All posts tagged: Ones to Watch

Thomas Albdorf’s manufactures beauty and uncertainty by mixing the natural and the digital


Thomas Albdorf’s still lifes are never quite what they seem – the more you look, the more the perspectives, shapes and colours shift, reflecting the Austrian photographer’s interest in manufacturing beauty and uncertainty out of the seemingly mundane. “What fascinates me when I look at art created by other people is how they engage with simple objects within their immediate reach,” he says. “I feel drawn to people who manage to create something very beautiful and charming out of almost nothing.” Albdorf’s immediate surroundings are the outskirts of Vienna, an area he wandered in search of raw material for his Former Writer series. Seizing on wood, wire, tyres and fridges, he created a kind of ‘edgelands’ trash art, sometimes adding paint to enhance the sense of uncertainty. “I used to do graffiti writing but I stopped at an early age because it’s quite superficial,” he says. “But as I was wandering the peripheries of Vienna, I saw tags and I wanted to use a spray can again. “I like the idea because one of the easiest tools to use …


Thomas Brown’s design-led, constructed imagery

Describing his practice as concept-driven, Thomas Brown is fascinated by form, structure and composition. His work usually involves still life, installation and the landscape, and he often collaborates with like-minded set designers, stylists and cinematographers. His commissions for Vogue, Wallpaper, The New York Times and Coca-Cola, among others, allow him to work on self-initiated projects that often attract further commissions from clients. Brown, who studied photography at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth, was assistant to advertising photographer Dan Tobin Smith for several years, and in 2009 signed to Webber represents. He set up a studio in London two years later, which allowed him to “experiment, play and develop” his practice. “I have been really inspired by the upsurge in still life, installation and constructed imagery,” he says. “People definitely take more notice now, and there are more opportunities to share your work with a bigger audience. “Work that may not have had a home before can now be seen by thousands of people on blogs and websites. This is incredibly motivating and allows you to be …


The surreal dreamscape of Ukrainian photographic duo Synchrodogs

Since Synchrodogs featured in our September 2012 issue, the Ukrainian photography duo have continued to gather momentum. Commissions for Tania Shcheglova and Roman Noven include Croatian eyewear design Sheriff & Cherry, a shoot for New York Magazine, and a portrait assignment for Dazed & Confused photographing their compatriots, the protest group Femen. Their recent project, Reverie sleep, sees Synchrodogs explore their dreams – the space between wake and sleep that is both familiar and remote. “The project deals with the stage of non-rapid eye movement sleep, during which some people may experience hypnagogic hallucinations caused by the natural process of falling asleep,” they explain. “Experimenting with those lucid dreaming techniques, we usually wake ourselves up in the middle of the night to make a note of what we have just seen, gathering our dreams to be staged afterwards.” This project has a distinctly surreal feel, but the duo’s work always builds on the uncanny and the strange, often including naked or semi-clothed figures hiding their faces and holding contorted poses. Their models are often shown against …


Patrick Willocq went from corporate multinationals to the DR Congo to photograph the land of his childhood

As a child, Patrick Willocq spent seven years in the Democratic Republic of Congo; with a camera given to him by his father, he recorded the people and places he encountered. In 2009, 27 years after leaving, he returned, and the trip proved a revelation. “I totally reconnected with myself,” he says. “My passion for photography revealed itself stronger than ever. This helped me face the fact that I was fundamentally not happy with my life.” Willocq had been working for corporate multinationals in Asia for nearly two decades, but he abandoned his successful career to resettle in DR Congo. “I feel at home in the remote villages among the locals,” he says. “I have always been struck by the beauty, simplicity and dignity of daily life there. I want to go beyond the images that stigmatise the nation; for instance, I wish to bear witness to the peace that prevails in the Western part of the country.” His first series, On the road from Bikoro to Bokonda, bears testimony to the everyday challenges faced by the Batwa …


How to photograph corruption


Photographing the ‘unphotographable’ has become Mari Bastashevskiʼs mission. Born in Saint Petersburg in 1980, she tackles entrenched and often concealed systemic failures such as corruption, abuse of power, propaganda or the economies of conflict. “I have done some frontline war work, but the result felt like ‘phoning in’. Since then, I have become a lot more focused on the system rather than its victims or results,” she says. After spending three years in Russia and the North Caucasus to produce File 126, which documents cases of abductions, Bastashevski is currently working on distinct yet concomitant series. In 2013, she was awarded a Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund grant for State Business, a scrupulous and intricate study of the paradoxes of the global arms trade industry. She is also continuing It’s Nothing Personal, an ongoing project about the contrast between the corporate branding of western surveillance firms and Privileged/Confidential, an informed look at the abuses committed by officials in the Balkans. Using both text and images, her work has a forensic quality. Precision, distance and restraint inspire her aesthetic. “Beauty and spectacle are …


Burma, 2012

The journalist-turned-photographer shining a light on Beijing’s underground workers

Having discovered a passion for photography as a teen, Sim Chi Yin spent nine years as an adult writing for The Straits Times, Singapore’s English daily, before returning to image making. “I’ve had to remind myself that a good text subject might not be a strong picture project,” she says of the change. “And I’ve had to deal with switching from trying to be an objective reporter to being a closely involved fly on the wall.” She seems to be making a smooth transition, though – Rat Tribe, which documents the lives of low-income workers in Beijing, was presented at Rencontres d’Arles in 2012, and her coverage of the Burmese spring was shown at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo the same year. In 2013, she was nominated for the W. Eugene Smith Grant for Humanistic Photography for Dying to Breathe, an ongoing series on a Chinese gold miner and she is also a member of VII Photo Agency, having been part of their mentoring programme. Born in Singapore, Sim is now based in China, where taking photographs – or, …


The British fashion photographer equally at home in Preston and Paris

Effortlessly moving between documentary and fashion, editorial and commercial assignments, Jamie Hawkesworth is a photographer who is steadily making a name for himself. On the one hand, he is quite at home documenting passers-by in the grade II-listed Preston Bus Station, the future of which hangs in the balance, or photographing a British polo contest at Cowdray Park, as he did for Man About Town. On the other, he has shot campaigns for designers Céline and Marc Jacobs, and has been featured in magazines such as i-D and Paris Vogue. In light of this impressive CV, Hawkesworth’s ability to turn his hand to whatever comes his way seems to know no bounds. Self Publish Be Happy’s Bruno Ceschel, who nominated Hawkesworth for our One to Watch issue in January 2014, explains what drew him to the photographer’s work: “Jamie has this kind of romantic, street photography aesthetic. Stylistically, he’s the younger brother of photographer Alasdair McLellan, in terms of his interest in documentary aesthetics and a certain kind of casting. Jamie often photographs working-class teenagers, and in his personal work Alasdair photographed young …


Shooting Stars: Capturing the “arrogance and vulnerability” of the famous


Mathieu César’s aesthetic may be classic, but the approach is resolutely contemporary, and that mix has seduced some of the biggest players in the fashion world – from the former editor of Vogue Paris, Carine Roitfeld to Christian Lacroix, the woman behind the French fashion label. “Referencing past masters of the fashion image in the simplicity of his contrasted composition, Mathieu César subverts the classical genre by capturing a contemporary generation of beautiful and damned subjects in sometimes surreal scenes that somehow manage to feel uncontrived,” says another fan, Anne Bourgeois-Vignon, creative content director at Nowness. “His photographs of models, musicians and assorted cool kids flirt with emotion and raw beauty, and his subjects blend arrogance and vulnerability.” A former hairdresser, César got his break with a short film he made of his brother, the ballet dancer Jean-Sébastien Colau. For two months, the French cinema chain MK2 showed the documentary before every feature. He quit his job, joined a production company, and within six weeks was in Mongolia on assignment for Louis Vuitton. “They asked me to shoot videos and photos. …


Reimagining Japan’s history through the lens

In Japan, years are counted the Western way as a linear progression starting from year 1, but they are also counted as a series of periods relating to whichever Emperor is in power. 2014 was also the 26th year of the Heisei period, for example; the last period, Showa, lasted 64 years until 1989. Kazuyoshi Usui’s series, Showa88, depicts an alternative universe in which the Emperor kept going – extending a difficult but vibrant era. “Japan now is said to be suffering from a long stagnation but there is very little hardship here,” he says. “But although there is no physical deprivation, there may be psychological deprivation. Maybe people are living like characters from Orwell’s 1984, by destroying or suppressing their emotions — like company workers who never express their true emotions or desires. “In the Showa era there was hardship and poverty, but I sense the power of the urge for survival. Violence, vice and poverty are hard, but they do reveal humanity. Japan today tries to eliminate these negative things, but in the process it …


Injecting joyful chaos into the spaces hidden within abandoned Irish cottages

“The interventions are intended as a fresh approach to subject matter that would otherwise be considered nostalgic,” explains Belfast-based photographer Jill Quigley, describing the work she’s been making in abandoned buildings in Ireland. The project came about when she sought a subject to work on during her master’s degree at the University of Ulster in Belfast, whose Photography MFA has gathered much recent praise. “I was drawn to the contradiction between contemporary lifestyle and all the historical aspects that linger in rural places, such as the area where I grew up in County Donegal,” she explains. “When I was walking around looking for inspiration, I came across many of these little abandoned houses. The problem was that the kind of imagery associated with places like these purports to document a disappearing way of life, and that wasn’t something I wanted to replicate. By painting things or throwing [something] the moment I took the photograph, I aimed to emphasise the present tense. Thankfully, due to the redundant nature of the spaces there was no need to …


BJP Staff