27-year-old photographer Valentina Neri’s first book, Almanacco Toilet Club, is playful and bold – just like her subjects. Shot between 2014-2016 in one of Milan’s most important gay clubbing spots, Almanacco Toilet Club captures the scene’s colourful atmosphere and eccentric characters. BJP catches up with Neri about the book’s experimental design, her process, and Milan’s LGBT community.
Born in 1987, Piero Percoco started taking pictures seven years ago, in his hometown Bari, Italy. He never studied photography – “I was never able to afford it,” he says – but sometimes he bought books, and inspired by photographers like Stephen Shore and William Eggleston, Percoco began to make photographs on his smartphone, and upload them to his Instagram, @therainbow_is_underestimated.
Seven years on, Percoco has 452,000 followers, and regularly posting photographs that extract the magic out of the nuances of his daily life in Southern Italy. Last year, he published his first book with Skinnerboox, Prism Interiors, which was edited by American photographer and publisher Jason Fulford.
Now, as his second book with Skinnerboox, The Rainbow is Underestimated, becomes available for preorder, BJP catches up with the photographer about his new release and how he built his career through social media.
In the early 1900s, Paul Thulin’s great-grandfather settled on the coast of Maine, reminded of his homeland of Sweden. Thulin’s family has returned to Gray’s Point each summer ever since, and Thulin has been working on a project there, called Pine Tree Ballads, for over a decade. Initially inspired by his grandfather’s photographs, he hopes it has “a subtext of struggle and hope that mirrors my narrative sense of self and heritage”.
BJP: How did you first get into photography?
PT: My journey into photography started as a way to rebel against my growing contempt and frustration with the limits of language to effectively communicate. In 1996, I returned from a stressful year of studying Philosophy in a Master’s program at Syracuse University and I remember wanting to escape into the mountains to possibly join a Zen monastery. I wanted to meditate and remain silent in an effort to really just experience the world.
This desire led me to discover the writings and images of photographers Minor White, Frederick Sommer, and Emmet Gowin, as their mystical and spiritual use of photography intrigued me. Before I knew it, I borrowed a 35mm camera to try to make meaningful images of my own and I was hooked.
This summer marked 10 years since Nacho Alegre and his partners, Omar Sosa and Marco Velardi, co-founded Apartamento magazine – a publication which, since its inception in 2008 in Barcelona, has peered into the interiors of people’s homes through the prism of their lives. As of October there’s even an Abrams-published book, The World of Apartamento, to prove it. Succinct and delightfully subjective, the biannual magazine has become synonymous with direct, characterful interviews and unmistakable images, in features which team some of contemporary culture’s best-loved figureheads with photography talents original enough to capture them as they have never been seen before. A photographer by trade, Alegre is also known for his fashion shoots and creative still lifes.
Manfred Heiting started collecting photobooks in the 1970s, turning to it in earnest in the 1990s and creating a library that was considered one of the most complete in the world, including a copy of most of the important photobooks that appeared from 1888-1970 in Europe, the United States, the Soviet Union, and Japan. This collection formed the basis of several compendium books published by Steidl, including “Autopsie” – German Photobooks 1918-1945, The Soviet Photobook 1920-1941, and The Japanese Photobook 1912-1990 – but sadly, it was decimated in the California wildfires of 2018, when it went up in smoke along with Heiting’s home in Malibu. As Steidl publishes a new book by Heiting, Czech and Slovak Photo Publications, 1918-1989, BJP caught up with him.
Hunger is an experimental project based on Franz Kafka’s short story, A Hunger Artist, about the once-glorious, but now dying, art of performers who starved themselves. Curated by Greek publishing house Void, it involves the work of 28 photographers, both established and up-and-coming, presented in seven broadsheet publications, and in an online exhibition on PHMuseum.com.
JA (or Jim) Mortram was born in 1971, and studied art in Norwich. In his third year of college he dropped out to become the primary carer for his mother, who has chronic epilepsy, in a small market town in Norfolk called Dereham. In 2006 he started shooting people in and around Dereham, focusing on those facing disadvantages and social exclusion; he went to create a blog called Small Town Inertia, featuring his images and their words. The blog was critically acclaimed early on, and in 2013 Mortram was one of BJP’s Ones to Watch. Mortram has made publications of three of his stories with Cafe Royal Books, and recently published the book Small Town Inertia with Bluecoat Press. The exhibition Small Town Inertia is on show at Side Gallery, Newcastle from 12 January – 24 March
When filmmaker Lee Shulman bought a box of vintage slides from Ebay, he was hoping for some blurry snaps to flick through on a Sunday afternoon, and maybe a picture or two to keep. But when they arrived, ‘I nearly fell off my seat.’ What he saw amazed him: here were hundreds of snapshots of strangers’ lives. The poses were instantly recognisable: children grinning over birthday cakes, couples squinting on the beach – the simple magic of unstaged life, captured in rich Kodachrome colour. The price of colour photography plummeted in the early Fifties, allowing people to snap away with newfound freedom. But the chemicals that produce the slides fade over time. If the photos were to disappear, then with them so would the memories of our collective human experience – and Shulman didn’t want to let that happen. With the help of a friend, photo publisher Emmanuelle Halkin, Shulman created The Anonymous Project. A Paris-based nonprofit, its aim is ambitious: to collect, scan and catalogue all colour slides produced since the Fifties. Since starting …
Nelson Morales was seven years old when he saw a Muxe for the first time. Seeing an individual he didn’t identify as a woman proudly wearing a tiny swimsuit, fluffy feather boa and glistening sequins at a local festival, he was “shocked”, he says.
But Morales was growing up in the city of Oaxaca, central Mexico, where the Muxes are regarded as a third gender – assigned male at birth but interested in codes of dress and behaviour associated with femininity, often from a young age. Asked to photograph the Muxes community, Morales soon found himself liberated by them.
He continued to photograph the Muxes – and himself – for eight years, hoping to capture the complexity of their lives and to confront his own identity as he joined their community. His book, Musas Muxes, is published by Mexican collective Inframundo.
In the city of Oaxaca, the Muxes are regarded as a third gender. They are assigned male at birth, but from a young age they dress and behave in ways associated with the female gender.
One day, Morales was asked by a friend to photograph this gender-fluid community, and soon he found himself liberated by them. Over eight years he photographed them, and himself, hoping to capture the complexity of the Muxes lives, while confronting his own identity in the sensual and challenging space of the Muxes.
“It was moving to London that got me interested in publishing,” says Sarah Barnett, who relocated to the capital from Manchester with a multimedia degree and experience working in an interactive agency. She quickly got a job at Progressive Content marketing agency, and later became the art editor of Economia magazine, working with Rebecca McClelland (formerly photography editor for New Statesman, Port and Wallpaper*) and photographer Catherine Hyland. Together, they had “the challenge of trying to push the creative boundaries of an accountancy magazine,” she recalls. “We worked with some of the best portrait photographers and that definitely influenced me in how I work with photography today.”
In 2016, she became the art director of N by Norwegian, spearheading its recent redesign to allow more room for photography series, demanding a “whole new level of editing”, says Barnett. “We might be an in-flight publication, but we’re more than just travel.”