‘Meeting Yourself at the Bottom of the Extinct Sea’. ‘Sea I Become By Degrees’ by Natalia Baluta. A Photobook Review

‘For the first time in the course of history modern man on this earth now confronts himself alone… We live in a world which man has changed so completely that in every sphere – whether we deal with the tools of daily life. Whether we eat food which has been prepared by machines, or whether we travel in a countryside radically changed by man – we are always meeting man-made creations, so that in a sense we meet only ourselves’ (Heisenberg W. The Physicist’s Conception of Nature).

Natalia Baluta has given me her new book Sea I Become By Degrees (Postepennoye More in Russian) when we meet at the Book Market in Amsterdam. When I hold the book in my hands it feels light and flexible, almost weightless despite its rather large size (a little smaller than the familiar A4 format). The book is terra-cotta orange and transparent blue – the colours of the desert and water. Continue reading

‘New Landscape’ exhibition opened in Russia

The Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center announces an exhibition ‘New Landscape’ presenting seven photography projects reflecting on the transformation of the post-Soviet landscape. The exhibition opens in the Art Gallery space on March 16, 2018.  

Artists: Alexander Gronsky, Anastasia Tsayder, Liza Faktor, Max Sher, Petr Antonov, Sergey Novikov, Valeri Nistratov.Curated by Anastasia Tsayder and Petr Antonov.

Group exhibition New Landscape features seven photography projects exploring the landscape as a means to reflect on the new post-Soviet culture. Observing how the man-made landscape is reshaped by the transition from the industrial to the post-industrial, the works show how these changes are further augmented by the transition from the planned economy to the free market, from the Soviet to the post-Soviet. Brought together the works create a portrayal of what may be a transformation of a landscape and a culture unprecedented in scale and pace.

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Thinking moments by Nuno Moreira

Is serious surrealistic photography possible nowadays? Surrealism, the universal revolutionary project of the 20th, has lost its psychological implication, its orientation on “humankind liberation” and first and foremost on the liberation of author’s subconsciousness. Now often the successful fine art has external surrealistic features, and that’s just what an ignorant spectator identifies easily as an “art” (because it is beautiful, obscure and he isn’t able of it himself). Continue reading

The first photo books which made it – winners of ViennaPhotoBookAward 2017

Mariya Kozhanova 3 place of the book dummy competition of Vienna Photobook Festival 2017 for the dummy “Sisters”

1. Where are you from? Where and when did you study photography?

I come from Kaliningrad — the most western city of Russia. I am considering myself as a self-thought photographer, because I only took classes of analogue printing techniques at the Kaliningrad Union of Photographers in the early days when I just started to get interested in photography, and last year, I was nominated for Joop Swart Masterclass organized by World Press Photo, my first real photography class. Continue reading

Jana Romanova:“Waiting”. Photo book review

No title is mentioned at the cover of the book by Jana Romanova. There is only a photo of crumpled sheet reminding of antique drapery, which, probably, hides something sensual and fleshly.

The name could be only found under the cover – hand-written inscription printed with the help of transparent UV Varnish: “Jana Romanova, Waiting”. The letters are barely seen as if someone is whispering in order not to awake.

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Interview with curator Steve Bisson about Paris Photo 2016

“The Japanese photography is still going strong

Editors' booths, Grand Palais, November 9, 2016 © Jérémie Bouillon / Paris Photo

Editors’ booths, Grand Palais, November 9, 2016 © Jérémie Bouillon / Paris Photo

Hi Steve1Steve Bisson (Italy), founder of http://urbanautica.com, curator, lecturer. More about Steve in the interview., you’ve just come back from ParisPhoto, how did it go?

I want to start off by saying that I was very happy to return to Paris. Last year’s edition was flawed and influenced by the terrible terrorist attacks. In hindsight, I think many of us experienced a desire to play down those days and to share those experiences.

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Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Steve Bisson (Italy), founder of http://urbanautica.com, curator, lecturer. More about Steve in the interview.

Friedl Kubelka. One thousand changing thoughts of Lore Bondy

Friedl Kubelka is one of the most known artists working with the problems of seriality and time in photography. She was born in 1946 in London, then moved with her family to Berlin and then to Vienna, where she became famous as an artist. Her works were obviously influenced by Viennese Actionism and feminism, but she refuses to consider them as part of these movements: “I have declared in front of many feminists that I am not one of them”. Her style is unique. 

Some of her photographic works – such as the presented this summer in the Museum of Modern Art in Salzburg “Lore Bondy 1000 Gedanken” (One thousand changing thoughts of Lore Bondy), 1980 – consist of hundreds of photographs made in certain time intervals. The shooting conditions are similar and very simple  – neutral background, close-up of the face, straight gaze to the camera, no artificial lighting. On the photos is depicted one model only – a brown-haired tired woman in her late 40s, who’s facial expression is slightly changing on the hundreds of “mugshot-style” passport-format photos orderly represented in big glass-boxes. She is the mother of the artist. The artist added to the installation a conceptual text describing the thoughts which the mother had during each shooting (the shootings are numbered in the boxes). Thoughts about pregnancy and children, work, vacations, love affairs and the meaning of life are, actually, hardly recognisable on the photos, but are immediately projected on them by the spectator after the reading of the explanation (and it is, of course, his/her own thoughts about the same things which are quite universal).

The seriality with its monotonous repeating representation of the same object allows the photographer to make hidden processes visible – such hardly visible ones as ageing or change of the facial expression while the person is thinking about something. 

Photography is always a great medium for transmission of the idea of change, despite of its ability to freeze only one particular moment. The invisible changes always appear in between the photos, what is the result of comparison of two (or more) of them seen side by side. Is the representation  of these changes going to be not only mechanic, but poetic as well depends on the author of the photographs. Regarding the work of Kubelka there is definitely the case.

Hotel Kobenzl. The story of one building

In the gallery, one immediately sees silk upholstered Rococo-style armchairs and crystal chandeliers, which are piled in the dusty rooms. Silver cutlery is unpolished and dry leaves cover the marble floor. The atmosphere is full of suspense, but the compositions from the project “Hotel Kobenzl” by German photographer Matthias Hoch are currently on view at the Fotohof Gallery in Salzburg are calm and serene.

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Photobook festival in Kassel: Turning over the pages

4-5. June I spent in Kassel at the Fotobook festival. It is always nice to meet new and old friends on such events. And of course to meet new and old books. I don’t want to describe here the event itself, which this year was dedicated to books of Martin Parr/ Iberian books/ fresh books, there are already some reports such as this one written by Harvey Benge (who was among my reviewers) or the series of reports written by Eva Gravayat, coordinator of the festival, for instance this. I’ll rather focus on my own impressions and experience.

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