10 from 2021: Top Digital Articles

10 from 2021: Top Digital Articles

What have you been reading this year? Aesthetica rounds up its most-read online articles of 2021. From emerging artists to the latest book reviews and international art fair coverage, this selection spans the breadth of image-making today. Discover surreal portraits, street photography, visual activism and more.

1 | Mirrored Environments | New Artists

“Often, mirrors are used to emphasise minute details but rarely used to look at the big picture,” says photographer Loreal Prystaj. “What if nature looked at itself? What would it see?” To create these images, Prystaj places herself in wild places – physically holding up mirrors to the environment. In doing so, she camouflages parts of the body. Heads and torsos are replaced with tree trunks, grasses and cloud-filled skies, creating the illusion of invisibility. Read the full feature »

2 | Matriarchal Utopia | Book Review

Along with being chased and flying, many people have bad dreams in which they find themselves inexplicably, often mortifyingly, naked in public. Not Carlota Guerrero (b.1989), the Barcelona-born artist who, this year, released her first monograph: Tengo Un Dragón Dentro del Corazón. If public nudity is meant to symbolise insecurity, shame or uncertainty in a dream, for Guerrero it’s become quite the opposite. For her, the nude woman is “a spiritual force. The one who accepts herself in her most natural condition is the most luminous, the strongest…” Read the full feature »

3 | PHotoESPAÑA 2021 | 5 to See

The 24th edition of Madrid’s PHotoESPAÑA festival followed a year of reckoning with the social effects of Covid-19. The curators were influenced by the cultural dynamics of the past 12 months, presenting a selection of work which explored the environment and sustainability alongside reflections on pan-African photography and women behind the lens. There was also a focus on the Madrid School, which transformed the medium in the mid-20th century. We previewed five must-see shows. Read the full feature »

4 | Art and Photography Now | Book Review

Can photography be art? It’s a question we don’t hear so much these days. The medium that struggled for years to earn its spot on the gallery wall now seems to have claimed that space. And every other space. “[Our] addiction to photography is so overpowering that it has become a reflex, an impulse so strong that it often replaces the desire to exist in the moment,” as author Charlotte Jansen writes in her latest book, Photography Now, which follows 2017’s Girl on Girl. “Photography is integrated into contemporary experience to such an extent that we consume the world through it.” Read the full feature »

5 | 10 to See: Pride Month 2021

Earlier this year, Aesthetica rounded up 10 must-see online shows, publications and videos for Pride Month. It features powerful and inspiring artwork from across the globe, much of which is still available to view online. Shown here is work by Sunil Gupta (b. 1953), who uses photography as a critical practice – focusing on family, race, migration and the political realities concerning the fight for international gay rights. Gupta has been inspirational to generations of activists and campaigners, from participating in New York’s active Gay Liberation Movement in the 1970s to recent campaigning in India. Read the full feature »

6 | Moments Distilled | New Artists

Light bounces across cool blue water. Moths hover above rippling pools. Watermelon slices balance on skin, and ice cold drinks fizz in the heat. Nick Prideaux is an Australian photographer based in Paris. His images distil moments of beauty from the everyday – from sun drenched scenery to legs tangled in sheets. “I approach photography in a mindful way and try to capture fleeting and fragmented scenes,” Prideaux explains. “I’m interested in exploring the intimate moments of my life; playing with light, colour and the people who I share this stage with.” Read the full feature »

7 | Questions of Being | New Artists

What does it mean to be human? This question is at the heart of works by 29-year-old Brazilian photographer Paulo Abreu. The following images probe how it feels to exist in today’s world. Bubbles rest on delicate skin, surrounded by nails. Butterflies burst from open voids. Bodies fold into cardboard frames. A runner is spliced in two, then three, then disappears into sand. The visual artist uses a mixture of techniques to create a unique, surreal universe. “Themes like loneliness, love delusions and anguish are very present,” Abreu says of the images. Read the full feature »

8 | In the Street I Exhibition Preview

Helen Levitt (1913-2009) was a pioneer of spontaneous documentary photography, bringing the streets of her native New York to life across a career spanning eight decades. Ahead of a new retrospective at the Photographers’ Gallery in London, we looked back over a remarkable life and career. Levitt was as concerned with the poetry and mystery of street life as with the social realities underlying it, seeking out human subjects who seemed to be undertaking unusual activities. Read the full feature »

9 | New Queer Photography | Book Review

How can you sum up the sheer multiplicity of experiences, genders, sexualities, relationships and aesthetics of the contemporary global LGBTQIA+ community? The short answer is that you can’t. But in a new, sweeping 304-page photobook, Berlin-based art director and editor Benjamin Wolbergs makes some strong headway. Wolbergs, who spent four years working on the project, had the idea whilst designing a layout for art publisher Taschen. He was working with a set of images produced the 1950s with a gay audience in mind, and wondered what a similar book would look like today. Read full feature »

10 | 1-54: Photography to See

1-54 is a destination to discover contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora. This year’s Paris edition took place online. The fair partnered with Christie’s, showcasing work by 70 artists from across Africa, Europe and North America. Discover Aesthetica‘s photography highlights, including Prince Gyasi (b. 1995), who describes his work as “therapy through colours.” Shooting on iPhone, Gyasi shows what can be achieved with with smartphone cameras. The images have a powerful impact. Read full feature »