Gina Amama from A Whitespace Create Agency in Lagos, Nigeria, picks out what caught her eye in 2018 – including Michael Oliver Love’s “mind-blowing” editorial for Africa is Now magazine
Fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø was awarded an Emmy in 2011 for his direction of a series of short films, shot for the website of the The New York Times Magazine. The series, 14 Actors Acting commissioned by Kathy Ryan, was acclaimed as a “new approach”, but the Norwegian photographer claims he simply “dabbles” in film.
“I’m not proficient or even adequate yet,” he says. “But film is a way of rejuvenating the work I’ve already done. It’s like a little vitamin boost.”
Sundsbø’s photography career has been meteoric. Four months into a course at the London College of Printing, he attracted the attention of Nick Knight, and became his assistant for the next four years. Now he’s a regular in Italian Vogue, Visionaire and W magazine. His commercial clients include Chanel, Hermès, Nike and Yves Saint Laurent and, outside the fashion world, Royksopp, Friendly Fires and Coldplay have all chosen his work for their album covers.
Nadine Ijewere has been interested in fashion imagery since she was a girl but it wasn’t until she studied photography at the London College of Fashion that she began to pick up on some of its more unsettling undertones – particularly the stereotypes used in the portrayal of non-Western cultures. The Misrepresentation of Representation, an early project that she completed at university reflected on Orientalism and how it came to rigidly define certain cultures for a Western audience.
Nigel Shafran first came to fame in 1990 with a series of images published by i-D; showing teenage shoppers in a down-at-heel precinct in Ilford, it was the antithesis of a high-end fashion shoot. His first venture into publishing, Ruthbook, had a similarly pared-down approach; showing his girlfriend shot mostly at home, in her dressing gown, say, or blowing her nose, alongside details such as crumbs on a kitchen work surface, a pot on the stove, or a hair stuck on a bar of soap. Shafran hand-wrote the title, in pencil, on all 600 copies. Now he’s found a new twist on this everyday approach, putting his work books on show. Dating from 1984 right up to 2018 they’re a creative insight into his working process and life, and a typically understated collection – though it’s the inaugural exhibition at Sion and Moore, the gallery run by Claire de Rouen’s Lucy Moore in the space that used to house Wolfgang Tillmans’ studio.
Interviewing Nigel Shafran is a circuitous, informal affair. Meeting him at his North London home, I immediately recognise Ruth, his partner and the subject of many of his photographs. I also meet his son Lev, who, though somewhat older, is also still easily discernible from his father’s pictures. The interview takes place in the kitchen familiar from Flowers for ____. Every now and then a friend calls round or phones, with plans made to throw a boomerang around in the park that afternoon, or play ping pong in the evening. Lev occasionally interjects from the living room with his take on the interview process, or on “nattering on about photography” as he puts it. “Sorry. Oh my God!” says Shafran, as the phone rings for the second time. “No worries,” I say. “You’re a busy man.” “A busy family man!” he replies. It doesn’t always make for an easy interview, but it feels appropriate for a photographer who focuses on the everyday, the domestic and the personal.
Based in Lagos, Nigeria, A Whitespace Creative Agency is in the business of “creating narratives for a new vision of contemporary Africa”. It was set up in 2014 by Papa Omotayo after he “saw the need for creatives to have a platform and organisation that aimed to push new ideas being developed by a new generation of visual artists,” says Omotayo. “We sought to bring young dynamic creatives and pair them with local and international brands and organisations,” he continues, “whilst also developing personal projects and programmes that focused on art and culture as a currency and catalyst for change within the city of Lagos.” AWCA works with local and international brands and NGOs, creating lookbooks, campaigns, editorials, documentaries and films; it also works on projects presenting the cream of Lagos’ talent overseas. AWCA’s collaboration with Amaka Osakwe of Maki Oh won Best New Director at the Fashion Film Festival in Milan in 2016, for example; in 2016 AWCA took up a ten-day residency in London, showcasing some of its creatives, giving photographer Kadara Enyeasi a …
“The Garden Gate Project has a reputation in my neighbourhood,” says Jason Evans, who has just published a zine with participants from the Margate-based charity. “Established almost 20 years ago for people with learning difficulties and/or mental ill health, the Garden Gate Project is visited by various members of the community for a range of seasonal activities.” He was volunteering there two years ago when the organisers realised he was a photographer, and invited him to come up with ideas for the programme, which centres mainly on Horticultural Therapy. His first project with GGP was Tool Shed Dark Room, which saw Evans improvising with participants “without mains electricity or an enlarger to make photograms using materials from the garden”.
“I was born in 1968 in West Germany – that’s 23 years after 1945,” says Frederike Helwig. “One of my first memories of seeing images of the war was at my grandmother’s house, watching an antiwar movie about 16-year-old German soldiers defending a small village against all odds. I must have been 8 or 10 and I climbed into my brother’s bed that night utterly terrified by what I had seen with no explanation or guidance whatsoever. “This ‘shock’ education continued throughout school, where my generation was taught facts and figures about war crimes and atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. Nobody was able to articulate guilt or shame, or elaborate on the emotional side of what this meant for modern German society. No one ever asked the question why this had happened, let alone gave an answer. Why didn’t the history teachers encourage my generation to ask our grandparents about their experiences in the war? The perpetrators were always the others – names in history books.” Moving to the UK to study photography when she …