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.
Today, I feel that we just cannot separate the production of images and the political, and it is with this statement in mind that I choose to actively interact, question, and observe artists' work today. Perhaps a key question, to reflect on the turbulent times we’re currently experiencing, is what are the tools that are used to produce, represent, and therefore archive contemporary conditions? What are the narratives that are situated within one’s practice. I was drawn towards the students that have, in some ways or another, focused on this mission of not only capturing but collectively reflecting and questioning through and with the medium. I was particularly interested in bold representations, with for example, the use of humor and unconventional portraiture. Each of the chosen submissions were also perfectly curated by the artists.
Selector's Comment: Melanie’s project is stunning and claims a strong space for another visibility of the Black woman’s body in relation to the medium of photography. It interrogates and intimately offers a subtle interpretation, displacing it from the way that it has historically been subjected to a colonial gaze and violence. The use of unconventional portraiture is excellent by truly experimenting with the medium through multiple forms, colours, materials, and textures to archive Black womens' existence.
Selector's Comment: This series of photographs asks for radical empathy through intimate photographs of homes. The strong focus on the materiality within the homes with the choice of black and white is beautifully witnessed from the viewer. It feels as if the owners are present in these domestic spaces, as we retrace the assembling of the homes, the way objects are carefully placed with love and care, capturing the many stories that are temporarily ghostly held in the space we get to contemplate.
Selector's Comment: This project was produced amid the Covid-19 lockdown and the difficulty of dealing with isolation and loneliness. The series is a social journey that gives agency and space for marginalised gender identities with care and attention. The images are loud and intimate, and they capture a key moment in history. The social and participatory process of the series is refreshing - the photographer seeks for a genuine connection. Therefore, the viewer contemplates moments of joy, strong presences and confidence in the subjects’ facial expressions and body language, away from empowerment politics but solely giving a necessary space of existence.
Selector's Comment: Food and identity feels like an overlooked subject of contemporary photography. The photographs are refreshing, somehow humoristic and daring in the way they are staged too. They are truly unconventional, multiplying the vantage point for each interpretation, people and stories that are captured in the series. They present such a saturated contrast to the intimacy and subtlety of a more traditional approach to food documentation, and are instead framed with the lens of a paparazzi. It is an original take on the politics of food, identity and belonging - this is excellent.
Selector's Comment: Zhihang’s series raises key concerns today in an intrinsic way, utilising the very material at the core of the issue: a machine and technology, as tools of surveillance and overidentification. The partly interactive installation also has an original take on the display of the photographs representing humans as an infinite scroll of data. It is drawing the viewers to take part and interrogating itself while performing and being a part of the subject matter. The work sheds light on an urgent matter that concerns us all.
Selector's Comment: This series is deeply personal and also resonates with the ‘working-class narratives’ that are often left aside. The work offers a space to reclaim those narratives with pride through a fresh and fashionable identity that is bold and colourful, as well as with an original take on collage. We witness in some of the photographs, an honest representation with the exaggerated presence of fashion branding, combined with a caring sense of belonging and collective agency from the subjects.
Selection by Gina Turner ▸
Photo Editor, Bloomberg
Selection by Emma Jones ▸
Curatorial Assistant - Tate
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