If you follow this blog, you know how important FotoFest Biennial has been for me, for its role in the world of contemporary photography. Its international, groundbreaking exhibition give deep thought to topics, angles and geographic areas that are not well know outside of their boundaries; a rich community and meeting place for photography curators, museum professionals and gallerists with photographers and connoisseurs. For me personally FotoFest has been crucial in my work as a photographer with its inspiration to a larger international community. Continue reading
An exhibition that has been in the works for several months is opening on March 1 at the Fort Worth Community Art Center in Fort Worth, TX. The Haunted Archive is an exhibition of post-photography, curated by me and featuring photographs, paintings, collages and installations by eight artists, based throughout the United States.
It includes works by Rachel Black, Kimberly Chiaris, Angela Johnson, Priya Suresh Kambli, Devon Nowlin, elin o’Hara slavick, JP Terlizzi and Melanie Walker.
This exhibition explores the vernacular family photograph as a visual, emotional and social topos. Continue reading
Neighborhoods of the Heart, at Sunset Art Studios
Last December, I was invited to be the visiting artist at the Center for Creative Connections at the Dallas Museum of Art in the summer of 2018. This great honor involved developing a series of programs, based on my artistic process and concept, to connect visitors of the museum to the works in the collection and a larger idea. Continue reading
Toy camera fans, did you hear the news? The Holga is back.
One of the first posts on this blog, seven years ago, was about a roll of Kodachrome. As Kodak was discontinuing the production of its legendary film, the last lab capable of developing its unique process was ending its work, too. So I caught the chance and shot one roll of Kodachrome myself.
That last roll was actually also my first. While for most everyone else the pull of the film was nostalgia, for me it was something I could only define as second-hand nostalgia. I didn’t have access to Kodachrome while growing up, of course, but experienced its allure as part of the allure of the American dream – yet when I was able to access it, the dream had changed. Continue reading
If you are in Texas, you are invited to my solo exhibition Tablecloths at Langdon Center (Tarleton University), in Granbury, TX.
Reception: October 29, 5-8pm
Visit: Oct 31 ottobre – Dec 14, 2016
Langdon Center, 308 E Pearl St. Granbury, TX
Hours: 10am-4pm, Mon-Sat
The exhibition includes a series of large format cyanotype photograms on silk and cotton that simultaneously presents and questions the idea of home, using the centerpiece of the tablecloth as a conceptual device. Using 3-dimensional surfaces in tables, corners, steps and thresholds, the photo-sensitive fabric captures shadows and direct contact and then fixes the ephemeral sensation of feeling at home through the photographic process. Still, thanks to the optical distortions (and the added stains) home looks like a perceptual illusion. Continue reading
Beach cyanotype. Hung home style
Rascuache (or, in its Americanized version, rasquachismo) is a Mexican term for reuse and repurpose of things. It is a strategy for everyday life typical for the poor masses as well as a mark of resourcefulness for people in general everywhere. But in the last decades rascuache is also an artistic term meaning the use of humble materials and unexpected sources of supplies – like plastic for drawing, discarded metal parts for sculpture and others. That may sound like the usual found-object crafts that we often see in gift shops and at artfests today but actually originate from the revolutionary practices of Chicano movement artists in the 60s. They used it not because it was cool but to make a political point and insert themselves in a process that was seen as the privilege of higher classes. Continue reading
After several years of hard work, I am preparing my project The Skin of Memory for a solo show at the Fort Worth Community Art Center coming up in early January. It was an honor to be selected by the exhibition committee and debut a body of work that has taken so much to research, experiment and think about.
Hope you can come!
Do you have a favored way to learn making new things? Like trial and error? If you overcome the fear of wasting a lot of materials as you learn, that’s one of the best ways. If. Yet, if you decide to use cheap materials, just to obviate that fear, you may not get good results and so be discouraged and abandon the whole project. But still. As I always like to say, I learned photography because of digital formats so I didn’t have to worry about wasted pixels.
Here is something new that I taught myself over a period of three years maybe. Continue reading
If you are waiting to hear how the review went, it hasn’t come yet. It kept getting postponed, which is great for my worrywart soul but also prolongs the anxiety. Anyway, the project that has taken the most of my time is The Archive. As the best form of presentation, I decided to make an actual antique binder, covered with dark green cloth with metal corners and the photographs would be filed inside, stitched with thread.
If you have been following my blog you know that the Archive of Abandoned Dreams is based on the poetry of Dimcho Debelyanov, a Bulgarian symbolist who, after a brief life as a literature student and then clerk (in order to support his family after the death of his father), volunteered for World War I and was killed in a battle with an Irish division. The irony of his life, in which his forced choices were made against his worldview and beliefs points so well to the aesthetics of symbolists, who relished in the impossibility of communication and forged a code of metaphors that distanced them instead of bringing them closer to readers. Debelyanov himself lamented the impossibility of his dreams but then abandoned them willfully with a very symbolic gesture. This way of relating has so much to do with contemporary culture: a world of facebook mirages in which participants create willful representations of their lives that seem more compelling when ambiguous. Continue reading
As the New Texas Talent exhibition at Craighead-Green Gallery in Dallas is drawing to an end, I realize that I haven’t talked about my new work in the show. The images are done in an arduous process that took months to research and produce that it now deserves to be told about. It’s a process that makes for unique prints that also fits so well in the broader direction I’ve been following in the past couple of years. See some examples above. Continue reading
©Ellie Ivanova. Watercolor on a vandyke print
I’ve been playing with the idea of hand-coloring photographs for quite some time. But it has been mainly daydreaming about it, researching it, being fascinated with it, without actually doing it. Somehow I’ve been looking to discover the real reason I want to hand-color; to give shape to my ideology of hand-coloring first of all. Or maybe I’ve been afraid to ruin the prints 🙂
Before the advent of color film, hand-coloring served the purpose of adding color to black & white images. It was meant to restore reality where it was still technically lacking. And as happens with all photography tools, when technology finally catched up with a possibility, people embraced it for all the practical purposes but also disregarded it f0r art’s sake. Since the 50s, hand-painting on monochrome images has been happening for different reasons, mainly to alter the original color, to make a statement, or to embrace the aesthetics of times past.
Here are some approaches to hand-painting that have fascinated me the most: 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
©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
©Ellie Ivanova, Stray Spirit, 2012
This image on the left, a silver gelatin print of a photo taken with my Holga, will be part of the Spooky Show at Lightbox Photographic Gallery, my favorite gallery in Oregon. The opening reception is on October 13, 6PM to 9PM. Stop by if you are in the area!
photo by camera-wiki
One of the bonuses of spending time in Bulgaria for me is the chance for old, interesting, quirky photo finds. That usually means old photos, but also – and especially – old cameras and curious photo equipment you rarely come across these days.
My latest acquisition is this Certo-Phot camera, produced by camera maker Certo in Dresden in what was East Germany. Now, the company itself was founded way back in 1902, but it almost fell apart in the wake of WWII, after which it became state-owned. Its history follows the twists and turns all German technological brands experienced as a result of the war: nationalization, patent restrictions and plundering, activity shifts or even splitting between East and West, which by the way gave us two Agfas for more than 40 years. Continue reading