“As humans, we must strive to survive”: Timely stories of strength and agency from the BJP International Photography Award 2020 Single Image Show

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Photo: © Marisol Mendez, BJP IPA 2020 Single Image Winner.

BJP delves deeper into the compelling curation of contemporary photography on show at Seen Fifteen Gallery until 22 May

BJP International Photography Award 2021 is now open, recognising contemporary talent of the highest calibre. Enter now.

From Icelandic glaciers to Irish diners, domestic shots made in isolation to delicate odes to women’s bodily autonomy, the BJP International Photography Award 2020 Single Image Show – currently on show at Seen Fifteen Gallery, Peckham, until 22 May – is a rich and timely curation of photography from around the world. 

Now in its 16th edition, the BJP International Photography Award recognises contemporary masters of photographic storytelling, as selected by a jury of curators, editors and directors from leading institutions. While there is no single narrative that ties the Single Image Show together, the exhibition presents vivid and affecting stories of strength, togetherness, struggle and loss, as told by some of today’s finest image-makers. 

Here, we hear from five artists on the work featured.

Carloman Macidiano Céspedes Riojas


© Carloman Macidiano Céspedes Riojas, BJP IPA 2020 Single Image Winner.

“This image is from a documentary project exploring the LGBTQ immigrant community in Buenos Aires; in progress since 2018, the project is born in the form of my personal experience. I am a gay immigrant in Buenos Aires.

Although we left our countries in search of a better future, I find in several immigrants that the implicit and main reason is to find freedom that is not available at home. Photography seeks me and finds me: it forces me to represent those themes that surround me, that touch me closely; that make me suffer, and free me.”


Marisol Mendez


© Marisol Mendez, BJP IPA 2020 Single Image Winner.

“This image developed as a response to the overload of phallocentric female nudity that clogs Bolivian media where women’s bodies are censored, enhanced, fetishized, desired and judged. These bodies seem to be there to feed a capricious appetite — but not to have one of their own. I collaborated with a dancer friend to explore the ‘less desirable’ aspects of the female body as a way to reclaim agency over our nakedness.”


Rita Gratacòs


© Rita Gratacòs, BJP IPA 2020, Single Image Winner.

“[Belgian surrealist artist] René Magritte’s mother committed suicide by drowning in the Sambre river when he was just 14 years old. When the body was retrieved, her dress was covering her face. This is said to be the reason behind some of his works in which his subjects’ faces are covered. 

Using Magritte’s well-known works as a visual reference, I started exploring the romanticisation of suicide through the language of dance. ‘Sambre nº3’ is part of a series of photographs with dancers Paula Tato and Miquel Duran, which focuses on two types of connections: what we as an audience can see as a literal connection, and the sensory non visual connection between them.”


Alfred Temi Adebayo


© Alfred Temi Adebayo, BJP IPA 2020 Single Image Winner.

“The pandemic has completely changed the travel industry, with the addition of required face coverings, travel restrictions, and the likes. This inability to move around and travel the world may have a significant impact on our mental and physical health. Travel restrictions mean we may not be able to interact with those we love the most. Again, as humans, we must strive to survive. We must continue to face whatever challenges life throws at us, while doing what makes us most human: interaction.”


Christian Jago


© Christian Jago, BJP IPA 2020, Single Image Winner.

“This image depicts the frozen landscape of Mistéir: a distant region in an alternate world called Phantasia. The terrain is part of a vast, remote island which is covered in a valley of snowy peaks and treacherous glaciers. I was inspired to create the scene after travelling through parts of Iceland — a place which itself is alien and magical. The image was created using practical special effects techniques which were widely used before CGI to bring fantastical worlds in motion pictures to life.”


The BJP IPA Single Image Show is exhibiting at Seen Fifteen Gallery until 22 May 2021. The exhibition is sponsored by Beyond Print.

Enter BJP International Photography Award 2021 now