Arnis Balcus, photographer, editor in chief of FK Magazine and director of Riga Photomonth, picks out the projects that caught his eye, including Georgs Avetisjans’ Homeland The Longest Village
When William Henry Fox Talbot pioneered the salted paper and calotype processes in 1841, he soon turned his new inventions to food, capturing two baskets overflowing with fruit. Creating an image designed to mimic the paintings of the time, and to contrast the colours and textures of the pineapple and peaches, he also made an image rife with welcoming symbolism – the pineapple a sign of hospitality, the peach a sign of fecundity.
“Fox Talbot’s photograph was copying the traditions of painting and its attendant symbolism,” says photography curator and writer Susan Bright. “But it was also concerned with the role of photography, and elevating its status to that of art. In this respect it resonates nicely with artists such as Daniel Gordon, whose work also deals with the medium of photography. But his constructed pineapple has nothing to do with symbolism, or striving to be understood as art. It is art. He is questioning the role of visual perception, what is real and what is not.
“The way food is photographed says a tremendous amount about significant aspects of our culture,” Bright continues. “It is often about fantasy, be that national, sexual or historical. Photographs of food are the carrier for so many things – desire, consumption, taste, immigration and feminism, for example. It has been a major part of the development of fine art, editorial, fashion, marketing and product photography throughout the 20th and 21st century.”
Out of nearly 1000 submissions, the winners for this years Paris Photo/Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards, established in 2012 to celebrate the photobook’s contribution to the narrative of photography, have been announced at Paris Photo.
The Photobook of the Year award went to Laia Abril, for part one of her long-term project, A History of Misogyny, Chapter One: On Abortion (Dewi Lewis). The project is not about the experience of abortion itself, but about the repercussions for women who do not have access to legal, safe or free abortions, forcing them to consider dangerous alternatives that cause physical and mental harm.
In adopting the photobook as his primary medium, using complex sequences as well as free ranging associations to create what’s been described as ‘open metaphors’, Jason Fulford is more interested in questions than answers. He invites readers to become active participants in his work, presenting an open enquiry in which the various interconnecting layers are often cryptic and complex, and the meaning is less important than the experience of looking and thinking.
In October Chloe Dewe Mathews is publishing a book titled Caspian: The Elements with the prestigious Aperture (New York) and Peabody Museum Press (Cambridge, MA). In 2011 she won BJP’s International Photography Award with images from her first trip to the region. In 2014 Dewe Mathews was awarded the Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography by the Peabody Museum at Harvard University to complete the work.
“For me, photography became a solution because I could be independent, spontaneous and more creatively engaged,” she says. “In feature films, you always work within a structure and you have to plan every shoot carefully; I liked the freedom you have with a stills camera. Fine art gives you more independence, of course, but it can also become too self-referential, so I was attracted to documentary photography because it felt more outward looking. I was keen to explore what was going on around me, as well as stepping out into the wider world.”
Photobooks have been booming for the last ten years or so but one prize has been there for the last 49 years – Les Prix du Livre at Arles, which was set up at the same time as the Rencontres d’Arles festival. With its long history and prestigious jury, which is this year overseen by FOAM director Marloes Krijnen, the Prix du Livre are some of the best-respected in photography.
Three Prix are up for grabs in three categories this year – the Historical Book Award, the Author Book Award, and the Photo-text Book Award, each of which come with a €6000 prize to be shared between the photographers and their publishers. The books are on show at Arles until 23 September, and the winners will be announced in the opening week.
Launched last year, Labs New Artists is a exhibition of up-and-coming artists at the prestigious not-for-profit gallery, which has spaces in Brooklyn and in Los Angeles. The photographers picked out aren’t represented by galleries or agencies, and are selected by a global jury of experts; this year, each juror has agreed to mentor an artist for the year following the show.
The 25 artists in the show this year are: Antone Dolezal, US; Eli Durst, US; Peyton Fulford, US; Matthew Genitempo, US; Rudi Geyser, South Africa; Li Hui, China; Andrew Jacobs, US; Brendan George Ko, Canada; Kovi Konowiecki, US; Maria Lokke, US; Daniel Jack Lyons, US; Pat Martin, US; Chase Middleton, Australia; Tyler Mitchell, US; Diego Moreno, Mexico; John Francis Peters, US; Luis Alberto Rodriguez, Germany; Scandebergs, UK; Marcus Schäfer, UK; Hugo Scott, UK; Christopher Smith, South Africa; Renate Ariadne Van Der Togt, UK; Drew Vickers, US; Juyan Wang, UK; and Logan White, US.
In July 2016, Diamond Reynolds’ partner was shot dead by a police officer during a traffic-stop in Minnesota. Reynolds used Facebook Live to broadcast the moments after the shooting, creating a video that became widely circulated, amassing over six million views, and which was also played to a jury as evidence in June 2017 – in a court case which saw the officer acquitted of all charges. In November 2016, Thompson invited Reynolds to collaborate on a project that would portray her in a different way to the original, publicly-consumed image. The resulting 35mm film, autoportrait, shows Reynolds apparently deep in thought and seemingly unaware of the camera, and is presented as a large-scale installation without a soundtrack. First exhibited in London’s Chisenhale Gallery in 2017, it’s been picked out of the winner of the £30,000 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018, over the three other shortlisted artists – Mathieu Asselin, Rafal Milach, and Batia Suter.
“The whole jury was in agreement that Eva has a very strong vision and that her work is characterised by a consistency both in aesthetic and content, since the concepts explored are the hot topics of our contemporary society,” says Alessia Glaviano, senior photo editor on Vogue Italia and member of the Hyères Festival photography jury this year – which has awarded the grand prix to Eva O’Leary. The New York-based photographer has won with a series called Spitting Image, which shows American girls aged 11 to 14 photographed while looking at themselves in a mirror. A project involving both photographs and videos, Spitting Image shows both the girls’ discomfort with being put in front of the lens, and the ways in which they – and others – present themselves for the camera.
“I’m reclaiming my blackness, which I feel is continuously performed by the privileged other,” says South African photographer Zanele Muholi. Born in 1972 in Umlazi, a township close to Durban, Muholi defines herself as a visual activist using photography to articulate contemporary identity politics. In her latest series, Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness, she uses her body to confront the politics of race and representation, questioning the way the black body is shown and perceived.