“It was also about reshaping that American icon: everyone thinks of the cowboy as this white American hero who has come to slay Native Americans. Actually the word cowboy is a racist term. It comes from when slave masters called all their slaves ‘boys’ and so the cow boy was the boy who looked after the cows and the horse boy was the boy who looked after the horses.” Cian Oba-Smith journeys to Philadelphia at a politically charged time during the 2016 U.S. election to meet with an infamous group of horsemen dealing with this ingrained racism on a daily basis.
“Just a few days after the opening, soldiers entered the gallery and removed some of the photographs,” says Harit Srikhao, a runner-up in this year’s BJP Breakthrough Awards. The Thai photographer, whose series Whitewash uses the military crackdown in 2010 as its starting point, questions government control, censorship and propaganda. “You are able to talk about politics in public, but if you talk ‘bluntly’, you would be arrested,” says Srikhao.