Featured in our first drop, these emerging talents – part of British Journal of Photography’s Ones to Watch 2021 – are shaping the landscape of contemporary photography. Now, exclusively via OpenSea, their work is available to buy as unique NFT editions of one
Each year, British Journal of Photography presents its Ones to Watch: a cohort of emerging photographers making outstanding work, selected from a list of over 450 nominations by the world’s leading artists, curators, gallerists, and academics.
Over the last decade, many of BJP’s Ones to Watch have gone on to lead distinguished careers. Some of fashion photography’s most sought-after names – Nadine Ijiwere, Rafael Pavarotti, and Micaiah Carter, for example – as well as artists revered by the world’s leading galleries, including Jun Ahn, Daisuke Yokota and Charlie Engman. In the eyes of the industry’s leading figures, these are the emerging talents who are shaping the landscape of contemporary photography.
This week, exclusively via OpenSea, 16 of this year’s talents are each selling a series of five images as unique NFT editions of one. Here, we speak to four of the photographers – Fee-Gloria Groenemeyer, Silvana Trevale, Asafe Ghalib, Md Fazla Rabbi Fatiq – about their work, and why they have decided to branch into the world of NFTs.
Fee-Gloria Grönemeyer (Germany)
“Fee-Gloria has a rare, innate instinct for photographing fashion,” she comments. “She remains true to the issues she cares about, using her voice and images to raise awareness and ask questions.”
Chiara Bardelli Nonino, photo editor of Vogue Italia
Fee-Gloria Grönemeyer has not always been a photographer. In 2015, she studied finance at New York University, before deciding to pursue her passion of photography. “Finance actually broke me mentally,” Grönemeyer recalled, in an interview with BJP. “I felt like I couldn’t be as creative as I wanted to be. Photography opened up a lot in terms of meeting and collaborating with other creators.“
Six years on, the German photographer, now based in Paris, blurs the boundaries between fashion, portraiture and art. Grönemeyer first heard about NFTs through a politician she had once worked with. They were working on digitisation for the German government. “The concept is quite revolutionary for the art market, and it’s great that artists aren’t just paid for the first purchase, but with each sale we receive a certain percentage of the resale,” she says. “It’s a beautiful way of distributing artwork to a new digital audience.”
The five pieces Grönemeyer has chosen for auction are from a trip to Asia in 2019. “It was a very special trip that opened my eyes to many cultures… I gained a whole new perspective of the world,” she says. “These are some of the images that are closest to my heart.”
“Silvana’s seamless merging of documentary and fashion is conscious photography, debunking the belief that ethics and aesthetics are not compatible.”
Chiara Bardelli Nonino, photo editor at Vogue Italia
“I consider my work to be a fusion between documentary and fashion, and I seek to celebrate the intrinsic beauty of the human body, my Latin American roots, youth, womanhood and the realities of people around me,” says London-based, Venezuelan artist Silvana Trevale. The 27-year-old photographer has already had notable success in both the fine art and commercial spheres, with commissions from Adidas, Dior and Vogue.
The images Trevale is auctioning are from a series titled Venezuelan Youth, a collection of poignant portraits exploring how the economic, social and political crisis in her home country is impacting young people. Trevale hopes that the auction will raise awareness for these issues. “It is an opportunity to collect funds to continue this project in Venezuela, and raise money for the families I work with,” she says.
“I am intrigued by this new ‘world’ or place for art to be sold… and how this new audience will react to my work,” Travale continues, explaining that she first heard about NFTs last year. “It is a completely different environment to any other place where my work has been shared. In a way, it is more accessible, as it is digital and on a platform where lots of people can have access to it.”
“The power and intensity of Asafe’s work are recognisable from the first instance of setting eyes on his images. The activism that underpins it makes for an even more impactful aesthetic. Although he is self-taught, Asafe handles his lens with confidence – a stance that he also teases out of his incredible subjects.”
Izabela Radwanska Zhang, editorial director of British Journal of Photography
Raised in Wakefield and now based in London, Tayo Adekunle’s Reclamation of the Exposition recreates 19th century photographs of sensationalised Black bodies – images that highlight the blurred line between racialised pornography and ‘scientific’ ethnography.
“Reclamation of the Exposition is very important to me as it talks about the sexualisation of Black women through a discussion on colonialism and colonial photography,” explains Adekunle, who has selected five images to auction from the series. “I chose these images so that more people could learn about the history discussed in the work.”
Adekunle uses her body as a tool, complicating the understood notions of artist, subject, viewer and maker. In these images, everything is subjective. “I think [NFTs are a] great way to be able to showcase your work internationally without the limitations of thinking how your pieces will fit into a certain space,” says Adekunle.
“In the wake of a global pandemic, Fatiq turned his lens on his home. He photographs the kitchen table, inside the refrigerator, from the bathroom to the balcony, producing a series of vivid photographs, which study still lifes rich in form and colour.”
Sarker Protick, lecturer at Pathshala South Asian Media Institute
In early 2020, during his final year of photography school, Md Fazla Rabbi Fatiq found himself confined at home in Comilla, Bangladesh. Countless projects emerged from lockdown, and although Fatiq responds to his immediate surroundings, as so many others did, his aesthetic is distinct: a playful vibrancy undercut by the glutinous, bloody forms.
Fatiq selected five images from this series to be minted as NFTs: ones he felt were most “visually striking”, as well those that illustrated his story. The mundane markers of everyday experiences – anaemic chicken legs, glowing egg yolks, and a veiny fish skin – all feature in the series of close-up photographs, collectively titled Home.