Aaron Elkaim’s work, Where the River Runs Through, addresses issues of the utmost importance: environmental degradation, endangered traditional culture of indigenous people, and their deep connection to nature. Elkaim’s photographs achieve a beautiful aesthetic while documenting pressing issues of our times. This approach goes beyond a mere “art for the sake of art” concept, and therefore deserves our admiration and attention.
Extraordinary as they are, there’s more to the eye than the ghoulish and uncanny in Diego Moreno’s Guardians of Memory. The settings are real, of course, and so are the pot-bellied monsters – kind of. These ‘panzudos mercedarios’ represent past sins in the annual festival of Our Lady of Mercy in the photographer’s hometown of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico, a city steeped in Catholic symbolism. Bringing them into domestic settings, where they appear unsettlingly at ease, they embody family ghosts, transmogrified into grotesques living side by side with the present. Indeed, the series was inspired by a dark secret within his own family history – his great aunt Tía Cati, who was horribly disfigured by a rare autoimmune condition, was hidden away from public life and abused, until she was eventually taken in by Moreno and the grandmother who raised him. Behind the masks and costumes in his pictures lies something far more complex and troubling than the stuff of Horror.
Leah Kennedy’s work stood out to me among all the wonderful entries for this competition because of her exquisite sense of composition, color palette and concept. Her images, which explore the relationship between humans and the environment, have resulted in a very strong series of works that are simultaneously beautiful and thought-provoking, directly addressing the mark we make on our landscape.
Drummies is an ongoing series focusing on the aspirational subculture around female drum majorettes in South Africa. I picked this work as one of my favorites because it celebrates the diversity and inclusion of black women in sport, especially those of young women who are looking for further empowerment and ways to succeed. Mann’s images communicate the pride and confidence these girls have achieved through identifying as “drummies,” in a context where they may face many social challenges and stereotypes.
I have to be honest, when I came across this series by Kai Bastard – I immediately took a screenshot of it and sent it to the entire photo department to revel in its beauty like I did. I also wanted to know if I was crazy for loving it, but I quickly got verification from my peers that, “Yes! It’s very awesome.”
What I love about this work is its delicate nature. The lighting and the placements of the “bodies” are perfect. Harsh lighting would have taken it in another direction completely, almost making it crime-y. I can’t tell if they’re supposed to be floating in the air or discarded on the ground. The latter would make more sense with the controversial prop, but I don’t feel like I’m looking at something dirty. One knows what they are right away, and then you look further and see details that you might not want to remember.
This project is such a great conceptual piece for so many topics, and it really makes me want to encourage the WIRED editors to quickly greenlight a story on “the loss of mojo” or “the bankruptcy of a what-once-was a flourishing sex toy factory,” so that we can splatter our pages and website with all of these!
You do not have to be under a certain age to be an emerging talent. Barbara Peacock has been making photographs for many years, and her series American Bedroom - Reflections of the Nature of Life stood out by virtue of its strong visual composition, conveyance of intimacy, and rigor in her approach. Peacock is definitely a photographer to watch.
Ronghui Chen’s pictures of Chinese adolescents growing up in a once-booming remote area tell a universal story of young people at critical turning points in their lives. They seem globally connected yet terribly set apart from any worldly opportunities in the declining industrial town where they were born. Should they stay or should they go? What fate awaits them? The series title, Freezing Land, is both an observation of their local environment and recognition of this limbo-like state in which they currently find themselves. The pictures seem fresh, honest and poignant — with tiny details that carry a lot of weight.
My personal choice among this year’s emerging artists is Marta Blue. Her work appealed to me because it holds one of the most important features of great photography: it makes me ask many questions. The clarity with which the series is imbued makes every photo a small film script, where I can immediately start to imagine the complete storyline.
December 12-22, 2018
89 Water St, Brooklyn
New York 11201
December 13, 2018
Wednesday – Saturday
11am – 6pm
and by appointment.
Simon Bainbridge has spent much of his 25 years in arts journalism as editor of British Journal of Photography, taking over in 2003 and transforming the weekly trade journal into an award-winning monthly magazine. He has curated five exhibitions: Paper, Rock, Scissors: The Constructed Image in New British Photography at Flash Forward Festival 2010 in Boston (with colleague Diane Smyth); Time & Motion studies: New documentary photography beyond the decisive moment at Hereford Photography Festival 2011; Portrait of Britain (nationwide, 2016-18); and Ones To Watch at Peckham 24. He is working on two books; the first one based on the acclaimed public art project, Portrait of Britain, with Hoxton Mini Press, the other a book on portraits of artists. In additional, he has served as a judge or nominator on more than 100 photography contests, including the Deutsche Börse, Prix Pictet, Amnesty International Media Awards, ING Unseen Talent, CAP Prize and Organ Vida, and has been an expert at dozens of portfolio reviews across Europe.
Anna Alexander is Director of Photography at WIRED in San Francisco. She’s been producing photo shoots and commissioning WIRED photographers for approximately twenty years. She took a hiatus from WIRED as the Photo Director at Dwell from 2011-2013. Anna has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from the University of Arizona. Anna resides in the Marin County city of Novato with her husband and two children.
In 1995, art collector Roy Kahmann founded Het Hoofbureau, a combination design studio and advertising consultancy agency. From this company emerged the very first online photography gallery in Europe: Vintagephoto.nl. Three years later, Kahmann opened an actual art gallery called HUP Gallery. In 2009 it would change its name to Kahmann Gallery, which now represents 35 vintage and contemporary photographers. Kahmann’s love for both design and photography also came together in GUP Magazine, the international photography magazine founded in 2005. It has been around for 13 years and is available in 30 countries.
Kahmann’s latest initiative is Haute Photographie, a new photography fair with a concept unlike any other. The fair is centered around a group exhibition and features works by the grand masters from the history of photography as well as the youngest and most exciting young talents working with the medium today. Haute Photographie is a boutique photography fair with the allure of a museum.
Alexa Becker is the Acquisitions Editor for photography and art books for Kehrer Verlag. Kehrer Verlag is among the world’s leading publishers of photo books and one of the few independent publishing houses in Germany. Having obtained her Master’s in Art History from the University of Heidelberg, Becker started her career at Kehrer in 2003, where she is responsible for selecting and acquiring new photography-related projects.
In addition to her work at the publishing house, Alexa frequently serves at international photography festivals as a portfolio reviewer and is involved in several online competitions as a juror. Furthermore, she has curated the Critical Mass 2017 Top 50 Exhibition for photolucida (2018), as well as Feature Shoot’s Print Swap Exhibition (2018). Her insights on publishing photo books have been featured in interviews (LensCulture, Don’t Take Pictures) and guidebooks such as “Publish Your Photography Book” (2011) from Mary Virginia Swanson and Darius Himes.
Caroline Wall is the Director of the Robert Mann Gallery. She graduated from McGill University with a degree in Art History and began her career in the art world at the O’Hara Gallery before joining the team at Robert Mann Gallery in 2006. Robert Mann Gallery features several emerging artists along with an impressive roster of international superstars.
With the gallery, Caroline has participated in many national and international art fairs and works with numerous contemporary photographers and estates organizing both solo and curated group exhibitions. Caroline is a member of the Board of Directors of AIPAD.
Steven Evans is an artist, writer, curator and executive director of the award-winning arts organization FotoFest International, which created the first and longest running international Biennial of Photography and New Media Art in the U.S. Appointed in 2014, Evans is responsible for exhibitions, art programs, administration and FotoFest Biennial organization.
Evans co-curated the FotoFest 2018 Biennial central exhibition INDIA: Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art and the 2016 Biennial central exhibition Changing Circumstances: Looking at the Future of the Planet. He represents FotoFest at photography events around the world, including Argentina, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Great Britain, India, Latvia, Mexico, and the Netherlands, and South Korea. Prior to FotoFest, Evans worked with a wide range of artists and collaborators as managing director of the Dia:Beacon Museum in New York State and as director of the Linda Pace Foundation in San Antonio, Texas. His curatorial work incorporates a range of approaches with a focus on photography, moving image, and new media art.
Established in 2004, The Magenta Foundation is Canada’s pioneering charitable arts-publishing house. Magenta was created to advocate for and showcase the work of artists in an international context, through circulated exhibitions and publications. Magenta has continued to evolve by finding new and innovative ways to connect artists to the global arts world and is always expanding its publishing departments, to bring the most notable artists forward.
MaryAnn Camielleri is the founder and co-producer of The Magenta Foundation and Flash Forward Festival. Known and respected for her commitment to providing a platform for emerging talent, and to increasing the profile of under- documented established artists, Camilleri is sought out to provide advice and guidance to individuals, corporations and non-profit organizations. She is always looking for engaging projects that can translate well into an exhibition or a publication.
Jim Casper is the editor-in-chief of LensCulture, one of the leading online destinations to discover contemporary photography from around the world. As an active member in the contemporary photography world, Casper organizes annual international photography events, travels across the globe to meet with photographers and review their portfolios, curates art exhibitions, writes about photography and culture, lectures, conducts workshops, serves as an international juror and nominator for key awards, and is an advisor to arts and education organizations.
LensCulture would like to thank every photographer who participated in this competition—your entries, which came from all over the world, have been a true inspiration to view and consider! We would also like to extend our sincere gratitude to the members of the jury who worked long and hard reviewing the entries to the competition, ultimately selecting the brilliant work displayed here.