On the event of Photo London, BJP-online presents a round-up of exhibitions taking place in London this weekend
Themes of cultural identity and political conflict prevail in this year’s shortlist for the MACK First Book Award, which includes dummy photobooks that explore interracial marriage in Zimbabwe, the UK’s June 2016 referendum on EU membership, and young Turkish immigrants living in Europe, plus others addressing universal themes of family, time, and space. The prestigious award is now in its eighth year, having been set up in 2012 to support emerging and unpublished photographers. The First Book Award has helped launch the careers of image-makers like Paul Salveson and Joanna Piotrowska, via shortlists nominated by a panel of international experts – until now. This year, for first time, the shortlist has been drawn from an open call. “One of the things we are attempting to remove is the notion that unless you’re connected, unless you’re in the know and have contacts in that sphere, you can’t go forward,” said Michael Mack, founder of MACK, to bjp-online in December 2018. “We want to discourage that idea.” The shortlist was compiled by five industry experts, including Michael Mack, founder …
Hanna Moon was born in South Korea, Joyce Ng “spent her youth in the multitude of sprawling malls throughout the city of formerly-colonised Hong Kong”; both are now based in London, where they’re fast making their mark in fashion photography. They’ve joined forces for an exhibition at London’s Somerset House titled Hanna Moon & Joyce Ng: English as a Second Language, which explores their take on Western conceptions of beauty.
The exhibition includes new work commissioned by Somerset House as well as images from the photographers’ archives: Moon opted to shoot two of her favourite models – Heejin, from South Korea, and Moffy, from London, in Somerset House’s handsome Neoclassical buildings; Ng, who prefers to street-cast, chose to make images with people who work in, or were visiting, Somerset House. Also shot at Somerset House, Ng’s images were inspired by the 16th century Chinese novel Journey to the West.
First awarded back in 1985, the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation Best Photography Book prize is one of the oldest in the business. Previous winners include Sergio Larrain (with Vagabond Photographer in 2014), Susan Meiselas (with In History in 2009), Boris Mikhailov (with Case History in 2000), and Eugene Richards (with Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue in 1994); this year three contemporary image-makers have made the shortlist – Stephen Gill, Chrystel Lebas, and Dayanita Singh. Gill has been nominated for the book Night Procession, which he self-published through his imprint Nobody Books. Shot using motion-sensor cameras in rural southern Sweden, where Gill moved with his family in 2014, the book reveals nocturnal animal activity in the dark forests. The book also includes an essay by Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgȃrd, who is best-known for his series of six autobiographies, Min Kamp [My Struggle]. Chrystel Lebas won a place on the shortlist with Field Studies: Walking through Landscapes and Archives, which is published by Dutch organisation FW: Books). Her work retraces the steps of British botanist Sir Edward James Salisbury, creating new images in the same …
If the inaugural Photo London seemed a little light on contemporary work, there is plenty in the fourth edition to show that the organisers were determined to do something about it. It is evident in the public programme, and it is there to see on the shop-floor too, with the Discovery section devoted to emerging galleries now given over to 25 dealers. Tristan Lund, formerly of Michael Hoppen Contemporary, now an art consultant and dealer in his own right, returns as curator, charged with injecting some cutting-edge elements into the fair, but remaining mindful of his responsibilities to the young galleries he is enticing in.
Fashion photography is changing – as Holly Hay and Shonagh Marshall, co-curators of a new three-part project entitled Posturing: Photographing the Body in Fashion, will attest. In November 2017, the pair held a London exhibition which placed 42 framed photographs and six magazine shoots in a west London space. It called into question both the function of this branch of contemporary image-making and the changing role of the figure in fashion imagery, placing work by Johnny Dufort, Marton Perlaki, Charlie Engman, Brianna Capozzi and others side by side. The show was followed by a specially commissioned film by artist Coco Capitán, Learning to Transcend the Physical Barrier That Owning a Body Implies, examining the respective practices of a choreographer, an artist and the founder of a traditional film-based darkroom, interrogating physical selfhood in all of its guises. This month, they launch the third part – a book created with Self Publish, Be Happy, in which photographers, stylists, editors and set designers respond to ideas about the body in fashion.
Peter James was an instrumental figure in British photography, establishing an outstanding collection of photography at the Library of Birmingham over his 26-year career at the institution, and researching and curating exhibitions at the V&A, National Portrait Gallery, Somerset House, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon Galley, the Library of Birmingham, and many more. He was also a modest and affable man, universally known as Pete and as at home over a curry as in a lecture hall delivering an academic paper. As Hilary Roberts, research curator at the Imperial War Museum, put it in a tribute on James’ Facebook page: “Pete has been a wonderful friend and exceptional colleague for more years than I can remember. His contribution to the world of photography cannot be overstated. It was a privilege to work with him and I will miss him more than I can say.”
The Sony World Photography Awards prides itself on being a truly global competition, and this year it received almost 320,000 entries from over 200 countries and territories. The awards cover four separate competitions – Professional, Open, Youth and Student Focus – which are themselves categorised into areas such as Architecture, Contemporary Issues, Landscape, Portraiture, and Travel. The winners will be revealed on 19 April, and a curated exhibition of the work will take place at Somerset House, London from 20 April-06 May.
Preconceptions and stereotypes about Northern England are so entrenched that it can be hard to know how they got there, but curators Lou Stoppard and Adam Murray hope to change that this winter with a show examining how photography, fashion and art have developed in the region over the last century. And in doing so, they hope to demonstrate – and celebrate – North England’s immense influence on global culture and style. Running from 08 November-04 February at Somerset House, North: Fashioning Identity continues a show that Stoppard, SHOWstudio’s editor-at-large, and Murray, academic and lecturer at Manchester School of Art and Central Saint Martins, exhibited at earlier this year. Featuring over 100 works, the exhibition includes fashion photographers such as Alasdair McLellan, Corinne Day, David Sims, and Glen Luchford, but also documentary photography dating from the 1930s to the present day.
“If you’ve been to Morocco I think you’ll understand that we’re a very colourful country, a colourful people. We see every colour being worn. In Morocco that there is the clash of colours and an attitude not to be scared of colours,” says Hassan Hajjaj. His latest exhibition, La Caravane, is about to launch at Somerset House, the first display for the British-Moroccan photographer in London in seven years. His work reflects on identity and culture, which has featured as a big part of his life and work since moving to the UK from a small port town in Morocco aged just 13.