“She hangs around with us after school even though we make it clear she bores us. We whisper nonsense and pretend to laugh at jokes so she laughs too, and we ask, ‘What’s so funny?’ to watch her squirm. She knows we are mean, and yet still she follows along behind. ‘Like a dog,’ we say, loud enough for her to hear.”
On athousandwordphotos.com this is the start of the text accompanying an image of Russian army cadets by Anastasia Taylor-Lind – but it’s not a direct quote from one of the young women depicted. Instead it’s a work of fiction by author Claire Fuller, inspired by the image but written without any knowledge of the circumstances in which it was shot.
It’s the same with the story that accompanies Karim Ben Khalifa’s photograph of a sofa, which was taken in war-torn Kosovo in 1999. In real life, the sofa had been looted and therefore set on fire by French peace-keepers to discourage further looting. But in author Dan Dalton’s hands, it’s set on fire by a 17 year old, who had spent happy hours with a slightly wayward group of friends hanging out on the abandoned couch. Meanwhile a photograph taken by Dungeness nuclear power station by Phil Fisk, inspired Lydia Ruffles to write a short story about a worker called Tomo who’s afraid of the sea.
Pairing documentary photography with fictional writing isn’t new – in fact it’s become quite a trend, with image-makers such as David Goldblatt, Vasantha Yogananthan, Max Pinckers, and Dayanita Singh – among many more – all playing with the combination in recent years. But the examples above come from quite a different project, set up to support Interact Stroke Support – a London-based charity that organises sessions in which actors read to recovering stroke patients.
What do Sophie Calle, Rineke Dijkstra, Susan Meiselas, and Hannah Starkey all have in common? They’re all on the list of 100 contemporary women photographers picked out by the UK’s Royal Photographic Society, after an open call for nominations. Over 1300 photographers were recommended to the organisation by the general public, which was slimmed down by a judging panel headed up by photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg.
The final list includes well-known names but also less recognised image-makers such as Native American artist Wendy Red Star, Moscow-based photographer Oksana Yushko, and Paola Paredes from Ecuador. Each Heroine will be awarded a Margaret Harper medal, named after the first female president of The Royal Photographic Society, and the first female professor of photography in the UK. An exhibition and accompanying publication will follow, all part of a bid to highlight women working in what is still a male-dominated industry.
“Although it was a truly challenging exercise having to consider 1300 women, being a part of the jury for Hundred Heroines was ultimately an incredibly stimulating and inspirational process,” says Luxemburg. “This final list reflects both the global expanse of female practice and the intergenerational input into contemporary photography. It reflects the wide range of methodologies, practices and diverse approaches of women working with the photographic medium. This is a moment of change and this list of heroines pays heed to it.”
The latest edition of the BJP International Photography Award is now open for entries, offering photographers the chance to win a solo show at TJ Boulting, one of London UK’s leading galleries. As ever, British Journal of Photography are searching for established photographers to enter new projects with compelling narratives. The series may be shot in any format or camera model, on film or digital, and containing a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15 images. The BJP International Photography Award is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get a solo show at renowned London UK gallery TJ Boulting. All costs will be covered for the show; from printing, framing and installation, to travel and accommodation, so the winning photographer can oversee the preparation of their exhibition and attend the opening night. Alongside the solo show, the winner’s work will also be published across British Journal of Photography’s print and digital channels, including in a dedicated four-page supplement inside the BJP, giving them exposure to influential industry leaders and our global audience. Winning …
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.”
Chloe Dewe Mathews has spent half a decade documenting life along the River Thames. In a new FullBleed film, produced in association with British Journal of Photography and the Museum of London, the photographer sheds light on the project
In 2016, Chloe Dewe Mathews was invited to do an artist’s residency at the Verbier 3-D Foundation in the Val de Bagnes, Switzerland. The chosen theme was the so-called ‘Year Without a Summer’ of 1816, which followed the eruption of Mount Tambora volcano in Indonesia. The eruption, which emitted a vast cloud of ash blocking sunlight across much of the world, caused temperatures to plummet, the dramatic weather changes leading to crop failure, starvation and mass migration. Two centuries later, while researching the area’s history, Dewe Mathews came across the story of a local disaster that happened because of these weather changes. Between 1816 and 1818 the Giétroz Glacier built up to form a great dam of ice, which then burst its banks and tore up the valley below, leaving a trail of destruction all the way to Lake Geneva. She went on to discover that Mary Shelley had also been in the area during that summer-less year, staying on the shores of Lake Geneva with her husband Percy Bysshe and fellow Romantic poets Lord …
With less than two weeks left to enter the IPA 2018, BJP looks at what past winners of the Award did next
Thirty-five days into the First World War, Private Thomas Highgate, a 17-year-old farmhand, became the first British soldier to be executed for desertion. During the Battle of Mons, Highgate fled the frontline. He hid in a barn in the nearby village of Tournan, a few miles south of the river, and was discovered wearing civilian clothes and asleep by a gamekeeper. He reportedly told the man: “I have had enough of it, I want to get out of it and this is how I am going to do it.’ He was court-martialled and found guilty the following day. Highgate did not speak and was not represented during his trial. He was told, at 6.22am, that he was to be put to death: “At once, as publicly as possible.” A firing squad was prepared and, by 7.07am, Highgate was dead. The burial place of his body was never released. He was the only son of a farm labourer from Oxbourne Farm in the Kent village of Shoreham. In 2000, Shoreham’s parish council voted not to include …
The churches, Chloe Dewe Mathews says, are “unlikely, reinvented spaces”. Spread across South London, former factories, office blocks, warehouses and bingo halls have become private, vibrant places for people to gather together, cry, shout, convulse, laugh and sing. Chloe Dewe Mathews’ photographs, now on exhibition in the Tate Modern’s McAuley Gallery, explore “a change in usage”. Like the Tate Modern, what was once an elephant’s graveyard of industry has been repurposed, organically, into monuments of “ecstatic, expressive worship”. There are over 240 black majority churches in the poorer stretch of Britain’s capital city – the greatest concentration of African Christianity anywhere beyond Africa. “Here, the Holy Spirit pervades, faith is intrinsic and God is personally experienced,” writes Synthia Griffin, a curator of regeneration and partnerships at Tate Modern. “These churches feature none of the monumental architecture or symbols of status and power of the historically dominant denominations. Frequently temporary, they are anonymous but very visible to the communities they serve.” Dewe Mathews, who won British Journal of Photography’s International Award in 2011, has spent each Sunday for …