Best of 2018: Just Another Photo Festival

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Ivan Sigal’s Karachi Circular Railway at Ryerson Image Centre 24 January – 08 April 2018
KCR is a nine-channel, non-linear installation that explores the path of the defunct Karachi Circular Railway. Digital stills, ambient sound, text, video and unique aerial footage of Karachi shot from a drone combine to unveil a side of the city that defies the dominant media narrative of extremist violence and terrorism. We had the great pleasure to show a version of this work in Varanasi and Kolkata as part of Just Another Photo Festival where groups of teenagers, using their smart phones, filmed this vision of a country so near, yet so far.

Ivan Sigal’s Karachi Circular Railway at Ryerson Image Centre 24 January – 08 April 2018

Anton Kusters’ The Blue Skies Project at Getxo Photo Festival 04 – 29 September, 2018
The Blue Skies Project is an installation of 1078 mounted peel-apart instant film images of blue skies, accompanied by a 13-year real time tracking audio piece created by Ruben Samama. The images were made from 2012 to 2017 at the last known locations of the one thousand and seventy-eight official Nazi concentration camps that existed throughout Europe between 1933 to 1945. Kusters’ work deals with the difficulty of representing trauma, as Martin Barnes writes, “tragic, beautiful and haunting images encourage important questions about ethical ways of seeing”.

Anton Kusters’ The Blues Skies Project installation

Lynsey Addario’s Of Love & War, published by Penguin
A document of “never-ending tragedy” and “never-end resilience” writes Lynsey Addario in this collection of photographs spanning her career as a photographer, which takes in many of the most pressing humanitarian and human rights crises over the last twenty years. Poignant and arresting the impact of the photographs is deepened by Addario’s own writings (often in the form of letters home) detailing her reactions to encountering such extremes of our humanity.

Noor Nisa, 18 (right), in labour and stranded with her mother in Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan, November 2009. Her husband’s first wife died during childbirth, so he was determined to get her to the hospital, a four-hour drive from their village. His borrowed car broke down and I ended up taking them to the hospital, where Noor Nisa delivered a baby girl. Image © Lynsey Addario, included in the book Of Love & War by Lynsey Addario, Penguin Press US

US troops carry the body of Staff Sergeant Larry Rougle, who was killed when Taliban insurgents ambushed their squad in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, October 2007. Image © Lynsey Addario, included in the book Of Love & War by Lynsey Addario, Penguin Press US

Asad J. Malik’s Terminal 3 at Sheffield Doc Fest, Alternate Realities, June 2018
One of the stand out pieces from Sheffield Doc Fest this year was Terminal 3 by Pakistani artist Asad J. Malik. The work is an interactive, augmented-reality documentary that explores contemporary Muslim identities in the US through the lens of an airport interrogation. Wearing a Microsoft Hololens, the audience must interrogate the passengers – the degree of compassion in their questions controlling the clarity with which the individual is visible to them. This hauntingly personal experience only ends when the user must decide if the person in front of them should be let into the country or not.

Rahima Gambo’s Tatsuniya at IDFA
The multimedia web documentary Tatsuniya is projected onto the wall and as one scrolls down, story after story unfurls, revealing the very real and ever-present threat of violence that Boko Haram continue to hold over the young people in schools and universities in parts of Nigeria. Personal stories are told in four chapters including photography, gifs, films and text. The volume of work here is overwhelming, but leaves a strong impression nonetheless.