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Justin French (USA)
Photography Justin French (USA)

25 photographers to know from across the globe

Red Hook Labs searched the world over to pick some of the most exciting young and unrepresented photographers working today – here we meet some of them

There was a time when photographers would rarely been given a second glance without agency representation. But a new wave of talents aren’t waiting around for industry recognition, instead, they’ve put their time into capturing vital stories from around the globe. It’s these people that Red Hook Labs – a public benefit corporation which is dedicated to establishing creative communities and self-sustaining businesses in developing areas through education, events, and programming – was looking for when curating its just-opened show Labs New Artists.

Featuring 25 of the finest young and unrepresented photographers working today, Red Hook Labs (with the help of a jury) has crossed the globe and enlisted talent from Turkey to the USA, Georgia, Japan, France, Canada and the UK.

Below we meet some of the photographers who will see their work shown, and find out more about their process and their projects:

EMMA RESSEL, USA

What is it that inspires you to take photographs?

Emma Ressel: I’m inspired by all the ways that humans experience food aside from eating it. Food is loaded with potent symbolic value, and I spend a lot of time thinking about what food has represented in photographs throughout the history of photography. I am forever inspired by Dutch still life paintings, the gastronomer MFK Fisher, and of course, things that I am tasting, smelling and seeing.

What does your photography tend to centre around?

Emma Ressel: My work comes from a place of experimenting with, and pushing the boundaries of, what still life food photography can mean. In each of my projects, I combine several different literary, historical, and narrative texts to dream up surreal still life tableaus. I utilise historical cookbooks, the work of gastronomer MFK Fisher, and most recently food mythology. Each photograph holds the tension of a person having just left the scene. In the absence of humans, the food becomes incredibly dynamic and alive.

Tell us about the work included in the Labs New Artists show?

Emma Ressel: It’s called “Olives in the Street”, which I made Lugo, a little town in northern Italy, as part of a residency in 2016. I made the project over the course of one month, wandering around town collecting ingredients, artifacts, and thoughts about the food I was encountering. I created still life tableaus all over Lugo, which I almost think of as shrines. An artists book of “Olives in the Street” will be published later this summer. Stay tuned!

What do you hope people feel or see when they look at your work?

Emma Ressel: I hope that my work causes people to have strong visceral reactions of both desire and disgust. My work teeters on the edge of beautiful and grotesque, and I am happy when people respond to both ends of that spectrum. I love when people create their own story of what they see happening in the photograph. I hope viewers feel that they have uncovered a secret and bizarre world of food.

HARRIS MIZRAHI, USA

What is it that inspires you to take photographs?

Harris Mizrahi: I’m not sure any one thing inspires me. As an artist, I think the most fulfilling and difficult feeling to achieve is in creating work that surprises you. When you've done it and it looks like nothing that's ever come from you before, but still feels wholly yours-that is a very special feeling. However, very soon after, that high fades and the need to do better is overwhelming and increasingly difficult with each occurrence. Photography is like a drug in that way.

What does your photography tend to centre around?

Harris Mizrahi: The photographs I take tend to always revolve around a place of vulnerability and portraiture.

Tell us about the work included in the Labs New Artists show?

Harris Mizrahi: The work in this show is a selection of photographs from a much larger long term project, titled "Inside Out".  Battling the deep depression and seductive mania of my bipolar disorder, I would drive as far as I could from home before tiring, much of the time with no thought of return. The trips serve as a form of therapy where my own state of vulnerability and desire to be accepted allow me to sympathise with and photograph the people I met with honesty, empathy and an intimacy not typically awarded to strangers. However, as a photographer, I am soliciting my subject’s vulnerability and in return must openly cede my own.

What do you hope people feel or see when they look at your work?

Harris Mizrahi: For me, one of the most exciting parts of reading photographs is the experience of making up my own stories and bringing my own experiences into someone else's work. I love that the meaning of an image can evolve and change every time it's revisited. I want people to be able to have that sort of experience with my work; for the meaning of the image to remain fluid and transcend the actuality of the occurrence it depicts. My intent is not for these pictures to tell the truth about a person or an encounter but for them to have the ability to convey truths about the complex and often fragile human condition.

VINNA LAUDICO, CANADA

What is it that inspires you to take photographs?

Vinna Laudico: Currently the street and people on the street.

What does your photography tend to centre around?

Vinna Laudico: Subconsciousness and the outsiders.

Tell us about the work included in the Labs New Artists show?

Vinna Laudico: There are these three street portraits and two images from my trip to Mexico last year.

What do you hope people feel or see when they look at your work?

Vinna Laudico: I'll be happy if they can just enjoy them.

JUSTIN FRENCH, USA

What is it that inspires you to take photographs?

Justin French: The freedom of being able to grant a physical depiction to my own imagination.

What does your photography tend to centre around?

Justin French: I like to approach all of my imagery as though it exists within the multiverse, I try to make the work feel a world apart from our own.

Tell us about the work included in the Labs New Artists show?

Justin French: It’s a selection from three separate projects that explore adversity, identity, and autonomy.

What do you hope people feel or see when they look at your work?

Justin French: I really want my work to feel almost therapeutic to viewers, to allow their mind to relax and run freely, imagining what is going on within the image

JOYCE NG, HONG KONG

What is it that inspires you to take photographs?

Joyce NG: Facts alone are boring. Beauty alone is boring. Desire is doomed to be commercial. Commerce is dismissed as ugly. I feel spoiled, but photography is my tool to overthink problems and over analyse the way I grew up (in and out of malls every single day) and then make it as if the photo isn’t about me. Cantonese is a dialect that is not short of puns and wordplay. I’m bad with words but the language no doubt informs my thought process. I take photos so I could combine elements, like soy sauce on vanilla ice cream, and suggest it as a potential.

What does your photography tend to centre around?

Joyce NG: Growing up in malls and Hong Kong.

What do you hope people feel or see when they look at your work?

Joyce NG: Realness with a sprinkle of MSG. To have them caught between “I want it” and “But I already know it”.

KENTA NAKAMURA, JAPAN

What is it that inspires you to take photographs?

Kenta Nakamura: It’s daily life. For example, I listen to a favorite radio programme, music. I put my feelings into photographs.

What does your photography tend to centre around?

Kenta Nakamura: Instinctively I choose to use my own sense of beauty. It's not about their age or physical outline.

THEO DE GUELTZL, FRANCE

What is it that inspires you to take photographs?

Theo De Gueltzl: For me, the action of taking photographs justifies my fascination with odd places and individuals, or communities, that are different to myself. I’m drawn to the Other – the foreign – and use my camera almost like a protective shield, that allows me to remain in the position of the observer. In my photographic work, talking to strangers, intruding on their space and taking a very personal moment and image challenges me. What influences my photography more objectively, is my experience with sculptural work: my interest for light in space through sculpture. The medium of photography allows me to work with light as a prime material.

What does your photography tend to centre around?

Theo De Gueltzl: I see photography as an intuitive and direct way to express myself. It is my passion and language, something that is part of my quotidian life. Photographs allow me to tell a story without words, to express my emotions without explanation, to create a second layer of reality. Through applying an aesthetic to reality I can demonstrate my vision. While taking photos, I like being close to the action, often almost wishing to become transparent, invisible. To become an element rather than an intruder of the subject that I choose. Empathy plays a big role in my approach to a subject matter. I stay connected with a place and its people, believing and following my intuition, to then create both a personal and universal response that aims to raise awareness on important issues. 

Tell us about the work included in the Labs New Artists show?

Theo De Gueltzl: It’s called “Ju’lhoansi” – the name of a group of San, living in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia. The San, also called the Bushmen, is for me the most poetic example of the fragility of our cultural diversity. They are the direct descendants of the first people on this planet. As hunters and gatherers, they survive in one of the harshest and most forbidding environments, solely through the interconnection with nature and their surroundings. Their life is in such contrast to our reality of the world: the concept of time is non-existent. They don’t care about money or competition – they are a sharing community. They hunt as little as they need to survive, they heal their ill-fallen with the roots and leaves of the bush and summon the ancestral spirits in their dreams if they need advice. They practice such respect for nature, as they know how dependent we are on it in order to live. Yet these communities get closed-in and influenced by modern civilisation so that they are threatened to lose their culture and identity. There is a text that goes along with the photo series of the Ju’hoansi which is titled “Manifest to protect the diversity of cultures”. From time to time I think it is essential to leave our bubble of western society in order to regain different perspectives on life.

This series draws parallels to the subjects that my photography tends to center around. I am drawn to people who live at the margin of modern society, who are threatened to be swallowed up by it, yet continue to follow their own way of life – whether with or against their will. To me, they are proposing different ways of seeing the world. In my opinion, this diversity of cultures needs to be maintained, I feel strongly opposed to the normalisation and assimilation of cultures to one consistent modern society. Neither do I believe in the term “civilised society” as something that is superior to any other type of society, clan or family of this world.

What do you hope people feel or see when they look at your work?

Theo De Gueltzl: I hope that through the aesthetics of my photographs I would achieve to interest the viewer about the subject in depth. I want people to recognise something they haven’t seen before, from an angle that is new to them. Also, I hope to inspire people to be different, whether it would be to live differently, think differently or to just see themselves differently. Everything is relative and I hope to emphasise this with my photography.

ISABEL MAGOWAN, USA

What is it that inspires you to take photographs?

Isabel Magowan: I take photographs because I feel stifled and because I feel intensely. Words have often fallen short for me. Language feels finite and infinite all at once, which at times feels oppressive and frustrating. I sit here and struggle to put into words the complexity of the emotions that drive me to make pictures. The world is so vast and I am so anxious and the contradictions of life are heartbreaking, cruel, amusing, beautiful, and so many other things that I could list here, but that image might begin to more effectively convey. Much of my work is inspired by my childhood, the things I felt, but did not know and was incapable of expressing.

What does your photography tend to centre around?

Isabel Magowan: I am confounded and fascinated by the connection between identity and materiality; The things we are sold, the cultural messages we receive and internalise, the intimacy or lack thereof that can exist all at once. The slipperiness of perception, that, at first glance things may look wonderful. But what happens when we make ourselves vulnerable to question that all is not as it appears? Themes of self-image and worth in a hyper-saturated consumer society. The idea of life as a spectacle: my experience as a child performer often shows itself in motifs and themes. To what extent are we always performing? The tension between what the audience sees on the stage with its choreographed, beautiful performers, wonderful props, and sets, all fantasy, but just smoke and mirrors that belie the dirty and often painful and strenuous reality of what the reality of life behind the curtain actually is.

Tell us about the work included in the Labs New Artists show?

Isabel Magowan: The work featured is mainly from my series “Cygnets”, a body of work that explores the moments where innocence, in its imaginative naiveté, becomes increasingly at odds with a growing self-awareness.

What do you hope people feel or see when they look at your work?

Isabel Magowan: I want to make work that subverts our assumptions of the good life by questioning to what extent appearance and materialism can mask the reality of one's inner turmoil. I ask the viewer to project their own understanding of the image as it relates to the contradictions and complex emotional states of one's lived experience. If my work is successful, it will stimulate the viewer to exercise their imaginary muscle, their emotional core, and to feel, deeply.

NIKKI KRECICKI, USA

What is it that inspires you to take photographs?

Nikki Kreckcki: I love narratives. I love sitting with a friend, listening and telling stories. Having a camera allows me create these moments that go on to tell a bigger story. Stitching together fact and fiction that will evolve into a visual story. As I photograph more, it's clear that I am drawn to scenes that remind me of home. I strive to bring together past and present experiences to create a new story.

What does your photography tend to centre around?

Nikki Kreckcki: My photography tends to have an intimate presence. I moved from the idea of intimacy only being displayed through sexuality to studying and capturing intimate interactions. Whoever I photograph, whether it's my grandmother or a model, I want to view them like a family member to capture stillness and sincerity. It’s really special when both you and the subject can let your guard down for the photograph.

Tell us about the work included in the Labs New Artists show?

Nikki Kreckcki: In the show, I have some of my pieces from my series “Jane & I”. Over the past three years, I documented my grandmother in my family’s garden. Through this, our relationship grew. We are more understanding of one another because we've realized our similarities. Even at the age of 90, she still has a thirst for life. Every time we walk through the garden I was her long, graceful fingers brush against the leaves. I know I'll be doing the same thing in 60 years. The series portrays my own youthful characteristics projected onto Jane's aged body, but it's also a celebration of her. As I pulled garments from my closet and dressed her up, she would grow excited. I knew she felt beautiful again. 

What do you hope people feel or see when they look at your work?

Nikki Kreckcki: I hope people see the tenderness in the beauty of the subject, whether it's an unripe pear or Jane. I hope people see that there is dignity in the overlooked. 

LUCY RIDGARD, UK

What is it that inspires you to take photographs?

Lucy Ridgard: Youth culture, all different cultures, new places and countries, teenagers, style on the old and young. The eccentric and odd. My hometown. Haystacks, cul-de sacs, villages, open fields and country roads. Weird shadows and pools of light. New age travellers, rave culture, art school kids. The colour of someone's hair, their face, outfit or attitude. The work of Joana Vasconcelos, Daniel Meadows, Larry Sultan, Roger Ballen, Joseph Szabo, Ken Loach, Shane Meadows and John Hughes. 

What does your photography tend to centre around?

Lucy Ridgard: A lot of Teenagers! From the UK and abroad. Style tribes. Youth culture, youth, and social movements, individuality. Young people from my hometown of Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk. 

Tell us about the work included in the Labs New Artists show?

Lucy Ridgard: All the work is shot on film in colour. The photos are part of an ongoing project since 2007 of teenagers I’ve found from in and around my hometown of Bury St Edmunds. These young peoples experimentation with identity, remind me of my own youth growing up in East Anglia through the 80s and 90s.  

What do you hope people feel or see when they look at your work?

Lucy Ridgard: Intrigued... interested in the subjects in the photos. To see a slice of history, some social comment, and a window into my past. There are two worlds colliding – the freedom and idyllic nature of the countryside juxtaposed with the self-constructed styles and edgy look of the teenagers.

CAN DAGARSLANI, TURKEY

What is it that inspires you to take photographs?

Can Dagarslani: First of all, I enjoy observing, especially objects, their colours, and textures. I always take notes of these visuals, which then inspire me in my everyday life. So the ongoing daily life inspires me the most and serves as a starting point for me.

My architectural expertise has definitely had an influence on the space-object analysis. The perception of the space, the perspectives and the layers of it become a journey for me while creating my compositions.

I also take a strong interest in other disciplines like fashion, cinematography and the art of painting and they have an impact on my work.

What does your photography tend to centre around?

Can Dagarslani: The search for “identity” is the point of origin of my work. I focus on a balanced sense of serenity, a touch of sensitive realism and a kind knot of contrast pastel volumes complete the little, slitty bizarre, yet equally intriguing stories.

Tell us about the work included in the Labs New Artists show?

Can Dagarslani: In “Serenity”, there sure is a strong bond between people and their experiences in terms of shaping one another. Yet, is it only possible to reach serenity while getting old? I made this series, which questions the existence of a practical way of life in serenity, in the Bauhaus school of Dessau. The starting point of the series became the contrast I wanted to create between the models and the three main colours of Bauhaus that are red, blue and yellow, while bringing out the organic changes of perception that is evident in my works.

What do you hope people feel or see when they look at your work?

Can Dagarslani: Nothing I do has a purpose. Human relations, the fragility of our social boundaries, love, identities are some of my preferable thematic, that blend in a vortex of what can easily be described as the new normal. And perhaps at the end of the day, that’s my biggest asset, documenting and exposing the limits of our generation’s “New Normal”, complete with everything that makes a precious, and intimate abnormality. 

Labs New Artists is open now at New York City’s Red Hook Gallery until 30 July 2017. Click here for more information