As we begin to see galleries around the UK opening their doors to the public, a familiar bustle of culture breathes life into these spaces once again. Joining them this week is Seen Fifteen, nestled in the heart of Peckham, London and the home of the much celebrated Peckham 24 Festival – which would have celebrated its fifth edition this summer – as well as a dynamic programme of exhibitions throughout the year. The gallery welcomes visitors back with a new exhibition Hurry Up Please It’s Time, a title taken from a line of a poem by TS Elliot, which he wrote during the last pandemic. The show, which brings together the work of five contemporary artists and photographers including Maya Rochat and Laura El-Tantawy, breaking from the scheduled summer programme and instead focusing on the pandemic experience. Jo Dennis, Elena Helfrecht and Martin Seeds will be exhibiting work that was made during the Covid-19 lockdown, with each artist ruminating on the effect this moment has had on our environment. BJP speaks to the founder …
Sofía López Mañán seeks to unravel the boundary between the natural and unnatural, questioning how humans perceive their environment through issues of animal trafficking and environmental conservation
Publications we loved, and the big news stories from the last month in photobooks, including American Winter by Gerry Johansson, Void’s Hunger project, and JA Mortram’s Small Town Inertia
Our pick of the key stories from the past week, including Paris’ Circulation(s) festival of emerging European photography, the first-ever Kyiv Photo Book festival, and Todd Hido’s Bright Black World
To look through Todd Hido’s lens is to view the world darkly. The San Francisco-based photographer’s entire oeuvre of compelling visual narratives is shrouded in inky obscurity, and in this regard, his latest work is no exception. The difference is that for the first time he has departed from his usual territory of suburban landscape and its relation to his own troubled childhood. Instead Bright Black World results from extensive travels abroad, and is steeped in a deep sense of pessimism about the future from the perspective of the present, attempting to “photograph the darkness that I see coming”.
There is something universally foreboding and immense happening here; work that captures nature on an awesome scale. And yet it can be read as a metaphorical measure of our individual existential lives, a dark poem alluding to our preconditioned mortality. His landscapes are magnificent in their brooding seduction, inspired by Norse mythology and the concept of Fimbulvetr – the long, harsh winter that precedes the end of Earth. Hido travelled to places he’d never visited before to capture these spectacles of natural devastation and melancholy, including the chilly vistas of the Norwegian tundra.
“Most people would walk by a dump pile and assume that there’s no picture there,” says global industrial landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky. “But there’s always a picture, you just have to go in there and find it.” Born in Canada in 1955, Burtynsky has been investigating human-altered landscapes in his artistic practice for over 35 years, capturing the sweeping views of nature altered by industry; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, and silicon. “Of course, it’s important to me to make sure that my pictures are attractive to the eye,” he says. “But beneath the surface there’s always a bigger, deeper environmental issue.”
With €10,000 up for grabs to realise a project, the Greenpeace Photo Award is a great opportunity – and this year, the public decides who wins. Run with support from Geo Magazine, an awards jury has shortlisted seven photographers to choose from, each from a different country and each working on a series with an environmental theme.
The public has until 31 October to vote on the winner; a further €10,000 will go to a second winner selected by the jury, which this year includes curator and lecturer Lars Willumeit, and Geo Magazine chief photo editor Lars Lindemann.
The shortlisted photographers are: Niels Ackermann (Switzerland); Magda Biernat (USA); Arko Datto (India); Niklas Grapatin (Germany); Katrin Koenning (Australia); Pablo Piovano (Argentina); and Ian Willms (Canada).
“In my youth, I had a significant dream about the area of the Alta Amazonia, the place where I later based my project,” the Italian photographer Nicola Ókin Frioli tells BJP. “One day I met someone who confirmed I had a kind of calling to this area and advised me to go.” Ókin took his first trip to the Ecuadorian Amazon in January 2015, which coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Alto Cenepa War, a conflict that broke out between Ecuador and Peru over disputed territory from 26 January to 28 February 1995. “It was a war of the governments, not of the natives. Yet they participated anyway as civilians in support of the inexperienced military,” explains Ókin. “For the indigenous people, particularly the Shuar and Achuar, it was a resistance because their territory was in danger.” Now, the indigenous communities are facing another imminent threat – that of large-scale mining. Rich in copper and gold, the Shuar and Achuar territories are in danger of being exploited and its inhabitants risk being forcibly …
The November issue of BJP takes you on a round the world trip with Journeys. From the markets of Lagos to the search for Jesus across the world, these are more than just trips; these journeys will alter your way of looking at the world.
“I’m not concerned with being an environmental photographer, I’m concerned with making images that make you feel something you can’t quite understand. There’s something that happens when you’re presented with what you can’t quite fathom.” In Matter, Michael Lundgren explores deserts in Spain, the US and Mexico but his landscapes are a departure from more traditional photographs in this field. He wants us to question the world around us and find a magical realism in life, death and our environment.