THE FORCE AWAK­ENS

A new show at Lon­don’s Pho­tog­ra­pher’s Gallery grap­ples with the pow­ers that be.

Esquire (Malaysia) - - CULTURE -

“Who holds the power that gov­erns our lives?” is the ques­tion that un­der­pins the four projects short­listed for this year’s Deutsche Börse Pho­tog­ra­phy Foun­da­tion Prize, which go on dis­play at the Pho­tog­ra­phers’ Gallery in Lon­don this month. Pol­ish artist Rafal Mi­lach trav­elled around for­mer-soviet coun­tries in­clud­ing Ge­or­gia, Azer­bai­jan and his own, to pho­to­graph un­usual ar­chi­tec­tural con­struc­tions and ob­jects through which gov­ern­ments at­tempt to in­flu­ence and con­trol their pop­u­laces. Swiss-born Ba­tia Suter’s col­lec­tions of jux­ta­posed found im­ages cause us to pon­der just how sub­jec­tively — and in­sid­i­ously — seem­ingly be­nign in­for­ma­tion can be pre­sented.

Then there are the even more overtly dark works. In his in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­flu­ence of Amer­i­can agribusi­ness be­he­moth Mon­santo, French-venezue­lan Mathieu As­selin pho­to­graphs ev­ery­thing from ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied crops grown from Mon­santo seeds — which now dom­i­nate the Amer­i­can mar­ket — to the vic­tims of the US mil­i­tary’s use dur­ing the Viet­nam War of Agent Or­ange, a her­bi­cide and de­fo­liant of which Mon­santo was a man­u­fac­turer. And lastly, there is New Zealan­der Luke Willis Wil­liams’ stately por­trait of Di­a­mond Reynolds, who filmed a Min­nesota po­lice of­fi­cer shoot­ing her boyfriend Phi­lando Castile dead dur­ing a traf­fic stop, and for which the of­fi­cer was later ac­quit­ted. All of which begs a se­cond over­ar­ch­ing ques­tion af­ter, “Who holds the power?”, which is, “Why do we let them?”

Deutsche Börse Pho­tog­ra­phy Foun­da­tion Prize 2018, 23 Fe­bru­ary to 3 June, The Pho­tog­ra­phers’ Gallery, Lon­don W1; thep­ho­tog­ra­phers­gallery.org.uk

Artists’ up­ris­ing (clock­wise from cen­tre): ‘Van Buren, In­di­ana, 2013’ by Mathieu As­selin; ‘Thuý Linh, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet­nam, 2015’ by Mathieu As­selin; ‘Khyrdalan, Azer­bai­jan, 2016’ by Rafal Mi­lach; ‘Anaklia, Ge­or­gia, 2013’ by Rafal Mi­lach

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