For the project I create the pseudonym of “Renate Rost” and go onto internet sex platforms. There I contact men via email and chat and ask them if I can photograph them naked in hotel rooms. On the one hand I am very interested to see what kind of men are really hidden behind these anonymous internet profiles and on the other hand I am very keen on transforming their sexually coded bodies into an image. As a photographer and as a woman I miss the heterosexual gaze on the male body. I enjoy challenging the balance of power of the male gaze and the female object and let the men become my object of desire. For this reason I only work with heterosexual men that react to me as a female photographer. The process of photographing becomes a role play itself which reveals a sexuality and transforms it into an image that often even surprises my sitters. The interest in creating a scenario with a documentary background and the love for images superimposes the original setting: a man, a woman, a hotel room.
Paula Winkler lives and work in Berlin. She has won several awards in Germany and her work has been printed and shown internationally.
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She was fourteen years old when she moved to Mombasa, Kenya. She was alone and looking for work. Within a year she became a prostitute. Her mother believes that her daughter works at a hotel, and that the money the daughter brings her once a month comes from that work. She rents a single room where she sleeps, eats, cooks and brings her customers.
Sofie Amalie Klougart is currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark where she works as a freelance photographer. At the age of 22 she went to Kenya working for a humanitarian organisation and the Danish paper Dagbladet Information. These pictures were taken during her stay. Sofie Amalie is now studying Photojournalism and Journalism and works mainly with portrait and documentary photography.
‘With my photographs of cruising, the search for anonymous gay sex in parks and public spaces, I am interested in confirming and celebrating the sexual intimacy, however fleeting, that happens there. While a majority of the population see quick sex, especially among homosexual men, to be amoral and dirty; I see it as potentially romantic. The landscapes in which these men make sexual connections in are not dark and terrible places but tranquil and beautiful. When the way that people interact in the world is increasingly virtual I want to reconfirm the desire to enter the natural world and make physical contact with a stranger.
‘I feel it is this unknown potential that the landscape holds that is one of the most alluring elements to cruising. It is this sense of possibility that heightens the cruising experience which the photographs resonate with. I am interested in creating a sense of fantasy in which the viewer can be seduced by the romanticism of the landscape yet feel a tension from the possibility of this unknown, a sublime place where one can loose themselves both physically and psychologically’.
Born in Ukraine, Dina Litovsky came to New York in 1991. She completed an MFA in photography at the School of Visual Arts and she is currently working on personal projects and teaching at the International Center of Photography. Litovsky’s project ‘Untag This Photo’ deals with the interesting change that we have all witnessed within public behaviour and personal representation since the explosion of electronic media and the arrival of social media networks such as Facebook. About the work she writes:
The recent explosion of electronic media, specifically digital cameras, iphones and networking sites, has had a significant influence on the public behavior and personal representation of women in contemporary society. Social networks provide a perfect platform for wide and instant exposure and familiarize the mainstream audience with overtly sexualized behaviors that in the past have only been permissible in the contained settings of Spring Break or Mardi Gras.
Cameras, ever more compact and omnipresent, are increasingly admitted into heretofore ‘private’ realms: late-night dance halls, erotic events, even in the bedroom. Enabled by the new technologies and encouraged by the Lady Gaga-like conception of femininity, a desire to reveal has transformed into a willingness to expose. With this, self-representation of women has reached a curious state, one where women are both in control of their image and at the same time, participate more than ever in their own objectification.
Instead of an instrument of voyeurism, the camera becomes a welcomed participant. The women photographed are not just permitting but actually performing for the camera; it connects them, the virtual exhibitionists, to a vast anonymous audience.
Danish photographer Thilde Jensen came to New York City in 1997. Six years later her life and career was cut short by a sudden development of severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS). The urban life she had previously navigated with ease transformed into a toxic war zone. Her immune system crashed, forcing her unto a survivalistic journey, unravelling the comfort and construct of her previous life. The ensuing years were a lesson in basic survival – camping in the woods, while wearing a respirator when entering supermarkets, doctors’ offices, and banks. To her surprise an otherwise invisible subculture of people emerged who shared this isolated existence. Her photographs are a personal account of life on the edge of modern civilization as one of the human canaries, the first casualties to a ubiquitous synthetic chemical culture. Of her series ‘Canaries’ Thilde writes:
‘Since World War II the production and use of synthetic chemicals has exploded. During the course of an average day, people come in contact with a host of chemicals – Just walking into a supermarket one might be breathing as many as 20,000 different synthetic compounds. As a result of the prevalence of these synthetic chemicals, it is believed that more than ten million Americans have developed a disabling condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, (MCS).
MCS is a condition where our immune and central nervous system goes into extreme reactions when exposed to small amounts of daily chemicals like perfume, cleaning products, car exhaust, construction materials and pesticides. In addition, some people also react to light, fabrics, food and electromagnetic fields as emitted by computers, phones, cell towers, cars and florescent lights – making life a near impossibility. Many people with MCS are forced to live in remote areas in tents, cars, or trailers. Others are prisoners of their homes, with advanced air filter systems to keep outside air from contaminating their breathing space’.
Nick Ballon is based in London where he works as an editorial and commercial photographer. He was born to the idiosyncratic parentage of a Bolivian restaurateur and an NHS chief executive from Petts Wood. Due to a developed interest in his mixed origin, Nick frequently ventures to Bolivia - a country he’s never permanently lived in - to pursue personal projects.
Since Nicks working aesthetic is shaped by a fascination with location and the hidden stories behind them, his exploratory quests brought him to the Chacaltaya glacier.
The 1800-year-old glacier used to be several metres deep in snow. In its heyday it was a fashionable Bolivian ski resort frequented by presidents and Olympic skiers. It was the highest ski resort in the world and the first to be built in Latin America. European alpinists used to travel here to acclimatize before venturing into the Andean wilderness. Now it is bedrock. The snow is gone and so is the glamour.
Nelli Palomaki is a portrait photographer based in Isnas in Finland. She writes about the making of her portraits in a dreamy, somewhat otherworldly way that I find very suitable to her images:
The complexity of portraiture is based on its power relationships. Each and every portrait I have taken is a photograph of me too. What I decide to see, or more likely, how I confront the things I see will inevitably determine the final image. But more than that, the intensity of the moment shared with the subject controls the portrait as we stand there with our grave faces, breathing the same heavy air, acutely aware of each other’s details. One is blind and lost without seeing his own appearance, the other is desperately trying to reach the perfect moment. The way people act in front of the camera is truly fascinating. They are desperately searching for their mirror-face that, paradoxically, only exists in their mind. Everyone is aware of their better side and even more acutely of their flaws that they are unsuccessfully trying to hide. They recognize the same in me, and this realization makes me feel extremely insecure, I need to hide myself from their gaze.
Ricardo Cases lives and works in Madrid, Spain. He spent three years photographing this series Paloma al wire based on Colombiculture which is a sport played out by middle aged men and pigeons in the north of Spain.
The sport is based around one female pigeon that is released along with dozens of young male pigeons that fly around her, competing for her attention. None of them will manage to attain a high level of intimacy with her but the winner is the one who manages to stay close to her the longest. It is not the most athletic, the toughest or the purest breed that wins. It is the most courteous and persistent pigeon that has the strongest reproductive instinct. The winning pigeon will carry home large amounts of money from the betting to its master.
Raising a champion pigeon brings prestige and benefits. Painted with specific colours and patterns, like flags or football team colours, the pigeon is raised and trained to mate. The pigeon keeper invests time and effort in his pigeon. He gives him a name and has faith in him. When the competition day comes, he arrives with childlike illusion and uncertainty. The pigeon becomes, according to Cases, the keepers flying personality. It embodies his success or failure, economically and sexually.
Murray Ballard is a photographer based in Brighton, England. His series The Prospect of Immortality is the product of five year’s unprecedented access and international investigation into the practice of cryonics: the process of freezing a human body after death in the hope that scientific advances may one day bring it back to life.
Ballard takes us on a journey through the tiny yet dedicated international cryonics community; from the retirement town of Peacehaven, England to the high-tech laboratories in Arizona, United States, through to the rudimentary facilities on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia. Approximately 200 people worldwide are currently suspended in liquid nitrogen, with a further 2,000 signed up for the process after they die.
Whilst members have often been ridiculed for their views, Ballard takes an objective stance, allowing the viewer to decide whether they are caught up in an unethical fantasy world or are actually furthering genuine scientific innovation. Alongside fascinating representations of the technical processes, Ballard sensitively portrays the people involved, offering a human dimension to his account of this 21st century attempt to conquer the age-old quest for immortality.