Aesthetica Magazine Issue 103

October / November 2021

What does it mean to be engaged? What does it mean to be bold? What does it mean to be different? These questions underpin this issue of Aesthetica. The politics of identity aren’t easy to navigate, and as we move further and further into the 21st century, it’s refreshing to see many of these ideas being deconstructed and re-shaped. It makes me hopeful for a new society that redefines the parameters of choice. The pandemic has transformed our sense of place. I’ve heard that it’s a state of mind, but I have to question that notion a bit further. I’m really pleased to be re-adjusting to certain aspects of life pre-pandemic. It makes me optimistic and, in some ways, more creative, allowing for moments of serendipity.

Inside this issue we take a look at work that is both self-reflexive and outward-facing. Thomas Wrede’s Glaciers project looks at retreating ice in the Alps – and how European glaciers are dying. We had this damaging notion that the climate emergency was something happening “faraway” – but here it is, right in front of us. Wrede is offering a huge wake-up call, but is there anything changing quickly enough?

Diana Markosian’s latest series at the International Center of Photography, New York, looks at creative documentary, archive and individual memories. We then take speak to Casey Orr, photographer of Saturday Girl, a fascinating series that looks at individuality through 600 images of young women on the high street. It’s a survey of shifting trends, and how geography plays a large role in identity creation.

Meanwhile, we bring you photography projects from Kevin Cooley, Andreas Gefeller and Markus Guschelbauer. Alongside these features, Jessica Backhaus’ abstract still lifes embrace colour and texture. We also publish an entire series by Sophie Holden, the winner of the Aesthetica / LCC Next Generation Award, so certainly a photographer to watch as her career burgeons Finally, Fares Micue’s images offer bold narratives through careful lighting and playful, but considered, choreography. Dive in and enjoy.

Networks from Above

Andreas Gefeller’s aerial photographs highlight shapes and patterns of infrastructure, from the sprawling and asymmetrical to the small and neat.

Art as Provocation

What role do images play in the way we understand crises? Thomas Wrede’s glacier photographs combat anthropocentrism in 2021.

Modes of Expression

How does style equate to a sense of belonging? What are the semantics of fashion? These are some of the questions asked by Casey Orr.

Textual Intervention

Sophie Holden is the 2021 recipient of the Aesthetica / London College of Communication Next Generation Award – a rising star.

A Life Re-enacted

In the Santa Barbara series, Diana Markosian draws on autobiography, mixing fantasy and reality. But what motivates such work? Who is it for?

Dynamic Self-Portraits

Crescent moons, bending branches, manicured garlands and grouped balloons: these are the colourful portraits of photographer Fares Micue.

Planes of Existence

Kevin Cooley’s latest series reveal the struggles – both practically and psychologically – of inhabiting a planet we, as a species, are slowly destroying.

Terms of Engagement

African art has complex ties to the rest of the world. What, then, is the most effective way to survey its varied set of traditions, cultures and movements?

Abstract Formations

In the baking Berlin summer, in direct sunlight, German-American photographer Jessica Backhaus arranged a number of transparent paper cut outs.

Creating Atmosphere

These carefully constructed images by Ellen Kooi echo the work of Flemish painters, with a sense of tension – psychologically and geographically.

Worlds of Disconnect

Markus Guschelbauer’s colourful, closely cropped photographs speak to a world of disconnect, in which roughly a third of all trees have been cut down.