Golaz Corbeau; David Goldblatt Structures of Dominion and Democracy; Daniela Keiser Kairo; Stephan Keppel Flat Finish; Paul Kranzler and Andrew Phelps The Drake Equation; Sandrine Lopez Moshé; Alix Marie Bleu; Raymond Meeks, Adrianna Ault and Tim Carpenter dumbsaint 01: township & bremen …
Running since 2013, the PHM Grant has a reputation for finding interesting new photographers such as Max Pinckers, Tomas van Houtryve, and Salvatore Vitale. Now the 35-strong shortlist for the 2018 has been announced, with the winners due to be announced on 08 May and four prizes up for grabs – a first, second and third in the main award, plus a New Generation Prize. Each winner gets a cash prize plus a publication on World Press Photo’s Witness, a projection at Cortona On The Move and at Just Another Photo Festival, and promotion via PHmuseum. The jury handing out the awards is made up of photography specialists – Genevieve Fussell, senior photo editor at The New Yorker; Roger Ballen, photographer and artist; Emilia Van Lynden, artistic director of Unseen; and Monica Allende, independent photo editor and cultural producer. The jury is able to give Honourable Mentions, up to six in the main prize, and up to three in the New Generation Prize.
As we move into 2018, BJP review the themes explored in our 2017 editions and ask what you would like us to cover this year
Now in its third year, the Sicilian photo festival is tackling big issues under a theme of “Communication in uncertainty and chaos”. The idea is telling of its locale: a crucial crossing point in the Mediterranean and an entry gateway to Europe, Sicily has been at the centre of the migrant crisis as people cross the sea in search of peace and a better life. The photographs in this series cover ideas of identity, politics, war, nationality, feminism and more.
The Homeric idea of the lotus has endured and today it still represents something that is sweet and addictive, capable of inducing a dreamy forgetfulness and a gentle sense of complacency. Lotus, the new photography book by Max Pinckers in collaboration with Quinten De Bruyn, sets out to question just these tempting qualities.
Fake news and ethical quandaries are hot topics right now – so BJP has responded with its take on the topic, and an issue focussing on documentary storytelling and differing imperatives on objectivity featuring Max Pinckers, Daniel Berehulak, Munem Wasif, and Thomas Struth, among others
In the West, Japan is like a fantasy. A strange, isolated culture of almost perfect self-preservation, we imagine suited Yakuza, manicured raw fish, a blubbery sumo, bonsai trees, samurai swords, wasted bankers, Geishas, karaoke. When Max Pinckers arrived in Japan, via a commission from the Belgium-based cultural project European Eyes on Japan, he couldn’t find much of the Japan he’d come to imagine.