Born in Poland in 1985 and based in London, Joanna Piotrowska has had a stellar career so far. Studying photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków and then on the prestigious MA at London’s Royal College of Art, she won MACK’s First Book Award in 2014 with FROWST, and then the Photoworks & Jerwood Award in 2015. She’s already shown her work at the Winterthur Fotomuseum, Switzerland, MoMA in New York, Hayward Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Arts and Sadie Coles in London, and now her first solo show has opened at Tate Britain.
Titled All Our False Devices, the exhibition includes both still photographs and 16mm films to consider gestures, relationships, and power. The series Self Defense, 2015 shows young women re-enacting poses from self-defence manuals, for example, while Shelters, 2016-2018 shows makeshift structures Piotrowska invited people to build at home in Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, Warsaw, and London.
Stakle recently won the New East Photo Prize organised by Calvert 22 Foundation, with a series titled Heavy Waters. Shot in Crimea in 2011, the series shows towns and villages scattered along the coast on the Crimean Peninsula – an area that was at the time part of Ukraine, but which became part of Russia after the Ukraine-Russia crisis in 2014. To date, Crimea remains an internationally unrecognised part of Russia. Crimea was one of the most popular resorts of the Soviet Union but, says Stakle, “being on the crossroads of trade routes has always been risky”. “Since times immemorial, the Crimean Peninsula has been coveted by different countries, near and far,” he writes in his introduction to the series.
“She believed that photography was an important form of visual communication that could stimulate discussions about real-life situations and captured accurate records of the world we live in,” Ella Murtha told BJP last year. “She was trying to force people to look at the truth and learn from it.” Born in South Shields in 1956, Tish Murtha left school aged just 16 and supported herself by selling hotdogs and working in a petrol station. She found her way into photography anyway, studying at the influential School of Documentary Photography at Newport College of Art, then returning to the North East to record the social deprivation she herself had suffered, as well as photographing in London.