“These magnificent photographs capture at once the great diversity and the inescapable identity of the British people,” writes Will Self, in his introduction to the Portrait of Britain 2018 book, “Gay, straight, bisexual and non-normative; male, female and non-binary; old, young and in between – how can it be that these – every one a compelling identity in its own right — are nonetheless trumped by a Britishness as heavy and irresistible as a Dundee fruit cake?” Portrait of Britain – the biggest, most inclusive photography event in the country – is back. Now in its fourth edition, the award will again culminate in a nationwide exhibition, with the winning images displayed on JCDecaux screens in public spaces across the country. Following the success of the Portrait of Britain book, which we created for the first time last year, we will compile 200 shortlisted images into a book, to be published by Hoxton Mini Press and distributed across the globe. Since its inception in 2016, Portrait of Britain’s profile has grown exponentially. Last year it …
In the second of our interviews with BJP IPA 2019’s judges, we meet Sarah Allen. As assistant curator at Tate Modern, Allen has worked on a number of major shows, the most recent being Shape of Light, the first blockbuster exhibition to explore the relationship between photography and abstract art. Before moving to Tate Modern, Allen worked at a string of leading galleries, including The Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, The Guggenheim Museum in New York, and The Photographers’ Gallery, London. Among the high-profile photographers she’s worked with is Mark Ruwedel, who recently made it on to the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2019 shortlist with his show The Artist and Society, curated by Allen. We spoke to her about how to get noticed by curators, and what she’s looking forward to seeing in BJP IPA 2019. What are the most exciting things happening in photography at the moment? And what trends do you think we’ll see in 2019? I think there is some extremely important work being made at the moment on the subject of …
When William Henry Fox Talbot pioneered the salted paper and calotype processes in 1841, he soon turned his new inventions to food, capturing two baskets overflowing with fruit. Creating an image designed to mimic the paintings of the time, and to contrast the colours and textures of the pineapple and peaches, he also made an image rife with welcoming symbolism – the pineapple a sign of hospitality, the peach a sign of fecundity.
“Fox Talbot’s photograph was copying the traditions of painting and its attendant symbolism,” says photography curator and writer Susan Bright. “But it was also concerned with the role of photography, and elevating its status to that of art. In this respect it resonates nicely with artists such as Daniel Gordon, whose work also deals with the medium of photography. But his constructed pineapple has nothing to do with symbolism, or striving to be understood as art. It is art. He is questioning the role of visual perception, what is real and what is not.
“The way food is photographed says a tremendous amount about significant aspects of our culture,” Bright continues. “It is often about fantasy, be that national, sexual or historical. Photographs of food are the carrier for so many things – desire, consumption, taste, immigration and feminism, for example. It has been a major part of the development of fine art, editorial, fashion, marketing and product photography throughout the 20th and 21st century.”
John Myers is back with new book called Looking at the Overlooked – a good title for a photographer who specialises in images of the unremarkable, and who himself nearly fell from photographic history. Working in Britain’s post-industrial Midlands from 1973-1981, Myers created an archive of the unspectacular that attracted attention at the time but then lay undisturbed for 30 years until a chance meeting with a curator. A solo show at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery followed in 2011, kick-starting a comprehensive reappraisal at his work that’s resulted in more solo shows and several publications.
Looking at the Overlooked is published by RBB Photobooks, which also published a collection of Myer’s portraits earlier this year. But where The Portraits focused in on pictures of people, Looking at the Overlooked is a glorious compendium of “the claustrophobia of the suburban landscape in the 1970s”. Focusing in on substations, shops, houses, televisions, and so-called “landscapes without incident” – or as Myers puts it, “boring photographs” – the images are all recorded with a deadpan aesthetic that’s won Myers comparisons to the celebrated New Topographics movement in the US.
Silvia Rosi and Theo Simpson have won the UK’s Jerwood/Photoworks Awards for emerging photographers. Each receives £10,000 to make new work plus an additional fund of £5000 and print support from Spectrum Photographic, plus high-profile mentoring and a two-person exhibition that will start at the Jerwood Space in January 2020 and travel throughout the UK.
Born in 1992 in Scandiano, Italy, Rosi is a Togolaise/Italian artist living and working in London. Graduating from the London College of Communication in 2016 with a BA in Photography, she makes work that references the West African studio portrait to explore her family and its experience of migration. Born in 1986 in Doncaster, Theo Simpson lives and works in Lincolnshire, UK, and has shown his work at institutions such as FOAM in Amsterdam, and Webber Gallery, London. His work considers the long game and the transformations of the globalising world, and has previously been published on bjp-online www.bjp-online.com/2017/02/theosimpson/
It’s free to enter, anyone from anywhere can enter, it’s helped launch photographers such as Paul Salveson, Joanna Piotrowska, and Emmanuelle Andrianjafy, and its winner is announced at Photo London and publishes a book with the prestigious MACK. It is the First Book Award, and in just eight years it’s become a firm fixture on the photobook calendar – and yet so far it’s only received 300 or so submissions per year. How come?
Well, until now MACK has organised it with the help of an international panel of nominators, meaning that only those photographers recommended by this group of curators, editors, and educators could get involved. But now all that’s changed, with the first-ever open-entry First Book Award accepting dummies from anyone who wants to submit. “One of the things we are attempting to remove is the notion that unless you’re connected, unless you’re in the know and have contacts in that sphere, you can’t go forward,” says Michael Mack, founder of MACK. “We want to discourage that idea.”
BJP-online Loves Lei Lei and Pixy Liao win at the 2018 Jimei x Arles festival
bjp-online has been following both Lei Lei and Pixy Liao for a while, so we were happy to see them both win prizes at the Jimei x Arles festival. Lei Lei picked up the Jimei x Arles Discovery Award, giving him 200,000 RMB plus a spot in Arles’ prestigious Discovery Award exhibition and competition next summer; Pixy Liao won the Jimei × Arles – Madame Figaro Women Photographers Award. And bjp-online loves the Jimei x Arles initiative in general, which is packed with interesting work by image-makers from China and beyond. Plus six other key stories from the last week
“One of our long-term aims is to help encourage the development of uniquely Asian approaches and perspectives to photography,” says Jessica Lim, director of the Angkor Photo Festival. “There is certainly more than enough talent in Asia for this to happen. Think of it as a postcolonial response that is very long overdue.”
Angkor Photo Festival returns for the 14th time to Siem Reap in Cambodia, a city known as “temple town” as it lies at the gateway to the magnificent ruins of Angkor Archeological Park. Several exhibitions will be dotted around the city, including one that will travel around on a tuk-tuk. The programme also includes artists talks, workshops, photo book displays and free daily portfolio reviews.
Acclaimed Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons this autumn, when he was arrested in Dhaka on 05 August for making “provocative comments” following widespread protests against government corruption. After over 100 days in jail he’s now been freed on bail, and back in the media for his images – which is now on show in London. He’s included in the third FIX Photo Festival, which is open until 01 December in London, and also includes work by Magnum Photos’ Chris Steele-Perkins, Zaklina Anderson, Robert Clayton, Christian Nilson, Mercedes Parodi, Helen Petersen, Einar Sira, Chloe Rosser, and more, plus a symposium on women in photography.
Chinese photographer Lei Lei has won the Jimei x Arles Discovery Award, giving him 200,000 RMB plus a spot in Arles’ prestigious Discovery Award exhibition and competition next summer. Born in 1985 and now living in Beijing and Los Angeles, the photographer won with the project Weekend, which uses archive images to consider history, nostalgia, and personal identity. Lei Lei’s previous projects include Hand-coloured, a joint series with French artist Thomas Sauvin which also features archive images, and which was exhibited at the Festival Images Vevey and previously published on bjp-online in December 2017.
Lei Lei was picked out from the 10 photographers shortlisted for the Discovery Award, all of whose work is currently on show in Citizen Square in Jimei, South East China. The other photographers included by the curators Dong Bingfeng, Li Jie, Chelsea Qianxi Liu, Holly Roussell and Wang Yan were: Coca Dai (1976), Hu Wei (1989), Pixy Liao (1979), Lau Wai (1982), Shao Ruilu (1993), Shen Wei (1977), Su Jiehao (1988), Wong Wingsang (1990), and Yang Wenbin (1996).