“A lot of my work has undertones of female sexuality and ritual, because photography was a place where it was okay to explore those things,” says Tabitha Barnard, the oldest of four sisters raised in a close-knit, religious community in rural Maine. “In photographing my sisters, and in trying to find a private place to do that, we kind of found this escape. I could always just tell my parents it was make-believe.”
Barnard has just won the 2018 Gomma Grant with this work, which she’s titled the Cult of Womanhood. Second prize went to Vladimir Vasilev with Nocte Intempesta, which was shot at night in a small city in Normandy, France. Fatima Abreu Ferreira took Third prize with How to disappear completely, “a work of struggle, obsession and complete hallucination” shot over two years in the photographer’s home town. Yorgos Yatromanolakis, meanwhile, won an Honourable mention for The Splitting of the Chrysalis & the Slow Unfolding of the Wings, which was also shot back home in the Greek island of Crete.
42 shortlisted photographers have been announced for The Gomma Photography Grant – a prize for emerging image-makers
Derby is a small British city but once every two years it hosts a big event – the FORMAT Festival. Directed by the well-respected photography specialist Louise Fedotov-Clements and running since 2004, FORMAT has established a firm reputation for interesting international work, and FORMAT19 looks set to continue the good work with exhibitions spread across both Derby and another neighbouring city, Nottingham. Taking place next spring, FORMAT19 is themed FOREVER/NOW and takes on an interesting contemporary question – the role of documentary photography.
“In 2007, while the photography world was still grappling with the idea of photography as an interpretive, non-narrative, non-representational medium, writer Lucy Soutter wrote about the ‘expressive’ versus the ‘straight’ documentary photograph, insightfully characterising the then two sides of the debate,” runs the FORMAT19 press material.
“Since then photography has grown to encompass many manifestations of the ‘crooked’ image through hybrid forms and visual practises and no longer worries about narrative versus abstraction, expressive versus objective. The new generation of photographic artists rush towards the new, embracing the rapid transformation that technology and cultural exchanges bring to it.”