We are constantly bombarded with fairly awful news from around the world. Things feel less certain for a lot of people than they did even 3 or 5 or 10 years ago. So what are you going to do about it? What now? What now for you as an individual? What now for your family or community? What now for your place of birth or the place you call home? Can you find a way to use photography to share a complicated emotion? To convey uncertainty (or certainty)? How do you want to be remembered in this time and place? Or what do you want to remember? What makes now, now?
Photo by Alexa Vachon
Alexa Vachon is a Canadian born, New York educated, Berlin based photographer and photojournalist who works on assignment for various international publications and on long-term projects focusing on gender identity, women’s rights and human rights. Much of Vachon’s work explores contemporary queer culture and identity, including projects about queer pornography and queer identity in Berlin. Her current work includes a long-term project with and about a football team for young refugee women in Germany, where she steps away from queer culture and focuses on identity and belonging in the refugee community. The project, Rise, will be released as a self-published book in October 2018. Vachon has received numerous grants for her work, exhibits her images often and works for various international magazines and newspapers.
In 2016, Vachon published her first book called what we do in the light, an exploration of feminist pornography. In 2017 she published Shaking the Habitual – The Show, documenting life on tour with The Knife on their last European tour in 2014.
TQU: You were born in Canada, studied in New York and later in Berlin and have been taking pictures in many different places around the world. How do you think the experiences in these different places reflect in your work?
Read full interview with Alexa Vachon.
From our judge Alexa:
Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this photo call! I know very well how hard it can be to put your work and yourself out there. I was really excited to see work from around the world and I encourage all of you to keep making photos. A theme like, “What Now?” is tricky. There isn’t any kind of “right” answer and I was delighted by the variety of images. Keep making photos, keep sharing, keep looking and keep listening.
This image is a great example of complex ideas captured in a relatively “simple” photograph. The photograph itself isn’t a spectacular moment in time but the thoughtfulness of the delicate image within the image and the trace of the artist’s hand and the detailed embroidery draw in the viewer’s interest. Most traces of identify and gender are gone but we’re left with a gentle yet complex image that demands our attention.
This is a striking image that becomes even more interesting with the caption. The image itself shows intimacy and thoughtfulness and a shared moment between friends. It has a strong composition and plays with depth, layers, mirrors and reflections, all things fundamental to an understanding of photographing. The story behind the image lets us into an incredibly personal and monumental moment in a young woman’s life. There are bigger questions about religion in the USA, particularly the representation of Islam, but also the personal quest of a woman thousands of miles away from “home.”
This image and description give me more questions than answers. I can see scissors and glasses and rolling papers and Hustler and framed photographs and living plants. I also see a young woman looking at magazines loaded with history. What does the young woman see in the magazines that have long since been replaced by online content? Is she turned on? Comparing herself? Fantasizing? The casualness of the photograph and the woman illustrate the kind of fleeting scene that often passes us by but by capturing the moment in time, it brings significance to our personal histories.
SETH JORDAN: This is an absolutely wonderful portrait – the person being photographed, their intensity, the setting, the composition. It’s well thought out, well executed and important. Great work!
EM FLEM: I was immediately drawn to the colour and abstractness of this image. In the days of countless filters and instant manipulation, I think a lot about what it means to use older photo techniques or mimic them digitally. Ultimately, in this photo, it doesn’t matter to me if the image was made via light leaks on analog film, or by sitting in front of a computer with an endless number of options. One version leaves much up to instinct and chance, the other to the slow process of figuring out how to convey one’s intentions.
CASSIDY: There’s a deep fascination with the open road in the USA – portrayals in classic films, contemporary photo essays – and much of the USA is built for cars, not pedestrians. It’s one of the few places where young people spend hours and hours behind the wheel and in young adulthood, it can be a place of refuge of freedom. This image captures the mystery of the open road and is mostly anonymous except for small details like a dangling cross and a small toy. We know the car is filled with people and we wonder about their relationship and where they’re going and where they’re coming from.
We have a tie! The two audience prize winners are: Néstor Granda and Gina Acuña! For all the lovely comments – as always- click on the image in the gallery above!
Congratulations to all winners
And a very big thank you to everyone who participated! All submissions were really amazing!