Based in Paris and Bristol, ESSARTER Éditions is a “photo-documentary publishing house”. Founded by the photographer Mathilde Vaveau and the graphic designer Lou Reichling, it aims to “gather around common interests – the book, photography and documentary”. ESSARTER has published four projects so far – Ukraine Post Euro Maidan, Usée Immédiat, À la Vôtre, and its most recent, a trilogy called Red Utopias. Including work by ten photographers drawn from across Europe and the former USSR, Red Utopias and considers the Soviet Union and its legacy from a variety of perspectives. It is published in French, Russian, and English.
“South Africa is a deeply religious country,” says Giya Makondo-Wills, whose work-in-progress, They Came From the Water While the World Watched, maps out the interplay between Christianity and ancestral religion in the region. With four trips to the country under her belt so far, the 23-year old has travelled as much into the past as in the present, tracing the indelible repercussions of 19th-century European migration as they resonate through South African culture today.
Makondo-Wills, who is British-South African, became interested in her African grandmother’s faith while shooting another project. “She’s very Orthodox Christian but she also still practises ancestral religion, and that’s a core part of who she is. She prays to a God and the gods,” the photographer explains.
This duality got her thinking about the intersections of belief systems and how they were brought into contact. How did Christianity become so influential? How does it co-exist with indigenous religions? Building on her interests in race and identity, these questions soon elicited many others, spawning a long-term project that has carried her from a BA to an MA at the University of South Wales.