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 …
“We do not need to specifically just focus on changing stereotypes of what being African is through our visual storytelling; I think that’s an additional burden that other artists from other continents are not expected to subscribe to. I do think that through our visual storytelling, whatever theme we choose, and the quality of our work, we already do so much to challenge external perceptions of the African continent,” says Ngadi Smart, one of the image-makers whose work will feature in the exhibition Foreseen: New Narratives from the African Photojournalism Database.
It’s just one of the shows in the forthcoming Nuku Photo Festival Ghana, the first event of its kind in the country. Featuring exhibitions, a conference, a portfolio review, and networking events, Nuku Photo Festival Ghana aims to “create a space for artistic explorations and exchanges”, according to the festival founder Nii Obodai. “For this first edition, we have curated a diverse programme in cooperation with local and international partners that showcases the works of 50 both established and up-and-coming photographers and visual artists.”
“The ethics for me is the backbone of what we do. If we don’t follow strict ethics within our work, I think we are damaging the credibility of the whole of this profession,” says Bénédicte Kurzen, a photographer and member of the prestigious NOOR photography collective since 2012. Now she, and seven other NOOR photographers are putting her words into action, with three masterclasses offered free of charge to budding photojournalists.
Supported by Nikon Europe, the masterclasses are four days long, and each feature three tutors. Kurzen is teaming up with Sanne De Wilde and Francesco Zizola for the masterclass in Turin, held from 12-15 November; Tanya Habjouqa, Sebastian Liste and Kadir van Lohuizen are at the masterclass held in Budapest from 26-29 November; and Tanya Habjouqa, Jon Lowenstein and Léonard Pongo are at the masterclass held in Zürich from 03-06 December.
It’s six years since the inaugural edition of Unseen Amsterdam arrived with the mission to shake up the art fair model, focusing on emerging photographers and collectors, and instilling a welcome dose of fun to proceedings. And despite its beginnings during difficult times for arts funding, the ‘fair with a festival flair’ has largely succeeded, developing into something more ambitious than a glorified trade show, with its own public programme and a city-wide celebration of the medium in one of the world’s great photography capitals.
The emphasis remains on championing new talent, and with this in mind, the latest addition to Unseen is Futures, a cross-European photography platform bringing together 10 cultural institutions from around the continent, each with their own talent programmes.
“We do see that our industry is male-dominated, world-wide – though not within NOOR,” say the photographers of the NOOR agency, via their current president Andrea Bruce. “We are encouraged by the current discussions happening throughout the photo world around abuse of power. These are sometimes painful, but necessary.” Photojournalism is still male-dominated, that much is undeniable. But does it have a macho culture, as World Press Photo’s MD Lars Boering has said? Do male photojournalists and picture editors abuse their power? And if so, what’s being done about it? In the wake of the #metoo movement, and in particular after the recent allegations against Patrick Witty, one-time deputy director of photography at National Geographic, and Antonin Kratochvil, one of the founding members of VII, these have become key questions in photography, and the big agencies are getting on board. For David Kogan, as for Bruce, it’s a work in progress. He’s executive director of Magnum Photos, which introduced a Code of Conduct for both its photographers and staff at its last AGM in June. …
It’s one of the best-respected photo agencies in the world, representing image-makers such as Nina Berman, Yuri Kozyrev, and Kadir van Lohuizen – and yet NOOR is offering three four-day masterclasses completely free of charge to “young, aspiring photojournalists and documentary photographers”. Run by NOOR and the NOOR Foundation with the support of Nikon Europe, the masterclasses will take place in Warsaw (26 February-01 March), Stockholm (12-15 March), and Brussels (19-22 March).
It isn’t often a group photography show can boast the names of Cristina de Middel, Benedicte Kurzen and Robin Maddock. This collaboration, titled Shine Ur Eye, brings together and explores their recent response to living in Lagos, Nigeria, while contrasting each photographers’ dramatically different photographic process. Each photographer found themselves in Nigeria for different reasons, and have responded to the complex layers of Nigerian society in different ways. Exhibited together, their work forms an original photographic essay on Nigeria, recognising the intermingling traditions and practices that shape Nigerian culture. British photographer Robin Maddock is displaying, for the first time, digitised images he discovered in the Nigerian National Museum archive. It contains, he says, “piles of slides, many in a state of decay, like a treasure trove.” The slides are presented as found, with no interference from the photographers, save to present these ethnographic images of masks and other objects as significant insights into Nigerian cultural history and heritage, as well as fascinating photographic records in their own right. The Spanish photographer Cristina de Middel, a former photojournalist, began working conceptually with the first self-published …