This article is part of a series on art today to support the Dazed x Converse Emerging Artists Award Check out the rest of content here and make sure to visit the Royal Academy in London before 17th May to see all the work IRL.
“The world is too interesting and too boring at the same time,” cries one page in The Age of Earthquakes, a recent release by writer Douglas Coupland, Shumon Basar and Hans Ulrich Obrist. It’s a statement that succinctly summarises our over-stimulated present and pre-empts a widely practiced (and strangely ironic) coping strategy: our constant impulse to capture and frame our experience for others and ourselves. Taking pics has become the default way to navigate our reality, however, there are some individuals who happen to be a little more talented at immortalising fleeting moments with style and perspective. In the light of the Dazed x Converse Emerging Artists' Award, we list the top Instagram accounts that’ll freshen up your feed, all manned by emerging photographers pushing the app’s rolling grid into new territory.
Muller once remarked that she takes photos because it’s not messy and it feels like stealing. Whilst the masses seem mostly clumsy at their photo-crime pursuits, this Toronto-native has a talent for thieving moments where humour, sensuality and weirdness intersect. The NYC-based artist and member of Petra Collin’s all-girl collective, The Ardorous, dabbled with disposable cameras as a pre-teen before nursing an obsession with grainy cell phone pics. Her Instagram, leading on from her beautifully offbeat portfolio, captures everyday obscenities and individuals both classy and crass.
“We want to convey a certain mood and taste of youth. The older we are, the more conservative we become and it's very sad,” the Ukrainian collective told Dazed last year, divulging their fascination with riotous adolescence. Keen to preserve the wildness of youth in photographic form, Gorsad – which literally translates in to “urban garden” – are creating a better kind of Never Land, a hedonistic world filled with unhinged sexuality, supple limbs and playful profanity. Follow the trio’s slick account for a candid portrayal of Ukrainian youth culture.
Raised in Israel and currently based in NYC, Toledano is all sugar-sweet Americana infused with 90’s teen movie nostalgia. A dreamy feed of pinked-out bedrooms and cute desert towns, the photographer and art director documents friendship and femininity through a romantic lens. Having studied fashion design at Parsons, Mayan also collaborates with Julia Baylis on design label Me and You (their ‘Feminist’ panties are a must-have). Follow Mayan here and envy the heavenly adolescence you wish you lived.
Day has photographed period-stained panties, pot-bellied bikers, and a lithe old man rocking beige stockings. All in all, it’s fair to say that the Londoner favors variety over banality – particularly sites both unsettling and the unexpected. A self-taught documentary and fashion photographer, peep the 22 year-old’s insta for archive footage of American desert towns, fashionable pensioners and the odd overweight drummer.
Isreali Girls, Hagai’s gorgeous tome released last year, put forward a tender pastel-tinged perspective of girlhood in Israel, proposing a softer visual language to navigate adolescence in the Middle East. Fleeting between Tel Aviv and NYC, the award winning photographer and director continues to snap the world through a dreamy lens and maintains that it’s important for female photographers to get their viewpoints seen: “The female gaze is starting to become more of an interesting subject than ever before” she told Dazed last year. Follow Dafy for sunsets and bubblegum-coloured motels.
Maxime finds the sexy in everyday Berlin life, committing to film the raunchy elegance that hides beneath the city’s surface. Darkrooms, grainy film, and the limits of analog immediately seduced the Lyon-born photographer when he studied photography in France, and he’s since remained faithful to this mode of shooting. Despite pursuing bawdy subject matter, Maxime isn’t concerned with nudity as such; rather, he’s keen to capture the sexiness that practices constraint. Scroll through his insta for outtakes and archive shots of bodies in stockings, fur and latex.
Mix holographic slippers emblazoned with ‘Bae’, knickers with a Wi-Fi symbol at the crotch and pastel bleached locks and you have a pretty accurate summary of Bystrom’s aesthetic. A sucker for all things ultra-girly, the 22-year old Stockholm native unashamedly embraces feminine clichés whilst also applying a critical eye to those same stereotypes.“I am a female and I was brought in that way. So instead of fighting against it, I am questioning things which feel like [they’re] imprisoning myself, like feeling that you have to shave off your hair” she told Dazed. Bystrom’s book collabo with Valerie Phillips, Hi You are beautiful How are You?, is out now.
Grace Denis presents a sort of Lynch-esque world with her work, where the normal gets weirder with close inspection. The twenty-one year old LA expat has a knack for odd selfies (see here face superimposed onto a thumb) and uncanny juxtapositions (a chicken bone residing next two gum packets is one example…). Currently residing in Olympia, Washington, Denis is also part of The Ardorous gang, adding a bit of eerie mystery to the girly bunch.
Based in Argentina, Prentice captures the blurry line between darkness and innocence, desire and restraint. Her young subjects, donning fishnet tights and sheer underwear, inhabit decadent interiors hidden from the outside world. Capturing intimate atmospheres on 35mm film, the young analog photographer casts a curious eye on young sensuality. When she’s not shooting, Prentice also flexes her fashion stylist and visual artist muscles form time to time.
If you’re not one of Petra Collin’s 120k Instagram followers, you need to jump on the bandwagon pronto. The super-photographer/filmmaker has helped form the defining aesthetic of young teen Tumblr girlhood and has rounded up some of the coolest female artists into her pioneering art collective. Unafraid of taboos (Her Instagram got deleted when she posted a picture of her pubic hair), Petra consistently challenges the rigid stereotypes that still exist around gender, but she remains excited about what’s to come, “there are so many cool, talented artists creating work that is opening up a dialogue about gender.” she told Dazed.
The Emerging Artists Award 2015 is free entry and is open from 18 April to 17 May at Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts