Instamatic Days - Street Photography

      Photojournalism Foundation resolves Award disagreement

via British Journal of Photography -

A dispute between French-based photojournalism organisation Carmignac Foundation and photographer Newsha Tavakolian came to a positive resolution today following a series of lengthy discussions.

As reported in BJP, Iranian photographer Tavakolian was awarded the 2014 Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award in July this year, but later announced she was handing back her Award, including the €50,000 prize money, due to “irreconcilable differences” with the Foundation and its patron, Edouard Carmignac.

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In her statement, the prize winner claimed that her “artistic freedom” had been compromised, and accused the Foundation of interfering in the presentation of her work – a series of images depicting life for young people in Iran. Tavakolian added that Carmignac had changed the title of her project to a name she did not agree with, and had wrongly claimed she had been threatened by the Iranian Government.

But in a statement posted to her Facebook page today [29 September], Tavakolian said she accepted new conditions offered to her by the Foundation, which will see the photographer resume her relationship with the organisation, and work with jury president Anahita Ghabaian and jury member Sam Stourdzé (incoming director of Les Rencontres d’Arles festival), on a touring exhibition and book of her work.

“This weekend [27 and 28 September 2014] the Carmignac Foundation had a huge turn around, promising that from now on there will be no more interference in my project,” wrote Tavakolian. “I have decided to accept these new conditions, as for me this was about one thing only – to be able, as a photographer, to choose the title, edits and texts of my work.”

Tavakolian thanked friends and photography professionals for the support she had received, saying that, “this would never have happened without the deep commitment shown by the jury members who have stood up for the main principle that makes us all love photography, journalism and art: freedom of expression.”

The photographer went on to post a statement released by the Foundation announcing changes to the way it delivers its annual Award. In the statement, the Foundation said it deeply regretted the dispute that had occurred, and would now guarantee artistic freedom to its winning photographers. It added that in future, the president of the jury would be the chief curator for the following year.

While the Foundation denied allegations of censorship, which it said were “incompatible with the founding principles of the Award”, it admitted that the debate had “raised valid questions about the respective roles of the jury and of the patron.”

The changes to the rules of the Award came after discussions that took place on 22 September and included critic and artistic director Christian Caujolle; photography consultant Celina Lunsford; former Carmignac Gestion winner Davide Monteleone; and photographers Reza, Mark Sealy, and Jérôme Sessini, as well as Ghabaian, and Stourdzé.

“The Foundation took a big step in making these changes,” Tavakolian told BJP on the phone this afternoon. “To me, the most important thing is my artistic freedom. In light of the changes, I’m very hopeful for the future of the Award.”

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By Gemma Padley

      Great Heights

via British Journal of Photography -

Are these photographs for real? Yes, they certainly are – Korean photographer Ahn Jun may sometimes use a harness if she’s leaning over the side of a building to photograph her feet, but she really is leaning over the side of a building, or leaping up onto its edge.

Her project is titled Self-Portrait and, she says, it’s a kind of performance without an audience. “There was a day when I recalled my adolescent years,” she explains. “I was sitting on the edge of my apartment in New York and looking over the cityscape. I had a thought that suddenly my youth was coming to an end and I could not figure out the future. I sat on the edge and looked down. Then I saw the empty space, the void, and there was a sudden change in my perspective on life and death, present and future. The vision of the cityscape I was witnessing was not real for that moment – I felt the illusion of beautiful buildings was just like the future, or an ideal that we can never reach, but which surrounds us. Then I looked down and saw that what I was actually standing on was empty space. It was ‘the present’ for me. So I took a picture of my feet and that was the start of my project.”

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Jun completed a BA in art history at the University of Southern California before going to New York to study photography at the Pratt Institute, then Parsons The New School for Design. She started Self-Portrait while at Pratt, but says working on it took a while as she sometimes had to wait months to get permission to shoot. The buildings she shoots from are a mixture of landmark architecture and places that have personal significance for her, but she always shoots in the same way – setting her camera onto drive mode, she shoots as many images as possible per second until the memory card is full.

“I then review normally thousands of pictures and I pick one or two that can subvert the context,” she says. “For example, images in which my body looks peaceful or aggressive, rather than fearful. It is a certain moment of time that did exist, but which we couldn’t perceive with the naked eye because it happened too fast. I consider the most fascinating aspect of a photographic image to be the elimination of context. It means that the image is isolated from the five senses of human perception and has the possibility to create its own context inside the isolation of space and time. Hence, for me, photography is the reality and the fantasy, the truth and the fake at the same time.”

This ethos also carries through her two other big projects, Invisible Seascape and Float, both of which look, on the face of it, very different from Self-Portrait. This intellectual rigour has helped Jun start to get established in the art world and she has already had solo shows in St Petersburg and Seoul, with another lined up in Hong Kong for 2013, plus a two-person show in Japan. She has also exhibited around the world in group shows, including at St Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum and New York’s Aperture Gallery. And she was recommended to BJP by Nathalie Herschdorfer, curator of the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography and director of the Alt. + 1000 festival, plus co-curator of the two re-Generation projects with William A Ewing.

Jun Ahn’s solo exhibition Self Portrait opens at the Christophe Guye Galerie on 9 October 2014.

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By BJP Editor