Our pick of the key stories this week includes a preview of photography festivals in Japan and France, news on the National Portrait Gallery’s refusal to accept a £1m Sackler Trust donation, and interviews with photographers Aaron Schuman and Tomas Bachot
In 2013, a proposal to initiate Europe’s largest gold and silver mining project in Roșia Montană, Romania, sparked a series of anti-government protests in dozens of cities across the country. The proposal is still awaiting a parliamentary decision, but among its many contentions are the long-term health effects ofcyanide poisoning – a potentially deadly chemical used to extract gold – and the suspicion of fake documentation, prompted by vested interests within the government. Belgian photographer Tomas Bachot travelled to Romania in 2015, intending to create a documentary project about the state of the mining conflict. After months of travelling through several cities, one of his couchsurfing hosts reacted negatively to his photographs, and said she was unable to support his vision of her country. “I was shocked, because as an image-maker you’re always open to hear feedback, but you’re also scared,” says Bachot. “I realised what I really needed to do, rather than just observing the place and the situation. I realised that what I was doing was a very limited way of meeting people …
“I consider myself a son of the European project,” says Tommaso Rada. “I am part of a generation that lived through the opening of the borders between many different countries, the introduction of the euro, and all the new cultural and linguistic mixing that the European project meant. The feeling of being Italian as well as European is the reason why I am interested in the European Union.”
Rada is now based in São Paulo, but was born in Biella in northern Italy and lived in his home country until he was 25. He watched as the policies of the EU evolved, and as the meaning of the Union began to change. His ongoing series Domestic Borders frames a number of different projects he has made, evoking the varying perspectives of those living along the borders of the member countries.
Back to South, the most recent chapter, focuses particularly on the countries that would be affected if a ‘two-speed’ Europe was implemented – a proposal in which certain members, perhaps those in better economic positions and political situations, would integrate at a faster pace, leaving the others on the periphery. Visiting the areas that would be ‘left behind’, Rada hopes to show the “challenges of living in a unique space with a different passage of time”.
Our pick of the key stories from the past week, including Paris’ Circulation(s) festival of emerging European photography, the first-ever Kyiv Photo Book festival, and Todd Hido’s Bright Black World
The Circulation(s) festival returns to Paris from 20 April – 30 June, featuring work by photographers based in or originally from Europe. This year the festival has been directed by Francois Cheval and Audrey Hoareau, who used to work together at France’s respected Musée Nicéphore-Niépce but left to set up The Red Eye project. As they’re at pains to explain, though the festival is pitched as a festival of “young photography”, it actually promotes emerging work, whatever the photographer’s age.
“There isn’t really an age limit, the only “true” condition is to come from Europe or to reside in a European country,” they say. “Another criterion is to not have been shown very much in France and Europe. We know that the term ‘young photography’ is ambiguous… Circulation(s)’ desire is simply to offer emerging photographers, regardless of their age, a springboard.”
They add that the festival was one of the first to question the overrepresentation of male photographers, and also to pay its exhibitors; in addition, this year’s edition includes photographers from “countries whose state of contemporary photography is insufficiently known”, such has Georgia or Estonia. It also includes Romania, which this year has a special focus as part of the French Institute’s France-Romania Season.
“I feel like time is slipping away, and I’ve always had a sense that time is moving too fast,” says photographer Laura Pannack as we sit down to discuss her latest body of work. “I just have this fear that I’m a grain of sand, that I am not making the most of the time I have here. It’s not just about this inner pressure to be productive, it’s about an appreciation of time.” Pannack’s anxieties over the passage of time are not unusual, but universal. In an era where technology allows us to be inundated with our peers’ every success, our perceptions of time and achievement have become warped, giving us somewhat damaging illusions over our own measures of accomplishment. The London-based photographer need not to worry – at least for now. Pannack has just received the coveted Getty Prestige Grant, awarding her $15,000 to realise the continuation of her project Youth Without Age, Life Without Death. For her latest undertaking, Pannack set about unravelling the myths, culture and tradition of the rural Romanian …
Cedric Van Turtlebloom’s contemporary documentary style centres around everyday life – but not as we know it. Currently editing his second photobook, in which he takes a quizzical look at China’s burgeoning middle class and its penchant for artificial ski slopes, his visual stories are anything but conventional.