May 21, 2018

The Carmignac Photojournalism Award at the @Saatchi_Gallery

Carmignac is an asset management company based in Paris. It controls the Carmignac Foundation, set up in 2000 to exhibit the company’s art collection and to undertake charitable and cultural sponsorships. Chief amongst these is the Carmignac Photojournalism Award. Launched in 2009 it provides the winner with $50,000 to undertake a project and visit an area ‘at the centre of geostrategic conflict, where human rights and freedom of speech are often violated.’

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Newsha Tavakolian talks about her work at the Saatchi Gallery

Until 13th December the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea is showing the work of this year’s winner Newsha Tavakolian along with a smaller selection of works from previous winners Davide Monteleone, Massimo Berruti, Kai Weidenhofer and Christophe Gin. Gaza, Pashtunistan, Zimbabwe, Chechnya and Iran are the chosen areas and each photographer has spent up to six months living in their chosen country – long trips that give time to absorb the local culture but are represented here by only a very few images on the walls. Make sure you flick thorough the books that each photographer has produced that are also on display in the gallery.

Tavakolian has the largest space and shows a side of Iran that is rarely seen, being neither the Death to America fanaticism or the corrupt elite. Compared to the West the lifestyles on show seem to be that of the poor, struggling to survive, but the curator explained the images showed the middle classes – although the subjects Tavakolian has chosen all have difficult lives. A plus-size girl in Tehran – a city we are told that is ‘obsessed with beauty’. A divorced woman trying to live life on her own. A man who has to practise his singing in a disused swimming pool. Her works show the reality of life for many people in Iran and mirrors a society that rarely gets examined.

Kai Weidenhofer has visited Gaza. His shots don’t show an in-your-face horror but rather the aftermath of conflict. The bullet-scared buildings, the people disfigured by war. The destructive moment lasts for seconds, but the population has to live with its effects, whether in terms of destroyed homes or blindness and physical injury.

If you are nearby then pop in and have a look at the show, though I wouldn’t travel far as you can see many of the images and more easily read about the artists online.

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