John Albok, Untitled, New York, 1930
PDNB Acc # 0085
This is about clotheslines. The feel of serenity, the association with the lifegiving powers of the sun, the metaphors for human connections. I miss them so much and their simple graphic beauty that everything that looks like rectangles on a line, e.g. traditional Mexican papel picado banners, gives me the joy of laundry art associations. Because I also see them as a serendipitous art form in itself – along with being a meaningful social phenomenon.
The inspiration for all this is John Albok’s photographs at the Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery in Dallas. They surely present the full panopticum of clotheslines symbolism and motifs you can find in a city. There’s the loneliness of the isolated human figure, suspended in space, in the shape of an empty dress. Or the connections between people housed in the grey buildings of a dense urban space. The intimacy of our inner thoughts that we unwittingly display in public, to air them. The festivity of small laundered items that look like flag pennants on a ship. The comforting beauty of criss-crossing lines that connect everything. Continue reading
Photography is seasonal labor. No, it doesn’t only happen during a certain season, but – for me at least – each season imposes its own very different rhythm and demand. I travel in the summer, print in the fall and spring, develop ideas all the times. But the only chance for exhibitions is winter and spring. Following this rhythm requires so much planning, discipline and ultimately accepting the course of what comes your way
So, here are three more exhibitions where my photographs can be seen on display right now.
©Ellie Ivanova. Still Life with a Fly
First off, Another Way of Seeing, an exhibition for alternative photographic processes, hosted by New Orleans Photo Alliance, a significant force for photographic good in the South. It was juried by Christopher James, one of the most authoritative figures on alternative processes in the US. There’s more news related to this, but it has to wait for now My two pieces in this exhibit are vandyke prints, a process I adore for its rusty feel, and they can be seen until May 18. Continue reading
If you wonder what I’ve been working on lately, here are a few images from a new project I started based on the poetry of one of my favorite authors, Dimcho Debelyanov – a Bulgarian symbolist poet, intellectual and one of the most sensitive soldiers to lose his life in World War I. Unfortunately, very little of his exquisite works has been translated into English, so I can’t fully show you the depth and sensitivity of his verses and let you judge how they inspired the images above.
In a few words, his poetic dilemmas focused on the impossibility of reconciling reality with ideals. Which, for this projects, metaphorically speaks of the impossibility of art to transparently represent ideas. I aim to use Debelyanov’s particular metaphors in images not to evoke your despair as viewers, which many people report as the effect of his poems, but to address this dilemma. Austin actor Greg Holt modeled for it. If you are local to DFW and would like to help me out by modeling, let me know! I promise the experience won’t be depressing as the poetry suggests. Continue reading
By now, you’ve probably seen these two images of the pope announcements of 2005 and 2013.
The images above reminded me of an emotional story Umberto Eco told last summer in his column in Espresso. When he was a young boy, he witnessed a horrible road accident: a peasant woman had been run over by a truck, her head wounded amid a puddle of blood, her husband holding her and wailing in anguish. The little boy was transfixed – it was his first encounter with death, as well as with sorrow and despair, which he counts as a defining moment of his life and perhaps his most vivid memory. Continue reading
©Ellie Ivanova. Leaning on a Weak Argument. Silver gelatin print and linocut, 2012 and 2013. Click on image to view it large
Franco Vaccari says that photography is an unconscious act: the technology largely eliminates the necessity of an author with his/her artistic will and hand. And I bet every photographer hears at least once a day the lamentation that photography can’t really be considered an art, since cameras nowadays do all the work.
So I took the chance to see how my photographs would work if they were prints as a blessing. Prints as in printmaking, made not from negatives taken by a camera, but through the hard labor of your hand. I was curious what my pictures would look like in that form, but first of all, if they would really feel like my own. And I’d have to say it’s been a very illuminating experience. Continue reading
John Thompson: Manchu Bride, Peking, Penchilie province, China Photo Courtesy of Wellcome Library, London
At a time when neither Leicas nor iPhones existed yet and photography was quite a serious affair involving assistants, coolies and fragile heavy equipment, you’d think photojournalism would be impossible. Yet it was in those early years when a Scottish photographer – John Thomson (1837-1921) – laid the foundations of photojournalism with the social documentary work he did in China in the 1860s. His photographs from those years can be now seen in their first exhibition ever at the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas.
It is an exceptional exhibition on so many levels. Of course, the first appeal is the chance to see what China was really like in an era when cameras didn’t roam its lands – the great diversity of peoples, life and traditions, many of which are now extinct. And Thomson pointed his camera to street porters and high-rank officials, rejected ethnic minorities and respected monks alike.
The most compelling feature of his photography though was his cultural sensitivity and his poignantly humanistic approach as an observer and a photographer at a time of which we are used to expect cultural paternalism and a focus on the exotic. While looking at a reality and people so different from his own, he saw not just types but their distinct personalities. When witnessing social phenomena dramatically different from what he knew, he didn’t point at their weirdness but found parallels with those at home. And he did it through photographic means. Continue reading
If the first day of the year is auspicious about the rest of it, I’ll be watching photography-related movies all throughout 2013. But I bet you could’ve guessed that even if I didn’t watch a couple of them on January 1
One of them was the mesmerizing – in a quiet, subtle way – Brazilian film Found Memories (Julia Murat, 2011). Just like eavesdropping on a conversation and slowly realizing it’s about you, I realized this story could be about me: raking through a past with a camera lens and trying to bring it back to life, when the camera can only capture what’s here and now. Full of metaphors and lightly paced, it’s delightful to watch and ponder on the interweaving connection between photography and life. Continue reading