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.
Arresting. Exquisite. Gripping. Chilling. Disgraceful. Unacceptable. These are all words people have used to describe portraits made by Jono Rotman. Created over the last decade, his project Mongrelism presents an intimate look at members of the Mongrel Mob – New Zealand’s largest, most notorious gang. Though he is looking at a subculture as an outsider – a domain regularly mined by photojournalists – Rotman eschews a traditional documentarian approach to his subject matter. In so doing, the project’s scope extends beyond the Mob itself to touch upon issues related to New Zealand’s charged colonial past and self-professed biculturalism, the politics and ethics of portraiture, and the intersections of seemingly disparate human experience.
The New Zealand-born photographer explains that since childhood, “I always felt certain violent and uneasy forces within my country”. In Lockups (1999-2005), Rotman photographed the interiors of prisons and psychiatric hospitals throughout New Zealand, exploring the medium’s ability to convey the fraught “psychic climate” embedded in these state-controlled institutions. The works are eerily devoid of people, a deliberate decision made, says Rotman, “because I wanted to encourage a direct, personal interaction with the spaces. With prisons, for example, as soon as you introduce people into the picture, it becomes easy to think, ‘Here’s the storyline: this place is for those sorts of people. And I can fit it all into my established worldview’.”
Our annual portrait edition returns with Jono Rotman’s photographs of New Zealand’s most notorious biker gang; Faces Places, a collaboration between French filmmaker Agnes Varda and street artist, JR; Richard Billingham’s return home for his cinematic portrayal of Ray & Liz; and a selection from this year’s Portrait of Britain, our nationwide exhibition taking place across JCDecaux screens up and down the country. Our journey begins with Jono Rotman’s photographs of New Zealand’s largest, most notorious biker gang, the Mongrel Mob. Though he is looking at the subculture as an outsider, Rotman eschews a traditional documentarian approach to his subject matter. In doing so, the project’s scope extends beyond the mob itself to touch upon issues related to New Zealand’s charged colonial past and self-professed biculturalism, the politics and ethics of portraiture, and the intersections of seemingly disparate human experience. With Brexit on the horizon, Portrait of Britain has never felt so timely, putting citizens centre stage across high streets, shopping malls and major transport hubs throughout September, asking us to reflect on who we …
Seven European festivals make the best of their locations and the late-summer timing to show off al fresco programmes this September – Visa Pour l’Image, Getxophoto, BredaPhoto, Festival Images Vevey, Landskrona Foto Festival, Guernsey Photo Festival, and Brighton Photo Biennial