If you don’t get the reference, it’s a curious title for a photobook – Fables of Faubus, the 30-year retrospective by British documentary photographer Paul Reas. But if you’re a jazz fan you’ll know it’s taken from a song by Charles Mingus, written after Arkansas governor Orval Faubus decided to bar the integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
To Mingus, and many others, Faubus stood for a dark force holding back progressive social change. For Reas, the title suggests the metanarrative that runs behind the many stories he’s shot in the UK on heavy industry, consumer culture, the heritage industry, and more – namely, the disenfranchisement of the British working class, “the years of decline of industry and the fall out from that, communities being de-centred and levelled”.
Paris Photo is epic, but beyond the Grand Palais there’s a plethora of other photo-related events in the French capital. For those interested in photobooks there are two essential book fairs – Offprint and Polycopies, both showcasing some of the most interesting new work in photography and beyond; there is also a week-long photo focus at the world-famous Left Bank bookshop Shakespeare & Co.
In 1997, a document titled A Study of Assassination was released by the CIA as part of the Freedom of Information Act. It is believed to have been created in 1953 with the purpose of instructing agents on how to kill, and was released with a collection of files relating to the 1954 CIA-backed overthrow of the-then newly-elected leader of Guatemala, Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. The operation in Guatemala was lobbied for by United Fruit Company, an American corporation that traded in tropical fruit, mainly bananas, and which wielded huge power in Central America at the time.
When he found out about these documents, George Selley was instantly captivated, and his new project, A Study of Assassination, combines pages from the manual with archival press images, banana advertisements and Cold War propaganda. BJP caught up with the recent London College of Communication MA graduate to find out more about this project and his approach to images.
Now in its third year, the Sicilian photo festival is tackling big issues under a theme of “Communication in uncertainty and chaos”. The idea is telling of its locale: a crucial crossing point in the Mediterranean and an entry gateway to Europe, Sicily has been at the centre of the migrant crisis as people cross the sea in search of peace and a better life. The photographs in this series cover ideas of identity, politics, war, nationality, feminism and more.
Taking a new approach to documentary photography after a near-death experience in Libya, Guy Martin captured Turkey’s fantasies and created a series now on show at Arles. “To not learn from that event in April 2011, I couldn’t do that to myself,” he says. “I couldn’t justify it to my family, I couldn’t be put in that same situation again. The starting point was to take control of my photography, to use my photography instead of letting it use me.”
It’s the biggest, most prestigious photography festival in the world and it’s back – Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles opens on 03 July and closes on 24 September. It’s the 48th edition of the festival, which has seen seismic changes in the last few years – the departure of its long-standing director Francois Hebel after the 2014 edition, and the arrival of his replacement, Sam Stourdze, the backing of the influential LUMA Foundation, and the Cosmos-Arles book fair. This history and reputation mean Arles is able to pull in the big names, which this year means including solo shows by Joel Meyerowitz, Michael Wolf, Gideon Mendel, Masahisa Fukase, Alex Majoli and Roger Ballen; plus an exhibition on Surrealism organised by Le Centre Pompidou and including works by Hans Bellmer, Erwin Wurm and Rene Magritte. Arles also uses its might to showcase lesser-known names and regions, however, and one of the themes running through the 2017 edition is Latina!, a celebration of work from South America in four separate shows. Urban Impulses is a group …