#9 Alternative Narratives Issue

Building on the curatorial theme presented for our inaugural Photoworks Festival, this issue of Photography+ seeks to delve deeper into global perspectives on photography, via new bodies of work by emerging artists and historical perspectives missed or overlooked in the past. Our writer in residence, Marissa Chen, speaks to the founders of the Angkor Photo Festival. Meanwhile, Hudda Khaireh of collective Thick/er Black Lines builds and expands on the ideas she presented during the Photoworks Festival in an article titled Black looks? Capturing the (de)colonial in the everyday. Our curator, Julia Bunnemann, revisits the work of Lorraine Leeson and Peter Dunn through a contemporary lens. We also have two special expanded folios features for this issue. Read our conversation with Diana Markosian about Santa Barbara, her debut monograph and a compelling reconstruction of her family’s first years in the United States after leaving Russia in the 1990s. We also caught up with Renata Bolívar, who has shared images from her latest project which takes us into the darkness of the Columbian highways.

Calvert 22 Foundation and The Calvert Journal have named Russian photographer Alexey Vasilyev the winner of this year’s New East Photo Prize (NEPP).

Vasilyev has been awarded £1,000 for his project Sakhawood, which takes us behind the scenes of this remote region’s booming independent film industry.

We have partnered with Calvert 22 Foundation and The Calvert Journal to bring you a special interview to coincide with Vasilyev’s prize. You can also check out some of his work on our Instagram grid this week.

© Alexey Vasilyev, Sakhawood, Ongoing

Could you explain your practice and how you work in a few sentences?

I was born and live in Yakutia. It is the place where I became a photographer, here I found inspiration for my work.

All my projects at the moment are connected with life in this amazing region: the project ‘My dear Yakutia’, ‘Ysyakh’, ‘Sakhavud’..this is all about Yakutia.

How does it feel to be the winner of the New East Photo Prize? What made you submit this body of work –Sakhawood in particular?

I am very happy to be the winner of the New East Photo Prize. You know, there aren’t that many free and good international contests that photographers can participate in. Especially (artists) from Russia. Basically, you have to pay for participation in competitions, and for many Russian photographers – the sums may seem not small. I am very grateful to the organizers of the NEPP that they give many authors the chance to tell about themselves, show their works and share something important with the whole world.

© Alexey Vasilyev, Sakhawood, Ongoing

You often focus on the stories of Yakutia – tell us a little bit about this place and your experiences there? What stories might you like to tell about this community next? 

When I first started taking photographs, I did not think that I would shoot in Yakutia. It seemed to me that life here is boring. I wanted to travel but that takes money, and I never had much of it. Therefore, I shot what was available to me. Now I understand that life in Yakutia is a unique thing. These are climatic conditions on which absolutely everything depends here, these are the traditions and culture that exist in Yakutia, this is everyday life, which sometimes defies any logical explanation. Many people probably think that people here must fight for life, survive, but, in my opinion, people here live with the flow.

What one thing has most helped to shape your practice? 

I just love taking pictures.

© Alexey Vasilyev, Sakhawood, Ongoing

Why photography? Why the still image for your work? Have you been tempted into moving image after this project with the film industry?

The great thing about photography is that almost everything depends on you. You are not dependent on other people. This year I filmed a music video for friends, and it was a difficult experience because I constantly had to coordinate my actions with other people. And I used to work alone, I alone control everything, I alone am responsible for the result.

What will you focus on next? Will it be Yakutia or elsewhere? 

You know, while there is something to shoot in Yakutia, I will shoot in Yakutia. Now, one of the most painful topics is (global) warming. Someday Yakutia will cease to be the coldest region in the world. This winter is disgustingly warm. And I would like to think about creating a new project dedicated to this important topic.

© Alexey Vasilyev, Sakhawood, Ongoing
Learn more about Alexey Vasilyev Read more about this artist in The Calvert Journal here Read more Photography+ here

Interview: Nicola Jeffs

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