For the past five years, Ulla Deventer has been working on a project about women and prostitution in Europe – specifically in Brussels, Athens and Paris – but also, more recently, in Ghana. Several of the women she met in the project’s early days were from West Africa, and Deventer developed close friendships with some of her subjects, who inspired her to travel to their home countries to experience first-hand what life is like for women living there.
In May 2017, Deventer, who was born in Henstedt-Ulzburg in north Germany and is now based in Hamburg, spent six weeks in Accra, the capital of Ghana, where she focused her attention on the living conditions of the city’s youth, particularly its female sex workers. She recently returned to the country to continue to work on Butterflies Are a Sign of a Good Thing – an extension of her original project.
“Childhood is my main theme,” said Dagmar Hochova. “During the totalitarian regime it was one area that could be freely explored and this determined that I sought children out. It was a different era; children played on the streets, in the suburbs. One could see them everywhere.”
Little-known in the UK to this day, Hochova was famous back in Soviet-era Czechoslovakia for her photographs of children. In fact her work extended far beyond this topic but, often critical of the communist regime, much of it could not be published or exhibited until after the 1989 Velvet Revolution.
“I don’t have a journalistic bone in my body,” says Chris Dorley-Brown. “I’ve never been to Kosovo. Loads of people do that really well, but I don’t have the urge or the instinct, and that’s partly why I don’t really think of myself as a professional. I do the odd advertising job to earn money, and I think I do it okay, but the phone isn’t ringing off the hook with jobs because I don’t put the energy into promoting myself, since I’m wandering around here all the time. I keep my overheads low and can just about get away with it.” It’s a modest way to sum up an extraordinary body of work – more than 30 years of images, nearly all shot in London’s East End, and most photographed on the street. Some show luxury new developments, others rundown social housing. Some capture crowds of people, some empty streets. Many are one-offs, others – such as the images in The Corners – are manipulated using Photoshop to put various passersby together on one intersection
Never heard of Sory Sanlé? If so you’re not alone – in fact he was aged 74 and living in obscurity when French record producer and writer Florent Mazzoleni came across him while researching popular West African music. Fascinated by his album covers, Mazzoleni arranged to meet him at his studio – only to find him burning his negatives. “‘He said people didn’t care about the old stuff,’ Mazzoleni told the New York Times’ Lens blog earlier this year. ‘I spent all night looking at his photos and negatives with a flashlight. He has tens of thousands of photos from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. He gave me a box of negatives that I could print. That’s how our relationship began’.” From this inauspicious start Sanlé’s legacy is now seriously being reappraised. In 2013 he was given a solo show at the Institut Français du Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso, and four of his shots are currently on show at the Fondation Cartier in Paris in the Autophoto exhibition, alongside work by icons such as …
“Many photographs remain forgotten in my archive, while others are destined to come back with a new life,” says Carlo Lombardi. It’s a sentiment that could apply to the subjects of his latest series, Dead Sea, which focuses on the diminishing number of loggerhead sea turtles in the Mediterranean, and which appears in the 2018 Hamburg Triennial Off section from 07 June as a result of an open call. The Italian’s ongoing work began in spring 2016, following a visit to the Museum of the Sea in Pescara, where he was fascinated by a skeleton pinned to the wall. The bones belonged to a loggerhead sea turtle, a species whose population is decreasing at an alarming rate due to climate change. Increasing sand temperatures, storms and rising sea levels vastly impact the turtles’ habitats and ability to breed, while fishing and pollution also contribute to the death toll.
This “photographer’s photographer” is known for his measured understatement and his influential books, such as The Pond (1985) and Berlin in the Time of the Wall (2004). His latest, Looking Up Ben James – A Fable, will soon be published by Steidl, and he’s currently working on his next, The Last Days of Fontainebleau, shot in his hometown, Washington DC
Photographs of women prisoners typically depict them in their cells, behind bars, their femininity stripped away. In contrast to this, French photographer Bettina Rheims has made a series of studio-like portraits of women in four jails across France, images that seek to restore and capture the feminine aspect of their identity. Titled Détenues [Detained], the series comprises 68 frontal portraits shot against white walls in Autumn 2014, and is currently on show in the chapel of Château de Vincennes – a former royal castle near Paris, that housed ‘women of ill repute’ in the 18th and 19th centuries. The exhibition is accompanied by a book, published by Gallimard.
The first night he spent in a bothy, a primitive and remote man-made shelter, Nicholas JR White witnessed a sight he would not forget in a hurry. He and a friend had arrived at Warnscale Head in the Lake District and were talking about the project that would become Black Dots – now a book published by Another Place Press – when they looked out of the window and saw the Northern Lights stretching far into the distance. “We had the whole of the fells to ourselves and sat outside with beers, just watching,” says White. “That was the first night of the project and it was a really good start. The next day I got the first image that would make it into the series.” Little did White know then that this would be the first of many nights spent in bothies across Scotland, Wales and northern England over the following three years. He first had the idea to make a project about these former crofters’ cottages and farmers’ huts, nestled deep in the …
The medium of photography is inherently entwined with memory and nostalgia, especially when it relates to family history. For Christopher Bethell, the recollections of his American grandfather, Joseph ‘Joey’ O’Donnell, were shaped by the few photographs he saw of his relative while growing up in the seemingly unglamorous northern town of Stockport, England. Joey passed away when Bethell was a baby, and the photographer developed a fiction around him – that of a jazz musician who had left his family for a doomed second shot at his career, before falling for the temptations of Las Vegas and ending up in an early grave. Yet when he eventually sat down with his grandmother to find out what she remembered of Joey and their life together in the US, he uncovered “a story that was far more complex and much less cinematic”. In an attempt to deconstruct his own romanticised timeline of his grandfather and – as a dual citizen of the UK and the US – to discover America for himself, Bethell took a six-week road trip taking in Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Reno and Seattle in 2015, ending the journey in Clarkston, Washington, where his grandfather had settled at the end of his life. The subsequent series is affectionately titled The Duke of Earl, a reference to the song by Gene Chandler, which Joey had sung to his future wife the first time they met. Divided into four chapters, Bethell’s images are prefaced with a family photograph of Joey, each followed by its inscription on the back, penned by Joey.
Arunà Canevascini was nominated by Erik Kessels for the richness of her projects, which merge femininity, domesticity and migration. In Villa Argentina, Canevascini examines these themes through elaborately-designed images in which the domestic settings she photographs are disrupted by intrusions from both the history of art and her own family past.