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.”
BJP-online Loves Maria Sturm’s You don’t look Native to me, Jean-Vincent Simonet’s psychedelic images of Tokyo, Roger Melis’ photographs of East Germany, Dawoud Bey’s exhibition Places in History, and the fact that MACK’s First Book Award is now open-entry
“It’s a bit hard to find words for this – You don’t look Native to me won the PHmuseum Women Photographers Grant,” says Maria Sturm. “I feel exponentially happy and glad to be sharing the list with other women photographers whose work I admire.”
Sturm has won the prize in a strong year for the PHmuseum Women Photographers Grant, with the 31 shortlisted photographers including Magnum Photos’ Diana Markosian, Sputnik Photos’ Karolina Gembara, and Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize-winner Alice Mann. But her long-term project You don’t look Native to me, which shows young Native Americans in Pembroke, North Carolina impressed the judges with its sensitive approach to its subjects.
The paradox of otherness is at the core of Maria Sturm’s You don’t look Native to me. Her subjects belong to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the largest tribe in the region with around 55,000 members, with their name taken from the Lumber River of Robeson County. Starting in 2011, Romania-born, Germany-raised Sturm spent time in Pembroke, the economic, cultural and political centre of the tribe, photographing their daily lives. It opened up questions about visibility, identity and stereotype in the US, where Native Americans are romanticised yet often dismissed. Many tribes remain officially unrecognised, though the sense of identity within the communities is very strong.
On her first visit, Sturm was struck by two aspects. “One was that almost everyone I talked to introduced themselves with their names and their tribe. The other was the omnipresence of Native American symbolism: on street signs, pictures on walls, on cars, on shirts and as tattoos.” She attended powwows (where leaders pray to Jesus, another surprise to Sturm) and spent time with locals.
Now in its second year, the PHmuseum Women Photographer Grant has a simple premise – to recognise and award world-class photographers, who also happen to be women. Judged this year by a prestigious panel including Magnum photographer Alessandra Sanguinetti and The Photographers’ Gallery senior curator Karen McQuaid, the Grant has two main sections – The Women Photographer Grant and the New Generation Prize for those under 30 years of age. BJP takes a look at those who have made the shortlist.
Brussels-based photographer Rebecca Fertinel has won the Unseen Dummy Award with her book Ubuntu. The book was shot in a Congolese community in Belgium, which Fertinel first visited in August 2015, when she was invited to a wedding by a friend. Whilst there she was introduced to a warm and friendly society, and the concept of “ubuntu” – the idea that “you become a human being by connecting with everything and everyone”.
The judges were particularly impressed with the editing of Fertinel’s book proposal which, they say, “transforms documentary photography into an unexpected narrative flow of community events”. The images move from one party to another party to a funeral, for example, the latter creating “a kind of breaking point” in the middle of the book, creating “a kind of dance where you don’t know what comes after”, and thereby summing up something about life.
Unseen Amsterdam has announced the 34 photobook dummies shortlisted for the Unseen Dummy Award 2018. Picked out from 212 submissions by a five-strong committee, the shortlist respects “a degree of rawness, including an ‘unfinished’ look and feel’, in keeping with the prize’s ethos of celebrating books-in-progress. The winner will be announced on 21 September at Unseen Amsterdam, after being picked out by an international jury including: Paul van Mameren, managing director of the award’s sponsor Lecturis; Sarah Allen, assistant curator, Tate Modern; Tim Clark, editor-in-chief and director, 1000 Words; Russet Lederman, co-founder, 10×10 Photobooks; and Małgorzata Stankiewicz, winner of the Unseen Dummy Award 2017. Stankiewicz’s winning book dummy, cry of an echo, was published by Lecturis in May. Showing the Białowieża Forest, the last remaining primeval forest in Poland, Stankiewicz used several unusual interventions when processing her images – including masking, uneven development, and even bleaching – to protest against the intensive logging which has been allowed in the forest by new legislation passed in 2016. Unseen Amsterdam takes place from 21-23 September at Westergasfabriek https://unseenamsterdam.com
The founder of Firecracker and Global Business Development Manager of Magnum Photos picks out her top five of 2017 – including Megan Doherty’s Instagram feed
Back in February 2015, BJP flagged up Cemre Yesil as a One to Watch – and now her series For Birds’ Sake, made with Maria Sturm, has won a Prix Levallois nomination. We revisit our article on this series and her hands-on approach to photography
Now in its 10th year, the Prix Levallois is one of the leading prizes for young photographers, and its latest list of 15 nominees includes Antoine Bruy, Bieke Depoorter, Michal Luczak, Leslie Moquin, Alexey Shlyk, and Maria Sturm & Cemre Yesil