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Susanna Majuri
Photography Susanna Majuri, courtesy of Fotografia magazine

The most emotional photo stories of the month

Dreamy portraits of women underwater, questioning the American Dream, a ‘hopeless tale’ of India’s poorest, and Eastern Europe’s lost children

There’s a poignancy that runs through this month’s selections of the best photo stories from Fotografia magazine. Emotional stories come in the form of Susanna Majuri’s watery portraits of floating women, to Soham Gupta’s documentation of a ‘nighttime hellhole’ on the streets of India’s Kolkata, and Roger Weiss’s critique on the distortion of female beauty. Below Graziano Ferri, founder and editor of Fotografia, tells us his reasons behind his picks of his favourite series from the past month.


“Despite working in the fashion industry for commercial projects, Swiss photographer Roger Weiss’ personal work has at its heart a critique to the mainstream standards of female beauty. Inspired by certain primitive artifacts representing the female figure, Weiss creates studio portraits of semi-nude girls who appear dilated, inflated, distorted. The effect is reached through an elaborate digital manipulation process of assembling bits and parts of the same photograph taken at different perspectives, which is vaguely derived from the ancient Japanese technique of repairing broken pottery known as kintsugi.”


“If you follow photojournalism, you probably don’t need us to tell you who Moises Saman is. For everyone else, it should be enough to say that he regularly works for publications like Time or The New York Times and that he’s a member of Magnum Photos. Recently, Saman self-published Discordia, a book of photos shot in the Middle East over recent years which are organised in the book with no captions and as part of a single narrative. In doing so, Saman wishes to offer his personal experience, rather than a strictly journalistic chronicle of the facts he witnessed.”


“While immortality is not an option just yet, there are people throughout the world who are having their bodies frozen at death in the hopes that science will find a way to resuscitate them in the future, and give them the gift of eternal life – they belong to the so-called cryonics movement. English photographer Murray Ballard’s new photobook The Prospect of Immortality explores the phenomenon: ‘Even if you think it’s unlikely cryonics will work, it’s difficult to argue against the notion that you stand a better chance of achieving some form of life extension if you’re cryopreserved, rather than buried or cremated’, Ballard told us in a recent interview where he shares some insight into cryonics.”


“The desert is probably not the first natural environment where one would think of building a new city, but that’s exactly what the Arabs are doing with Masdar City. Located outside of Abu Dhabi in the deserts of the United Arab Emirates, Masdar is planned to become the first city in the world to use exclusively renewable energy sources. In his pictures of Masdar, French photographer Etienne Malapert captures the paradoxes of building a city in the middle of the desert, and of how the project of the first 100 per cent ‘green city’ is being pursued by one of the biggest players in the worldwide oil trade.”


“Finnish photographer Susanna Majuri has been always fascinated with water, so much so she ended up using it as an integral part of her photographic practice. Majuri creates her spellbinding “water landscapes” by installing previously designed backdrops at the bottom of a pool, then having her subjects dive into the water and become one with it and the scenery in the background. The photographer is currently running a crowdfunding campaign towards publishing her first photobook, Sense of Water.”


“Is the American Dream still a real thing? Photographer Stephen Speranza has been documenting life in Wilmerding, a small community in America’s infamous Rust Belt. The town was built in the 19th century to house the workforce of an air brake company; but in the last decades, the business has been progressively abandoning the site, causing Wilmerding to become impoverished. After his photos were published in Fotografia, a woman contacted Speranza about the young man he portrayed in front of the American flag: she shared with him that the guy was her brother-in-law, and that he recently passed away from drugs.”


“Last January we featured the stunning photos shot by Kai Caemmerer of China’s pre-built, empty cities waiting to be inhabited by the country’s rural population. South African photographer Michael MacGarry has found a similarly eerie setting in Kilamba Kiaxi, a city built by the Chinese near Angola’s capital, Luanda, which represents China’s largest investment in Africa to the day. In this case, though, the reason why Kilamba Kiaxi remains underpopulated is that the apartment prices are too high for the local population, who can’t afford to buy or rent them.”


“There’s something incredibly harrowing and powerful in how Indian photographer Soham Gupta portrays Kolkata’s poorest. As someone with an experience of being marginalised himself due to his health issues when he was a child, Gupta has roamed the streets of Kolkata with the cover of the night to meet the city’s poor, old, ill and crippled. He describes Angst as a ‘hopeless tale of a fictive nighttime hellhole, whose nooks and crannies are inhabited by decaying souls’.”


“German photographer Claudia Heinermann’s recent photobook Wolfskinder (German for Wolf Children) sheds light on a little known story related with the Second World War. Heinermann discovered that during the war, many Eastern European children would get lost in the woods after losing touch with their families or seeing their relatives die. The photographer teamed up with a journalist to find those children – who are know old men and women – and gather their stories in both photographs and words.”


“The moon shines in a pitch dark night on a house with all windows barred, a man covers his eyes and those of (possibly) his daughter from the view of something we can’t see, a light coming from who knows where hits the stomach of a young boy… All the images in Belgian photographer Tom Callemin’s ‘Index’ series possess a sense of mystery and a dark atmosphere, but don’t try to find a story that ties them together, ‘cause there isn’t one: ‘I didn’t begin this work with a narrative in my head. For me, every work is a new snapshot of a new untold narrative.’”

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