Each year as part of Graduate Photography Online we ask a number of professionals from the world of photography to review all the BA work submitted and choose their favourites. We hope this makes an interesting introduction to the project as a whole.
After a difficult year, it seems that we are finally beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. My sense of hope grew as I sifted through the submissions, encouraged by the sensitivity and care evident in the work of so many promising young artists. Indeed, many of the entries reflected in some way upon the peculiar conditions of pandemic life. Several photographers documented their immediate surroundings, either focusing on familial relationships or creating claustrophobic representations of domestic space. Others captured social gatherings - including sporting groups and hobbyists - indicating a longing for human contact that has been so absent of late. I found myself particularly drawn to surprising, dreamy compositions as well as more personal bodies of work, which struck the balance between memorable and thought-provoking. As we become ever more inundated by images online and on our phones, it is increasingly difficult for image-makers to get our attention, but these six artists have made a great start.
Selector's Comment: I was struck by this poetic series of images, which reflect on the artist’s relationship with her sister and her experience of disability. Marsden’s compositions are exquisite and almost painfully tender, featuring close-ups of fingernails and faces in soft tones where every eyelash can be counted. Other works present juxtapositions of delicate blooms and hard-edged medical equipment that skilfully convey the fragility and vulnerability of the body. A highly personal and deeply affecting body of work.
Selector's Comment: In this quirky body of work, female bodies are photographed wearing clothing, but not as we know it. In Lewisohn’s work, a hand rests in a shoe, legs are inserted into an upside down sweater, inverting our expectations in one simple gesture. Brassieres and high heels are transformed from conventional feminine fashions into constricting devices that push painfully at the skin and contort the body. Limbs are presented as anonymous cut-offs, in compositions that dissect the female form for our consumption, critiquing the media’s objectification of women’s bodies. These are simple, polished and punchy pictures that linger in the mind.
Selector's Comment: This diaristic series of images documents the journey of a young trans artist exploring notions of masculinity, identity and performance. The images are direct, raw and deeply personal, indicating an artist who is unafraid to look deeply and honestly at themselves. It is this unflinching gaze that unites these pictures. Using simple black and white self portraits, Naylor conveys the complexities of transitioning and the nuanced and evolving gender expectations that ensue. The hand annotated notes lend a sense of authenticity, inviting us into what is a private and undoubtedly often challenging experience.
Selector's Comment: The saccharine colours of these images - bubblegum pink and powder blue predominate - evoke associations with baby clothes or toys. On closer inspection, however, they appear to be surreal landscapes populated by highly suggestive clay moulded forms redolent of fruit and flowers. In one image, what appears to be candy floss, or perhaps false hair, tumbles casually out of an overturned tumbler in a remarkably biomorphic still life. Rolls of cerise foam are topped by petite rosebuds while in other pictures, a glittery fabric is used to produce rocky lunar-like scenes. These tactile and intriguing compositions are unexpected, equal parts amusing and uncanny.
Selector's Comment: Palmer’s delightful still life compositions depict surprising sculptural assemblages constructed from Jammy Dodgers, sticky marshmallows and cupcakes. Each photograph uses a deep, vivid hue in the background that is reminiscent of the high-gloss aesthetic of advertising imagery. However the whirligig configurations of cheap confectionary and precarious stacked towers suggest something altogether stranger than the banal cliches of marketing campaigns. Instead, these playful images suggest a nostalgia for the simpler time of childhood, when the pleasures of food are first introduced; before, perhaps, it begins to acquire moralistic associations of being healthy or fattening.
Selector's Comment: A most uncanny family is represented in this highly imaginative series of photographs. The subjects lend a dash of horror, wielding bottles of pesticide, deadpan expressions and menacing-looking garden shears in a pathological parody of suburban life. Highly contrived tableaux of fruits and flowers are presented on immaculate dinner tables, while the family’s pastel clothing further underscores the kitschy aesthetic. This rich symbolism is intended as a comment on the overuse of plastic synthetics, introducing chemicals into our food, clothing and bodies that have a toxic impact on our health and the environment.
Selection by Mariama Attah ▸
Curator, Open Eye
Selection by Karin Andreasson ▸
Picture Editor, The Guardian
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