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LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER Julio Hirsch-Hardy
JACOB RIIS How the Other Half Lives
HERNAN RODRIGUEZ Master of Modern Portraiture
MARIA SVARBOVA A Minimalist and Contemplative Approach to the Mundane
FORMENTO + FORMENTO Eerie Sensuality: a Cinematic Experience of the Uncanny
STEPHEN SPILLER Mindful Activism
SUSAN BOROWITZ 'In the Details Lies the Universal'
RANJAN RAMCHANDANI Sustainable Photography
108 96 108 120 132 142 154 166
AURÉLIEN VILLETTE The Spirit of the Place
ANDREA STAR REESE Investigative Photography
BÉNÉDICTE VANDERREYDT The Construction of Female Identity
AGNIESZKA RUDNICKA A Journey Into Consciousness
MADELEINE MORLET Coming of Age Tales
LINDA RUTENBERG The Gaspe Peninsula: Land on the Edge of Time
IRIS RAY Subverting Gender Stereotypes
LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER Dedicated to Camera Work Dear Readers, In some ways and due to the internet, starting a magazine today is easier than ever. But nowadays, during this incredible lockdown, it can be more difficult. We began without even developing a business plan. But we had a mission, a reason why our magazine should exist. After fostering a strong community during the last ten years, we realized that it would be nonsense not to be in constant contact during these strange days of isolation and social distance. The thousands of photographers that have exhibited with us in the five editions of the Biennial of Fine Art & Documentary Photography and our group exhibitions provided us with inspiration and direction. Beyond the pages of our magazine, you will find the spirit of our photographers’ community. And this was enough reason to launch a magazine. Issue #0 was quite a success reaching a readership of 7,963 impressions and 5,096 readers in 12 days, with an average read time of 7:45 minutes. A friend of mine emailed me the other day after reading issue #0. ‘What prompted you to start a magazine, Julio? In the editorial you say you will be publishing it fortnightly, every two weeks. Is that true?’. Honestly, his question worried me a little. As you can imagine, making a magazine, especially ours that contains interviews with all artists showcased, is a heady endeavor, especially in these days of isolation, that can’t and shouldn’t be undertaken alone. But we’re a team of four each working from home, and we divided our workload to prevent burnout and deliver faster, better results. And we’re proud to introduce you this second volume, our issue #1, hoping that you will enjoy it as we assume you have enjoyed the first one, as we have enjoyed doing it. We want to dedicate this issue to Alfred Stieglitz. One hundred and seventeen years ago, he launched Camera Work. It was known as “by far the most beautiful of all photographic magazines,” as written by Stieglitz’s biographer, Richard Whelan, and “a portrait of an age in which the artistic sensibility of the nineteenth century was transformed into the artistic awareness of the present day,” by Jonathan Green. In this issue, we started a new section, ‘Spotlight’, where photographers will be able to advertise their work. Ads from brands related to the world of photography will also be accepted in the inner pages. If you wish to receive our issues, twice a month, in your inbox, please fill out this form: https://form.jotform.com/201195152239350. We will appreciate it if you can forward the link to our magazine, https:// fotonostrummag.com, to your friends and fellows. As you have now realized, our magazine is free and relies only on advertising and donations. Your support will help to further our mission through the appraisal of photography in this troubled time. Please click here to donate: https://www.fotonostrummag.com/donate, and enjoy reading this issue of FotoNostrum Magazine. Stay safe. All the best,
Julio Hirsch-Hardy Publisher, FotoNostrum Magazine firstname.lastname@example.org Above: Georgia O'Keeffe, Hands, 1918 by Alfred Stieglitz
JACOB RIIS How the Other Half Lives
anish-born Jacob Riis (18491914) was a journalist, social reformer, and social documentary photographer. He is best known for his 1890 book How the Other Half Lives, which brought public attention to New Yorkâ€™s squalid housing, sweatshops, bars, and alleys. His powerful images brought public attention to urban conditions, helping to propel aÂ national debate over what American working and living conditions should be.
Right page: Men stan in an alley known as "Bandit's Roost". Circa 18871-890
Above: Street children sleep near a grate for warmth on Mulberry Street. Circa 1890-1895
Riis had for some time been wondering how to show the squalor of which he wrote more vividly than his words could express. He tried sketching, but was incompetent at this. Camera lenses of the 1880s were slow as was the emulsion of photographic plates; photography thus did not seem to be of any use for reporting about conditions of life in dark interiors. In early 1887, however, Riis was startled to read that “a way had been discovered to take pictures by flashlight. The darkest corner might be photographed that way.” The German innovation, by Adolf Miethe and Johannes Gaedicke, flash powder was a mixture of magnesium with potassium chlorate and some antimony sulfide for added stability; the powder was used in a pistol-like device that fired cartridges. This was the introduction of flash photography.
informed a friend, Dr. John Nagle, chief of the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the City Health Department who was also a keen amateur photographer. Nagle found two more photographer friends, Henry Piffard and Richard Hoe Lawrence, and the four of them began to photograph the slums. Their first report was published in the New York newspaper The Sun on February 12, 1888; it was an unsigned article by Riis which described its author as "an energetic gentleman, who combines in his person, though not in practice, the two dignities of deacon in a Long Island church and a police reporter in New York". The "pictures of Gotham's crime and misery by night and day" are described as "a foundation for a lecture called 'The Other Half: How It Lives and Dies in New York.' to give at church and Sunday school exhibitions, and the like." The article was illustrated by twelve Recognizing the potential of the flash, Riis line drawings based on the photographs.
Above:Inside an English family's home on West 28th Street. 1889.
Riis and his photographers were among the first Americans to use flash photography. Pistol lamps were dangerous and looked threatening, and would soon be replaced by another method for which Riis lit magnesium powder on a frying pan. The process involved removing the lens cap, igniting the flash powder and replacing the lens cap; the time taken to ignite the flash powder sometimes allowed a visible image blurring created by the flash. Riis’s first team soon tired of the late hours,
and Riis had to find other help. Both his assistants were lazy and one was dishonest, selling plates for which Riis had paid. Riis sued him in court successfully. Nagle suggested that Riis should become self-sufficient, so in January 1888 Riis paid $25 for a 4×5 box camera, plate holders, a tripod and equipment for developing and printing. He took the equipment to the potter’s field cemetery on Hart Island to practice, making two exposures. The result was seriously overexposed but successful.
Above: Children sit inside a school building on West 52nd Street. Circa 1888-1898 Right page, top: Children sit inside a school building on West 52nd Street. Circa 1888-1898 Right page, bottom: Inside an English family's home on West 28th Street. 1889.
Above: A shoemaker at work on Broome Street. 1888-1896 Right page: A squatter in the basement on Ludlow Street where he reportedly stayed for four years. Circa 1887-1890. Following spread, left: Rag pickers in Baxter Alley. Circa 1888-1890 Following spread, right: Residents gather in a tenement yard in this photo from How The Other Half Lives, published in 1890
For three years, Riis combined his own photographs with others commissioned of professionals, donations by amateurs and purchased lantern slides, all of which formed the basis for his photographic archive. Because of the nighttime work, he was able to photograph the worst elements of the New York slums, the dark streets, tenement apartments, and “stale-beer” dives, and documented the hardships faced by the poor and criminal, especially in the vicinity of notorious Mulberry Street.
" In January 1888 Riis paid $25 for a 4×5 box camera, plate holders, a tripod and equipment for developing and printing”.
HERNAN RODRIGUEZ Master of Modern Portraiture
ernan Rodriguez is an International Award winning professional photographer specializing in commercial photography and portraiture. His unique style is a fusion between art & photography which earned him 25 awards in photography, including the much coveted Black & White Spider Award for photographic excellence in fashion photography. Most recent are three Bronze Awards, in the 2012 Aperture Awards for portraits and illustration. His outgoing personality and fresh approach to imagery, has allowed Hernan to work with notable clients such as Guess Clothing, Playboy Beverage, Corona, EMI and Sony Record labels.
All images ÂŠ Hernan Rodriguez
Right page: Black & White SpiderAward Fashion, 2009
In your opinion, what are the necessary technical photographic skills to produce good portraits? In portrait photography light or the absence of light is how and where we draw the viewer to in an image. Light is science, making it absolute. Familiarizing ourselves with light and its behavior allows us the freedom to express our vision through different styles of lighting, whether we decide to use hard or soft qualities. In order to become a great studio photographer, you first need to be a good student of natural sun and its behavior. The more you can study light, the more familiar you can see its nuances and intricacies. Coming from an illustration background, in painting, I usually had different styles of brushes to execute a particular “look” for any given portrait. In photography, I have adopted these principles with using a spectrum of various lenses. This is a technical skill that is of great importance to any portrait photographer but is less frequently implemented. Under the same lighting conditions, location and distance to any given subject, I can create a beautiful painterly image or create the complete opposite, maybe a detailed environmental portrait showcasing the narrative expressed
in the scene by simply changing my lens, as I would with a paintbrush. We need to think and use all that is at our disposal. In art school, it took us laborious hours to paint atmospheric pressure for an environmental portrait. In photography it is great when we can identify this haze or distant fog and use it to our advantage by maybe using a zoom lens rather than a mid-sized lens to add romance. This is a great skill to practice for any photographer until it becomes second nature. Do you usually have a preexisting idea of the atmosphere you want to create in your photos, or does this come out during the shoot as you get to know your subjects? It’s like a double-edged sword. Figuratively speaking it can cut both ways. You need to be open to both approaches. I believe it’s dangerous to lean too much on either extreme. You can’t go into a session expecting to wing the entire shoot, as planning can lend itself to creative freedom. Doing more on paper beforehand can give you the freedom to be more creative on set. The minutia of the technical aspects is something I determine beforehand, whether it be lighting schematics or gear selection. On the other hand, defining such a detailed atmosphere can easily block out any creative
Left page: Fashion Advertising, 2015
spontaneity that can present itself the day of the shoot. You can’t get too affixed on staying with what’s on paper all of the time. To be a good photographer, you need to allow yourself to be reactive. When I am working on a commercial shoot, the client will usually have a pre-determined concept. There might be a product or a brand, that needs to be promoted or sold, which in many cases is the celebrity. Most of the celebrity work I do falls into this category. I usually am working with agents and managers to create publicity shots for the talent. They in turn use the images for advertising, product branding or editorial features. There are times in which we shoot a client for promotional purposes, and the images end up being used for advertising. I recently received a call from ShowTime Network wanting to use an image I shot for comedian / actor Eddie Griffin as an advertising piece for his comedy special. A few years ago, I was commissioned to do the advertising campaign for the skin care product line, La Pierre Angel Touch. This was to promote a new concept cartridge and direct dispensing device, in which you no longer have to use your fingers to apply the cream to your skin. From what I was told, they spent five million dollars to proto-type
Right page: Eddie Griffin Billboard, 2020 Following spread, left: Dee Dee Brigewater GRAMMYS, 2015 Follwing spread, right: Lou Ferrigno, 2018
this product that resembled a mouse. This is one of those cases where the creative ideas and atmosphere for the images was pre-planned with the client. We spent many hours on Skype meetings with the agency which was in Japan. A virtual casting was done for model selection and lighting tests were created and emailed for approval as well. Since the product was to mainly showcase skin glow, props were used to only hint at the angel theme. I remember shopping around Hollywood for angel wings that looked authentic. Commercial beauty lighting was also tested for days to create the right look for the client. We also tested a variety of muted color filters for the lights and ultimately determined the use of a special cosmetic filter line. It created beautiful hues on the skin, with hints of rose and light amber. We also tested a variety of light modifiers and combinations, eventually using sixteen lights for the final atmosphere of the beauty shots. Everything was written out in detail. Shot list, lighting setups and makeup colors that were to be used. There was no room for creative freedom in such a shoot. Let’s swing in the other direction; “The idea of not planning is like opening another door”. Sometimes letting things come to you on set without extensive planning can
be magical. Itasha, a
I recall celebrity
photographing mentor aspiring photographers, one of the from Spain. assignments I give them is to spend at least a week reviewing art books and creating a When we were done with her publicity shots, contact sheet of these images collectively. This I remember her smiling so beautifully, which helps them identify the common thread in hugely resembled Audrey Hepburn, from which they naturally gravitate towards. It can that famous shot. I thought, ‘let’s create be something as simple as lines, or the perfect our own”. I added this vintage Tiffany blue balance of an asymmetrical design. It can also backdrop, and an orange hat to compliment be helpful for photographers in identifying a the color scheme. I had her wear something personal style and a good exercise to expand a little more edgy without taking away from the visual and creative part of the brain. I the elegance. I instructed Itasha to smile away personally have spent a numerous amount of from the camera. Just then her spaghetti hours in my lifetime reviewing images from straps fell from both of her shoulders and artbooks, magazines, museums and now the she began to laugh. That was the “Magic”, the internet. This practice has left an imprint in open door we were willing to step into. We my brain, almost like a database in which I could not have pre-planned this. The shot was naturally draw inspiration from. I sometimes later to be used for an advertisement, point of will be working on set, and all of a sudden I purchase banner in New York, and nominated see elements that become very familiar with for a Photography Masters Cup in fashion. an image in my mind, making some type of How does your background in correlation. Photography is about striping design influence your photography? down all the elements that can distract or Design has left a lasting imprint in my complicate an image, even more so when a photography. I recognize many of these person is involved. I almost always work with a design elements in my portraits and fashion minimalist approach, allowing shape, contrast work. This ranges from shape, space including and texture dominate my portrait, void of negative and positive space, composition, props or extra elements. The camera for me is texture and of course color. Whenever I just an extension of my vision through design.
Left page: Freddie Prinze Star Wars, 2017
You often use bright colors for your portraitsâ€™ backgrounds. Can you explain this choice? Color is emotion and energy. There is always subtext in color, and I like to use it to emote a feeling or a message in my portraits. Color also carries psychological undertones that can be used to make your portraits more evocative. I can use the color red in a portrait for instance, to convey a feeling of sinister, sexuality or anger. After black and white, red is the first color the eye perceives. It is attention getting. This application on color for example, can be used with the subtlety of a red scarf on a model to add sensuality or can express rage by the selection of a bright red background for a combat fighter. Itâ€™s quite interesting how many of the Renaissance Masters used the color red for Jesusâ€™ robe in their paintings. It was methodically chosen, as red makes us react more strongly and forcefully, more than any other color in the color wheel. Understanding hue and value gives you options as a portrait photographer, allowing you to scale up or down the intensity of the color you choose for just the right balance. I actually wrote a book on the topic Color. This question brings to mind an elementary principle in formal portraiture, which expresses particular guidelines relating
to the proper selection of a background. Backgrounds need not be distracting, such as the use of bold colors or patterns, which tends to detract attention from the subject. In portraiture as a rule of thumb for instance, green is the best base color for a background as it can visually balance the tones of the skin in a subject. It is important to understand such rules, but they are just general guidelines. Early in my photography career, I fell captive to these rules, which greatly affected my natural instinct on how I used color. My images became lackluster. Lacking conviction. I decided to go back to how I naturally used color and it worked for me. Take the image of two of the biggest heavyweight boxing icons in history, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson. I easily could have chosen a neutral colored background such as a grey or beige, but as their wardrobe was already muted and understated, it would have been an ordinary portrait. I truly believe if I had not followed my natural instinct of using a bright cobalt blue, it would not have the same electrifying energy the portrait expresses. Blue was also a great compliment to the tacky yellow chairs that were the only choice we had there on set. The whole set is tacky, the background pattern is tacky, but as a whole, the proper color choices
Above: Tyson & Hollyfield, 2016 Following spread: Evander Holyfield Ad, 2014
made for the portrait taps into the rivalry these two champions had in the past, and the joy they now express as close friends There are many photography icons in our industry that have established an entire career by purely shooting black and white. Fashion photographers such as Helmut Newton, Irvin Penn and Peter Linbergh are amazing provocateurs in the world of fashion with this established style. On the other hand, although I appreciate black and white portraiture, I instinctively gravitate to color. To me, color is a universal language that speaks emotionally and does not need translation. You have a vast portfolio of celebrity portraits. How do you manage to connect with your subjects in order to reveal their true selves? Iâ€™d like to say that celebrities are just like anyone else, and to an extent this is a true statement. The reality is, they are celebrities, and we are not, so there definitely is a distinction. From my experience, the person you see in the public sphere is not always the same person in their private life. The question is, are you able to gain the trust of the personality? This is the key to a successful celebrity portrait. I have photographed NFL players, musicians and entertainers, and the similarities they have with all of us is that there are confident ones and insecure ones as well. They can be very guarded because the public sees them a certain way. To be outside of that character or for the celebrity to express a different layer to their personality is not always easy to do. I This is the only thing I want to shoot â€“
something honest they are willing to share with me, not the “on-screen” personality. I allow them to lead. They will share with me what they want to share, I just need to be a good listener. The celebrity is always warding off the intrusion of their space, not to mention they always have a team, a job or a task to fulfill. I took a consensus when I started to do celebrity work. I wanted to know what they liked about me or what I could have done better. I’d say almost 100 percent of the personalities I asked said, “You gave me my space, and I appreciate that”. In my personal life I am very low-key, so I do not struggle with this, but on set, I become a strong personality, more like a director. This confidence has really helped me because the celebrity also is accustomed to being directed. When I said to let the celebrity lead, I mean this specifically to the tempo of your interaction with them, but when it comes to the actual session, you need to be the director and never lose this position. Sometimes it’s not even that complicated or psychological. I remember the first time I photographed world champion, Evander
Holyfield for an editorial campaign. His manager gave me specific details of what Holyfield liked on set. It was quite simple. She said, “Hernan, keep lots of fruit on set, get him a hamburger and fries for lunch, and please make certain you play Motown music throughout the day.” I remember him walking on set for the first time. There is always a sense of Aw when you meet some of these champions. He was very tall and extremely stoic. Kind of intimidating, and I remember him not smiling much. One hour into the session I knew I was not getting anything good. This made me extremely nervous. Most of these celebrity shoots are of a bigger scale than regular portrait sessions. Bigger team and bigger setups, so the success of the shoot is my main objective. After the hour I gave Holyfield a break, which gave me time to regroup. Just then it hit me – I forgot one of the key points his manager shared with me. Play Motown music. We rushed and found a Motown station on Pandora, and from that point forward the images came to life. Something as simple as music changed our entire session.
"To me, color is a universal language that speaks emotionally and does not need translation".
Left page, top: ShowGirls Hat Campaign, 2013 Left page, bottom: DataColor Ad 2, 2019
MARIA SVARBOVA A Minimalist and Contemplative Approach to the Mundane
aria Svarbova was born in 1988 and currently lives in Slovakia. Despite studying restoration and archeology, her preferred artistic medium is photography. From 2010 to the present, the immediacy of Mariaâ€™s photographic instinct continues to garner international acclaim and is setting new precedents in photographic expression. The recipient of several prestigious awards, her solo and group exhibitions have placed her among the vanguard of her contemporaries, attracting features in Vogue, Forbes, The Guardian, and publications around the world; her work is frequently in the limelight of social media. Mariaâ€™s reputation also earned her a commission for a billboard-sized promotion on the massive Taipei 101 tower, in Taiwan. All images ÂŠ Maria Svarbova
Right page: Horizon from the series Horizon, 2018 Following Spread: Border II from the series Snow Pool, 2018
My work is conceptual photography. There are the themes of life, often recurrent activities â€“ dining, swimming, a visit to the doctor â€“ give them a strikingly mundane aspect, although the lack of motion and sentiment generates a disruption, detaching the viewer from the real world to experience the absolute void, the silent scream, the overwhelming loneliness within
Above: Girl Power from the series Girl Power, 2018 Right page: Girl Power III from the series Girl Power, 2018 Following spread, left: Time from the series Generation, 2019 Following spread, right: Generations from the series Generation, 2019
the group and the self as well, the sense of loss and alienation defining the characters, to ironically evoke a haunting vision of a potential future. I have focused on photographing people from the start of my photographic carrier. They are the main source of inspiration for me, people fascinate me. The space has no meaning without humans. It becomes
empty, something is missing. Same goes the other way around. Humans have no meaning without the space, as if they did not fit anywhere. The main focus of my series was to harmonize the humans and space. I find vast inspiration in modern architecture. Brutalism, popular in the late 1950s and 1960s, captured my imagination thanks to its monumental features and exposed concrete surfaces. Abundant repetition and regularity found in modern architecture inform the composition and model placement within the space in my photography. I am
infatuated with minimalism and its perfectly clean, straight lines. In my work, I engage plenty of geometry which in turn helps me to create my signature, cinematic scenes.
" I am infatuated with minimalismâ€?.
I always have my ideas in my head, and I follow my instincts. These scenes are big productions. IÂ´m cooperating with a big production team, especially with stage and costume designers. We are using socialistic designs, because they look minimalistic and futuristic at the same time. I call this style FUTURO_RETRO. The lightning plays also a big role. Usually I use natural lights during the day, but sometimes I use one big softbox. I prefer natural daylight because this light is for
me very natural and believable. My pictures and story have to be natural, because they are like a fictitious documentary taken of an art style. I have to say I prefer shooting on location, with large open spaces where there is a lot of daylight, which I often use in my work. I can see many options for me and my photos there. It may also happen that I discover something interesting by chance for my scene. I love this moment, because it is like fate.
Left page: Youth, from the series Generation, 2019 Above: View from the series Lost in the Valley, 2019
I'm working on new projects, but I can't say more because it's a secret at the moment. I´m experimenting with other news. I want to go deeper. I would like to show people something new, something what they didn´t see before. It´s hard but I´m trying. People should see new things.
Above: Windy from the series Lost in the Valley, 2019 Right page: Sun from the series Lost in the Valley, 2019
"I always have my ideas in my head, and I follow my instincts”.
FORMENTO + FORMENTO Eerie Sensuality: a Cinematic Experience of the Uncanny
ormento + Formento are known for their inventive and stylized photography that explores the uncanny and perverse, revealing double edged allegories with underlying lyricism. Utilizing conceptually playful staged scenes that are psychologically evocative, the eerie sensuality of their style reveals a fascination with fiction and reality. Under the name Formento + Formento, Richeille Formento styles and art directs, while BJ Formento lights and photographs. The images are a mutual portrait - an exchange in which the artistsâ€™ individualities blur, leaving traces on each other. Together, the duo has an enthralling ability to absorb the spirit of a time and place, creating cinematic photographs, with a vision that references the past but remains contemporary and highly original.
All images ÂŠ Formento + Formento
Right page: Old Glory Hysteria from the series Hysteria, 2015-2017 Following spread, top left: Lust Hysteria from the series Hysteria, 2015-2017 Following spread, bottom left: The Kiss Hysteria from the series Hysteria, 2015-2017 Following spread, right : Make Art not Love from the series Hysteria, 2015-2017
How does your photography duo work?
out from NYC to shoot a few assignments for her company. We clicked immediately To fall in love with photography is one thing. both on and off set. I like to say â€œRicheille To fall in love while creating photographs is a is in the details and BJ is in the atmosphereâ€? whole other thing, and both happened to us. So although we started together working in I believe beauty is what happens when people the commercial world, we are able to bring who care about each other make things that kind of attention to detail, the glamour together. Richeille is an art director who of hair and make-up, the timelessness of came to Miami in 2015 and hired me to come the styling with a feline like precision to
"To fall in love with photography is one thing. To fall in love while creating photographs is a whole other thing, and both happened to us".
every dissimilitude. Bringing deliberate beautiful lit, impeccably styled, flawlessly quality, orchestrating ambiance that lulls you made up women in our image and our into a cradle of the uncanny and perverse. abrasion of that same culture. There is something that can be comforting with just Your photography is very cinematic. Can looking at something in detail, to just be you explain the importance of cinema in lost in observing, the pleasure of looking, your work? the surface, the structure, the motion of the light. We think this is linked to reflecting Love/Hate cinema. I think you see the around what the photograph can mean and lighting and composition and definitely the the more symbolic potential of the medium. storytelling. I say love because it is a genre that is such escapism right? You sit there and are How much of your modelsâ€™ personal stories taken away for a few hours. Especially films do you incorporate in your work? by: Tarkovsky, Kurosawa, Fellini, Anderson, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Lynch, Allen, Tarantino, Women portrayed in the visual arts goes back Fincher, Joon-ho, Inaritu and more! through the ages. From idealized goddesses But I also say Hate because of that exact to mythological characters. From Mona reason, you are fed by these filmmakers Lisa to Yoko Ono. The woman is always to think and feel they want you to feel. at the heart of our photographs, for us, she Richeille and I try to make 1 photograph embodies a phenomenon in nature. They that is an equivalent to a film. But we also represent female beauty in both softness and want you to bring your own baggage to in strength through their eyes and stories they the works, your own interpretation, your can show both loss and the possibility of a new own hopes and dreams whenever you see beginning. Women play their inner character it. And for this reason and this reason through the engagement of emotion and alone we love the art of photography. mystery that holds the viewer and raises many questions within us as individuals. A woman You use a lot of female protagonists in your can play both sides to the sword and has a photography, can you tell us about this choice? complexity we love to give a narrative to. On set we all tap into our own baggage. The more Within our approach lies a shifting crux, the modelâ€™s personal stories can be brought our love for a commercially appealing up during our collaboration the better!
Previous spread: Pandemic Hysteria from the series Hysteria, 2015-2017 Left page: Klaudia Saboteur from the series Spies, 2017-2019 Following spread, left: The Kiss Hysteria from the series Spies, 2017-2019 Following spread, top right: Blindfold Saboteur from the series Spies, 2017-2019 Following spread, bottom right: Anastasia Saboteur from the series Spies, 2017-2019
What role does the dĂŠcor play in your narratives? Can you explain your use of quintessential American symbols? It is a blank canvas we are dealing with and the decor is definitely the 4th element (bj, richelle, subject and location). We are suckers for the atomic age, we simply love mid-century aesthetics. What is your relationship to advertising and how is this reflected in your work? Great question. We are bombarded with over a billion images a day and it is harder and harder to elevate photography to the art form it is. We are artists first and foremost and rely on our sales to keep going. It is a great pleasure to get calls from clients in the advertising world that want us to create our style for them. We are normally given carte blanche on the concept and these are the ad jobs we accept.
"From idealized goddesses to mythological characters. From Mona Lisa to Yoko Ono. The woman is always at the heart of our photographs, for us, she embodies a phenomenon in nature".
Left page, top: Karolyna Saboteur from the series Spies, 2017-2019 Center, top: Jordan and Lauren Saboteur from the series Spies, 2017-2019 Above, top: Johanna Saboteur from the series Spies, 2017-2019 Left page, bottom: Irene Saboteur from the series Spies, 2017-2019 Center, bottom: Lauren and Luiza Saboteur from the series Spies, 20172019 Above, bottomt: Hitler Masks Saboteur from the series Spies, 2017-2019
STEPHEN SPILLER Mindful Activism
tephen Spiller’s work is based on social, cultural and political themes expressed through two dimensional, visual art. His images are sourced from his own photographs as well as work he recontextualized from other arenas, such as the internet, print publications, etc. Stephen uses text and digital manipulation, employing humor, satire, emotionally charged words, and other figurative language techniques to express his ideas. He is particularly interested in understanding how social media, as a communication tool, influences relationships. Stephen Spiller aspires to raise “mindfulness” on the subjects of identity and consequential behavior. His work has been included in gallery and museum exhibitions in New York; Chicago; Los Angeles; Buenos Aires; Miami Beach; Arles, France; Malaga, Spain; Thessaloniki, Greece; Venice, Italy; Berlin, Germany; London, UK, etc., online exhibitions, e.g. International Emerging Artists Dubai, and in digital group shows, e.g. Scope Miami Beach, Miami, Fl and See|Exhibition Space, New York, NY. He has also been published in Issues 2, 9, 11, and 12 of Musée Magazine. Al l images © Stephen Spi l l er
Left page: Shattering Azalea from the series Azalea, 2018 Above: See Azalea Get Woke…Episode 9 from the series Azalea, 2018 Following spread: Hocus Potus 03 from the series Behavior, 2019
Your work includes aesthetics and codes used in street art, like in your project Social and Political Controversy. In which ways are you inspired by artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Banksy?
and feelings that infuse me. I often compare looking at their work to how I react to music I love, particularly artists like Bob Dylan, Sixto Rodriguez, John Prine, etc. There’s clearly rebellion at work here, a rebellion against political and social mores I find objectionable. Both Basquiat and Banksy stimulate intense I’m sure I feel as I do because my childhood emotion from me. I respond without thought, was saturated with the notion of “go along to in a way that simply happens. There is no get along”, and I abided by that idea, convinced filter between viewing works they’ve made I needed to do “the right thing” as defined by
my parents and community. Now when I look at Basquiat and Banksy I think - Yes! That’s Quite Right! I THINK! I have no obligation to allow others to think for me. Nor will I be lazy and fail to question actions that “feel” wrong or are immoral, inconsistent or just false. Also, I find it interesting that my attraction to street art has a lot to do with being the introvert that I am. My shooting happens on instinct, very
fast. I am attracted to people who display both characteristics that I admire, and those I hate. Tattoos, wild hair styles, idiosyncratic clothing, etc. all attract me. My wife often asks: “What do you see when you look at those people?” She laughs when I always answer: “I see what I missed, as a younger man, giving myself permission to be like them.” I say to her: “I want to do, and be, more than I am.”
Left page: See Me 01 from the series Behavior, 2015 Above: See Me 02 from the series Behavior, 2015
Can you tell us about your singular technique that combines photographs, texts and digital manipulation?
that view comes on display from digital manipulation of photo content, text, blur, color, etc., or all of those techniques combined.
The question is very interesting because it prompts thinking about how I began my interest in art and what has changed. I became attracted to making art later in life than many artists - about 45 years of age I think. The reason was a planned trip to Africa with my family. I bought my first camera, a Canon Elan, and practiced using it for months prior to leaving the U.S. I obsessed over film choice, speed, aperture, lens choice, etc. filling notebooks with practice shots and notes on technique. I was terribly excited about the prospect of returning home from the trip with fascinating images of wildlife. Following that experience, I convinced myself it was better to become immersed in learning the process of shooting to the complete exclusion of learning how to use the “dark room” to develop my film. I believed, because of my age, I did not have time to learn both and, in any event, decided I could hire someone to process the film. Now, after accumulating a library of images over twenty-five years, that thinking is completely reversed! I do not at all concern myself with camera equipment or technique. I often shoot with a phone camera and/or use my library of work as resource material for assembling ideas, relying on photoshop as my post-production tool, a tool that I never imagined learning or using. My goal today is not clean and sharp images so much as it is accumulation and presentation of ideas often in montage format. Metaphor is king. Everything I do to an image is in service of thinking about what I want to say. It’s so important to me to have, and tell my point of view, whether
Can you talk about your use of color, in particular your noticeable use of saturated colors? How does this enable you to express your ideas?
It’s interesting to me to point out that my work was shot, overwhelmingly for many early years, using only black and white film. Clearly there did come a time when color occupied my thinking. What occurs to me first is that I rather imagine saturated color as being analogous to shouting. And, of course, early on it felt like I better shout if my purpose was to be heard. I’ve come to modify my views on that score, as shouting is a simple, not particularly effective method of entering the fray, no matter the subject. Anyone can shout with an even louder reply as the consequence. So it is a useless currency. More recently I’m working with subtle colors and tints, implicitly asking the viewer to look more closely to decipher what the image is and/or means. I am invested in looking for ways to involve, not overwhelm, the viewer. Having just said that I wonder if I’ve acknowledged a change in my attitude toward Basquiat who certainly produces flamboyant work! Still, if I can get a viewer’s attention by attracting curiosity, and thoughtfulness, I feel like an artwork has done its job. And, let me touch on one other aspect of color as it’s such a complex issue. Regardless of what I just said, I am moved by color employed by Rothko, Stamos, Modigliani, and so very many others but offended by color in high fashion advertisements as there I see it as a tool or ploy exploiting women. Why this is so remains a mystery.
"I want to do, and be, more than I am". Above: Whoâ€™s Your Daddy from the series Behavior, 2019
You have stated that “most people don’t explore, and resolve, issues surrounding their identity.” Can you develop and explain how you tackle such issues in your work? Let me try to answer that first by pointing out that my works reflect who I am, my identity as: a heterosexual, white, male with LGBTQIA sensitivities; a Democrat and capitalist influenced by socialist ideas; appalled by racial prejudice, identity politics, mixing church and state, climate change deniers, economic disparity, the absence of universal healthcare, anything denying women control over their lives, the lack of affordable, quality education, gun violence and the NRA, and more. Using self-reflection as a starting point, my ambition is to understand how I became who I am. And from there I challenge myself to show in images that much, even 90% or more, of what I/we think, say, and do is driven by our unconscious. I believe it’s possible to show that unconscious predicate for two reasons – first, because behavior is often driven by discernible emotion, a common denominator language which is rooted in everyone’s unconscious. And second, because behavior can be understood by seeing and interpreting non-verbal cues as closely and carefully as verbal ones. Indeed, for example, I think a “Freudian slip” is revealing, but no more so than clothing, tattoos, idiosyncratic behavior, and more. If no effort is made to probe unconscious thinking it’s ludicrous to suppose identity can ever be understood. A recurrent theme in your art seems to be the objectification of women and the obsession we have with appearance. Can you tell us about this and how it shapes your work?
My overriding focus is social, political, and cultural subtexts that offer a window into understanding how contemporary life is shaped and lived. Much of my work explores those subtexts by focusing on powerful drivers of individual passions as well as on manifestations of such passion originating from unstated, suppressed, or otherwise hidden events. Your question touches on an important underlying theme - the idea that people in our culture are continually manipulated and exploited by a wide array of interests and factions, e.g. the influence of advertising and fashion. In my own family, both of my daughters were affected in large measure by those two influences. Countless others, I think, respond to the same manipulations by behaving as if they are constantly on stage, demonstrating who they want to be, are expected to be, or others believe them to be. The desire to present themselves favorably is insistent. They are convinced that up-to-date costumes, e.g. distinctive clothing and related accoutrements, are required. By overstating the value of physical appearance, they remain distracted, even divorced, from the process of understanding who they are. Consciously or not, they endlessly engage in a futile effort to cement contrived “looks” into the multidimensional foundation of their personal identity. Furthermore, in the absence of immediate and positive feedback, feelings of self-worth are sabotaged. And worse still, even gratification experienced from positive feedback engenders its own risks fostering notions of false identity. For more on this subject I offer my essay titled My Body/ My Canvas…Maybe: https://stephenspiller. com/section/399332-Essay-On-Beauty.html
Left page, top: Rules And Morals Didn’t Matter Then from the series Behavior, 2018 Left page, bottom: Hocus Potus 01 from the series Behavior, 2018
Do you consider your art as being activist and how do you view art as a means of bringing about social change? First of all, suggesting that my art is activist is quite flattering, and I am pleased with that characterization. As for my ideas on how art stimulates social change, I like to imagine powerful works, for example those of Banksy, hanging on a museum or gallery wall and being viewed by a parade of individuals walking past. Suddenly the one viewer stops for a reason, conscious or not. And, again, for personal reasons that viewer thinks about what the artwork means in his/her lexicon, suddenly realizing there is a meaning larger than him/her self. Am I overstating that moment if I refer to it as an epiphany? I don’t think so for it indeed has happened to me. I clearly recall once standing before a Modigliani and suddenly crying, without thought or embarrassment. It was an amazing moment of emotion for me being so suddenly and unexpectedly touched by a work symbolizing, I think, beauty and love! Indeed, I am wary of argumentative and dogmatic expression, preferring to present ideas in a provocative manner challenging the viewer to recognize and consider the issues at hand. So I think social change from art doesn’t only result from, for example, widespread protest movements. Change can, and often does, begin with one person who thinks, and make connections that previously didn’t exist - one person who sees an artwork on a wall and is stunned by a moment of “AHA”. That’s where social, cultural and political change starts. And that’s what art can do.
Above: Heavy Baggage 1 from the series Behavior, 2018
SUSAN BOROWITZ 'In the Details Lies the Universal'
usan Borowitz is storyteller. After a successful 15-year career writing for American television, she embarked on a study of the practice of photography in 2011 and discovered a new medium by which to tell stories. The classes she took at New York Cityâ€™s International Center for Photography led her to explore portraiture, street photography and creative self-portraiture, as well as introducing her to travel photography. Her experiences with intensive workshops photographing in the American West, South America, Asia and Eastern Europe helped sharpen her skills and eye for her primary focus, fine art photography, specifically staged narratives, where she expresses reflections of psychological journeys. Her images are in private collections in Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
All images ÂŠ Susan Borowitz
Right page: No Vacancy from the series Locked-In, 2018
How does your experience as a Hollywood storyboard. In secondary school and on producer and writer influence your through college, I continued to write and photography? preferred humor writing to anything serious, so it was no big surprise that I became a Both of those experiences have influenced and comedy writer. My entire worldview is filtered continue to influence my work profoundly, through a comedy lens, and I think many of but separately. Let’s first talk about writing. my images reflect that, but layered with a The photographic projects that I find most sense of internal pain and emotion. In fact, satisfying are narratives, either in a series or it’s that tension between humor and pathos a one-off image—they tell a story about the that I consider to be at the heart of my style. protagonist in the picture. At heart I have always been a storyteller. Even as a child My years as a Hollywood producer have before I could read, I put together “books” provided invaluable experience and skills that of little tales that I illustrated with pictures enable me to create my staged environments. and would tell the stories to my (very patient) As a producer, I was learned about every facet family using the drawings as a sort of primitive of the physical production of the television
Above: Delayed from the series Locked-In, 2019 Right page: Stalled from the series Locked-In, 2017
shows I worked on. Location-scouting, lighting, sets, wardrobe, make-up, hair, props—these are all aspects of production for my photography as well. Although it is time-consuming and often a difficult expedition into tiny details, I truly love this part of the process as it feels like I’m building not just a scene, but an emotion, a story, a message that will resonate with the viewer.
Absolutely, yes, I have experienced the feelings of being stuck! In fact, I’ve had multiple bouts with it—all in varying degrees of intensity, from finding myself in a routine that became somewhat unpleasant, all the way to suffering from a severe depression in my late 30’s that was paralyzing. I can’t help but imbue my work with my personal journeys. I use photography as a trowel to dig up issues, fears, hopes, etc. from my psyche and lay Your Locked-In series explores the feeling them bare. As to how I make my personal of being stuck in life. Is this something you journey relatable, I’m reminded of writing have experienced? If so, how do you manage advice I received a while ago, which is this: to convey both your personal journey and a the more particular you can make something universal issue that people can relate to? in your art, the more universal it can become. The microcosm reflects the macrocosm. In
the details lies the universal. Therefore, I work very hard on the specifics—every little element in my photographs has been carefully considered and executed to enhance the story of the picture. But I also make sure that, as the protagonist in the image, I represent the “everywoman” by how I dress, how my hair looks and especially by the use of neutral facial expressions, which allows people to read into it what they are feeling. Perhaps the most effective technique is the scale of my compositions. The woman in my photographs tends to be rather small, almost swallowed by the world around her, suggesting not only the sense of her being overwhelmed by her reality, but also creating a “role” that viewers can cast themselves into. I planned Locked-In to be an exploration of feeling stuck, specifically geared towards middleaged women but at the Gala Awards exhibit in Barcelona in 2018 where six of my images were displayed, a young man in his twenties
Above: Curtain from the series Locked-In, 2018 Right page: Blind from the series Locked-In, 2020 Following spread: Marooned from the series Locked-In, 2018
who was studying them corrected me: he said that my series resonated with him as well and added that many of his young friends also feel very stuck in their lives and would appreciate my interpretation. It was both a surprising and very rewarding conversation that would broaden my perspective of my own work.
" I use photography as a trowel to dig up issues, fears, hopes, etc. from my psyche and lay them bare".
How would you describe the expectations society has towards women – especially middle-aged - and how do you portray feminism and ageism in your work?
and older women experience, not just for the reasons I mention, but also due to unequal relationships and demons residing in the subconscious. Another reason why I compose my shots with the woman so small is to reflect The fact that I’ve been able to pivot my that sense of insignificance that older women career in my 50’s and have people interested feel in society. in my work and ideas is certainly a vast improvement from how women, especially In some images, I play on societal older women were perceived in the Mad Men expectations, as in “Marooned”, where the era just a generation earlier. That being said, protagonist is dressed in a fussy outfit and the patriarchy still has a stranglehold over shoes that would not serve her well in her not just power, but also the judgment of who situation, or “Routine” in which she wears is worthy. Add to that the obsession with a sundress and roller skates on a crumbling youth specifically in American culture—I’m stairwell on the verge of collapse. How often not sure how it affects other countries—and are women pressured to dress for show rather you get a pretty wretched cocktail for middle- than comfort or what’s logical? These are aged and older women. I have seen it happen women who are not prepared to deal with to friends and have experienced it myself: what life has thrown at them because they are feeling invisible, waiting to be helped or seated answering to someone other than themselves. at a restaurant while others get preferential I also like to challenge the expectations—I treatment, only to finally be given shoddy purposefully do not try to make myself service or the worst table. I love to travel alone, look “pretty” in my images. Any makeup is especially as it pertains to photography, but to emphasize a mood, not to enhance my it invites slights not just in restaurants, but attractiveness. Most of my protagonists are throughout the experience. I’ve had one hotel presented raw—the way women look when in Barcelona which has without warning twice they have no one to answer to but themselves. cancelled my reservation and tried to put me Ironically, portraying women who have no in a neighborhood I didn’t want to go. I stand power and who are overwhelmed has given up to this nonsense, since I’m not exactly shy me more confidence and purpose. and call it for what it is. I often get satisfying results, but I suspect they view me as some Your narratives are clear and thoughtold bitch, but that’s not my problem. And for provoking, can you tell us about your staging most women, these insults impact far more process? Do you prefer shooting on location than their ability to enjoy their leisure time— or in a studio? it can affect careers, pay structures, and how little they are valued by their community. First of all, thank you for the compliment! I far prefer shooting on location since the location As a woman over sixty, feminism and ageism is usually what inspires the photograph. I have become important themes in my work prefer natural light as well, so studio work because currently those are the themes of is out of the question. When necessary, I’ll my life. So, in a way, I haven’t had a specific augment with off-camera speedlights, but if moment where I decided to explore those possible, I stay with the ambient lighting. The themes—they just occur naturally. However, one drawback to shooting on location is that it’s worthwhile to point out that I decided to since I’m a bit of a perfectionist, if I don’t feel pursue Locked-In as a series precisely because that I got everything right during a shoot, I it illustrates a lot of the sense of powerlessness, will revisit the location in the right weather, invisibility and frustration that middle-aged lug all my props and wardrobe and try it fotonostrummag.com 79
again. Sometimes the reshoot can’t happen for another year because of accessibility of the location or the weather. So I wait. My creative process is not at all linear. I first have to devise an idea, usually for a series, and that cannot come by directly thinking about it. My ideas always come full-blown into my head after I have subconsciously been ruminating on a thought, a problem, or an issue. It first appears as one, two or more images in my imagination which I then either describe in writing or shoot. After studying them, the theme emerges and then I’m off to the second part of my process, developing more ideas and shooting those. I find locations, collect props, figure out all the aspects of the photo and then decide on a shoot date/time. Sometimes I have an assistant if I can’t manage to do it all myself, but I try to make it a solitary venture, using my iPhone and the Canon app to work the camera remotely. I love working in solitude and getting lost in the process. The internet is very important in my process as I find locations online. For instance, I shot “No Vacancy” after finding information about the town of Belchite right outside of Zaragoza. I then planned to drive there on one of my trips to Barcelona, brought my props and had to negotiate with the caretaker who spoke as little English as I speak Spanish. Thank goodness for language apps. I found online an airplane graveyard in Bangkok for “Delayed.”
I also found the dinghy that I used in “On the Hook” online and rented a truck, also online, to move it to a friend’s house. Other shots are more home-grown. In “Cycling” I took my bicycle out into the surf, steps from my home at the New Jersey shore, eliciting strange stares from local fishermen. At one point after getting knocked down, I almost got swept out to sea as I struggled against the tide to keep my bicycle. Each and every photograph is an adventure and each one tells a story behind the story. I’ve shot images in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Spain, Thailand, Romania and Kazakhstan. I love that there’s a secret joke in the series: it’s about being stuck, but I’m traveling all over the world to create it. What is your relationship to travel street photography and can you tell us about one project in particular? I’m not sure I can claim a “relationship” to travel street photography. I enjoy it because it allows me to see the world in towns and villages I otherwise wouldn’t feel comfortable traipsing about on my own. During the workshops I attend, we don’t go to typical tourist venues and as such, get to meet the local people. A digital camera is enough to break the ice and communicate even if you don’t share a language. Another reason why I go on travel workshops is that I meet so many talented photographers who always teach me a thing or two—and that’s in addition to
Previous spread, top left: Deep End from the series Locked-In, 2018 Previous spread, center left: Stilted from the series Locked-In, 2019 Previous spread, bottom left: Straphanger from the series Locked-In, 2018 Right page: Trip from the series Locked-In, 2017
"As a woman over sixty, feminism and ageism have become important themes in my work ".
what I learn from the instructor. Any practice of photography is nourishing to my staged narrative work. Since I don’t work on travel photography projects, the only information I can offer regarding a project that relates to travel is how I find pictures for Locked-In. In fact, the first image for the series and the one that convinced me to pursue it is “Stalled,” which was shot in Kazakhstan during a travel workshop. I wasn’t enthused about the shoot that was set up for us—reenactors dressed in traditional garb posing in a field by the mountains—so I started wandering to see if anything caught my eye. I came upon a group of very old cars that were just a mess—burned out, rusted away, completely given to decay—
Above: Cycling from the series Locked-In, 2017
and an image appeared in my mind, so I proceeded to make it a reality with the help of a friend from the workshop. I sat in one of the cars and created a dull affect, as if I were stuck in traffic with no way out. The other photographers were very keen on the picture, which made me think I was onto something. Once home, I mulled it over and the series of Locked-In was born. I continue to look for additions to the series all over the world and plan to shoot in Latvia, Scotland and India where I know there are locations that would be perfect. The images from those places are already in my mind. I just have to make them happen. Of course, I have to wait until we’re all released from being actually locked in by the Coronavirus.
RANJAN RAMCHANDANI Sustainable Photography
anjan is a Singapore based award winning photographer, author, and Olympus Visionary (brand ambassador), focusing on travel and wildlife. He goes on regular expeditions and runs workshops around the globe at major wildlife destinations in Africa, India, Latin America and Sri Lanka; Masai Mara, Kenya is a key focus. His works have been exhibited in Germany, India, Singapore and Spain. His coffee table book- Swades, published in 2010, showcases the beauty of Ladakh, India. He has also been published in various media including Outdoor Photographer, Sanctuary Asia and The Wild Lens. WWF has used his images in their campaigns too. Ranjan has been recognized by many awards for his works over the years: Charles Dogson Black & White Awards, IPA (International Photography Awards), MIFA (Moscow International Foto Awards), One Eyeland Awards, Prix De La Photograhie Paris (PX3), The Monochrome Awards, The Pollux Awards, TIFA (Tokyo International Foto Awards). Ranjan is a graduate of the New York Institute of Photography.
All images ÂŠ Ranjan Ramchandani
Left page: Portrait of a leopard - I
Above: The Cheetah family
You often state “the camera has taken me to interesting places”, how do you plan a trip? The only trip which I don’t need to plan is one for wildlife photography as there is no ‘correct’ time for that. Every day is different, and nature has so much to offer. Yes! When planning a trip for street photography or photographing a place of interest; for example Bali, Indonesia - I would look at the weather pattern (You don’t want to spend a week in the rainy season there), then decide what my main purpose is - Is it a work shop or is it a photography trip where I am looking to build a portfolio. This is what drives me. What would you say is the most difficult aspect of travel photography? The planning and expenses. Imagine reaching your destination and then realizing you should have carried a particular lens. I am fortunate that the Olympus system I use is light and small so I carry everything on me. Also, this is not a cheap profession, so unless one sells well, it’s difficult to fund this art. I guess it’s the same for all artists.
What part does chance play in capturing a great moment and how can you encourage it? Chance or being at the right place at the right time, as we call it, is very important in both street and wildlife photography. There are two types of photographers – The one who likes to capture it natural and the other who likes everything set up. I am completely against set up as far as wildlife photography is concerned. In Street work, I would call it a project rather than street photography when set ups are involved and there is nothing wrong with that.
"Chance or being at the right place at the right time, as we call it, is very important".
Above: The Wildebeast crossing Following spread: Fisherman on the lake 1
How do you deal with difficult light or weather conditions? Do you do a lot of postproduction work? Weather and light are both very important. The Olympus system I am now using is very high end and I can shoot at a very high ISO so I manage the light as much as I can, but of course, thereâ€™s nothing like shooting in perfect light. Weather does not bother me in wildlife photography as every situation is one to take advantage of. Shooting in rain is very interesting. Post production is important for every photographer. Yes! One does need to touch up a bit, especially in the wildlife field. What role does wildlife photography play in wildlife preservation? Is this an issue that is important to you? Wildlife photography plays a huge role
in preservation and conservation and is very important to me. Photographing and sharing images show the world and various organizations the state of affairs on the ground in real time. I encourage all photographers to share images that have a story or are bothering them, on social media to bring it to the notice of the authorities. If one has a direct contact with the authorities, then directly with them. I like to support and share images with NGOs like the WWF myself. Apart from this, I always advocate to all that one should not forget the people who look after the wilderness and always pay a visit to the tribes who today have become keepers of the wild. Again, I encourage all holiday makers and safari tourists to please visit and support these villages in any way you can. I personally always carry things of need for the children of these villagers and plan to put a certain percentage of my sales towards this cause.
Left page: The Blue Boy, 2016
"Photographing and sharing images show the world and various organizations the state of affairs on the ground in real time". Above: Circles of Water
AURÉLIEN VILLETTE The Spirit of the Place
urélien Villette was born in 1982 in Chesnay near Paris. It was after a desire for a radical lifestyle change in 2008 that he refocused on his lifelong passion: traveling. It was at this point that he discovered photography. Since then, he has visited more than thirty countries to meet societies and stories that have shaped his vision of the world. What Aurélien highlights in his photos is a personal point of view on our civilization and its changes through architectural constructions. His photography documents how architecture manifests cultural change. After having obtained the congratulations of the jury during the SFR Jeunes Talents 2012 competition with his series Structure and Structures, he then became a professional photographer and built his projects and his research around what he calls the Spirit of the Place.
All images © Aurélien Villette
Above: Villa Borommeo from the series Verticalité, Italy, 2012 Right page: Villa Dimante from the series Topophilia, Italy, 2014
Can you give us your definition of the Spirit A lot of your work is centered around the of the Place? aesthetics of ruins and the passage of time. Can you explain this choice? There is a fairly theoretical definition, which I think is important to remember. It is a reflection For the sake of wanting to stay as close as of our behavior in our territories and the ways possible to reality, I hesitated for a long time to in which we will converse with and maintain it. touch up the images of some of my series. But The spirit of the place is both the material and by the aestheticization and the sublimation immaterial aspects of a place. The material of these ruins, I invite the spectator to take meaning its architecture, the visible know- a contemplative look and detach themselves how implemented to define its identity, its from our reality, without ever crossing the geography and the dialogue that the place border with the unreal. This prolonged gaze on maintains with the space that surrounds a photograph feeds a romantic vision of a place it. The intangible part is the memory of the that is, however, anchored in reality. It is at place, its history, its function, its original this point that the spectator may pass from the activities, but also its heritage maintained contemplative state to questions and navigate by the writings and the memory of people. between these two feelings. Contemporary These principles are important during ruins, ancient ruins, ruins in the process of renovation works for example, to preserve becoming vestiges, ruins that have become the identity of a place and to take into touristic attractions, what remains of their account its roots, even if the place ruined state? What do they still represent? will lose its primary function. In town When the old ruin takes time to wither planning for example, it is important not to become a vestige, the contemporary to lose the identity of a neighborhood. one has no time to disappear, moreover In my case, using this idea by taking it is not made to age, it is already replaced, architectural photographs, allows me to mirroring our fast-paced society. question our needs materialized by these In any case, they are not in the past, they are constructions. As for the aesthetic rendering still there before us. They present themselves of my photographs, the light coming from with their marks made by time, nature and the outside makes it possible to reposition a people: our history, our beliefs, our needs and place in its territory. The sublimation of the our past ideologies. They are there to tell us, craftsmanship or the stigmas of the life of the now, that there has been a past. That there will places come reinforce the idea of spirit of a be a future and that nothing is immutable. place. Since I put this idea at the heart of my The ruins show that even one of the most approach in 2014, the choice of my trips has powerful regimes will eventually pass, been guided by this spirit, which is, in the end, the ruins bring us back to the present, the only the presence of men on these territories. ephemerality and the fragmentary side of our
Left page: Ottoman Villa, Jordania, 2019
lives. They are bridges between several times. behind these ruins and this present. This treatment that I have with light becomes one Light plays an important role in of my ideals in my photographic approach. subliming the architectural constructions you shoot. Can you tell us about your The dilapidated buildings you photograph use of light (natural vs. artificial)? become cultural heirlooms of the various periods and countries they are located in, Although I sometimes use artificial light for like in your project Topophilia—Abkhazia completely enclosed places or for night photos in Post-Soviet Abkhazia. Do you consider outdoors with different lighting techniques, your message to be a political one? natural light is essential in my work. It comes from outside and gives life to the Even if the questioning on a political aspect place, revives it, every day in a different way. of my work can be legitimate, by the choice Light changes perspectives and spaces, it of certain subjects but also by the desire enlivens or extinguishes colors, it highlights to talk about the role that we have on our or hardens a surface, permeates the material spaces and on Earth, the purpose is not or is reflected. Outdoor light is not only direct political. Rather, my desire is to provoke sun, it exists through clouds, vegetation, introspection through my photographs. windows, cracks or through a dilapidated When it comes to more specific subjects roof. Over the years, I have been looking in a territory like Abkhazia, I would like to for the light that could compliment the communicate a kind of “positive nostalgia” place. I am looking for it more and more, where loss and the impossible turning back because it seems to me that dealing with it, are no longer the only feelings that these despite the technical disappointments it can ruins can evoke. These brought to the present sometimes cause with our cameras, allows are taken from a romantic dimension and to give life to the place. When touching up, also bring a form of “memory” which is not by accepting this light with its constraints only carried by their fall in itself but by the and advantages, I bring out colors and positive memory that they were. The idea is to textures, spaces and openings. Consequently, live better with nostalgia, to live better in the a photograph that could just seem “frozen”, present and to look to the future. This was the suddenly takes life in the present, with all subject of my exhibition on Abkhazia at the the senses and the questioning that I see Tbilisi National Museum, Resolution of Silence.
Above: Eglise Orthodoxe 1 from the series Dogma, Roumania, 2019
Left page, top: El Khoury Palace from the series Topophilia, Lebanon, 2019 Left page, bottom: Blessing from the series Dogma, Russia, 2018 Above, top: Gagra Station from the series Topophilia, Abkhazia, 2016 Above, bottom: Sanatorium, Abkhazia, 2016
What is your relationship to the Urbex cycle of days and seasons, to appreciate all movement? the lights that a day offers and to feel closer to what you are photographing. Today, my Urbex seems to me to be an activity where travels are punctuated with photos of ruins, the goal is to visit a building in a transgressive cities and landscapes. Pathless landscapes way, as the illegal side is important. It is are for me the end of a journey, a return to also a community where sharing photos nature where man is no longer in charge and or videos testifies to the success of the visit. where he has nothing left to protect himself. The more artifacts there are in a place, the more coveted it is. It is an activity that Nature is also a key protagonist in your has seen an advent with the proliferation photography as you often show it invading of social media and the democratization and reclaiming spaces once civilized by of digital photography. Because until man. Can you explain this imagery and its then, it was rather a â€œhiddenâ€? activity. significance? The more the Urbex developed, the more I wanted to focus my work on roaming trips Mankind immediately began to fight nature where the adventure is not to enter a building by barricading itself, building walls, roads, but to cross certain territories. Each day is a to be protected from the indomitable different place in the bivouac. Sleeping outside instabilities of nature, so much so that we while roaming is also a way to rediscover the are less and less adapted to it. Although the
meaning is therefore all found “nature claims the spaces that have been stolen from it as soon as mankind is no longer there”, the major significance for me is the poetry of these ruins. They have become romantic, where the reality of yesterday and the unreal of today coexist, in the manner of “follies”. Follies that can be found in the parks of castles and are intended for daydreaming and escaping our world. It is a very romantic vision, often depicted in painting. Nature strangely abandons its uneasy representation against which man needs to protect himself and takes on an enchanting, almost reassuring meaning. As if time, even when we would like to believe that it has stopped between these walls, always continues ... a future is always possible.
"Pathless landscapes are for me the end of a journey, a return to nature".
Left page: Tskatulbo 1, Georgia, 2013 Above: Epecuen, Argentina, 2020 Following spread: Santa Anna from the series Dogma, Italy, 2018
ANDREA STAR REESE Investigative Photography ndrea Star Reese is a VISURA photojournalist/documentary photographer based in New York, Seattle, and Jakarta. Ms. Reese is an overall recipient of the 9th Julia Margaret Cameron Award for two documentary works, Disorder and Urban Cave. Photographs from both series were exhibited at the Berlin Foto Biennale, October 2016. Andrea Reese began her career as a filmmaker in 1983 and transitioned to Photojournalism/Documentary Photography in 2007. On staff at the International Center of Photography School, and a tutor at the 2013 Angkor Photo Festival Workshop, Andrea Star Reese is a 2010 fellow in Photography from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a reGeneration2 photographer. Al l images ÂŠ Andre a St ar R e es e
Left page: 01 ASR from the series The Urban Cave, 2008 Above: 02 ASR from the series The Urban Cave, 2008
For your project, The Urban Cave, you photographed unsheltered men and women living underground in New York City for seven years. Did you manage to become part of a community and how do you view this experience on a personal level? In October 2007, during one of my first visits to the train tunnel, I noticed smoke rising from a burning cigarette on the ground next to me. Clearly a signal. Carts and broken suitcases were stacked near a ladder that was leaning against the wall. Above, amidst piles of garbage bags, I could see a bucket, shoes, a bottle of water, and various articles of clothing. The rafters seemed to indicate the outline triangle of a roof. Light fell down from grates above the tracks. I spoke to the wall. No one answered. Further down the tracks, masses of graffiti were joined by remnants of murals. Odd disembodied voices, sounds of children playing, hovered over the tunnelâ€™s silence.
Later, I went back to the wall to inform the house that I would be returning the next day. Chuck and Lisa stood up. Lisa was pregnant. Within weeks of my first visit, Lisa gave birth to a son. I found her back in the tunnel exhausted and ill. Lisa welcomed me up over the wall into to her home because she wanted someone to photograph her son at the hospital. For one hour the three of them, Lisa, Chuck and the baby were a family. And with that, a chance door to opportunity opened for me to pursue The Urban Cave. It takes kindness, courage, acceptance, and shared hardship for men and women to live in rough and challenging conditions for as long as twenty or thirty years. The people I photographed shared resources, took care of one another, extended comfort to the damaged and the deeply saddened, stood together against predators and saved lives. They protected me, they adopted me. Now close friends, most of are in regular contact with me.
Previous spread, left: 08b ASR from the series The Urban Cave, 2009 Previous spread, top right: 12 ALT ASR from the series The Urban Cave, 2013 Previous spread, bottom right: 04 ASR from the series The Urban Cave, 2009 Above: 09 ALT ASR from the series The Urban Cave, 2010 Following spread: 06 ASR from the series The Urban Cave, 2009
How did you document these relationships? life underground. Even with that shift, on Did you feel like photography facilitated the the streets the beauty of place, of people was social relations? real despite the brutality of unsheltered life. The Urban Cave is about individuals, the full spectrum of their lives, not just their deprivations. When I visited,Â I never knew what would happen or who I would find. Sometimes they just told me to follow them. It was important to me to preserve the beauty of place and people. I never censored, but neither did they. The people in this book took huge personal risks for this work. They gave me and the project everything they had: their story, their time, their protection and their love. All they asked was that I accepted and told the truth, all of it, even when it wasnâ€™t easy for them or me. In sharing their story, they wanted to warn others about falling victim to the lifestyle they had to live. In the beginning it was a magical time. Money was coming in from gathering scrap, recycling cans and parking cars on weekends in the Batcave. Country and Snow White were newly in love. My experiences seemed like flash instances from Three Penny Opera, Les Miserables, or Charles Dickens. At the end of 2008, as the value of scrap metal grew and contractors stopped discarding it, there was a corresponding emerging need for money and I witnessed a darker side of
How do you capture the essence of a place or atmosphere? For my ongoing current work of nine years Disorder: I work in environments toxic with bio waste. Human rights abuses are rampant hidden and in plain sight. In heavily controlled situations (with assistance from residents) I try to find opportunity to photograph what I am told not to show. I show up without notice, return, spend more time then you might guess not photographing, waiting for a back to turn, watching, outlasting minders, becoming familiar. I know the challenges faced by families and owners of shelters and the caregivers in social care facilities and homes. The story is complicated and I know what questions to ask. The journalism side of this story involves familiarity with: Governmental Ministries, laws, insurance, drugs, clinics, hospitals, pantis (social rehabilitation institutions or shelters), traditional healers, innovative programs, family needs, the consequence of all that is done and what is at stake, who to question, interview, who to consult.
" I try to find opportunities to photograph what I am told not to show".
Can you tell us about your project Disorder?
to a diagnosis of mental illness or most commonly, feel it is necessary to protect family, I work in a neurological battleground community, and the disturbed individual. photographing courageous men, women, Indonesia is estimated to have over 19 and children. Throughout Indonesia, people million people with psychosocial disabilities. who have a perceived or actual mental illness can be held indefinitely in impossible I work around barrages of PTSD. I try to shield conditions. Their situation is worse than my fixer and local by photographing alone that of a jailed prisoner who at the very least but this work gets complicated. Then we leave knows the length of his sentence. Many are while others stay. So maybe the critical part hungry, forced to eat, sleep and defecate while of my work is to ask/beg/urge men/women/ shackled or locked away in rooms, cells, cages, children to survive, to value living, and to animal sheds, or held in wooden stocks. hold onto hope amidst the unspeakable Despite long held stigma, men and women evidence of their circumstance while they allow me to photograph because they want battle a mental disease that can be successfully people to know what is happening, see what treated. I get a few hours to accomplish they must tolerate. Their partnering is a fight that armed with respect, focus, attention, for life and liberation, recognition and respect. bits of conversation, and information. Disorder was used for education, training Can you define the Indonesian term pasung? and as part of community outreach How did you show this in your work? programs in Indonesia. What is its influence and posterity? Pasung is the Indonesian term for chains, stocks, or shackles, but can also refer Right now I am partnering with a coalition to being locked in a room, pen or cage. of local NGOâ€™s meeting with Indonesiaâ€™s Banned in 1977, it is the widespread government to request urgent emergency traditional response to mental disorders COVID-19 assistance for social care facilities throughout Indonesia and an act of housing people with psychosocial disabilities. desperation. Caregivers resort to pasung when I have provided the photographs and video they cannot afford care, fear medications and clips pro-bono from 2018 and 2019 for a addiction, want to avoid the stigma attached video report along with my list of more
Right page: 01 ASR from the series Disorder, 2012
for a video report along with my list of more then 50 locations (a list I would normally not provide). But there is no Government database, no list of private regulated shelters.
report to help institute a neighborhood doorto-door outreach/intervention program implemented by local clinics. The Ministry of Social Affairs responsible for social rehabilitation institutions was less happy Early reportage of Disorder triggered a with the report. Then the government passed Human Rights Watch investigation resulting the 2016 Disability Act. It mandates setting in the 2016 campaign report LIVING up Governmental Rules to regulate social IN HELL. Following the formal launch, rehabilitation institutions. In 2018 the launch Indonesiaâ€™s Ministry of Health used the of an updated HRW report included an
exhibition of my work at Indonesiaâ€™s Parliament.
who receive prints, video clips, images and information pro-bono. In 2019 I contributed The majority of this work is independent, to a UN Shadow Report. Disorder has been enhanced by my fixer who is also a video published and exhibited Internationally.Â cameraman and local sources (ie: The head of a local NGO, the owner of a coffee stall, a manager of a recycling (garbage collection) center as well as Internationally respected NGO PJS (Perhimpunan Jiwa Sehat-Indonesian Left page, top: 03 ASR from the series Disorder, 2012 Center, top: 02 ASR from the series Disorder, 2011 Mental Health Association, all survivors) Above, top: 08 ALT ASR from the series Disorder, 2019 Left page, bottom: 05 ASR from the series Disorder, 2014 Center, bottom: 07 ALT ASR from the series Disorder, 2018 Above, bottom: 04 ASR from the series Disorder, 2015
BÉNÉDICTE VANDERREYDT The Construction of Female Identity hroughout her series of photographs Bénédicte Vanderreydt explores different layers in the construction of female identity. From adolescence to adulthood, she shows the successive roles that women are able to embody : child, wife, mother, mistress, etc. Each of her projects meets a singular aesthetic where the place of the staging is strong, revisiting with cinematic images that will haunt the viewer for a long time. She questions and challenges the permanence of certain ancestral rites of passage in our contemporary society like the Carnival in her series I never told anyone. Social networks, family mythology and factual research are the starting point of her photographic reflection, but as a photographer she is not limited to the transcription of a reality but is constantly seeking to sublimate and interpret it. With her theatrical training her photographic work highlights the illusionistic power of masks, either on social media or those who adopt a mask at a carnival, (as the series of photographs I never told anyone exposes). Being masked allows a character to become a silent link which is reminiscent of the paintings of Paul Delvaux. - Heloise Conesa - Director of engravings, and Photography Department - BNF (Bibliothèque François Mitterrand, Paris). All images © Bénédicte Vanderreydt 120 fotonostrum.com
What is the place of female identity in your Then I had to find the words to help her to work? find the right posture: HER PLACE. I told her to resist. The photograph was done! I am searching for ‘that’ place. This is exactly the Big question I ask myself each time I am How does painter Paul Delvaux influence starting a project. And that’s THE question I your photography? am hoping people ask themselves when they look at my work. In FORCLORE (I Never Told Heloise Conesa (Director of engravings, Anyone), a naked girl is standing in front and Photography Department, BNF, Paris) of 13 men from my family. It was tough for indeed saw that in my work. The place her. She felt humiliated. And men were not of staging is strong. As I am Belgian, I laughing anymore! They were uncomfortable. guess I am playing (unconsciously) with We (the photo crew) were astonished by the the semiology I have known since I was a reality of the scene. At first, the naked girl child. In Paul Delvaux’s paintings, I like the took a submissive posture. That’s how we characters who seem to have been waiting for are educated; I would have done the same. something for years… Between life and death.
Above: Folclore from the series I Never Told Anyone, 2015
In your series I Never told Anyone you explore the oppression and objectification of women by a male dominated society. How much of your personal experience have you put in this series?
Subsequently, most of the people in the photographs are my relatives. Fusing fact and fiction, I re-create melancholic scenes, revealing stories of my family’s troubled past. When I first started the project (Go back to Binche and make an inquiry), I wrote that A few years ago, I discovered two hidden ‘poem’: personal diaries written by my far-related cousins Jacqueline and X, who are 75 years old now. I started exploring the secrets of These women around me do not always tell the these women, their scars, and their strength truth. and with this – my own identity. Like a scream in the night, they once arose in I realized they were not understood. These my dreams and asked me to release them. women in my family are divine powers who They undressed in front of me but transmit the wilderness, freedom and passion kept their masks on. at the cost of being out of the social sphere, They whispered words wrapped in Ostrich ruling in a closed and silent “between women” feathers, in confetti and white laces. world. They invited me to magical and chilling places.
Previous spread: Territoires from the series I Never Told Anyone, 2015 Right page: Mercredi des Cendres from the series I Never Told Anyone,
Above: HĂŠritage from the series I Never Told Anyone, 2015 Right page: Post CoĂŻtum from the series I Never Told Anyone, 2015
"Fusing fact and fiction, I re-create melancholic scenes. Besides the personal stories, my work also addresses a symbolic oppression".
The location of your narratives is important. How did the Carnaval of Binche give you an opening into the theme of misogyny and what is your personal relationship with it? Besides the personal stories, my work also addresses a symbolic oppression. Binche is rooted in Northern European folklore: its Carnival is one of Europe’s oldest surviving carnivals, listed by UNESCO in the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Also part of our family’s tradition, the Carnival has been Above: Non Grata from the series I Never Told Anyone, 2015 Following spread: Captive(s) from the series I Never Told Anyone, 2015
held by men for the past 500 years. In ancient mythology the woman has no voice. Excluded from the ritual she is reduced to a sexual and mysterious object. That’s where it all started. I was born on Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras. The men in my family cherish this tradition wearing carnival costumes and repeating all the genuine rituals generation after generation: My mother and cousins dress up my uncles, grandfather, putting straw under their jackets. Only men can be part of the carnival parade. Men are in the spotlight, women are
behind, in the shadows. They are not allowed to wear the mask. We all enter in a state of trance, at that moment we are in accord. When I started reading about the mythology of the Carnival of Binche, I discovered amazing things: this carnival is very similar to the traditional celebrations of the Dogon tribe in Western Africa. And we have similar dances as in Serbia. Knowing this, I started to understand the power of my tradition and also the problem of being a woman in all these different mythologies.
Your photography is very cinematic. Can you explain how you get this effect and how you use it to enhance your message? This presentation is a â€˜once upon a timeâ€™ tale, displaying a fiction. I work with continuous light and steam machines used in cinema which creates an effect that is called sfumato in painting. Despite this heavy cinematic implementation, the choice of the still image is clear, determined by its power and also by its ability for reminiscences.
AGNIESZKA RUDNICKA A Journey Into Consciousness gnieszka Rudnicka is a photographer, photojournalist, filmmaker and a fine artist. Bridging photojournalism and fine art, she addresses sensitive subjects in an artistically engaging way. Her deep interest in understanding consciousness and different ways of life prompted her to travel across continents to remote places in Central, East and South- East Asia, the Middle East and South America, developing a personal photographic research and an extensive image library. With an ongoing series, she documents lives of Indigenous Peoples, Shamans and so-called Holy Men and Women across the globe. Her works have been exposed at exhibitions in the UAE, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, UK, Spain and Brazil and are a part of private collections across the world. Al l images ÂŠ Ag nieszka Rud n i ck a
Above: Gentleness from the series The Resplendent, 2019 Right page: Wisdom from the series The Resplendent,2019y
Can you tell us about your project The abuse of resources, domination, isolation Resplendent and its importance to you? of an individual, reward-seeking, and lack of pure reflection on who we truly are. The Resplendent promotes the preservation If we want to live resplendent lives, we of indigenous ways of life. And the need to be resplendent at the core of our reintroduction of the qualities celebrated psyche and the core of our collective psyche. by indigenous groups into modern society. There still remains places and people If we are to live in a Resplendent World we connected to our archaic understanding need to build it on principles and values of reality. Their values and approach to life which result in resplendence itself. Those and society, however, are being dismissed values have been disappearing from the more and pushed into the abyss of our collective and more globalized way of thinking at an amnesia. The Resplendent presents those expeditious pace. We may try and deny that very values in the eyes of real people but materialism, which is spreading around who are still living them. Values that are the world at a scary pace, evokes competition, vanishing from the surface of our world.
Above: Contentment from the series The Resplendent, 2019 Right page: Understanding from the series The Resplendent, 2019y
What I hope to achieve with this project is What is consciousness to you and what role for people to look into those eyes and take a does it play in your work? moment to reflect. Reflect on humility, reflect on femininity, reflect on true courage. To be conscious means to be aware of one's surroundings and experience. There are And through the process of reflection, either various ways of being awake in this regard. reinforce those qualities within themselves I have been traveling remote areas exploring or discover them anew. What better moment various ways of experiencing reality. And than the current situation we are finding the virtues that come with it. The western, ourselves in to reflect on who we truly are, so-called modern approach to reality is and how we want this world, Our World, to disappointing. Grounded in materialistic unfold. It’s ok to admit we made fundamental principles of causality, disconnected from mistakes in how we built it. As a civilization, nature and, I dare say, from our true selves. we’re still kids. But it’s time to grow up. So I set out on a journey looking for other ways. And there were only two directions. I believe that the key to the world’s Going East and going into the past. A sadhu resplendence lays deep within our collective in Himalayan highlands wakes up in the psyche, on the level of values that need to morning, takes a super cold bath in the holy be reevaluated, addressed, and celebrated. river, his body shaking, his face smiling. If wisdom and sense of true community go He does his prayers asking to grasp greater viral, we have a chance at our Future. understanding, then sits with his friends at the fire laughing about the simplicity of it all. This is his world. An indigenous woman working in the fields in Cachar Hills carries a heavy bucket of water across the village for her grandchildren to take a bath. The sun warming her face evokes a smile. She sends gratitude to Mother Nature and the Gods of the Sky. This is her world. That which we are aware of/conscious of is Our World, the world we experience. So, one might say that consciousness is reality itself. Groups of people create collective worlds. Those worlds, which are called societies at this stage, are based on their beliefs and values. If you value nature the sun evokes a smile on your face. That smile evokes a feeling of gratitude which puts you in action. Those very actions determine who you are. And how you build your world. The Resplendent explores the very values which drive the lives of those whose worlds seem to make their eyes shine. A journey into ways of being conscious.
"What better moment than the current situation we are finding ourselves in to reflect on who we truly are, and how we want this world, Our World, to unfold".
Right page: Peace from the series The Resplendent, 2019
How much of yourself do you see in your portraits? Is looking into the eyes of those “connected to the spirit and nature” a way for you to achieve self-understanding and dig into the human psyche? There are two ways to explore oneself. Looking within and looking without. If we consider the world outside of us a reflection of who we are within, searching and exploring the unknown makes total sense. To understand ourselves is to understand reality. And one way of doing so is by looking in the eyes of those whose concepts of reality extend beyond
the self and out into the spirit and nature. My portraits are designed for anyone looking at them to see parts of themselves. Some forgotten, some hidden away or denied in self-defense, some right on the surface of our psyche. Notice how, when facing another person, you know exactly who you are. Not simply because they reflect you to you, but through the process of observing. And through this process, we learn something about ourselves. We extend our understanding. Are those connected to the spirit and nature more self-aware? Having spent a lot of time with the Indigenous I have to say: they’re
definitely unafraid to know. There’s a sense of humility that erases self-defense and denial. Without those, there is this courage to see who we truly are. When you look in the eyes of The Resplendent they talk to you about you. Shakespeare didn’t invent the fact thateyes are windows to our soul. He became aware of it. As Indigenous have been for millennia. To expand awareness is to know yourself more. You look into those eyes, and the soul you’re looking into, turns out to be your own.
"You look into those eyes, and the soul you’re looking into, turns out to be your own". What is your relationship to nature and how does this affect your photography? If I was to find one philosophical approach which describes the way I see nature it would certainly be Taoism. To live in harmony with nature and allowing it to teach us all that needs to be known. To live a life by expressing the essence of spontaneity. Just like nature does. The Wu Wei way of life, described as an effortless surrender to the natural cycles of the world would be my ideal model. Those few, who are still truly connected to
nature and its cycles carry an incredible wisdom. Being exposed to these people, seeing how they cherish their crops, the rain and the sun and how they simply follow the patterns trusting in nature makes you realize how lost modern world is. The agriculture and mass production of goods. Another obvious symbol of how detached from our true nature (literally!) have we become. We urgently need to give nature her due respect. And remember as a collective that we grow out of her not alongside. If this one realization was to become our collective value imagine how different the World would be! Wu Wei means following the patterns which already exist in nature. It’s like a dance. In my photography and film work, this means merging with the situation I find myself in. Merging with the subjects of my work. Usually in the form of an honest laugh. You won’t find a more delightful company to connect to than those, who are connected to themselves. Connected to their true nature. When you visit places where you don’t speak the local language, the only way to connect is to become a part. A part of the dance of the present moment. The way to do that is by being natural. Wu Wei style. The Resplendent is an invitation to this dance. An invitation to look into the eyes of our true soul. Straight into the level of our values. Incorporating the eastern way of understanding reality may help speed up the process of examining our values. Add to it the wisdom of our ancestors passed on to disappearing ethnic and indigenous groups, we may still have a chance at saving our nature and building a world of resplendence. The World worth being conscious of.
Previous spread, left: Presence from the series The Oldest Sadhu, 2016 Previous spread, right: Contemplation from the series The Oldest Sadhu, 2016 Right page, top: The Sadhu from the series The Faithful, 2016 Right page, bottom left: The Wanderer from the series The Faithful, 2016 Right page, bottom center: Sadvhi from the series The Faithful, 2018 Right page, bottom right: Joy from the series The Faithful, 2018
Above, top left: After Long Silence (Appleton, Maine) from the series I Promise I’ll Never Forget, 2019 Above, top right: Elisabeth’s Pearl (Camden, Maine) from the series I Promise I’ll Never Forget, 2019 Above, bottom left: The Shiny Blue Car (Lincolnville, Maine) from the series I Promise I’ll Never Forget, 2019 Above, bottom right: Closer (Camden, Maine) from the series I Promise I’ll Never Forget, 2019
MADELEINE MORLET Coming of Age Tales
adeleine Morlet is a photographer from London. She studied Classics and English at King’s College London and for almost a decade worked in video production for companies such as Ridley Scott Associates, Vice, i-D and Somesuch. Her photography is cinematic, dark and deeply romantic (Romantics are often failed classicists). Madeleine is the Features Editor for Teeth Magazine and teaches photography at Maine Media Workshops. I Promise I’ll Never Forget showed at Dowling Walsh Gallery in September 2019. The series has been awarded the 14th Pollux Award, Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Award, honorable mention for the 14th Julia Margaret Cameron Award, Lucie Foundation Photo Made Scholarship, Ellis-Beaugaurd Studio Residency, and been shortlisted for the Lucie Scholarship Chroma X Luxe, Belfast Photo Festival, and Felix Schoeller Photo Awards.
All images © Madeleine Morlet
We have had the opportunity of seeing your project I promise I’ll never forget in the 14th Julia Margaret Cameron and Pollux Awards exhibition. Can you tell us about it and its importance to you?
continue to revisit for the rest of our lives.
I Promise I’ll Never Forget is a love letter to youth. In early motherhood, and as a Londoner transitioning to life in rural Maine, I felt a kinship to the adolescent experience. This project was an attempt to translate the ephemeral state of early motherhood, through the lens of adolescence, as each of us navigated a coming of age. Integrating structural frameworks from other visual and narrative mediums, such as literature, cinema, and theatre, these images centre around the creation of fictional narratives. I wanted to explore themes of time, memory, and nostalgia within the constraints of my personal experience. What I learnt was that our uncertain and self-conscious times are not met alone, but amongst our communities. In young adulthood there is so much longing for connection, for meaning, for the future. What we struggle to understand at eighteen is that the questions we ask ourselves then, around our identities, our relationships, our desires, are the questions that we will
I think identifying my relationship to nostalgia is difficult, and if I were answering this a year ago my response would be very different. In retrospect, these images are nostalgic for a fantasy of youth that does not exist. It hasn’t been my lived experience, nor that of my subjects. Creating fictional narratives, and capturing adolescence in this way, has been both an act of escapism and an exercise in a specific collective cultural memory. The project led me to question what it is we inherit, both personally and culturally, and how we can navigate the limitations of our own histories. In recognising my own limitations, that of my native vernacular and its informing cultural history, I have also recognised the danger of nostalgia and generational memory. In this way, my relationship to nostalgia as a theme has become complicated. It has also, recently, led me to extend my practice, in an attempt to capture the same local teenagers within the context of their real lives.
Your photography seems to evoke a certain sense of nostalgia, is this a theme you like to explore? If so, why?
Right page: It’s Hard To Say Goodbye (Lincolnville, Maine) from the series I Promise I’ll Never Forget, 2019 Following spread: The Second Coming (Rockport, Maine) from the series I Promise I’ll Never Forget, 2019
"Our uncertain and self-conscious times are not met alone".
How much of your narratives are based on history of New England has seeped into this personal memories and experiences? pastiche of my personal cultural history. My upbringing wasnâ€™t conventional, my family moved a lot, as a coping mechanism for change, I would escape into narrative, literature, poetry, television, film. These narratives are not a reflection of my personal experience, but more a reflection of the memories I have from the fictional stories of my youth. Equally, my practice is influenced by my geography, so the cultural
In your series I Promise Iâ€™ll Never Forget, you use a variety of costumes from 17th century New England gowns to modern day school uniforms, can you explain this choice? I worked as a video producer for years, and my approach to photography has something of this in it. Concepts start as visual mood boards, which are translated through the use
photography has something of this in it. see how the costume is directly influenced by Concepts start as visual mood boards, which that moment, but the narrative was actually are translated through the use of costume. inspired by a children’s book called The Silver Crown. For I Promise I’ll Never Forget I worked closely with a local stylist called Emily Seymour. As This book defined my young relationship to costume is a storytelling tool, the choices are literature, in it the child protagonist escapes always specific to the narrative. For example, in a shiny blue car, but soon realises that she I had never seen the show Dawson’s Creek has been misled by its driver. I wanted to before, which is set in New England, and at produce an image that captured something the time I was compulsively catching up we of that ominous undertone, paired with this shot the image “The Shiny Blue Car”. You can specific aesthetic.
Previous spread, left: After Long Silence (Appleton, Maine) from the series I Promise I’ll Never Forget, 2019 Previous spread, right: The Secret History (Rockport, Maine) from the series I Promise I’ll Never Forget, 2018 Above: If You Break My Heart I’ll Die (Lincolnville, Maine) from the series I Promise I’ll Never Forget, 2019
You have described your photography as being “deeply romantic”. What is your relationship with romanticism and how does it influence your work? On a basic level Romanticism in art is representative of a relationship between nature, the imagination, emotion, and the individual. If I am honest though, I think I just loved the way “deeply romantic” sounded.
"This book defined my young relationship to literature, in it the child protagonist escapes in a shiny blue car, but soon realises that she has been misled by its driver".
Above: Summer Street (Rockland, Maine) from the series I Promise Iâ€™ll Never Forget, 2019 Right page: A Room Of Their Own (Rockland, Maine) from the series I Promise Iâ€™ll Never Forget, 2018
LINDA RUTENBERG The Gaspe Peninsula: Land on the Edge of Time inda Rutenberg started as a fine art photographer 30 years ago. She has a BFA in film and music and an MFA in Photography from Concordia University. Linda has taught photography and worked on projects which have resulted in fifteen publications and numerous exhibitions. In 1995 she opened Camera Lucida Image Centre in Montreal which housed a darkroom rental facility, a lab, a school and a gallery. In 1997 she co-founded Galerie Mistral, a fine art photography gallery in Montreal, Canada and served as its director for five years. Currently Linda creates, teaches, lectures and inspires young artists mentoring them to bridge the gap between art and business. Her fine artwork has been exhibited internationally and most recently in Canada, the US and England. Her series Urban Visions, One Island – Many Cities, Mont Royal, The Spiritual Landscape and The Garden at Night and her recent work The Gaspé Peninsula are all explorations of the relationship between the environment and its people. Her latest work is called Land that Whispers and is an exploration of the Negev desert in Israel.
All images © Linda Rutenberg
Right page: Gaspe Fishing baskets Chandler, 2012 Following spread: Gaspe Tourist huts, 2012
I have always believed that one project leads me to the next. My work in the Gaspe began with my earlier Garden at Night project. I was photographing at the Reford Gardens on the St Lawrence River in Quebec, at the gateway to the Gaspe peninsula. This river is 70 miles wide in places and is tidal, and people refer to it as the sea. Gaspe is a Micmac word signifying « land’s end ». The Gaspe peninsula is the outermost advance into the sea of Quebec, Canada’s mainland territory. At this “end of the world” a precarious way of life, dependent on the sea, was fashioned over the centuries. My photographs dwell upon the traces of that life to be found in the dead of winter, when the land is in hibernation. This is an isolated region that sees tourists only in the summertime. While working on my Garden at Night project, I spent time in that area in springtime, summer, and fall. I was curious about the winter, but everyone I spoke to discouraged me from coming. They
Right page: Gaspe Fishing Huts 4, 2013
said it was cold, windy, and that everything was closed. Little did they know that this made it more attractive to me. So, that winter, my husband and I rented a small cabin on the river in the month of March. We witnessed the thawing and disappearance of the thick frozen ice on the river in one night, as the temperature went up by about 4°. I was so awestruck, that I decided I needed to explore the region and see what it looked like in the winter. That began my project which continued over three winters. Ironically, winter has become my favourite season there. It’s dramatic, very windy, but every day is different. There’s no pollution, and the skies go from brilliant blue to steel grey to snowy white. I made seven two-week trips over three winters and chose to explore a different portion of the Gaspé peninsula each time. I also started to read about the history of the region and its fishing industry which is their primary lifeline.
What was especially wonderful was when I exhibited this work in the museums around the Gaspe and the local people came to see the show. They told me they saw winter as black and white. The colour I had found was extraordinary and they would never see winter in the same way. Having experienced a privileged glance into a uniquely insular place, I as an artist, in turn, became an essential link between the worlds of the city and of the land. My work is about transformation. I have always been attracted to the idea of breaking through the traditional photographic practice and exploring the possibilities of another space. The Garden at Night allowed me to become a witness to a theatrical world that has always existed, but no one noticed it. Working with a camping flashlight as lighting, my husband
and I explored thirty-five public well known botanical gardens around the world. When I begin a new project, I am drawn to a place, but I donâ€™t really know why. When I begin to photograph, I make images of everything that catches my eye and there was something about the way objects emerged from the snow that really struck me. When I looked at my first images, I realized that the most striking photographs were the ones that revealed objects which conveyed the essential links of the people of the Gaspe to their barren landscape. The solitude of the land was broken by the very existence of its people. A road, a lobster trap, a woodpile: these things embodied a sense of place, defined their identity, and framed their existence on what seems to be the edge of the world.
Left page, top: Gaspe Yellow Cube, 2011 Left page, bottom: Gaspe Covered wood pile, Les MĂŠchins, 2012
Nighttime and a singular light allowed me to isolate the textures, shapes and forms of the garden. I saw them as anthropomorphic beings, performing a nightly piece of theatre in their desire to be pollinated. It is a sensual world and we became nocturnal explorers. I mentioned that I am a coach and a mentor and that I've worked as an incubator manager trying to inspire and encourage young artists to use their work as a means to live. Until recently, I think many artists disassociated themselves from the notion of art as business. Thanks to the Internet, their ability to get their work in front of a different audience is easier. I think more artists are willing to spend the time and to tell their stories, which help to show their audience what makes them different from everybody else. This is very exciting and it's my pleasure after 30 years of being a fine art photographer to be able to give back to them.
"When I begin a new project, I am drawn to a place, but I donâ€™t really know why".
Right page, top: Gaspe Old Barn, Les MĂŠchins, 2012 Right page, bottom: Gaspe Fishing Huts #3, 2013
Above: Gaspe Fisherman hius #2, 2011
IRIS RAY Subverting Gender Stereotypes ris Ray is a photographer with an affinity for saturated color, big personalities, fantasy, and kitsch. Their obsessive consumption of cartoons and pop culture inspires their work, as well as their cosplay hobby. They have the most fun making images that are both beautiful and subversive. Iris lives in Atlanta, GA, working as a photographer and an instructor at The Creative Circus. All images ÂŠ Iris Ray
Above: Deep Dive No2 from the series Deep Dive, 2018 Right page: Dee pDive No4 from the series Deep Dive, 2018
Can you tell us about your use of saturated main tools for suspending reality a little bit colors? In which ways does this enhance in my work. For me, taking something that your message? looks familiar and decorating it with color in an unnatural way is how I place these visual Iâ€™ve always been attracted to big, bright, stories in a world of their own. larger-than-life worlds in art â€” Dali, David LaChapelle, just to name a couple. I think What influence do cartoons have on your the way I gravitate to wild amounts of color work and how do your narratives benefit and the way I surround myself with it is an from this? extension of that. Sets and subjects that are hyper-saturated with color are some of my Anime in particular is a huge influence,
Previous spread, left: Deep Dive No5 from the series Deep Dive, 2018 Previous spread, right: Deep Dive No1 from the series Deep Dive, 2018
specifically the mahou shoujo (magical girl) genre. The visuals and storylines are often so outrageous, it has inspired me to be less inhibited when I begin to concept new personal work. Just simply because these wild concepts exist, I look to them for permission to be as absurd and flamboyant and dramatic as I can.
Can you tell us about your views on gender issues and how this is reflected in your work?
I felt constantly frustrated by the ways that I saw human behavior being policed based on a binary understanding of gender. That was the motivation to begin creating work that explored gender expression. I think that leaning into gender stereotypes and Your protagonists usually present both exaggerating them is a fun way to subvert stereotypical feminine and masculine traits. them, just like drag. I used to create work that
was specifically gender-centric, then have my “normal” work. But my own complicated relationship with gender is so much of who I am, my artistic voice naturally just wants to play with these concepts of gender all the time. Sometimes it’s overt, sometimes not.
be inspired by them, and build a narrative that I want to capture them in. Instagram has also been an amazing tool for connecting me with creatives that see the world the same way that I do. Some of my best friends and collaborators have been found through Instagram!
"Leaning into gender stereotypes and exaggerating them is a fun way to subvert them".
Do your characters come from real life encounters like in your series Sophisticated Pervert or are they solely the fruit of your imagination?
My characters are definitely a form of escapism, so I like to take them as far out of the real world as I can, while still being just realistic enough to not alienate viewers. My imagination is so formed by other artists that excite me. I’m constantly pulling from different sources and mixing them all together until I’ve made my own thing. Sophisticated How do you choose your models? Pervert is definitely a great example. I was hugely inspired by John Waters; one of his Most of my models are my friends or people original Dreamlanders, David Lochary; and in my community! I will often see someone, Tom of Finland.
Previous spread, left: Evil Is A Blonde No2 from the series Evil Is A Blonde, 2019 Previous spread, center: Evil Is A Blonde No3 from the series Evil Is A Blonde, 2019 Previous spread, right: Evil Is A Blonde No4 from the series Evil Is A Blonde, 2019 Left page: Evil Is A Blonde No1 from the series Evil Is A Blonde, 2019
Your work also references the absurd and Thereâ€™s a standard life script that says neutral uses kitsch imagery. Can you explain these walls and a tidy appearance are proper marks choices? of adulthood, and I just reject that entirely. The kitschy, vibrant aesthetic of my work is I just love maximalism! Maybe itâ€™s some a natural progression, because those are the sort of Peter Pan syndrome, too. I think the aesthetics that I surround myself with already pressure to assimilate intensifies as we age. to just feel more excited about living.
Above: Fancy Feast No2 from the series Fancy Feast, 2017 Right page: Fancy Feast No1 from the series Fancy Feast, 2017
S P O T L I G H T
FotoNostrum Magazine is a spinoff of FotoNostrum, Mediterranean House of Photography, a parent company of WonderPick Ltd and The Worldwide P...
Published on Apr 30, 2020
FotoNostrum Magazine is a spinoff of FotoNostrum, Mediterranean House of Photography, a parent company of WonderPick Ltd and The Worldwide P...