Highlights of the Year #1

It's back. A selection of unordered and unstructured highlights that we've picked out from the last twelve months. We don't really believe in top tens or numbered lists, so read this instead simply as a selection of the things that have stood out from the rest. The ones we remember anyway.

(This is part 1 of 3 - the next two will appear as separate posts over the next few days)


Miriam Elia, We go to the gallery

Peter and Jane go with mummy to witness The Death of Meaning. In Miriam Elia’s homage to the Harlequin Ladybird series, “Jolly colourful illustrations […] enable your child to smoothly internalize all of the debilitating middle class self-hatred contained in the artworks.” There are vaginas and penises, because “God is dead and everything is sex.” It’s funny, and already into its second edition.

Carolyn Drake, Wild Pigeon

Since 2007 Carolyn Drake has been visiting Xinjiang province in Western China, home to the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority whose identity and homeland are being eroded and invaded by the authorities in Beijing. Drake’s haunting images stand alone as vestiges of beauty, memory and subjugation, before her subjects rework them. They are annotated, drawn upon, and cut-up into collage. Then darkness descends and we are plunged into night.  The title Wild Pigeon is taken from Nurmuhemmet Yasin’s 2004 story by the same name, which is included at the end of the book. The allegory led to a 10-year prison for the author, which is due to come to an end this year. It is not known if he is still alive.

Patrick Brown, Trading to Extinction

Over a decade in the making, Trading to Extinction is Patrick Brown’s epic journey across Asia to expose the shameful black-market trade in endangered species. The numbers involved are staggering and heart breaking, 30,000 primates, 5 million birds, 10 million reptile skins and 500 million tropical fish are traded each year. Quite simply, this is photojournalism at its best.

Laia Abril, The Epilogue

Combining Abril’s original photography with primary materials and archive imagery, The Epilogue tells the story of the Robinson family – and the aftermath of losing their 26 year-old daughter to bulimia.  It is the combination of source materials and Abril’s subtle and sensitive photography that allows this painful story to unfold. It is an incredibly successful piece of storytelling formed around the devastatingly unsuccessful attempt to save a young woman’s life.

George Georgiou, Last Stop

Although not officially released until mid-December, I’ve been lucky to see this project evolve through its various dummies. It takes the form of a double-sided concertina that documents London through the windows of its buses. The reader is able to refold and reorder the frames to create unique juxtapositions and rhythms. It’s fun, tactile and perhaps the most informative portrait of London I can think of.


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