“The language of photography and books is evolving rapidly,” comments Sebastian Hau, as the major book fair he co-founded, Cosmos, separates from the main programme at Les Rencontres d’Arles to return offspace
2019 marks a quarter of a century since Val Williams’ curated her seminal exhibition, Who’s looking at the family? at the Barbican in London. In photography, a lot has changed over 25 years, including the introduction of new technologies that have reshaped the way in which we make and consume images, and the changing definitions of what constitutes a photographer.
“On the one hand I thought it might be interesting to speculatively chart that development, but also to rethink notions of the family at the same time,” says Tim Clark, editor of 1000 words magazine and curator of this year’s Photo50 exhibition at London Art Fair. “The idea seemed to chime with a lot of people. I think that’s the key point about family, it’s a great unifying subject. Everyone can relate to it.”
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.”
Laia Abril is no stranger to themes of distress. Bulimia, coping with the death of a child, the asexual community, virtual sex-performer couples – these are all topics that the Barcelona-based photographer has explored and attempted to demystify with her multi-layered, story-based practice. The subjects she tackles are complex and provocative, but ones she is able to connect with by way of female empathy, “where I can be involved emotionally”, she says.
Out of nearly 1000 submissions, the winners for this years Paris Photo/Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards, established in 2012 to celebrate the photobook’s contribution to the narrative of photography, have been announced at Paris Photo.
The Photobook of the Year award went to Laia Abril, for part one of her long-term project, A History of Misogyny, Chapter One: On Abortion (Dewi Lewis). The project is not about the experience of abortion itself, but about the repercussions for women who do not have access to legal, safe or free abortions, forcing them to consider dangerous alternatives that cause physical and mental harm.
Born in Berkeley but raised in the East Bay suburb of Walnut Creek, Mimi Plumb has been a lynchpin in the network of photographers and educators who keep the region grounded in socially engaged documentary traditions. In her own photography, she has remained close to her roots, shooting long-term projects all over northern California. Many of those projects are only now beginning to see the light of day.
One of the reasons why her archive has lain dormant for so long is that she has been teaching photography most of her adult life at local institutions such as San Jose State University and San Francisco Art Institute, where she herself gained an MA, and which has played a key role in educating many photography students in the region. In 2014, her first body of work, Pictures from the Valley, was exhibited at City Hall in San Francisco. These pictures, taken in her early 20s when she was still a student, were a campaign for trade union rights among the Hispanic field workers of California’s farmlands.
Think of Guy Bourdin, and you’ll probably think of intense, transgressive images shot in highly-saturated colours. There’s his photograph for Pentax in 1980, for example, which shows a gush of red liquid apparently streaming from a prone woman’s mouth; or his shot from 1978, which shows a woman’s bottom and legs lying on orange sofa – her head firmly out of the picture.
But Bourdin also shot award-wining black-and-white work, which is less known now but which was celebrated in its time. There’s his black-and-white campaign for Chanel’s first ‘Premiere’ watch, for example, which he shot in 1987. Influenced by his interest in Surrealism – in particular Man Ray – and not clearly advertising images, this campaign went on to win the Infinity Award at the International Center for Photography (ICP) in New York in 1988.
Aiyush Pachnanda may have yet to finish his Photojournalism degree, but he’s already taking the photography world by storm. EyeEm, a global photography marketplace and community, recently announced him as their Photographer of the Year, the most prestigious title in the EyeEm Photography Awards. As well as receiving a trip to Berlin Photo Week and a Sony Alpha camera, Pachnanda will act as the EyeEm ambassador during 2019. So what is it that sets Pachnanda apart from the 100,000 other photographers who entered? His winning image, a low angle portrait of a heavily tattooed man with a grey tower block looming behind him, says it all. Flick through Pachnanda’s work and you’ll notice two recurring themes: urban landscapes, and striking people. Splitting his time between London, where he grew up, and Cardiff, where he studies, Pachnanda has an enduring interest both in the city, and in the subcultures that people form there. In his unaffected way (he’s pursuing a rough-and-ready style of photojournalism, often using an old point-and-shoot), he captures the raucous underbelly of urban …
Paris Photo is the big one, but it isn’t the only photo fair in town next week. Held in a private mansion, a pp roc he makes a virtue out of its bijou size, hosting just 14 photographers in a private mansion in “a salon devoted to experimental photography practices”. Designed as an exhibition, this fair is accessible by reservation only, and includes celebrated photographers and galleries such as Ruth van Beek, brought by The Ravestijn Gallery; Daniel Shea, brought by Webber Gallery; and Maya Rochat, brought by Seen Fifteen. In addition, it includes “the a pp roc he sector”, a section showing two artists under the age of 40 not currently represented by a gallery (this section includes Thomas Sauvin & Kensuke Koike working together as a pair).
Laia Abril, Nina Berman, Sohrab Hura, and Carmen Winant are all in the running for the prestigious Paris Photo/Aperture Foundation Photobook of the Year Award, which will be announced on 09 November at Paris Photo.
In total ten books have been shortlisted for the award; in addition, 20 books have been shortlisted for the First Photobook, and five for the Photography Catalogue of the Year. All the shortlisted books will go on show at Paris Photo and at the Aperture Foundation in New York, then tour to various venues across Europe, as well as being featured in the Autumn 2018 issue of The Photobook Review. In addition the Photobook of the Year winner will receive $10,000.