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.
Looking at projects by young, emerging photographers is both an enjoyable and essential part of curatorial work. Fresh and enthused perspectives push me to think about my own approaches, inspiring energised interpretations of historical and contemporary photography alike. Reviewing these graduate projects, I was impressed by the range among the submissions. Many bodies of work demonstrated an astute and nuanced representation of poignant topics such as transnationalism, contested histories, migration and self-identity. I was particularly pleased to see how many photographers took the time to develop complex conceptual bases to support the visual language of their work, and I was glad to notice consistent levels of execution. Ultimately, I chose projects that were particularly well conceptualised portrayals of personal, social or cultural commentaries. I found them to be compelling evocations of the artist’s intention that effectively communicate with their viewers.
Selector's Comment: Broadhead’s sensitive exploration of his ancestral heritage stood out for its formal and conceptual strength. The pictures are quietly confident, evoking a clear sense of journey into family history and the artist’s desire to understand his own experiences in relation to photographic roots in his paternal lineage. There were numerous projects engaging with similar notions of personal pasts, however, this was particularly convincing in its ability to adeptly straddle the delicate boundaries of time, place and personhood.
Selector's Comment: Hadzhiyska’s original approach established this project as one of the strongest among the submissions. Dealing with severe historical and political subject matter, the pictures convey the anguish of violence without aestheticising violence itself. Instead, her photographs form part of a multi-disciplinary project that evokes lived experiences of repression through repetition, silence and private protest. Many submissions engaged with archival materials; however, Hadzhiyska’s implementation of archives not only supports the premise of the project but elevates its result, working coherently with moving and still images to bridge the gaps between archive, experience, past and present.
Selector's Comment: Relatively few projects engaged with online media in such a confident manner. The strength of this project lies is its interrogation not only of digital culture, but in the social and political environments that provoke behaviour reliant upon technology. Fordham’s interventions and proficient sequencing weaves a dynamic narrative of presence, absence and distance. Interrogating the political collateral of contemporary Britain, Fordham’s work evokes familiarity without being derivative, confronting the viewer to see themselves in each of the families caught up in the depicted struggle.
Selector's Comment: Among the staged submissions, this project stood out for its simple and powerful approach. Ihebom’s series of meticulously staged self-portraits captures centuries of history, narrating complex themes of colonialism, identity and womanhood with exceptional finesse. The attention to detail is remarkable, and Ihebom’s consideration of gaze, distance, angles and balance affords each of her women a sense of unmistakeable individuality. Ihebom breathes new life into iconic literary precedent, and her work eloquently examines the relationship between fiction and reality; and between personal and collective experiences.
Selector's Comment: Hoare’s compelling commentary on wealth and aspiration in Australian society offers a moving portrayal of core human desire. Taking as his point of departure the paradox that Australia has both the highest median wealth per capita and the largest gambling problem, Hoare explores notions of success and failure, and the value systems upon which social structures are built. Hoare’s pictures are cinematic visualisations of constructed realities that mirror the hazy promises of gambling. His skill in executing both colour and black and white photographs adds to a sense of turbulence in the work, reminding the viewer of unease and inequality prevalent in even the wealthiest of nations.
Selector's Comment: This project stood out for Hynan’s impeccable execution, evoking a tenacious stillness in the images that effortlessly carries the weight of the work’s environmental theme. The photographs possess a monumentality that suggest a point of no return; a moment of reckoning between the past and the future, and discovery and loss. Carefully balancing the sometimes-contradictory requirements of these peat lands, Hynan’s images are at once expansive and immediate, reminding of the urgency of environmental degradation and the human impact of these responsibilities.
Selection by Caroline Hunter ▸
Picture Editor, Guardian Weekend Magazine.
Selection by Michael Mack ▸
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