The people in Chloe Rosser’s anonymous human sculptures are sometimes friends or couples, but mostly, they are strangers. They twist, bend, and stretch, before they eventually lock, morphing into curious, intimate, and sometimes grotesque figurines.
“Photography is the only medium which allows me to sculpt with human flesh,” says Rosser, “the human body is the most intimately familiar thing to us. Seeing it in these strange poses affects you deeper than if you were to see a sculpture because it’s real, and you can imagine being it, and feeling what it feels.”
BJP’s annual Cool + Noteworthy issue is back, presenting the people, places and projects that have caught our eye over the past year.
Among this year’s noteworthies is the photographer behind our cover story, Tyler Mitchell, who became the first black cover photographer of American Vogue when he shot Beyoncé for the September 2018 issue. He tells the BJP about his new-found mission since returning home after living in London: “I realised I have a responsibility to be, specifically, a black American photographer and filmmaker.”
We also spotlight Kensuke Koike, a Japanese collagist who gives new life to old photo albums. Koike has attracted a loyal following on Instagram with his savvy cut-and-move videos, making his latest book one of the most anticipated on 2018. Feng Li is another newcomer who has made waves in fashion photography over the past year. This issue we feature Li’s playful fashion shoot in his native Chengdu, a creative city on the rise in China.
“I see the bastard countryside everywhere I go,” says Robin Friend, pointing out of the window of his studio in East London, where an ivy plant has climbed up a nearby wall and is wrapping its vines around a rusting CCTV camera. “I ran with this idea of city and countryside splattering into each other, creating this hybrid nature,” explains Friend, who has been producing photographs for his book, unknowingly at first, for 15 years since he started started his BA in Brighton, where he studied under Jem Southam.
“Bastard countryside” is a phrase coined by Victor Hugo in his novel Les Miserables, in which he describes the city of Paris as an “amphibian”, stretching out into the countryside and devouring everything in its path. It is a zone in which the urban and rural mix, the manmade and the natural, clashing and colliding to create a strange form of beauty and ugliness.
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In Aldershot, a town in Hampshire, England, there is an old 1930s Art Deco theatre called the Empire. Since its renovation several years ago, it operates mainly as a Nepalese community centre. On the top floor there is a restaurant and a temple; downstairs is a function room, where groups of Nepalese men meet up every so often to play xbox, table tennis and traditional Asian games like carrom.
Aldershot is home to the largest Nepali community in the UK and, because of its close proximity to an army base, Gurkha families make up a large proportion of the population. The Gurkhas are Nepalese soldiers who were recruited into the British Army following the Anglo-Nepalese war in the early 19th century. Over 200,000 Gurkhas fought for Britain in both world wars, but they were unable to settle in the UK until 2004. Since then, after a campaign famously championed by the actress Joanna Lumley, the population of Nepalis in the UK has increased from 6,000 to an estimated 100-150,000.
British-Nepali photographer Nina Manandhar’s most recent project, Gurkha Sons, questions the challenges and benefits of coming from a Gurkha family in the UK. The group she photographed calls themselves the k-BOYZ – the “k” standing for Kaprukka, the Nepali word for “frozen stiff” as that’s how they feel when they go out on their motorbikes in cold British weather. Manandhar asks how living in the UK informs their sense of identity, and most importantly, where home now lies for them
Alice Mann has won the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018 with a set of four images of South African drum majorettes – the first time the award has gone to a series not a single shot.
Mann’s photographs show five young girls from Cape Town dressed as ‘drummies’ – a popular hobby for children from some of South Africa’s most disadvantaged communities. Mann, who is now based in London but originally from South Africa, spent three months photographing drum majorettes, and says her winning portraits come from a much larger series.
“The images are part of a much larger body of work, which is a combination of a more documentary approach and portraits,” she explains. “These four portraits are some of my favourite images, especially the one of Riley and Wakiesha because they are so charismatic.
“It all came together very organically,” says Cheryl Newman, appropriately enough for a project about small-scale, low-impact farming. Initially signed up to work on We Feed The World for 12 months, she’s ended up spending three years on the project, commissioning nearly 50 world-class photographers to shoot agriculture around the globe, including renowned image-makers such as Stefan Ruiz, Susan Meiselas, and Graciela Iturbide.
The aim of the project is simple – to shift the public perception of small-scale farming, which is often considered synonymous with subsistence farming but which in fact produces around 70% of the world’s food, according to a report by the United Nations.
“Photography is the language of our age and it has the ability to shift consciousness and effect change on a scale beyond any other form of communication,” says Newman, who was photography director of the Telegraph Magazine for more than 15 years.
Khan’s esoteric understanding of south London’s undulating ebbs and flows gives him an unique insight into the worlds of his subjects
It began in March 2015 when David Yates, a client of photographer and fine art printer Mike Crawford, turned up at his print studio, Lighthouse Darkroom, with a “shopping trolleyful” of old boxes of expired photographic paper. The next day, he brought another. The two loads were what was left of a mass clear-out of Yates’ late grandfather Bret Sampson’s darkroom. The British photographer’s London studio was his first port of call, given that Crawford was already working with Yates on another of his personal projects.