Vera y Victoria, by Mar Saez

Vera y Victoria is a simple book, a book about love, but above all a refreshing book, at a time when many countries question the notion of couple, sometimes legislating toward a direction or another, about union between two people when, finally, it should only concern themselves. The notion of gender is at the heart of the work of Mar Saez and his book, smooth and subtle, gives us a tender look on the concept of couple.

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When they kissed, for the first time in a park, Vera told Victoria she was transsexual. Things were said and the budding love was going to flourish in this relationship. From 2012 to 2016, Mar Saez will share the intimacy of the couple. For the two V. nothing will count but their relationship that they will live fully. With grace and elegance, we share moments of complicity of the couple: close-ups on gestures, stop on fleeting moments, loaded with emotion, Mar Saez does not stay outside the story and that is why she manages to convey her empathy. We are always very close, without ever falling into any form of voyeurism. The two young women give everything of their love, their joy, their happiness. They are one. Their respective identities are never mentioned in the book, reinforcing this impression of unity of their story, of their bodies, of their love. Transsexuality is evoked only in one image, in the middle of the book, as if to punctuate the story, but also to say that we must leave preconceived ideas elsewhere. Love has no sex, no genre, it is a particular alchemy which it would be very difficult to explain.

The quality of this work really has to do with the choice of the moments photographed. We are far from any anecdote or clichés. The story is intense and we feel it through a kind of tension that is created between the photographs. A rhythm appears between these bodies which approach each other, touching each other, moving away, then coming closer again, unable to bear the idea of being at a distance any longer. Small moments succeed the biggest, or, to better say, the more intense. The whole book is punctuated by texts, thoughts laid on paper, the need to say, to shout, their happiness to the face of the world.

The intensity of a story that, ultimately, is told, but more over lived. The book is an ellipse, it begins with entwined bodies, and ends in the same way, the story has no beginning nor end. No matter how long it will last, the story is timeless. Mar Saez opened a window for us, and now it’s time to retire, the parenthesis closes and the story goes on … or not. But this is no longer very important because we have seen moments of grace, moments of happiness, moments of joy: everybody’s ultimate quest. And a last special mention for the quality and the beauty of the black and white photography.

Published by Editions André Frère in 2016, softcover, 16,5 x 21,8 cm. 80 pages, 43 photographs in black and white.

More info : http://www.andrefrereditions.com/livres/nouveautes/vera-y-victoria/

And : http://www.marsaez.com/projects/vera-y-victoria/

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Elephant ゾウサン by Kurama

Kurama is a discrete photographer about who we know very little. Most of the information available can be found at the end of his book : Little information is public about Kurama. During the last 20 years he has exhibited in different countries (USA, Argentina, Taiwan, France and Japan). His work is not limited to silver gelatin photography ; he has experimented with serigraphy and lithography as alternative printing methods. And that’s all !

So we can try to know him a little more through the pages of his book. What he shows us here is his eroticized way of looking at the world, at every moment, even outside any notion of intimacy. This book is his diary; he reveals his two main passions : elephants and women. These are the two recurring themes that punctuate the book; they come back again and again, like a little jingle haunting, which would have nestled in a corner of our head. And then, slowly, we understand that every image eroticises the world it represents. Sequencing is clever, it keeps us in suspense! We cross shadows of some great names of Japanese photography : Moriyama, Araki, Nakahira… and many more who have definitely influenced Kurama. From them, he certainly learned the freedom to photograph (in the meaning of writing with light to tell), this freedom in favor of a sensitive representation, the ability for a stronger narration rather than just a collection or a compilation of photographs. It also refers to this sentence from Jean-Luc Godard: It is not a just image, it is just an image (ce n’est pas une image juste, c’est juste une image, in French)! Blur or precise, dark or black, all photographs meld into an “out of time” narration. The book has no beginning, neither an end, even if, ultimately, it is an elephant who opens and closes the book.

Black and white are great, we can almost feel the grain of the baryta paper on which Kurama realizes his prints. It also reveals the wait, so proper to film photography. Lab time is a long time compared to the digital speed. The image, first developed then enlarged is only delivered to us after a long process in which excitation and relaxation blend. Instants elongate and when an image is out of focus, our mind wanders and escapes into a reverie that only the blur of inaccuracy allows. We thus interfere in the history of Kurama, we fulfill it to make it ours.

Oh, and through the pages, we will also meet an orangutan, a sort of ironic spectator of this story with a funny similarity between its exercising area made of ropes and those used in bondage practice, seen in some photographs. Finally, we kind of, come out of a dream, the interwoven pictures still resonate within us, but we struggled to reconstruct the story; we have to deal with that; we still remember, and memories are, well… a bit peculiar to photography.

Softcover book, 14,8 × 21 cm, 122 pages, black & white photos. Produced by in)(between in an edition of 100 copies.

More info : in)(between

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The day « she » was planted in the garden, by Yahya Dehghanpour

Forugh Farrokhzad was one of the most renowned Persian contemporary artist. Famous for her poetry, in a conservative male society, she fought all her life for the emancipation of women, matter always to the heart of her work. She had hard times, especially after her divorce when she was disallowed the right to custody of her son. Her poetry is fulfilled with her own loneliness and her difficulties to find a serene place in Iran of the 50’s and 60’s. She has also been widely acclaimed for her wonderful documentary film, in 1963, about a leprosy colony : « The house is black ». Forugh Farrokhzad died prematurely in a car accident in 1967, at the age of 32.

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The title of the book refers to her conception of « garden » which is often present in her poems amongst which, a beautiful one titled « Rebellion », about the predominance of men in the Tehran society, ending with the verses :

Come forth and release me
to the clear, pristine heights of poetry
should you allow me this flight
my rose will adorn the garden of poetry.

The metaphor of her death is her access to freedom and now, « she » was planted to adorn the garden of poetry.

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On the other side, Yahya Dehghanpour, a young photographer in 1967, already involved in the cultural life of Tehran. He will leave Iran a few years later to study photography at the San Francisco Art Institute during the 70’s and will come back in Iran where he will teach photography in various Universities, and influence numerous generations of Iranian photographers. He appears to be a major figure of Iranian photography, even if it is almost impossible to find any information about him. One of the only references is an exhibition of the series from this book, at the Silk Road Art Gallery in Tehran in 2009.

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So this book is made of an early work rediscovered recently by its author. A series made at a time when the death of Forugh Farrokhzad was a tragedy for the cultural society of Tehran, and when Yahya Dehghanpour, 25 years old, decided to document the funeral. The book shows the funeral ceremony, and the sequencing seems to show a complete series which build a particular atmosphere with various moments of tension. We follow the body through the city with emotion, a white hearse, flowers and people coming from everywhere. We are in the crowd, to share grief and sadness. Our sight becomes blurry and so are some photographs, which emphasize the dark and sad ambiance. All photographs are square with white margins, one per page with some alternating white pages, and there are three main chapters, each one introduced by a double page detail of a photo. The first part is the funeral procession in town, the second one is the arrival of the body at the cemetery and the third part is the burial and people around the grave.

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The book comes with a small accordion booklet which is the reproduction of an installation of large prints in order to identify people who wrote their names by hand in the margin. This piece of work becomes a wonderful documentation with the entire intellectual elite from Tehran, who came to pay their last tribute!

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Hardcover book, 23 x 23,5 cm, with a very sober and elegant black cover with a negative white square, and the title, the date and the name of the photographer. 95 pages with 57 black and white photos. Persian and English text by Mehran Mohajer.

Publisher site : https://www.facebook.com/ManooshPublication

Another very good review of the book : https://collectordaily.com/yahya-dehghanpour-the-day-she-was-planted-in-the-garden/

And just for pleasure her film « The house is black »