Still on display through 27 February, 2022, at MUSEC in Lugano, Switzerland, is an exhibition featuring works by the winners of the global open call for UP21. It is the competition for young photographers, promoted by MUSEC and the Lugano Culture and Museums Foundation in cooperation with the gallery 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS in Milan.
With more than 160 applications received and a notable predominance of submissions from Asian artists, the international jury, chaired by German photographer Han Georg Berger, presented four Young Photographer awards. Works by the winners are exhibited at MUSEC from 23 September ‘21 through 27 February ‘22, and also in a catalogue.
MUSEC’s intention is to establish an archive of contemporary photography in Lugano as part of the permanent collection alongside that of 19th century and exotic photography. The exhibition, housed in the renowned Spazio Maraini at Villa Malpensata in Lugano, presents 24 large-format photographic prints. The protagonists of the temporary exhibition are four young talents who were selected in July by an international jury.
Vietnamese photographer Khanh Bui Phu and young LGBT Syrian photographer Mouneb Taim are joint winners of the 1st prize in 2021, consisting of a scholarship worth CHF 5,000. In a tie for third place were Indian photographer Avinash Mishra and Chinese photographer Li Zhang.
Mouneb Taim (born 2001) – Syria – submitted his series entitled ‘War Notes’. An impressive document of daily life during the war. The project is charged with a message : The young photographer expresses how it feels to be part of a wounded culture. His photos convey a profound note of hope which eventually prevails amid the destruction. He is part of the LGBT community and has had his photographic equipment taken off of him and confiscated during the war, when he was arrested by Islamic organizations for being homosexual. He is now in hiding.
Khanh Bui Phu (born 1987) – Vietnam – presented his project ‘Make a nomadic living on the water ecosystem’. With poetic intensity and skillful use of color contrasts, the series depicts the life of nomadic fishermen on Tuyen Lam Lake in Lam Dong Province, Vietnam.
Avinash Mishra (born 1999) – India – the series entitled ‘The Colors Empire’ by the Indian photographer was shot during the famous color ceremony in Mathura. With a language strongly oriented towards the rendering of moving masses, the artist transforms the substance of chromatic contrasts through the use of black and white photography into a vivid representation of humanity and a religious sense of life.
Li Zhang (born 1991) – China – with his photo series ‘When I was a Child’ – Li conducts an introspective investigation into his childhood by reworking old pictures taken by his grandfather using a scanner and camera. In this way, with a language marked by subtle poetry, and thanks to an innovative technique, he increases the value and expressive capacity of an intimate cross-generational connection, building a visual and stylistic bridge between the 1990s and our time.
A special prize awarded by Artphilein Editions of Lugano, consisting of the publication of a prestigious catalogue featuring the submitted works, also went to Vietnamese photographer Khanh Bui Phu. The jury additionally highlighted the two Bangladeshi photographers Ahmed Rayhan and Shifat Shifatunnabi with an honorable mention for their entries.
GoSee : musec.ch///Unpublished-Photo-2021 & artphilein.org
Over the course of two years, Paris-based photo-journalist Elliott Verdier captured on large-format film the people and natural environments he encountered in Liberia, aiming to portray the after-effects that the Liberian civil war has had on its people. While traveling the West African country, he visited the fishing harbors of Harper, the diamond mines of Gbarpolu, and the Westpoint slums. The population does not speak about the bloody civil war (1989-2003) that decimated Liberia. His subjects shared their experiences only after they had found that they could trust him.
The civil war in Liberia lasted for fourteen years. It was rooted in conflicts between different ethnic groups on the one hand, and in fights between warlords for political power and control of the country’s resources on the other. Around 250,000 Liberians lost their lives as a result, and one million were driven out. Both sides used children soldiers. Since the de-escalation of the tensions, many refugees have returned to their home towns or have permanently made a life for themselves in the neighboring countries they had fled to.
“It definitely was a tough year after finishing this work,” says the photographer. “It still weighs quite a lot on my mind. My photographs are illusions of my reality with which I try, with sincerity, to seek a universal truth.”
From the project ‘Reaching for Dawn’, a book has been created, which is the first work to be published at DUNES EDITION Paris.
We learn from the book : “Of the bloody civil war (1989-2003) that decimated Liberia, its population does not speak. No proper memorial has been built, no day is dedicated to commemoration. The country, still held by several protagonists of the carnage, refuses to condemn its perpetrators. This deafening silence, that resonates internationally, denies any possibility of social recognition or collective memory of the massacres, condemning Liberia to an endless feeling of abandonment and drowsy resignation. The trauma carved into the population’s flesh is crystallized in the society’s weak foundations, still imbued with an unsound Americanism, and bleeds onto a new generation with an uncertain future.
The dark and enigmatic monochromes are contextual images that establish the setting for the color portraits. These black & white images are a reference to the night that so often appears in witness accounts, a moment in time where the trauma becomes palpable. They distill a heavy atmosphere that spreads the suffocating silence over the country. From this silence, words emerge, transcribed onto fragile paper, to haunt the Liberian night with inaudible whispers.”
“And so the photos in ‘Reaching for Dawn’ emanate a kind of mournful expectancy, for theirs is an enigmatic and non-tranquil state, one where the present is always on the point of vanishing. Fixed in a suspended moment in time, human beings, places, landscapes and objects morph into memory. A jagged memory that haunts the history of Liberia, a country where the promise of its name appears to have run aground for now, like a rusty vessel on one of Robertsport’s beaches.” Gaël Faye (singer-songwriter, rapper, writer)
About – Elliott Verdier, born 1992 in Paris (France), is a documentary photographer driven by themes such as memory, generational transmission and resilience. In 2017, he completed his first long-term project ‘A Shaded Path’ in Kyrgyzstan. He was supported by the French National Center for Visual Arts in 2019 on his second major project ‘Reaching for Dawn’ in Liberia. Elliott Verdier also regularly collaborates with the press, notably with the New York Times and M Le Monde Magazine. GoSee : elliottverdier.com
About – : Dunes Editions is a new photo book publishing house based in Paris (France). It aims to tell stories and through them recount a larger tale of our modern age via photo-documentary series. The dunes, these hills constituted by a heap of sand accumulated by the wind, are shaped by time. They embody both the infinitely large and the infinitely small, the gigantism and the delicacy, the unchanging ephemerality; just like the multitude of small stories that make up the larger one, that of humanity. Dunes Editions is the materialization of all these moving stories, told in images. ‘Reaching for Dawn’ is the first publication of Dunes. GoSee : dunes-editions.com
30 October, 3pm to 6pm: book signing at Polka Factory (14 Rue Saint-Gilles, 75003 Paris)
12 November, at 4pm: book signing at Paris Photo, stand Delpire & co
13 November, all day (from 11am to 9pm): book signing at Polycopies (Bateau Concorde-Atlantique, Berges de Seine - Port de Solferino - 75007 Paris Paris - France)
14 November, at 4pm: book signing at Paris Photo
25 November (timing TBC): book signing at Micamera Bookstore Milano
BOOK – ‘Reaching for Dawn’ by Elliott Verdier . Texts: Gaël Faye (singer-songwriter, rapper, writer) and Leymah Gbowee (activist, Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 2011), Illustration: Sacha Von Villard, Graphic Design: Marion Denoual, Bilingual English & French, 152 pages, 66 photographs (36 b&w - 30 color), Format: 24 x 31 cm, Swiss book binding.