Thirty years since the Tiananmen Square massacre, Liu Heung Shing, the photojournalist who captured the transformation of China, reflects on his coverage of the protests and his wider body of work
“These documentary practices coalesced into a visual culture which, with its aptitude for capturing and transmitting collective emotions, became a tool for political propaganda,” write Hannah Darabi and Chowra Makaremi. They’re talking about the work produced in Iran in the years 1979-83, the period after the fall of the Shah and at the start of the Islamic government and a time in which freedom of speech briefly flourished, they argue, before descending into something darker.
“These few years stand out on their own in terms of the country’s publishing history,” adds Makaremi. “The creation and distribution of books would never be as unfettered as it was during this period. Nevertheless, at the same moment, books were also progressively becoming instruments of political propaganda and publishing became the laboratory in which to experiment with every form of dissemination of emotions, ideologies, and opinions. This propaganda operated through the production of texts, but also, and especially as of 1979, through visual and pictorial production.”
Darabi is a visual artist and collector who was born in 1981 in Tehran but is now based in Paris; her collection of Iranian photobooks make up the backbone of Le Bal’s latest exhibition, along with her own photographic “reconstructions”, creating using contemporary photographs of Tehran and archive images such as family snaps, press images, and postcards. Makaremi, a tenured researcher and a member of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, has “decrypted” the exhibition; in addition, Le Bal and Spector Books have worked with Darabi to create an accompanying photobook, with an introduction by Makaremi.
Hundreds of people crowd in the city of Ukraine, wearing helmets and holding flags, while a fire breaks out. A person in white-gloves wipes the blood off the face of a young man. Police line up with their bulletproof shields; one stands on the bonnet of a van preparing to fire his rifle. Maxim Dondyuk is a documentary photographer. His 2013-2014 project, Culture of the Confrontation, showcases perspective-shifting images of Euromaidan, the three-month long protests that erupted in Ukraine against the government, characterised as an event of major political symbolism for the European Union.
This year marked the 100th anniversary to the October Revolution; the Bolshevik coup lead by Vladamir Lenin that would result in the Russian Civil War (1917-22) and, ultimately, the foundation of the USSR and the communist regime that lasted until 1991. In the BJP’s latest issue, we try to understand something of the vast history of the Eastern Bloc.
“The recipients of the 2017 Getty Images Editorial Photography Grants are working at the cutting edge of photojournalism, ensuring that often ignored global issues are brought to the forefront of public consciousness,” said Hugh Pinney, Vice President of News, Getty Images. This year’s winners see projects taking place in war torn Mosul, documenting the unrest in Venezuela and refugees seeking new homes in Europe.
When in July 2013 Matthew Connors turned the key in the lock of his Brooklyn studio for the first time in a year, he had more than 27,000 images on the hard drive in his bag. A professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston since 2004 (he commutes once a week from New York City via train), he had spent the previous 12 months on sabbatical, travelling through Egypt and North Korea, photographing both. He had arrived in Cairo in the run-up to the second anniversary of the January 25th Revolution of 2011, when Egyptians had taken to the streets to end the three-decade-long presidency of Hosni Mubarak, one of a series of uprisings across the Middle East that became known as the Arab Spring. Connors admits to being shocked when he first saw Tahrir Square, the location in the centre of Cairo where the protesters had congregated. “I had come to know it mostly through journalistic images, where it had been swarming with people and full of encampments. But when I arrived in early January, none of …
A fortnight after Emine Gozde Sevim arrived in Arizona as a high school scholarship student, two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. “It made me realise how powerful an image can be – how pictures can serve as a record,” she says, by phone from her apartment in New York. “If nobody makes a record, we can’t connect to what happened in the same way.” She took up photography soon afterwards. As a child, Sevim had adored making little films with a video camera but, until 9/11, she’d had no real contact with photography proper, she says. She grew up in Istanbul, “which differs from the rest of Europe – visual culture is not paid much attention”. Born in Turkey, with Afghan roots on her mother’s side, she felt personally as well as intellectually affected by 9/11. “It felt like a big historical breaking point, that the world was separating into East and West, more distant than they had ever been,” she says. “I was being educated in America, and I come from a …