Curator and writer based in Paris and guest curator for PHoto ESPAÑA in 2019
©Alexander Mourant, Blue Tree, from the series Aurelian, 2017. Courtesy the artist
photograph magazine began in 1988 as a gallery guide to let people know about the photography shows opening all over New York City. The guide steadily expanded to become a magazine, one that now covers photo-based art throughout the United States and abroad.
Today, photograph is an invaluable resource for all photography lovers, covering the work of photographers, galleries, museums, publishers, and curators. We at photograph are passionate about photography, and we are honored to share this passion with so many talented and brilliant minds in the photo community. That’s why we asked 30 of them to celebrate our 30th anniversary with us by choosing one photograph that they loved in 2018 and telling us why. Their selections are just as beautiful, poignant, thought-provoking, and wondrous as you’d expect. We hope you enjoy them.
Vince Aletti, Erin Barnett, Ann-Christin Bertrand, Elisabeth Biondi, Lucas Blalock, Susan Bright, David Campany, Bruno Ceschel, Clément Chéroux, Matthew Connors, Joanna Cresswell, Mark Alice Durant, Michael Famighetti, Stephen Frailey, Jason Fulford, Marvin Heiferman, W.M. Hunt, Helen Jennings & Sara Hemming, Shane Lavalette, Matthew Leifheit, Michael Mack, Shoair Mavlian, Nicholas Muellner, Sean O’Hagan, Libby Pratt, Lyle Rexer, Mariela Sancari, Sarah Schmerler, Nadya Sheremetova, Noelle Flores Théard
Writer, curator and editor specializing in photography and culture, based in London
Peter Hujar, David Wojnarowicz Eating an Apple, 1983. © Courtesy 1987 The Peter Hujar Archive LLC. Courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
Liz Johnson Artur has worked for many years making stunning, intimate images related to the African diaspora. Her photographs span the globe, from London to Paris to NYC to Jamaica to Zimbabwe, and other locations. She has a magical way of capturing community and people being together. There’s incredible warmth and tactility to her vision. I was honored to feature Johnson Artur in the current Family issue of Aperture. In the accompanying feature, writer Ekow Eshun describes her work as a family album for the African diaspora, making her work the inevitable choice for the issue’s cover.
Liz Johnson Artur, Under 18th rave, East London, 2004. Courtesy the artist
Our growing familiarity with computer space has at once given us a model for engaging with the virtualities latent in the material world, and new tools with which to picture them. Lales’s self-portrait as a time traveler seems to exploit this increased flexibility while nodding to photography’s famously singular temporality. It is funny and wise and weird. The eye contact is astonishing. Sci-fi is all around us these days but it is rarely so convincing.
Petros Lales, The Time Traveler, 2017. Courtesy the artist
Curator and writer based in Paris and guest curator for PHoto ESPAÑA in 2019
©Alexander Mourant, Blue Tree, from the series Aurelian, 2017. Courtesy the artist
Photographer and co-publisher of J&L Books
Sara Perovic, Legs OBPH02. Courtesy the artist
Curator, writer, and the author of Photography Changes Everything (Aperture/Smithsonian, 2012) and the upcoming Seeing Science (Aperture/UMBC, 2019)
Pacifico Silano, Untitled (Mirror), 2018. Courtesy the artist
Representing other people’s difficult situations is a notoriously double-edged problem for photography. Ask the photojournalist or socially concerned documentary photographer accused of “poverty porn” and facing the anhedonia of an audience numbed by endless images of disaster. Nigel Shafran’s brilliant project reverses these complex power relations. Shafran approaches homeless people begging on the streets of London and after explaining to them his project, he pays them to photograph him with his own camera. The images, usually taken from the low vantage point of the homeless person and emphasizing the blur of unconcerned life passing by, are captioned with the details of the photographer.
Nigel Shafran, Dave, Euston Square Station, NW1, from The People On The Street, 2016-17. Courtesy the artist
Having worked on Carmen Winant’s book My Birth for over six months, I became familiar with the photographs of her mom giving birth, as well as the found images that visually echoed them. And yet, I was not quite prepared for the installation Carmen created for the New Photography show at MoMA last spring, two walls covered in more than 3,000 found images of birth. It took my breath away. The installed images moved me, shocked me, and left me speechless. Carmen’s work was able to touch something within me that intellect cannot explain, a rare case of art surpassing words and tapping into a collective consciousness.
©Carmen Winant, My Birth (detail), 2018. Courtesy Museum of Modern Art, New York, photo: Martin Seck
In our profligate image-culture, I find myself drawn more and more to quiet photography, but I was not quite prepared for the silence that emanates from this portrait of a young nun by Alys Tomlinson. It belongs to a series called Ex-Voto, which was made at pilgrimage sites in rural France, Poland, and Ireland. Some of her subjects evince a certain awkwardness that recalls the work of Diane Arbus, but in this one, a sense of serenity prevails. Isolating her subject and shooting on a large-format camera, Tomlinson ensures that everything extraneous falls away. You are left with that gaze, unquestioning yet penetrating. It stays with you.
Alys Tomlinson, Sr Vera, from the series Ex-Voto, 2016-18. Courtesy the artist
Director of Photoworks
Robin Maddock, Thamesmead, 2017. Courtesy the artist
Writer, curator, critic, and columnist
Chiara Samugheo, Possessed Women (from Cinema Nuovo magazine no. 50), Galatina, Puglia,1955. Courtesy Admira Milano
This photograph is part of the series La Familia Flores, by Argentinian photographer Cecilia Reynoso, focusing on her extended family. I first encountered it when I was invited by Asunción Casa Editora to be part of the editing team that would turn her series into a photobook. I was immediately struck by this beautiful and fascinating image, which is so harmonious and well balanced. The subject and aesthetics recall ancient classical paintings without taking away from its potency. On the contrary, it is informed by these silent references, making it all the more layered and appealing. The sculptural figure created by the woman’s body resting on the bright green grass, along with her maternal gesture of leaning to kiss her son, who is covered by a wrinkled sheet, create a poetic and telling composition.
Cecilia Reynoso, The Flowers Family, 2013. Courtesy the artist
Although Ivan Forde’s blueprint, Morning Raid, takes the ancient epic poem Gilgamesh as a starting point, the work feels solidly contemporary. What initially seems like a battle between man and nature shifts upon closer examination. Numerous delicate, ephemeral characters attempt to wrangle and take control of a monumental tree in some graceful choreographed dance. It seems they are trying to topple it, though their movements feel strangely celebratory, as if honoring this tremendous life-giving monolith. The physical power of the figures’ gestures is offset by the fragility of the thin, bright red string. I see my own relationship to nature so clearly in this image. This back and forth – wavering between delicacy and brute force, control and submission – is what drew me in, what I love, and what keeps me looking.
Ivan Forde, Morning Raid, 2017. Courtesy the artist
I love eating, and maybe this was one of the – very simple – reasons why I particularly loved this image. The artistic strategy of Torbjørn Rødland, as well as the effect his images have on the viewer, are expressed perfectly: I was first attracted by the deliciously shining cinnamon roll, then discovered the set of teeth, which immediately turned the image from something attractive into something disgusting, uncanny – leaving me ambivalent. As with ALL his images, any attempt to decode it threw up new questions. His work frequently unites disparate visual worlds in which mysterious and disturbing details emerge. At the same time, they arrest the gaze and captivate the viewer, thanks to their intelligence, peculiar lighting, and sterile modern setting, evoking commercial photography and pop culture, as well as erotic innuendos. It is precisely this mixture of intelligence and intuition, with various links to Surrealism, that gives them their strength.
Torbjørn Rødland, Cinnamon Roll, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and STANDARD (OSLO)
David Horvitz is part of a generation of artists confronting the influence of the internet on art. In 2009, he posted on the internet a tagged photograph with his head in the freezer and encouraged others to do the same. This viral meme shows how the sharing of images now supersedes the making of images in today’s culture; it will be on view in snap+share: transmitting photographs from mail art to social networks, opening at SFMOMA in March 2019.
David Horvitz, 241543903, google research images project. Courtesy the artist and ChertLüdde, Berlin
Anastasia Samoylova’s ongoing series FloodZone is a gentle but poignant response to climate change (for which 2018 may be the defining year: the issue reached mass consciousness, but with the frightening realization that it may now be too late). Samoylova lives on Miami Beach, a place of extreme weather and impending sea-level rise. She photographs indirect but telling symptoms. The city shrouds its booming construction sites in idealized photo-realistic murals. As if images can fortify against the reality everyone now knows is coming. Much of coastal Florida will be under water, perhaps within a generation.
Anastasia Samoylova, Real Estate Billboard, Miami Beach, from the series FloodZone, 2018. Courtesy the artist
In Philadelphia, the New Year’s Day Mummers Parade has a long history. Andrea Modica tapped into that history ten years ago and has photographed revelers in working-class South Philly every year since. January 1, a book of that work, was published this year by L’Artiere, and I’ve been looking at it a lot. Her subjects are men and boys in dresses – homemade Mother Hubbard-style frocks, ruffled and frumpy. Pulled out of the parade and posed in front of Modica’s 8×10-in. view camera, they can be so aggressively, defensively masculine they look like they’re spoiling for a fight. Or, like the young man here, with his beads and tattered feather, they can appear touchingly vulnerable, poised on the verge of a revelation.
Andrea Modica, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 1, 2017. Courtesy the artist
We know that photographs are constructed by reality and contain its traces. We also know that photography constructs realities. I like this image, and the entire project Sentimentality for Jess by Russian artist Irina Zadorozhnaia, because it is a paradoxical picture. We see a homogeneous space in which one body is the material on which multiple roles and emotions, as well as social and relational patterns, are constructed.
Irina Zadorozhnaia, Sentimentality for Jess 09, 2018. Courtesy the artist
Amongst the photographs in our home, Sarah Charlesworth’s reminds us of her absence and influence. In the series The Academy of Secrets, groups of symbolic totems are dispersed across a glossy color field. Subtle Body offers a vertical rosary of images that represent the female body, from a snail at the base to a crowning halo, corresponding with the seven chakras of Eastern belief. Beneath the glossy membrane, the image is luminous in its milky caul and seems poised on the threshold of meaning. The female body is proposed as a sacred and ancient container that maps our cultural history. Its evanescence suggests dispersal to air and light, that spirit will triumph over the physical, and that the image itself is a form of divinity.
Sarah Charlesworth, Subtle Body, 1989. © The Estate of Sarah Charlesworth. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
So simple, so direct. And so problematic. Taken by British missionary Alice Seeley Harris, it shows a father gazing at the severed hand and foot of his child, who was murdered by the ABIR militia. As scholar Sharon Sliwinski noted, this picture was part of the first humanitarian movement to use atrocity images as an integral aspect of its campaign; they were published in newspapers and presented in magic-lantern shows around the world highlighting Leopold II’s brutal reign. Can shocking images still bring about social change? What does it mean for visual narratives of state-sponsored abuse to be controlled by outsiders?
Alice Seeley Harris (British, 1870-1970), Nsala of Wala with the severed hand and foot of his five-yearold daughter murdered by ABIR (Anglo-Belgian India Rubber) company militia. This was all that remained of a cannibal feast following the murder of his wife, son, and daughter, Nsongo District, Democratic Republic of Congo, ca. 1904. Anti-Slavery International / Courtesy Panos Pictures
Where are we? How did we get here? Many of Simon Roberts’s pictures beg those sorts of deep questions, but this one in particular compels me. It is melancholy, delicate, yet strong. Here I am in a world that, at least for a moment, has been blotted out. The tiny weather vane points north. The British flag hangs limp. Whatever breeze once came through here has since passed. No need to get my bearings now; I know this psychic place because over the last year I have awoken to an America that more and more I don’t recognize. And the tide, it is rising.
©Simon Roberts, Clevedon Pier #B, Somerset, 2011. Courtesy Flowers Gallery London and New York
The future is hardly ever photographed. Humans try to picture it, but our narcissism intervenes. Ron Jude’s Welded Tuff #1 drew me into that future, with a dread that bled into melancholy pleasure. An enormous, dark photograph of a barren rock-face, refusing all devices of perspective or formal tension to direct our gaze. The scene is epically present, but not photographically seen. An image without an eye (or an I). Its darkly exquisite presence, I realize with a start, is not for me. These rocks live alone, unseen, in that future, without us. A curse removed from this enduring matter.
Ron Jude, Welded Tuff #1, from 12 Hz., 2017. Courtesy the artist
Jeff Mermelstein’s rough-hewn cellphone pictures of other people’s cellphones emanate from a lifetime commitment to street photography, but look unlike anything else we’ve seen in the genre. Setting aside the poetics of chance pedestrian choreography and dramatic midtown light, Mermelstein surreptitiously photographs disembodied hands clutching private text conversations on fractured screens. The results feel less like the dispatches of an auteur than the voyeuristic obsessions of an eccentric genius who has cracked a code and opened up small portals to the desires, insecurities, and heartbreaks brewing below the surface of the public sphere.
Jeff Mermelstein, #nyc, 2018. Courtesy the artist
Photographer, publisher/editor, and director of Light Work
Emmet Gowin, Nancy, Danville, Virginia, 1969. © Emmet and Edith Gowin. Courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York
Visuals editor of The New Yorker for 15 years, she now works as an independent curator, writer, and teacher.
Philippe Cheng, Untitled, Olive Series #7, 2017. Courtesy the artist
Mark Alice Durant
Artist and writer living in Baltimore and the founder of Saint Lucy Books
Rachael Banks, The Wedding, 2017, from the series Between Home and Here. Courtesy the artist
Brooklyn-based photographer, editor-in-chief of MATTE Magazine, and adjunct professor of photography at Yale and Pratt Institute
Dawn Kim, courtesy the artist
Helen Jennings and Sara Hemming
This image is by South African photographer Alice Mann from her ongoing series Drummies. Nataal included Drummies in New African Photography, our annual show at Red Hook Labs in May, and it has since gone on to win her the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, 2018. Alice is a young talent who hopes to use portraiture as an empowering force. This series depicts the drumming majorettes of Dr Van Der Ross Primary School in the Delft Township of Cape Town, a deprived area where gang violence is rife. What comes through in the image is the sense of confidence, community, and pride these girls get from being part of an all-female, team-driven sport. It feels uplifting and carefree, and Nataal couldn’t be prouder of Alice!
Alice Mann, Dr Van Der Ross Drummies, Cape Town, South Africa, 2017, from the series Drummies. Courtesy the artist
É Nóis, 2011, by the Brazilian photographer Cássio Vasconcellos, is the most thrilling photograph I have seen in a very, very long time. I’m a believer so my first reaction to this was to see it as an astonishing overhead shot of a crowd like Arthur Siegel’s 1939 Right of Assembly. It’s a construction. Look at the detail and then the whole image. The artist printed it in black & white and color, and it measures more than seven feet in width. Wow.
Cássio Vasconcellos, É Nóis, 2011. Courtesy the artist
Noelle Flores Théard
Cinthya Santos Briones’s image of children playing in a church sanctuary reminds me of how children, who are most impacted by the potential deportation proceedings against their parents, still have a need for play, even in the most dire of circumstances. They have reappropriated the sanctuary as a playroom of their own. Their imaginations expand far beyond the walls that protect their parents from the ICE agents who would take them away.
Cinthya Briones, Living inside Sanctuary, September 2017. Courtesy the artist