All posts filed under: 1854 Awards

Female in Focus: Acceptance or resignation?

“I became exposed to this completely different environment,” says Yagazie Emezi, speaking of her experience moving from Nigeria to the US. Having spent her whole life in Nigeria the photographer relocated to the US when she was 16 years old to study. The experience proved formative and has since become the focus of many of her photographic projects. “My work always stems from something personal,” says Emezi. This rings particularly true in the series Process of Re-learning Bodies, an ongoing project in which she explores the process by which people reclaim their bodies after becoming physically scarred. Looking at the fragility and endurance of the human form, and the acceptance of self within African communities, the project seeks to understand the emotional implications of being scarred, and how factors such as community, environment, and socioeconomic class can influence an individual’s psychological adjustment to their new, scarred bodies. “I have a very visible scar on my leg,” says Emezi. “Growing up in my hometown in Nigeria, I wasn’t self-conscious about the scar, because I was in …

2019-04-30T09:59:47+01:00

Portrait of Britain Editor’s Pick: Photographing London’s Kings of Colour

Maria Meco Sanchez originally photographed London’s Kings of Colour drag troupe as part of a commission. The aim of the images was to highlight the role of black drag kings and other performers in the London drag scene, which is a predominantly white space. “The photograph I entered into Portrait of Britain was of a gender-fluid performer named Coco,” Meco Sanchez explains of her subject. “They were very confident in front of the camera, which made the process easy and fun.” Meco Sanchez cites her photographic style as intuitive; she works without following specific rules, leaning towards spontaneity, although she admits that this can sometimes feel slightly chaotic.“I’m really bad at directing people,” she says, “so I try not to take too much control – I don’t want to strip away their persona”. Hailing from Spain, Meco Sanchez is now based in Bristol, where she is studying photography at the University of West England. Her work shifts between documentary, fine art and portrait photography, and her interests lie in people and emotion. “My work has …

2019-04-30T10:01:08+01:00

Female in Focus: “Let us take the reins of our own narrative”

There are many recurring Latin American stereotypes in the mainstream media: from fiery Latinas, sexy senoritas, and coercive lotharios, to violent depictions of the region itself. These two-dimensional portrayals often come from a homogenous Western perspective, and we see far fewer images taken by those who inhabit the continent themselves. Daiana Valencia and Celeste Alonso came together in 2015 to change this. Combining their dual expertise, the pair created Rueda Photos – a collective focusing on “themes with social context, referring to the territory, the gender issues and the current affairs that are specific to it”. Since its inception, the collective has completed a number of immensely successful projects. Their first collaborative work was shot in Haiti, where they covered the presidential campaign of Maryse Narcisse in the 2015 elections. The series, Candidate, follows the Fanmi Lavalas party nominee during a period which saw attitudes towards female politicians change in South America. Since then, three of South America’s biggest powers – Chile, Argentina and Brazil – have been governed by women. The collective’s most recent …

2019-04-30T12:18:26+01:00

A Portrait of Britain’s Pakistani community

Maryam Wahid has been interested in photography since she was a child. The photographer would often spend her weekends perusing galleries with her family, but she was always struck by the lack of diversity on gallery walls. “I saw very little of my community in the art world,” she says. This was a stark contrast to the vibrant multicultural – particularly South Asian – community that surrounded her growing up in Birmingham. Wahid is profoundly interested in multiculturalism, and uses her work to challenge misconceptions of Islam in the UK. Her photographs focus on the mass integration of migrants in Britain. More specifically, she explores her family’s roots in the Midlands, and their personal, yet arguably universal, experience as immigrants. In her series Archives Locating Home, Wahid positions family photographs from 1950s Pakistan among those taken in Britain decades later. Using self-portraiture, Wahid draws on her own identity within the UK’s Pakistani diaspora. Her self-portraits pay homage to those taken of her mother at the time she migrated to Britain in the early 1980s. Wahid’s …

2019-04-30T12:16:10+01:00

Female in Focus: “Dominance is often a characteristic associated with men”

Alice Mann is a South Africa-born, London-based photographer, who was awarded the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize in 2018 for her photographs of all-female teams of drum majorettes in South Africa’s Western Cape province. The images that make up Drummies are celebratory and empowering portrayals of young majorettes from some of South Africa’s most marginalised communities. “Winning the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize was confirmation that people were able to instantly access the power these women had,” Mann says, “I’m really pleased that the girls’ confidence came across in the series.” Alice Mann is one of our females in focus; a remarkable photographer making extraordinary work, whose images we are revisiting as part of our pledge to elevate photography by women. Female in Focus is a new award, launched this year by 1854 Media, in which female-identifying photographers are invited to apply to have their work exhibited as part of a month-long group show at United Photo Industries gallery in Brooklyn, New York. Female in Focus is our way of addressing the gender imbalance …

2019-05-30T13:11:14+01:00

Female in Focus: “Willingness for change, and honesty, will move the photography industry forward”

Our next Female in Focus is Ngadi Smart. Her portraits, often of subjects with a striking sense of style, examine how people express their identity through both fashion and their surroundings. Combining photography and illustration, Smart’s work is rich with colour, pattern and personality. Ngadi Smart is a West African multi-disciplinary artist who has moved between Sierra Leone,  the UK and Canada. This has given her an international and expansive worldview that radiates throughout her work. However, her West African roots remain at the forefront of her work, and much of her photography interrogates themes of identity, sexuality and feminism through an African lens. By deconstructing mainstream portrayals of the continent, Smart challenges Western perceptions of African cultures. Smart’s work is motivated by the misrepresentation of black people of colour; their varied, vibrant and broad cultures, as well as feminism and gender roles. Through art, she reconsiders what it means to be considered ‘normal’ or ‘beautiful’. We spoke to Smart in light of Female in Focus, a new award that seeks to more bring diverse …

2019-05-30T12:39:18+01:00

BJP Staff