Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam and Pakhuis de Zwijger team up again for three ‘specials’ in the Fotokroniek series in which we make the connection between an artist who exhibits at Foam and two other guests based on a common theme. In this second edition we welcome Magnum Photographers Newsha Tavakolian and Rafał Milach whose work is currently on show at Foam. Photographer and filmmaker Newsha Tavakolian is known for covering wars in Iraq and social issues in her native country Iran. The work of artist Rafał Milach explores themes of history and transformation particularly within the former Soviet bloc. And to complete the line-up Belarusian filmmaker Sasha Kulak shows her inside perspective on Belarus and Russia, stories we rarely see in the West.
While the three artists have a different geographic focus, their work is connected through their approach to storytelling.
Documentary photography is art
Over the years, Tavakolian’s practice has shifted from photojournalism to photography as art. Similarly, Milach initially tackled subjects through a traditional documentary perspective. His later projects draw on a more conceptual approach bringing together different mediums such as photography, conceptual art, books, video and curation.
Today, both are associate members of Magnum Photos. They create conceptual work alongside photo journalistic assignments. Bringing those two together has become an integral part of their practice. The play with fiction and esthetics as conceptual tools enriches their work. It puts emphasis on the message they want to convey with their work.
From their individual perspectives and personal histories, they will reflect on their approach to visualise large political shifts and the concept of a post-revolution society touching on topics such as conflict, visual activism and identity.
Newsha Tavakolian (IR)
A self-taught photographer, Tavakolian began working professionally in the Iranian press at the age of 16, at women’s daily newspaper Zan. At the age of 18, she was the youngest photographer to cover the 1999 student uprising, which was a turning point for the country’s blossoming reformist movement and for Tavakolian personally as a photojournalist; a year later she joined New York-based agency Polaris Images.
In 2003, she started working internationally, covering the war in Iraq. She has since covered regional conflicts, natural disasters and made social documentary stories. Her work has been published in international magazines and newspapers such as Time Magazine, Newsweek, Stern, Le Figaro, Colors, The New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, NRC Handelsblad, The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic. Commercial clients include Qatar foundation, who commissioned her to make a book about education around the world and Shiseido, who commissioned a two-year assignment looking at the meaning of beauty in Paris, France.
Rafał Milach (PL)
Rafał Milach is a visual artist, activist, photographer, and educator. His work focuses on the tension between society and power structures. Author of protest books and critical publications on state control. He is a professor at the Krzysztof Kieślowski Film School of Silesian University in Katowice, Poland. Milach has received scholarships from the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Magnum Foundation, and European Cultural Foundation. Finalist of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize, Polityka Passports Award and a winner of the World Press Photo competition. Co-founder of the Archive of Public Protests and Sputnik Photos collectives. His work has been widely exhibited, and is part of the public institutional collections worldwide. Milach is an associate member of Magnum Photos.
Sasha is a director, cinematographer, and photographer. Together with commissioned fashion, music and identity building projects for brands Sasha’s portfolio includes a variety of independent cultural projects made in collaboration with young talents across the globe.
Currently working on a feature film A Hawk as Big as a Horse (2022, 77’), which is produced with the support of Arte France, and a grant recipient from the Sundance Institute. Earlier this year the film Mara (2022, 61’) premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. It is a hybrid documentary video essay about Belarusian protests in the summer of 2020.