#17 The Graduate Issue

The students graduating in 2022 have studied over years marked by the Covid pandemic and a period of intense ethical examination in photography and beyond. We celebrate the work of ten image-makers from around the world who have grappled with the challenges to produce outstanding work.

Austin Cullen, Jana Islinger, Abdulhamid Kircher, Erin Lee, Ali Mohamed, RoN, Victoria Ruiz, Anna Sellen, Ruben Storey, Vera Yijun Zhou.

The selected projects employ a wide range of artistic approaches, from straight documentary to the deeply personal and the staged. But each reflects a thoughtful response to issues affecting contemporary society and politics, and a flair for communicating with images.

Special thanks to the selection panel including: Jermaine Francis, photographer; Kobi Prempeh, curator Fynn Studio; Sabrina Citra, Photoworks Writer in Residence 2022; and Julia Bunnemann, Photoworks Curator.

Thank you to our partner Spectrum Photographic for selecting one lucky graduate for print support; three other graduates will receive mentoring from Photoworks.

Hang the Pig

Born in the year of the pig, Vera Yijun Zhou was mocked in her youth by other children, an experience which made her feel she embodied the failed image of a ‘pig’. In many cultures, pigs are seen as dirty, and pork products are not consumed. Calling someone a ‘pig’ is usually considered derogatory, and is even classed as a form of bullying by Facebook, amounting to a violation of its user code. Questioning the cultural norms that declare pigs physically and intellectually inferior, Zhou used the game engine Unity 3D to construct a dehumanised world out of images of pigs and pork. Across multiple screens and billboards within this alternative reality, Zhou questions how pigs might look at screens in a pigs’ world, and whether pigs would be offended by pork images on social media. In doing so, she also considers how representation via images generates culturally specific notions of failure, and the huge database of images we collectively create and consume every day. 

© Vera Yijun Zhou. From the series Hang the Pig, 2022

Vera Yijun Zhou, also known as 周怡君, was born in Deyang, China in 1995, and is currently based between Shanghai and the Netherlands. She recently graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. In 2020, her work was exhibited at the Three Shadows Photography Art Center in Beijing. Zhou is a co-founder of the photobook publisher Imageless, which published Goa Shan’s award-winning The Eighth Day.

© Vera Yijun Zhou. From the series Hang the Pig, 2022
Thanks to Spectrum Photographic, Photoworks’ official print partner

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