Port Issue 22

The Spring/Summer 2018 issue of Port – featuring writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf and David Hallberg, the greatest male dancer of his generation – is out now

Photography Mamadi Doumbouya

Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the foremost intellectual voices in the United States today. The author of Half of a Yellow SunPurple Hibiscus and Americanah – as well as of one of the most-viewed Ted talks ever, sampled by Beyoncé, no less – Adichie transcends the barriers between literature, art and music. For the cover story of Port issue 22, she met Catherine Lacey in Washington DC to discuss her extraordinary books, the complexity of recent gender movements and to give a hint at a next big project.

Photography Suzie Howell

Elsewhere in the magazine, we speak to 6a – the most exciting architecture practice in London; discuss Netflix and race with the director of Mudbound, Dee Rees; and travel to rural Netherlands to meet the pioneering Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf. Also featured: The photographer Christopher Payne visits one of the largest flag factories in the US, and we uncover the secrets and beauty of space with astronaut Nicole Stott.

Photography Tereza Cervenova

In the fashion section, celebrated photographer Kalpesh Lathigra and Port‘s fashion director Dan May travel to Mumbai to shoot a 40-page story around the sprawling, seaside city; Scott Stephenson styles this season’s collections and Pari Dukovic shoots the greatest male dancer in the world, David Hallberg, wearing Saint Laurent.

Photography Kalpesh Lathigra

Commentary pieces come courtesy of Will Self, Lisa Halliday and Jesse Ball, as well as Samuel Beckett‘s seminal Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit. Highlights from the Porter include Tilda Swinton remembering her friend John Berger; an interview with the British artist Gavin Turk; foraging with chef Nicholas Balfe; and ex-director of the Tate Modern, Vicente Todolí, on his passion for citrus fruits.

To buy Port issue 22, click here.

Photo Essay: Fish

Port and still life photographer Giles Revell go under to reveal the beauty beneath the waves

John Dory fish on blotting paper, shot by Giles Revell

John Dory

This extraordinary looking fish, with its quiff-like spiny dorsal fin and miserable face, has the rather grand Latin name Zeus Faber, as it was sacred to the god Zeus. It also carries the Christian name St Peter’s fish, the gold ringed dark spots on either side of its body are supposedly the fingerprints of St Peter, the apostle who pulled the fish out of the Sea of Galilee and plucked a gold coin from his mouth to pay his overdue taxes.

The John Dory is a sophisticated predator, creeping up behind its prey then using its extending mouth to hoover up cuttlefish, small-fin fish and squid. To eat, John Dory could be described as elegant and is considered by many to be the best tasting fish in the sea.

Haddock on blotting paper

Haddock

Haddock is a close relative of cod, they have a bluish-brown back, silvery flanks, a black curved lateral line and a sensitive chin barbell used for feeling around for food in the dark ocean depths.

They enjoy the cool waters of the North Oceans only coming inshore in summer to feed before going back offshore to breed. To eat, haddock has an ozone-like aroma that encapsulates the salt water from which it is fished; the texture is very lean, spearmint white and soft and it is best cooked with its skin on to enjoy its delicate flavour.

Freshly caught mackerel on blotting paper

Mackerel

A ritzy looking fish with its metallic green-blue sheen scattered with a mass of black scribbles or bars on its back, pale green and purple flanks that sparkle with a myriad of hues. It’s designed for speed, is a highly effective hunter and can live for up to 20 years if it avoids nets and lines.

It’s a fish that repays being eaten very fresh before its rich oil content starts to spoil. The aroma of the fish is reminiscent of fine green seaweed and its predominately pink flesh is succulent with discreet flakes that are almost chicken-like in texture.

Herring on blotting paper

Herring

The “silver darling” herring has a rich history in the world of fishing. So important are they that from Britain to Scandinavia, there have been an enormous number of cures created to preserve them. From their head to the deeply forked tail they are predominately silver with a blue-green back, allowing them to melt away into the watery environment when viewed from above.

Herrings are rich in oil content and are perfect for smoking after a spring and summer of feeding, which makes them lusciously plump. These wonderful oils add to the saltiness of their flavour and the skin adds a light seawater character and the flesh, a slight white peppery spiciness.

Salmon Heads on blotting paper

Salmon

Atlantic salmon is one of the most popular eating species, probably because it farms so well. These fish are extraordinary as they are able to return to the river where they were born with pinpoint accuracy years after they went to sea, and it’s believed that a number of navigation aids, including the stars, differences in the Earths magnetic fields and ocean currents, guide them.

Once they get close off the coast, salmon literally smell their way home, guided by a chemical memory of what their river smelled and tasted like. There is no mistaking its rich savoury flavour with its high and satisfying oil content.

Photography Giles Revell
Photography assistant Tristan Thomson

Why Take Photographs?

Photographer Giles Duley – who himself was photographed minutes after he lost both legs and his left arm in 2011 as a result of stepping on an explosive device – asks how photography can be justified when documenting the horrific injuries of war

Abdulah in Erbil, by Giles Duley

I’ve covered few stories that have affected me as much as documenting injured civilians in Mosul. The time I spent there, earlier this year, left me questioning the validity of my work and bereft of hope. For a month after returning home I hid from the world. When faced with such darkness and violence, what value can a photograph have? Does it become voyeuristic to capture and share those moments? Against such horror a camera seems impotent, its use almost perverse…

I believe photography comes with great responsibility and as soon as I lift my camera to record somebody’s story, I have to ask myself: Why am I doing this? Nothing in photography goes more against human nature than the process of pointing your camera at somebody injured, afraid or in real peril. So, why do it? Does it, can it, make a difference?

In February I was based in a hospital run by EMERGENCY in Erbil. Every day they were receiving dozens of badly injured civilians from the fighting for Mosul. Even after over a decade of photographing the effects of conflict, the scenes I witnessed there were amongst the worst I’d ever seen. Babies with amputated limbs, a young child paralysed by a sniper’s bullet, whole families lost. It was beyond words.

In the past, I have referred to how I try and find a positive in such situations, a moment of humour, or to show the love between loved ones, families. But what I witnessed from Mosul left me beyond that: there are times when you can find no such image, no positive. I think back to Raghad, a man I met in the hospital: For four days, I watch him sit silently by his injured son’s bed. He nods when I walk by, nothing more. Then one day he comes over and grabs my arm.

“It was not my fault,” he pleads through dead eyes, a hollow expression I have rarely seen. “I did what I thought was right.”

He tells me his story: His family sheltered beneath a table in their home as bombs landed around them. The house opposite was hit, then the house next door, and at that moment his nerve gave; he told his family that they must run. As they left the front door, a third bomb dropped. Raghad’s wife, three daughters and two sons were all killed instantly. A son, Abdulah, survived, left blind in one eye.

There is nothing you can say to such a story. You cannot say ‘things will get better’, because they never will. There is no hope, no positive angle. This is the real face of war and its sinking, sucking horror.

I photograph his son against a white wall, a patch still on his left eye. Skin pitted by shrapnel, his expression as hollow as his father’s.

I could only see the darkness and terror of what was happening. I was shooting angry, disregarding my normal practice of not showing the blood and gore. I wanted the world to see what was happening and reel away as I had.

As the days passed, I knew this was wrong. It should not be about me, but about those I was photographing, and to do their stories justice I had to work in a balanced way. I don’t like the phrase ‘to give people a voice’, they have voices already – my job is to make sure those voices are heard.

But there’s still that question: Why do it? What difference will a photograph make anyway? Only recently I’d heard my inspiration, the war photographer Don McCullin, say there was no point to his decades of work because wars still go on. So, if my photograph makes no difference, why point my camera at a child who’s just been injured? It’s an intrusive act.

On the last day, I sit with Dawood Salim, a 12-year-old boy who has lost both of his legs and most of his right hand. For the past week, I’ve been visiting him and his mother: He always smiles and jokes. For the first time, I feel ready to take his photograph.

I ask his mother, “Do you mind if I photograph your son?”

She looks at me with a defiant yet resigned stare: “When a child is injured like this, the whole world should see.”

Does this answer my doubts? Does that make it all ok? Of course not. But it reminds me of my simplest role: to act as witness, to tell their story. What Dawood’s mother has said has not given me permission, but has challenged me to do what she has asked. There is no point in taking a photograph if I do not then do all I can to make sure the whole world sees it.

That is where my duty lies.

This is an excerpt from issue 21 of Port, out now. To buy or subscribe click here.

Duley’s exhibition, I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See was shown from Wednesday 4th through Sunday 15th October, The Old Truman Brewery, 89 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL.

In this article, he reflects on the exhibition and presents a video collaboration of the event directed by Phoebe Arnstein.