“Untitled”, from the series NARDO, 2016Photography Durimel

Meet six emerging photographers at the forefront of a new era

FOAM Talent is back this year with a list of young artists exploring war, gender, raving, and fantasy

For over 12 years now, Amsterdam-based leading photography magazine, Foam, has released an annual shortlist of photographic talent who are defining new parameters of the medium. This year, Foam Talent returns as a powerful representation of how emerging photographers from the United Kingdom to Ghana and back are using far-reaching contexts to bring to innovate a medium that is over 200 years old. “The submissions, coming from all over the world, create a map of the ever-changing, and very well alive, photographic medium,” explains Foam’s managing editor, Elisa Medde. “It is comforting to us to be able to say the only constant is that, in spite of the cyclical emergency calls, photography is very well alive.”

This year’s shortlist features the likes of unabashed London-based Maisie Cousins, whose work addresses all that is beautifully grotesque, to Dazed-100er, New York-based Daniel Shea who uses photography as a way to the residential boom on Long Island, and Los Angeles based duo Durimel, who use photography to explore black masculinity. Through a strong diversity of photographic approaches, the list explores themes such as feminism, gentrification, gender equality, the ecstasy of raving, and the ravaged state of war. “Each year’s talent call is a very interesting barometer of our world, or better, of how a younger generation sees it. The themes are deep and complex and the general colour palette is somewhat sombre. Even when images are extremely colourful, as in Maisie Cousins’ case, the word decadent comes to mind way more often than lighthearted, especially when it comes to European and North American projects.”

“It is comforting to us to be able to say the only constant is that, in spite of the cyclical emergency calls, photography is very well alive” – Elisa Medde

When reflecting on the innovation of the new talents shortlist, Medde adds that “Today’s emerging photographers keep crossing the borders with striking ease. The making of classic two-dimensional representation is interchangeable with object installations, making the experience of the work as important as its vision. Archival materials and camera-less imagery keep having a very important role in the creation process, together with multi-layered long-term researches.”

Advancing Foam Talent this year is a stronger focus on turning eyes to places beyond the Western gaze. “There is this very powerful influx of new energy and creativity coming from the African continent and East Asia, especially China and South Korea. This is the most interesting aspect about the talent call, it gives us a hint of the works we will be working at more and more in the years to come.”

In celebration of Foam Talent, Medde walks us through six out of the 20 shortlisted photographers and why their work is important.

MAISIE COUSINS, UK

Elisa Medde: Maisie Cousin’s body of work lends the Talent selection a compelling element of beauty and decay. The colours, forms and intention of the work force us to focus on the shied away details in our daily lives. As Cousins says herself, ‘I like to celebrate every part of what the body does, it is visceral and fluid and hopes to work actively against destructive images and damaging misogynistic ideals of beauty.’

JALAN & JIBRIL DURIMEL, FRANCE

Elisa Medde: Durimel engage in performance and theatrics to share stories in which the black body in photography is not only represented but celebrated. Blending fashion photography, and visual and cultural politics, Durimel provides a route for exploring black beauty and explain that ‘We are specifically interested in photographing the black human form in a graceful, romantic way often at one with their natural environments.’

DANIEL SHEA, AMERICA

Elisa Medde: Daniel Shea is the recipient of the 2018 Foam Paul Huf Award. This entitles him to be included de facto in the talents selection. 43-35 10th Street is a book about architecture and its relationship to ideological and socioeconomic shifts. His very simple premise was to observe the residential boom in his neighbourhood of New York City, Long Island City. As he suggests ‘Architectural forms, from disparate places and historical moments, evolve and echo. If modernist architecture reflected a utopia of civic engagement, neoliberalism's departure comes in the form of a utopia of consumer engagement.’

VALENTINE BO, UKRAINE

Elisa Medde: Valentine Bo offers viewers photographic insight into striving for, and ultimately failing, in the human desire to transcend the bounds of earth. Visually, this series is unusual in its layering and presentation of the uncanny. Using ideas of cults, social movements and religion to explore human conformity, Bo is ‘taken by the ability of people faced with estrangement in modern society, to find some kind of transcendence in such cults.’

ERIC GYAMFI, GHANA

Elisa Medde: Eric Gyamfi’s work typically takes the form of personal and long-term projects. This approach uses photography as a way to witness and capture life and, in this case, as Gyamfi mentions, ‘takes a more inward-looking approach to talking about home, and how memories are made.’

DIMA KOMAROV, RUSSIA

Elisa Medde: Dima Komarov is interested in making a space and place for the current generation of young people in Russia. He uses photography as a means of documenting, sharing and reminding us of the vibrancy of youth. Komarov’s photos are a beautiful editorial addition in their straightforward, casual nature.

You can read the full Foam Talent shortlist here

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