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YOUNG ARTISTS SHAPING THE FUTURE OF PHOTOGRAPHY
PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR. AGAIN! â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Lucie Award
YOUNG ARTISTS SHAPING THE FUTURE OF PHOTOGRAPHY
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FEATURES 4 On My Mind 8 Bookshelf 10 Interview 17 Introduction Talent 2020
33 Karla Hiraldo Voleau 45 Rahima Gambo 57 Philip Montgomery 71 Simone Sapienza 81 Matthew Leifheit 97 Luther Konadu 111 BenoÎt Jeannet 121 Dustin Thierry 137 Yorgos Yatromanolakis 149 Kamonlak Sukchai 161 Hashem Shakeri 177 Adji Dieye 189 Gao Shang 199 Douglas Mandry 209 Alba Zari 225 Sofia Borges 239 Guanyu Xu 249 Micha Serraf 259 Camillo Pasquarelli 271 Aàdesokan
3,238 projects, by 1,619 authors, born between 1983 and 2001, coming from 69 different countries. A total of 3,457 images. The 2020 edition of the Foam Magazine Talent Issue contains a selection of 20 artist from a fascinating pool of submissions. A wide spectrum of themes, techniques and approaches that once again lets us say â&#x20AC;&#x201D; yes, photography is very well alive and in very good health. As it is alive, it is changing, evolving, creating ramifications and cross-pollinating. Most importantly, as the access to opportunity increases, the panorama becomes more and more fertile â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s beautifully blossoming.
FOAM talent tAlEnt talent tAlEnt talent 2020
Eric Gyamfi in conversation with Mariama Attah
Infinite Portraits Images by Eric Gyamfi
of ‘anti-decisive moment’, wherein two timelines are brought together in one frame, confusing the reading of an image. ‘I think superimpositions are interesting in the ways in which they collapse time. The alchemical element of photography recurs here. Eric is experimenting with ideas of multiplicity, and explains that, ‘it became interesting as an exercise to materialise, into photographic form, all of the individuals that people were describing. It’s like looking at infinity.’ There are endless possible combinations of Eric / Julius and Julius / Eric and they all have the chance to exist at the same time, as if multiple universes have lined up and shown all the possible combinations. The reflective, personalised, individual nature of the readings are further reflected in the output itself. The cyanotype is a sensitive, unpredictable print, and susceptible to the elements of water PH, humidity and UV index. These fluctuations are part of what makes the portraits unique pieces, rather than copies of each other. To fix a shadow, one would need magic and an infinite amount of time. In Fixing Shadows: Julius and I, Eric has taken the craft of photography and used it to open up routes into an infinite number of worlds where all versions of this self can exist.
All images © Eric Gyamfi, 2019 ERIC GYAMFI (b. 1990, GH) is a photographer living and working in Ghana. Eric has a BA in Economics and Information Studies from the University of Ghana (2010 to 2014). He is currently pursuing an MFA at the Department of painting and sculpture, Kwame Nkrumah university of Science and Technology. Gyamfi is also a fellow at the Photographers’ Master Class (Khartoum, Sudan 2016 and Nairobi, Kenya 2017, Johannesburg, South Africa 2018). He was an invited participant to the Nuku Studio Photography Workshops (2016) and World Press Photo West African Master Class (2017), both in Accra. Gyamfi has been practicing as a documentary photographer until recently. His interest in the medium and form of the photograph itself continues to fuel his experiments with darkroom/chemical processes. MARIAMA ATTAH is a photography curator and editor. With a BA in Photography and MA in Museum Studies, her interest in photography is centred on its ability to re-present visual culture and history alongside the over looked and the under explored. Before joining the editorial department of Foam Magazine, she was Programme Curator at Photo works, responsible for developing and programming exhibitions and events, including Brighton Photo Biennial and the Jerwood/Photo works Awards. She was also Commissioning and Managing Editor of Photoworks Annual magazine. She has worked with a number of national and international artists. Mariama is assistant editor of Foam Magazine.
tory. In fact, Chocó is the richest region in Colombia and one of the richest in the world in terms of its biodiversity. Leydier’s cyanotypes, ink-jet prints and collages are about this dichotomy, and a reflection on the ways one can play with different narratives. Anastasia Samoylova is a Russian artist living in Miami. She moves between observational photography, studio practice and installation, and FloodZone is an expansive photographic project reflecting and responding to the problem of rising sea levels. It’s grounded in her longstanding attention to the differences between natural versus constructed landscapes, and to the role that photographs play in constructing collective memories and imagined geographies. FloodZone is also a book published by STEIDL, and edited by David Campany. Alexandra Lethbridge is a visual artist born in Hong Kong and based in the UK. The starting point for her work is a deep fascination with how we perceive our surroundings. Combined with a passion for scientific theories, her imagery combines photography with collage, installations, archival imagery and video. Her series Other Ways of Knowing looks at constructed images and asks whether we can change our relationship to images and return to gut instinct and intuition, as understanding constructed imagery has become part of our visual literacy.
All of the bodies of work presented in this Talent Issue point a very strong spotlight on different challenges, problems, cracks in the system.
Images from Military Makeup, 2019 © ALI ZANJANI (Iran, 1986) courtesy the artist and Ag Galerie
Images from Family Album, 2018 © PAT MARTIN (USA, 1992)
was printed, the red would print as a white background. Zanjani has here revealed the negative marker in the positive image. Simon Lehner is an artist based in Austria. His work comes from personal experiences and has a documentary core as it explores contemporary issues, social structures, psychology and its relation to current human and social developments through direct and embedded observation. How far is a lightyear? investigates fatherhood, love and the development of identity through family. We follow the viewpoint of a boy who resembles myself as a child in the state of balancing two conflicting sides, while being stuck in the firing line between domestic violence and a bad love story. In conclusion, we think we can happily state once again that yes, photography is very well alive and in great health. As it is alive, it is changing, evolving, creating ramifications and cross-pollinating. Most importantly, as the access to opportunity increases, the panorama becomes more and more fertile — and beautifully blossoming. It is a reassuring sign that the kids are alright, in spite of everything, and going towards a very interesting direction. This does not mean that things are alright, and the work is done; exactly the opposite. The ‘in spite of everything’ is key here, and we need to be very well aware of it. All of the bodies of work presented in this Talent Issue point a very strong spotlight on different challenges, problems, cracks in the system. It is our responsibility to make sure we get the message.
KARLA HIRALDO VOLEAU Hola Mi Amol / Latin Lover
44 story, ponder what did or will take place, ultimately realising that through seemingly innocent images, she challenges the viewer’s presumptions, expectations, and behaviours. Proceeding from Hola Mi Amol’s journey and as an attempt to distance herself from the foreground of her work, Voleau’s follow-up project Latin Lover shifts focus to the Dominican men in New York who seek to depart from the old, preconceived ideas of how Latin men are, and behave. Voleau broadens the conversation by trying to decipher how growing up in a different country, under a different culture deeply affects men’s understandings of their own identity, and ultimately, masculinity. To define Voleau’s work as simply a deconstruction of masculinity overlooks the strong performative elements of her projects. By subjecting herself to the camera lens, she is consciously instigating a gaze that firmly reminds us who is in charge. In Voleau’s photographs, we might sense the unholy trinity of sand, sex
TALENT and sun on men’s bodies as she caresses them with her camera. However, unlike a male gaze that depicts women as objects of desire, she is not trying to objectify anyone, ‘to expect that my looking at men equates with how men traditionally look at women is curious, to say the least,’ Voleau explains. Many of her photographs are actually unexpected self-portraits in which the understanding of what is fact and what is fiction becomes blurred by the relationship between photographer, subject, and self. This happens, for instance, when she lowers her guard after falling in love with one of the characters, revealing the risks of the artist-tourist dichotomy. The only thing that is certain about this body of work is the forthright message that every single image displays a woman in control of what and how she wants us to see, and above all, in control of directing her own past and present. The woman with the camera holds the power. — Text by Henri Badaröh
All images from the series Hola Mi Amol / Latin Lover © Karla Hiraldo Voleau, courtesy of the artist KARLA HIRALDO VOLEAU (b. 1992, FR/DO) obtained her MA in Photo graphy with highest honours from ECAL University of Arts and Design in Lausanne in 2018. Her work revolves around identity, vulnerability and love, gender roles and the mechanisms between women and men. She likes to experiment with mixed media, and often manipulate the images physically, searching for new textures and creating layers. Her work has been featured at the Rencontres d’Arles 2017, and at Plat(t)form 2019. Karla lives and works in Lausanne, Switzerland. HENRI BADARÖH is a Brazilian visual artist and writer. He has a BA in Photography and MA in Film and Photographic Studies. Through queer, decolonial and intersectional approaches, Henri focuses on the dialogues between photography and film, analogue creative practices and new media, image and written word, Europe and America. He frequently collaborates with multidisciplinary artists on publications and performances. Henri lives and works in The Netherlands.
RAHIMA GAMBO Tatsuniya
Yemi has a doll. The doll is as big as a day-old baby. It has two eyes and two legs.
56 girls in sharp contrast to the usual sombre images of hijab wearing girls in conservative societies like Maiduguri. For the sequence ‘Holiday is coming…’ the artist captures the soft ambience of candlelight playing on the girls’ faces. Here the attention shifts from movements to facial expressions and the soft play of light and shadow. The sequence recreates the innocence of the playful mood of girls expressing freedom in the subdued ambience of candle light. In the portrait of Hadiza, the artist presents the 17-year-old girl in a confident, relaxed and comfortable pose. The girl is seated on a school desk clutching a fluffy doll. Gambo further highlights this image with the text about a doll, ‘Yemi has a doll. The doll is as big as a day-old baby. It has two eyes and two legs.’ The image does not betray any sign of danger or sadness of
TALENT the terror that has once visited the space. Rather, Hadiza poses like a model sitting for a portrait in a transformed space. The other images depict the girls in a park, in the innocence and carefree nature of adolescence, experiencing and enjoying the beauty of nature, feeding an elephant and riding horse carousels. With the girls still in their school uniforms, they still fit into the surrounding flora and play spaces. In the park and zoo, the red checkered uniform contrasts fluidly with the lush greenery. By taking the children in their uniforms from the classroom, into repurposed spaces, a park, zoo and an amusement park, the artist highlights the value of informal learning in nature and playgrounds in the overall perspective of the western formal educational experience. — Text by Iheanyi Onwuegbucha
All images from the series Tatsuniya © Rahima Gambo, courtesy of the artist RAHIMA GAMBO (b. 1986, NG) is a multimedia artist who came to artistic practice by working independently on long form transmedia documentary projects. Currently, she explores the narrative and experimental capabilities of ‘walking’ as it intersects with documentary storytelling, female bodies, psycho-spiritual-geography, socio politics, urban environment and autobiography. Rahima’s work engages with the tools of documentary-making and an expanded visual language that includes drawing, film, sculpture, installation and sound. IHEANYI ONWUEGBUCHA is curator at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Lagos (CCA, Lagos). He is a 2016 Chevening Scholar with an MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies from the University of Leeds. His current exhibition projects include Diaspora at Home, CCA, Lagos and Kadist, Paris, Making Matter: Materiality and Technology in Nigerian Art and Mirroring Man: Society and Politics in Nigerian Art, inaugural exhibitions for the Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos and Layers, Labanque Art Centre, B ethune, France.
PHILIP MONTGOMERY Flash Points
70 the moment, beyond what is taken. There is anger and bitterness, there is desperation and exasperation. The places are in turmoil. But in each moment captured, the viewer moves forward with the subject, catching a world where addiction, r acism, brutality, death, poverty and disaster are the everyday. Montgomery portrays a harsh reality that does not bely individual dignity and humanity. He brings light to a world of striking darkness, eliciting shades of grey to tell a more layered story. Each frame is sensitive to the human predicament, to a sense of home, to the fact that he has been invited in, and in turn, invites the viewer in as well. Each photo reveals a chapter of historical importance happening contemporaneously. Each scene
TALENT references a fractured land with common denominators. A Trump rally fueled by manic enthusiasm is decorated in stars and stripes; a detention center so light grey it almost ceases to exist is punctuated by an American flag looming over barbed wire fences. The stark black and white contrast in some photos inspire immediate emotional reaction. In others, the muted greys reveal subtle shifts of the everyday, an ombre of emotion. The tight palette of Montgomery’s tonality reveals evidence of life, evidence of death, evidence of our current crisis, a portrait of America now. — Text by Jaime Lowe
All images from the series Flash Points © Philip Montgomery, courtesy of the artist PHILIP MONTGOMERY (b. 1988, US) examines the social issues of our time, utilising observational strategies of documentary photography and aesthetic approaches of fine art photography. In 2016, he was named Documentary Photographer of the Year by the LEAD Awards. In 2018, he was the recipient of the Rita & Alex H illman Foundation Grant and awarded the Ellie Award for his work chronicling the opioid epidemic. Philip is a regular contributor to The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times Magazine. JAIME LOWE is a writer who frequently contributes to The New York Times Magazine and other publications. She is the author of Mental, a memoir about lithium and bipolar disorder and Digging for Dirt: The Life and Death of ODB, a biography of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan. Jaime lives and works in New York.
SIMONE SAPIENZA Charlie Surfs on Lotus Flowers
80 the historical inconvenience of two conflicting ideological points of view with a troublesome history behind them. Sapienza has been sensitised by the failures in presenting Vietnam secondhand. There is an implied deficit of repre sentation when regarding a country with such highly political connotations. Our wider collective knowledge base comes from grievously external sources such as cinema, western news reports on the war and partisan misrepresentations of the Vietnamese people and their culture. There are severe difficulties in attenuating to those issues in photographic terms while making work in Vietnam itself. Armed with a conflicting false nostalgia of how to think about Vietnam from the western perspective, Sapienza travelled to Vietnam several times to experience firsthand the way that Vietnam’s contemporary society juggles its own knowledge of self through history, economy and images. There are questions about the future in which all are intertwined with the scope of leading people towards some kind of super ordinary manifest destiny. Sapienza realises that to photograph the current moment in Vietnam is to try and document flux, a task that is considerable by all means.
TALENT Sapienza’s incorporation of several different elements such as cinema, history, and vernacular language into the larger narrative what fellow documentary photo grapher Max Pinckers has qualified as ‘speculative documentary’. It suggests that in order to function with some capacity for approximating a story and relative truth, that photography or document-making must enlist several points of view and different mediums to activate a quasi-reality or system thereof. Sapienza is adding to the tradition of the documentary by recognising that by its very nature, photography and story telling are being questioned. It is no longer pardonable to separate authorship from intention, nor is it possible to suggest that one singular set of images can, by nature of the medium, willfully represent this moment or those involved within it. Sapienza is a protagonist for the evolution of the medium by his ability to consider its faults and he responds accordingly, offering his budding audience the clarity to be distinguished by his pursuit of personal truth in making images. — Text by Brad Feuerhelm
All images from the series Charlie Surfs on Lotus Flowers © Simone Sapienza, courtesy of the artist SIMONE SAPIENZA (b. 1990, IT) is a documentary photographer, graduated in Documentary Photography from the University of South Wales. He has received several international prizes awarded by The British Journal of Photography, Fotofestiwal, PDN, Photographic Museum of Humanity, amongst others. From 2015 to 2017, he was the co-founder and co-director of Gazebook — Sicily Photobook Festival. Currently, Simone works as co-director at Minimum. His first photobook, Charlie Surfs on Lotus Flowers, was published by AKINA in 2018. Simone lives in Palermo with his partner and their daughter. BRAD FEUERHELM is a writer, curator and collector of photography. His new book Dein Kampf with MACK books was published in September 2019.
MATTHEW LEIFHEIT Fire Island Night
96 wound up renting to Leiftheit for three months while he began his project. Thek introduced Susan Sontag to the concept of camp and she dedicated her 1966 book of essays, Against Interpretation, to him, as well as her later book, AIDS and its Metaphors. Thek died of AIDS in 1988, Hujar in 1987. Posthumous museum exhibitions have put them both squarely in a lineage of major artists of the latter part of the 20th century. One of Thek’s best known sculptures includes an effigy of himself as a long-haired hippie lying in a tomb; the face, arms, and hands were actually cast from his body. As it turns out, he left parts of his body casts strewn around Oakleyville the last time he visited. Leifheit’s landlord, in fact, lent him a cast of Thek’s hand with severed fingers, which he photographed against a black background and includes in Fire Island Night.
TALENT There are also calm panoramic seascapes made with moonlight, Leifheit’s tribute to the feminist writer and activist Margaret Fuller, who drowned in a shipwreck just off Oakleyville in 1850. A commemorative gazebo has been washed away by rising tides. Climate change threatens to flood the island by 2100. The Meat Rack has a new life as a cruising ground but is also a memorial site where many ashes have been scattered. The trauma of AIDS still haunts the island. Fire Island Night is Leifheit’s subjective reading of this present time and place but also a palimpsest of many nights and many histories. — Text by Allen Frame
All images from the series Fire Island Night © Matthew Leifheit, courtesy of the artist and Deli Gallery MATTHEW LEIFHEIT (b. 1988, US) is a photographer and editor. He is founder and editor of MATTE Magazine, a journal of emerging photo graphy. He received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2016. In 2017, he earned an MFA in Photography from Yale University and was awarded the Richard Benson Prize, which includes a teaching fellowship in the Yale School of Art. Matthew currently teaches photo graphy at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. ALLEN FRAME is a photographer and writer, represented by G itterman Gallery in New York where his most recent solo exhibition occurred in 2019. His solo exhibition called Innamorato was presented at Pratt Institute in 2018. He received the Abigail Cohen Rome Prize in Photo graphy from the American Academy in Rome in 2017/2018. Detour, a compilation of Allen’s photographs over a decade, was published by Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg in 2001.
LUTHER KONADU Figure as Index
110 I find myself pausing on the declarations, ‘…Here’s to ensuring we see ourselves; Here’s the double edge sword of visibility….’ While the project features sensitive portraits of young black and brown subjects, it does not hold up ‘seeing ourselves’ as inherently a net positive as is so often touted as a chief ambition of many a documentary project. Yes, these are all black and brown figures, but their blackness and brownness is so clearly varied and subject to the idiosyncrasies of printers and cameras. Viewers looking closely will find diasporas within diasporas, but they will also find themselves held at the surfaces, at edges and corners, with a sense of all that the prints cannot convey. Figure as Index opens up the questions of whether photo graphs can be correctives for photography’s dark histories, why we might hold out hope, and if we ever really understand what photographs do.
TALENT Konadu’s poetic pronouncements appear in a text that the artist describes as ‘almost incantatory’ making for an ‘act of repetition that forecloses conclusion and so it is very much elliptical and a continuous revisiting… like this whole project itself.’ It announces hope and caution, indicates the impossibility and need for making photographs, and demonstrates the importance of community and so much else in our contemporary moment. It informs why, although we see glimpses of smartphones equipped with cameras and screens, and members of the digital-native generation, Figure as Index emphasises photography’s materiality with seriousness but without preciousness. — Text by Leslie Wilson
All images from the series Figure as Index © Luther Konadu, courtesy of the artist LUTHER KONADU (b. 1991, CA/ GH) is an emerging artist and writer of Ghanaian descent. He is also a frequent contributor for the online publication Public Parking, a collaborative project for documenting tangential conversations and critical thought. His studio activities are project-based and realised through photographic print media and painting processes. He recently exhibited at Aperture Foundation and was a finalist of Canada’s 2019 New Generation Award. Luther currently lives and works in Winnipeg (Treaty 1). LESLIE WILSON is the Curatorial Fellow for Diversity in the Arts at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago through fall 2020, and assistant professor of Art History at Purchase College, State University of New York. Leslie’s research and curatorial work focuses on the global history of photography, modern and contemporary arts of Africa and the African diaspora, and modern and contemporary American art.
BENOÎT JEANNET Escape From Paradise — A Pre-Archaeology of the Hawaiian Myth
120 the form of a cast made by Jeannet from a museum collection full of sea and land creatures affected by the atomic blasts. Escape From Paradise is a cabinet of curiosities, yet a very politically charged one, bringing together signs of exoticism, capitalism, colonialism, consumerism, warfare and environmental disaster. Jeannet’s exotic dreams are juxtaposed with pictures from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on the atomic tests in the Pacific. ‘I wanted to know what kind of images were hidden from the public at the time, in contrast with the paradisiac image that was being dispersed.’ In a section of The Arcades Project (1927– 40) entitled ‘The Collector’, Walter Benjamin writes, ‘It is a grand attempt to overcome the wholly irrational character of the object’s mere presence at hand through its integration into a new, expressly devised historical system: the collection… It is the deepest enchantment of the collec-
TALENT tor to enclose the particular item within a magic circle, where, as a last shudder runs through it (the shudder of being acquired), it turns to stone.’ Escape From Paradise could be considered as a magic circle filled by that noiseless ‘gigantic photographic flash,’ turning Jeannet’s Hawaiian shirts to stone as if eyewitnesses to the reality of history. In Hiroshima, Hersey chronicled the six survivors’ descriptions of people with melted eyeballs, or of people vaporised, leaving only their shadows etched onto walls. The shock of Benoît Jeannet’s photographic flash connects his collections of objects and images like a last shudder rippling through them, pointing to the event hidden like a traumatic moment in the infinite repetition of the popular representation of paradise. — Text by Mirjam Kooiman
All images from the series Escape from Paradise — A Pre-Archaeology of the H awaiian Myth © Benoît Jeannet, courtesy of the artist BENOÎT JEANNET (b. 1991, CH/ES) perceives his work as a polymorphic approach of photography. He diverts from the original uses by using an experimental research of the photographic act. He considers his studio as a laboratory and photography as a malleable tool. His practice mixes mediums and aims to define the appropriate forms to build specific visual languages in order to express to the movements of the world he witnesses. Benoît lives and works in Switzerland. MIRJAM KOOIMAN is curator at Foam. She holds a BA in Art History and MA in Curating from the University of Amsterdam, with a special interest in postcolonial approaches in the arts. She is currently researching the topic of photography related to digital and virtual realities, and is particularly interested in the human perception of nature in the Anthropocene. Mirjam previously served as a curator-in-training at the photo graphy collection of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum.
DUSTIN THIERRY Morse
136 in coping with the suicide of his polysexual brother, Thierry embarked on a nother long-term series, which he called Opulence (initially subtitled Black Queer Diaspora in the Netherlands). It began as a visual research project in collaboration with cultural anthropologist Wigbertson Julian Isenia (University of Amsterdam) about gender and sexuality. Now working on his own, Opulence grew into a deep dive into the underground Ballroom cultures across Europe. In 2013 Thierry met Amber Vineyard who had begun to organise her first Ballroom events. Thierry felt that he could contribute to the visibility and the self-worth of this scene through his photography. Phonecalls he had had with his brother across the Atlantic had ‘laid the foundation for my quest into his presence in the queer community.’ His brother saw Thierry as a role model, as the one who broke away from the toxic environment back home, ‘making it in Europe as a photographer.’
TALENT Thierry considers Opulence to be an ode to his late brother and everyone else of Afro-Caribbean descent, many of whom are not yet free to live and express their sexuality to the fullest. Homosexuality is still strongly stigmatised within the Caribbean community, while in the Netherlands black people from the former colonies and the Caribbean islands are still being racialised and objectified. With Opulence Thierry seeks ‘to break away from this dichotomy by portraying my subjects in unadorned yet graceful portraits.’ In his search for what he calls ‘an area of tension between the portrayed and the spectator,’ within a force field of ‘pride and resilience,’ which he seeks to approach respectfully and with dignity, Thierry has found his way of continuing the ‘mad art’ of portraiture, as simple and complex, and as obvious and profound. — Text by Taco Hidde Bakker
This portfolio includes images from the series Opulence, Dreaming above the Atlantic and Something New under the Sun, now grouped under the title Morse. All images © Dustin Thierry, courtesy of the artist DUSTIN THIERRY (b. 1985, CW/NL) is a self-taught photographer focusing on projects concerning African Caribbean identity. The issues Dustin addresses in his work are often as personal as they are social. He tries to capture moments of stillness for reflection, his portraits being intimate encounters leaving the beholder with all the mental space needed to tickle their imagination. Dustin believes that every image comes into its own when given the time and attention it deserves. Dustin lives and works in Amsterdam. TACO HIDDE BAKKER is a writer, translator, and researcher whose work reflects on many topics, as seen through the prisms of photography, (documentary) film and the visual arts. His essays, reviews and other writings are to be found in various artist’s books and in international magazines as Camera Austria International, EXTRA, The PhotoBook Review, and British Journal of Photography. Taco’s first essay collection, The Photograph That Took the Place of a Mountain, was published by Fw:Books in 2018.
YORGOS YATROMANOLAKIS The Splitting of the Chrysalis & the Slow Unfolding of the Wings
148 ‘My work is mostly constituted by personal experiences and the narratives in my books have an autobiographical character,’ he says. ‘I don’t believe that I create militant political projects, but I do believe that as an individual, I have to have a political position in my life, a position that is reflected and imprinted in my work.’ His work is also informed by his love of the Japanese photographers such as Daido Moriyama and Masahisa Fukase, and the way they used personal gaze and intuition to shed light on ‘such universal human issues such as defeat and rebirth or freedom of the self’ in the darkness of Japan’s post-war period; he draws inspiration from their approach to photobooks too, with their ‘highly-orchestrated combination of sequencing, design, typography and materials.’ His books show a similar attention to detail, and he even published The Splitting of the Chrysalis twice — once with small Greek publisher Void and then,
TALENT when that edition sold out in just months, took the opportunity to ‘repeat the production process in an independent, slower, more experimental fashion.’ That edition was self-published via Zoetrope, an artist-run space in Athens which he co-founded in 2018, and which is dedicated to creative practices around photography, cinema and new media that value collaboration and experimentation. It speaks of a wider cultural renaissance amongst a generation of young, creative Greeks — the same generation that, back in 2014-2018, ‘faced an economic and ideological stalemate.’ Like Yatromanolakis, others have been reborn; though he was often literally shooting in the dark while making The Splitting of the Chrysalis, by doing so he somehow created work that speaks of its time and more. — Text by Diane Smyth
All images from the series The Splitting of the Chrysalis & The Slow Unfolding of the Wings © Yorgos Y atromanolakis, courtesy of the artist YORGOS YATROMANOLAKIS (b. 1986, GR) works on long-term photography projects and turns them into books, experimenting with storytelling, materials and design. He has published three books, Roadblock to Normality, Not Provided and The Splitting of the Chrysalis & The Slow Unfolding of the Wings. He is co-founder of artist-run space Zoetrope, in Athens and contributor editor of Phases Maga zine. Yorgos lives and works between Athens and Crete. DIANE SMYTH worked on the British Journal of Photography for more than 15 years and is now a freelance journalist writing for publications such as The FT Weekend Magazine, The Guardian, The Observer, Creative Review, Calvert Journal, Unseen, IMA, and BJP. Diane has also curated exhibitions for The Photographers’ Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival.
KAMONLAK SUKCHAI Red Lotus
The impermanence of our existence is a key idea of Theravada Buddhism, a dominant religion in Southeast Asia, where existence is defined as suffering. Desire and attachment, accordingly, are states to be overcome in our lives as they exemplify a failure to understand that nothing lasts. As they are futile, these states can only engender pain. Further, within Buddhist cosmography hell is defined as the world of desire. Thai-born Kamonlak Sukchai’s series Red Lotus filters a broad recognition of these understandings through promiscuous references to myth and folklore, as both can segue into the local and the universal. The image invoked by the title is the very symbol of Buddhist notions of nonattachment: the lotus flower rises above water, away from this symbol of worldly currents, and droplets fall away from its surface without sullying the beautiful form. The white lotus signifies a purity of self.
The red lotus, on the other hand, is more ambiguous and thus intriguing. Thailand is one of the few countries that associates it with a female deity, who sits atop its outstretched petals, and while the meanings of the colour red can vary considerably, a consistent association is with passion. This ambiguity between purity and its counterpart is at the heart of Red Lotus. Kamonlak offers a provocative take on the relationship in between. The narrative of the series concerns a time long ago when a young woman who possessed great purity was born from a sacred river. Floating near a shore, she was taken in by villagers. But her embodiment of purity was to be pursued by men near and far, so she was exiled by the villagers to a forest where she would live with a hermit and a group of ascetic women. This idyll didn’t last. Here, the beginning of her menstrual cycle provoked a great desire in her to taste the fruits of a holy tree. While
doing so, her menstrual blood happened to fall on a sorcerer passing below. He lost his magical power and begged for her purity in return. They had a secret affair and when she was later asked to bathe in a pond during a devotional ritual, the water turned red. Outraged, her k eepers tore her body apart as a sacrifice to beg for forgiveness for this corruption of their devotion. The once pure woman’s last words requested that she be reincarnated as a red lotus in order to serve holiness. It is said that myth instructs us in how to relate to the gods while folklore teaches us how to relate to each other. Red Lotus plays with this distinction, dramatising tensions between the divine and the everyday. Kamonlak is interested in the ideologies that shape society’s use of the allegorical tales handed down to us, for example, in the ways that fact and fiction are blurred, and how stories from the past can be manipulated to
160 control us in the present. S exuality informs the moral order of so many of these tales, from Adam and Eve to L ittle Red Riding Hood. The symbolism employed is typically concerned with temptation or seduction, often emphasised by visceral images of bodies. Sexuality signifies the threshold of the forbidden, a descent into an otherworld where punishment reigns for the indulgence of sensual pleasure and loss of self-discipline. Women figure prominently in these narratives, they are the figure of transgression. Kamonlak pushes against this particular rendering of womanhood, which is a near-universal belief. Red Lotus was created from montage, a technique that imitates the collage-like nature of tales. Constructed from many sources (religion, cultural beliefs, folklore), they are not seamless
TALENT sources of truth but assemblages that can serve pernicious interests. Moreover, interpretation of the past is surely an always unstable process. The form and narrative of Red Lotus announces this. It also explores how tales can be re-made or re-told in order to counter the ideologies they have been made to serve. The protagonist of the series seeks a place among the Gods or, in strictly Buddhist terms, enlightenment but with an aim of reconciling worldly desires with holiness. Here, the figure of woman is not one of transgression but an ambiguous sign of how passions may be experienced and honoured, not to be cast to an otherworld – the very ambiguity of the red lotus itself. — Text by Brian Curtin
All images from the series Red Lotus © Kamonlak Sukchai, courtesy of the artist KAMONLAK SUKCHAI (b. 1994, TH) is a self-taught photographer, graduated in a major of Production Design in Cinema. When her father presented her with a camera he used as a teenager, she exchanged screenplay writing for photography as her main field of interest. Kamonlak is currently pursuing a MFA degree in Visual Arts. BRIAN CURTIN is an Irish-born lecturer, art writer and curator of contemporary art based in Bangkok. He writes on dialogues between contemporary art, queer theory and studies in visual and material cultures. His essays, reviews, interviews and commentary have been published in Art Journal, Flash Art, Artforum and Frieze, amongst others. Brian managed the experimental venue H Project Space in Bangkok from 2011–2018 which now functions under the mantle Brian Curtin Projects. Current projects include a monograph on contemporary art in Thailand.
HASHEM SHAKERI An Elegy for the Death of Hamun
176 of the lake except for cracked barren land. In the past, the reeds in Lake Hamun were the main source of feed for local livestock, and they were also used for making tra ditional boat reed canoes called Totens. The majority of the people living in this region made their living by fishing, farm ing and animal husbandry and their lives were dependent on Lake Hamun. With Hamun gone, the great diversity in wildlife and vegetation has virtually vanished. The province has been suffering from drought, famine, unemployment and de-population for years now as a result of poor manage ment and irregular dam construction in both Afghanistan and Iran. All these problems have forced over one fourth of the population to migrate in recent years. The remaining population lives in abso lute poverty. Hashem has travelled from the north to the south of this province to create this series of photographs focusing on water shortage and drought. Other factors are also the result of this disaster and directly influence the lives of the people living in
TALENT this region, adding to the seemingly neverending catastrophe; things such as unem ployment, theft, disease, air pollution, but also patriarchal and traditional ideas. The majority of this series is formed of portraits of locals with the dry arid devas tated landscapes of Sistan and Baluchestan acting as the backdrop. The photographs were taken with an analogue medium for mat camera and then overexposed by three to four stops. This style of photography is a conscious decision in showing the ab solute silence of the region, and its people who seem to live in continuous grief. Hashem’s photos are free of any over-excitement or haste. He shows the general atmosphere of the region and the suspended lives of the locals who all seem to live in expectation of water returning to Lake Hamun. — Text by Anahita Ghabaian Etehadieh
All images from the series An Elegy for the Death of Hamun © Hashem Shakeri, courtesy of the artist HASHEM SHAKERI (b. 1988, IR) is an artist, photographer and filmmaker. He has been working as a freelance photographer on an array of com missions and private projects in Iran, Turkey, South Korea, Malaysia, France and Denmark. He has held various exhibitions around the world, being shown in museums, festivals and bi ennales, most recently the Rencontres d’Arles 2017. His works have been featured in numerous publications including Sunday Times, British Jour nal of Photography, New York Times, Paris Match, Natgeo, amongst others. Hashem lives in Tehran. ANAHITA GHABAIAN ETEHADIEH is founder and director of Silk Road Gallery, the first gallery in Tehran to specialise in photography. In 2009, she was Artistic Director of Photo quai at Paris’ musée du quai Branly. In 2014, she curated Newsha Tavakolian’s exhibition for the Carmignac Foun dation. In 2017, she co-curated Iran: year 38. 66 Iranian Photographers for the Rencontres d’Arles and contrib uted to the accompanying publication. Anahita published La Photographie iranienne, un regard sur la création contemporaine en Iran (Iranian Photogra phy, A Contemporary Look at Art in Iran, 2012).
ADJI DIEYE Maggic Cube
188 the confines of a kitchen counter, ‘with Maggi, each woman is a star.’ Faceless, masked, hidden from our gaze, Dieye’s subjects escape us. If sometimes their features show, they appear altered, dark ened, as the photographer conjures topics of colourism and assimilation, as well as the aesthetics of the grotesque, calling into question the possibility of passing and/or blending. Her imperfect collages reveal white hands under brown, camouflaged, sets of fists. Through deceitful artifacts, the series deconstructs advertising’s se miotic language, and displays it for what it truly is: a pantomime. Most importantly, Dieye’s series pays tribute to the art market acclaimed African tradition of studio portraiture. While many of the images call to mind the squared or
TALENT striped backgrounds of Seydou Keïta or Malick Sidibé, the photographer casts doubt on a contemporary art market that crafts and constructs African identities as uniform. Its promotion of exotic at best, and often neo-primitive visual archetypes, is here subverted. Dieye reminds us that appearances are deceiving: the fat card board check at the Maggi Awards and the red and yellow parades it organises turn out to be a simple branding strategy, not so dissimilar from that which the art market has created for African and diasporic artists: through simplification, condensa tion and replication, it continues to try to turn African art into one single, easily sold, digestible content. — Text by Valentine Umansky
All images from the series Maggic Cube © Adji Dieye, courtesy of the artist ADJI DIEYE (b. 1991, IT/SN) gradu ated in New Technologies for Art at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera, in Milan and is now a Master degree student in Fine Arts at the Zurich University of the Arts. Her artistic practice pushes the boundaries of the photographic means in an attempt to investigate the archetypes that con stitute the African visual cultures. Adji’s practice is informed by a deep knowledge of traditional African pho tography, contemporary art, imagemanipulation, and installation. VALENTINE UMANSKY has worked for various institutions dedicated to visual arts as a curator, author and critic. In 2015, after collaborating with the Rencontres d’Arles and Photo quai, she left France for the United States. Currently, she is drafting her second book dedicated to the use of vocal practices in contemporary art, finalising a large project dedicated to Nigerian modern and contempo rary art with Iheanyi Onwuegbucha, and co-curating the 2020 FotoFocus biennial, where she serves as curator of Lens-Based Arts at the Contempo rary Arts Center, Cincinnati.
GAO SHANG Honesty and Disguise
198 need to wade through its complex of mul tiple events, red herrings and distractions. Shang himself suggests this imagery might be akin to the reading of a dream, a kind of image analysis that requires oblique strategies. Shang’s chapters show recurring motifs of fire, disappearing figures and guns held up as if aiming at a training range. Language and the image are used to evoke and inform, confuse and contra dict — which are we to rely upon? In his writing on the photograph’s relation to violence, John Roberts describes a shift in how we see what the image reveals and hides. It is not, Roberts asserts, that the photograph provides for us an entirely direct link to an unmediated reality; new technologies reveal this more than ever,
TALENT even if it was always so. Rather, they call on us to read both through and around the image, to see not just its apparent content, but the conditions of its making — to see it not as fact but a construction, akin to speech and testimony. We must begin a new mode of look ing, something which Shang proposes through his balancing of the direct and oblique, the structural and the poetic. The image may function at times as a diagram, but if we interpret it only as an arrow point ing directly at its subject, we will miss its dreamlike qualities, its allusive and appa rition-like uses and functions, which are equally part of the 21st century photograph. — Text by Duncan Wooldridge
All images from the series Honesty and Disguise © Gao Shang, courtesy of the artist GAO SHANG (b. 1992, CN/US) was born in Harbin, Heilongjiang Prov ince, China. In 2015, he graduated from the Art Department of Northeast Agricultural University of Fine Arts with a bachelor’s degree. A long time in the creation of experimental images and abstract art, he has been featured in numerous group exhibitions. Gao Shang lives and works in Harbin. DUNCAN WOOLDRIDGE is an artist, writer and curator, working in Lon don, UK. He is the Course D irector for BA (Hons) Fine Art Photography at Camberwell College of Arts, UAL, London. His recent curatorial project was Moving the Image: Photography and its Actions, part of the Peckham 24 programme in 2019. Duncan is cur rently writing The Photograph as An Experiment, to be published by SPBH Editions in September 2020.
DOUGLAS MANDRY Monuments
208 Mandry also started making colour pho tograms of parts of the glacier that were melting away. After a visit he took bits of broken off ice back with him in a coolbox to his home city of Zurich. There, in the darkroom, he put the ice in the enlarger. As the ice melted and dripped onto the photo paper, so that a physical piece of the gla cier in its frozen form slowly but perma nently transformed, the aura of the glacier appeared in many colours on the paper. Mandry then reproduced the photograms on a glass plate and presented them with the printed geotextile. Although it was not the original in tention, Monuments has become in part a project about climate change — not radical and insistent, but subtle and poetic. ‘There is a lot happening in the world. My work is basically a digestion of it, a way to cope with things that happen without being too political. When I started this project three years ago, climate change was not such a prominent theme in visual art. It is now a real trend. The concern is very important but it is almost getting to be a commercial strategy. My series is still in progress and I don’t want it to look opportunistic. I try to avoid alarmist content by using naive pictures from one hundred years ago.’
TALENT As the project evolves, Mandry will go to several different glaciers and use a variety of geotextiles. He is also building a huge, mobile camera obscura which will enable him to create photograms on location. The influence of natural elements will increasingly appear in the image. ‘I can hardly go back to classic photography if it is not really meaningful for the project. For the disappearance of things, especially concerning the landscape or nature, it is important for me to use the ephemeral materials themselves.’ This will ultimately produce an index of the vanished glaciers of Switzerland, an index of frozen time, of geological processes that take an eternity, captured by the principles of photography, the perfect medium for recording time and for preserving sometimes nostalgic memories. — Text by Kim Knoppers This text has been written after a Skype conversation that took place in October 2019.
All images from the series Monuments © Douglas Mandry, courtesy of the artist and Bildhalle Zürich DOUGLAS MANDRY (b. 1989, CH) is an artist and photographer, graduated from ECAL University of Arts and Design in Lausanne. His work aims to question photography as a m edium evolving within the digital era. Focus ing on process-based interventions, he explores the possibilities of rep resentation and our relationship to reality through photography. Douglas is based in Zürich and Paris. KIM KNOPPERS is an art historian graduated from University of Amster dam, and curator at Foam. Since 2011, she has worked on solo and group exhibitions, most recently Back to the Future: The 19th Century in the 21st Century (2018). She has contributed to various magazines including Foam Magazine, Unseen and Aperture and has written catalogue texts for Jaya Pelupessy and Sylvain CouzinetJacques, amongst others. She is also a lecturer on the MA Photography at ECAL in Lausanne where she initiat ed and developed the course Do Not Disturb — Curating in Progress.
ALBA ZARI The Y
224 who might visually match. ‘I wanted to use the medium of photography in every way I could, and in every step of the research. Photography, in many different forms, was a tool that I was using to find out some thing I needed to know. But throughout, I was also simultaneously questioning the meaning of photography as a document that proves a fact; and I wanted the project to reflect that aspect of it as well.’ Carefully embedded within all the evidentiary imagery and documentation gathered over the course of Zari’s research is also a portfolio of more ambiguous, ob servational photographs taken during her research trips to Berlin, Bangkok, Trieste, Positano, and Los Angeles. These images allude to an underlying sense of irresolu tion, and perhaps a much more profound and very personal truth. ‘The rest of the work is very rational and has an inves tigative aesthetic; I kept my emotional distance as I tried to understand the past and put it in order,’ Zari explains. ‘But of course, while I was travelling, I also took lots of pictures. And eventually, I under stood that they were much more evoca tive of the emotions and frustrations
TALENT I was experiencing as I repeatedly failed to find any definitive information about my father. I realised that I needed to include them, but I left them as negatives, because they’re pieces of information that have not been fully developed. They represent the unconscious and emotional process of this journey. In the end, I just couldn’t ex clude my feelings from my research — the two things cannot be separated from one another; they live together.’ Ultimately, The Y represents the vera cious limits of the photographic medium itself, and at the same time reveals its po tential for both real possibility and true discovery despite such limitations. ‘Many of my questions are still unanswered and I don’t have any sense of resolution, but I’m now at peace with not knowing, and recog nising that half of me is a mystery,’ Zari reflects. ‘I’ve learned to live with that; and that in itself is cathartic. To this day, I can only truly know my maternal line — the X. My connection to anything else — the Y — is imaginary.’ — Text by Aaron Schuman
All images from the series The Y © Alba Zari, courtesy of the artist ALBA ZARI (b. 1987, TH/IT) was born in Thailand and lived there until the age of eight. She graduated with a degree in Film from the University of Bologna and studied Documen tary Photography at the International Center of Photography, in New York. She has also earned a MA in Photo graphy and Visual Design from the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, in Milan. Alba’s experience as a travel ler influences and is reflected in her photographic practice, with intends to explore s ocial themes. The Y has been published in its book form by Witty Kiwi, 2019 AARON SCHUMAN is an artist, writer and curator. His book FOLK was cited as one of 2016’s Best Photo books by Alec Soth (Photo-Eye), Sean O’Hagan (The Guardian), and Jason Fulford (TIME). Schuman has also contributed texts to publications such as Aperture Conversations: 1985 to the Present (2018) and Alec Soth: Gathered Leaves (2015), and has curated sev eral major festivals and exhibitions. Schuman is Programme Leader of MA Photography at UWE, Bristol. His lat est book, SLANT, was published by MACK in 2019. Aaron was featured in Foam Talent 2009.
SOFIA BORGES The Ashes, The Mirror, The Reverse of Brightness and the Becoming of Fire
238 graphic techniques and theatrical displays that allow her to render objects incompre hensible. By using photography to abstract meaning, she is subverting the power of this established system and showing us how images fail to represent experience. She explains, ‘I intentionally create photo graphic images that are so problematic that you cannot understand them or relate to them. You get confused and want a solu tion. However, there is none. What exists is the problem itself.’ She transubstanti ates an object or a surface: sometimes changing its meaning, sometimes making it completely incomprehensible. By decon textualising her subjects in this way, her representation stands alone to the point where they feel like a place in and of it self. Her more recent exhibitions explore these ideas through cultural expressions like mythology, religion, and theatre.
TALENT Direct experience is unlike photographic representation. However, what we perceive to be real with our own eyes is an internal representation — another distorted replica of the world. Borges’ impenetrable photo graphs point not only to the limitations of the medium but also to the limitations of our biological vision, which also keeps us from perceiving the world around us. She explains, ‘Our vision keeps us from really perceiving reality. What we see is what we understand of what we see: seeing is not evidence; seeing is essentially abstract, like language.’ There is a seemingly unanswer able epistemological question embedded in Borges’ work: What is the connection between matter and meaning? What is photography? What is an image? — Text by Liz Sales
All images from the series The Ashes, The Mirror, The Reverse of Brightness and The Becoming of Fire © Sofia Borges, courtesy of the artist SOFIA BORGES (b. 1984, BR) is a visual artist. In 2008, she earned her BA in Visual Arts from the Universi dade of São Paulo and received five art awards for her artistic research and production. Sofia was the young est artist invited to the 30th São Paulo Biennial. In 2017, she was granted with the ZUM/IMS Photography Grant for her research about tragedy. In 2018, Borges presented her work at Being: The New Photography exhibition at MoMA and endeavoured as curator at the 33rd São Paulo Biennial. LIZ SALES is a photo-based artist, art-writer, and educator. She is an editor at Conveyor Magazine and a collaborator on Mercuria Magazine. She is a faculty member at the Inter national Center of Photography and is the author of the book I Write Artist Statements. Liz lives and works in Philadelphia.
GUANYU XU Temporarily Censored Home
248 ravity. At least with a closet, you can open g a door and walk out of it. But floating in space, you don’t know how you’ll make it to the ground, and the slightest contact can disrupt one’s orbit, leaving you to tumble away into the void. Growing up, Western media didn’t provide a ground, but it did provide a reference point, the American Dream promising freedoms hard to imag ine in China. The ideology made room for Xu to reflect on the intersections of sexu ality, race, and nation, even as the dreams of bootstrap success remain elusive: life in the US is after all riven with racism, homo phobia, and xenophobia, all amplified by Donald Trump and his administration. Filial obligation creates filial resent ments and even fantasies of revenge. While the volume of images sometimes threaten to overwhelm, the overall effect of the series is tender melancholy, a sense that some things are and will be lost (or closeted) and the best one can hope for is to occupy unwelcome spaces if and when it is possible, in order to reclaim something of what has been lost. One image stands
TALENT out to me, however, as doing something different: Parents’ Bedroom. Although Xu has also filled other rooms of the house with erotic images, it takes on a different valence when it comes to the bedroom of one’s parents. Their bed is layered with prints of nude or nearly nude bodies. The corner of the bedspread we see is printed with small stars. One of Xu’s prints hangs off the edge, and the stripes of that image immediately evoke the American flag, an association affirmed by another print that drapes off the other end of the bed that features the Stars and Stripes on it. The flag, however untrue what it is meant to symbolise, continues to symbolise free dom. This is freedom — telling your parents the truth. Or if you can’t tell them the truth (at least not now), then perhaps you can have a small, campy revenge. ‘Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you. Have a seat. Oh, the prints? Don’t worry about them. They’re just temporarily uncensored.’ — Text by Shaka McGlotten
All images from the series Temporarily Censored Home © Guanyu Xu, cour tesy of the artist GUANYU XU (b. 1993, CN) is an art ist. He is the recipient of the James Weinstein Memorial Fellowship. He is the winner of the Lenscratch Student Prize, Lensculture Emerging Talent Award, and Runner-up of the Aperture Foundation Portfolio Prize. His works have been exhibited inter nationally including Aperture Founda tion, New York; Athens Photo Festival, Greece; Format Photo Festival, UK, and others. His works have been featured in publications including The New Yorker, Musée Magazine, and Der Greif. Guanyu Xu is based in Chicago. SHAKA MCGLOTTEN is an anthro pologist and maker who examines new media and art from QTPOC per spectives. They are the author of Virtual Intimacies: Media, Affect, and Queer Sociality and Dragging: In the Drag of a Queer Life. They are currently at work on Black Data, a project that looks to the ways artists respond to new technologies of control and capture. Shaka’s work has been supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foun dation, Akademie Schloss Solitude, and Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation.
MICHA SERRAF Stay Soft / Future of Gender
258 where they embrace one another. This is an attempt at reworking the projections on male bodies of affection and other seem ingly feminine modes of engagement as being masculinity’s opposite. The lack of an audience in the setting of the boxing scene may account for the open disruption of masculinity viewers are privy to, indi cating how safe, intimate spaces can be the test bed where gender binaries are bent. In Future of Gender some of the people photographed take on the quality of struc tural elements that mirror each other, and in others Micha captures a delicate inti macy. This speaks to how we all perform presentations of self-assurance and boxed in identities, and in some circumstances, assimilation. It also speaks to how we can move towards allowing ourselves to be open and vulnerable, swimming in the flu idity of identity constructions. The entire series works on the oscillations between these states of being, and the negotia tions associated with each movement. It
TALENT also highlights the gender lexicons that are often the foundation of these internal and external negotiations, turning again to the socially and contextually constructed, therefore performative, nature of gender. The images in the series carry a relatable character. They allow viewers to c onnect through experiences of their own everyday intimacies and go on to become actors in their identity creation. The visual depic tions of evolving gender understandings and signifiers present as the stretching of the spectrum and give visibility to the gender formations that sit between existing configurations. These serve as evidence and celebratory references for the people, practices and ideologies that add colour ful layers of nuance, aimed at meaningmaking, common connection and shared belonging. — Text by Christa Dee
All images from the series Stay Soft / Future of Gender © Micha Serraf, cour tesy of the artist MICHA SERRAF (b. 1994, ZW/ZA) is an artist and photographer. Micha’s work explores identity performance and how all divergent and overlap ping streams of identities evolve, unfold, and respond to political and social landscapes, to queerness, to feminism, to activism, to borders, to education, to expectation, to time. His work has been exhibited both locally and internationally and will be added to South Africa’s national Life Orien tation school curriculum. He holds a degree in Fine Art from the University of Cape Town. Micha is based in Cape Town. CHRISTA DEE is a writer, researcher and emerging curator. She holds an Honours degree with distinc tion in Cultural Anthropology. As a writer, she focuses on art, design, digital culture, speculative futures, identity politics, and the relation ship between these categories. She currently writes for a number of arts and culture publications across the globe. As a researcher and curator, she has an interest in urban narratives and imaginaries, and how formal art spaces and curators are actors in city or place making. Christa is based in Johannesburg.
CAMILLO PASQUARELLI Monsoons Never Cross the Mountains
270 and images that encourage viewers to weave their own understanding. Beginning and ending with a K ashmiri friend’s family photographs of relatives dressed in military garb posed in front of painted or fabric-draped local studio set tings, the series purposefully embraces a subtle narrative that points to the militari sation of daily life and individual memories based on collective experience. Following and preceding these colour portraits are montages of ordinary family album photos. Text is included, but is not didactic. Rather, Pasquarelli has chosen a poem by the Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali that describes the distinctive four-season climate of Kashmir — due to its surround ing mountains — and is quite different from the binary rainy and dry seasons of the rest of India. The poem, which concludes with, ‘The monsoons never cross the moun tains into Kashmir,’ shares Ali’s mother’s memories of her childhood in Lucknow as it evokes a range of emotions also present in Pasquarelli’s photographs: nostalgia, joy, loss and beauty, that transcend national ism and religious intolerance.
TALENT The black-and-white photographs that appear between the family portraits, Ali’s poem and a short description of the Kash miri regional conflict rhythmically convey a place somewhere between reality and abstraction. Photographic extremes in light enhance a ghostly outstretched hand pointing towards a worn chair at the base of a scrawny tree; a portrait of a child cover ing his face sits next to an otherworldly plant that could be mistaken for barbed wire; a surreal flash-induced silhouette foregrounds an ominous night sky. The strangeness of Pasquarelli’s images rein forces a child’s inability to make meaning of this environment — a region where a mo bile phone video of a policeman beating a boy puts the youthful videographer on trial for two years and extinguishes his plans to attend university in New Delhi. Pasquarelli’s photographs are the memories and daily realities of a stolen childhood: a hallucinatory and strange existence that is never fully understood by the children who experience it. — Text by Russet Lederman
All images from the series Monsoons Never Cross the Mountains © Camillo Pasquarelli, courtesy of the artist CAMILLO PASQUARELLI (b. 1988, IT) only decided to devote himself entirely to photography after com pleting his studies in political science and anthropology. Since 2015 he has been working on a visual project about the valley of Kashmir, India, exploring the notion and the experience of con flict, memory, religion and political aspirations. In 2017, he received the Alexia Foundation Student Grant to keep working in the valley. Camillo’s works have been published in Time, Der Spiegel, National Geographic, Polka, Internazionale, Il Reportage, Gazeta Wyborcza, amongst others. RUSSET LEDERMAN is a writer, editor and photobook collector who lives in New York City. She teaches art writing at the School of Visual Arts in New York and writes on photobooks for print and online journals, includ ing FOAM, The Eyes, IMA, Aperture and the International Center of Pho tography. She is a co-founder of the 10×10 Photobooks project, co-edits The Gould Collection, lectures in ternationally on photobooks, and has received awards and grants from Prix Ars Electronica and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mariama Attah, Henri Badaröh, Iatã Cannabrava, Brian Curtin, Christa Dee, Marcel Feil, Brad Feuerhelm, Allen Frame, Anahita Ghabaian Etehadieh, Taco Hidde Bakker, John Hilliard, Kim Knoppers, Mirjam Kooiman, Russet Lederman, Diane Lima, Shaka McGlotten, Elisa Medde, Marc Mouarkech, Azu Nwagbogu, Iheanyi Onwuegbucha, Jaime Lowe, Liz Sales, Aaron Schuman, Shamita Sharmacharja, Diane Smyth, Valentine Umansky, Leslie Wilson, Duncan Wooldridge
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ISSUE #55, TALENT EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Marcel Feil EDITORS Mariama Attah, Marcel Feil, Elisa Medde MANAGING EDITOR Elisa Medde ASSISTANT EDITOR Mariama Attah
DESIGN & LAYOUT Ayumi Higuchi, Hamid Sallali TYPEFACES Haarlem (Adrien Menard), L15 Medium, L15 Medium (type), Cosi Azure (NIKOLAS TYPE) CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS & ARTISTS Aàdesokan, Sofia Borges, Adji Dieye, Rahima Gambo, Eric Gyamfi, Karla Hiraldo Voleau, Benoît Jeannet, Tommy Kha, Luther Konadu, Simon Lehner, Matthew Leifheit, Alexandra Lethbridge, Elsa Leydier, Douglas Mandry, Pat Martin, Philip Montgomery, Camillo Pasquarelli, Anastasia Samoylova, Simone Sapienza, George Selley, Micha Serraf, Hashem Shakeri, Gao Shang, Kamonlak Sukchai, Dustin Thierry, Guanyu Xu, Yorgos Yatromanolakis, Ali Zanjani, Alba Zari
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FRONT COVERS Avatar, make a human, 2017 from the series The Y © Alba Zari, courtesy of the artist
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The Rebirth of Red Lotus, from the series Red Lotus © Kamonlak Sukchai, courtesy of the artist BACK COVERS Nelsonville, Ohio. July, 2016, from the series Flash Points © Philip Montgomery Untitled, from the series The Splitting of the Chrysalis & the Slow Unfolding of the Wings, 2018 © Yorgos Yatromanolakis INSIDE BACK COVER Manuel, New York, 2018, from the series Latin Lover, 2018-ongoing © Karla Hiraldo Voleau, courtesy of the artist INSIDE BACK COVER SPREAD A bizarre small accident, from the series Honesty and Disguise © Gao Shang, courtesy of the artist
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