Indonesian flower children, a Ukrainian conflict and the stark juxtaposition of holiday-makers and refugees in Kos: these images caught our attention
“Photographs should be like a punch in the face, without anesthesia,” photographer Igor Pisuk told Fotografia Magazine last month in regards to his dark series Deceitful Reverence – in which he captured his own nude body in the aftermath of alcohol addiction. Not only does Pisuk’s intense work make up one-tenth of the platform’s monthly round up on Dazed, but his words have never rung more true. When we live in an age where we are visually saturated to the point of desensitisation, a photographer needs to hit you where it hurts. Whether that’s by spending three years at Catholic institutions across the US (as Anna Shimshak did) or completing annual couch surfing journeys in Romania (like Cedric Van Turtelboom). Below Fotografia’s founder Graziano Ferri guides us through ten photos stories – that originally appeared on the platform last month – to (hopefully) make you feel something.
“For The Religious, a stunningly beautiful series of photographs, American photographer Anna Shimshak spent over three years at several Catholic institutions in the United States, Europe and India. The pictures (see them here) feature clergymen and vowed religious women in moments that reveal an unexpected sensuality, in an exploration of the relationship between spirituality and corporeality for the men and women who devote their lives to God.”
“‘Photography saved my life,’ Polish photographer Igor Pisuk confessed in a recent interview with us. While recovering from a long alcohol addiction, Pisuk picked up a camera and started taking self portraits of his nude figure: seeing himself so ‘skinny, gaunt and exhausted’ helped him realise the damage he had been doing to himself. Pisuk’s photographs from his series Deceitful Reverence are dark, intense and at times even disturbing: ‘Photographs should be like a punch in the face, without anesthesia,’ the photographer says.”
“In one picture, blobs of light with the colours of the rainbow seem to spill out of the hands of a girl, creating a symmetrical pattern; in another, a different girl, with cyan hair and wholly undressed, turns her back on the camera as she admires the sun shining in a clear blue sky. We love the colours, effects and strong ‘flower children’ vibe in these works by Adi Putra, a young photographer hailing out of Indonesia.”
“What images come to your mind if we asked you to think of Armenia? While other post Soviet countries like Kazakhstan or Georgia have been extensively photographed after the collapse of the URSS, visual representation of Armenia has lagged behind. French Photographer Julien Lombardi was spurred by his Armenian origins to change this, and did so taking some amazing pictures of the country.”
“In a relatively short amount of time, the flux of migrants from Africa and the Middle East to Europe has grown to almost biblical proportions, making immigration one of the most pressing issues of contemporary societies. In his startling series Tourists vs. Refugees, Jorg Bruggemann juxtaposes the tourists and migrants on the Greek island of Kos, one of the locations where migrants have been landing in greater number.”
“‘I used to imagine the world as a sleeping, gigantic, bizarre, quiet beast. I would fantasise it was my secret friend, regardless of its wishes. The silence of the beast was an umbrella, shielding off most truths of the world.’ This is how Chinese photographer Wenxin Zhang introduces Beast by the Waterfall Guesthouse, a project in which she creates a mesmerising, fable like reality where the differences between humans and animals are blurred.”
“Trona is a mining town near Death Valley, in California’s Mojave Desert, founded in 1914 by the American Trona Corporation to host the workforce employed in the mines and company’s facilities. In the 1970s, a series of labour disputes and strikes ignited the settlement’s decline; the population, after reaching a peak of 7,000 people, has dropped today to a little over 1,000. American photographer Ewan Telford's compelling pictures (find them here) capture the isolation of Trona’s inhabitants and the harshness of the desert environment.”
CEDRIC VAN TURTELBOOM
“Since 2010, his last year as a photography student, Belgian photographer Cedric Van Turtelboom has been travelling to Romania every year, staying each time with locals he would meet through his acquaintances, or on sites like Couchsurfing. The photographs he took during his trips, now collected in a photo book, expose a stark, often desolate side to life in Romania, although Van Turtelboom remarks finding the people ‘very warm and welcoming’.”
“We all can think of a few small objects that we associate more than anything else with the times when we were still just children – a toy, for instance, or something that used to lie around in the house. For her new body of work Six Degrees of Freedom, German photographic artist Jessica Backhaus scrutinised the objects of her childhood and teen years: a slide, a handful of marbles, the Flashdance soundtrack cassette, as a way to go back to her roots and understand her present life and identity more deeply.”
“British photographer Christopher Nunn has been exploring Ukraine since early 2013; so when the armed conflicts between Ukraine and Russia broke out the next year, he was there to witness it from a lateral point of view, documenting how the fightings are affecting the daily lives of the Ukrainians. Holy Water is Nunn’s beautifully minimal photobook by Leeds-based independent publisher Village that brings together some of his best Ukraine images so far.”
This week Fotografia is giving away Gathered Leaves, a beautiful retrospective publication that surveys top photographer Alec Soth’s work. Gathered Leaves was specifically created to complement Soth’s first major show in the UK, now open in London’s Science Museum (until 28 March) Find out how to enter the giveaway!