What we do

Contra is a not-for-profit annual magazine and arts organisation that explores the complex relationship between visual culture and conflict.

Conflict, in all forms, continues to inform the work of artists, photographers and other visual practitioners. From traditional photojournalism to the live streaming of global events, the image has the power to influence policy, shape public opinion and even spark us into action.

Through our printed publications, community outreach projects and events programme, Contra aims to raise awareness of various forms of conflict through investigating the role of the image. Beyond the pages of our own publication, we seek to make a tangible difference on the ground and positively impact our community.

Contra seeks to establish a network of cross cultural exchange, support young and emerging artists and promote dialogue and debate.

By providing a platform for marginalised voices, we aim to help those who have been directly affected by conflict.

In print

Issue 01, titled Displacement, looks at the visual response to current and past migrations. Published in January 2018, it features contributors such as dancer-choreographer Akram Khan, photographer Harley Weir, and Turner Prize nominees Forensic Architecture and Oscar Murillo.

Issue 02, themed around Protest, explores how visual culture engages with and reacts to different forms of resistance. Published in April 2019, it features contributors such as Kara Walker, Olafur Eliasson, Santiago Sierra, Seamus Murphy and Raqs Media Collective.

Our third issue, titled Ruin, is due to be published in spring 2020.


Alongside the publication, we run an ongoing events and community outreach programme that forms an integral part of what we do. These events take the form of film screenings, panel discussions, exhibitions, workshops, 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
Lucas Giles
Alexander Morrison
Angelique De Raffaele
Sophie Chester-Nash

Design by Our Place

Distributed by Antenne Books


“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”

“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

“The very opposite of the cut and paste zine of resistance, Contra’s calm glossy pages belie its powerful message.”

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

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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.



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