The never ending story of Sheherazade : Iran seen by two photographers

Iran (former Persia) is a fascinating country, known to be the cradle of civilization; the country went through the twentieth century by first, having one of the most dynamic intellectual society, and then, since 1979, a closed and authoritarian religious society. Very slowly, the country opens again, offering us the opportunity to rediscover it.

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Davide Palmisano and Manuela Marchetti offer us a song for two voices. Two photographers who travel Iran in 2015 and who deliver their vision of the country. Each of their books is written in the thickness of time. Together, they revisit the history of Persia.

Davide’s book is entitled « Timeless Persia » and, following his traces, we discover Iran as a palimpsest. He looks at the successive layers that have shaped the country. He stops on materials, on networks that accumulate and become entangled. We discover a country on the move, a country that never stops. It is built and rebuilt continuously, keeping the scars of the past. It rubs constantly to the past and it becomes difficult to date the photographs, archival images come mix with contemporary views. We keep this feeling that everything has always been where it should be: a kind of cultural resilience, a resilience of shapes.

One begins to dream of Scheherazade, each page is a snippet of a tale that holds us in suspense until the next page. Large black-and-white photos on double pages take us across the country, they chant the rhythm. This is a slow time between the faster sequences, the time of the passing with the feeling of these landscapes already known. The book is completed with texts that remain ununderstandable to me, as written in Italian and Farsi, but that is part of the « journey », these unknown sounds, like the multitude of signs that are piling up on some images which we pictorially read. We are captives and when the book ends, we have to start it again… and again.

 

Manuela’s book is entitled « Sokut » meaning « silence », in Farsi. As « Timeless Persia » was noisy, or to better say sonorous with a design that varied rhythms as a traditional song, as « Sokut » is silent like these harmonics that we do not hear but create depth in melodies. Time seems to have stopped and we discover a long poem. We stop on details, private moments and places that each image slowly inscribed in us. Frames are tightened, we are looking our way in a quiet place. The persons are faceless, the only faces we see are only representations (photos, paintings, statues…). We wander anonymously in the town, a quiet town, soothed. No matter that we no longer find our way, we loose ourselves with relish, looking for freshness or a moment in the shade, to settle in calm.

Texts come punctuate the book, alternating with images. These are poems of two of the greatest Iranian poetess: Simin Behbahani and Forugh Farrokhzad. Two women who have their whole lives claimed women’s voices. And the book ends with an excerpt from « It is only sound that remains », the voice of women finally out of the silence, full of sorrows but also of hope. In that way, this book is decidedly feminist, it is a tribute to all those women who have built the country in silence.

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I’ve never really asked myself about the difference between male or female representation through the use of photography, but it is so clearly evident here with these two books. Maybe it is partially due to the fact that we are focusing on a society that is cleaved between men and women. But anyway, the combination of the two works is very interesting, Manuela and Davide evolve within a country, they can work side by side but look at things differently, tell words (or silence) differently. Although claimed as two separate and independent works, it remains true that there is a real added value to associate them to better succumb to the charm of Sheherazade and be guided in this tale of the « Thousand and One Nights ».

Timeless Persia, by Davide Palmisano. Softcover self published in 2016, 16,5 x 24 cm, 76 photos , 96 pages. Limited print run : 150 copies signed and numbered.

More info : http://dpalmisano.jimdo.com/books/

And : http://josefchladek.com/book/davide_palmisano_-_timeless_persia

Sokut, by Manuela Marchetti. Softcover self published in 2016, 21,5 x 15 cm, 35 photos, 96 pages. Limited print run : 150 copies signed and numbered.

More info : http://manuelamarchetti.jimdo.com/books/

And : http://josefchladek.com/book/manuela_marchetti_-_sokut

 

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Body of work, by Bruce Connew

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How to start talking about this book? Perhaps noting that this book is one of the weirdest that I have seen recently. In 2014, when Bruce went round the publishers, the answer was quite unanimous: this book cannot be published… too strong. What a strange answer! It is true that many publishers have become very cautious and unwilling to take any risks, despite the fact that it is their role. Some even ask photographers to participate in the production of their book through crowdfunding campaigns. We are far from a Robert Delpire who, against all American reluctance and with a resolutely avant garde editorial approach, published “Les Américains” by Robert Frank and “New York” by William Klein.

Let’s be back to our subject. No clues about the suject when we discover the book. A black linen cover with just the photographer’s name : Bruce Connew, followed by the title of the book : Body of work. We open the book on a new black page before arriving to the title page, inserted on a special light blue paper : this blue used by parents to repaint the room of the boy to come. The last page of the book, which includes a text from the author and the colophon is … pink, the same pink with which parents repaint the bedroom of the girl to come. Two ribbons to mark pages are of these same colors. I always like, when I discover a new book, to look at the title page, and then go through the colophon before interesting myself in the content itself.

We then return to the beginning of the book and, between two white pages, we find inserted a small photograph of wildflowers, like a torn page of a notebook or a diary like those used to note the daily tasks. And the first image appears on the following page. A large dark image on which we recognize the hoof and lower part of the leg of a horse and his erect penis. A slow rythm will settle through the pages, double pages alternating with blank ones, all in a certain dim light. Muscles tense, we are witnessing a beautiful ballet between the stallion and the mare. The book is violent and intense. He tells us about the reproductive process within the equine world. But beyond this, it is also the story of a fascination Bruce Connew had since a former photograph he saw a long time ago already. His first approach was still uncertain and one can imagine the surprise of the owner of the barn when Bruce told him about his plan! This is the way a new work emerges, there is a kind of intuition of the subject that is often difficult to formulate; this is classic, the subject will be built slowly. In the case of Bruce Connew, the idea of documenting the world of horse-breeding was full of presupposition, but after spending months scrutinizing the horse breeding process, he became attentive to every detail! And from that patience was born this superb book. You could almost miss an important aspect of the work, focused on the formalist photographs, shapes and light that glides on the fur. But taking the time to look at pictures, back and forward, you may discover all the sensitivity of this work that appears in the amazing gazes. Everything happens in the dark, you have to be constantly attentive to detect these tiny details. If the eyes are the mirror of the soul, Bruce asserts: Through mournful eyes, they would make known an understanding of their peculiar predicament.

The book is beautifully printed, which is necessary to render this special atmosphere of the barn in a dim light, we come to smell the musky smell of horses, the sweat, the semen. What was formerly related to economic issues simply becomes sensitive. For those who followed horse races and bets at bookmakers, you know the importance of filiation in the racehorses world, the temptation of a genetic optimization for the “perfect” animal with “absolute” qualities. But all that is set aside here and Bruce well says : I wonder now whether this was my construction, and sprang from somewhere other than what I witnessed in the breeding barn. His work is convincing because, at the end of his book, we ask ourselves the same question! I will probably never look at a mare the way I did before this book. And to be honest, it has taken me some time to really enter this book, but it is definitely worth a review.

And by the way, the 38 images of the series (size 800 x 532mm, frame size 830 x 562 mm) are available for international exhibitions, and I would love to see them, because, even if the book is beautiful, I would so much appreciate to see the large prints.

Hardcover book self published in 2015 in New Zealand ; 24 x 35 cm, black linen cover, 68 pages with 38 black and white photos. Signed and numbered in an edition of 600 copies.

More info : http://www.bruceconnew.com/books/#12-body-of-work

And : http://www.josefchladek.com/book/bruce_connew_-_body_of_work

 


From Russia with love, part II

For the last few years we discover more and more photographers that came from Eastern Europe, especially Russia. This is certainly one of the positive effects of globalization that we can access this production. After my previous post, I wanted to come back on two great books recently discovered, which have in common to question the functioning and building of memory(ies).

The first is “Old family photographs and deep sky objects”, by Alla Mirovskaya. Superb self-published book that combines old photos from family albums with pictures of space made by the Hubble telescope and from Chandra Observatory.

At first sight, one might wonder why associate these two series, especially as Alla Mirovskaya mixes the captions. But it’s ultimately how we begin to find meaning. We realize that to be figurative as these two series are, they nonetheless unknown to us. Whether the constellations or the characters are only known through their representations. They contain the same vagueness while the images overlap and intermingle. Something appears in our imagination, which is not without recalling the montage of attractions theorized by S. M. Eisenstein. One does not only remain a spectator of the story, one seems to remember, alongside Alla when turning the pages of the album. Alla also explains that it is a bit to perpetuate the family tradition that she has done this work. One way to include this memory on paper, now abandoned to the computer.

What is also touching is this association of the closest and the further. This intimacy experienced through the families stories from which Alla Mirovskaya takes her matter, and the absolute distance that no human being will ever experience of the faraway space. It’s a big gap in the history of mankind.

This book is also a piece of the history of Russia and the Soviet Union. We see young pioneers at the Komsomol, leisures, community activities, groups. And also, the shadow of the Cold War with the choice to combine the intimate pictures of Russian families with the US space observation. Like was the twentieth century, two opposing cultures which both needed each other to exist. This past century  is also reminded to us by the use of a few red tinted photographs which emphasizes the memory of the communist era !

One of the greatest quality of this book is, in my opinion, the opportunity for everyone to find his own story. This is somewhat a puzzle that everyone will have to rebuild, with different pieces of stories.

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Hardcover selfpublished book published in 2016, 15 x 20 cm, 128 pages, 100 copies signed and numbered.

Buy the book at Tipi.

 

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The second book I want to talk about here is “Lookbook” by Anastasia Bogomolova. Old boxes stored in a barn where memories will emerge from. Old clothes from her mother and elder sister, from the eighties and nineties, bought in Soviet stores or sewn at home with the help of patterns found in fashion magazines.

As a child, Anastasia liked to wear these clothes, skirts, blouses and shoes are the symbol of femininity to become for the pre-teenager girl. So Anastasia takes out, from these boxes, these old clothes to begin a journey in time. It becomes a role play to revisit these outfits. The poses are sophisticated, like in those old fashion magazines. Her hair combed, made-up, dressed, she poses in front of old colorful wallpapers from the Soviet era. The colors are acid, both for the clothes and the background. The two will meet in a shimmer of colors.

Just like in those old magazines, poses are supposed to be natural but they are not. Sometimes smiling, sometimes seductive, sometimes dreamy, Anastasia alternately charms us, seduces us, or stare at us with distance. She became actress of that first idea that she had of beauty, discovered in the fashion magazines of the seventies and eighties, questioning the social vision of femininity and sexuality. We find these magazines in the book as small reproductions interspersed, which bear witness to this past history. But where the old fashion photos, are only … fashion photographs, the photographs of Anastasia Bogomolova become canvas in a way like Cindy Sherman did before her. Anastasia is on stage to better look at herself in the process of comprehension of her memory, a way to recreate and to stage his memories. The intriguing effect is that the same woman appears on these photos, as was sometimes the same models found in the pages of these old fashion magazines.

From a personal point of view, this work also resonates with my own history. Indeed, I knew these magazines in the seventies, when, to raise me, my mother quit her job to be a seamstress at home. All around, at home, were these magazines, these pieces of fabric, these patterns, and I got used to the rhythm of the sewing machine …

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Finally, and not least, this book is very funny. One goes through the pages with delight, it is a cure for melancholy (literally since this book is anything but black). We end it with joy, especially since it includes a poster: silk summer dress with blue and white strips, 1989. This is just what we need to prepare for summer.

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Self-published softcover book, published in 2016, First edition of 90 signed and numbered copies, Design by Julia Borissova, Photographs, archive & texts by Anastasia Bogomolova, 21×28,5 cm, 40 pages+32 pages of inserts, Including poster 42×59,4 cm.

Read more : http://anabogomolova.viewbook.com/books

And Colin Pantall’s blog

And a good ressource for Russian books : http://store.fotodepartament.ru/


s1xte6n, by Paul Mușescu

What can photography be used for ? Paul’s response is particularly successful. This medium was able to restore some meaning to his existence and, above all, enabled him to communicate. Never photography has much deserved its name as “medium”. Difficult childhood, with a few problems, Paul wandered into the wrong direction. Admittedly, both in childhood and in adolescence, the temptations are many. Fortunately for him, from the depth of his depression, the turning point came: he had to resume his life; an old film camera will be the perfect tool. This is how Paul tells his story in the introduction of the book. We have not yet discovered the photographs, it will come in a few pages …

Through photography, Paul finds his way. He finally manages to move on, but more specifically, to communicate without the use of violence. His gaze is poetic and the world around him is changing, it is no more hostile; but his photos remain black, dense, loaded with emotions. We feel some anger that emerges, but it is not turned anymore against its author, it is magnified. Thus we follow Paul in his daily life. He claims us his life, he demonstrates these sixteen years of existence. These photos are a compilation or, rather a emotional view of the author : one could speak of state of mind.

The book is a long sad poetry as chanted on an uncertain (even unprecise due to the beautiful youth) rhythm. If we see scenes of joy, dark shadows lurk yet, ready to snap up the young man to his past. These shadows become real, sometimes, and take the appearance of aggressive dogs, dark figures or blurred faces. Paul takes us with him to find his way, the tempo is slow, a photo every two pages, always on the right, facing a blank page, like to be conscious every time of what is happening; to let the image be printed on our retina. One hesitates to move forward, we slowly follow the mood of Paul, crossing his fears and doubts, but also his hopes. Throughout the book the horizons are blocked, we look more to the ground than in the air. The space is too small for his own development. Yet the book ends with birds flying above a roof. The cathartic exercise has paid off and allowed him to finally to take off as all teenagers have to do; the path to adulthood !

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Arrived at the end of the book, one discovers torn pages. It is then for us to imagine the gap. A hidden history, erased, abandoned. It remains hidden sides in Paul story, things he does not reveal to us, but isn’t it the case for all of us? This is what makes us human and makes us feel some empathy for each other. Well, this is what makes the story of Paul so moving. We close the book on sticks for counting the days of the end of a virtual confinement: the pain is over, Paul can now move forward.

In conclusion, this book is from a simple facture, but is really effective. The pictures are very beautiful and it exudes a certain emotion. With some generosity, Paul shares with us his feelings, he tells us his moods. Whether we love or not, it is devilishly daring, at sixteen to show oneself so honestly, and for that also, this book is great! I would love to see those photographs printed large in a gallery. I should also mention Cristian Bassa, a Romanian photographer who has been the supporter of this work and who did the edit / design of the book, and wrote the afterword.

Limited signed first edition of 100 copies, hardcover book 21x21cm, 80 Pages black and white photos (rather black than white).

More info : http://cargocollective.com/PaulMusescu


Façade Démocratique, by David Nollet

We know, since the last century, that for Belgians, a pipe is not always a pipe ; so why a photobook that is not about Belgium might not be one after all ! Things are not always what they are supposed to be !

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So this book is not a photobook about Belgium, once said, then we can move on. Maybe this book is a book about Belgians, but beyond that, it’s mostly a tribute to the joy of living through what might be called a resilient form of happiness. From the cover, things are affirmed: a squat in the dark, shouting in front of the European borough, a status : « façade démocratique » (democratic facade). People shall overcome technocracy, capitalism and « for profit » enacted rules. And the book takes us on a ride, from bars to bars, the Jupiler appearing in watermarks. Jupiler, the famous beer from Liege, is ubiquitous and its mere mention is enough to evoke the warm atmosphere of bars that remain privileged places of meetings. We walk the streets, we come across couples of all ages, we even see a sign that says, to the face of those who still doubt, that love exists! No tourism in these images but shared moments, moments of encounter, feelings, with the highlight of the famous carnival of Binche, popular festival that occurs in the public space of the town and mobilizes the whole population.

The photographs were made before the 2008 crisis, they are its cure. We meet Pier Paolo Pasolini who reminds anyone who will listen that « Isn’t it for Happiness that Revolutions are made ? ». Of course they are ! This is this kind of revolution that David talks about in his book, the need to fight against the consumerism that isolates people more than it gathers. Not the Revolution, but these daily actions, these touches of humanity that we all carry in us and whose it is our duty to reveal to others. The photographs are superb, imbued with humanism and the printing perfectly gives justice to the quality of black and white photographs (tri-X still remains brilliant). And on a more personal way, it tells about the whole Belgium I like (yes, but beware, this is not a photobook about Belgium). It talks of Ostend which I do not know but dream of visiting, we drink Jupiler, it smell chips and sausages with the more than fifty varieties of sauces that any chip shop must offer ; we hear the screams of children following the carnival, and then we pass in front of Peter Van Petegem’s Danscafé Mustang, hero of the Ronde and Paris Roubaix. It throws myself back in time, full of hope young cyclist, on the roads of the Circuit Franco Belge … That was years ago, well long before the crisis!

We also cross the absurd, a naturalized fish, a triple medalist, who knows what for, a frightened cat under the photographers’ spots, an aboveground abandonned boat ! And all along, this carnival atmosphere that comes sprinkle the book.

And then there’s this girl, isolated in a car show, dreamy. She reminds me so much of this photograph by Robert Frank, a young woman in an elevator. I just want to join Jack Kerouac who asked about that girl : « That little ole lonely elevator girl looking up sighing in an elevator full of blurred demons, what’s her name & address?  » This image condenses all the tenderness and melancholy of David Nollet, his empathy that crosses pages and takes us with a hope constantly renewed. It is not for nothing than his publishing house is called « Cape of Good Hope » (we shall never give up !).

The book ends with a view of a circuit car ride. The kind of same as we were longing for, every year with impatience, when it came to settle on the village square. For a week or two, it was carnival, rides, children’s games, excitation, flirting teenagers, and at the end, hope and expectations, already, that this time shall return the following year. The quality of this work is that David has created a universal story, we can all appropriate it, because we have all experienced those kind of moments. In that meaning, it is not a photobook about Belgium! QED!

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Hardcover book, 22,5 x 31,5 cm, 104 pages, 47 black and white photos, design Kaat Flamey, quotes by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Herman Selleslags, Rudy Vandendaele and a Citizen of Brussels.

More info/order : http://www.cape.ag/?page_id=985


Exposure by Kazuma Obara

30 years ago, on April 26th 1986, an explosion occured in a reactor of the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl. It has been, so far, the worst accident that has ever happened, in terms of costs and casualties. The unimaginable had become real. Lot of commemorations happened this week, and this post is a kind of small contribution to help us never forget the risks of nuclear hazard !

So here comes the time of a new crossover with my friend Gabriela, with a beautiful book about the aftermath of Chernobyl, of which only ten copies are in circulation.

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The series « exposure » by Kazuma Obara has been awarded by the World Press Photo in the category People. This is a first. At all times, the WPP has always been a traditional institution and therefore, rather awarded subjects, certainly brilliant, but nonetheless of traditional form. For once, the award has welcomed an aesthetic images portfolio, certainly, but above all a story with a strong storytelling without any documentary documents.

Kazuma is passionate about history. His previous book « Silent Histories » restored a voice to the civilian victims of US bombing on Japanese territory at the end of the Second World War. This time, Kazuma is interested in the indirect victims of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. To do this, he created a story. It tells the life of a young woman who was born five months after the disaster, in Kiev. Fetus exposed to radiation, she suffers from a young age thyroid disorders, but she will only be operated at the age of 24… Interweaving « autobiographical » texts and photographs, Kazuma takes us in the footsteps of this disaster . Much has already been shown, whether ruined buildings or remaining population, in the manner of Guillaume Herbaut – The Zone – which now has regained a tourist attractivity, and the effects on health with deformed children born after the explosion, in the manner of Paul Fusco and Magdalena Caris – Chernobyl Legacy. They both are incomparable factual documents that show reality as it is. However, it lacked a representation that can show us the reality as experienced, something that is like an… interpretation.

To do this, Kazuma Obara has recovered old color films from the Soviet time, which he had found in Pripyat. Expired, irradiated, the results could only be surprising, especially since the products to develop no longer existed. Whatever, the result would be part of the process. After all, the title plays with the ambiguity of the term « exposure », both the photographic process of exposing the film with light, and the exposition to the invisible radiations after the explosion of the nuclear reactor. Before being used by the photographer, these films have already printed on them, the past history … Kazuma will improvise a black and white development with these films. The result is very imprecise, and, from a sensitometric point of view, quite bad, but who cares since these images tells the History. Black and white are sometimes faded, sometimes smoky, but still vague and it is in this inaccuracy that lies the beauty of the images.

The compiled phootgraphs tell us thiry years of the life of Maria. Inhabited places, abandoned places, in between locations and evanescent faces, the images are symbolic (including a view of the famous ferris wheel in Pripyat, a group of children…). I have to confess that aesthetics of certain images, for me, refer to another photography of a tragic youth, the one of Francesca Woodman, died at the age of 23. Destinies, both similar and opposite of these two young women. A form of photographic afterglow as a metaphor of the ability to register memory of the film.

The book is superb in his form and so touching by its content, it is an undeniable success which we would like it to be the subject of a public reissue, as was the case with Silent Histories, first published in 45 copies, then published by Editorial RM. Beyond the joy of being one of the lucky ten owners, this book deserves to be seen by many more.

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Hardcover, 13 x 19,5 cm. 62 pages with 27 black and white photos. 10 copies signed and numbered. Sold out.

More info : http://www.kazumaobara.com/aboutme/index.html

exposure from Kazuma Obara on Vimeo.

All images copyright Kazuma Obara, can be removed on request.

 

Here is Gabriela’s review : https://gabrielacendoya.wordpress.com/

Exposure. Kazuma Obara.Autoeditado.                                                                                               

Hoy una nueva colaboración con Christer Ek ! Es un placer y un honor poder compartir esta pagina con el por segunda vez, esta vez con un nuevo libro de Kazuma Obara. Encontraréis su texto a continuación del mío.

 

Tapa dura, en tela.19,5 x 13 cm. Encuadernacion a mano.Blanco y negro.

27 fotografías. Texto en inglés, editado por Michael Thomason.

Impreso en Japón.

1° edición, numerada y firmada. Tirada 4/10.

Auto editado Kazuma Obara. Marzo 2016.

 

Hace poco presenté aquí el libro Silent Histories de Kazuma Obara. El fotógrafo japonés (1985 ), afincado entre Londres y Japón, ha ganado este año el premio del World Press Photo, en la modalidad de People ( gente ), con Exposure. Un premio nuevo del World Press Photo, con una credibilidad añadida en este caso, después de varias polémicas sobre la idoneidad de premios anteriores. Kazuma  hizo un trabajo sobre las consecuencias del tsunami en Japón, que originó la catástrofe nuclear de Fukushima, (siendo el primer fotoperiodista que entró en la central después de lo ocurrido). Se dio entonces a conocer, con un libro publicado en 2012, Reset beyond Fukushima, antes de publicar Silent Histories, con un gran éxito. Exposure sigue la linea de ese trabajo acercandose  a las propias víctimas y dandoles voz y protagonismo.

 

Kazuma encontró 20 carretes de color a pocos kilómetros de Chernobyl, de la época del accidente o poco después ( obsoletos en 1992 ), para fotografiar la zona. Exposure, el titulo, trata tanto de la exposición a la radiación que ha sufrido la población de la zona como del tiempo de exposición de las fotografías. Trabajadas en blanco y negro, llevan, indeleble,  la marca del escape radioactivo. Son imágenes roídas,  en proceso de desaparición, casi fantasmagóricas, de lugares y personas bien precisos. Habitaciones, salas de hospital, escuelas, la noria de Pripyat, espacios de juego, cercanías de la central… Espacios que tienen que ver con la vida de Mariya, nacida en Kiev a los 5 meses de la catástrofe, y cuya historia seguimos aquí, a través de su propio testimonio, en los textos que acompañan las fotografías. Mariya pasó años en habitaciones de hospital, con graves problemas de tiroides y de corazón, sufriendo para siempre en su cuerpo las terribles consecuencias de la radiación.

 

El libro cuenta una historia de una difícil superación, la recuperación de una infancia robada por terapias y sufrimientos, sentimientos de culpa e incomprensión y abandono. Kazuma retransmite la visión positiva de una posible superación humana . A pesar del horror que documentan sus fotografías, siluetas fantasmas y habitaciones destruidas. La fotografía, frágil imagen que ha sobrevivido a la tragedia, nos recuerda que la vida es mas fuerte que la muerte.

Exposure es un libro que deja huellas, como la historia que cuenta, fuerte y conmovedora. Sobrio y perfecto en su presentación, irradiando en su interior.

 

Solo puedo desear, sinceramente, como dice Christer en su reseña, que el libro tenga otra edición con tirada mas importante , a pesar de sentir satisfacción de tener una de las diez copias de esta primera edición. Kazuma Obara es un fotógrafo que cuida mucho sus publicaciones, haciendo muchas maquetas, y esta vale mucho la pena.

All images copyright Kazuma Obara, can be removed on request .

http://kazumaobara.com/index.html

http://www.worldpressphoto.org/collection/photo/2016/people/kazuma-obara

 


From Russia with love !*

The photographic scene in the countries of Eastern Europe is extremely prolific. It has this generosity in creating that can be perceived very often when a country emerges from the shadows of an authoritarian regime. The energy stored for years seems to free creation. I have already had occasion to speak of many works from the east and here are five more books that caught my attention recently.

May 9 by Alexey Nikishin

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May 9, in Russia, is dedicated to the commemoration of the end of World War II (just one day after us!) And it is the subject of this book. But instead of commemorating the war Alexey Nikishin celebrates peace. The book begins with a few excerpts of war correspondence, some words that reflect the hell, as if, to remind us, all who have died for each of us retains freedom. Published in 2015, this book was originally the result of an assignment for the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, but rather than photographing parades of veterans, Alexey chose to show the world that has become possible thanks the victory of the allied troops.

For three years, from 2012 to 2015, Alexey has traveled the world and brought us fragments of lives. The quality of the photographs here lies in their banality, they bear witness to these daily moments that make the richness of our lives, small details, holiday photos, a couple kissing in a long sequence of three photographs taken like an embrace, turning around the couple in an improvised ballet, three views, three seconds of an eternal scene. Each photo is meticulously captioned with the date, time and place as if to affirm a reality which one could doubt, almost images to post on social networks, whose imperfections reflect the reality.

Hardcover, 21 x 24 cm, 72 pages, 30 colour photographs, text in a leaflet in English, Russian, German, French, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese. First published in Russian in 2015, second edition (first English edition) of 30 copies signed and numbered, published in 2016.

http://alexeynikishin.com/books/may9/

 

The journals, by Alexey Nikishin and Anton Shagin

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The journals is an experience in two voices, or to better say, two scriptures: the first, Alexey’s one is photographic, the second, Anton’s one is in prose. The journal which will become the journals tells us three years of the relatioship between these two friends. It all started when Alexey glued some of his early black and white pictures, in a notebook that was handed to Anton, the latter has kept it with him, annotating with poems, according to his moods and desires. The journal has evolved, it stopped, was found again. There have been additions, withdrawals, gaps appeared… and it lasted three years. How then could one tell this experience, how a book could depict a project, together with its evolution, and not just showing the outcome ?

In this book, we came across a woman, swans and other patterns that come as chanting the same repeating words. The layout leaves space, the photos are small as to prevent us from giving them too much importance ; whites take their place. White, not as an empty space but rather a break. White in a book, it is like the silence on the radio, it’s scary, but well used, it is superb! In the end, the shape is very beautiful, the three books are glued, one passes from one to the next by the touch of the thickness of the cover. The chapters are marked, history reinvents itself … this book talks about the passing of time … and a little of ourselves.

Softcover, 17,8 x 24 cm; 132 pages; 90 black and white and colour photos, text in a leaflet in English, Russian, German, French, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese. First published in Russian in 2015, first English edition of 30 copies signed and numbered, published in 2016.

http://alexeynikishin.com/books/thejournals/

 

iPhonographique, by Alexey Nikishin and Valeria Gai Germanica

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Alexey loves combine photography and writing. This time, he worked with the Russian director Valeria Gai Germanica. In the title is understood that the subject touches the “new photography” as practiced with smartphones. After years of a silver traditional photography in black and white, Alexey discovered the joys of “instant” colourful photography. Frenzy of social networks, publications on Instagram, how many followers ? How many likes ? Two people interact, the two combined texts and photos, of Valeria and Alexey, to create a narrative about the weird ways of living, loving and suffering.

When you read a text, images appear in your mind; when we see pictures, a story is invented, too, in our heads. This book is the coincidence of the two. More than a description of one by the other, we are witnessing here an added value, a synergistic effect, an invented sense that remains nevertheless opposable to a alternate reading. It’s like a gigantic stage of life itself: every life is Shakespearean … and every day, we put our daily life on the scene of social networks!

Softcover, 15 x 20 cm, 42 Pages,, French Folding, Japanese Binding; 34 colour photos, text in a leaflet in English, Russian, German, French, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese. First published in Russian in 2015, first English edition of 30 copies signed and numbered, published in 2016.

http://alexeynikishin.com/books/iphonographique/

 

Dimitry, by Julia Borissova

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There are myths in the Russian history and Dimitry is one of them. Dimitry was the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible. He died mysteriously with cut throat, that was enough for the myth to come to life. For me, these names instantly summon famous names, like Eisenstein (Ivan the Terrible), or Pushkin (Boris Godunov, reinterpreted later by Mussorgsky), two authors who have interpreted this part of Russian history; but we also feels appear in the background the shade of Roland Barthes, particularly with his book “Mythologies” depicting the process of the creation of the myth. How an event can induce doubts or hopes? What about the part of history it creates, it recomposes? How the facts are twisted by the reading of a people or by its leaders? Dimitry’s story is a striking example, including his canonization by the Russian Orthodox church. This book by Julia Borissova is superb as are all those she already produced herself, handmade crafted.

A narration made of collages takes us through the Eternal Russia, images mingling to become timeless. We follow the ghost of Dimitry in the Russian countryside, he moves like a shadowy icon bearer (one thinks of course also to Andrei Rublev). It’s an oniric journey with no goal, just an imprecise souvenir floating like a dream. We try to appropriate the story to better tell it at our turn, enriching the myth ! The book can be read as an investigation, as is every work of a historian, looking for traces and details. Each society rewrote the history according to its modernity, one who is adored one day, becomes despised the day after, and so is built the myth of the hero. Julia Borissova continues her investigation without us deliver the key… One will also see a “prophetic” rooster through the pages which reminds us to the tale by Pushkin, more known from Rimsky Korsakov’s opera in XIXth century : The Golden Cockerel whose theme was the fall of the Tsarism (premonition of the October Revolution) which finds here its metaphoric sense with the murder of the Tsarevich, heir and symbol of the violent excesses committed during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. One of the finest books published this year, each page is an icon!

Artist book self published in 2016, 14,5 x 19 cm / Die Cut Hardcover, handmade binding / 88 pages. First Edition of 100 signed and numbered copies.

http://juliaborissova.ru/Julia_Borissova_PhotoSite/06.html

 

Artless confessions, by Fyodor Telkov

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This last small book takes us back to our childhood. A school notebook of fine paper, protected by a flexible plastic cover. Plain blue, with lines to write his name in hand on the cover. For six years, Fyodor was interested in the most neglected classrooms, especially for a special feature: the graffiti left by students. Some classrooms have a lower maintenance than others and tables accumulate memories, like palimpsests Classrooms are austere, but when approaching tables, life arises. We discover, here, what could be considered as a aesthetic mix of primitive and contemporanian expression.

It is fascinating to discover the universality of these graffiti. Around the world, the subjects are the same. We do not understand the native language, but the patterns are recognizable, flowers, houses, people, signs and symbols as: peace, war. The trace of the language courses, writings in English or German; the adolescent emotions, sex, religion, chivalry, but also some unrecognizable drawings, just a wandering hand on the table, curves and bold and scarifications. Some drawings are naive, others more structured, and some become exquisite corpses reproducing a transgenerational imagination. We stop on the drawings and begin to dream, we would like to take a pencil to add our own trace, our mind wanders and moves away from the classroom, amongst Cypress Hill and Wu Tang bands, teenage dreams seem to be universal…

Self published softcover book, published in 2015. Digital printing, 17 x 20,5 cm, 32 colour photos. 30 copies signed and numbered.

http://store.fotodepartament.ru/shop/fyodor-telkov-artless-confessions

 

* You may notice that I am an old fan of early James Bond films starring Sean Connery.