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Posts by: Elizabeth Sulis Gear

Powerful portraits confront the politics of race and representation

‘I’m reclaiming my blackness, which I feel is continuously performed by the privileged other. My reality is that I do not mimic being black; it is my skin, and the experience of being black is deeply entrenched in me. Just like our ancestors, we live as black people 365 days a year, and we should speak without fear.’  -Zanele Muholi

Photojournalists and editors know it—some consumers do too—exoticism sells. People in the west are fascinated by images that reinforce their preconceived ideas of what a culture “out to look like”, seeking poverty, isolated traditions and stereotypes such as African women adorned with cowrie shells and color. Their quest for “authenticity” is so narrow in scope that its seekers often ignore the complex, modern realities experienced by black people in different regions of the world.

Visual activist photographer Zanele Muholi has her first solo exhibition opening this month at the East London gallery Autograph ABP. For more than a decade, she has focused on documenting black LGTBQI people in South Africa. Her ongoing portrait series Somnyama Ngonyama was inspired by her experiences on the road and the socio-political events she encountered along the way. Using her body as a canvas, her psychologically driven portraits confront the politics of race and representation.

Photographer seeks solitude in some of the world’s remotest wildernesses

Nature is beautiful, though also capable of arousing fear in those who have settled in densely populated areas where comfort is found in numbers and light. Many of us have gotten used to a more restrained nature in fields and city parks, a far cry from impenetrable dark forests and wildernesses where only animal cries and running water break the silence. We’ve severed ties with what shaped us.

These recovered bullets convey the destructive power of guns

No, these are not withered flowers or unearthed minerals, nor masterful brushstrokes.

“Each one of these images is of a bullet—the vast majority of which were collected from a local gun range” explains Kentucky-based photographer Garret O. Hansen, discussing his series The Bullets, from a larger body of work entitled HAIL.

Photographer conveys the loneliness of ex-prisoners in Kazakhstan

Despite the universal appeal of freedom, acclimatising to life post-incarceration is no easy task. Some might question whether ex-prisoners are really freer beyond barbed wired fences, their lives forever changed, their minds often haunted by recollections of their pasts. Many ex-prisoners struggle when thrust back into the ‘real’ world’ and expected to resume, or construct, a normal life.

While in Kazakhstan for another project, Swedish photographer Mikael Halleström met a number of individuals who had been given parole and their families. Curious about their pasts and equipped with conversational Russian language skills, with time he was able to gain their trust.

Poetry-inspired portraits in Cuban interiors

Like many, London-based photographer Gillian Hyland was initially drawn to Cuba for its nostalgic appeal. With the lack of internet and iconic 1950s cars, it can really feel like being transported back in time—bar the peeling paint on Spanish-built façades that serves as a reminder that time has passed.

Bushwick, Brooklyn Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

Those who reside in the Brooklyn neighbourhood that is Bushwick may or may not be familiar with its original 17th century Dutch name ‘Boswijk’, which can be translated as “little town in the woods”. Israeli Artist Niv Rozenberg’s bold, graphical series of the same name highlights the diversity of architectural form that he has come to appreciate in this locality.

Photos Document a Dying Cheese-Making Tradition in the French Alps

First snow at Plan du Lac (2,385 m) and on the Grande Casse (3,855 m), September 2016

House and cheese-making workshop of the Bantin family, Chavière, September 2016

An appreciation of cheese might sound like a strange point of departure for a photo project, but sometimes it’s the ‘little’ things that really define our lived experiences. Annecy, France based photographer Nicolas Blandin was eating in a fancy restaurant in Annecy-le-Vieux in 2010 when he first tasted the Termignon blue cheese, a rare variety that is largely unknown in France.

Photographers Turn Their Lens to the Refugee Crisis in Belgrade

Close to 75,000 refugees are still living in a state of limbo between the Balkans and Greece, unable to enter the EU due to reinforced border control. Their living conditions are often deplorable, their prospects bleak. “Around 1000 on these refugees are sleeping rough in abandoned warehouses, train wagons and shacks in the central station of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia” reveal Danish photographers Ulrik Hasemann and Mathias Svold, discussing the focus of their project The Lost Boys of Belgrade.

A Fascinating Portrait of the Working-Class in Northern England in the 1970s and 1980s


Father and Son Watching a Parade, West End, Newcastle; Chris Killip (British, born 1946); Newcastle, England; negative 1980; print 1986; Gelatin silver print

Helen and Her Hula-hoop, Seacoal Camp, Lynemouth, Northumberland; Chris Killip (British, born 1946); Lynemouth, Northumberland, United Kingdom; negative 1984; print 1985; Gelatin silver print

North England as presented by Manx photographer and Harvard professor Chris Killip is bleak not only for the lack of colour, but for the immediacy at which it hits the viewer that the subjects reside in a world where there are no prospects. Work, for those who work hard, is often intrinsically entangled with one’s identity. When an industry ceases to exist, for its former workers it’s literally like being lost in the fog that so often hangs like a weight behind the protagonists of Chris’ photographs.

Photographer captures loneliness in the crowds of Japanese megacities

In the latter half of the 20th century Japan underwent a period of economic growth that was unprecedented—by the 1960s’ the country’s economy was second only to that of the United States. But this rapid growth came at a price, and in Japanese there’s even a word for the consequences of the so-called Japanese economic miracle. Karoshi can be translated literally as ‘overwork death’; sudden mortality caused by overworking. The term has parallels in other countries such as China and South Korea, cultures which also emphasised material prosperity above all else.

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