This photograph is a visual conceptualisation from a mix of a journal reflection and the Buddhist teaching of non-self. In summary of that journal entry, it speaks of us as humankind, not as an individual co-existing with one another, but instead connected together at the core; like many small branches from a great tree. Shot on film, this photo is hand-manipulated on a photographic print before being digitalised using a digital camera.
I had no choice but to make this work when Putin invaded Ukraine. George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In this project, I revisit the past through the eyes of my family. With Drip by drip, we are fed with concrete, I question the Cold War legacy through the physical space of the Cold War bunker and my family archive. I use photography, oral history, archives and diaries to examine my own and my family’s lived experiences in the Soviet Union between 1952 and 1986. I am interested in the impact of the political decisions and the state-driven silencing and misinformation on people’s lives and identities, from one generation to the next, and what this means in today’s world. Drip by drip, We are fed with concrete. Born to be humans, Raised to be nails. Hard as rock, Hard of hearing, Hard of seeing. Our concrete future is here.
I wanted to play with illusions through the lens, during moments of peace (release of contrasting thought) in nature. I am interested in how we find and think of truth through our senses and how we can often misinterpret our senses and distort the truth coming from them into our own versions of truth based on past experiences and our own habits of thought. I have found truth through letting go of my opinions and negative thought patterns, as much as I can, and plugging into nature, which has no opinions or self-declared truths. I have found truth by caring how my senses feel and constantly reaching for good-feeling senses. I use 120mm film to create distorted/manipulated/illusory images of the truths coming from nature. This moment was captured on a walk with my best friend as she jumped in physical release on a cliff top in Borth, Wales.
Here in the free West, we live in a world where everything is possible, opportunities are there for the taking, opportunities that must be seized in order to get the most out of life. Freedom within frameworks: legal, moral. Legacies of the Catholic institute that uses guilt as an instrument to force us within the lines. Pandemics, wars and climate change hang over our heads like invisible threats. Problems that we share with all of humanity. Searching for relief in small things. A walk with the dog, who is not allowed to run free, only within the demarcated area of a dog yard. Here you may breathe, my dear dog. Just for a little while. For him too: freedom within limits. What on earth are we doing? The fight is in your head, where they say real freedom is. Sometimes it has to come out; a scream, resistance. Sometimes peace comes. Is it freedom or is it surrender?
The Farmers’ Protest 2020/21 documents life over a 24-hour period at Tikri border, New Delhi, India, taking the viewer up close and personal like never before. The photobook captures everyday life at one of the largest protests in human history, which lasted over a year. This protest started to overturn three anti-farmer bills that were passed by the Indian government. The collection of photographs shows you who came out to resist and how they organised. This is what it felt like to be at a sit-down protest spanning nearly 10 miles in length. “There was no plan for me to make this book – I only decided to do it while I was out there because I think it’s important we tell our own story. With independent documentation of historical moments such as the farmers’ protest, future generations can learn and reflect on what took place.”
Pregnancy has many identities and yet everyone experiences their own truth. This is Genie when she was 34 weeks pregnant: confident, happy, carefree.
Truth to me is history. In this project, and through my dad’s archive, I go through the journey of the cultural and political space and how it affected the family’s cultural lifestyle. It engages the dynamism of authenticity through the socio-cultural concept of family and community, the place of memory, and the importance of belonging to the community. My father once told me about family fun back in the day, like dressing up for photo shoots. I put myself in that space to connect to that past and relate it to the present, indicating substantial importance attached to being a part of the family, such as receiving love and having a sense of belonging. The image is from the series Fragments of Being and Belonging.
This portrait of Peter and Sue was taken at their home in Budapest, Hungary. They met while Sue, who is originally from New York, was visiting the city. They barely saw each other again after Sue went to Palestine for work, but love prevailed and Sue came back to Budapest. They have now been together for over two years now and recently Peter asked Sue to marry her. I took this portrait to shine a delicate light on the fickle but powerful nature of love as part of my ongoing series exploring love and relationships in the 21st century.
Sentimental Journey presents a series of photographs in black-and-white portraying swans on the Seine in Paris. It could sound a bit cliché, but this is precisely what makes this project fascinating. There are images that show something other than we would expect: a swan squirming around, looking ugly, somewhat troubled, challenging the conventional image we associate with these gracious birds. The theme and the technique might come across as ordinary, common, but the result, on the contrary, is romantic, charming, special. Brandão invites us to recalibrate our values. Her work suggests that the special is not in the new but in the familiar. The artist chooses reflection and introspection in place of distraction.
This is a replica of the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) made from ice cream cones and wafers. When I was making this diorama I was thinking about the cultural value assumed by state and national galleries, and how so many local artists dream to be admitted into the collections or galleries of these institutions. In 2021 I developed a performance work at AGSA with my collaborator Kurt Bosecke where we categorised the collection displays according to nutritional value, but in time this ultimately led to me thinking about the nutritional value of the gallery as a whole.
This image is part of a series that explores the female body as a space of contradictions and tensions. Breaking free from the conventional female nude, and from the elegance, softness and harmony women’s bodies are often associated with, the image depicts the untamed, the wild power that women’s bodies carry, but also the weight of being a woman in the public space today, and the looked-at-ness that women experience. For me, moving from the perceived tenderness of the female body to the raw is a way to re-own our bodies. Using the colour red feels like evidence, as it represents for me the rawness of the female body, it talks about its strength, its capacity to give life, its capacity to bleed. Red also resonates with the aggressivity the female body can trigger, the violence to which it may be subjected, as well as its vulnerability.
Truth is a notion that is always changing as a result of our perspective. It is a reflection of our individual and group experiences rather than a static thing. Many things, including personal prejudices, societal influences, and even the language we choose to express ourselves, can affect how we see the truth.
Artem, an 8-year-old boy from Ukraine, enters a swimming pool for the first time at his sponsor's home in Ivybridge, Devon. Artem lives in Devon under the 'Homes for Ukraine' scheme. For him, truth is in flux. Whether the UK is now his new home is unclear.
Ian McKellen in his dressing room creating Mother Goose for pantomime at the Duke of York's Theatre, London, January 2023.
The Rhone Glacier in Switzerland being dressed up in white blankets to protect it from further melting.
To witness Earth's beauty and amplify it is one of the noble responsibilities of artists in general and photographers in particular. However this leads to contradictions hard to grapple with. Travelling is, to some extent, participating in the destruction of the beauty we're here to show the world. "Look at this beauty, it is now gone". This is what I've tried to represent here: the human hand that irreversibly melts a beautiful piece of ice. Is it worth it?
I was on a documentary assignment for a travel agency when I came upon this photo shop. The wordplay of photo shop against the backdrop of glorious mountains that just looked photoshopped was not lost on me.
Too Many Blackamoors aims to challenge the ‘strong, independent, Black female' narrative that can burden and often entrap Black women. With Sarah as my template, the project attempts to illustrate the effects of such perceptual limitations whilst exploring my own internal conflicts of falling short from such mainstream ideals.
On 25th November 2021, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. Just a few months later, my girlfriend lost her father; he had been battling cancer for years. In the aftershock of these events, I began to realise that the threads that somehow still tied me to my younger self had frayed and broken. I no longer felt shielded by my close family as I was having to deal with my very own grief. Manhood was my new realm. I felt an impulse to flee the painful reminders that ricocheted back and forth within my home. The ensuing months took me wandering across the country as I tried to deal with my sorrow and my own coming of age. On another level, it was an attempt to understand the complexity of the country I live in. The landscapes and the people I encountered became a reflection of my inner turmoil. The silence conveyed in the work is shattered by uncertainty and melancholy. Its narrative unfolds as a lyrical examination of the fragility of youth.
What I am seeking to achieve in this picture is to create a safe place in which to say goodbye. The use of black-and-white echoes the loss of vitality, something, could be anything, is gone, what is left is a marbleisation of memory. And yet within this silent room is an inviting rumpled day bed that is being warmed by the sun. Anyone can lay down on that couch and look up through a ceiling of sky and begin the process of shedding regrets, sifting through joys and examining heartaches. The layering of rock, water and sky are gentle reminders that we are cradled in this world. This is a place to breath in the warmth of the sun and to breath out the eternal flooding and ebbing of the tide. It is a place to remember. It is a place to forgive. It is Hallowed Ground.
Whenever anyone told me I should ‘really start a diary’ after I began taking testosterone, I would shrug it off. But it was inevitable that I – and my changing body – would end up in front of my camera lens. Documentary photography is deeply embedded in my visual language, after all. When I began my transition in 2019, though, I had not at first intended to document it on film, but it started creeping into my images anyway: it was such a dominant part of my life that it was inevitable. So I took control and began a new process of consciously photographing the tiny changes in my face and body as the weeks went on. I came to appreciate that in charting these changes, I was not fixing the image of my body in time, but instead showing its capacity to shift. I took this photo just before my top surgery: it is the last image taken of my chest before surgery. The camera also became my friend in this process: in a way it held me through this process that could at times feel so lonely.
Taken from a series titled Vanessa Cardui, or Painted Lady, which utilises experimental applications of colour in order to interrogate preconceived notions of beauty and self-determination.
My goal is not to uncover a single objective truth, but rather to explore the many subjective layers of a truth that is personal and relevant to the person(s) I am photographing. I am interested in amplifying a version of themselves that reflects their desired self-image. In this photograph of Eunice, a Deaf tailor from Southern Malawi, there are two versions of truth present. One truth is that of Eunice’s struggle to be heard in Malawi, a country where Deaf women are severely limited by the lack of audiologists and sign language translators. That truth, however, does not resonate with Eunice, who sees herself as a strong, beautiful woman with a long tailoring career ahead of her. So it seemed wrong for me to photograph her in a context that she does not recognise. This picture represents Eunice’s self-image and aspirations. It shows her as she wants to be seen, wearing a dress that she made herself.
Nikita was badly injured while serving with the Ukrainian Armed Forces during the Kharkiv counteroffensive in September 2022. He was injured but does not know the truth of how he received his injury. Photographed at his home in Kharkiv, the name Nikita can mean ‘Unconquered’.
From the series Tbilisi Spirit, exploring new truths of young Georgians on the path of decolonisation after gaining independence from the USSR in 1991. Georgia is an Orthodox Christian country, and faith is a significant part of national identity.
Musings of Boscoe is influenced by the paintings of the Trinidadian painter Boscoe Holder. The Black imagination, and utilising fashion as a vehicle to highlight our culture and to reference ourselves, has led to this series of images.
In the summer, July ’22, I was told I had breast cancer at the age of 30. In the span of one month, I had three breast biopsies performed, a total of 19 samples were taken, to discover the extent of my cancer. This photo was taken in August, after my final biopsy, as I sat anxiously waiting for the results. Ultimately my only option was to have a mastectomy, which I had in October ’22. I had been sick for over a year at that point and didn’t have much energy but still wanted to spend my last days honouring and documenting my breast as much as possible. I have been taking nude self-portraits for over a decade. Breasts are an important part of any woman, but mine are a part of my career. What a shock for anyone, but I have made a living and life photographing my body. I shoot exclusively on film and do not retouch any of my images. This was my way of saying goodbye to my breast, through self-portraits, documenting the harsh reality of being a young woman with breast cancer.
I've been doing self-portraits in a simple, almost sterile studio environment, for the past five years. Each self-portrait is my emotional response to what's going on in the world and to my personal life events. In February 2022, the country of my birth invaded the country of birth of my father and many friends and relatives. Despite my name, native language and cultural heritage, I cannot identify with Russia as its actions go completely against my values and principles. I feel ashamed thinking of my Russian origin. Everything that I had loved and felt proud of was stolen from me. It was crossed out by the politics of the Russian political elite and electoral majority.
Taking the theme of islands as its starting point, the photo Great Expectations traces a broad arc from paradisiacal expectations of island living to a critical view of tourism in times of the climate crisis. Amidst the picturesque and volcanic scenery lies a sobering reality: the way to a touristic attraction is causing a chain reaction of destruction. As tourists flock to this idyllic island destination, the car chain acts like a mass migration of the future, where the desire of the individual becomes a bulk with great consequences, exposing the broken promise of a tropical paradise and the need for sustainable tourism.
Kiseki – meaning ‘trace’ in Japanese – is a collected work of photographic images. These images were created in and between my two homes, in Japan and America, over the course of years, mainly during the past few years. While Kiseki became a reflection of reminiscence and nostalgia toward my home country during that difficult time, the work is much more than that: it is a spiritual journey populated by memories that surface between reality and illusion. It is also a reflection of a feeling of emptiness, surrender and acceptance to a greater and larger force or power, such as nature and the universe. In Kiseki, following the path of lights and shadows, I am searching for the truth – the existence of my home in my own fragmental memories.
With the implementation of the sustainable development strategy and the structural transformation of high-energy consumption enterprises in my hometown, the glories created by some high-energy consumption enterprises have become history, and this city is also gradually transforming. The old cinema belongs to one such enterprise. It used to be the main local cultural entertainment venue, now it has been leased to traders to sell secondhand furniture.
Le Bong le Ping is a game about stacking ping-pong balls. How high can you stack? It playfully deals with the question: where does visual truth begin and where is its limit?
Lolly and Sabina. Their mothers were best friends. They have shared almost everything from the beginning. First toys, then shoes, then boys... They have become women together. Their friendship is like a secret. They share each other’s deepest truth and treat it like a fragile treasure. As if no one else is allowed to know what is really going on inside them.
The images are created using the same software: Arma 3. Through Arma 3, Top recreated war imagery inspired by real content that is shared online from people in the conflict zones. Using 3D models of the Ukrainian and Russian uniforms and the same type of guns and armour used, Top presents a faithful replica of online war imagery as posted by citizens or soldiers, highlighting how computer-created imagery is becoming more realistic. Through Staged Facts, Top hopes to bring awareness about the role of computer-created imagery in spreading misinformation during times of conflict.
The Bwlch road runs through the heart of the Rhondda Valley and connects the town to Bridgend and Port Talbot. The road has a high number of fatalities and is considered one of the most dangerous in Wales. This image is from the series Still Here, Still Conscious which depicts present-day Wales. The images are an intimate portrayal of the places and people I met along this journey that shows the harmonious beauty and tenderness of this historic land and its inhabitants.
Being at work changes how we behave. But when it's time to take a break, I saw the beautiful smiles on those faces. Those smiles shine even brighter than the sunshine. Maybe they had just finished an operation, perhaps they just saved someone's life. I froze that moment for them, like a movie's happy ending.
From the documentary project Who needs it now?. After 24 February 2022, many Russian artists faced a difficult choice – to give up or find the strength to go on. They asked themselves: ‘Who needs it now?’, ‘Does my creativity have any meaning?’, ‘How can I continue to do anything at all?’. The heroes of my project talk about how they manage to get through the crisis and internal fear, in connection with the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and how, ultimately, this affects their creativity. “There was a period in March when I really wanted to team up with artists and create my own circle where I could speak out, but I was scared. “The last thing I would like to do is go to jail, so I am often silent. I'm sad that I can't talk about what I think without fear,” says Natalia.
Part of an editorial series about James Alexander Young.
Battle of the minds, be true to yourself. People see ‘Senegal’ and ‘Sport’ and think this series is about the current King of African football, Sadio Mane. Well it is not! This is about his fellow countrymen, man mountains, men whose movement is akin to that of a hummingbird, men who are cunning nature like a big game cat to outsmart their opponents, this is about wrestling, a sport that dates back to the 14th century in this region and many would say is the national sport of the beautiful cultural land that is Senegal. The sport has a rich heritage, mainly within the Serer people, where local songs, dances, mystical paraphernalia, unrecognisable liquids are consumed, items are set on fire as sacrifices and the ‘bakk’ is performed before the start of combat; all to ramp up the entertainment factor for onlookers, as well as intimidate opponents before the first grain of sand is disturbed.
I was raised in the Christian Orthodox faith. Since I was a young girl, I was taught that women must obey men. When Eve led Adam to sin, God cursed the woman to remain in a permanent state of submission to man. Destined to procreate, the woman is bride, wife and mother. She lives between the two antipodes of her existence: separation from God, and union with God, through marriage and childbearing. An anachronistic ideology of sin regards women subordination as normal, part of the natural order. In making the project, I’ve been working collaboratively with family members to address through performance issues around the entrenched inequalities between genders and the interrelationship between patriarchy and patriarchal religions. By proposing an alternative narrative, I invite the viewer to examine their own biases regarding the role of men and women, submission and authority.
The year since 2020 has seen a reshaping and refocusing of the civil rights movement in the United States. The many tragic and unfortunate events propelled by excess force from police toward people of colour and resulting in African American deaths were the most recent catalyst. It has been over 150 years since slavery ended in the United States. Since then, there have been many people leading movements and overcoming adversities to continue the fight against racism. While there has been much progress in the way of civil rights, equal opportunity and reduced discrimination, it is easy to forget the individuals who broke out of societal norms and the challenges they faced. This series of portraits of African Americans gazing in silence with an American flag background echoes our past to the present. Systematic racism not only affects Black Americans but all people of colour in America.
Day by day, Lake Van becomes polluted due to waste waters: industrial and domestic wastes. I wanted to carry out a photographic work to draw attention to the pollution on the coast. For this work, I collected only the garbage on approximately two kilometers of coastline that I hike every weekend. Both the variety and amount of waste were surprising. I picked this garbage up as if I was getting it from an open buffet. The work I had planned was changed when I found a dog skull. The words ‘Memento Mori’ that the skull conjured up in my mind took me to the Vanitas painting and remembered the only one truth is death. Through this garbage hoarded on the shore of the lake, I tried to adapt the message of the Vanitas painting tradition ongoing for hundreds of years, regarding transience, time and futility, to today's consumption habits and the conflicting relationship of human beings with nature.
July 2020, Stolipinovo, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. After an engagement party the day before, a young bride-to-be is being prepared for her wedding. In today’s Europe, increasingly characterised by growing social tensions, supremacist politics, hostility towards the different, and a new wave of nationalist identitarian sentiments, forms of discrimination and isolation are steadily increasing. The Roma, Sinti and Gypsy communities in Europe are estimated to number between 10 and 12 million people. Stolipinovo is the biggest Roma, Sinti and Gypsy neighbourhood in Europe: these communities are the largest and at the same time the most systematically discriminated against in the continent. The image, showing pride and cultural richness in contrast with neglect and decay, is the symbol of one of the true faces of our society. Stolipinovo, being surrounded by hostility and an atmosphere of increasing nationalist sentiment, stands as a portrait of systematic discrimination in Europe in the 21st century.
This photograph is part of a series containing three documentary photographs taken during the pandemic period present sections of different lives in Istanbul during the curfew. ‘Home’ is a space of freedom for some, and a prison where an opportunity to escape is sought for others. The socio-economic status of a person is the most determining factor in the transformation of the house from a prison into a place of freedom. Despite the assumptions that the pandemic is affecting everyone ‘equally’, the photos provide evidence that in reality it’s not.
Riverside Park in Seoul, where tight construction and leisure coexist. This collective leisure implicitly shows Korean society by revealing fast-paced lifestyle and community-based trust.
Place of mass executions and burial places of Stalin's Great Terror.
The Lone Cowboy, an imagined artefact of Hollywood portrayed by John Ford movies. This fixture of the depiction of the West has been a withstanding tradition for years across Monument Valley. Now in Contemporary America, the trained horse stands petrified on the edge of the cliff, so tourists can have themselves pictured as if they were apart of these John Ford films.
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