Presenting the first instalment of an ongoing photo-conversation, with images and words by Aaron Schuman, Vanessa Winship, Clint Woodside, Ed Templeton and Todd Hido
“Chobi Mela continues the way it began,” writes Shahidul Alam. “Unyielding to power.” He’s referencing the very first Chobi Mela festival, which opened in Dhaka, Bangladesh back in 2000. Alam and Robert Pledge had painstakingly put together an exhibition on Bangladesh’s 1971 war, which a government minister – phoning at midnight – wanted to censor; rather than comply and remove the offending prints, Alam and Pledge moved the entire exhibition to a new venue, which opened at 3pm the next day.
“That is how we’ve always done it,” writes Alam, the founder of Chobi Mela. “Against the odds, facing the storm, with the wind against our face.”
Though he doesn’t mention it outright, it’s difficult to read his comments now without also thinking of Alam’s own recent experience, in which he spent 107 days in Dhaka Central Jail last year. The 63-year old photographer and Drik Gallery director was arrested on 05 August after stating in an interview with Al Jazeera that the wave of student protests in Bangladesh last year was a reaction to government corruption. He was charged with violating Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT) – which has been used in more than 20 recent cases involving journalists, most of them related to news-reporting – and was held for more than 100 days.
What do Sophie Calle, Rineke Dijkstra, Susan Meiselas, and Hannah Starkey all have in common? They’re all on the list of 100 contemporary women photographers picked out by the UK’s Royal Photographic Society, after an open call for nominations. Over 1300 photographers were recommended to the organisation by the general public, which was slimmed down by a judging panel headed up by photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg.
The final list includes well-known names but also less recognised image-makers such as Native American artist Wendy Red Star, Moscow-based photographer Oksana Yushko, and Paola Paredes from Ecuador. Each Heroine will be awarded a Margaret Harper medal, named after the first female president of The Royal Photographic Society, and the first female professor of photography in the UK. An exhibition and accompanying publication will follow, all part of a bid to highlight women working in what is still a male-dominated industry.
“Although it was a truly challenging exercise having to consider 1300 women, being a part of the jury for Hundred Heroines was ultimately an incredibly stimulating and inspirational process,” says Luxemburg. “This final list reflects both the global expanse of female practice and the intergenerational input into contemporary photography. It reflects the wide range of methodologies, practices and diverse approaches of women working with the photographic medium. This is a moment of change and this list of heroines pays heed to it.”
In our September 2018 issue, we interview Vanessa Winship and Hellen van Meene about the genesis of their latest works, and the backstory of death and rebirth that led them in new directions. We also speak to Marina Paulenka, the artistic director of Organ Vida festival in Croatia, about the 10th anniversary edition and its focus on the female gaze. Lucy Davies meets Winship at the Barbican Art Gallery, which is currently staging a mid-career retrospective of her work alongside Dorothea Lange. They discuss the photographer’s decision to step back from making pictures at the height of her success, and how she found her way back after the arrival of her first grandchild. “It has been a rebirth in a way,” she says, speaking about her new direction, “sort of freeing myself from the constraints of my former life. But it was also about conveying the immediacy with which my granddaughter sees the world.” Van Meene’s new series, which goes on show in Amsterdam this September, confronts the subject of death in an inherently personal …
“It asks, inevitably, questions about who we are. Who we are in Britain, or who we are in the world. It asks questions about legacy, my own life, and cycles; the very folding of time,” says Vanessa Winship of her latest project, the ongoing series And Time Folds. “It’s difficult to say exactly what it is about because I don’t really know what it will end up being,” she adds.
Winship was the first woman to win the prestigious Henri Cartier-Bresson Award back in 2011, and she now has a major solo show opening at London’s Barbican Art Gallery on 22 June, also titled And Time Folds. It features over 150 photographs including previously unseen projects and archival material; it also includes her newest series, a mixture of “completely different, random formats” and found objects, inspired by her granddaughter and “how she frames herself in the world in relation to seeing, hearing and touching”.
“It is an opportunity to meet people in the industry in a relaxed and enjoyable setting,” says Mimi Mollica, photographer and founder of Offspring Photomeet. “It’s easy to build contacts when you hang out for a couple of days with editors and publishers who share the same passion as you.” Offspring Photomeet will return to Space Studios in Hackney in June for its 5th annual portfolio review, offering one-on-one reviews with experts from Tate Modern, British Journal of Photography, The Guardian and more.
Back in 2008, Facebook was just four years old, Twitter was just two years old, and the iphone had just been released. Instagram had not yet been invented. A decade is a long time in internet years, and yet one online photography magazine launched into this unpromising landscape has survived and thrived – 1000 Words. Set up and still run by editor-in-chief, Tim Clark, it includes long-form essays, interviews, and reviews, and has included contributors such as David Campany, Susan Bright, Gerry Badger, Charlotte Cotton, Wolfgang Tillmans, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Vanessa Winship and Lieko Shiga. Now, to celebrate its 10th anniversary, Clark is publishing a special print edition, 1000 Words 10 Years, designed by respected photography and art specialist Sarah Boris and featuring newly-commissioned content. The annual will be 200 pages long, and will feature 10 portfolios from influential artists such as Jose Pedro Cortes, Laia Abril, Edmund Clark, and Esther Teichmann, as well as a series of photo-centric city guides, profiles on curators and collectors, opinion pieces on the art of photobook publishing, and reflections on a decade’s changes in photography. It will also include a selection of memorable and talked-about articles from the 1000 Words back catalogue.
On 13 February, Çağdaş Erdoğan will stand trial in Istanbul accused of membership and support of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a separatist group classified as a terrorist organisation by the Turkish government. Erdoğan is of Kurdish descent, grew up in the region and, as an adult, embedded with affiliates of the PKK during the complex, multifactional conflict that has crossed the borders of Syria, Iraq and Turkey. But he did so, he claims, purely as a photojournalist intent on documenting an unseen conflict for the world’s media and without any alliance with or allegiance to any organisation. His only allegiance was to photography.
Vanessa Winship’s biggest UK show to date, the first UK retrospective of Dorothea Lange, and a huge group exhibition including work by photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark, Dayanita Singh, Alec Soth, Chris Steele-Perkins, Daido Moriyama, Diane Arbus, Pieter Hugo, Bruce Davidson, and Boris Mikhailov – they’re all coming up this year at London’s Barbican Centre, in a season titled The Art of Change.
“What is interesting about the way he works is that it is in part an investigation, but completely at the mercy of his own personal interaction with what unfolds,” says George Georgiou, who was one of the Turkish photographer’s teachers on a year-long workshop run by the International Summer School of Photography, along with his partner Vanessa Winship. “There is an element of accident in his photography that he totally embraces.” In his work, Gökçeer will intuitively switch materials and techniques to allow, as Georgiou puts it, “interference to surface on the image”. This accidental element is evident in Tangle, in which a fictional investigation into a murder develops as a stream of consciousness in a series of images that take us into the psychological Badlands of Central Anatolia. The story unfolds from a murder mystery that begins when a woman goes missing. After three days, her body is found in a pit of snow, her death said to be the result of a love affair with a genie. But Gökçeer worked out that the ‘spiritual genie’ was a ruse to …