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.
I was honored to be asked to be on the selectors panel for this year’s MA/MFA graduates. As the year progressed and Covid-19 became pervasive in all areas of life it has been a welcome pause from the relentless news coverage for me. The process of reviewing the projects was stimulating and revitalising and gave me a chance to reconnect with photography beyond the newsfeed. Many of the projects were direct responses to the pandemic, but I was left pondering the indirect influence lockdown would have had on all these artists working at this time. The pressure to complete your final year without the usual face to face discussions and the energy and support from your peers and tutors must have been incredibly tough. Each project is revealing of our shared yet unique experiences through this time. I eventually came to my final selects but it was not without its difficulties as there are many very successful projects here which were on my extremely long short list. I urge you to look beyond those I selected, and to all the graduates I would like to wish you all the very best in the future.
Selector's Comment: I was immediately struck by the richness in the colour in this series, the way the weather on the brink of change affects the light and adds drama to these otherwise quiet landscapes. Following the ideals of the picturesque combined with subtle interventions in the scene, Greenberg has elevated these views into observations on land ownership, the illusion of social and natural harmony with all its underlying tension.
Selector's Comment: I really loved the strong aesthetic cohesion and surreal nature of these photos: this series really stood out for me. I can’t really explain why I love the final image in the sequence or why it works but for me it complements the others in the implied presence of the physical body. The sense of performance and strange reality, the concealing, revealing nature of the light all work beautifully for me. I could spend a lot of time with these pictures.
Selector's Comment: These hypnotic, everyday scenes quietly observed by Lin convey a sense of wonder and fascination to me. I found myself looking for extended amounts of time and returning to them repeatedly. The forensic study of the everyday elevates these compositions to the meditative state that Lin was hoping to achieve, the way light interacts with the surroundings has a lasting appeal. The personal insight of the first apple tree they’d seen which lent the inspiration for the project imparts the whole series with an allure of the ordinary and its ability to be extraordinary.
Selector's Comment: The strength of this series lies in its strong narrative. There’s an immediate familiarity with the sequence; you know the story which has been retold countless times, but with myriad interpretations across various cultures, I am always interested in another telling. The piece is visually arresting and technically adept. The richness of light and shade and the strong compositions add to a sense of intimacy and familiarity and there’s a rhythm and pace to the sequence which adds to the narrative sense.
Selector's Comment: The mix of archival and contemporary photos in this project immediately drew me in. I love historical photos, the faces, and the clues within the pictures while you try to figure out who these people are and why they were photographed. Even now in an era of photography being omnipresent, these types of photos have, for me, a kind of melancholy, as there’s always the shadow of the impermanence of our lives hanging over them. Reading more into the piece I found a fascinating portrait of the artist's grandfather and a thought provoking piece of work.
Selector's Comment: This project imparts a significance to everyday spaces which feel intimate in their sense of place. Some feel quite menacing and unsettling. The rich tones and tight compositions enhance this feeling of intimacy. The exploration of memory is central to this work and I find the investigation of the physical response to a place very interesting and the unease I feel as a response to viewing these works is testimony to its success.
Selection by Sarah Allen ▸
Assistant Curator, International Art - Tate.
Selection by Elizabeth Renstrom ▸
Senior Photo Editor, The New Yorker
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