Now in its eighth year, FreshFaced + WildEyed has become the go-to exhibition to discover the UK’s best up-and-coming photographers. Held annually at the Photographers’ Gallery in London, the show is dedicated to discovering and nurturing the freshest talents to graduate from MA and BA visual art courses across the UK. Operating on an open-submission basis, winners are chosen by a panel of judges based on the quality and breadth of their work. This year, 25 photographers have been selected, and the work deals with subjects ranging from evangelical Christianity to representations of gender and sexuality. Here we’ve selected some of our favourites, to give you a look at this year’s hottest talents.
FRANCESCA JANE ALLEN
Francesca Jane Allen is interested in the transitional period between adolescence and adulthood. Unsurprisingly, her photos are both playful and grown-up at the same time, and deal with the ideas of youth, friendship and love. This image is taken from her series Girls! Girls! Girls! and is one of over 60 photos of her sister and her two best friends Cosima and Ayesha. Blending the playfulness of Ryan McGinley with the composition of old master’s paintings, Allen’s photos show girls goofing around and having fun.
A recent London College of Communication photography graduate, Jocelyn Allen’s work deals with the stereotyping and sexualisation of women’s bodies in the mainstream. In 2014, a painting of a woman showing her pubic hair was censored from a London gallery. In her series Covering the Carpet (2014), Jocelyn questions why that image was deemed ‘too pornographic and disgusting’ by making a series of self-portraits in which she balances, leaps and contorts her body to cover her own pubic hair, questioning why it’s deemed offensive.
Coco Capitán is a London-based Spanish photographer, and graduate of the London College of Fashion. This photo is taken from her 2014 series Middle Point Between My HOUSE and China, which explores the relationship between Chinese communities and outsiders. Already a successful fashion photographer who has produced slick editorials for Paco Rabbane and American Vogue, she uses her strong aesthetic to realise her childhood fantasy of visiting Beijing.
Floating as if in suspended animation, a man is plunged into a coffin-like pool of water as spectators look on. This is an image of an adult baptism, taking place as part of a Baptist Church religious ceremony, captured by up-and-coming University of West Scotland graduate Craig Gibson. Part of his Born after Birth (2014) series that’s now published in a zine, the images are about how Baptists believe adult baptism is the only way to wash away sins, and to reject the validity of child baptism.
Exhibitionism, sexuality and identity construction in the digital world are central to the work of Emma Gruner, a Camberwell College of Art graduate. This picture is taken from her series America (2014), in which she has created a series of awkward, voyeuristic and sexualised self-portraits that adopt a hardcore porn aesthetic. In her photographs, she recreates the poses and gestures that reoccur in online pornography, therefore satisfying the 'male gaze'.
London-based visual artist and Royal College of Art graduate Dominic Hawgood works with CGI and digital manipulation, blurring the boundary between what’s real and what’s digital trickery. This photo is taken from his MA project Under the Influence (2014) that looks at the rituals of Christian worship in Evangelical churches across London. In the images, he focuses in on details of worship – such as spit dripping onto a napkin, or holy water in a spray bottle – making us question the ambiguities between the real and the supernatural.
A red haze of light emanating from a mixing desk highlights the dreadlocks and profile of a German hip-hop producer. This image is from German-born London-based photographer Paul Hutchinson’s series documenting the German hip-hop scene. A Central Saint Martins graduate, Paul gets up close and personal with a group of fans and musicians, documenting them in hyper-detail. By focusing in on some fried chicken reflected in foil, a faux-snakeskin jacket, and the musicians’ equipment, Hutchinson gives us an almost abstract look into the intricacies of the subculture.
Based between London and India, Charan Singh is interested in taking photographs of marginalised groups. In this case, the University for Creative Arts, Farnham MA Fine Art Photography graduate has photographed a group of gay men in India. Kothis, Hijras, Giriyas and Others (2014) depicts different communities of men with their own sexual identities, from eunuchs to transvestites. An AIDS and HIV activist for 13 years, Charan’s work is informed by personal experience and often deals with the themes of desire, gender and relationships.
Wilf Speller’s work focuses on the mobile phone footage that’s now captured and circulated online from war zones. This photo is a still from his film Self Portrait, Anon (2013) that was made by a man in the Syrian civil war conflict on his phone. A seven-second clip, the footage shows the last few seconds of the cameraman’s life, as he inadvertently captures a sniper taking aim straight down the lens. By focusing on the footage, he questions the politics and the ethics of contemporary image culture.
This picture is taken from Romanian photographer Alexandra Vacaroiu’s project I want to remember everyth (2014) that asks whether photography can have therapeutic benefits for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease by helping their memory. A London College of Fashion MA graduate, this work also aims to build a relationship between identity, fashion and memory. To make the project, she conducted a series of interviews with people suffering from the disease, asking them to photograph items of their clothing and recall memories associated with them.
FreshFaced + WildEyed 2015 is at the Photographers’ Gallery 16 June – 5 July 2015