“There is a vast chasm between a lived experience in a place and a photograph that somehow tries to represent that experience”
“The exhibition just becomes this transition point. There will be new artwork created by the exhibition. I think that’s exciting: it means it becomes alive. These often tragic stories will continue living in other forms, whether through painting or through music, so it’s about making the exhibition a place of life and a celebration of that life,” says Giles Duley, the photographer who has spent months travelling Europe and the Middle East to document the refugee crisis with UNHCR. Taking images from his photobook, I Can Only Tell You What I See, the display will feature artists in residence, a soundscape from Massive Attack and will host an evening supper so as visitors can sit and discuss the work and the wider problems surrounding the refugee crisis.
“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.
Refugees and robots feature in the shortlisted images for this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, which is organised by the National Portrait Gallery.
“There was Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the American occupation but also the uprising of students and farmers against the seizure of land for Narita Airport. It all unleashed the desire of the young generation to say that they had enough,” says Manfred Heiting as he introduces The Japanese Photobook. In a century of vast changes, from traditions to technology, empire to war, the photobook became an institution in its own right in Japan, documenting the history of the country as it happened.
“I have to be scared, because the moment I’m not scared it might be dangerous.” Miki Kratsman has found himself in a number of difficult and dangerous situations over the course of his 33 year career photographing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In that time, he has repeatedly changed his approach to create different narratives, showing not only the danger in the region, but those brave enough to stand up to the attacks, the pernicious nature of surveillance and latterly creating a Facebook community to share news of what has happened to the subjects of his photographs.
A young boy who became a French resistance fighter as just a teenager; a German fighter who lost an arm; a Kazakhstani field nurse; an Indian deployed to fight the Japanese in Burma; a Holocaust survivor who is today a Donald Trump supporter. Sasha Maslov’s photobook Veterans travels the world to meet with some of the last surviving servicemen and women of the Second World War, a conflict whose impact is still being felt some seven decades after the conflict finished.
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.
In 1942, the Ministry of Defence launched Operation Vegetarian, a series of experiments which released lethal Anthrax bombs against cattle on Gruinard Island. The weapons were more successful than even the Ministry of Defence had anticipated and the island was declared a no-go zone for decades. This is not a unique story: Dara McGrath’s photoseries Project Cleansweep investigates over 60 sites around the UK which have been used by the MoD for the testing of biological and chemical weapons throughout the 20th century.
The inescapable horrors of war have arguably come to define our modern world. With the ongoing refugee crisis, the endless atrocities unfolding at the hands of ISIS and the Yemen war making headlines, both domestic and international conflicts continue to mark our global landscape. Though the world has become a much less violent place since the end of the Second World War, the last decade has seen an increase in terrorism and violence – with the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), finding that out of 162 countries, only 11 of the world’s nations are in a full state of peace. In our ever globalised world, these conflicts will continue to effect us, both at home and abroad. Traces of War is a major new exhibition which seeks to show that war is not confined to moments of crisis or battlefield locations; but rather a force which disrupts the normality of everyday life. Internationally renowned artists Jananne Al-Ani, Baptist Coelho, and Shaun Gladwell explore the most enduring, and, some would argue, most dangerous aspect of conflict – its presence and intersection with …