In her latest body of work, the Iranian artist turns her lens to America, her host-country, offering a fantastical response to the tumult of the contemporary moment
Lê reflects on a significant strand of recent American history, touching on interweaving narratives, past and present
We are expanding the exhibition space for OpenWalls Arles 2020. As part of this second open call, we are highlighting photographers whose work relates to the theme: Daily Life. Calls open on Tuesday 10 September 2019 at 2pm (UK time). “American suburbs are, or at least were, the American Dream,” says Taylor Dorrell, “but for kids growing up there, they’re a boring place they want to leave.” Dorrell’s series White Fences explores the lives of teenagers growing up in suburban communities in America’s Midwest. Centred around New Albany, Ohio, where he grew up, the project reflects on the mundanity associated with suburban life, but also captures the beauty of uneventfulness. “There are peace and privilege in this boredom,” he explains. “The suburbs are where nothing happens, but where former generations aspired, and fought, to get to.” Dorrell began shooting White Fences after completing several projects that focused on US politics. In 2016, he photographed Swing State, which followed the presidential election in Ohio, observed through rallies and protests. “I was interested in making something in …
“If we don’t look at them, or if we try to sanitise it, then it’s not honest to this brutal experience of being homeless,” says Danish photographer Thilde Jensen, who is currently raising funds to publish an impressive four year project on homelessness in America, The Unwanted. Shot over four years in four American cities – Syracuse, Gallup, Las Vegas, and New Orleans, Jensen is currently raising funds on kickstarter to publish the project as a book, which will include 120 colour images, as well as a poem by Gregory George – a homeless man she met in New Orleans – and an essay by Gerry Badger.
In 1989, a record number of 71,000 Soviet Jews were granted exodus from the USSR after a century of radical changes, fuelled by a wave of anti-semitism. Between 1988 and 2010 over 1.6 million Jews left the territory of the former Soviet Union, most of them settling in Israel but others heading for Germany, Canada, Australia, and the United States.
Irina Rozovsky was seven years old when her family fled from Russia to America in 1988. “It’s ironic in retrospect,” she says. “The USSR was a closed up place where Jews were discriminated against; in the end we were the ones that got to leave and seek out a better life. It was like winning the lottery.”
Rozovsky, now 37, lives in Georgia, US, with her husband and two-year-old daughter. “In my work I’m always circling back to the beginning of things, which for me is leaving one place and settling in another, adapting to a new life,” she says. “My photographs are not autobiographical, but I guess that history and the search for the familiar echoes in how I see. Not being able to see the place that you remember, I think that drives my photography.”
The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project explored the state of Pennsylvania capturing the myriad effects of fracking on environments and communities throughout it
“I meet people with more empathy and more care towards one another in war situations or in conflict around the world than I have ever experienced in Europe. People want to share the little they have with me because I have talked to them and shown an interest in them,” says Jan Grarup. His work has taken him to the sites of the worst conflicts – from obvious examples such as Iraq and Iran, to forgotten areas like the Central African Republic. Each place he visits, he stays to learn about the culture and customs of the people before taking their photographs. In these places of despair and destruction, Grarup often finds hope and resilience. But the Western world needs to be more active and share the responsibility to help these regions return to a peaceful existence.
“I’m not concerned with being an environmental photographer, I’m concerned with making images that make you feel something you can’t quite understand. There’s something that happens when you’re presented with what you can’t quite fathom.” In Matter, Michael Lundgren explores deserts in Spain, the US and Mexico but his landscapes are a departure from more traditional photographs in this field. He wants us to question the world around us and find a magical realism in life, death and our environment.
“Most people I meet are not satiated or fulfilled and desire more. Desire to be heard. Desire to be seen. Desire to connect and matter,” says Phyllis B. Dooney, the American photographer behind the photoseries Gravity is Stronger Here. The project, which started as an exploration of the American South, centres on a Greenville family trying to negotiate life in middle America. Their needs and wants are the same as those across the country: to be heard, to be seen, to be accepted.
Grinders, which was nominated as a runner-up in this year’s British Journal of Photography Breakthrough Awards, focuses on a community of body hackers who undergo operations to add technology into their body. Like something out of a sci-fi novel, the group hope that slicing their bodies open will enable them to solve mankind’s problems through machine. The combination of man and machine is no longer futuristic fiction.