#13 The Graduate IssueAfter another challenging academic year where many photography students were taught remotely and faced limited access to campus and facilities, we celebrate the work of ten graduates from around the world. Jodie Bateman, Lina Geoushy, Matt Hind, Lena Holzer, Wing Ka Ho, Esther Gabrielle Kersley, Marianne McGurk, Ryan Prince, Agnieszka Sejud, Felix Schöppner. The selected projects reflect a range of ideas and experiences, from personal projects born out of lived experience to work tackling current social and political issues. Special thanks to the selection panel including; Natasha Caruana, artist, lecturer and mentor, Daniele de Luigi, Curator Giovane Fotografia Italiana, writer and critic, Ian Howarth, Photographer and Content Creator MPB, Tshepiso Mabula, Photoworks writer-in-residence and photographer, Maryam Wahid, artist and lecturer, and Julia Bunnemann, Photoworks Curator. A huge thank you to our sponsors MPB and print partner Spectrum Photographic for selecting four lucky graduates to support with kit loan and a printing voucher.
By: Tshepiso Mabula ka Ndongeni, Photoworks Writer in Residence
In 2021, we have truly learned that all that glitters isn’t gold, that one must make it a point to take one more look before deciding on the beauty or ugliness of a thing. The graduate issue this year affords an opportunity to learn from the novices who are mastering the art of breaking the rules in the name of creating something new. There is much to be gleaned from the works of this year’s chosen graduates – from the magical surrealism of Felix Schöppner, whose work looks at growth in nature as a symbol of change and progress, to the quiet tenderness of Matt Hind, who investigates the relationship between patriarchy and masculinity. The works presented by this year’s dynamic cohort engage with the important issues that make up the fabric of contemporary society, and speak to humanity’s ability to create even during times of peril.
Lena Holzer’s A Shadow in the Shape of a House looks at the home as a place of solace and isolation during a government-mandated lockdown in Austria. In these quiet, intimate and peculiar depictions of home, Holzer examines the concept of estrangement from the familiar through a shift in perspective. By drawing upon typical household items, archival images and various sculptures, Holzer explores the impact of leaving behind the sanctimonious, petit-bourgeois town they grew up in, as well as the movement of humanity from past to present and from what is considered normal to what is deemed irregular.
Jodie Bateman interrogates the complicated stereotypes associated with being a Muslim in Western societies with My Hijab has a Voice: Revisited. The intimate portraits in this series take the viewer into the mind of individuals who have to grapple with the ever-changing landscape of religious stereotyping while living in a body already marked as ‘other’. Bateman explores the idea of belonging by photographing herself and her family in thought-provoking ways, with the intimacy of one who is mindful of the space she and her images take up. In one of the most striking images, Bateman shows one subject holding a camera remote while also tenderly cupping the face of the other subject. The portraits, which are all made within the confines of the home, raise many questions about the freedom that can exist between the politics of modesty and defiance. Bateman’s photographs are quiet, yet still speak directly to the preposterous damage that stereotypes can inflict.
Memory and photography have long been closely linked. Marianne McGurk plays with the notion that photography can accurately encapsulate memories in This is how she lives on. The series is an expression of the photographer’s grief after the death of her mother. McGurk uses items that belonged to her mother to create colourful and thought-provoking images that seek to capture the essence of the person her mother was (and still is, even after her death). The images are simultaneously playful and poignant, with vivid colours and archival moments of silence reflecting a mother who has left an indelible mark on her child.
Photography is an age-old medium that transcends time and space, an artform that allows for viewers and photographers alike to write history together through the images they make and consume. The images made by the photographers in this year’s graduating class include intimate portrayals of the struggle for identity, elegies for the forgotten and requiems for the perilous times we find ourselves in. These works are a transcendent guide to navigating the spaces we occupy in bodies that are often endangered, ogled and tortured because of how they are positioned in society. The chosen works reflect photography’s ability to engage with critical issues about the state of the world They re-humanise both the living and the dead, reintroduce various aspects of the past and present and help to provide answers to the difficult questions we grapple with while attempting to make sense of our existence.