Aperture Winter 2018

Founded in 1952, Aperture is an essential guide to the world of contemporary photography that combines the finest writing with inspiring photographic portfolios. Each issue examines one theme explored in “Words,” focused on the best writing surrounding contemporary photography, and “Pictures,” featuring immersive portfolios and artist projects.

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in this issue

3 min
exhibitions to see

Graciela Iturbide Several years ago, when Kristen Gresh, curator of photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, visited Graciela Iturbide at the photographer’s Mexico City studio, she was given carte blanche to look into her archives. Gresh and Iturbide went through everything they could, pulling pictures from boxes that even Iturbide’s assistant didn’t know existed. The result is a major acquisition by the museum of Iturbide’s work—notable for its focus on the lives and rituals of Mexicans—and an exhibition, Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico, covering the photographer’s five-decade-long career. “Her work is a wonderful testament to the hybrid cultures in Mexico, the coexistence of indigenous and Catholic traditions,” Gresh says. “I think she catches the moment in a different way, because it comes from her connection, her way of being.” Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico…

4 min
sri lanka

In March 2018, in the popular tourist district of Kandy, Sri Lanka, a road-rage incident between a Buddhist man and a group of Muslim men unexpectedly escalated into days of mob violence. Religious extremist groups manipulated the incident and used it as an opportunity to spread hate speech, resulting in President Maithripala Sirisena imposing a state of emergency on the island nation, the first since the end of the civil war, nearly a decade ago, in 2009. But Kandy, or Kanda Uda Rata, as it was known before British colonization, is no stranger to the distortion of histories or the jostling of ideologies. Its dynastic kingdom was the country’s seat of power and religion from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, staving off successive attacks from local factions and European colonizers…

4 min
ka-man tse

It began with a landscape in the viewfinder. Ka-Man Tse was making a long exposure of a Hong Kong public square with her large-format camera when a teenage couple waltzed onto the scene. The image of the girls laughing and openly flirting imprinted on Tse as she indulged in imagining the infinite possibilities of their budding romance. “What does it mean to navigate queer life in Hong Kong?” she recalls thinking. “What does it mean to look, who has the right to look, what does it mean to be seen?” In 2004, Tse began working on narrow distances, an ongoing body of images that attempts to visualize the circumstances that led up to that moment. Tse’s photographs propose what she calls “B sides”: queer narratives and obsessions set against the backdrop…

4 min

“All my life I’ve been surrounded by strong women, yet this quality is largely uncelebrated in mainstream visual culture,” says Hannah Starkey, who was born in Belfast and grew up during the thirty-year conflict in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles. Since the mid-1990s, when she moved to London to study photography, Starkey has made portraits of isolated figures, usually women, in urban settings—standing alone on an illuminated dance floor, stopped on the street, sitting in a café. These subjects of Starkey’s cinematic images occupy ambiguous but psychologically astute narratives: the flaneuses of contemporary society. The Troubles Growing up in Belfast in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s against the backdrop of the conflict in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles informed my identity as a dissident artist and shaped me more than…

3 min

Posing for a family picture is often our introduction to the act of being photographed. Whether we want to participate or not, a family member with a camera or a studio photographer with a backdrop guides us into the frame and produces a memory. The genre has its tropes, its classics. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries. Family vacations that we wanted to take—or run from. Even in its analog form, before we began actively crafting our representations for the public audience of social media, a family photo-album was a semiprivate curatorial exercise, one of careful image pairings and sequences, names and dates, omissions. “The family photograph is a marker of myths,” writes Glen Helfand. “It captures a fraction of a second of activity and fuels narratives for generations.” The peculiar power and…

10 min
black balloon archive liz johnson artur

Shortly after midnight on June 14, 2017, a devastating fire tore through the Grenfell Tower public housing high-rise in West London. Seventy-two residents of the twenty-four-story building were killed in what was the most lethal blaze in postwar British history. Many Grenfell inhabitants were immigrants—first- and second-generation Africans and Arabs who had formed a disparate community in the building based on the common experience of departure from their homelands and arrival in Britain. They were the kind of people who had been vilified by tabloids and right-wing politicians over the past year of rancorous debate about Brexit. The kind of people, it was said, who were guilty of spreading crime, disease, and sharia law. As Katie Hopkins put it in a 2015 column for the Sun, “Some of our towns…