It is always comforting to see new grassroots projects run by enthusiastic, smart young people emerging. The Laundry in London is one of these, founded by Georgina Johnson and with an arts programme by and for women and BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) people. It organises exhibitions, residencies, and talks despite today’s difficult financial landscape for cultural projects. A positive sign for the future to come.
While I’m becoming more and more uncomfortable with the company Facebook (and Mark Zuckerberg) I feel I have to include an Instagram feed that I think is remarkable. Nick Sethi’s Instagram Stories of his travels in India are an addictive watch. With nearly hourly updates on his adventures and misadventures (epic was the journey to find his lost camera), encounters and running commentary, Sethi is refreshing documentary photography in the digital age with humour, candour and self-awareness.
The premise is pretty simple – for its online campaign, the fashion brand Balenciaga sent clothes to young photographers and artists around the globe and asked them to take photographs wearing them. The result is pretty extraordinary: a flow of hundreds of (self)portraits revealing the complexity of contemporary identities in terms of race, sexuality, and gender, and a testament to the health of contemporary photographic practices.
It doesn’t happen that often that an exhibition responds so powerfully to a collective mood and need. But David Wojnarowicz’s incredible exhibition History Keeps Me Awake at Night at the Whitney, was not only beautiful and deeply moving but also a timely reminder of what art and artists can do in moment of crises (in his case the AIDS epidemic). A much-needed incentive.
During the US mid-term election, the 1992 catch phrase “The Year of the Woman” was resurrected. I would love to adopt the term for this photographic year. While we are far from a levell playing field, some organisations have actively addressed the imbalances (notably the The Royal Photographic Society’s Hundred Heroines and the book How We See: Photobooks by Women). And a new generation of artists have made this year memorable for me – to name just a few, Carmen Winant, Senta Simond, Deana Lawson and Laia Abril. I look forward to a time (hopefully soon) when we will not need to talk about “The Year of the Woman” in any field.