The expansive archive of photographs captures the richness and complexity of black British life
Eva and Franco Mattes interrogate notions of privacy, authenticity and self-representation via the personal contents of a stranger’s phone
Nigeria has the highest twin birth rate of any country in the world. Because of this, the notion of twinhood almost pervades consciousness. Attitudes towards twins, however, are complex and multifaceted – in some areas of the country they are celebrated, in others feared. Photographers Benedicte Kurzen and Sanne de Wilde set out to explore perceptions of twinhood in three parts of Nigeria: Igbo Ora, Abuja, and Calabar, with each area demonstrating different attitudes towards twins. In Igbo-Ora, the self-proclaimed ‘twin capital of the world’, twins are celebrated and shrines are built to worship them and their inseparable bonds. Abuja represents the darker history of twinhood – here, Kurzen and de Wilde visited an orphanage sheltering twins who are threatened by the community for their perceived role in bringing bad luck. Calabar presented the opportunity to explore how traditions and beliefs towards twins have changed over time. The resulting series, Land of Ibeji, is now on show at TJ Boulting gallery in London, and is one of the many exhibitions taking place across the capital …
What do bodybuilding and photography have in common? Marie draws parallels between the two to explore gender constructs and how they play out across the body
Broken Sleeve 缎绣, the title of Shen Wei’s latest body of work, is borrowed from a Chinese story about Emperor Ai and his lover in the Han Dynasty. After waking from a nap, rather than disturb his lover, who was still asleep, the Emperor cuts the sleeves off his precious garments to get out of bed, leaving his lover to rest peacefully. Wei was struck by the simple romantic gesture of the story, but its narrative has nothing to do with the work the photographer created. In fact, when read aloud, the Chinese version of the project’s title – Duàn xiù – sounds like “broken sleeve”, but the symbols themselves translate to “silk fabric”. “The story is like a metaphor,” says Wei. “It injects feeling into the work, like when you touch a piece of smooth silk – it’s a feeling that is hard to describe.” Broken Sleeve 缎绣 is Wei’s latest, ongoing series. Five of the images are on show, alongside work from previous series, in Wei’s first solo exhibition in the UK, opening …
Jean-François Bouchard’s images from the largest machine-gun shooting range in the US merges documentary and conceptual art in an attempt to understand the chilling world of weapon enthusiasts
In 2010, US photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero set up a camera to take a self-portrait in Times Square, NYC. When she got the film developed, she noticed one of the images had captured a passerby, looking at her with what looked like a sneer. Believing it to be body-shaming, caught in the flesh, she set out to capture more, hoping to illustrate the social condemnation that polices body size in America (and beyond). Her resulting book, The Watchers, was published in 2015 to acclaim, and the images went on to be widely exhibited, and shown online.
As soon as the images went public, however, Morris-Cafiero encountered another wave of social control – negative images posted online or emailed to her, with vicious comments on her body and what was apparently read as her audacity in highlighting peoples’ responses to it. “The major problem is she’s disgusting,” read one such reaction. “Normal people are never going to want to fuck you, regardless of how much you complain,” read another.
Again, rather than being hurt, Morris-Cafiero was amused – and inspired. Immediately deciding she’d use the comments to make a project, she experimented for two years with her response.
2019 marks a quarter of a century since Val Williams’ curated her seminal exhibition, Who’s looking at the family? at the Barbican in London. In photography, a lot has changed over 25 years, including the introduction of new technologies that have reshaped the way in which we make and consume images, and the changing definitions of what constitutes a photographer.
“On the one hand I thought it might be interesting to speculatively chart that development, but also to rethink notions of the family at the same time,” says Tim Clark, editor of 1000 words magazine and curator of this year’s Photo50 exhibition at London Art Fair. “The idea seemed to chime with a lot of people. I think that’s the key point about family, it’s a great unifying subject. Everyone can relate to it.”