Seif Kousmate

FESTIVAL SELECTEE 2024

SEIF KOUSMATE

WAHA واحة

In ‘Waha واحة ‘ we are introduced to the unique culture-nature of the Oases of Morocco based on in-depth research and collaboration with local inhabitants and tendants of these centuries old cultures in the middle of the desert. Moroccan photographer Seif Kousmate presents a documentary-poetic project that dismantles stereotypes of the oasis and unfolds the exceptional relationship between man and nature in these environments that are dealing with the pressing issues of climate change and burning heat. A phenomena that he literally mirrors and incorporates into his final works.

“I wanted to create a new narrative, one that goes beyond the superficial image of oases and explores these territories through the stories of their inhabitants and their daily life, as well as the development of their environment over the last decades, and obviously how they see the future and the transmission of all their knowledge to the next generations.”

— Seif Kousmate

ENTANGLEMENT

Burning hot oases

Project: WAHA واحة, by Seif Kousmate

In WAHA واحة, which means Oasis in Arabic Moroccan photographer Seif Kousmate takes us on a journey to demystify the orientalist fantasies surrounding the idea of an oasis and sheds light on the pressing environmental and economic challenges the Moroccan oases face. WAHA  واحة, explores the intricate relationship between humans and nature in a very special environment. The project moves beyond the myths to reveal the systems, cultures, history and human ingenuity that birthed and sustained these ecosystems. 

In the last century, Morocco lost two-thirds of its 14 million palm trees as a consequence of environmental changes. The inhabitants of the Moroccan oases, where many of these trees grow and have sustained communities for centuries, abandon their lands and migrate to cities in search of a better life. While nature laid the foundation these peoples have played a pivotal role in shaping a unique culture and preserving the delicate balance between water, flora, soil, and climate in the unforgiving desert environment. 

Seif Kousmate // WAHA واحة

A collaborative approach

The heart of WAHA  واحة, lies in the collaboration between the photographer and the people he photographs. Kousmate builds a profound connection with the communities, recognizing the importance of their participation in telling the story of their struggles and resilience. This collaborative approach adds depth to the narrative and allows the project to move beyond a superficial portrayal of deterioration.

“I always try to understand the meaning and the complexity of the area by collecting interviews. I therefore spent between ten and fifteen days each time I travelled to an oasis to photograph to build my connections and build trust with the people there. Giving them an opportunity to tell their stories. Most of the time, they wanted to tell their stories and it resulted in several collaborations, such as the poem that runs from the roots of the palm trees or a collage inspired by drawings from kids of their environment.”

Dismantling the Orientalist image

As Kousmate immerses himself in the oasis communities of North Africa, he confronts the stark reality of their existence. Through intimate documentation, he captures the lives of local inhabitants, bringing forth the environmental and economic hardships that threaten their lands and heritage. The images, however, strive to transcend the stereotypical representations of oases, aiming to dismantle the ‘orientalist and Eden-like image’ that has dominated the collective imagination.

Seif Kousmate // WAHA واحة - A Landscape of Akka Oasis

Poetic interventions of the documentary process

To break free from the traditional documentary mold, Kousmate introduces interventions in his photographs, a metaphorical extension of the deterioration occurring in the oases. The words of the inhabitants are present as poems and texts expressing their experiences with fires, deteriorating landscapes, and the challenges they face. This structure builds a stronger connection between portrayer and portrayees, creating a powerful network not only to the space but also to the ones that uphold it. 

“I saw that when adding layers to my photos, the message became more meaningful. At that moment, I decided to develop a metaphoric narrative of what was going on there. After that, I progressively started to think about the fire, which set off in the oasis on several occasions: how can I integrate it into the image? I started making prints, which I burned using different techniques, to see the results. In the end, I found a technique that allowed me to visually convey the deterioration. This way the audience is instantly connected to the story and feels what is happening in these environments.”

Mirroring the deterioration in the artistic process

Kousmate experiments with various processes to tactilize the essence of the problem these oases are facing in the final artworks. From burning the prints, weaving them with palm tree bark to decorating them with soil or using acid. The interventions not only contribute to the conceptual depth of the series but also serve as a powerful commentary on the rapid deterioration of these ecosystems. 

WAHA  واحة, emphasises the inseparable link between humans and their environment. The historical and cultural development of oases, shaped by human efforts, establishes a delicate balance that is now threatened by climate change. In the interconnected double-edged dance between the people and the oasis, the series acknowledges humanity’s role in creating and potentially destroying these precious ecosystems.

Seif Kousmate // WAHA واحة - portrait of Mustapha responsible for water distribution in the oasis

ENTANGLEMENT

“While we, humans, did not create oases, we have played a major role in the origin and development of these ecosystems in several ways. We have managed to maintain a delicate and fragile balance between water, flora, soil, and climate in this hostile environment that is the desert. Thus preserving for centuries a great testimony and a large part of the history of these territories. This hard work also resulted in the oases being a safe and fertile space for huge communities to develop and thrive. As a result, the sustainability of the oasis and its heritage is closely dependent on the continuous effort of humans and governments to protect and understand the new challenges and needs that are ahead of us.”

— Seif Kousmate

ARTIST BIO

Seif Kousmate is a self-taught photographer who has developed a visual vocabulary entwining documentary photography with a poetic visual language leaning into fine art photography. After a career in the civil engineering sector, he dedicated himself professionally to photography in 2016. Since then, he has been working on different visual projects in Africa including migration and youth.

Selected achievements

  • – 2022 Winner of Prix de la photographie du Musée Quai Branly with «Waha»
  • – 2022 Nominated for the leica oskar barnack award
  • – 2022 Shortlisted for Louis Roederer Discovery Award 
  • – 2021 Winner of the 6Mois Award with «Waha» 
  • – 2021 Finalist of le Prix Levallois with «Waha» 


Christine Lorenzen

FESTIVAL SELECTEE 2024

CHRISTINE LORENZEN

Coming of Age

At a very young age the Danish photographer Christine Lorenzen has evolved a distinct, personal visual language that unfolds and masters a varied palette of grey as she explores identity, beauty and body issues in collaboration with her close friends. What began as a personal visual diary of photos has now become a kaleidoscopic project exploring what it means to grow up and become a person in your own right – with a little help from your friends.

“At the start of the project, it was very intuitive. I just captured moments with my friends, depicting what we were doing. It was more caught-in-the-moment snapshots. However, as the years passed and I became more aware that my photography needed a purpose, I saw the opportunity for it to evolve into a formal project. It became less intuitive and transformed into a more intentional process, photographing with a clear sense of purpose.”

Christine Lorenzen

ENTANGLEMENT

Grappling with growing up

Project: Coming of Age, by Christine Lorenzen

Danish photographer Christine Lorenzen’s project Coming of Age is a photographic diary in lots of tactile nuances of grey tones depicting her personal relations and experiences over the past decade – from adolescence to adulthood. The project evolved into a series of mementos of a time and a group of people, their bodies, and their relationships. It stems from a process of examining elements of intuition, trust-building, body positivity, and the interconnectedness between the photographer, the subjects, and the audience.

Christine Lorenzen // Coming of Age

The complexities of growing up

Coming of Age was not conceived as a deliberate project initially; it grew organically as Lorenzen navigated the complexities of adolescence and relationships. The project mirrors the photographer’s journey – from an intuitive snapshot approach to a more intentional and technically refined one. As Lorenzen matured, so did her photographic technique and characteristic style, emphasizing purpose and a deeper understanding of her subjects. 

The project serves as a visual diary, capturing raw, uncensored, and intimate moments that reflect the growth and evolution of Lorenzen’s relationships. The visual narrative transcends traditional boundaries, offering viewers a glimpse into the emotional landscapes of growing up – friendships, family, and intimate connections.

An intimate collaborative process built on trust

One of the key qualities of this work is the trust that was built between Lorenzen and her subjects. The relationships go beyond the lens, forging emotional bonds that are evident in the intimate portrayal she makes of each person in front of her lens. 

“I believe the most crucial element is trust. I don’t have any intention of exposing people in a negative light. My project is driven by good intentions. I genuinely appreciate the beauty of the individuals I photograph, both internally and externally. So, trust plays a significant role, as it resonates with my vision and aesthetic. Many of the individuals I photograph are vulnerable and authentic, but I take pride in that. We’re collaboratively creating something beautiful, and it’s not about using the body merely as a sculpture; it goes beyond that. We find joy in the process of making aesthetically pleasing images together.”

Christine Lorenzen // Coming of Age

A youthful exploration of identity and connection

There is an open representation of bodies, identity and sexuality in Lorenzen’s images. The project celebrates individuality and self-expression and Lorenzen navigates the delicate balance between public and private. The sharing of this visual diary invites viewers to reflect on their own experiences, fostering a sense of connection and shared identity.

“I believe that every person has a unique beauty, manifested in a way that resonates with them and feels authentic. I think it’s crucial to showcase diverse bodies and individuals, exploring the intricacies of relationships and the varying perceptions of connection. Our relationships with others, as well as our self-perception, differ significantly, influencing how we interpret and define the concept of beauty.”

Picturing entangled lives

There’s a strong feeling of entanglement as the relationships between photographer and subjects interweave, creating a tapestry of shared experiences. Lorenzen’s project becomes a reflection of the interconnectedness between individuals, relationships, and the evolving self. The images of Coming of Age offer a nuanced perspective on youth, their bodies, and aspirations. 

This project evolved from an intuitive exploration to a purposeful visual diary. The images highlight the importance of trust, contributing to a collective narrative of youth, relationships, and personal growth. Lorenzen invites viewers to reflect on their own experiences, fostering a sense of shared identity in the diverse tapestry of human connection. Coming of Age is not just a collection of images; it is a testament to the profound impact relationships can have on shaping identity as well as artistic processes.

Christine Lorenzen // Coming of Age

ENTANGLEMENT

"This work is connected to defining identity, both for myself and the people I photograph. I believe it's about understanding what a relationship is, and how it comes and goes throughout your life. It's an exploration of life's evolution, encompassing relationships in various forms. Relationships shape identity, and the dynamics with different individuals bring distinct outcomes. It's a reflection on how relationships influence and shape one's journey. When I revisit my pictures, I can see the influence I left on the person I photographed, understanding the impact they've had on me and the narrative captured in my work."

Christine Lorenzen

Text and edit · Felipe Abreu and Christine Almlund

ARTIST BIO

Danish photographer Christine Lorenzen is an autodidact photographer living in Copenhagen. She is currently studying photography at NEXT KBH and has had her work exhibited in several institutions and festivals throughout Europe. Her work is focused on topics related to intimacy and the building of personal diaries.

Selected achievements

  • – 2023 – OVENPÅ Sexualia Takeover / Groupshow – Copenhagen 
  • – 2023 – Fotocentrum Rasenborg / Solo Exhibition ‘Coming Of Age’ – Finland 
  • – 2021 – Feature Fisheye Magazine / France 
  • – 2021 – ‘Politiken’ Front page IBYEN TILLÆG + Feature 
  • – 2020 – Atla Nordic Platform For Emerging Photography / Group show ‘NEDSMELTNING’ – Copenhagen


Toby Binder

FESTIVAL SELECTEE 2024

TOBY BINDER

‘Wee Muckers'

‘Wee Muckers’ is German photographer Toby Binder’s documentary project on how the youth of Belfast in Northern Ireland live in the lengthy shadows of a city historically divided by religion and politics with the latest add-on, Brexit. As a subtle nod to the past, the classic black and white reportage photos reflect these entanglements and a youth that have more in common than what the adult generation and their loaded histories may dictate. 

“The idea was to show the infrastructure, to make this physical division clear. With the portraits and street scenes I wanted to show the similarities. All these kids are just the same. They have the same Nike shirt, the same haircut, and the same beer cans. You can't see any difference at first glance. Their daily lives are very similar. But they just happen to be on different sides – some are on this side and others on that side. I wanted to show what both sides have in common in order to demystify the excuse that is often used, especially by older people, as a justification for hostility and violence: "They are so different from us." And that is simply not true.”

Toby Binder

ENTANGLEMENT

All these kids are just the same

Project: Wee Muckers by Toby Binder

In the heart of Belfast, where the scars of a tumultuous history still mark the landscape, German photographer Toby Binder embarked on a mission to capture the lives of the city’s youth with his project Wee Muckers. Against the backdrop of a city divided by history, religion, and politics, Binder delves into the everyday experiences of teenagers in working-class communities and sheds light on the shared challenges faced by Catholics and Protestants.

With the legacy of a conflict that spanned decades still echoing through Belfast, the historical context looms over the city’s streets. The Peace Agreement of 1998 marked the end of the armed conflict, yet the physical and psychological walls dividing these communities persist. With the Brexit referendum a new layer of tension was added, making Binder refocus his lens on Belfast to document and unfold the narratives of the city’s youth.

Toby Binder // Wee Muckers

The intertwined lives of Catholic and Protestant youth

“When Brexit happened, many photographers focused on English cities with clear leave or remain votes. In Belfast, where Catholics and Protestants live closely, the decision to vote seemed aligned along religious lines. Despite the broader impact on the entire community, people stuck to traditional thinking and voted based on religious identity rather than social concerns. Most Protestants voted to leave, and almost all Catholics chose to remain. This gave me the push to return to Belfast and refocus on young people, who, unable to vote, would bear the consequences of the decisions made by others.”

There is a clear recognition of the thin line that separates identity, culture, and politics in contemporary Ireland. Wee Muckers captures the intertwined lives of Catholic and Protestant youth, highlighting the paradoxical similarities that exist beneath the surface. Despite the strong adherence to their respective symbols of identity and tradition, Binder reveals a shared reality—common clothing, hairstyles, music, and concerns such as violence, unemployment, and social discrimination.

Toby Binder // Wee Muckers

Blurring the lines

To this day there are still walls separating communities in Belfast, a stark showing of the scars left by decades of conflict. This division is skillfully incorporated into the project, highlighting the tangible barriers that persist today and contrasting to the similarities found when Binder photographs the youths from the two different groups. There is an intentional blurring of lines, showcasing the youth’s shared humanity, irrespective of their religious backgrounds.

The essence of Wee Muckers lies in the personal connections forged by Binder with the people he photographed. The artist spent considerable time building trust and rapport with his subjects, visiting the same communities repeatedly. The resulting photographs offer a nuanced perspective, capturing the resilience, vulnerability, and shared aspirations of the young individuals living in the Northern capital.

“There’s a significant presence of what you can call tradition or history in daily life, making it challenging for young people to forge their own paths. A sad aspect of this work is that three of the photographed kids have passed away by suicide. It’s a complex issue, possibly rooted in the pressure imposed on young kids. When someone feels they can’t conform to expectations, navigating life becomes very challenging.”

Breaking free from the past

The artist’s choice to center the narrative on young people stems from a belief in their potential for change. In their formative years, these individuals navigate challenges and opportunities, representing a pivotal point where positive transformation is possible. Binder captures the complex interplay of history, identity, and contemporary challenges that entwine the lives of Belfast’s youth. The entanglement is palpable, reflecting the struggle to break free from the constraints of the past and envision a better future.

As Wee Muckers unfolds, it becomes evident that the project is not merely a reflection on the present but a contemplation of Belfast’s future. The challenges faced by the youth, including the specter of suicide, highlight the pressing need to address the mental health and well-being of a generation still grappling with the shadows of history. Binder’s work prompts reflection on the urgency to overcome entrenched divisions, fostering a shared vision for a more inclusive and hopeful future in Northern Ireland.

Toby Binder // Wee Muckers

ENTANGLEMENT

“In our interconnected world, everything seems entangled, with things tied to one another. This is especially felt in Belfast, where everything is so connected and separated at the same time. Young people there grapple with escaping this feeling, this pressure to conform to societal expectations. In a city like Belfast, finding one's path is particularly challenging in these conditions.”

Toby Binder

Text and edit · Felipe Abreu and Christine Almlund

ARTIST BIO

Toby was born in Esslingen in 1977 and studied at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart. As a socially committed documentary photographer, he focuses on underprivileged and marginalized communities in long-term projects. He often takes the perspective of young people. Toby’s work has a long record of international warads and honorable mentions.

Selected achievements

  • – 2023 Festival of Human Rights Photography BCN-DH, Barcelona
  • – 2023 Festival della Fotografia Etica, Lodi
  • – 2023 Winner “LensCulture” Portrait Awards
  • – 2023 Shortlist Sony-World-Photography Awards
  • – 2023 Winner “Life Framer” Award ‘Humans’


Björn Nilsson

FESTIVAL SELECTEE 2024

BJÖRN NILSSON

Conversation Failed

In Swedish photographer Björn Nilsson’s personal project ‘Conversation Failed’ he engages with the challenges of being in a long term relationship: How can we relate to one another when the first infatuation fades and as the years pass? When the daily chores and routines creep up on you and settle in your mind and body? When they lurk in every conversation and words fail to hit target? The project addresses the challenge of disentangling ourselves from all that is said and done – all the accumulated disappointments and misunderstandings – to find touch points to reconnect.

“When I'm working on the project, I usually get into it, and listen to music because it feels right. Then I draw and draw – especially for this project. After that, I try to reenact the drawings, when I take the pictures. It's not too far from a documentary feel but still somewhat staged.”

— Björn Nilsson

ENTANGLEMENT

The consequence of silence

Project: Conversation Failed, by Björn Nilsson

Dialogue is key in any relationship, but sometimes the words seem to run out or fail to hit on target. Swedish photographer Njörn Nillson’s project Conversation Failed explores the complexities that appear in long-term relationships based on his own experiences. The proejct delves into the intricate web of thoughts, feelings, and fears that emerge when faced with change. The artist draws from personal experiences and conversations with other couples, creating a body of work that serves as a visual narrative of love, compromise, sacrifice, and failure

In Conversations Failed Nilsson’s eye is focused on the dynamics of relationships, power structures, gender roles, and sexuality, providing a nuanced examination of the challenges couples encounter.

Björn Nilsson // Conversation Failed

Image making as therapeutic practice

The images are born out of a unique creative process that involves listening to music, drawing, and then reenacting the drawn scenes during the photo shoot. Nilsson’s approach blurs the lines between documentary and staged photography, capturing raw and authentic moments that convey the emotional essence of the subject matter. 

Nilsson has included his partner in the project which adds an intimate and personal dimension. Her willingness to be part of the images, initially seen as a potential therapy, speaks to the vulnerability and courage required to address the issues presented in the project. Nilsson is also open about the fact that the collaborative process has a flip side and was not without its challenges, as his partner disagreed with the initially staged approach, preferring a more authentic and unfiltered portrayal process. And actually she was a more hesitant participant than he expected.

Björn Nilsson // Conversation Failed

A life entangled

For the project Nilsson has also collaborated with Clara Diesen, a poet and screenwriter. Her poetry suite complements the visual elements, transforming the meaning of the images and adding a poetic resonance to the narrative. This collaboration enhances the emotional impact of the project, creating a synergy between the visual and literary aspects encapsulated in it. 

The melancholic tone of the images serves to underline the struggles within long term relationships, emphasizing the importance of communication. Nilsson’s reflection on entanglement as a metaphor for communication breakdowns captures the confusion and suspicion that arise when couples fail to address issues head-on. The entanglement becomes a symbolic representation of the complexity of relationships, where the true nature of the problem remains obscured.

The emotional dance of relationships

Conversation Failed not only encapsulates the challenges of communicating in a long-term relationship but also highlights the potential for understanding and reconciliation. Through a blend of visual and literary elements, the project invites viewers to reflect on their own relationships, emphasizing the necessity of open communication and the consequences of a silence that breeds entanglement. It stands as a testament to the intricate dance of emotions within a relationship and the perpetual effort required for understanding and connection.

Björn Nilsson // Conversation Failed

ENTANGLEMENT

“This work is about how your life can get entangled over time, and how relationships and responsibilities can get mixed up and can create confusion. There's suspicion between the two parties, and you don't know what's what in the end. It could be about not buying a carton of milk, having a bad sex life, forgetting to pick up the kids, or doing something wrong. That's what I think about when I am considering entanglement in relation to this project.”

— Björn Nilsson

Text and edit · Felipe Abreu and Christine Almlund

ARTIST BIO

Björn Nilsson works as a photographer in Stockholm. He is educated in journalism, art history and social science from the Swedish school of Journalism and Stockholm University. He always expressed himself through images, whether it is through photography, paintings or drawings. In recent years he has become more and more interested in human relations and society as a whole, how it affects us.

Selected achievements

  • – 2024 “Conversations Failed”, Artist feature, PHROOM 
  • – 2023 Helsinki Photo Festival, Nordic Village
  • – 2023 “Samtal misslyckades”, Candyland, Stockholm
  • – 2022 Artist feature, Der Greif 
  • – 2021 Prix de la Photographie de Paris, Honorable mention for the photobook “Samtal misslyckades”


Lamees Saleh Sharaf el Din

FESTIVAL SELECTEE 2024

LAMEES SALEH SHARAF EL DIN

‘Indefinitely'

How can we give voice to people who no longer are with us? How can we give them a face years after they disappeared? Egyptian photographer Lamees Saleh Sharaf el Din’s moving project ‘Indefinitely’ is an in depth documentary exploration of the widespread problem of child abductions in Egypt. But the project does more than document an extensive problem. It aims to help the victim’s families and give back some sense of hope and agency through forensic age progression images that can help families recognise their kidnapped children.

“When I started meeting the families, I discovered that there were common, recurring aspects in the families’ stories that were ignored amidst the great chaos related to the kidnapping and search stories and that these factors were the main reason that most of the children did not return to their families. I felt that if I photographed and presented this story that could be a reason for resolving these loopholes. To create awareness of the problem and its seriousness, my project could contribute to prevent the kidnapping of more children in Egypt.”

Lamees Saleh Sharaf el Din

ENTANGLEMENT

Where did all the kids go?

Project: Indefinitely, by Lamees Saleh Sharaf el Din

First time Egyptian documentary photographer Lamees Saleh Sharaf el Din picked up a camera was during the Arab Spring revolution in 2011. Thus the events that transformed her country, also gave her a new powerful tool to bring about change and awareness to matters close to her heart. It was specifically Sharaf el Din’s contact with Jamal, a child beggar in the streets of Cairo, that set the project ‘Indefinitely’, about child kidnappings in Egypt, in motion – a crisis that has begun to increase in her country since the Arab Spring. 

Lamees Saleh Sharaf el Din // Indefinitely

The Arab Spring abductions

The heart of “Indefinitely” lies in its documentation of the lives of the families grappling with the abduction of their children, woven together on a map that traces the trajectory of these harrowing narratives, the first of them coming from forty years ago with a family still searching for their daughter. The latest statistics provided, sourced from police reports and Child Helpline data, paint a chilling picture of the magnitude of child kidnappings. An average of four children were kidnapped every day within three months in one governorate in 2017 and more than two thousand children were kidnapped in 2018 and 2019 underscoring the urgency and gravity of the issue.

Tracking a pattern of kidnapping

Lamees Saleh Sharaf el Din not only sheds light on the horrific statistics but delves into the personal narratives, humanising the victims and their families. The driving force behind her project lies in emphasising the common, overlooked aspects in families’ stories that could potentially lead to the resolution of these cases and uncover the general pattern for the abductions. Sharaf el Din’s project thus unfolds not only the horrific statistics, photographs of the families left behind but also digitally generated images of children.

Lamees Saleh Sharaf el Din // Indefinitely

Giving agency to the families of the victims

She collaborates with forensic artist Tim Widden listed by the National Crime Agency in London and his drawn images to mitigate the challenge faced by families who fear not recognizing their children as they grow older. Forensic artists draw on photo-compositing images of these children and family members to create the age progression. Though they use aspects they see in the genealogy and biology of the family they also use artistic determinants to create the new images. 

“The families of the victims kept saying to me: ‘My child is getting older, I’m afraid if I saw her/him in the street, I wouldn’t know her/him.’ Requesting this type of image from a forensic artist abroad poses additional challenges, and until 2022 the cost of creating such an image was approximately $450 and there is no reliable age progression app for young children. And you do not want to risk publishing an inaccurate image for the young child.”

A call to action

This part of the project gives a sense of agency to the families of the kidnapped children who often have no help or authorities to turn to. Beyond the individual stories, “Indefinitely” carries political and social significance. It unravels a complex tapestry of societal issues, from the aftermath of the 2011 revolution to the broader implications of child kidnappings. 

The project prompts viewers to reflect on systemic challenges, urging society to confront and address the root causes contributing to the prevalence of child abductions. The project transcends photographic documentation, becoming a call to action, a plea for awareness and empathy, and a reminder of the collective responsibility to safeguard the well-being of the most vulnerable members of society.

Lamees Saleh Sharaf el Din // Indefinitely

ENTANGLEMENT

“The families of all kidnapped children are connected to each other over space and time. They have suffered from the same issue and find themselves in this network of confusion and several times, helplessness. From the first cases began forty years ago and until now the families have gone through twenty-seven different governments in Egypt and all are facing the same difficult journey and suffering. They are all entangled together.”

— Lamees Saleh Sharaf el Din

Text and edit · Felipe Abreu and Christine Almlund

ARTIST BIO

Lamees Saleh Sharf El Din is a documentary photographer and visual storyteller based in Cairo. She started her career amid the January 25th Revolution of 2011 to express and document the states of loneliness and identity loss in her country. She was part of the Danish School of Media and Journalism (DMJX) educational program in 2022. With her background in psychology and sociology, what drives her artistic work are ways of visually exposing and narrating social matters in Egypt.

Selected achievements

  • – 2023 Shortlisted For The CAP Prize 
  • – 2022 Grant received from Magnum Foundation and the Arab Documentary Photography Program.
  • – 2014 National Geographic Egypt Award, Silver medal


Natalia Kepesz

FESTIVAL SELECTEE 2024

NATALIA KEPESZ

The Iron Curtain

In ‘The Iron Curtain’ Polish photographer Natalia Kepesz explores the deja vu-like phenomena of the reestablishing of the iron curtain on the border between European countries and Russia after the war in Ukraine began. More specifically it explores how people in these border areas from Ukraine to Estonia deal with the new divisions that have split families and friends and entangled their everyday lives.

“It was important for me to observe and concentrate on what I was seeing and feeling. I wanted to rely completely on my intuition, I wanted the emotions to be in the foreground. It's a documentary approach, but the working method and results are very personal. I didn't change reality, but I saw and interpreted it in a very subjective way. I've always dealt with war and the significance of war in Eastern Europe in my previous series, so it wasn't difficult to get into the subject. The difficult thing was always adapting to new people and places. Always being ready.”

— Natalia Kepesz

ENTANGLEMENT

Border country connections

Project: The Iron Curtain, by Natalia Kepesz

What is it like to live next door to the new ‘post-war-in-Ukraine’ iron curtain? Polish artist Natalia Kepesz takes us on a journey that explores the contemporary socio-political landscape marked by a new division reminiscent of the historical 20th century Iron Curtain. A deja vu of sorts  with a period, when Europe was split in two along the border of Russia through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine. The project unravels an intricate tapestry of lives affected by the geopolitical shifts in the region.

Natalia Kepesz // The Iron Curtain

The neighbours next door

Through the lens of her camera, Kepesz brings forth the stories of individuals who grapple with the worrying question of what it means to have Russia as a neighbour. 

“I was most impressed by Narva in Estonia. Mostly Russians live there and it is so close to the border you can see Russia beyond the river. Talking to young people there who don’t know what the future holds – and photographing it all in this incredible light. I found that incredible.” 

Navigating a new geopolitical reality

The Iron Curtain captures the essence of diverse experiences, providing a firsthand account of living in the shadow of political uncertainties. This unofficial, yet very perceptible division, resurfaces with closed roads, disconnected pipelines, dormant twinning agreements, reawakened fears, and nuclear threats from the Kremlin. The photographer’s encounter with the region’s inhabitants unveils the complexities of their lives. 

“Usually I was out on my own and approached people, briefly told them what I was doing, asked how they were, and took their portrait. I establish contact when I look through the viewfinder and let people look at me. I like to talk to them and ask them questions during that moment. When I have the feeling that they have arrived at themselves and I can feel the warmth, I take the picture.”

Natalia Kepesz // The Iron Curtain

An uncertain future

Kepesz’ photography opens for conversations with young people, who navigate an uncertain path and can find themselves invisible on geopolitical maps. Her lens captures moments of joy, love, and brief escapes from the harsh realities of the political landscape and tells stories of strength, hope, and resilience amid adversity. The project unfolds the perspective of the people she encounters and how they navigate the entanglement of space, time, and relationships. Families with connections on both sides of the border embody the entwined nature of their everyday lives and futures.

A hopeful depiction of a vulnerable and delicate balance

With an emotionally engaged approach, Kepesz allows the viewers to connect deeply with the stories they see. The Iron Curtain transcends its documentary nature. It is a visual and narrative exploration of the region’s complex realities. 

Through the photographer’s lens, the project offers a unique perspective on the delicate political balance in Eastern Europe and the transformative power of photography in capturing the nuanced experiences of its people. Ultimately, the hope embedded in the strength of the individuals portrayed fosters a vision for the future that transcends the bleakness of political uncertainties.

Natalia Kepesz // The Iron Curtain

ENTANGLEMENT

“I am interested in the interweaving of space, time and relationships. We already had an Iron Curtain. The border with the Soviet Union. Now there is a kind of repetition of history. But what do people who have lived on both sides do? What about people with families on both sides? What does their everyday life and future look like? That's what interested me and that's what drives this entangled story forward.”

— Natalia Kepesz

Text and edit · Felipe Abreu and Christine Almlund

Natalia Kepesz by Pola Kepesz

ARTIST BIO

Natalia Kepesz lives and works in Berlin. After graduating in cultural studies and art history at the Humboldt University, she studied photography at the Ostkreuzschule. She uses photography as a means of self-expression – making pictures for herself, to identify with hidden qualities of her character, to better understand her reality, and to express her interpretation of the world around her.

Selected achievements

    • – 2023 Nikon Fotobus Grant, 3 Prize
    • – 2022 FUTURES Photography Talent, selected by Deichtorhallen Hamburg
    • – 2022 gute aussichten – junge deutsche fotografie, Winner
    • – 2021 Portraits – Hellerau Photography Award, Residence Winner
    • – 2021 World Press Photo Contest, Portrait Series Winner, 3rd Place


Katerina Tsakiri

FESTIVAL SELECTEE 2024

KATERINA TSAKIRI

The Smiley Cut'

How can you take agency when your body is ridden with cancer? Where do you go to find some sense of solace and space to be you? How do you deal with the entanglement of severe illness? These are some of the questions that initiated Katerina Tsakiri’s personal and kalejdoscopic project ‘The Smiley Cut’ about the challenges of dealing with breast cancer at a young age.

“In this project my photography journey was driven by a need to create a psychological distance from the overwhelming experiences I was going through. It allowed me to assume the role of an observer. A crucial element to navigating the challenges of my cancer treatment. At the same time, the act of capturing those moments gave me agency — an active response to a situation that easily puts you in a passive position. Sharing my story became a way to offer an additional narrative, a shared experience that could potentially resonate with others undergoing similar trials, building a connection in the shared hardships and pain."

Katerina Tsakiri

ENTANGLEMENT

The empowered patient

Project: The Smiley Cut, by Katerina Tsakiri

The Smiley Cut unfolds as a poignant visual journey, encapsulating the Swedish based Greek artist Katerina Tsakiri’s odyssey through cancer treatment. We are invited in as Tsakiri navigates the tumultuous stages of grief, transforming her body’s metamorphosis into a powerful narrative that gives her cancer ridden body and mind some agency. The Safjället forest, once a place she used to hike and run, became more than a backdrop but an essential ‘character’, a sanctuary where Tsakiri grapples with her emotions.

Katerina Tsakiri // The Smiley Cut

Photography as a tool of empowerment

Tsakiri turned to photography as a means of distancing herself from the overwhelming experience of dealing with cancer adopting the role of an observer. This empowered her to counteract the passivity of being a patient dealing with the rapid pace of medical procedures. As the project progressed, Tsakiri recognized the potential of her story to resonate with others undergoing similar experiences. By making her narrative public, she aimed to foster connections through empathy and vulnerability, offering solace to those who might feel alone in their struggles.

A kaleidoscopic experience

“I made a conscious decision to document every phase of my transformation. I began with a self-portrait, marking it as chapter one, followed by chapters like the mastectomy and the cutting of my hair. Within these chapters, I explored different periods dealing with the transformations I underwent. I gradually became more experimental, attempting to convey my emotions and everything that defined my life during that time through images.”

The structure of the narrative and different types of imagery also play a central role in The Smiley Cut. The images are organised into chapters, each representing a distinct phase of her transformation. The Polaroid became a tool for capturing raw emotions as notes. While the medium-format camera wielded more deliberate and planned results. The forest scenes, so important to this narrative and to the journey Tsakiri went through, were captured with a specific point of view that aims to create a more intimate and personal atmosphere. The variety of photographic techniques underscores the multi-faceted nature of Tsakiri’s experience.

“Each of the types of photography I used has a distinct role. The Polaroid felt like taking notes for me. When photographing the forest, the medium took on a different role. It facilitated a unique approach, enabling me to transform a public space into something intimate. I would casually tuck the Polaroids into my pocket, altering the usual identity of the place. It also contributed with a blurry and hazy effect, which, interestingly, felt more accurate in capturing how I perceived the environment. It added a different identity to the place, and imbued it a new meaning.”

Katerina Tsakiri // The Smiley Cut

Self-portraiture: reclaiming control

The concept of reclaiming control is a recurring theme in this work. Through photography, Tsakiri asserts agency over her narrative, defining how she presents herself to the world and resisting external impositions. Self-portraiture emerges as a central element in this goal, capturing the raw strength and vulnerability of her journey. In her self-portraits, the artist addresses the significance of her body in the narrative, emphasizing it as the protagonist. Having worked with self-portraiture before, Tsakiri recognizes its power to shape identity, both in self-perception and how one is perceived by others. By placing herself at the forefront, she allows her body to become a powerful voice in the visual storytelling process.

“I felt like my body played a peculiar role – it created the situation I found myself in, yet it was also suffering from it. It seemed as though my body became the central character, taking over my life and existence. It became crucial for me to provide it with space and a voice. I wanted to understand and ultimately accept this ongoing process. Though it remains an ongoing journey, granting my body a presence in the visual narrative holds significant importance to me.”

An expanded view of photography

Tsakiri also incorporates sculpture, conceptual art, and performance in her practice. These elements add a tactile dimension to the visual narrative and trigger the viewer’s engagement with the artist’s experiences. 

Katerina not only captures the essence of her struggle but harnesses the power of photography as a transformative tool. Her project becomes a nuanced exploration of resilience, vulnerability, and the intricate dance between self-identity and societal perceptions. Through the lens of her camera, she builds a visual testimony, not just to her journey through cancer treatment but to the process of reclaiming control over her narrative. The Smiley Cut is not merely a documentation of physical transformation; it is a profound meditation on the intersection of art, identity, and the healing power of self-expression.

Katerina Tsakiri // The Smiley Cut

ENTANGLEMENT

“There is an entanglement with the body. The fact that it can affect the way you are being identified in society. Your sex, your race, and your health. It is something that affects how you will be perceived. There is also a connection with a physical place, the transformation of the meaning of a place through personal experience. I could take a public space that everybody uses, with different experiences for each person, and make it my own. Building a sanctuary, making it my friend, becoming a memory, while living as a photograph in my pocket.”

Katerina Tsakiri

Text and edit · Felipe Abreu and Christine Almlund

ARTIST BIO

Katerina Tsakiri was born in Athens in 1991 and she currently lives in Gothenburg. She studied Photography and Audiovisual Arts in Athens and has an MFA in Photography from the University of Gothenburg. She is a photographer and Visual artist who works with staged self-portraiture. Her work is mainly autobiographical and she explores the female identity within the social structures of Western Society. Her focus is on the (female) body and expands her practice from photography to video performances and sculptures.

Selected achievements

  • – 2023 published in Der Greif issue #16 “Common Love” guest edited by Shirin Neshat.
  • – 2023 Group Exhibition at “What is Beauty”, Photo Vogue Festival, BASE Milano 
  • – 2022 Shortlisted for “Solo Exhibition Artist” Copenhagen Photo Festival
  • – 2018 Solo Exhibition at Photometria Festival, Ioannina,Greece 
  • – 2016 Finalist of Discovery Award Under 30, Portugal


Jansen van Staden

FESTIVAL SELECTEE 2024

JANSEN VAN STADEN

Some

South African photographer Jansen van Staden’s dialogical and personal project ‘Some’ investigates the entangled and horrible histories of his country’s past and grapples with how to navigate this when you are a young white person today. In order to connect with the loaded past of apartheid his work explicitly engages with David Goldblatt’s seminal work, Some Afrikaners Photographed, published in 1975 to bring the heavy heritage into focus.

“I am taking up the position that I’m just some Afrikaner. I am a consequence of Apartheid and everything that led up to it.  I’m not denying this heritage. I am here, and as horrible as the past has been, I am here because of it. And these photographs are but my attempt to try to understand my position, now, in South Africa.”

— Jansen van Staden

ENTANGLEMENT

A conversation between past and present

Project: Some, by Jansen van Staden

South African photographer Jansen van Staden intricately weaves together the political complexities of post-apartheid South Africa in his project Some, drawing inspiration from his country man photographer David Goldblatt’s seminal work, Some Afrikaners Photographed, published in 1975. Van Staden’s dialogical work Some builds on more than a decade of photographic work, a complex task to, and in the artist’s words “contribute his sentence to the canon,” offering a unique perspective on the Afrikaner identity and the ever-evolving socio-political landscape of his homeland.

Jansen van Staden // Some

Exploring the controversial and contradictory past of being a white South African

Identifying himself only as “some Afrikaner,” and furthering this idea by choosing to omit his name from his own book, Van Staden confronts the contradictions inherent in his community, a theme rooted in David Goldblatt’s exploration during the apartheid era. The work done in the 1970s uncovered the paradoxes of a people, kind, religious, resilient, yet staunchly racist. Van Staden extends this conversation, immersing himself in the reality of contemporary South Africa to inform his photographic process. 

“I chose to make the connection as a way to talk to Goldbaltt and his work. His photographs are very much alive. I only met him once, very briefly and I felt, as a photographer, insignificant. What he showed in his book, was at the time, a revolutionary act. An act against the Apartheid government, and against the ideals with which they had poisoned themselves and the Afrikaner community. I can imagine, if one was a slightly open-minded Afrikaner then, that reading his book was an awakening of your contradictions.”

In navigating the complex subject matter, Van Staden grapples with the concept of social and political impact. He challenges the notion, expressing a more humble hope that his work will be seen and, with time, understood. The photographs in Some capture the twisted, confusing reality of post-apartheid South Africa.

Jansen van Staden // Some

Rejecting the ‘Goldblatt-aversions’

“Goldblatt was an outsider. He was not Afrikaans. But he looked at us and after developing relationships with Afrikaners during Apartheid, he probably also thought ‘What is going on here?’. I think that could be my ticket to relate. I am South African. I am African. I am white. Still, I feel like an outsider looking at the Afrikaner. A lot of the Apartheid-Afrikaner nonsense, cliches, and contradictions Goldbaltt explored have had the potential to develop within me. But because of some good fortune and tough events, my life has turned out in such a way that I was free from inheriting this crap. Something I am very aware of and extremely grateful for.” 

Shaped by the echoes of the past

In constructing the narrative for Some, Jansen not only captures a visual chronicle of South Africa’s post-apartheid era but also offers a nuanced and distinctive perspective on the intricate tapestry of history, identity, and the multifaceted socio-political landscape that defines the nation. His lens becomes a powerful tool, not just for documentation, but for crafting a profound visual dialogue.

As the images unfold, Van Staden’s work becomes a mirror reflecting the evolving landscape of a post-apartheid era. History becomes a living entity, constantly shaped by the echoes of the past and the palpable uncertainties of the present. The photographs serve as a visual testament to the resilience of a nation grappling with its complex heritage, shedding light on the ongoing process of reckoning with historical legacies and forging a path toward a more inclusive future.

Jansen van Staden // Some

ENTANGLEMENT

“The connection is rooted within the basic concept of cause and effect. Things happened in apartheid and we're still dealing with it. It’s an educational process, talking with strangers, engaging with family and arranging them within these four corners. The more I learn about the histories of South Africa, the impact of it on the present, the more I become aware of my position in society, the privileges that accompany it and the freedom of hopelessness and acceptance."

— Jansen van Staden

Text and edit · Felipe Abreu and Christine Almlund

ARTIST BIO

Strongly influenced by his skateboarding background, South African photographer Jansen Van Staden uses street photography as a conceptual entry point to reflect on personal imaginaries and social constructs of belonging and disconnect. Van Staden is a fellow from the Photographers’ Masterclass of the Goethe Institut.

Selected achievements

  • – 2023 Rencontres d’Arles Dummy Book Award, shortlisted
  • – 2023 Kassel Dummy Book Award, shortlisted
  • – 2022 Rencontres d’Arles, “If a Tree Falls in a Forest”,
  •    exhibition curated by the Untitled Duo
  • – 2021 Charta Dummy Book award, winner
  • – 2019 CAP prize, winner


Andi Galdi Vinko

FESTIVAL SELECTEE 2024

ANDI GALDI VINKO

'If you knew it, why didn't you do something about it?'

Hungarian artist Andi Galdi Vinko’s collaborative project ‘If you knew it, why didn’t you do something about it?’ touches on the fears and uncertainties related to being a parent in a world about to implode with conflict and climate crises. The project asks not only how we can navigate this, but also how we can convey knowledge and induce hope in our children to reassure them a reliable path through fake news, uncertain times and lurking disasters.

“Currently, when my daughters ask me during the bedtime routine, "Will I have to run a lot from fires?" I say no, assuring them that everything will be alright. But later, when I go to sleep, I think: will that always be the case?”

— Andi Galdi Vinko

ENTANGLEMENT

Will I have to run from fire?

Project: If you knew it, why didn’t you do something about it?, by Andi Galdi Vinko

How do we talk to our children about looming disasters, conflicts and crises? If You Knew It, Why Didn’t You Do Something About It? is a poignant exploration of the challenges of parenting in the 21st century amidst the backdrop of the current climate crisis. In this series, Hungarian artist Andi Galdi Vinko collaborates with her 6-year-old daughter Dana and her artist friend Hin to create a multifaceted reflection on the entanglement of personal lives with global uncertainties.

This topic continues as a new step in the research into womanhood and motherhood that the artist has developed in the last few years. For Andi Galdi Vinko, art needs a purpose and a message, and her exploration of these themes allows her to address the void she perceived in representing women’s perspectives. As a mother, her work has taken a new dimension, questioning not only herself but the world at large.

Andi Galdi Vinko / Hin - Fire // If you knew it, why didn't you do something about it?

Being a parent in the current climate

Parenting in an era of profound uncertainty is truly difficult. The ongoing climate crisis, political events, and the constant influx of distressing news became challenges when Andi tried to find a delicate balance between the harsh realities of the world and the need to nurture her children’s resilience and confidence. The series serves as a raw and honest expression of her struggles, mirroring the conflict between the chaos of online news and the desire to instill positivity in her children’s lives.

The ethical dilemma of lying or telling the truth to children about the state of the world becomes a central theme. As Dana grows older and poses intelligent and relevant questions, Andi grapples with how much truth to share without overwhelming her fragile understanding. The series becomes an exploration of the artist’s uncertainties and the difficulty of providing reassurance in an unpredictable future.

Andi Galdi Vinko / Hin // If you knew it, why didn't you do something about it?

Building this story together

The collaborative mother-daughter nature of the project incorporating also the voices of Hin brings forth unique perspectives. The mixed-media approach, combining drawing and text, enriches the narrative by allowing multiple viewpoints to converge. The collaboration with Dana, in particular, transforms the artistic process into a shared exploration between mother and daughter, building on the central issue of this work: how much do we tell our children about the dark aspects of the world?

The playful yet somber mood that permeates the project underscores the importance of balance. By interweaving humor with the gravity of the subject matter, Andi acknowledges the complexity of the human experience. This balance echoes themes present in her previous work, Sorry I Gave Birth I Disappeared But Now I’m Back showcasing a consistent exploration of the intersection between joy and sorrow inherent in motherhood. The use of archival imagery introduces a novel approach to her work. Resignifying old images and incorporating them into new narratives adds depth to the project, reflecting on the cyclical nature of challenges and the continuity of concerns across generations.

Thinking about the future

“For this project I also used old existing printed photos. I decided to use them as  a canvas, spread them out, cut them, rearrange them, mix and match them up. We made the collages and found meaning in the chaos. With the addition of the text layers we bring humour into the darkness.”

The work becomes a collective reflection on the artist’s questions, creating a space for dialogue and contemplation. If You Knew It, Why Didn’t You Do Something About It? encapsulates the challenges of parenting amidst a world that seems to be in a never-ending crisis. Galdi Vinko’s raw and introspective approach invites viewers to confront the ethical dilemmas of truth-telling, the role of art in uncertain times, and the perpetual cycle of concerns that shape the parenting experience.

Andi Galdi Vinko / Hin - NO WIFI // If you knew it, why didn't you do something about it?

ENTANGLEMENT

“Everything is connected with this feeling of a messy knot. Keeping all of our actions and decisions linked. When an earthquake happens in Istanbul and it pops up on my phone’s screen as news and I need to deal with the decision to talk about it or not with my daughter, to show her the picture she is asking to see, I’m made very aware that all our lives and struggles are connected, that we have no choice but to deal with this invisible knot that ties us all together. Entanglement is the chaos of things that all affect each other and end up affecting you as well.”

— Andi Galdi Vinko

Text and edit · Felipe Abreu and Christine Almlund

ARTIST BIO

Andi Galdi Vinko studied visual arts at Moholy Nagy University of Art in Budapest and Esag Penninghen in Paris. Her work draws visual analogies between intensely personal and intimate experiences of motherhood and womanhood and universal human experiences of coming of age, ageing, loss, and the conflict between Western and Eastern European ideologies.

Selected achievements

  • – 2023 Winner of Kraszna Krausz Photobook Award 2023 
  • – 2023 Group exhibition LIBERTY, EQUALITY, SORORITY, SENSUALITY, Robert Capa Center 
  • – Selected artist for Plat(t)form Fotomuseum Winterthur
  • – 2022 Sorry I Gave Birth I Disappeared But Now I’m Back Booklaunch at Ruptures Associes, Paris Photo, BOP Martin Parr Foundation, TJ Boulting Gallery, London, Unseen Amsterdam with Erika Deak Gallery, 
  • – 2022 Selected artist for Futures Photography


Chloé Milos Azzopardi

FESTIVAL SELECTEE 2024

CHLOÉ AZZOPARDI

‘Non Technological Devices’

French artist Chloé Azzopardi Incorporates sculpture and performance into her photography as she ponders on the future. Her project Non Technological Devices takes us on an imaginary, futuristic journey as she introduces us to her creative world of self made low-tech sci-fi sculptures made out of found natural materials. The sculptures function as extensions of the body, echoing the idea of cyborgs. Her work playfully intervenes and disrupts our common imaginaries about the future of technology, sci-fi and imagination in a climate and technology driven world stripped of ressources.

“I wanted to make something futuristic, something to speak about how we used to fantasise about a certain future, one that could not happen because of the lack of resources, for example. I grew up fantasising about flying cars and teleportation because I watched a lot of movies and I think a lot of us fantasise about it as well. But, if this can't happen, what can we build? What should be an updated and ecological version of this imaginary? Maybe we'll be like kids, playing with what remains of our fantasies.”

Chloé Azzopardi

ENTANGLEMENT

Playing ‘Tech’ in a world without ressources

Project: Non Technological Devices, by Chloé Azzopardi

A thick block of ice, the exact size to cover both of your eyes, with sticks to create a frame around it. Or clam shells as a headset. French artist Chloé Azzopardi’s project Non Technological Devices surprises you and intricately connects photography, performance, and installation to create a fictional world that challenges our perceptions of technology, nature, and our collective desires for the future. Chloé Azzopardi’s work delves into science fiction aesthetics, the construction of imaginary worlds, and the implications of human intervention in nature. The objects depicted in Azzopardi’s images are composite tools that she crafts from gleaned natural elements, mimicking the appearance of technological devices. The artist employs an intuitive process, considering both the materials she finds and the imperfections in the objects she creates. These sculptures function as extensions of the body, echoing the idea of cyborgs, but with an organic twist. 

Chloé Milos Azzopardi // Non Technological Devices

A sci-fi world without ressources

The future imagined in these works is one where we may be constrained by the scarcity of resources necessary for the hyper-technologized dreams we often fantasise about. The artist aims to engage with the disconnect between our childhood fantasies of flying cars and teleportation and the potential lack of resources that could hinder these futuristic visions. In this context, Non Technological Devices becomes a playful endeavour, imagining a time when individuals create symbolic tools as substitutes for unattainable technological marvels. The series’ playful engagement opens up a poetic perspective that present the viewer with a rare opportunity to engage themselves emotionally with issues of tech, environment, climate and actually feel the close entanglement of imagination, tech and climate.

“I am trying to avoid building things that are perfect, it’s a very intuitive practice. If I’m getting too good at building these objects, it will be the point where I have to finish the series. The new objects I’m building reflect on technologies that we already have or that we project to use or to have. And sometimes they are also totally imaginary. I didn’t want to restrain myself, I didn’t want to just copy objects that exist because it’s a futuristic world, so everything can happen.”

Chloé Milos Azzopardi // Non Technological Devices

Help or hindrance?

The initially perceived extensions can transform into hindrances depending on the structure built by the artist. This decision serves as a commentary to some of the technology we so desperately cling to, it might be sold as a benefit, but it’s not always the case. One can feel trapped, with movements restricted or blinded, by the thickness of the screen in front of their eyes. 

“I was thinking about the figure of the cyborg, on how to extend your body, in my case not with the machine, but with natural elements. One of the ways to see my objects is not as extensions, but as elements to heal, and to do so, you have to restrain movement. This is interesting to me because I don’t want to be pessimistic about technology. I’m very enthusiastic about it, but when you create new ways of existing, new devices, every time you create a new modality for your life, you end up with new hindrances, something restricting. When you have something new you also have to lose something.”

Questioning technology – and imagination

Azzopardi’s work acquires a deeper layer of significance as it becomes entwined with the contemporary ecological crisis. Inspired by real-life events, such as the ecological protests near Sainte-Soline at the beginning of 2023, the project shifted from being solely futuristic and playful to embodying a darker, more urgent tone. 

The series reflects the artist’s concerns about human intervention in nature, overexploitation of the planet, and the lack of policies to protect nature and to control how we exploit things. To the artist technological progress can be interesting and positive. However, we have to be mindful of the ecological consequences of this progress. Non Technological Devices explores the intersection between imagination, technology, and climate crisis. 

Azzopardi’s interdisciplinary approach, sculptural creations, and the tension function or lack of it in her objects contribute to a rich narrative that encourages viewers to question their relationship with technology and the potential consequences of our desires for an artificialized future.

Chloé Milos Azzopardi // Non Technological Devices

ENTANGLEMENT

“Entanglement is at the heart of all living things. We live in different ecosystems where beings are interdependent, with the actions of each having repercussions on the collective. In this series, I examine our relationship with the rest of the earth's living organisms, this entanglement from which we try to extract ourselves as a species, even though we are intrinsically part of it. I look at the way we exploit it, and think about how to create new imaginaries that might help us recognize these interdependencies and think of ways to build our future and our devices in ways that are less destructive to our environment.”

Chloé Azzopardi

Text and edit · Felipe Abreu and Christine Almlund

ARTIST BIO

Chloé Milos Azzopardi is a visual artist with an MFA from the European School of Visual Art. She works and lives at L’Ile Saint Denis, on the outskirts of Paris. She works on long-term projects mixing photography, performance, and installation. At the intersection of experimental and documentary photography, her images generate fictional worlds, whose strangeness and sensoriality are exacerbated.

Selected achievements

  • – 2024, «Non technological devices», Rencontres d’Arles, Fisheye Gallery 
  • – 2024 PHOTO 2024 – Melbourne International photo festival, «Nontechnological devices», Australia
  • – 2022, Prix Nouvelles écritures de la photographie environnementale (new writings of environmental photography award), La Gacilly, Winner
  • – 2022, New York Times, Focusing
  • – 2022, Emerging Artist, Lucie Foundation, Winner