international photography magazine
YOUNG ARTISTS SHAPING THE FUTURE OF PHOTOGRAPHY
The fifteenth edition of Foam Magazineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Talent Issue presents a selection of outstanding artists, each in their own way feeling the pulse of our times. In spite of the many challenges humankind was confronted with in 2020, we counted the highest number of submissions yet: 1803 entries, from 72 countries â&#x20AC;&#x201D; each of which represented a message in a bottle from different parts of the world, which feels more fractured than ever. This yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s common, underlying theme is a close, sharp look at one of the most important subjects, the human condition. While being born out of the Covid-19 pandemic, this issue is also a beautiful, hopeful and refreshing statement about the possibilities our medium offers, and the exciting future ahead. We look forward to celebrating new beginnings, and new horizons.
FOAM TAL EN T 2021
ON WHAT IT CAN BE Carmen Winant in conversation with Laia Abril
Nurturing talent is in the DNA of Foam. Since its inception, creating opportunities to support young authors is at the core of our mission. The Foam Paul Huf Award was created in 2007. Named in honour of the Dutch photographer Paul Huf (1924-2002), this yearly award supports the work of an artist challenging the possibilities of the photographic language, pushing the medium further. In this challenging year, Laia Abril was chosen by the jury as the winner, for her long term project A History of Misogyny, for which she submitted Chapter One: On Abortion and Chapter Two: On Rape. Motivating their decision, the jury stated: ‘Laia Abril’s ambition to bring relevant societal topics like abortion and rape to the spotlight, especially within the current political and social climate, deserves recognition and strong support. Her perseverance in working on the long-term research of her ongoing project A History of Misogyny is admirable. The result of her efforts to visualise these difficult subjects needs to be seen by an audience as large as possible. We are confident the award will enable her to continue this important body of work.’ As recurring lockdowns loom across the planet, Carmen Winant and Laia Abril engaged in a longdistance conversation on doing the work, and the possibilities it creates.
THE PEOP LEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; S ISSUE
THE PEOPLEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S ISSUE
The making of the Talent Issue is normally a well tried and tested process, with the only variation lying within the incredible array of bodies of work we have the privilege of looking at. Each year, once the Talent Call closes, we have 6 to 8 weeks to look at all the submissions and come up with a shortlist of about 60/70 portfolios, after which we take about 4 extra weeks to round things up with the final selection. Following the selection process we start the production by assigning writing commissions, and finally move on to the design phase. The pace is up-tempo but smooth, the sequence of events mostly predictable. Then, 2020 came. What a year this has been! While I type these words 2020 is coming to an end, but its intensity does not seem to dissipate as of yet.
by Elisa Medde Editor-in-Chief
THE PEOPLEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S ISSUE
THE PEOPLE’S ISSUE
break the binary approach of authorial photography that we are used to. They show how a supposedly formal approach in image-making can be very successful in addressing social issues, while storytelling and narrative image-making has reached heights of formal experimentation, that feel refreshing and horizon-opening. Most importantly, they are forcing us to question and put under scrutiny the way we value and judge authorial photography and the way we see it. They urge us to look into complex questions: how can we align and put into relation the encounter between not only the photographer and the subject, but also the image and the spectator? And what happens when we zoom out and try to look at all these interconnecting lines between photographer, subject, spectator and image? Is there space for their experience? And if so, what value does this have in the equation? How do all these elements intersect? Seen from this perspective, the question on whether or not work labelled as ‘concerned photography’ has effective social or political consequences seems short sighted at best, and slightly tautologic in its formulation. It is not a photograph that changes the world, thank goodness, but people. The idea of transferring such power from people to images seems quite a convenient leap, one that by consequence frees us from the involvement in its responsibilities. But it is pictures that can translate ways of seeing, manifest ways of thinking, catalyse feelings, trigger conversations, inform memory, inspire actions. The authors presented in the issue you are currently holding in your hands are incredibly successful examples of this, engaging with so many of the aforementioned questions — and more. This year’s Talent Issue is all about the human condition, and it is a compelling, intensely rewarding journey.
the binding threads that link and keep close lives and communities? A way to show both the catastrophe, and the refusal to be dehumanised, and the fight for one's future? The single image featured in these pages comes from his series The Right To Grow Old. Set in Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, it is a story about forced displacement and shifting identities in the crossing of physical and emotional borders. Gabby Laurent is a photographer based in London, and her work explores staged interventions and absurd investigations, working at the intersection of photography and performance. The images featured here belong to the series Falling Pregnant. A reflection on the linguistic idea of falling pregnant, but also the visual manifestation of a powerful and empowered body — one that still performs for the viewer. Not a moment, but a discussion on successes, failures, attempts in between — and our gaze on it. Giulia Iacolutti is an author working between Italy and South America. Her activity explores the relations between social and political issues with individual identity, and the underlining narratives that exist in-between. The series Dopamine, featured here, was born out of simple questions: can love heal a person? Can the absence of pleasure be harmful to your health? It is a large project about the neurotransmitter usually associated to the hormone of pleasure and rewards, present in the nerve circuits that determine movements and the emotional sphere. Its malfunction is responsible, among the rest, for Parkinson's disease as well as psychiatric ones, and addictions. The images shown here belong to a chapter on Parkinson's: she led some patients in a solitary Tango, asking them to pose as if their dance partner was there. The loneliness is here a metaphor, obviously. Its imaginary compensation a beautiful, powerful hoax.
Following a much appreciated tradition, we are devoting these pages to showcase a few authors from the ‘runners up’ list, also friendly called ‘the darlings we had to put down’. It would be unconceivable to think that, out of 1803 submissions worldwide, only a handful are worth attention. Oftentimes the runners up list is what consistently informs our choices for further themed issues, exhibition projects and so on. Irene Antonia Diane Reece is an author born and raised in Houston, Texas, who built a practice that employs the photographic image next to appropriated films, text and found objects. Her goal is to create visual experiences that challenge conversations around racial identity, African diaspora, social injustice, family histories, mental and community health issues. Her focus is to tackle and question society's perspectives on her racial identities, as a Black Mexican woman living between the United States and Europe. Tomás Ayuso is a Honduran writer and documentary photojournalist focussing on the conflicts in Latin America related to the drug war, gang violence, forced displacement and urban dispossession. Is there a way to show the incredible level of violence and despair communities are experiencing, while also shedding a light on
Images credits (in order of appearance): p.20 There Were Always People Like Me, from the series There Were Always People Like Me, installation shot: 144 inkjet prints and artist’s hair, 2019 © Irene Antonia Diane Reece, courtesy of the artist. p.24 Centermost, From the series BillieJames, inkjet print, 2016 © Irene Antonia Diane Reece, courtesy of the artist. p.25 Uh — Oh Po Po, from the series Billie-James, inkjet print, 2018 © Irene Antonia Diane Reece, courtesy of the artist. p.26-29 Tijuana, Mexico and Barrio Diptych II, from the series The Right To Grow Old © Tomás Ayuso, courtesy of the artist. p.30 Images from the series Falling Pregnant, 2020 © Gabby Laurent, courtesy of the artist. p.31 Images from the series Dopamine, 2020 © Giulia Iacolutti, courtesy of the artist.
DELALI AYIVI Heimat (in Quarantine)
44 her optimistic photography she has found a way to represent the richness of her cultural heritage, creating a visual counterpoint to the challenges of a multi-racial upbringing. ‘Photography allowed artists and patrons alike to express their articulation of what modernity looked like.’ So states the text for the Metropolitan Museum’s 2015 exhibition on West African studio photography which incorporated Acolatse alongside Seydou Keïta, Malick Sidibé and Samuel Fosso. Spanning over a century of practice, the show highlighted the participating photographers’ distinct authorship.
TALENT However, sitting outside of the picture frame are also the socio-political aspects of work produced in a predominantly colonial era. Acolatse’s success was made possible through the patronage of Togo’s governing bodies as well as an aspirant Togolese middle class. One hundred years later, Ayivi’s work is that of a young female photographer, championing and personifying the modernity, internationalism and confidence of her generation: ‘celebrating all forms of black beauty and joy. This is what I do best.’ — Text by Sophie Wright
All images from the series Heimat (in Quarantine) © Delali Ayivi, courtesy of the artist DELALI AYIVI is a Togolese and German photographer and art director studying Creative Direction for Fashion at London College of Fashion/ UAL. In 2019 Ayivi started the project Togo Yeye with Malaika Nabillah, and together they seek out and collaborate with innovative Togolese fashion designers to create work that documents and empowers their creative community. Ultimately, they aim to create a directory for the Togolese creative landscape that will facilitate collaboration, national trade and consumption to strengthen their creative economy. SOPHIE WRIGHT is a photography and art consultant with over 20 years’ experience in content strategy, creative direction, artist and collections management. Formerly Global Cultural Director at Magnum Photos, 2015–2020, Wright oversaw cultural programmes in the Middle East and China as well as developing Magnum’s programme of exhibitions, books, commissions and print sales with her international team in Europe and the USA. She conceived the Live Lab in 2017 — an ongoing programme of experimental residencies for contemporary photographers. She regularly writes and lectures on photography.
HEATHER AGYEPONG Wish You Were Here
56 shaped by ancestral memories, Agyepong offers satirical reflections on the connections between the way we are presented as spectacle and the mental health of our communities. As with her work on Mary Seacole as part of the LDN WMN Project, the project Yaa that centres the spirit of Yaa Asantewaa and Too Many Blackamoors that was inspired by Lady Sarah Forbes Bonetta, Agyepong reaffirms that she masters this underestimated decolonisation tool we call ‘imagination’. She takes us beyond that which we already know and meets us where our lives, lived and present, matter most: in our belief in belonging and our refusal of being overlooked. With her reimaginations Agyepong doesn’t just clear our spaces, she claims them. She affirms that they’re ours and shows us the infinite possibilities of their reconstructions.
TALENT Her work is what I imagine it looks like when a mouth full of liberation averts itself from gazes and expectations, curls towards the heavens and smiles. That is, of course, if and when it wants to. — Text by Simone Zeefuik
In order of appearance: — Le Cake-Walk: F.U.B.U. — Le Cake-Walk: Razzle Dazzle — Le Cake-Walk: Rob This England — Le Cake-Walk: Charmer — Le Cake-Walk: B***h Better — Le Cake-Walk: Caucasian Chalk Circle #1 — Le Cake-Walk: Caucasian Chalk Circle #2 — Le Cake-Walk: Anne Mae #1, #2 — Le Cake-Walk: Spotlight on Rest All images made in 2020 and commissioned by The Hyman Collection All images from the series Wish You Were Here © Heather Agyepong, courtesy of the artist HEATHER AGYEPONG is a visual artist, performer and actress who lives and works in London. Her work is concerned with mental health and wellbeing, activism, the African diaspora and the archive. She uses both lens-based practices and performance with an aim to culminate a cathartic experience for herself and the viewer. Nominations include the Prix Pictet & Paul Huf Award in 2016 & 2018 and her work exists in a number of collections including Autograph ABP, Hyman Collection, New Orleans Museum of Art and Mead Art Museum. SIMONE ZEEFUIK is an Afro-Dutch, Amsterdam-Bijlmer based writer, cultural programmer and organiser whose work centres around representation, everydayness, inclusivity and social justice. She focuses on imagination as access, joy, the (de)spectaclising of Blackness, digital archives and movements against the illegalising of the so-called undocumented members of the Afro-Dutch communities. She’s a programmer for Amsterdam’s Bijlmer Parktheater, a teacher at Zawdie Sandvliet’s Afro-Dutch Studies and Amsterdam’s Sandberg Institute, a film nerd, a ginger tea critic and a gif enthusiast. Together with Richard Kofi (visual artist and her fellow programmer at Amsterdam’s Bijlmer Parktheater) she initiated and hosts the podcast Project Wiaspora.
BOWEI YANG If Spring Could Feel Ache
70 capturing and reimagining a scene, a place, a memory, the lives of others, make Yang’s use of photography not only a source of documentation of ostracised lives but also an instrument through which he manages to render his own self. Documentary photography as a tender portrayal of teen queerness in contemporary China, but also a window into Yang’s psyche: a reflexive self-portrait. After coming out to his parents, Yang was subjected to psychological intervention which propelled a slow process of trauma sedimentation. In his tinted, bloodstained portraiture, it becomes evident how, deep down, past a seemingly unbroken figure, there can be wounds invisible to the naked eye. In a way, what we see throughout this body of work is a more unusual, less rebellious take on teenage angst: a looming sense of melancholy floats about. In the murky sea of
TALENT teenage life, between the feelings of being asphyxiated and held back or unable to fully morph into oneself yet, that is what seems to be at its core: melancholy. Sometimes sorrow shapeshifts into rage and solitude, but in the end, it comes down to melancholy. However, not everything is doom and gloom in If Spring Could Feel Ache. Personally, after gazing at Bowei Yang’s images, the sentiment that has dawned on me can be described by the words of VietnameseUnitedstatian poet Ocean Vuong: ‘the body is a blade that sharpens by cutting.’ There is a poetic resilience embedded in the experience of existing uninvitedly, of continuing despite the hardships. — Text by Henri Badaröh
All images from the series If Spring Could Feel Ache © Bowei Yang, courtesy of the artist BOWEI YANG is a Chinese photographer based in Beijing and London. His works are largely inspired by Chinese philosophy, literature and document teenage queer communities. He received his Bachelor Degree in Photography from Beijing Film Academy in 2017 and entered the Royal College of Art London in 2019 to continue his studies. He is a finalist of the Lensculture Emerging Talents, a finalist of Gomma Grand as well as the AINTBAD first book award (all 2019), and has been published bu IGNANT Magazine, China Daily among others. HENRI BADARÖH is a Brazilian visual artist and writer. He has a BA in Photography and an 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 the written word, Europe and America. He frequently collaborates with multidisciplinary artists on publications and performances. Henri lives and works in the Netherlands.
BILLY H.C. KWOK Last Letters: A Photographic Investigation of Taiwan White Terror
the sense they provide visual fragments of specific expressions, whether they are pictures pieced together by prisoners, separated from their families awaiting their fate or whether they are short written testimonies of survivors of this regime who pen their anger, frustration and loss over images of statues of governmental figures Kwok provides them. These archival and textual elements are supported by documentary images of present-day Taiwan. Here, the recurring motif of the statue plays a central role as symbol of repression and physical reminder of the past as such structures do, but today these statues are far from being monumentalised. The statues are the site for personal and collective interventions, personalised in the work mentioned above but also in their public situ as they become the objects of destruction or ridicule. One image in the wider series, depicts a park where several statues are humorously repositioned in a bizarre configuration, all staring at each other. It alludes to the redundancy of these figureheads now devoid of power, surplus to requirements in their new public role.
Translations of letters in this portfolio: p.73 ‘What world is this? How shameful is it to build statues to an evil murderer.’ Written by Pan Hsin-hsing. Pan Hsinhsing was just six years old when his father Pan Mu-chih, a doctor and local politician, was arrested, tortured and killed in a 1947 massacre that was the precursor to years of political purges known as the White Terror. p. 74 ‘Hatred! Hatred! Hatred! Hatred! Hatred! I wish to dismember it into pieces. Killing Taiwan people for power — how shameful is that! How awful is that!’ Written by Lin Li-tsai, daughter of Lin Chieh. p.76 ‘Thinking of the past, the painful feelings never end. Trying to forget, the nightmares never vanish into the air. Waiting to forgive, the persecutors never appear before me. So whom should I forgive? Looking for the
Probably the most striking image is where Kwok reverts to his role as documentarian, invited to witness an act of iconoclasm upon the tomb of a once hailed and feared state leader. The activists pour red paint over the portrait and the casket as the photographer witnesses a gesture of violence returned to the perpetrator. It is this back and forth between history and the present which reactivates the emotions of the past in a dialogical temporal relationship. What was forcibly and brutally silenced is now voiced and made visible by a new generation’s inherited latent trauma. Furthermore, Kwok’s images operate as a timely meditation on the role of the statue in a social and politicised context, especially in the transformation of a state which through its years in the grip of a terrorised and strangled civic life, finally gasps in exasperation. — Text by Sunil Shah
truth, the answers seem distant, but I will never give up, and move on ’till the daylight comes. I will straggle and tread a thorny path, ’till the end of my day.’ Written by Chen Chin-sheng. p.78 ‘I hate idolatry. If we know what this person has done, would we feel fooled? Don’t fool us! Great people never need statues. I feel the world is fake when seeing such a pleasant statue. Maybe there is no truth in history, maybe such “great” statues are too funny to victims’ families of White Terror — Is this our world? Is it? If my mother saw these respected statues, she would not only feel sad but also despise it. (Fortunately, my mother has already passed away.)’ Written by Guo Su-jen, daughter of executed Guo Ching. Source: Essay by Billy H.C. Kwok https://phmuseum.com/grants/ awarded/24037
All images from the series Last Letters: A Photographic Investigation of Taiwan White Terror © Billy H.C. Kwok, courtesy of the artist BILLY H.C. KWOK is a Hong Kong – Taiwan based photographer who began his career as a reporter in newspapers before pursuing his photographic career. Having grown up in Hong Kong and witnessing its transition from the British to the Chinese regime the layered stories present in the ‘Pan-Chinese’ region inspire his work greatly. He has been selected as one of the Magnum Foundation Fellows (2018) as well as Fund Grantee (2019) for his long-term investigation into Taiwan’s political taboos and hidden histories. SUNIL SHAH is an artist, curator and writer based in Oxford, UK. His critical interests span exhibition histories and the sites and structures of artistic production and presentation. He is Associate Editor of American Suburb X online photography and visual culture platform and a PhD researcher at Central St. Martins, London.
KWABENA APPIAH-NTI Golden Boy
96 black youth he photographs, irrespective of socioeconomic background, or locally specific cultural norms and value systems. The series emerged organically. ‘I made this one image in Brazil of this surfer kid,’ the artist explains, ‘he was on the beach and his hair was blonde, and in the photograph his skin glowed. So I began to describe him as “golden boy,” and afterward I began to shoot and develop the project more purposefully.’ Beyond describing the photographs’ sensuous representations of melanin-rich skin, and the lustrous yellows that natural lighting impart to interior portraits and natural environments across the series, for Appiah-nti gold is also weighted by other kinds of symbolism associated with black life. Not only does it bring to mind the natural resources and mining cultures in Africa — from the Mali Empire to the Ashanti Kingdom — where gold has historically signified social prestige, but it
TALENT also conjures up the visual culture of hiphop where conspicuous displays of gold jewellery have functioned as aspirational signs and markers of status. Numerous photographs in Golden Boy allude to the foregoing associations, whether on the level of language as found in photographs of storefronts in Suriname where phrases such as ‘Gold King’ and ‘Golden Ray’ appear to entice consumption, or through the many portraits of subjects wearing jewelry such as the stunning image of Ghanaian model Ottawa Kwami sporting gold necklaces while posing against a palegold backdrop in Accra. The idealised and carefree spirit of this portrait exemplifies the overall ethos of the series, reflecting Appiah-nti’s visions of youth culture and black male subjectivity as that which is, like gold, precious and most of all, not without value. — Text by Antawan I. Byrd
All images from the series Golden Boy ©Kwabena Sekyi Appiah-nti, courtesy of the artist KWABENA APPIAH-NTI is a commercial and documentary photographer based in Amsterdam. With his personal work he tries to explore, interpret and redefine boyhood, showing the world what that term means to him. His work has been featured in teNeus | MENDO, Glamour magazine, and Vrij Nederland, among other publications. Clients include Nike, Jordan, Daily Paper, Zalando, and Filling Pieces. ANTAWAN I. BYRD is associate curator of photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, and a PhD candidate in modern and contemporary art history at Northwestern University. Byrd recently co-curated, The People Shall Govern! Medu Art Ensemble and the Anti-Apartheid Poster (Art Institute of Chicago, 2019), and was a co-curator of the 2nd Lagos Biennial of Contemporary Art (2019).
LEONARD SURYAJAYA Quarantine Blues
110 Blues opens up a conversation about mental health, self-care, and feeling the pressure to look like evernything is fine. Quarantine Home Collection displays a cache of the artist’s favorite sodas alongside other products hoarded for the apocalypse. All available objects from the maintenance and supply closets of the gym radiate from the bottom of the floor polisher forming a monster ‘float’ in Gym Parade. In Leo Exotic, Suryajaya stages his own version of the infamous Tiger King photo shoot. On the surface, the mood is similar to the sexually-charged, ‘cornfield’ glamour shots of the original. The quarantine version has become a costumed ‘role play’ on the bed with a marble phallus and
TALENT bottles of poppers on the nightstand. The title suggests another reading, though. The artist’s cat bib suggests that Leo has become a stand-in, or surrogate, for an exotic pet. The term can be used interchangeably for the artist or a tiger. Exotic is also a way to designate the other, an outsider — Suryajaya is placing himself in the crosshairs of an exoticising white gaze. He has been the ‘other’ throughout his life. While his other tableaux depict members of the community he has built around himself, Leo Exotic shows that, in the eyes of some, he is still seen as an outsider. — Text by M. Charlene Stevens
In order of appearance: — Quarantine Blues — Jean and Daughters — Quarantine Home Collection — Gordon and Son — Leo Exotic — Mask Fitting — Gym Parade — See Me — Eye to Eye All images from 2020 All images from the series Quarantine Blues © Leonard Suryajaya, courtesy of the artist LEONARD SURYAJAYA uses his work to test the boundaries of intimacy, community and family. His images show how the everyday is layered with histories, meanings and potential. Suryajaya earned his BFA at California State University and MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Selected exhibition venues include Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago, Benaki Museum Greece and Barney Savage Gallery, NYC. Among others he has received the and the Artadia Award and Santo Foundation Fellowship. M. CHARLENE STEVENS lives and works in New York as a photographer and art critic. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Arcade Project, an online publishing platform and gallery that hosts performing artists, pop culture critics, poets, playwrights, bloggers, activists, philosophers, storytellers and more.
SILVIA ROSI Encounter
122 continued template for contemplation. The use of improvised studio settings and West African studio aesthetic also continues here. The repeated backdrop provides several different views of a life being experienced from a parallel perspective. Both bodies of work plot a path that take us beyond the bounds of time. Through this reenactment Rosi, while possessing all of her knowledge and understanding as an adult, is able to go back to when her mother was also a young adult, enabling an interaction that could have only occurred via the family album.
TALENT There can be a certain discomfort in being a traveller; in the newness to customs, or in having to learn a new version of normal or way of being. In Encounter and Self-Portrait as my Mother Rosi embarks on journeys beyond her periphery into the realm of her family’s past in a way that is personal and recognizable and makes sense of the many selves and many worlds she inhabits. — Text by Mariama Attah
All images from the series Encounter © Silvia Rosi, courtesy of the artist SILVIA ROSI is a London based artist working with photography and video to explore ideas of memory, migration and diaspora. She graduated from London College of Communication in 2016 with a BA (Hons). Recent exhibitions include the Jerwood/ Photoworks Awards and Jerwood Arts (both 2020), Presenting Cultural Connections, 1:54 Art Fair, Somerset House (2019) and the Black Blossoms exhibition Highlighting the Voices of Black Women. Rosi recently undertook a Thread residency in Senegal, which she spoke about at a talk for 1:54 A Contemporary African Art Fair. MARIAMA ATTAH is a photography curator and editor with a particular interest in overlooked visual histories, and in using photography and visual culture to amplify under and misrepresented voices. Mariama is curator of Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool. She was previously Assistant Editor of Foam Magazine. Prior to this, she was Curator of Photoworks, where she was responsible for developing and curating programs and events including Brighton Photo Biennial and was Commissioning and Managing Editor of the yearly magazine Photoworks Annual.
LISANDRO SURIEL Ghost Island
134 branches with cotton balls, conveying specific resonance to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The multiple iterations of water allow viewers to take different vantage points to engage with the work. Some of the images use water as a threshold while in other images water becomes purposely dis-orientating. This speaks to the artist’s ability to portray the impossibilities of fixed regionality within the Caribbean. Each of the Ghost Island scenes emanates a sense of transcendence. Ghost Island is offered as a fictive gathering of ancestral specters. At the same time, the series also complicates questions about spectrality and haunting. Aware of the relationality between photography and imaginative storytelling, Ghost Island asks important questions of the viewer. What does haunting look like here? Who and
TALENT what haunts? In the series, Suriel seeks to undo Black, Indigenous and/or Caribbean narratives from coloniality, which in and of itself presents a haunting. These tensions tell us something about how Black and/or Caribbean mythologies reside within the Western colonial imagination. Suriel evokes what usually remains unseen; stories living in a glimmer of light, the rustling of foliage, a wandering in dusk, or the whispers of a palm tree. These quieter spectral registers are met with regal Black deities and spirits adorned in gold and ocean greens. Suriel’s Ghost Island presents photography as a medium to envision something beyond loss; a proposition to imagine the before. — Text by Chandra Frank
All images from the series Ghost Island © Lisandro Suriel, courtesy of the artist and partly funded by the Mondriaan Fund and The United Nations Decade Fund. LISANDRO SURIEL is a CaribbeanDutch photographer of magic realism and artistic research. He earned his Bachelor degree in Photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and earned his Master of Art in Artistic Research at the University of Amsterdam. As part of his Master thesis he analysed early 20th century illustrations of of West-Indian mythology in relation to cultural aphasia, forming the foundation of his ongoing project Ghost Island. Dr. CHANDRA FRANK is a feminist researcher and independent curator, who works on the intersections of archives, waterways, gender, sexuality and race. Her curatorial practice explores the politics of care, experimental forms of narration, and the colonial grammar embedded within display and exhibition arrangements. Chandra has published in peer-reviewed journals and exhibition catalogues, including Feminist Review, the Small Axe VLOSA catalogue, The Place is Here publication and the collection Tongues. She recently coedited a special issue on Archives for Feminist Review and was a Curatorial Fellow at the Institute of the Creative Arts (University of Cape Town).
IGOR TERESHKOV Oil & Moss
144 According to the Russian law, none of the natural resource belong to them, and can be excavated from underneath their territory without the need of permission. Convinced that modern day Russia functions as a colonial empire, in which Moscow drains the country’s rural regions, Igor sees his use of the photographic medium within this context as an act — an act of decolonisation. The photographs of Oil & Moss were deliberately shot in a nonaesthetic way: composition, narrative, light — everything is ‘off’, leaving the viewer with a certain feeling of visual dissonance. This artistic strategy was chosen as a gesture to oppose the colonial gaze, a perspective which many photographers still operate from to study and beautify ‘other’ cultures in their ‘oddity.’ Tereshkov added oil-containing liquid from KhMAO to the chemistry when developing his black and white images. Just like oil spills burn holes into the landscape,
TALENT the oily fluid corrodes the films’ emulsion, leaving white spots and scratches on its surface. The visuals that emerge from the experiment sore. They constitute neither a series nor a sequence, but rather, like the region’s groundwaters, a system of communicative contaminated entities. For the artist, the concept of a ‘surface’ is essential. It is something that unifies land and nature with art and photography. Artworks often receive the symbolic status of beings with their own value and rights, the environment however is still seen as a resource within the extractive society. Oil & Moss brings to the surface, and literally to the photographic surface, the crisis of 21st century’s rights, both for human and non-human beings. — Text by Daria Tuminas
All images from the series Oil & Moss © Igor Tereshkov, courtesy of the artist IGOR TERESHKOV is a Moscow based artist and photographer that studied documentary photography and photojournalism at the School of Modern Photography Docdocdoc in Saint-Petersburg. In his work he experiments with different photographic processes and researches themes of environment, ecology and the Anthopocene. His works have been published widely and among many other nominations he is the winner of the Direct look (FotoDoc) and ‘Young photographers of Russia’ festival awards (both in 2019). DARIA TUMINAS is a curator at FOTODOK. Starting from 2017 and until December 2019, Tuminas worked as the Head of Unseen Book Market at Unseen Amsterdam. She obtained an MA in Folklore and Mythology at St. Petersburg State University and MA in Film and Photographic Studies at Leiden University. Daria regularly contributes texts to various media, to name just a few: in 2017, she was the guest editor of The Photobook Review #12 published by Aperture; in 2018, she contributed a chapter on Eastern European photobooks to How We See: Photobooks by Women by 10 x 10 Photobooks; in 2020, she co-wrote a text Is a Book Worth a Tree? for YET issue 12, and co-edited doc! photo magazine issue 46.
DANIEL CASTRO GARCIA I Peri N’Tera
AIDONE, SICILY, ITALY November 2017 — Ibra holds a ceramic dove, a symbol of peace, which he made in a pottery class at the Zingale centre. In his down time, he regularly watched Search and Rescue operations taking place in the Mediterranean Sea on Youtube, which we would then discuss at length, delicately analysing the clips. He would often declare that his dream is to work for Medecins Sans Frontieres to save lives the same way he was saved. Deeply curious, he always continued researching subjects beyond his assigned homework that presented him with texts about the economic legacy of colonialism in Africa, and an introduction to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work during the Civil Rights movement in the USA. This discovery lead to an immersion in MLK’s “I Have A Dream…” speech, which regularly played out like a soundtrack through the corridors.
LAMPEDUSA, ITALY May 2015 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; On the 3rd of October 2013, a migrant vessel from Libya carrying over 500 people capsized after catching fire several hundred metres from the shores of Lampedusa. Local fishermen and rescuers worked through the night managing to save 155 people from the water and recovered 366 bodies in what is considered to be one of the worst sea tragedies in modern European history. Prior to my arrival in Lampedusa, the Italian government diverted all rescue operations to mainland Italy to ease the growing local discontent and there were no migrants present on the island. Although physically absent, there were many traces that reflected the movement of people that had recently taken place. The nameless human graves, the boat graveyards, and graffiti spread across the arid landscape required a delicate focus on the nuances of this unfolding humanitarian disaster. These items of clothing were located in an abandoned swimming pool complex, which migrants used when the reception centre on the island exceeded capacity. Each item was photographed individually, then placed at the bottom of the empty pool as installation. Returning to Lampedusa in January 2017, I found the clothing untouched yet covered in a thick layer of dust.
CATANIA, SICILY, ITALY August 2017 — As the long, hot summer drew to a close, we organised a day trip to the beach to break the relentless monotony of “camp life”. It was the first time many of the boys had seen the Mediterranean Sea since their crossing/rescue and although the day started with nerves and anxiety, it soon became an explosion of excitement and liberation. “Today we have freed our minds!” The ever-present Christian backdrop and artwork in the centre and local community drew me to this moment because of the connotations of a fallen angel; Fanguidou spent a long time sitting, contemplating the waves after hours swimming in the sea. Later, looking at the image together, he told me he had been remembering how tired he felt during his Mediterranean crossing.
160 of inner struggle and the slow and often faltering process of emotional healing. The abundance of Christian iconography in and around the centre — which was once a nunnery — and the rich colours of the Sicilian landscape at first seem incongruent with the tormented state of the Zingale boys. Beauty, often considered inappropriate when it comes to reporting humanitarian issues, creates a space for personal expression that goes beyond boats, camps and the grim reality of the Status quo. The unusual visual aesthetic reads like a statement: the individuals are not solely defined by their situation. DCG: ‘Taking your time to construct images can actually be less of an aesthetic exercise than the traditionally problematic news images that seek to shock and traumatize the viewer. The element of time and togetherness allows for other more subtle and hidden themes to emerge.’
TALENT It is exactly for its paradoxical aesthetic that the series becomes powerfully uncomfortable. Just when you enter a state of contemplation through these dreamscapes, a mobile phone video or newsreel pulls you back into the present. A poetic video of Ousman floating in the Mediterranean Sea is scored by a song he made about his experience of crossing it. Images speak, but DCG seems acutely aware that the photographic collaborator (a term preferred by the photographer) can perfectly speak for himself; the last we see of Ousman is a video made in 2020 of his life in the streets of Paris. We hardly recognize the boy we first met in a mobile phone clip, bursting out into song and dance at sea on an Italian rescue ship. Through such hiatuses in time and space the ‘male unaccompanied minors’ in the series evolve into men with pasts, personalities, opinions and emotions. — Text by Hinde Haest
All images from the series I Peri N’Tera © Daniel Castro Garcia, courtesy of the artist DANIEL CASTRO GARCIA is a UK based photographer and filmmaker concerned by the images coming from the Mediterranean Sea. He started the Foreigner project in May 2015, with the aim of contributing a more human and collaborative response to the visual landscape defining this European humanitarian crisis. In March 2017 Daniel was selected as a grantee by the Magnum Foundation fund, and later named as the recipient of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund in Humanistic Photography. HINDE HAEST is a curator at Foam who has worked on exhibitions of William Eggleston, Masahisa Fukase, Santu Mofokeng and thematic exhibition On Earth, among many others. She is a lecturer in photography at Radboud University in Nijmegen. Previously, she worked on a Stephen Shore retrospective at Amsterdam’s Huis Marseille and as Assistant Curator of Photographs at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. She holds an MSc from SOAS and an MA from University College London. She authored three books on photography and has contributed to various magazines, among them Metropolis M and Aperture.
SIMON LEHNER The Mind is a Voice, the Voice is Blind
176 One of such images is the first picture taken of Simon Lehner, as a baby lying on his mom’s chest right after his birth. First ever (Mom and Me) is not a flat image, but presented sculpturally: every pixel is extended through an algorithmic process that calculates depth in the original image. This creates an anamorphic projection that requires the viewer to occupy a specific vantage point in order to see the picture, and for us to discover that Lehner’s mother has a beaten, black eye. Suddenly, the photograph has transformed from ‘a ghost of an image’ into a body — constructed, breakable even, traumatised and reconstructed by algorithms. The Mind is a Voice, The Voice is Blind marks the introduction of animation into Simon Lehner’s work, such as the simulation of changing daylight. There is movement in Lehner’s images, but ultimately, they remain fixed: each picture is a time capsule on loop, forming a metaphor for the inescapability of trauma. Each frame — either picture or digital animation — becomes a chamber of the mind with its own architecture, like a container of memories viewed through a looking glass, in this case screen and picture surface. Not all contained memories, however, are the artist’s own: a recurring element in this
TALENT series is a model home that resembles his father’s fantasy of starting from scratch in the U.S.. ‘He told me about it over and over again, so much so that I subconsciously internalised it, which is called perpetrator introjection in the field of psychology.’ The artist uses green screens, marker points and 3D modelling to depict a naive image of what this idealised place looks like, heavily influenced by Nixon era illustrations that showcase a perfect and balanced family-life. The model stands for a safe space, fusing trauma with nostalgia in a picture that never existed, nor was his own. In his early teens, Simon Lehner thought of himself as a painter, until a teacher introduced him to photography. The latter has since become his starting point, he does, however, still paint pictures with the green screen as a canvas. One could say that the transformation of lens-based images into 3D renders serves as an analogy for the construction of our imagination. Rather than being a record of something in reality, Lehner uses photographs to create imagery that exists only as a mental phenomenon, allowing his 10-year-old self to dance on repeat. — Text by Mirjam Kooiman All images from the series The Mind is a Voice, the Voice is Blind © Simon Lehner, courtesy of the artist SIMON LEHNER currently lives and works in Vienna, where he graduated in photography and time-based media from the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria. With his series How far is a lightyear? he won the Paris Photo Carte Blanche Award as well as the Maison Ruinart Prize in 2018 and was selected as a Red Hook Labs New Artist and Lensculture emerging Talend in 2019. Lehner has been nominated for the Foam Paul Huf Award, Leica Oscar Barnack Award and C/O Berlin New Talen Award. Previously his work has featured in or been commissioned by The British Journal of Photography, US-Vogue, i-D, Paper Journal Magazine and others. MIRJAM KOOIMAN is a curator at Foam, where she has worked on various shows including Ai Weiwei — #Safe Passage, Dominic Hawgood — Casting Out The Self as well as the Foam Talent exhibitions of 2015, 2016 and 2020. 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. She previously served as a curator-in-training at the photography collection of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum.
SOLÈNE GÜN Turunç
188 project Chevilly, she returned to her childhood neighbourhood, another neglected suburb, reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances and photographing them in their daily surroundings. An older series, Calle 815, was shot on an art school trip to Cuba, where she was drawn to a community project offering boxing training and much more of a supportive social education to young boys. In both works we see a fragility: of children training in a raw space intended for adults; and of youth making the most of a bleak environment. A recurrent theme throughout these series of works is a focus on representations of masculinity. She has often photographed women in the past but these works have rarely been shown. Working with women helped her to understand how to work with others especially from an immigrant cultural background, but Solène’s own lived experience saw her surrounded by men. She drew on the strength of the women in her own family to pursue projects that encouraged her to take an interest in the people she encountered every day and which could, as she describes, ‘break the borders between men and women, which we find everywhere, not just in my culture’. She also wanted to use her images to convey a sense of solidarity.
TALENT ‘I think it impacts us as women when men are stereotyped like this because it can be a father or a brother or a husband and we know it’s not their reality. Women are also directly impacted.’ The misrepresentation of one, feels like a misrepresentation of all. Solène’s work thrives on her interactions with the people she meets, representing both the bitter reality of their experiences of a society that might neglect or vilify them, and the sweet joy of the friendships and community they nevertheless manage to build. — Text by Maitreyi Maheshwari
All images from the series Turunç © Solène Şahmaran Gün, courtesy of the artist SOLÈNE GÜN is a photographer living between Paris and Bienne. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in visual communication and photography at ECAL (CH). In 2018 she won the Photoforum Prize, followed by the Swiss Design Awards in 2019. Her graduation project Turunç was exhibited in a solo exhibition at Foam Museum Amsterdam and selected for the shortlist of the MACK First Book Award and she was awarded the Florentine Riem Vis Grant. MAITREYI MAHESHWARI is the Head of Programme of FACT, a Liverpool based organisation for the support and exhibition of art and film that embraces new technology and explores digital culture. There she manages an ambitious artistic programme that connects with science and digital technologies to engage people with some of the most pressing challenges of today. Maheshwari has a degree in History of Art from Edinburgh University and a research masters in Humanities and Cultural Studies from the London Consortium, Birkbeck College.
SARKER PROTICK রশ্মি / Raśmi / Ray
198 antidepressant pill — a medicine taken to balance, numb and block. A contradiction. A poetic undertone runs throughout the compositions that make up Raśmi, on the surface the images are romantic in ways that offer a heightened sense of freedom, a universe that appears to have no boundaries. It brings to mind the experience of transitional periods of time where you aren’t sure which sphere you exist in; a created liminal space made up of fragments of moments, that oscillate and fleet between traces of figures; interior spaces; landscapes, animals; objects; light. As we search for meaning in this apparent utopia and a way to clamber out of the intensity, it becomes clear that Protick wants us to become entangled in the constructed constellations of these images. Each photograph has been taken on his mobile phone and when placed in front of us describes a form of frantic note taking, an insight into the rhythm at which Protick consumes, digests and traverses many realms of light, darkness and rest. The process of production must have been cathartic. Raśmi reflects a journey that is poignant, despite the resulting disorientation, it is a story of fragmentation and duality. The varying pace of interaction, the layering of images, the repetition of lines and flashes of light all convey a sense of universality and evokes the distinct feeling of déjà vu. I feel I have seen, experienced and sensed
TALENT these moments before and as I watch each one morph and collide into one another the parallels of these transpositions resonate with now. Could it be a coincidence? In the current moment when everything feels dislocated, disjointed and at hyperspeed as we search for resolution amongst a cacophony of noise, Raśmi’s diagram of connections comes together as a collision of visual material, interconnected like symbiotic tissues coalescing together. As the work evolves, the figures are family, the spaces are home, the objects are sentimental, the light hopeful, the darkness consuming; all entwined in this space acting as metaphors for a kaleidoscope of emotion we all have experienced: love, loss, loneliness, anger. Scratch away a little more, and the facets refract constantly warping the gaze, bending it to a parallel world, I am dragged back to reality and reminded of an invisible struggle and retold the delicate balancing act of a time that begins to end and ends to begin. — Text by Bindi Vora
1 Raśmi (2020) Video; 9 min 9 seconds. https://vimeo.com/433619752 2 Sagan, C., (1994) Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (Random House).
All images from the series Raśmi © Sarker Protick, courtesy of the artist SARKER PROTICK has developed a practice that combines the roles of image-maker, teacher and infrequently a curator. His works revolve around the subjects of impermanence, materiality of time and the metaphysical prospects of light and space. He is the recipient of Joop Swart Masterclass, Magnum Foundation Fund, Light Work Residency as well as World Press Photo Awards and has exhibited at Hamburg Triennale, Paris Photo and Dhaka Art summit among others. Protick is a faculty member of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute and Co-curator at Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography. BINDI VORA is an artist, curator and Curatorial Projects Manager at Autograph, London. Her recent curatorial project Poulomi Basu: Centralia was jointly awarded the Rencontres d’Arles — Louis Roederer Discovery Award jury prize 2020. Since joining Autograph Vora has co-curated solo exhibitions including Lola Flash: [sur] passing and Maxine Walker: Untitled. Her writing has appeared in Loose Associations: Vol.2 Issue II, Lee Bul: Crashing; most recently beginning a new series of artist in-conversations for Autograph which have included Monica Alcazar Duarte, Maryam Wahid and Tobi Falade Alexandra amongst others. Vora has contributed to public programmes at London Art Fair, GRAIN Photography Hub and The Photographers’ Gallery where she was most recently in conversation with renowned transmedia artist and activist Poulomi Basu.
PLANTATION Portraits In Madness
208 based statements sourced from the artist’s private and public disclosures. In one of the untitled portraits from the series, an androgenous figure with deeply melanated skin contorts their lips to reveal a mouth full of metal braces. A viscous white liquid drips down their face and cheeks. Their direct stare confronts the viewer. Bright yellow text boldly states, ‘WAIT. I. Happen. To. Despise. Myself.’ vertically along the length of the subject’s face. The untitled photograph and others from the Portraits in Madness series offer a brave introspective examination of Plantation’s personal endeavor to assess and mitigate her mental health.
TALENT Plantation’s photographs and short films have been exhibited in Nigeria and South Africa. Her work has also been included in the literary publication The New Coin: South African Poetry Journal, (June 2018). The artist has noted that her vision for the future is to ‘create art, collectives, and spaces that develop radical thinking and generate revolutionary movements.’ New works by the artist will explore transcendence, memory, and traditional rituals informed by the Indigenous Yoruba religion. Plantation has a promising future. Her work exhibits a refreshingly uncompromising perspective about a broad spectrum of contemporary existentialist discourses. — Text by Angela N. Carroll
Images from the series Maybe You Should Do Your Hair, Jesus is white and other confessions and Portraits in Madness © Plantation, courtesy of the artist PLANTATION is a photographer and filmmaker based in Lagos, Nigeria. Her photographs and films are explorations of her mind, and its relation with the physical and metaphysical world. Her works seek to create conversation and evoke emotion and have been exhibited in South Africa, and featured in publications such as The New Coin — South African Poetry Journal (June 2018). Her vision is to create art, collectives and spaces that develop radical thinking and generate revolutionary movements. ANGELA N. CARROLL is an artistarchivist; an investigator of art history and culture. She is a contributing writer for Sugarcane Magazine, Black Art in America, Arts.Black, BmoreArt and others. She received her MFA in Digital Arts and New Media from the University of California at Santa Cruz and currently teaches within the Film and Moving Image program at Stevenson University in Baltimore Maryland.
HAJAR BENJIDA Atlanta Made Us Famous
224 In her successful homage to ‘Jimmy Choo’, Karlae sums up the visual culture with the kind of eloquence only rap can produce: ‘I got chains round my neck but I’m free.’ Looking at the dressing room portraits — of Mercedes, S, Africa, Dior and XTC — there’s a sense that though the girls are indeed all dressed up, the need to perform is dialled right down and that question the camera always asks (and never fully answers): ‘Who are you?’ hovers without judgment. Benjida is a highly skilled portraitist; a listener as much as a watcher. XTC’s sweet smile belies the fact that the metallic blue of her bikini and leg wraps is worn in tribute to Nipsey Hussle, recently shot outside his store in LA (and since memorialised in Atlanta’s Trap Museum). The ordinariness of a club in daytime is very much kept in Benjida’s frame too. She makes no attempt to move a coat slung on a sofa behind Mercedes (anyway the orange matches the ‘exit’ sign, and a bikini stripe), or edit out the edge of picture hanging on the wall. The strip clubs are some people’s fantasy and some people’s real lives. As well as attracting press attention, these images have a vivid life on Instagram, where many of the women interact in the comments, and post Benjida’s portraits on their own account in turn, for pleasure of their many-thousand-followers. Cleo, who features in two of the home portraits,
TALENT bills herself ‘Homemaker. Tastemaker. Ass shaker.’ Her own comments, accompanying one of the images from the unforgettable ‘Mona Lisa’ shoot, with baby Andy breastfeeding, posted on Mother’s Day, offer solidarity to other moms: ‘Don’t beat yourself up, continue to do your best, continue to defeat generational and emotional trauma, continue to make the best decisions for you and yours. And it’s the best feeling you will ever feel.’ The brilliant doubling of Cleo’s face, photographed at home, on a corduroy sofa, with that of La Gioconda offers a moment for pause. Two women whose image has existed to be seen, scrutinised, adored, are united in Benjida’s frame, not unlike the visual logic which enabled her to couple Young Thug with Reni’s Madonna and Child. This mode of image seeing and making teases out connections in a web of representation and patronage spanning centuries. It’s sometimes said that Mona Lisa’s smile seems to react to our gaze. ‘What is she thinking?’ asks everyone, always. Hajar Benjida knows more than most about what the women who strip and dance for money in Atlanta are thinking, because she has asked them, and listened to their answers. Because the girls know. — Text by Max Houghton
All images from the series Atlanta Made Us Famous © Hajar Benjida, courtesy of the artist HAJAR BENJIDA is a MaroccanDutch photographer born and based in The Netherlands. In her personal work, Hajar has a documentary and intimate approach and she was named one of 25 emerging photographers by Lensculture in 2019. She received her Bachelor of Art in Photography from the University of Arts Utrecht and her series Atlanta Made Us Famous was selected by Unseen and an international jury as one of 9 outstanding graduation projects. Awards and Grants include the Gup New Photo Talent Award (2020) and PHMuseum Women Photographers Grant (2019). MAX HOUGHTON is a writer, editor and curator in the field of contemporary documentary photography. She is Course Leader of MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at London College of Communication. She co-authored Firecrackers: Female Photographers Now (2017) and her latest monograph essay on Mary Ellen Mark will be published in 2021 (Steidl). She is a Laws faculty scholarship PhD candidate at UCL and cofounder of research hub Visible Justice UAL.
PAT MARTIN Family Album
238 Of course, the project gave Martin a level of agency in negotiating a family dynamic that had previously been far beyond his control, and a chance to observe those who hadn’t always watched over him in his youth. It also crystallised a complex yet sympathetic impression of his mother ahead of her passing in January 2019; a rendering of a woman weighed down by the trials of her past, but far more than the sum of past failures. Other old ties were rekindled en route, if only briefly. A portrait of Martin’s father bearing a stern expression, taken during an otherwise friendly encounter, marked the pair’s first interaction in almost a decade. Editing, then, offered further autonomy in determining who was represented how.
TALENT Much has been made of the cathartic potential of a creative process, and in Martin’s case, pressing and painful questions have undoubtedly been asked if not fully answered, while new networks of support have indeed emerged in response to his testimony. Healing, though, is a lengthier journey, where resilience and vulnerability will forever collide, overlap and intersect. But pockets of relief can be found along the way, just as they are found in Martin’s poignant photographs. The family album is itself no conclusion, but an essential starting point for future soul-searching and reconciliation. — Text by George H. King
All images from the series Golder (Mother) and Family © Pat Martin, courtesy of the artist PAT MARTIN is an American photographer, based in Los Angeles, California. In 2019 he won the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize for portraits of his late mother, which were exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, London the same year. At the age of seventeen, his home life was turned upside down when his family was evicted from their apartment, separating them for three years due to events that followed. Since then, he sees the present as an opportunity to build upon an empty family album, while finding new connections through portraiture. GEORGE H. KING is an Amsterdam based editor and writer with a focus on contemporary photography. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences from University College Utrecht, and has previously worked as Editor-in-Chief of Unseen Magazine. Among others, his writing has featured in the British Journal of Photography, Unseen Magazine and Yet Magazine’s most recent edition, ‘What we have learned about publishing’.
JOEY SOLOMON Study of Cyclical Thoughts on My Leg
248 In Portrait of Robert Andy Coombs and I in my dorm (2019), a shirtless Solomon reclines in Coombs’ lap, directly gazing into the camera’s lens as an invitation for us to engage with this scene; Coombs, also shirtless, gently rests his head on Solomon. An underlying carnality blends with tenderness here, offering both a new way of seeing disability and also seeing beyond it. Two other striking portraits of couples further the narrative of intimacy and sexuality within the lives of wheelchair users. Solomon’s sensitive, empathetic, and unflinching gaze presents us with empowered bodies that rebuke stereotypes about those living with physical disabilities. The men in these pictures assert their bodies as sites of desire and physical connection.
TALENT Transcending depictions of physical disabilities, his pictures are about the exchange of touch and gaze, and about reclaiming sensual identity. By integrating these kinds of images into our visual culture, Solomon helps to expand the medium’s often narrow and less representative canon. Solomon credits Coombs with ‘giving me wisdom and perspective on living life with new bodily rules.’ I would also suggest Solomon’s photographic practice plays a pivotal role in how he disentangles, manages, and processes his past, present, and ongoing experience, helping to shape his identity and lifestyle moving forward. — Text by Allie Haeusslein
In order of appearance: — Self After Second Tissue Biopsy — Study of able male torso and dog tail — (Untitled) Mirror — (Untitled) Double Exposure of My Brother's Arm holding Bob Coombs — Portrait of Robert Andy Coombs and I in my dorm — Leg Sculpture, Underwater — Self Portrait with Robert onlooking — Study of Cyclical Thoughts on My Leg, Self Portrait All images from the series Study of Cyclical Thoughts on My Leg © Joey Solomon, courtesy of the artist JOEY SOLOMON’s artistic work hones in on the psychology of self and other humans through portrait studies and darkroom accidents using the lens based medium. His images continue to document motifs surrounding familial shared illness, queer self and the erosion of our Earth. He earned his BFA in Photography & Imaging from NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts in 2019 and currently works as a photography assistant and archivist for Jeffrey Henson Scales. ALLIE HAEUSSLEIN is the Associate Director of Pier 24 Photography in San Francisco. She edited Photographers Looking at Photographs (2019), a publication in which 75 photographers from Pier 24 Photography’s collection wrote about works they selected from the collection, drawing inspiration from John Szarkowski’s seminal Looking at Photographs (1973). Her upcoming exhibition — Looking Forward: Ten Years of Pier 24 Photography — is the second of two consecutive exhibitions celebrating Pier 24 Photography’s tenth anniversary. She has written about photography and photobooks for online and print publications including Aperture, Art21 Magazine, and British Journal of Photography.
TOMMY KHA Facades
258 the dominant eye/I reconfigures unfamiliar peoples and ways of knowing into digestible morsels of the exotic. When Kha holds up a cut-out of his head with his face missing and photographs the interior of a restaurant, or dresses himself and family members in traditional costume with printed masks of mustachioed men taped to the face; when he scrambles his face into puzzle pieces or photographs a 3D-printed mask of his own face, perspective is denied entirely. The surface of the image becomes weird and multivalent. Kha calls this ‘slippage,’ saying it ‘allows the images to take on different guises in telling the narrative.’ Identifying too-precise narratives in Kha’s work would, I think, deny their essence, which is one of refusal: refusal to play a simple representative game in which coherence and digestibility are rewarded. In images that look like family portraits and casual snapshots, Kha seems to be gesturing at queer experiences with-
TALENT in Asian-American communities; he grew up in the American South, a region whose diverse Asian immigrant populations defy stereotypes both about its own ethnic and social composition and about East Asian immigrants as a universally prosperous and well-integrated ‘model minority,’ a destructive myth that is both anti-Black and also ignores the struggles and experiences of many first-generation immigrants and post-immigration experience. José Esteban Muñoz named as ‘disidentification’ the process by which racialised people, especially queers, negotiate majority culture by transforming it towards their own ends. Kha disidentifies with the dominant photographic gaze, transforming the picture plane and denying perspective; and in so doing, manipulates not just his images but the genre itself. — Text by Ben Miller
All images from the series Facades © Tommy Kha, courtesy of the artist TOMMY KHA lives and works between New York and Memphis. He received his MFA in Photography from Yale University and is a 2020 Hopper and Artadia Prize finalist. His first solo show occurred at Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon, and he currently teaches photography at the New School in New York City. Alongside his photographic work he occasionally performs, writes, and appears in films, one of which includes Laurie Simmons’ feature My Art. BEN MILLER is a writer and researcher, and a Doctoral Fellow in History at the Freie Universität Berlin. Since 2018, he has been a member of the board of the Schwules Museum, the world’s largest independent institution devoted to LGBTQI* histories and visual cultures. His essays, fiction, and criticism have been published in The New York Times, Literary Hub, The Los Angeles Review of Books, SAND, Slate, Jacobin, VAN Magazine, Tin House, and Arts of the Working Class.
ANA VALLEJO Neuromantic
270 from behind, or cut off at the shoulders, these faceless proxies stand in for the overwhelming emotions that make it difficult at times for trauma survivors to connect and form meaningful relationships. As Vallejo learned more about her own trauma and attachment styles through her research and her art-making, she became interested in hearing about the experiences of others. She created an online confessional, entitled ‘Love Junkies: A space for collecting data about emotions around the experience of falling in and out of love.’ Here anyone can write about their most intense memories, fears, and desires, in response to prompts such as, ‘Recall someone that you once loved and provide a description of what you crave from that
TALENT memory. Focus on the five senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste.’ Vallejo has experimented with submissions, using the text to caption her images. She also hopes to visualise the data through textnart and to work with a data scientist to design taxonomies of collective fears and desires. She explains, ‘Through this work, I am giving myself and others a space to say things publicly that we are not otherwise allowed to say. Reading their stories has been refreshing and validating. They make me feel like I have allies in my journey from love addiction to self-scrutinising and creating.’ — Text by Liz Sales
All images from the series Nueromantic © Ana Vallejo, courtesy of the artist ANA VALLEJO is a NY based conceptual documentary photographer from Colombia that was named an emergent talent by Lensculture in 2018. With a background in biology her work emerges at the intersection of art and science and she is interested in the effects of trauma on emotions and perception. Her projects are research based and invite chance, experimentation and collaboration highlighting the importance of social bonding in marginal spaces. Her work has been published by Vice, Architectural Review, Lensculture and PH Museum. 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 International Center of Photography and is the author of the book I Write Artist Statements. Sales lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.
SHENG-WEN LO Extendable Ears