Land grabs, forced displacement, Maoist rebels, state executions… Central India’s 50-year conflict is virtually unknown outside the Subcontinent, and Poulomi Basu’s investigation of this hidden war defies an easy reading
Every year, Cortona On The Move has a focus, and this time it reflects the festival’s mission more directly than before by placing the spotlight on female photographers. “My selection is never a list of ‘favourites’, but rather involves an attempt to listen to what is happening around me, globally, both on a political, social and economic level, as well as in the field of photography itself,” says Rinaldo.
“These past months, women and women’s issues have been at the forefront of discussion in various fields, often in the news and even more on the street – protesting, resisting, demanding. My small contribution to this ‘movement’ is to acknowledge the numerous women photographers who tread the world to tell stories; to give them space and make them protagonists.”
Poulomi Basu’s Centralia is no easy read. The situation it unravels − a protracted fight for land and resources in central India − is not only complex, but also largely unheard of, especially in mainstream Western media. And Basu, reflecting on contemporary documentary practices, refuses to simplify it into a readily digestible format. Instead, she wishes to reflect the bewildering atmosphere that reigns in the region. “The adage ‘The first victim of any conflict is the truth’, is particularly apt here,” she says. “The conflict, with its many actors all occupying opaque roles, has created a space with its own internal logic and landscape.” Thus, she hopes to take the audience “on a journey to a place where truth and lies, reality and fiction have become blurred”.
“In Centralia, Poulomi Basu continues to focus her gaze on the interrelation between violence, state power, and gender,” says Monica Allende, member of the jury for the PHM grant. “By intertwining multilayered fictional narratives she aims to challenge the viewer’s perception of reality, as well as established neocolonialist histories. “In an era of post-truth and fake news, where we battle for control of “official” narratives, Basu’s work forces us to reflect on our own prejudices and educated preconceptions. Despite addressing such complex issues, the work is both illuminating and engaging – a testament to her innate ability as a documentarian. The result is a beautifully executed story which is thoroughly deserving of the winning grant.”
Running since 2013, the PHM Grant has a reputation for finding interesting new photographers such as Max Pinckers, Tomas van Houtryve, and Salvatore Vitale. Now the 35-strong shortlist for the 2018 has been announced, with the winners due to be announced on 08 May and four prizes up for grabs – a first, second and third in the main award, plus a New Generation Prize. Each winner gets a cash prize plus a publication on World Press Photo’s Witness, a projection at Cortona On The Move and at Just Another Photo Festival, and promotion via PHmuseum. The jury handing out the awards is made up of photography specialists – Genevieve Fussell, senior photo editor at The New Yorker; Roger Ballen, photographer and artist; Emilia Van Lynden, artistic director of Unseen; and Monica Allende, independent photo editor and cultural producer. The jury is able to give Honourable Mentions, up to six in the main prize, and up to three in the New Generation Prize.
CJ Clarke and Poulomi Basu, photographers and co-founders of the Kolkata festival pick out their top five
The September issue brings the otherwise invisible into sharp focus. Invisible World explores forgotten conflicts, intimate retreats, abused landscapes and remote islands to uncover the hidden realities and unknown societies behind ordinary backdrops. “As social beings, we all demand to be seen,” says Hoda Afshar, whose latest series, Behold, takes us to an exclusive male-only bathhouse. Her point resonates with all the photoseries explored in this issue: how do we negotiate our surroundings, how do we see our societies, how do we interpret our world? We need to first see the invisible to answer these ever salient questions.
Our latest issue, Ones to Watch, is available to buy now from The BJP Shop. Find it in the App Store from 2 May and in shops from 3 May. Since 2011, we’ve dedicated an issue of BJP to identifying the best emerging talent in the photographic world – the image-makers poised for international success and set to loom large in the industry for years to come. In our annual Talent Issues, we’ve featured over 100 photographers who have gone on to firmly establish themselves in their respective fields, shining a spotlight on the work of photographers such as Diana Markosian, Max Pinckers and Mariela Sancari. This year, a global panel of 115 experts – including Erik Kessels, Olivier Laurent, Zelda Cheatle, Poulomi Basu and more – to nominate photographers they think represent the future of photography. The panel – made up of editors, curators, educators, gallery owners, festival directors, writers and photographers – have all weighed in and represent the full spectrum of the photographic community. We present the photographers set to make noise in 2017: “The sixth edition …
“Salvatore Vitale’s extraordinary project How to secure a country is a forensic examination of national security in one of the safest countries on the planet. This work challenges the concept of power and control, shining a light on wider issues of mass migration and fear,” says Emma Bowkett, director of photography for the FT Weekend Magazine and a jury member for the PH Museum 2017 Grant this year. Along with Sarah Leen from National Geographic, Ihiro Hayami from Tokyo Photography Festival, and the photographer Alejandro Chaskielberg, she picked out the Italian photographer for the top prize, for his project exploring the National Security Program in Switzerland, his adopted home. Two years in the making, the series has been funded by a Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia grant, and Vitale has scooped £7000 by winning the PH Museum prize. “Salvatore Vitale has managed to gain access to one of the most difficult places to photograph; border control,” comments Hayami. “He tries to capture, or examine, the abstract concept of security through the fragments of scenes and successfully presents, …
It’s illegal, and a tradition that puts women at great risk, but despite this has been normalised, accepted and passed down through generations. In parts of Nepal, a practice called Chhaupadi dictates that women who are menstruating, and those who experience bleeding after childbirth, must live in makeshift huts because they are considered impure and therefore untouchable. Exiled by their communities and families, the women are refused access to water and toilets and must eat food scraps, fed to them as though they were animals. They are exposed in every sense, vulnerable to rape, abduction and assault, and even death from asphyxiation caused by the fires they are forced to light in their tiny, inadequately ventilated huts. In 2013, photojournalist Poulomi Basu travelled to Surkhet District in a remote region of Nepal to meet and photograph some of these women, assisted on the ground by the charity WaterAid. Appalled and outraged by what she saw, she vowed to return. “The first trip was so short and I was frustrated because I realised the scale of …