Each year as part of Graduate Photography Online we ask a number of professionals from the world of photography to review all the MA/MFA work submitted and choose their favourites. We hope this makes an interesting introduction to the project as a whole.
The range and ambition of the work here was impressive: from quite traditional practices of reportage, landscape and portraiture to conceptually adventurous or visually oblique series. As often, I think the less successful work comes from a tendency to aim at some abstract theme or problem without having found a complex or ambiguous or surprising enough visual or narrative correlative for it. (Or conversely from retrospectively attaching such a topic to images that are not engaging or complex to begin with.) I've chosen photographers who seemed to engage a specific story, place or quality - whose vision mines that milieu for pictures that don't just attach themselves to a topic but properly render it either visually arresting or obscure, but also leave us with some imaginative or conceptual work to do ourselves. It's that that I want in a photograph or a body of work: a sense that however satisfying or startling or instructive the image, something more remains just out of reach.
Selector's Comment: Emma Campbell's series addresses the predicament of women forced to travel for an abortion from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. Some of Campbell's images depict directly the journeys these women take, but it's the more oblique scenes and textures that are most suggestive.
Selector's Comment: Will Jennings has walked the Suffolk coast following the death of his mother, and discovers there a field of material and abstract forms that invite and resist investment with memory. The cuboid forms are replicated in square-format photographs and their rectilinear display.
Selector's Comment: Minerva de Carvalho's repurposing of images from virtual globes - Google Earth is just the most famous of these - mines a familiar seam of found digital imagery, but casts it in terms of a desolate and alien sublime, complete with melancholy black sun. Her small prints aspire to an enigmatic quality that is absent from a lot of work that chases similar themes.
Selector's Comment: Dominic Harris's photographs of former patients and professionals from Kingsley Hall - the clinic-cum-community set up by R. D. Laing in 1965 - is a record a phase in the liberation of the mentally ill and their carers that now seems utopian, if not actually misguided. Harris's photographs restore a degree of character and personality to these figures, overshadowed by their notorious mentor.
Selector's Comment: Vilma Pimenoff's series depicts a sinisterly gleaming world of objects that hover between the everyday and the monstrous. It's a little too easy to invoke 'the uncanny' here - the images invoke a richer photographic history (from the New Objectivity to the montages of Linder Sterling) than that Freudian reference suggests.
Selector's Comment: Shane Lynam's exploration of the suburbs of Paris takes a slightly over-familiar subject - these 'non-places' have been surveyed before, notably by the writer François Maspero - and finds in it an impressively wide range of moods, from wry invasions of colour to sober studies of ex-urban ruin.
Selection by Anne Braybon ▸
Photographic Project Commissioner at The National Portrait Gallery.
Selection by Louise Clements ▸
Artistic Director of Quad and Format International Photography Festival.
Selection by John Duncan ▸
Editor, Source Photographic Review.
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