Congenital achromatopsia is a hereditary condition in which the eye cannot detect colour – the cones in the retina do not function, leaving the vision to the rods alone, which only detect shades of grey. In most places the disease is rare, occuring in less than one in 30,000 people. But on the Micronesian island of Pingelap it’s much more common, present in more than 5% of the population. It’s an extraordinary phenomenon – and one that immediately gripped Belgian photographer Sanne De Wilde when she heard about it back in 2015
NOOR, the prestigious photo agency and foundation, has signed up three new nominees – Sanne de Wilde, Arko Datto and Leonard Pongo. Hailing from Belgium, India and Belgium/DR Congo respectively, all three are known for their cutting-edge work, rooted in documentary but pushing the aesthetic boundaries of image-making.
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.
Global business developer for Magnum Photos and founder of Firecracker, Fiona Rogers picks out her top five from the Arles festival and its fringe events – the group show Iran, Year 38; Looking for Lenin by Niels Ackermann; The Incurable Egoist by Masahisa Fukase; Life in Cities by Michael Wolf; and The Island of the Colorblind by Sanne De Wilde
Fiona Rogers founded her online Firecracker platform to help showcase the best talent in female photography. What followed was a community of photographers all celebrating and sharing amazing work and it wasn’t long before the Firecracker grant was born. “It felt like the natural evolution was to be even more supportive. Something that went beyond showcasing work online. It started out pretty small: everybody contributed £10 to put into the pot and then we managed to flip that into a grant that was £1,000 and now it’s grown to £2,000.”
Dating back to 1996, Voies Off is the large and well-respected alternative to the official Rencontres d’Arles programme. Now backed by Leica, Voies Off is staging nearly 150 exhibitions from 03 July – 24 September, all of which are free to enter, plus a week of screenings, masterclasses, awards and portfolio reviews in the opening week, from 03 – 08 September, from its base in the Cour de l’Archevêché courtyard. The courtyard also hosts parties, held every night from midnight in the opening week.
Belgian photographer Sanne de Wilde focuses on people on the visual outskirts of society. Her Snow White pictures, which show extremely blonde children, their pale palette range highlighting the otherworldly appearance of her subjects, gained her plenty of international attention straight from her Master’s degree in fine arts photography in 2012. But it was her next series, The Dwarf Empire, that really caught people’s imaginations. The Dwarf Empire is about a home for “77 little people” – little people who earn their keep by performing a song and dance routine twice a day in a theme park that combines entertainment and social care. Founded by “a tall, rich man who was determined to do something good for the little people”, The Dwarf Empire is a place that perfectly fits the 21st century spirit of Chinese capitalism. In her surprisingly light images, de Wilde mixes pictures of the park attractions with interiors. She goes into the kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms of The Dwarf Empire and, in this sense, the series also acts as a study of the world of Chinese interiors. In the …