“I’m always picking things up and taking them home with me,” says Matthew Craven. “Just general knick knacks.” His finds include succulents, unusual rocks, and little bits of pottery that he displays in his home inTopanga Canyon, Los Angeles. But out of all of the things he collects, which also includes records and vintage NBA t-shirts, perhaps his strangest and largest collection is of school textbooks. The books usually date back to the 1950s or 60s, but “the older the better” says Craven. After finding a copy he likes in a second-hand book store, he’ll trawl through the internet, contacting sellers that may have many more in storage – usually schools or libraries. “Personally, it satisfies me to be able to find these old materials and preserve them in some little way possible,” he says. He then uses these books as source material for intricate collages, in which every element – from the images themselves to the paper they’re stuck on – are made out of found materials. Part of what satisfies him about this work …
“This is a unique time for African photography,” says curator Ekow Eshun. “There’s a wave of thrilling, artistically ambitious talent emerging across the continent.”
He’s gathered some of the best of it for a new show called Africa State of Mind, opening this week in New Art Exchange – the UK’s largest space devoted to culturally diverse contemporary visual arts. Including artists such has Emmanuele Andrianjafy, Sammy Baloji, and Musa N Nxumalo, the exhibition shows off talent from a new generation of African artists, exploring how they interrogate the idea of ‘Africanness’ in their work, and ‘Africa’ as a psychological as much as a physical space.
“South Africa is a deeply religious country,” says Giya Makondo-Wills, whose work-in-progress, They Came From the Water While the World Watched, maps out the interplay between Christianity and ancestral religion in the region. With four trips to the country under her belt so far, the 23-year old has travelled as much into the past as in the present, tracing the indelible repercussions of 19th-century European migration as they resonate through South African culture today.
Makondo-Wills, who is British-South African, became interested in her African grandmother’s faith while shooting another project. “She’s very Orthodox Christian but she also still practises ancestral religion, and that’s a core part of who she is. She prays to a God and the gods,” the photographer explains.
This duality got her thinking about the intersections of belief systems and how they were brought into contact. How did Christianity become so influential? How does it co-exist with indigenous religions? Building on her interests in race and identity, these questions soon elicited many others, spawning a long-term project that has carried her from a BA to an MA at the University of South Wales.
The creation of a dummy is an integral process for any photographer with aims on publishing their own photobook. It is a visual mockup for a proposed project, created before being sent to the publishers. Organised by La Fábrica in collaboration with Photo London, the Book Dummy Award selects a entry that is renowned for its quality, uniqueness and international scope, the winners of the award will then have their dummy physically realised. The competition encourages photographers from anywhere in the world to submit a physical copy of their dummy, under the rule that no digital copies may be entered. One winner from 20 finalist dummies will then be selected by an international jury. The winner’s work will be published with a print run of at least 1000 copies, and distributed worldwide. Photographers submit entries from all over the world, as in 2017 there were participants from 45 countries and every continent. The winner of the 2017 edition was Iranian-born, Swiss photographer Arunà Canevascini. Nominated as one of British Journal of Photography’s Ones to Watch …
In 1997, a document titled A Study of Assassination was released by the CIA as part of the Freedom of Information Act. It is believed to have been created in 1953 with the purpose of instructing agents on how to kill, and was released with a collection of files relating to the 1954 CIA-backed overthrow of the-then newly-elected leader of Guatemala, Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. The operation in Guatemala was lobbied for by United Fruit Company, an American corporation that traded in tropical fruit, mainly bananas, and which wielded huge power in Central America at the time.
When he found out about these documents, George Selley was instantly captivated, and his new project, A Study of Assassination, combines pages from the manual with archival press images, banana advertisements and Cold War propaganda. BJP caught up with the recent London College of Communication MA graduate to find out more about this project and his approach to images.
Brussels-based photographer Rebecca Fertinel has won the Unseen Dummy Award with her book Ubuntu. The book was shot in a Congolese community in Belgium, which Fertinel first visited in August 2015, when she was invited to a wedding by a friend. Whilst there she was introduced to a warm and friendly society, and the concept of “ubuntu” – the idea that “you become a human being by connecting with everything and everyone”.
The judges were particularly impressed with the editing of Fertinel’s book proposal which, they say, “transforms documentary photography into an unexpected narrative flow of community events”. The images move from one party to another party to a funeral, for example, the latter creating “a kind of breaking point” in the middle of the book, creating “a kind of dance where you don’t know what comes after”, and thereby summing up something about life.
Last week, a group of Croatia’s leading cultural pioneers welcomed the 10th jubilee edition of Organ Vida photofestival. Co-curators, Marina Paulenka and Lea Vene were joined by Nataša Ivančević, Paola Orlić, Morana Matković, Nevena Tudor Perković and Veljko Mihalić to address visitors and guests at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb for the grand opening, getting the festival underway for the tenth consecutive year. The opening of the festival signalled the announcement of the second annual Marina Viculin prize to photographer Denis Butorac. Using personal experience as a driving force behind his work, he focuses on family, intimacy and the sense of ‘(not) belonging’. Following the opening week, the exhibitions are now open to the public, free of charge, during the month of September. Hosted by a number of galleries throughout Zagreb as well as in the Croatia’s biggest and most modern museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the works on display explore creative interpretations of the contemporary female experience. Each show follows the main theme, borne out of a desire to combat modern …
Now in its seventh edition, Unseen Amsterdam has confirmed itself as one of Europe’s most dynamic photography events. Featuring over 300 emerging and established artists, the release of the complete 2018 programme brings together the international photography community to discuss and debate the future of the medium. Running from 21-23 September in Westergasfabriek, Unseen Amsterdam will host over 85 photographic debuts. 50 galleries from 17 countries will be present, showcasing new work from emerging artists such as Mustafa Saeed from Somaliland, whose work explores war, environment and conflict; Keyezua from Angola, who revisits clichéd representations of African women, and France’s Elsa Leydier, who examines and reconstructs exotic environments. Inez & Vinoodh, Rafal Milach, and Isaac Julien will also premiere unseen work over the weekend. Also present at Unseen is CO-OP, a platform for international artist collectives to present their ideas and work in new and innovative ways. In its second year, collectives involved include the Migrant Image Research Group, exploring Mediterranean migration to Europe, 280-A from Vienna who challenge the concept of authorship, and Switzerland-based …
Rose Marie Cromwell went beyond the cliches to build an expressionistic homage to the Cuba she knows and loves. “I wanted to make images that investigated my complicated relationship to this specific place, rather than trying to document something ‘about’ Cuba,” she says.
Born in Tehran, Iran, in 1988, Hashem Shakeri studied architecture in TAFE (New South Wales Technical and Further Education Commission of Australia), and started his professional photography career in 2010. In 2015 he was Commended in the Ian Parry Scholarship, and in 2017 his images were included in the Rencontres d’Arles exhibition Iran, Year 38, alongside work by photographers such as Abbas Kiarostami and Newsha Tavakolian.
Shakeri’s ongoing series on climate change in Sistan and Balouchestan looks at the effect of drought in the Iranian province, which is located in the southeast of the country, bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has been suffering from drought for the last 18 years, which has created severe famine in a region once famed for its agriculture and forests. “Nowadays, the Sistan region has faced astonishing climate change, which has turned this wide area into an infertile desert empty of people,” writes Shakeri.