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    These Pictures From The Royal Photographic Society's International Exhibition Offer Insight Into The Society We Live In Today

    As the Royal Photographic Society prepares to launch its 161st International Photography Exhibition at its new headquarters in Bristol, we take a look at some of the exhibition's best contemporary photography.

    Catherine Hyland / Via

    Gold Award: "Maddens Wind Farm." “The series, Wait-And-See Pudding With Patience Sauce, documents inhabitants on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean, a small island with grand ambitions. Nevis's history includes slavery, sugar plantations, pirates, and Admiral Nelson, as well as hurricanes and earthquakes. It is now aiming to become the world's first carbon-neutral nation, 100% self-sufficient, and entirely powered by its own resources, leapfrogging eco-friendly Nordic countries like Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark.”

    Thomas Duffield / Via

    "Carpet." “Our home was a static caravan with walls entangled with ivy, which sat quietly in a field of a small farm on the outskirts of Leeds. This is where my sister and I were raised. During this time my father struggled with a heroin addiction. However difficult it may have been at times for our parents, we had a charmed life growing up. As children, my father's addiction was undiscussed. Only now do I begin to understand the complexities of my parents' relationship. I meet with my father regularly as he undergoes a detox. When we meet we talk about nothing in particular.” From the series The Whole House Is Shaking.

    Robin Friend / Via

    "Cliffe Bonfire, Lewes." Images from the series Bastard Countryside. “Victor Hugo, writing in the 19th century, could not have foreseen the colossal impact humanity would have on the landscape in the century and a half that has followed. Industrialisation and accelerated human modification have created hybrid landscapes that feel both aggressive and seductive in nature. A contradiction of sorts — a new strain of nature that is neither 'natural' or 'human' in its classification yet both at the same time. Hugo described this as ‘the kind of bastard countryside, somewhat ugly but bizarre, made up of two different natures’.”

    Karolina Jonderko / Via

    “Ewa [has] anxiety. The doll reminds her of her niece when she was a little baby. She [her doll] keeps her company and brings lots of joy. Each 'reborn' is unique and carefully crafted by reborn artists. Though collected by some, the dolls are also a powerful therapy tool. Those who can't have or have lost a baby give their love to a reborn. They look after them, change them, take them for walks, and buy them clothes. The 'babies' provide companionship, they provide a calming routine, and are a little bundle of joy to love and help their 'mothers' dealing with loss, depression, trauma or anxiety.”

    Christopher Bethell / Via

    Under 30s Gold Award: "Coney Island, 2015" “I am a dual national, a citizen of the United Kingdom and the United States of America. For most of my life I believed an elaborate fiction about my family's history on the other side of the Atlantic. In 2015, I stepped into America for the first time, following my Grandfather Joseph 'Joey' O'Donnell's route from East to West. The result of this journey is the series The Duke of Earl, which with first glance functions as a document of contemporary pre-Trump America. Second as an exploration into the myths, clichés, and values I held of the States throughout my life. And finally, and perhaps most crucially, it functions as a metaphorical retelling of my grandfather's actual life through photographs of the strangers and landscapes I encountered.”

    Oli Kellett / Via

    Bronze Award: "Cross Road Blues (Hubbard St, Chicago)" “According to legend, Delta Blues musician Robert Johnson met the devil at a crossroads outside Memphis and sold his soul in exchange for his musical talents. He was forever plagued despite his success. Faustian tales are popular at times of moral crisis. We live in an era of fake news, political polarisation, and algorithmic echo chambers. Our experience of the world is fractured as we live out multiple identities on and offline. Crossroads are a democratic place. We all have to wait. On average, we will spend five years 'waiting' during our lifetime. Being held at a 'DON'T WALK' sign allows us a few seconds, and occasionally minutes, to just be with ourselves, and remember who we are. At this time of uncertainty and change in America's history, I'm looking for a moment where individuals are dwarfed by what surrounds them, appearing lost but searching for something. They then go on their way, whichever direction that may be.”

    Clare Hewitt / Via

    "Eugenie #8." “Eugenie lost her sight in her forties after ... a stroke, which also stole large parts of her memory. I met her 10 years later, during a time when I was experiencing my own grief and loss. I started to visit her once a week and carried on for three and a half years. She became a beautiful subject, my friend, and a vessel, who allowed me to produce a series of emotional observations of her and of myself. The work is a truth, whether it is Eugenie's, mine, or a blur of both.” From the series Eugenie.

    Chris O'Donovan / Via

    "Tilly-Ann & Taryn." “We stumbled across sisters Tilly-Ann and Taryn just as the light was setting in land considered to be sacred by Gypsies near to Appleby Horse Fair. Taryn had been feeding the family horses with her sister, and she struck me as older than her years. Both were introduced to horses before they could even walk.

    “From the series Young and on the Move — Portraits of the Younger Generation of the Gypsy and Traveller Community, a project I have been working on with my mother for over four years now.”

    Heather Agyepong

    "Too Many Blackamoors #9." “This series was inspired by a 19th-century carte de visite of Lady Sarah Forbes Bonetta. Sarah was the adopted West African goddaughter of Queen Victoria who came to live in England at a young age. The images are based on my own personal experiences as a young black woman, dealing with the macro and micro traumas of racism encountered while travelling around European countries.

    “[The series] Too Many Blackamoors aims to challenge the 'strong, independent, black female' narrative that can burden and often entrap black women. With Sarah as my template, the project attempts to illustrate the effects of such perceptual limitations whilst exploring my own internal conflicts of falling short from such mainstream ideals.”

    Anthony Black Photograph

    "In the Music Zone."

    Natasha Alipour-Faridani / Via

    "GCSE Hidden Results."

    Harry Borden / Via

    "Dan With Jack." “The year that followed my divorce was the most difficult of my life.

    Overwhelmed by panic, despair and confusion, I realized the hardest thing was the possibility of it having a corrosive effect on my children. However, through acceptance, forgiveness and love, my ex and I found a way to celebrate our time together and truly become friends.

    Although involved in my children's lives, I am not the main carer. This project aims to celebrate the men who are. From the series Single Parent Dads, shot on a Hasselblad with Kodak Portra Film.”

    Sebastián Delgado C. / Via

    "Keep Moving." “The Giraldo family pictured in 'Keep Moving' and Herrera family in 'Home', photographed in Cúcuta, Colombia, after fleeing Venezuela due to a massive deportation order by President Nicolás Maduro on Aug. 21, 2015. From the series Huir, a documentary project that portrays the situation faced by Colombians after the closure of the Colombia–Venezuela border.”

    Jennifer Breuel / Via

    "Untitled #2." From the series Up to Here and No Further.

    Fergus Coyle / Via

    "Hankou Bund, Wuhan, China, 2017." “A lady poses for cameras on a highly polluted day in Hankou Bund, Wuhan. Across the Yangtze River, the Greenland Centre is due to become the tallest building in China and the fourth-tallest in the world on completion in 2019. On days where the air quality index reaches toxic levels, all construction in the city must halt. From the series Middle Kingdom, which features people and landscapes that are part of contemporary China today.”

    Craig Waddell / Via

    "Samuel Froggatt." “This image, from the series Masc, looks to interrogate and celebrate the diversity of contemporary queer masculinity. It seeks to reinvent the formal portrait, reclaiming it from outdated associations with social power and gender stereotyping. This portrait is of Samuel Froggatt, a queer art student and performer currently based in Edinburgh.”

    Matthew Genitempo / Via

    "Untitled 01." “Inspired by the life and work of the poet and land surveyor Frank Stanford, these photographs of hermetic homes and men living in solitude were taken in the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri. By capturing the foggy landscapes, cluttered interiors, and rugged men tucked away in the dark woods, the series Jasper explores a fascination with running away from the everyday. The work bounces between fact and fiction, exhibiting the reality and myth of what it means to be truly apart from society.”

    Ruslan Hrushchak / Via

    "Ganusia and Nastia, Two Sisters in the Living Room of Nastia" “From the series Rodyna Moja, taken in Ukraine in 2017. The word 'Rodyna' in Russian means 'homeland', and in the Ukrainian language it means 'kinship'. This provides the series' context. I set out on a journey motivated by an accident to a family member, through a country I left as a young man 20 years ago, and met my kinsfolk scattered in various areas of the country. The portrayal of my family becomes a subtle snapshot of Ukrainian society today.”

    Clay Maxwell Jordan / Via

    "Untitled 02."

    Eduard Korniyenko / Via

    "Untitled 03." “In Russia, military patriotic education has become part of the school system. From an early age, children study Russian history, train at the patriotic military clubs and practice tasks appropriate for their age and skills. In the Caucasus region where the coat of arms and military traditions are strong, there exist specialised cadet schools. Within the schools, alongside the standard classes are additional disciplines such as spiritual teachings, multiday field trainings with nights outside, parachute jumps, and mastering arms. From the series Lord of the Guns.”

    Huaifeng Li

    "Rural Acrobatic School."

    Jamie E. Murray / Via

    "Untitled 03." “These images from the series Albatross were taken on the HMS Daring whilst the warship and her crew sailed back from deployment in the Persian Gulf via the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. This may be the last nine-month deployment made by a Royal Navy warship due to the effects on the crew from spending this long at sea.”

    Peter Zelewski / Via

    "Joe and Duke." This portrait of 15-year-old Duke and Joe is from the project Alike But Not Alike, which explores the similarities, differences, and the complicated (often misunderstood) relationship between sets of identical twins. "I remember when we were little and spent the night apart for the first time, I felt so lonely and I couldn't stop crying. The best thing about being a twin is being able to talk comfortably with each other and never having to worry about being judged for the way you look or act."

    Alice Zoo / Via

    "Into the Pond." “Shot over two successive winters, the series Swimmers documents the women who swim in London's Hampstead Heath Ladies Pond year-round, in water temperatures reaching as low as -1 degrees Celsius. In the darkest months, the pond freezes over almost completely, and the space to swim in it shrinks; the women, undeterred, swim up to the ice's edge to hear it creak. The project is a record of their exhilaration, their boldness, and the beauty of the water.”

    The exhibition was judged by Karen Knorr, Jack Latham, Christiane Monarchi, Aaron Schuman, and Jon Tonks. It will showcase 100 images from all corners of the world.

    You can see the touring exhibition on the following dates:

    Feb. 7 to March 24: RPS House, Bristol
    March 30 to May 12: Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham
    May 22 to June 23: Royal Albert Hall, London
    July 5 to Sept. 4: Municipal Gallery, DLR LexIcon, Dublin
    Oct. 4–27: HIP Festival, Hull

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