Foam's Deputy Director Marcel Feil introduces this year's Talent issue with an essay that poses a simple, yet increasingly relevant question: What constitutes true artistic talent? How do we distinguish between artists who have a spark, who create visually appealing and thoughtful work, from those who are truly “outstanding” and perhaps promise a coveted place in the future cannon of photographic history? This year’s collection includes a range of photographic styles that consistently borrow from photography’s past, but build on, or even shatter its traditions. Among the rich list, three standouts are Lucas Foglia, Andrey Bogush and Catharine Maloney, each pushing the medium into inspiring new directions.
Lucas Foglia takes documentary photography to new heights with his pulled-back landscapes and portraits of Nevada and Wyoming’s cattle ranching communities. The images lend as much credit to early landscape photographers like Ansel Adams as they do to Jeff Wall’s constructed narratives, and often involve Foglia collaborating conceptually with his subjects. They capture these communities through a majestic lens with images ranging from iconic cowboys to Ingres-inspired portraits. While technically "documentary", these images are far from photojournalistic and consistently execute a poetic, sometimes dreamy poise.
Andrey Bogush pushes what some critics call a “New Formalism” to new limits with his beautifully pastel Photoshop collages. Bogush’s bursts of color are both calm and cathartic, fusing pieces of discarded photographs with digital spray paint and noise. Vice Photo editor Matthew Leifheit points out in his essay the the main strength and allure of Bogush's work is it ability to be simultaneously destructive of the medium, and in some ways romantic.
Catharine Maloney might be the most mind bending of Foam's Talent photographers with her playful “Teleplay 1” series that includes hundreds of photographs of her friends dressed in various, often Star Trek themed costumes. Unlike Foglia whose process is much more slowed down, Maloney makes pictures using a rapid fire, trial and error approach that she describes as “collecting” photographic moments, and then, like Bogush, tinkers with them in Photoshop to create jagged experimental collages. The resulting images feel less like photographs as art objects, and instead resemble a limitless range of variables that can be traded, mixed and matched.
Paring the list of “photographers who got talent” to 21 from over a thousand (and consequently our own highlights from that list of 21!) is a difficult task, and one that may exclude dozens of brilliant minds. This collection serves as a brief snapshot into a specific generation of photographers who are keeping the medium relevant.
This exhibition of this year's talent issue is up at l'Atelier Néerlandais in Paris through November 23rd, when it will travel to East Wing Gallery in Dubai, from November 26th until January 2, 2015. A selection of the work was also exhibited at Foam's Unseen Art Fair last week in Amsterdam.