Homes in the House
Let Them Eat Cake
Along the swift current of time
Nqaba Shakes Mbolekwana
Have You Been Here
Marta Capilla Urbano
Making of a floor
Homes in the House
In this project, I photographed objects which are someones’ belongings. Some of my friends chose to leave UK during the pandemic and temporarily store these things in my place although they didn’t come back. To me, these things are redundant and out of use but spontaneously shows fragments of previous owners’ life when taking up my living space. In this situation, the connections between objects, the signs of use, and the contradiction among objects and space are starting a conversation about the relationship between belongings and living. How they construct living space and make the sense of "home"?
Melting Structures analyses the ephemeral duration of contemporary constructions and categorizes the debris of demolished buildings, structural materials and single-use elements used to construct, as contemporary ruins.
The context of the construction site is formulated as an archaeological site. Where there is no differentiation between the remains of the buildings and the new materials with which they are constructed. This debris will be recycled and then used again in new constructions. The temporal-historical direction is absorbed by an infinite process of recovery, reformulation and post-use. The contemporary ruins are a sedimentary mass in constant transformation and belong to a perpetual present.
Along the swift current of time
In the 1950s, amidst the rise of the communist regime in Bulgaria, the construction of what would become known as the chemical valley of the country began. What was once a shining example of the opportunities and hopes of the socialist order, now lives with the consequences after its fall.
“Along the swift current of time” explores how the intense industrialisation in Devnya has affected the landscape and, inevitably, has become part of it. Large deposits resemble hills, overlooking the valley, as a turquoise river flows alongside the town, suggesting how chemical waste has woven itself into the fabric of the landscape.
Nqaba Shakes Mbolekwana
There is a tender collective wound in South Africa, a foggy past that permeates today on many societal, political, and cultural levels. This photo series seeks to observe and randomly document these feelings of a hangover.
Each day South Africa wakes up to a reckoning of a night that has just passed. First photos of the day unveil a mood of certain outdoor spaces in a hungover state, sparked by a lurking past, an unsettled history, and an imbalanced economical state.
Over time this hungover state eventually starts to become weary - certain people are lost in the fringes. The fragility of being hungover, however, also shows signs of healing and emancipation. A hopeful movement forward out of the fog and into something clear. It is through this healing and emancipation process that I sometimes find myself conflicted by the condition of my native land. A condition that at times can be hidden behind the deceitful mask of hustle-bustle and urban glamour. I use the act of seeing with photography to help make sense of a place that is often incompressible.
In an attempt to make up for the loss of economic empowerment from the current government, individuals are making their paths out of necessity. Born out of a result of the economic hangover that was left behind by the apartheid government on people of colour.
People that I encounter have resorted to working for themselves and opting to go for informal business models that often don't get taxed by the government. For instance, the taxi industry and hair salon businesses, tend to operate from one's own home. This is especially prevalent in townships and villages.
This photo series is an assortment of early morning gazes into my whereabouts and interactions with the people that I encounter along the way. I function both as a part of this urban reality and as an observer to capture scenes and people who privilege my lens with the exclusivity of sight.
Embracing this collective wound in my visual practice, I look to illustrate by-products of a reality that kicks in forcefully each bright or gloomy morning; with an ambitious milestone of waking up to less hungover days.
Massifs is a series of images made in response to the disposal of 80,000 tonnes of mud in an underwater sandbank known as Cardiff Grounds, which is located approximately 1.8 miles from the Cardiff coastline. Discussions around the safety of the mud and plans to dispose of up to 800,000 tonnes are currently ongoing between the energy company, EDF, the UK government and Natural Resources Wales. The plans for further dredging and dumping of the mud have been met with fierce opposition from local environmental groups, due to the lack of information and consultation with the people most affected.
Through the exploration of information this project asks questions about the effect on local communities, as well as the environmental impact, of dumping potentially harmful contaminated mud very close to a city. The work also touches on the mutually beneficial exchanges between governments and corporate entities, as well as the citizens and wildlife affected by, but without a say regarding, their actions.
Do governments have a legal or moral duty to protect their citizens? Have we now reached a time where the actions of governments and corporations no longer surprise or outrage many of the people who live in the affected communities? Have we become somewhat desensitised to tragedy, corruption, and devastation? Being aware of the state of the world in more detail than ever before, have we run out of energy to care? The images in this series have been made along the Welsh coast line, from Cardiff to Barry Island. This is the area of the coast line that will be most effected by any contamination.
Have You Been Here
The Portuguese adventurer Mendes Pinto frequently mentioned ‘Portas de Liampoo’ in his The Voyages and Adventures. This East Asia Private Trade Center which was called ‘16th Century Shanghai’ has already disappeared, and there is also controversy about the positioning of Shuangyu Port.
I went to the two small islands which were most discussed in Zhoushan. The two islanders I met told me about the legends of Portuguese and led me to look for possible traces. However, it needs to notice that the two ‘files’ of personal travel notes and folklore are both mixed with lies and fiction. Patrick J.Geary once said that ‘History is a creative process: history not only restores the facts but also creates the facts.’
This project is based on a controversial travel note and two folklores, and tries to consider and imagine the vague history through images and performance video, and finally posts a question to Portuguese: have you been here?
Ex Materia is a battle – it is a battle for life in the nuclear age. More than 30 years following the Chernobyl accident, Eleonora Strano returns to the scene of her childhood in south-eastern France in an attempt to uncover unanswered questions. Ms Strano portrays a world straddling between past and future, amidst a state of disequilibrium evoked by memories of the catastrophe. It is a world where the human and the animal struggle to inhabit altered, threatened landscapes. Emerging from the darkness of this milieu, a new life force takes the form of a dance – one that is subtle, yet also heavily charged with emotion and subterranean energies. A complex choreography surfaces, foretelling the future through the lens of a valley, its mountains, and its scars. The series aims to take the viewer to the depths of this wounded valley, in search of ways to heal.
In 1961, in the small Spanish village of San Sebastian de Garabandal, four young girls had an apparition of the Virgin Mary. They entered a state of ecstasy in which they became completely unaware of their surroundings and sensory perceptions. Reportedly, witnesses would pinch the girls, pierce their skin with needles, lift them up and drop them onto rough rocks, and yet they remained entranced. The light and presence of the Virgin is all they claim to have experienced. Twenty years later, in the town of Medjugorje, Bosnia & Herzegovina, six children also had simultaneous visions of the Virgin, with similar ecstatic qualities.
Noema is a body of work that investigates the aura of place and religious experience by searching for signs of the Virgin Mary’s presence in these two locations.
"Bildungsroman" is the first part of a trilogy of works, collectively titled "Arabia Opus". The project is set along the river Tigris in Iraq. In 2014 I was in a boat crossing the Tigris river from Syria into Iraq, when an American journalist remarked on the awe of all the things the river can and has seen. It travels through Mosul (At the time, occupied by ISIS), and then Baghdad and Basra. Multiple cities, conflicts and histories all laid out along the same thread, linking them all together.
Gilgamesh, the ancient king of Mesopotamia, crossed waters by boat in search of answers to life. Unlike Gilgamesh, I wasn’t too sure what I was doing there.
I have memories of my childhood, being driven to school everyday and hearing the news on the radio of the Iraq war. Growing up with the war as a backdrop brought up difficult and confusing questions about the role of the UK in the world. Are we a force for good? Why are we really there? Was Iraq really a danger to us? Was it right?
I like to tell myself that the river has a memory. The river watches over the on-going civilisations, seeing the signs, symbols and patterns of life fade away over time. Re-emerge many lifetimes later, though their former meanings may be forgotten. Like the erosion and break up of rocks into pebbles in the river bed, memories fade and collect. I returned many times to the river, my subjects an odd collection of events, non-events, scenes and subjects, found near or on the banks that this water has cut.
Marta Capilla Urbano
Making of a floor
A floor is an element of support — a given structure, that grounds the space we occupy and from where we hold our views. A floor can be a psychological space that grounds beliefs. By moving upon floors we seek and take positions. By moving upon floors relationships arise between what we come into contact with. Relationships are created through what happens in-between. This series is a study of orientations or disorientations where images link body to body, body to objects, and body to space.
Disrupted Landscapes is a series I began in 2020 that reflects on our divided country post-Brexit, and the hostile environment. The work uses Kent coastal landscapes as their starting point; a landscape associated with national defence, and more recently a location for pro and anti-migrant demonstrations. I wanted to pick up on this division in the landscape in the photographic series. To reference the separation and dislocation felt since the referendum vote, and acknowledge the increasingly hostile attitudes to immigration fuelled by the government and much of the media; the sense of a country turning in on itself.
The images fuse landscape photography, abstraction, and graphic design and show a progression from rupture to deformation as a metaphor for increasing societal division. In some, coastal landscapes are merged with geographies accessed from NASA, representing a land that has become alienated and which causes harm.
LET THEM EAT CAKE
The project theme has based on my hometown, Dongying, a fourth-tier city, the largest low-refining city and the second largest oil field in China. In the 1960s, the government discovered a large number of oil resources in Dongying. They recruited workers from all over China to support exploitation and development of oil. Shengli Oil Field (胜利油田) was born.
After 3 decades, with the gradual depletion of oil resources in this land, the Shengli Oil Field has entered a cold winter. While the natural resources are constantly destroyed, a large number of workers are laid off. This work does not want to solidify the Western impression of China, nor to cater to the imagination of Orientalism in the western context. Poverty, corruption, pollution, and class exists in every country. I grew up in a place where there are many problems and contradictions.
Through images, I reflect on the background of my growth, and find my meaning for this land and this land’s meaning for me. I have a personal relationship with the interviewees, we talk in an emotionally safe environment, therefore this work is not an objective expression, it's just the "facts" screened out from my perspective.
The sound in the film is divided into three channels, showing the state of people whispering in your ears. The ambiguous language, the accelerated subtitles and the omitted content are all my presentation methods.