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