Kovi Konowiecki began his professional life playing football in Europe. He turned to photography to document his surroundings, and shed light on aspects of his identity that he did not quite understand. His focus has shifted from portraits of orthodox Jews – a series partially created in pursuit of learning about his heritage – to individuals living liminally between belonging and isolation. Last year, Konowiecki’s portrait of identical twins Dick and Clark won a place in the Portrait of Britain exhibition, and his photograph of Antonia and Franka, also twins, earned a place in the first ever Portrait of Britain book. In 2016, Konowiecki was also part of the inaugural Portrait of Britain, and his winning image was featured among 100 others as part of the award’s first public exhibition. Konowiecki has since been selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, and has exhibited his work in a group show in California. He is now preparing for a solo exhibition this Spring in Portugal. His first monograph, Borderlands, will be released at the beginning …
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.
Based in Paris and Bristol, ESSARTER Éditions is a “photo-documentary publishing house”. Founded by the photographer Mathilde Vaveau and the graphic designer Lou Reichling, it aims to “gather around common interests – the book, photography and documentary”. ESSARTER has published four projects so far – Ukraine Post Euro Maidan, Usée Immédiat, À la Vôtre, and its most recent, a trilogy called Red Utopias. Including work by ten photographers drawn from across Europe and the former USSR, Red Utopias and considers the Soviet Union and its legacy from a variety of perspectives. It is published in French, Russian, and English.
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