When photographer Jess T. Dugan was 13, she started to question her identity. Over the next few years, she came out as queer – a process which, at the time, was isolating; there was nothing in the mainstream media that reflected her experience. In fact, she had never seen an image of a queer or gender nonconforming person at all, until she stumbled across one in a photography book – a discovery she describes as having a profound influence on her. We spoke to Dugan, who identifies as non-binary (but uses the female pronoun), in light of Female in Focus, a new award seeking to elevate exceptional work by female and non-binary photographers. Our aim is to take steps towards a more diverse and inclusive photography industry. Dugan’s work, which focuses on the untold stories of marginalised groups, encompasses the values at the heart of Female in Focus. “I think that representation – and seeing oneself represented in the larger culture – is incredibly important,” says Dugan. “Images can function as possibility models, validating an …
Documentary photographer Danyelle Rolla is proud of her roots. That much is clear from her portfolio, which reads like a guide to working-class Britain. Rolla grew up in Norris Green, one of Liverpool’s poorest towns – the type of town, she says, that the press misrepresents as a hotbed of crime and social decay. Out of frustration at this, Rolla has made it her mission to rewrite the narrative of the people and places that have shaped her, by photographing them in a more flattering light. The photograph that won Rolla Portrait of Britain 2018 captures Dotty, an older resident of Norris Green, Liverpool, outside the local pub. She is sporting a perm that might be from the Eighties, with shoulder pads to match. In fact, many of the scenes that Rolla photographs could be from other eras: from kitsch village fetes, to groups of skinheads in bomber jackets. In her playful, sometimes garish, images, she captures a Britain that seems to be longing for the past. This is the same Britain, Rolla’s photographs suggest, …
Born in 1991, Polish photographer Karol Palka is currently working on a PhD at the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, which he hopes to finish in 2021. His series Edifice documents communist-era buildings in Poland and neighbouring Eastern Bloc countries. It includes shots of the Polana Hotel, once owned by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, and the former office building for the management of the Nowa Huta Steelworks, which was once visited by Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro.
Now in its 22nd year, the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize is awarded each year to image-makers who’ve made the biggest contribution to the medium in the previous 12 months in Europe. This year the shortlisted artists are: Laia Abril, for her publication On Abortion; Susan Meiselas, for the retrospective exhibition Mediations; Arwed Messmer, for his exhibition RAF – No Evidence / Kein Beweis; and Mark Ruwedel, for the exhibition Artist and Society: Mark Ruwedel. The winner of the £30,000 prize will be announced at The Photographers’ Gallery on 16 May 2019.
After losing both grandparents in the space of a year, Nina Röder and her family were faced with the challenging task of sorting out and selling their house – and with it, the inescapable matter of letting go. Röder’s project, Wenn du gehen musst willst du doch auch bleiben, takes its name from a sage observation made by her nine-year-old nephew, Luis, while they were packing up the belongings. Roughly translated, it means: ‘When you have to leave but you still want to stay’.
The unresolvable question of how to grieve is one that follows every death. For many, the photographic act can be a way of thinking through and processing difficult times. During the two-week period before her grandparents’ house was sold, Röder photographed her family in it – sometimes posing in their clothes and with their belongings – archiving its distinct aesthetic before it disappeared forever. “I wanted to show a different way of dealing with grief and loss,” she explains. “By staging absurd scenes with my mum, cousin and brother, we found a strategy of how to say goodbye.”
“I consider myself a son of the European project,” says Tommaso Rada. “I am part of a generation that lived through the opening of the borders between many different countries, the introduction of the euro, and all the new cultural and linguistic mixing that the European project meant. The feeling of being Italian as well as European is the reason why I am interested in the European Union.”
Rada is now based in São Paulo, but was born in Biella in northern Italy and lived in his home country until he was 25. He watched as the policies of the EU evolved, and as the meaning of the Union began to change. His ongoing series Domestic Borders frames a number of different projects he has made, evoking the varying perspectives of those living along the borders of the member countries.
Back to South, the most recent chapter, focuses particularly on the countries that would be affected if a ‘two-speed’ Europe was implemented – a proposal in which certain members, perhaps those in better economic positions and political situations, would integrate at a faster pace, leaving the others on the periphery. Visiting the areas that would be ‘left behind’, Rada hopes to show the “challenges of living in a unique space with a different passage of time”.
In 1989, a record number of 71,000 Soviet Jews were granted exodus from the USSR after a century of radical changes, fuelled by a wave of anti-semitism. Between 1988 and 2010 over 1.6 million Jews left the territory of the former Soviet Union, most of them settling in Israel but others heading for Germany, Canada, Australia, and the United States.
Irina Rozovsky was seven years old when her family fled from Russia to America in 1988. “It’s ironic in retrospect,” she says. “The USSR was a closed up place where Jews were discriminated against; in the end we were the ones that got to leave and seek out a better life. It was like winning the lottery.”
Rozovsky, now 37, lives in Georgia, US, with her husband and two-year-old daughter. “In my work I’m always circling back to the beginning of things, which for me is leaving one place and settling in another, adapting to a new life,” she says. “My photographs are not autobiographical, but I guess that history and the search for the familiar echoes in how I see. Not being able to see the place that you remember, I think that drives my photography.”
Hakan Kalkan has been featured as one of The Guardian Editor’s Picks of the best Portrait of Humanity entries so far, but it took a while for him to discover his aptitude for portraiture. The Istanbul-based Turkish / British photographer nurtured an amateur interest in photography alongside a career in finance, but he initially focussed on landscapes. Gradually, his interest shifted to portraiture, and he now uses his camera to tell people’s stories. The image that our British Journal of Photography followers voted as their favourite of The Guardian Editor’s Picks show a young Turkish boy tending to the rams on his family’s farm. It’s bright and busy, and a perfect example of what Kalkan calls ‘capturing the soul of moment’. We spoke to Kalkan about the story behind the picture, and what being part of Portrait of Humanity would mean to him. Can you tell me about the photograph you entered into Portrait of Humanity? What is the story behind it? Turkey is a large and diverse country, and I’ve been trying to capture …
Fabiana Nunes is a Brazilian photographer based in Zurich, Switzerland. Having worked in the fashion industry for years, she frequently jets off to glamorous locations (including Paris, London, and New York) to cover industry parties as well as concerts, festivals and nightlife. Her favourite subject, however, is everyday life. The image that The Guardian editors picked as one of their favourite Portrait of Humanity entries shows a mother and child collecting shells on a Tanzanian beach. Though a daily routine for the subjects, it was an unusual scene for Nunes, who spends most of her days in hectic European cities. This encapsulates Portrait of Humanity’s motto: what’s ordinary to you may be extraordinary to someone else. We spoke to Nunes about the story behind the picture, and what being part of Portrait of Humanity would mean to her. What are your key interests as a photographer? I have always dreamed of visiting the places I’ve seen in pictures. My favourite subject is the diversity that I find while travelling around the globe. For me, photography …
What happens when you put a white flower in a vase of coloured water? It’s an experiment some of us might fondly remember from our childhood, magically transforming a bunch of flowers with a dash of food colouring.
But the results are a little more frightening in a similar experiment by French artist Cornelius de Bill Baboul, as his flowers suck the colour out of sugary energy drinks. “I think they look a little bit like dancers,” he says. “Like kids on ecstasy in a techno club celebrating the end of the world”.