“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.
Founded in 2015 by Chinese photographer RongRong (who also also founded China’s first photography museum, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre) with Sam Stourdzé, director of Rencontres d’Arles, the Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival is the biggest of its kind in China. It returns this November with 30 exhibitions by over 70 artists, including shows brought over from Arles and exhibitions devoted to emerging Chinese image-makers.
The Jimei x Arles Discovery Award nominees features work by ten new Chinese photographers, for example – with one image-maker selected from the show to win 200,000 RMB plus a place in Arles’ prestigious Discovery Awards. This year the nominees are: Coca Dai (1976), Hu Wei (1989), Lei Lei (1985), Pixy Liao (1979), Lau Wai (1982), Shao Ruilu (1993), Shen Wei (1977), Su Jiehao (1988), Wong Wingsang (1990), and Yang Wenbin (1996)
Set up 14 years ago, Getty Images’ Reportage Grant awards “front-line photojournalists from around the world for projects with a strong visual narrative”, aiming to help them pursue long-term documentary projects. This year, the three selected photographers have won with very different projects – Giulio Di Sturco with Aerotropolis, The Way We Will Live Next; Léonard Pongo with The Uncanny; and Rose Marie Cromwell with King of Fish.
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.
“From the 1890s through to just after the Second World War, modern artist couples forged new ways of making art and of living and loving,” Jane Alison, head of visual arts at London’s Barbican, says. She’s putting the final touches to Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde – a mammoth endeavour that examines how the work of individual artists and writers was shaped by the relationships they embarked on with each other.
The show spans painting, sculpture, literature, dance, music, architecture and photography, and includes ephemera such as personal photographs and love letters alongside artworks. It’s also far from a cursory look at the history of art’s favourite romantic pairings. The likes of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, or Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, have their part to play here, but so do lesser-known affiliations, from Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore to George Platt Lynes, Monroe Wheeler and Glenway Wescott, whose enduring ménage à trois turned their travels around Europe into an intensely fruitful creative experience.
Those who have had the pleasure of ambling along the corridors of the 17th-century building at the heart of the museum district in Kensington, London, will recall the Victoria and Albert Museum’s high ceilings and impressive galleries, with polished floors and walls adorned with historical oil canvases, all connected by staircases embellished with intricate mosaics.
Climbing one such stairwell in a far corner of the building, you surface to face two tall, fudge-brown doors with shiny handles. The pair of robust glass cabinets framing these doors are currently empty, but will soon be packed with some 300 cameras and image-making devices. To one side, a long wooden table will be laden with models of some of the first cameras – a large format perched on a tripod, a Rolleiflex, a camera obscura and 35mm camera. Visitors will be invited to play around and put themselves in the shoes of the photographers who used these devices, pausing to peek through the lenses and take note of this new way of looking and constructing an image of the world on the other side. It is a sculptural array of the golden age of photography, the grand entrance to the new photography centre, opening its first phase to the public on 12 October.
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 …
“Photography is just a medium. It’s like a typewriter,” said Ezra Stoller in an interview in 1991. “Photography as an art doesn’t interest me an awful lot.” Even so, he raised architectural photography to an art form, capturing the smooth lines of American modernism in its heyday, as well as lesser known industrial images.
Born in Chicago in 1915, Stoller grew up in New York and studied architecture at NYU, getting into photography while still a student. Launching his career in the late 1930s, he worked with Paul Strand in the Office of Emergency Management from 1940-41 and, post-war, was perfectly poised to take advantage of the American economic boom. Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Le Corbusier, Eero Saarinen and Marcel Breuer – he shot work by them all, including iconic buildings such as The Guggenheim Museum, Kennedy International Airport, and the Fallingwater house.
Born in London’s prosperous Hampstead in 1904, Cecil Beaton went to school with Evelyn Waugh (who bullied him), and Cyril Connolly (who admired the beauty of his singing). Taught photography by his nanny, Beaton found work assisting cutting-edge young photographer Paul Tanqueray, and became famous for his portraits of the Bright Young Things – the decadent young socialites of the 1920s and 30s, whose hedonistic lives were captured in Waugh’s glittering, somewhat fatalistic novel Vile Bodies. Beaton was taken on by Vogue in 1927 and moved to the US in 1929; he was a staff photographer for both Vogue and Vanity Fair until 1938, when he was fired for inserting anti-Semitic phrases by the side of an illustration of New York society in American Vogue. Returning to Britain, he went on to take photographs for the British Ministry of Information during World War Two and later rehabilitated his career, going on to photograph stars such as Mick Jagger, Marilyn Monroe, and Andy Warhol. He also launched a successful career in set and costume design in the 1950s and …
“There were things happening in black America that lend themselves to the conversation in Italy in a way that perhaps people never would have imagined,” says Theaster Gates, a social practice artist and curator of a new exhibition,The Black Image Corporation, dedicated to exploring the legacy of the Johnson Publishing Company archive and its two acclaimed magazines, Ebony and Jet.
Presented at the Fondazione Prada from 20 September to 14 January, the exhibition gathers photographs from the company’s extensive archive of more than four million images, focusing primarily on the work of two photographers – Moneta Sleet Jr and Isaac Sutton. “When the Prada Foundation invites you to do a project, you know there’s already this big and ambitious living legacy; and so it felt really amazing to then put the Johnson Publishing Company in the context of this other fashion family,” explains Gates.