From 07 November to 04 February, the Centre Pompidou in Paris is showing a striking exhibition on a little-known aspect of the roots of 20th century social documentary photography, Photographie, arme de classe [which roughly translates as ‘Photography as a weapon in the class struggle’]. Curated by Damarice Amao, Florian Ebner and Christian Joschke, the show deals with a comparatively unknown period in French photo history, from the end of the 1920s to the arrival of the Front populaire government of 1936 – when the socialist, communist and radical parties formed a short-lived coalition to govern France, with the tacit backing of the Soviet Union.
Photographer and activist Henri Tracol (1909-1997) was the first to formulate the idea that photography could be an “arme de classe”, in the tract he wrote for the photographer’s section of the Association des Écrivains et Artistes Revolutionnaires [‘Association of Revolutionary Writers and Artists’ aka the AEAR], formed in 1932. Although this communist front, Moscow-sponsored organisation only lasted a few years, it attracted many of the leading figures of the day from art, theatre, literature, architecture, and particularly photography. Those who joined were either fellow travellers or politically attached to communism, seeing it as a bastion against the twin evils of the time – fascism and capitalism.
“He had such a strong character, he was full of energy and funny. Even if his health had worsened in recent months, he was always happy to welcome others and share good memories with friends in his famous Ara Kafé, near the no less well-known Istiklal Avenue. We will miss him,” says Emin Ozmen of Ara Güler – the ‘eye of Istanbul’ who has died aged 90
Would you like to join Magnum Photos? The agency is inviting photographers worldwide to submit their portfolios online by 31 January to be considered for nominee status.
Magnum will accept digital submissions from all professional photographers, and entries for June 2019 can be made through this website: https://contests.picter.com/magnum-photos/submissions-2019/ Applicants are required to submit two to three projects, with up to 80 photographs in total. The new nominee members will be announced on 01 July 2019.
In addition MACK is accepting open submissions for its First Book Award this year – in contrast to previous years, in which photographers were nominated by a panel of industry insiders. The prize is open to any photographer or artist who has not previously published work with a third party company, and entries are invited from 12 November 2018 – 21 January 2019. All entries must be paper book dummies; digital submissions are not accepted.
“Most people would walk by a dump pile and assume that there’s no picture there,” says global industrial landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky. “But there’s always a picture, you just have to go in there and find it.” Born in Canada in 1955, Burtynsky has been investigating human-altered landscapes in his artistic practice for over 35 years, capturing the sweeping views of nature altered by industry; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, and silicon. “Of course, it’s important to me to make sure that my pictures are attractive to the eye,” he says. “But beneath the surface there’s always a bigger, deeper environmental issue.”
With €10,000 up for grabs to realise a project, the Greenpeace Photo Award is a great opportunity – and this year, the public decides who wins. Run with support from Geo Magazine, an awards jury has shortlisted seven photographers to choose from, each from a different country and each working on a series with an environmental theme.
The public has until 31 October to vote on the winner; a further €10,000 will go to a second winner selected by the jury, which this year includes curator and lecturer Lars Willumeit, and Geo Magazine chief photo editor Lars Lindemann.
The shortlisted photographers are: Niels Ackermann (Switzerland); Magda Biernat (USA); Arko Datto (India); Niklas Grapatin (Germany); Katrin Koenning (Australia); Pablo Piovano (Argentina); and Ian Willms (Canada).
At 10pm on 05 August, photographer and social activist Shahidul Alam was arrested at his home in Dhaka. The next day he was charged for violating Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT), after giving an interview to Al Jazeera on the current wave of student protests in Bangladesh against unsafe roads, in which he said that these actions stemmed from anger about widespread government corruption. He now faces up to 14 years in prison.
According to Amnesty International, which has taken up the photographer’s plight, Section 57 is a “draconian law” that has been used against well over 1000 people since it was introduced in 2006. “Police do not need arrest warrants or official permission to prosecute,” explains the organisation. “Those accused are mostly denied bail pending their trial and kept locked up for months with no official verdict. Shahidul himself was denied bail on 10 September 2018. Those arrested are often journalists who’ve published articles criticising the government.”
Born in 1993 in the Philippines, Ezra Acayan has won the 2018 Ian Parry Scholarship Award for Achievement for his series Duterte’s War On Drugs Is Not Over, which records the fall out from the war on drugs which President Rodrigo Duterte announced in 2016.
Threatening those connected to drug consumption and sales with the death penalty, Duterte urged members of the public to kill suspected criminals and drug addicts, and allowed the police to act with brutality. In the two years since, an estimated 20,000 people have been murdered and a state of emergency has been declared. The United Nations has appealed to the Philippine government to investigate extrajudicial killings and to prosecute the perpetrators, while the International Criminal Court has announced preliminary examinations into killings linked to the campaign.
Tough and hard-hitting, Acayan’s images aim to “illuminate the violent acts carried out in the Philippines as well as the questionable methods of Duterte and the police”.
Food Not Bombs is a 30-year-old global movement. Initially based in Massachusetts, US, the grassroots organisation has now spread worldwide, working to unite and care for people by feeding them, and maintaining an ethos of anti-poverty and non-violence. In recent years, the Yangon, Myanmar sector of the Food Not Bombs movement has become well-known. Mohawked, black-clad and silver-studded, the group spends their time recording and performing punk music, and caring for Yangon’s homeless community. Recently, they have also developed plans to set up a school for children living in the city’s slums. Nico Djavanshir’s series Punk, Love and Kindness follows Yangon’s punks through their daily lives, in the hopes that his work can shed light on their own. The series combines our shared values of individuality, community and unity, and embodies the aims of Portrait of Humanity; we see the subjects with their families, singing into microphones, teaching groups of smiling children, and sometimes campaigning for the Food Not Bombs movement. “I wanted to take positive images,” says Djavanshir. “We’re used to seeing tragic work …
As we welcome people to submit photographs to Portrait of Humanity, an initiative celebrating our shared values of individuality, community and unity, we also highlight the work of photographers who have done just that. And perhaps no one has embodied this ethos more so than Jimmy Nelson, who has spent the last 30 years photographing indigenous cultures around the world, in the hopes that we might be able to learn from them. Jimmy Nelson’s latest project, Homage to Humanity, has just been released. This time, his work has been produced not only in the form of a book, but also digitally, with an app that has the capacity to scan over every photograph in the book, and to bring them to life with interviews and films. This allows people to see the making of the work, and to understand the process behind it. This new way of bringing people into the closed worlds of these indigenous tribes combines their traditions with our technology. As we increasingly spend more time than ever on our smartphones, Nelson …
“You’re always looking for that time where everybody forgets you’re there and becomes themselves. Surprisingly, they do, sometimes to the detriment of what you knew about them,” says Eugene Richards, who has devoted his career to documenting social injustice in America, and injecting himself into intensely personal situations.
Richards’ style is up-close and unflinching, “ironically it’s the process of becoming as not there as you possibly can, if you hang around long enough people don’t care”, he says. Though his photography has been described as poetic and lyrical, he has never thought of himself as an artist. “I went in with some knowledge of photography, but mostly with the idea of providing information,” he says.