Square Print Sale

Square Print Sale Stories: Sakraman

Fable, a Magnum Square Print Sale organized in partnership with Granta magazine, celebrates the art of storytelling through word and image.

Mexico, 2018. © Cristina de Middel / Magnum Photos

For more than 75 years, Magnum photographers have worked closely with writers to craft compelling narratives — intimate and grand alike. Titled “Fable,” this spring’s Magnum Square Print Sale marks the first time in the sale’s history that the cooperative is partnering with an esteemed literary magazine. Together with Granta, “Fable” explores the symbiosis of visual and written narratives.

During the online sale, running from April 29 to May 5, there will be 85 images available to purchase as limited-edition 6 x 6” prints. A selection of the images will be shown at events in Paris, London and New York, providing a rare opportunity to purchase Square Prints in person during the week of the sale and attend live signings.

In its 10-year history, the Square Print Sale has featured over 1600 images and 24 themes. With “Fable,” Magnum and Granta champion the lasting impact of stories and their tellers. Fables are foundational stories about human nature. Illustrating timeless truths about virtue and vice, they turn on the moral dilemmas that people face and teach universal lessons that are accessible and memorable through a combination of words and images.

Granta has commissioned three writers, Sara Baume, Victoria Adukwei Bulley and Derek Owusu, to muse on the work of 85 Magnum photographers, weaving stories inspired by a bespoke selection of images.

From the cover of the book Olay. Nusaybin, Turkey, December 2015. © Emin Özmen / Magnum Photos
Surreal pair guarding a house during Halloween. Tempe, Arizona, USA, 1979. © David Hurn / Magnum Photos

Derek Owusu is a writer and poet. He is the editor of SAFE: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space, and his debut novel, That Reminds Me, was awarded the 2020 Desmond Elliott Prize. His second novel, Losing the Plot, was published in 2022. In 2023, his name was included on Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists list, which identifies the 20 most significant British novelists under age 40.

For Sakraman, Owusu wrote the short story in response to this selection of 29 photographs. In his piece, a young boy moves into a new foster home and becomes entranced by a nightly visitor, a black fox, whom he tries to befriend.

Here, we explore the images that inspired Owusu’s story, as well as some excerpts from his piece.

© Alec Soth / Magnum Photos
Kraków, Poland, December 2006. © Mark Power / Magnum Photos
Peace is always beautiful. Thessaloniki, Greece, 2005. © Jim Goldberg / Magnum Photos
Aesop’s Fables: The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. Home is a place of peace and safety. Sheep that walk the village streets during winter because the tarmac is warmer than the surrounding fields (...)
Farmers Inn. Puszta plains, Hungary, 1947. © Werner Bischof Estate / Magnum Photos
Paul Gallico, writer. Photographed at home in Salcombe, Devon, with his cats. England, 1952. © George Rodger / Magnum Photos

“This became a night-time rite, but he rarely saw the fox, or heard its caterwauling. On the nights he did see it, he wondered what it would be like to stroke its fur, whether it would feel smooth like the feathers he sometimes found in the park that he pulled through his fingers, or be painful to touch, rough like when he was forced to embrace an uncle and their cheeks rubbed against each other.”

— Derek Owusu

Portrait of a stuntman. Gubakha, Russia, 2019. © Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos
Two young girls inspect their surroundings. Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve, Namibia, 1994. © Chris Steele-Perkins / Magnum Photos
Adriana in communion dress. Galicia, Spain, 2018. © Lúa Ribeira / Magnum Photos
Lake Garda, Italy, 1999. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos
Portrait of Shirin. Tehran, Iran, 2010. © Newsha Tavakolian / Magnum Photos

“He noticed the fox’s eyes matched the point of its tail, and if he stared into them long enough, without blinking, when he finally closed his eyes tight he could still see them, like miniature full moons withstanding the night sky.”

— Derek Owusu

From the book From Sea to Shining Sea. The Taos tribe has lived in this region of the Pueblo since approximately 1000 A.D. Taos Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo, and the Oraibi of the Hopi tribe are the oldest (...)
North Island, New Zealand, 1988. © Ian Berry / Magnum Photos
Dead Roses. Johannesburg, South Africa, 2023. © Lindokuhle Sobekwa / Magnum Photos
What's ours. Beirut, Lebanon, December 5, 2018. © Myriam Boulos / Magnum Photos

“The fox never made a sound as he watched it, but when the cold became unbearable and he closed the window, he’d hear it again, consistent, a call that helped him drift to sleep as he stared at the changing numbers on the digital clock on his chest of drawers. It was eight minutes past eight when he decided he would look for the fox the next day.”

— Derek Owusu

From the book House of Bondage. One of a collection of images from the chapter entitled “Black Ingenuity.” South Africa, 1966. © Ernest Cole / Magnum Photos
A laughing girl leads her family's horse back from the fields to her cave home. A troglodyte village, Matera, Basilicata, Italy, 1948. © David Seymour / Magnum Photos
French actor Martine Carol with her poodle. During a break of shooting the film Love and Desire. Torremolinos, Spain, 1951. © Herbert List / Magnum Photos
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor at the local pub in Shepperton where he is starring in the role of Becket. Note Elizabeth's packet of sausages that will be cooked for her dinner by the chef in (...)
From the Dream/Life series. Sydney, Australia, 1998. © Trent Parke / Magnum Photos
American actor Marilyn Monroe at home. New York City, USA, 1958. © Bob Henriques / Magnum Photos
An elderly woman boards a bus to leave the town of Kostyantynivka, in Donetsk Oblast. Ukraine, 2023. © Paolo Pellegrin / Magnum Photos

“The fox took a longer look at him this time and turned to walk towards his hand, majestic, its black fur flickering between one hue and another. It was close enough that the boy thought he could smell it, something like cinnamon and sulphur, but as he jolted his arm to emphasise the berries in his palm, it turned and walked away again. The boy watched its tiny feet take care not to disturb the sprouts tasting fresh air for the first time.”

— Derek Owusu

Woman sleeping in the woods. Lerici, Italy, 1998. © Ferdinando Scianna / Magnum Photos
A woman in a dust storm, a walking tree. San Augustín de Oapan, Guerrero, Mexico, 1985. © Abbas / Magnum Photos
Białowieża Forest, Poland, 1997. © Stuart Franklin / Magnum Photos
India, 2011. © Olivia Arthur / Magnum Photos

Read the full story, Sakraman by Derek Owusu, on Granta’s website from Monday, April 29.

See an image that you like? 
The sale, featuring 85 signed or estate-stamped Square Prints from the Magnum archive, runs on the Magnum Online Store from Monday, April 29 through Sunday, May 5, 2024. 

Shop here

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