BJP-online Loves…

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Sean O’Hagan, The Guardian
Photography critic for The Guardian, Sean O’Hagan’s selection included Kensuke Koike & Thomas Sauvin’s No More No Less, which he saw at the Approche art fair during Paris Photo, via Koike’s instagram account, and in the book of the same name published simultaneously in three different editions by Skinnerboox, TheM editions, and Jiazazhi Press/Library. “Using raw material found by vernacular archivist, Thomas Sauvin, Koike meticulously creates surreal collaged faces by punching holes in the portraits or slicing them into strips or circles, then painstakingly reassembling them,” he wrote. “Nothing is added and nothing subtracted. The precision alone is breathtaking and the results surreal.”

No more no less 12-1, 2017, collage photographique © Kensuke Koike & Thomas Sauvin, part of the approche select at the approche salon

Emma Bowkett, FT Weekend Magazine
Emma Bowkett, the acclaimed director of photography for the FT Weekend Magazine, thought it was difficult to define “best”, so instead shared “art-led people and projects that have inspired, educated, excited and/or challenged me personally these past 12 months”. Her selection included I’M HOME, a project in London documenting the female black British experience, curated by Ronan Mckenzie. “Concepts of home and family were explored through her own work and that of Joy Gregory, Rhea Dillon and Liz Johnson-Artur. Alongside film and photography, the purpose-designed space acted as a hub for a series of supper clubs, workshops and events with the aim to bring audiences together in relaxed conversation. A library of books written by black women and comfortable sofas encouraged you to stay a while. I like this as a way of showing work – more than presenting on a gallery wall to come see and leave. It felt inclusive, progressive,” she wrote.

Image © Ronan Mckenzie

Simon Bainbridge, BJP
Simon Bainbridge, editorial director of the British Journal of Photography, was taken with The Anarchist Citizenship, a collaboration between Nadine Stijns, Amal Alhaag and Mustafa Saeed, shown by the LhGWR gallery, first at Amsterdam Unseen, and then at its space in The Hague. Made in partnership with curator Amal Alhaag and artist Mustafa Saeed, the work explores the “concept of the nation state in postcolonial Somaliland”, collaborating with people there to “define their sense of citizenship through fashion, architecture, friendship and culture”. ” Stijns brought all this together in an installation employing typical flair for colourful chaos,” he wrote. “This is the work I’m most excited about seeing completed in 2019, and I have already pencilled her in for a spring issue.”

1, from the series The Anarchist Citizenship, 2018 © Nadine Stijns_LhGWR

Rafal Milach, photographer
Rafal Milach, the Magnum Photos nominee and Deutsche Börse finalist, picked out three interesting projects from 2018, including Arion Gabor Kudasz’ self-published book Human. “The collection of abandoned housing investments, post-industrial ruins, construction warehouses and worker’s portraits create an image of dysfunctional mechanism,” he wrote. “Kudasz uses the human body and deformed brick modules to set a new hierarchy, which can be perceived as a metaphor for a fundamental shift in values that Hungary and other countries in Eastern Europe are facing today.”

From Human © Gabor Arion Kudasz

Just Another Photo Festival
Just Another Photo Festival is a photography, film, and new media festival based in Kolkata; its co-founders, photographers Poulomi Basu and CJ Clarke, picked out five projects from 2018 for attention, including Rahima Gambo’s Tatsuniya. A multimedia web documentary, scrolling through Tatsuniya reveals “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,” they wrote. “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.”

Aisha, 17, of Shehu Sanda Kyarimi school at Maiduguri park and zoo. Part of sequence of directed images of nine students at the Maiduguri Amusement park. Maiduguri, Nigeria, 2017. © Rahima Gambo

Arnis Balcus, photographer, editor, and Riga Photomonth director
Arnis Balcus, photographer, editor in chief of FK Magazine and director of Riga Photomonth, picks out the projects that caught his eye, including Georgs Avetisjans’ Homeland The Longest Village, which the photographer published through his own Milda Books outfit. “Avetisjan’s forms a complex narrative of his birth place Kaltene, which is also known as the longest village in the country. It’s very Latvian in style – lots of sea, greyness, nostalgia and heaviness, but in a good way.”

From the series ‘Homeland’ The Longest Village in the Country © Georgs Avetisjans, courtesy of Magnum Photos

Alnis Stakle, photographer, Professor of Photography, and Riga Photomonth curator
A photographer, Professor of Photography at the Rigas Stradins University, and curator of Riga Photomonth, Alnis Stakle’s Best of 2018 included a new project at the Museum of Kharkiv School of Photography, which has already borne fruit by publishing KOCHETOV by Viktor and Sergey Kochetov. “The characteristic aesthetics of the Kharkiv School of Photography have been canonised on a global scale by the works of Boris Mikhailov, yet he was only one of many image-makers to emerge from Kharkiv, the majority of whom are little or completely unknown to the wider public,” he wrote, adding: “To my mind this project is one of the most intriguing events of 2018 in the entire Post-Soviet photography arena.”

Marina Paulenka, Organ Vida festival
The award-winning Organ Vida festival in Croatia devoted its entire programme to work by women in 2018, and its director picked out work by women in her “list of important ones”. Her selection included Selma Selman, a Bosnian and Herzegovinian artist of Roma origin whose work includes Mercedes 310, a tribute to the car that provides for her family and which, thereby, represents their subsistence. Her other works include Self Portrait (Deconstruction of the Washing Machine) and Self-Portrait – AEG Vampyr, performances in which the artist destroys objects made of metal and separates usable from unusable materials. “These cathartic performances, in addition to repetitive actions referring to a family way of life that provides subsistence and the knowledge passed on by her father, is also associated with the domestic servitude of housewives through the destruction of household appliances,” wrote Paulenka.

Viva La Vida Fhoto © Selma Selman and Dinko Hosic, 2016

Emilie Lauriola, Le Bal Books
The director of the respected bookshop in Paris’ Le Bal gallery picked out Joanna Piotrowska’s book Frantic in her selection from 2018. “Both appealing and slightly disturbing, Joanna Piotrowska’s incisive images always manage to unlock paths for reflection and introspection whenever I look at them,” she wrote. “Published by Humboldt Books, Frantic showcases a staged series of shelters built inside various homes with objects and materials found in each place. Focused on familial structures and their dynamics, the polish photographer explores the gestures of intimacy, power, defence and anxiety with subtlety and a high sense of visual tension.”

From Frantic © Joanna Piotrowska

Paper Journal
Patricia Karallis and Giada De Agostinis from the Lucie Award-nominated Paper Journal described Dave Heath’s Dialogues with Solitude at Le Bal, Paris as “an absolute stand-out”. It “spoke to us with his beautiful, uncanny black-and-white portraits, in which most of his subjects stare into the void; suspended, as in a movie scene,” they wrote. “This type of fiction that Heath has so compellingly constructed somehow echoes our feelings and fears in these terrifyingly uncertain times.”

Dave Heath, Elevated in Brooklyn, New York City, 1963 © Dave Heath / Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, and Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto. On show in Dave Heath at Le Bal

Lars Willumeit, an independent curator, author, and art educator
Originally from Germany but now based in Switzerland, Willumeit picked out Jules Spinatsch’s Semiautomatic Photography (2003 – 2020) at Centre de la photographie Genève as one of the most interesting projects of 2018. “Few artists of his generation working with the medium of photography have been as prescient in terms of exploring and interrogating the technologically-ingrained programmes and biases of the medium, especially in the context of the digital turn,” said Willumeit. “The exhibition Semiautomatic Photography (2003 – 2020) brings together works from the past 17 years, reflecting his long-term commitment to the specific sets of social practices and human-machine interfaces that we have commonly chosen to sum up under the term photography.”

Snowdon Habitat Panorama Recording, Geneva, 2013, on show at the Centre de la photographie Genève 2018 © Jules Spinatsch

Bruno Ceschel, Self Publish, Be Happy
The founder of Self Publish, Be Happy, Bruno Ceschel included The Laundry in his selection from 2018 – a London-based initiative by Georgina Johnson with an arts programme by and for women and BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) people. “It is always comforting to see new grassroots projects run by enthusiastic, smart young people emerging,” noted Ceschel. “The Laundry in London is one of these.”

Untitled from the series Yam and other Hard Foods, 2018. Photography by Adama Jalloh, creative direction Saint Lovie, commissioned by NOW Gallery. A collaboration with The Laundry

Gina Amama, AWCA in Lagos, Nigeria
The only selector based in Africa, Gina Amama from A Whitespace Creative Agency brought a refreshing perspective to what was interesting in photography in 2018 – including the “mind-blowing editorial by Michael Oliver Love” in issue 1 of Africa is Now magazine. “African creatives are struggling to find platforms that represent them and speak their language,” she wrote. “As the world is slowly moving its spotlight onto the African continent, it’s crucial that we look inwards to provide exactly what’s needed on all levels and all layers of our big and diverse society.”

Image © Michael Oliver Love, used in a story in Africa is Now
Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance journalist who contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, The Calvert Journal, Aperture, FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Prior to going freelance, she wrote and edited at BJP for 15 years. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy