From the series Shelter by Henk Wildschut. From a shortlist of six photographers’ projects, Wildschut won the 20,000 Euro DUTCH DOC AWARD.
Last weekend was the Dutch Doc Festival.
The theme for this years Dutch Doc Festival is the slow type of journalism, which “focuses on long-term projects that frequently involve a strong personal commitment and steer clear of passing fashions. Projects that revisit a (pre-documented) subject in a sequel or to create a new sequence in follow-ups after set periods of time.”
Photoblogging duo Mrs. Deane were involved in the festivities and asked other bloggers and I to pitch in. They emailed:
To underline the relevance of the online community in shaping the contemporary debate, we would like to invite a number of what we consider ‘distinct voices’ to contribute to the festival via our presence. We would tremendously appreciate it, if you could select three photographic projects that you feel should be considered when discussing what’s needed right now, what people should be looking at, what has been forgotten, or what new projects are leading the way in the field of documentary photography (especially the kind that is also moving within the confines of the fine art galleries).
Ignoring the last criteria, I unapologetically picked three very political projects. Mrs. Deane posted my response over there, and I cross-post here for good measure.
THREE NEEDED PROJECTS
At a time when images rifle across our screens and retinas usually serving the purpose of illustration or corporate propaganda, the resolve of photographers to create bodies of work that deal with politics — and often large narratives too — can be read as either foolhardy or enlightened. I’ll pick the latter.
Kevin Kunishi’s work in Nicaragua, Joao Pina’s documentary in South America and Mari Bastashevski’s documents from Chechnya explore to varying degrees, “what has been forgotten.” Photography is art and art should be political. If we considered remembering and memory the first act in resistance against injustice then these three projects are high art.
From los restos de la revolucion © Kevin Kunishi
Kunishi’s Los Restos de la Revolution is a poignant look at the remains and the survivors of the Nicaraguan civil war. The portraits feature both former Sandanista rebels and former US-sponsored Contras. The mundane everyday details alongside deep psychological scars following conflict can be easy to turn ones back on when the bombs stop lighting up the skies. And it is easy to forget the US’s imperial policy and meddling in this conflict. One wonders if Afghanistan will ever have a cushion of a similar period of peaceful time to be part of a similar look back at the experiences and actions of its citizenry amid conflict.
From File 126 © Mari Bastashevski
Mari Bastashevski’s File 126 documents spaces previously inhabited by abductees who were “disappeared” during the Russian/Chechen conflict. Bastashevski says, “the abducted are incorporeal, as if they never were. They are no longer with the living, but they are not listed among the dead.” This is a particularly brave project given the state forces complicit in the departures are still in power and their reactions to Bastashevski’s inconvenient conscience are unknown.
From Operation Condor © Joao Pina
Joao Pina’s Operation Condor expansive work across South America, wants to both document and “provide evidence” for ongoing memory and trials into cases of of extrajudicial torture, kidnap and murder by the various Right-wing Military Juntas in South America during the 1970s and 80s. Like Nicaragua [and Kunishi’s work] the US had a strong influencing hand in either establishing or propping up many of these hardline governments. The crimes of thirty years ago are barely on the radar of the Western world however. How quick we forget! Pina is currently raising money for the next phase of his project at Emphas.is.
Colin and Joerg’s Selections
Mrs. Deane got a couple of other expert opinions.
Colin Pantall selected Third Floor Gallery, Timothy Archibald and Joseph Rock.
Joerg Colberg plumped for Brian Ulrich, Milton Rogovin and Reiner Gerritsen.