“A lot of my work has undertones of female sexuality and ritual, because photography was a place where it was okay to explore those things,” says Tabitha Barnard, the oldest of four sisters raised in a close-knit, religious community in rural Maine. “In photographing my sisters, and in trying to find a private place to do that, we kind of found this escape. I could always just tell my parents it was make-believe.”
Barnard has just won the 2018 Gomma Grant with this work, which she’s titled the Cult of Womanhood. Second prize went to Vladimir Vasilev with Nocte Intempesta, which was shot at night in a small city in Normandy, France. Fatima Abreu Ferreira took Third prize with How to disappear completely, “a work of struggle, obsession and complete hallucination” shot over two years in the photographer’s home town. Yorgos Yatromanolakis, meanwhile, won an Honourable mention for The Splitting of the Chrysalis & the Slow Unfolding of the Wings, which was also shot back home in the Greek island of Crete.
“I believe that collective memory and individual experience, politics and personal beliefs, are interrelated,” says Yorgos Yatromanolakis, and it’s easy to see why. Born in Crete in 1986, he got into photography in December 2008 because he wanted to document the riots that broke out in Greece after a 15 year-old, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, was shot dead by the police. Shot in grainy black-and-white and printed by Yatromanolakis, the resulting images were later self-published as a book, Roadblock to Normality.
“Roadblock to Normality is a small, personal, but at the same time collective notebook emanating from my participation in political and social movements in my country,” says Yatromanolakis. “It certainly captures, in a subjective way, some critical political events.”
42 shortlisted photographers have been announced for The Gomma Photography Grant – a prize for emerging image-makers
The Circulation(s) festival returns to Paris from 20 April – 30 June, featuring work by photographers based in or originally from Europe. This year the festival has been directed by Francois Cheval and Audrey Hoareau, who used to work together at France’s respected Musée Nicéphore-Niépce but left to set up The Red Eye project. As they’re at pains to explain, though the festival is pitched as a festival of “young photography”, it actually promotes emerging work, whatever the photographer’s age.
“There isn’t really an age limit, the only “true” condition is to come from Europe or to reside in a European country,” they say. “Another criterion is to not have been shown very much in France and Europe. We know that the term ‘young photography’ is ambiguous… Circulation(s)’ desire is simply to offer emerging photographers, regardless of their age, a springboard.”
They add that the festival was one of the first to question the overrepresentation of male photographers, and also to pay its exhibitors; in addition, this year’s edition includes photographers from “countries whose state of contemporary photography is insufficiently known”, such has Georgia or Estonia. It also includes Romania, which this year has a special focus as part of the French Institute’s France-Romania Season.