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 – Matthieu Croizier, Masha Svyatogor, Rehab Eldalil, and Muhammad Salah – about their work, and why they have decided to branch into the world of NFTs.
Matthieu Croizier (Switzerland)
“Croizier’s photographs destabilise a sense of perception. They are orientated in the physicality of the body, where he often creates tension and ambiguity, to reflect the complex and sensate experience of being human”
Gem Fletcher, writer and podcaster
Taking visual cues from an array of cultural sources, Matthieu Croizier lets his imagination guide his images. Inspired by everything from 19th century medical archives and freak shows to the writings of Virginie Despentes and cult classic horror like David Lynch’s Eraserhead, the 26-year-old ECAL graduate sees his work as a “love letter to the abnormal”, pushing back against vilification of the queer community.
“All of these images are part of my latest personal work Everything goes dark a little further down, which is very important for me,” says Croizier, who started the project in 2019, during the final year of his photography BA. “I have chosen them as I thought this could be a good opportunity to make them travel digitally, and to reach people that would not necessarily have encountered them in another context.”
“Masha is intelligent in how she uses the language that is open to her. While she uses archival pictures, it’s not an archive project. Her work is political; it’s about the totalitarian regime but also about art and the role of art under such a regime.”
Andrei Liankevich, managing director and founder of Month of Photography in Minsk
Masha Svyatogor reflects on Soviet imagery and contemporary life in Minsk, Belarus, where she resides, through the use of collage.”It’s unsafe to live there now, in addition to the lack of financial security and prospects,” she says. Indeed, Belarus is authoritarian, and its leader, Alexander Lukashenko, has been described as “Europe’s last dictator”.
Living under such a regime is like “some kind of nightmare,” she says. The “endless repression by the authorities against civilians, striving for absolute control of everyone and everything” means it is difficult to make critical work. Nevertheless, Svyatogor does so, through the use of photomontage. For the Ones to Watch drop, Svyatogor has selected “works that raise questions about continuity in art history, the issues of representation of women in art history.”
“A whole new level of interaction. Eldalil assists in building a legacy for the Bedouin people – her multidimensional approach touches both viewers and subjects in unforgettable ways.”
Peggy Sue Amison, the artistic director of East Wing gallery in Doha
During the 2011 Egyptian revolution, Rehab Eldalil saw first-hand the impact of visual storytelling. At the time, the artist was studying for a BA in photography at Helwan University in Greater Cairo. “After that I began using photography to dig into my ancestry – trying to make a connection,” she says. For Eldalil, to document has become an act of remembering.
Eldalil has selected five images from her long-term project, The Longing of The Stranger Whose Path Has Been Broken, which traces her own Bedouin ancestry by documenting the daily lives of Egypt’s nomad community. “Each image represents a different perspective on the Bedouin community than what is spread in the media,” he explains. “As an indigenous community, the Bedouins of Sinai have largely been misrepresented. In this project the community is part of the creative process and I wanted to take this auction opportunity to bring their voice to light.”
“Muhammad Salah makes work about the politics of space. Fragments assembled denote on a deeper level. A poem.”
Emma Bowkett, Director of Photography at the Financial Times Weekend Magazine
Born in 1993 in Sennar, Sudan, Muhammad Salah lives between Berlin and Khartoum. His work explores identity, masculinity, memory, time, space, healing, and the expanse between birth and death. “I explore the medium of photography as a form of visual poetry,” he said, in an interview with British Journal of Photography.
Salah’s images are from a series titled Homecoming. In it, he looks back at his life but also explores the idea of ‘home’. “Homecoming is my therapy, my refuge. A safe space for me to explore ‘home’ as a philosophical, spiritual, emotional, and physical construct. To find meaning beyond the linear and the formulaic, and delve into the beyond,” he says.