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.
It has been both interesting and energising to view the variety of submissions from this year’s MA photography graduates. As I would expect, themes and subject matter varied a great deal, and I was impressed by the original use of both technical and narrative devices to tell and re-tell familiar stories. I was especially interested in work that seemed to challenge my definition of what makes an image a photograph, as well as projects that explored the constantly changing influence of social media in contemporary photography and culture. While considering my six choices, I was looking for a balance between stories that stimulated and those that touched me on a more emotional level. Naturally, the execution of the work was important, as well as the extent to which the images worked together to form a consistent narrative. I was very impressed by the ambition, breadth and standard of the work and wish all the graduates the best of luck in their future careers.
Selector's Comment: I liked the multi-layered aspect of this project, not just in its execution, but also in the ambitions of the artist to merge, overlap and challenge the definitions of photography, illustration and collage. The photographs, all derived from Instagram and largely based on the responses of individuals to online images associated with cancer, take on a new identity once they have been merged into each other. There is a beauty but also an unease in the ghost-like faces that we can now only partly see, or the words and clichés associated with illness that we strain our eyes to read. I found myself wanting to go deeper to decipher the images, while being constantly reminded that I was viewing merely a detail of a more complex construction.
Selector's Comment: There is a clever ambiguity to this project, which begins with the title and runs throughout the series. The playful but ‘irritating’ still-life compositions are impressive and artfully constructed, but there is a tension in each photograph which is emphasised by its sparse and clinical composition. The brightness of the images are aesthetically pleasing but at the same time, felt misleading. I enjoyed the surreal interpretation of everyday, often banal objects of domesticity as well as imagining the many different relationship scenarios of the couple who remain forever hidden from our gaze.
Selector's Comment: I was immediately captivated by the young women in this series. Each woman has been photographed in a way that creates a frozen, mannequin aesthetic that seems to contradict the very notion of dance - generally associated with freedom and individuality. The gazes of the young women seem to look inward and the dark background of each image serve to isolate them even further. This series works well as it looks deceptively simple and accessible while simultaneously questioning the role of dance and young female role models in contemporary pop culture.
Selector's Comment: This project stood out for me, firstly because each image is so beautiful and well executed, it’s also an ambitious and original idea. I was intrigued by Voronov’s wish to explore the ‘metaphysical decisive moment’ by attempting to capture the link between the material and spiritual world. Voronov attempts to capture something that will remain forever unknown. While each image is distinctly different, the series still works well as a narrative and has a strong emotional appeal, which is sometimes joyful, like the image of the watermelons, and at other times more private and sublime, in the form of small details and fleeting moments. While it is a subject matter that will probably never be fully resolved, his efforts are admirable.
Selector's Comment: I was intrigued by this project. It stood out for me, as it explores the idea of a photograph as a tangible 3D object using fabric and other structures to achieve this. Clemson is examining the relationship between the photograph and the frame, challenging our conventional idea of the photograph always being the dominant partner and the central image within a frame. I liked the playful approach and ambition of the project as well as the analogy that it makes between merging both image and frame together and the complexity of romantic relationships.
Selector's Comment: The confidence of Ihebom’s gaze in each frame of her series of self-portraits is the first thing that struck me about this compelling body of work. Moving through centuries and decades, the simple execution seems to conceal the layers of historical narratives that she attempts to convey in each image. Part staged, part performance, I found myself wanting to know more about the identities that each self-portrait conveys, and while the idea of staging yourself as characters from the past has been done before, there was an intensity in this work that held my interest.
Selection by Michael Mack ▸
Selection by Catherine Troiano ▸
Curator, National Photography Collections at National Trust.
View Submission Guidelines ▸