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 was a pleasure and a privilege to look through the work of the MA cohort. Many are working at a high level, and I was pleased to see so many students creating well-structured bodies of work with coherent narratives. I was also particularly impressed by the self-assuredness of approaches and techniques on display, especially at a time when the availability of critical resources was so limited and physical meetups with tutors and other students may have been impossible. The work I have selected is by students who, in my mind, have approached their subject with an independent vision that shows mature intellectual and technical knowledge. They are using photography with a developed awareness of the medium. Picking only six from such a strong group wasn’t easy, and I want to congratulate all students on the scope and standard of their final projects in what continues to be a challenging time.
Selector's Comment: It was refreshing to see Baklan’s playful interventions in the landscape. Using photography to document a transient moment, their work encourages the viewer to really look and take notice. Strong use of colour and staged scenes create an unexpected juxtaposition between the natural and the manmade. The outcome is both comedic and magical, as the scene is transformed into a place in-between reality and fiction. Baklan’s work provides a new framework for engagement with landscape, and she is effectively challenging traditional forms of looking by inviting in something altogether more exciting.
Selector's Comment: Ichida’s series is stunning. The way images are spliced, mirrored, and related is perfectly executed. An experimental approach to self-portraiture is revealed here, as the human form goes beyond the aesthetic toward something emotionally felt and existential. Questions of morality and grief are difficult and heavy topics, and it is done here with a confident precision that is evocative rather than explicit. Ichida’s approach suggests an intricate knowledge of both form and technique. I look forward to seeing what they do next.
Selector's Comment: At a time when the domestic space has become a source of inspiration for many, Lam’s work stands out. The soft black and white palette creates a warmth appropriate to the subject matter – the photographs feel like home. There is a quiet meditative quality to these images, wherein small details reveal the creativity and personality found in different households. These are portraits without the subject needing to be included in the frame. Lam’s approach is sympathetic and non-intrusive, using photography to demonstrate how self-expression is found in the most private of spaces.
Selector's Comment: It was the complex construction of these images, the cuttings, twistings and foldings, that really drew me in. The physicality of both photograph and object are well paired here. The black background is a clever aesthetic choice, meaning that these impossible buildings float in space and become almost three dimensional. Learning that these works explore the complexities of migration casts them in a new light – there is certainly something fragile to be found in the creases of these architectural forms, a hidden story that is waiting to be told.
Selector's Comment: Both the content and execution of Li’s work demonstrates an artist really owning their practice. ‘Waterfall’ suggests an accomplished understanding of machine learning, but also explores the complexities of our technological world brilliantly. The slippage between self, image and machine raises interesting questions about how we perceive ourselves in relation to technology and, further, how it perceives us. Pertinent questions, particularly given the current moment. To see the ribbons of portraits forming at the bottom of the piece meanwhile felt incredibly tactile. I’d love to see it in a gallery space.
Selector's Comment: I was impressed by the cohesive aesthetic in Tanrıöver’s series. This is a body of work that has a strong visual hook with precise lines and strong contrast between black and white. The difficult subject matter is implicitly visualised through metaphor in a way that binds language and image effectively. There is something unsettling and almost violent in these images but, at the same time, a playfulness too. The institutional voice that Tanrıöver is critiquing is responded to but ultimately cast aside. That such a complex subject is navigated with such a clear vision is a testament to Tanrıöver’s capability.
Selection by Cindy Sissokho ▸
Curator, New Art Exchange
Selection by Gina Turner ▸
Photo Editor, Bloomberg
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