Magnum Photos’ international new wave of Nominees

Magnum Photos just completed its annual AGM and has announced five new photographers are to join as Nominees – Rafal Milach (Poland), Sim Chi Yin (Singapore), Lua Ribeira (Spain), Gregory Halpern (USA), and Lindokuhle Sobekwa (South Africa).

Under Magnum’s system, photographers first join as Nominees, before graduating to become Associates a couple of years later. After a spell as Associates, they then become full Members – a status which confers life-time membership of the world-famous agency. Magnum has also announced that previous Nominees Sohrab Hura (India) and Lorenzo Meloni (Italy) have become Associates.

Hailing from all over the world, the new Nominees also represent diverse approaches to photography, though they’re joining an agency still famous for its photojournalism. Milach, for example, was featured in BJP‘s December 2017 issue with a project on political dissent which combined found photography, montage, and abstract sculpture; he was nominated for the 2018 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize for the similarly eclectic work in the exhibition Refusal. Sim Chi Yin was featured in BJP‘s July 2018 issue with images from across her career so far which embracing still lifes, landscapes, and shots of the built environment.

Image © Rafal Milach/Magnum Photos

Ribeira, meanwhile, was one of BJP‘s Ones to Watch in June 2017 with a series called Noises in the Blood, a series of portraits of women involved in dancehall culture, and with another project The Aristocrats, a look at a community near her hometown that also focuses on landscapes and portraits. Halpern’s work has previously been with Webber Represents commercial agency and on sale at the Unseen art fair in Amsterdam; he featured in BJP‘s January 2017 issue with his photobook ZZYZX, which was published by MACK and won the Paris Photo-Aperture Photobook of the Year in 2016.

Of the five, Sobekwa’s images are perhaps the most traditional – but, aged just 23, he also represents a very fresh new voice in Magnum. Of the new Associates, Meloni’s work looks at conflict and its aftereffects, in Libya, Yemen, and Lebanon, while Hura’s work, which first featured in BJP in the 2011 Ones to Watch, is a more personal take on family and relationships. Hura’s presentation at Peckham 24 in 2017, The Lost Head & The Bird, was hailed in BJP by Guardian writer Sean O’Hagan as “a hallucinatory mix of the viscerally real and the possibly fictional” images showing life on the margins in India.

From ZZYZX © Gregory Halpern/Magnum Photos

“The range of different types of photography shows Magnum’s ability to embrace all kinds of different ways of telling stories,” commented Martin Parr, who’s been a Magnum member since 1994, and who was himself heralded as a new photographic approach for the agency when he joined. “Ultimately we’re all united in the same thing – telling stories about the world.”

Parr also confirmed that Danish photographer Jacob Aue Sobol is still a member of Magnum, despite his recent announcement that “the journey had ended” and that he was bidding farewell to photography because he “can not return to the same life, to the same people, to the same photography”. Shooting to fame in 2004 with his self-published book Sabine, Aue Sobol is known for his intense black-and-white images, which convey a strong emotional connection with his subjects.

“All artists and photographers have theses points of dark and uncertainty,” Parr told BJP. “Whether he comes back to photography remains to be seen.”

© Lindokuhle Sobekwa/Magnum Photos
From the series Shifting Sands © Sim Chi Yin/Magnum Photos
LIBYA. Sirte. July 2016. A Libyan spotter identifying IS positions on the westernmost frontline against IS on the Sirte seafront © Lorenzo Meloni/Magnum Photos
India. Barwani. 2014. Umrao’s brother with his daughter. © Sohrab Hura/Magnum Photos
Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is the editor of BJP, returning for a second stint on staff in 2023 - after 15 years on the team until 2019. As a freelancer, she has written for The Guardian, FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, Aperture, FOAM, Aesthetica and Apollo. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy