Born in Amsterdam in 1983, Isabella Rozendaal has been photographing animals since her student days at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. Her book Animalia Amsterdam: Pet Portraits features over 100 images, and her new book and exhibition, Isabella Hunts: Photographing Hunting Cultures, shows images of hunters and prey from around the world shot over the last 12 years.
Focusing in on the Nukini people in the Brazilian Amazon (for whom hunting is as mundane as going to the supermarket), to European hunting rites (traditions which are a product of old aristocratic rituals), to American enthusiasts (shaped by the Romantic, pioneer wilderness ideal but supported by a vast commercial hunting industry), her images seek to question our concept of nature and our place in the food chain.
“She hangs around with us after school even though we make it clear she bores us. We whisper nonsense and pretend to laugh at jokes so she laughs too, and we ask, ‘What’s so funny?’ to watch her squirm. She knows we are mean, and yet still she follows along behind. ‘Like a dog,’ we say, loud enough for her to hear.”
On athousandwordphotos.com this is the start of the text accompanying an image of Russian army cadets by Anastasia Taylor-Lind - but it’s not a direct quote from one of the young women depicted. Instead it’s a work of fiction by author Claire Fuller, inspired by the image but written without any knowledge of the circumstances in which it was shot.
It’s the same with the story that accompanies Karim Ben Khalifa’s photograph of a sofa, which was taken in war-torn Kosovo in 1999. In real life, the sofa had been looted and therefore set on fire by French peace-keepers to discourage further looting. But in author Dan Dalton’s hands, it’s set on fire by a 17 year old, who had spent happy hours with a slightly wayward group of friends hanging out on the abandoned couch. Meanwhile a photograph taken by Dungeness nuclear power station by Phil Fisk, inspired Lydia Ruffles to write a short story about a worker called Tomo who’s afraid of the sea.
Pairing documentary photography with fictional writing isn’t new - in fact it’s become quite a trend, with image-makers such as David Goldblatt, Vasantha Yogananthan, Max Pinckers, and Dayanita Singh - among many more - all playing with the combination in recent years. But the examples above come from quite a different project, set up to support Interact Stroke Support - a London-based charity that organises sessions in which actors read to recovering stroke patients.
Hunger is an experimental project based on Franz Kafka’s short story, A Hunger Artist, about the once-glorious, but now dying, art of performers who starved themselves. Curated by Greek publishing house Void, it involves the work of 28 photographers, both established and up-and-coming, presented in seven broadsheet publications, and in an online exhibition on PHMuseum.com.
Taking a new approach to documentary photography after a near-death experience in Libya, Guy Martin captured Turkey's fantasies and created a series which was recently published by GOST. “To not learn from that event in April 2011, I couldn't do that to myself,” he says. “I couldn't justify it to my family, I couldn't be put in that same situation again," he says. "The starting point was to take control of my photography, to use my photography instead of letting it use me."