What we do

Contra is a not-for-profit independent publication that considers the relationship between visual culture and conflict. Published annually, each issue takes a theme related to conflict and considers its role in visual culture both past and present.

Conflict informs the work of many artists, photographers and other visual practitioners. In an era in which images are increasingly ubiquitous and have the ability to shape public opinion, it is important to analyse the way we perceive conflict. Our aim at Contra is to give space to and question these intersections in print and through an ongoing events programme.



In print

Issue 01, titled Displacement, looks at the visual response to current and past migrations. Published in January 2018, it features contributors including dancer-choreographer Akram Khan, photographer Harley Weir and research agency Forensic Architecture, who were nominated for the 2018 Turner Prize.

Issue 02, Protest, published in April 2019, explores how visual culture engages with and reacts to different forms of resistance. Featuring contributors including Kara Walker, Olafur Eliasson, Santiago Sierra, Seamus Murphy and Raqs Media Collective, it poses questions such as: What defines protest and how does it relate to visual culture? How powerful is art as an enactor of social change? And what does the future hold for protest as a visual language?

We would like to invite potential contributors to pitch content for Contra’s third issue, which will focus on visual responses to destruction, preservation, degradation, decay, demise and renewal related to or caused by conflict.
We are keen to hear from artists and practitioners of all backgrounds, writers, photographers and other creatives, and we welcome contributions in the form of photography, journalism, fiction, illustrations, poetry, book extracts and more. All content published in the magazine must contain a strong visual element and relate to visual culture.

If you would like to get involved, please send your pitches to hello@contrajournal.com by Tuesday 3 September.
Please share widely with friends and network

Stay tuned for further updates after the deadline.

Events

We run an ongoing events programme that expands on the themes explored in print. These events take the form of film screenings, panel discussions, exhibitions, talks, artist residencies and more. Keep posted on our social media channels for news about what’s coming up.



Who we are

We are a group of passionate volunteers with a varied background in publishing, events, filmmaking and research. The idea to form Contra derived from a shared interest in representations of conflict and a belief that accessible critical analysis of this topic is missing within everyday encounters with media.


Our team

Ben Bohm-Duchen
George Brodie
Shivani Hassard
Alexander Morrison

Design by Our Place

Distributed by Antenne Books



Press

“Through the combination of captivating photo essays and insights
into the thoughts of well-known creatives, Contra Journal utilises
art and design to create a platform that communicates stories and
champions unheard voices”
It’s Nice That

“Numerous new art publications pop up every year, and some
stand out more than others. Contra… certainly has a USP”
The Art Newspaper

“Issue 01 of Contra was one of our favourite launches last year”
Stack

“I was really impressed by the way Contra drills down into the
issues it covers and looks at them from a human perspective,
resulting in content that has a real resonance.”
Maurice Wren,
Chief Executive, Refugee Council

An in-depth interview with the Contra founders published by Dazed can be found here.


Stockists
Antonio Brizioli [Perugia]
Artwords Bookshop Limited [Broadway Mkt]
Artwords Bookshop Limited [Rivington St]
Athenaeum Boekhandel [Amsterdam]
Basheer Graphic Books [Singapore]
Chandal [Barcelona]
Do You Readme?! GbR [Berlin]
Foyles Bookshop [Magazines]
GLOW SYSTEM S.R.L. [Kajet]
Homestead Store
Housman's Bookshop Ltd
Magalleria [Bath] [MCCABE DK]
MagCulture [London EC1]
Magma [Covent Garden]
Magma [Manchester]
Manifesto-Associacao [Porto]
Materia Prima [P-4050-381 PORTO]
Mosto Laden
Multi-Arts Corporation [Taipei]
Papercut (Stockholm Delivery Address C/O
Print Matters! [Geroldst. Zurich]
Rails London Ltd (Delivery)
Rainbow News
Rare Mags
Reading Room / Francesca Spiller
Rosa Wolf [Berlin]
Skylight Books
Stack C/o Bethany Ajebon
Tate Modern [TURBINE SHOP]
Tender Books
Village Bookstore [Leeds]
Walther Koenig Bks[Whitechapel Gallery]
Walther Koenig Books [Serpentine]

To get in touch, drop us an email or follow us on Instagram and Twitter to stay in the loop.

Photo series offers a new perspective on life for migrants in Paris

Image courtesy of Disposable Perspectives

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Image courtesy of Disposable Perspectives

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Image courtesy of Disposable Perspectives

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Image courtesy of Disposable Perspectives

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Image courtesy of Disposable Perspectives

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Disposable Perspectives is a photography project that gives those affected by the refugee crisis the chance to document their own stories. Founder Amy Lineham presents a series of photographs taken by migrants in Paris.


In late 2016, I gave 15 disposable cameras to migrants at the then newly opened Porte de la Chapelle camp in northern Paris. My aim was to allow those living in the camp to record their experiences, offering a crucial alternative perspective to the media’s coverage of the refugee crisis in Europe. 



In the end, only eight cameras were returned. One explanation for the loss of the seven other cameras is police brutality, an all too common experience that has been severely underplayed in the media. In a way, these losses tell as much of a story as the developed photos, with the instability of these people's lives reflected in the interruption of their participation in the project.



The developed photographs reframe the idea of those pictured as “victims” who exist only in the context of their circumstances. The elimination of any language barrier also creates a powerful sense of familiarity between photographer and viewer, highlighting a shared humanity often muted in mainstream reporting. Whether it’s an attempt to generate sympathy or create controversy, referring to the inhabitants of camps merely as a collection of statistics has often limited our understanding of the individual burdens they carry and detached public sympathy from the broader issue of migration. The 181 photographs displayed together are a crucial reminder that there are lives behind the numbers.



This is not the first time that this type of visual research has been employed by marginalised communities, “Photovoice” is a research methodology, developed in the 1990’s and influenced by feminist theory and empowerment. Communities document and interpret their own experiences - ultimately with the aim to incite informed, meaningful discussion and create change. 



As well as the cameras, each participant was given two blank postcards on which they could write an accompanying message in their preferred language. The postcards that were returned were proof of a desire to use this experience as an opportunity to send vital messages out into the world. One card read: “Police don’t respect to the asylum seekers! Guys asylum seekers not animals, asylum seekers are people!” while another read: “Well maybe I’m not professional photographer but I know that what I done it means what I felt and I think photos is kind of art.” There were also heartfelt notes filled with acute longing, such as one titled Good Life in France and another ending with: “Thank you for giving me hope.”



The photos are currently touring the UK, having been exhibited in locations such as Edinburgh and Oxford. The most recent exhibition was on 23 March in Exeter, and another is planned in Cambridge. I am also currently developing a new series of images, looking at the experiences of migrants forced to flee Venezuela in the summer of 2017. The messages that accompany these photographs encapsulate the migrants’ reluctance to leave home and the alarming threats they faced.

Contra

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