Overview participating photographers
Japanese-born Daido Moriyama, is undoubtedly one of the most important contemporary photographers. But who exactly is this reserved, amiable phenomenon from Tokyo? What kind of enormous energy is hidden behind his simple images? And how can it be that his photographs, however much they are reproduced, rotated or mirrored, succeed in maintaining their essence? The Fotobookfestival Kassel invited 31 photographers and 21 writers to formulate an answer in visual and textual statements. The result is the photobook On Daido, which has appeared in a limited edition and shows a multi-sided image of this great innovator in photography. At the same time, it transcends paying homage to one man and it is a tribute to photography in the broader sense. This presentation is the first of the project in exhibition form, in a co-production of Noorderlicht and the Fotobookfestival Kassel.
On Daido features: Morten Andersen, Jacob Aue Sobol, Machiel Botman, Krass Clement, Antoine D’Agata, John Gossage, Todd Hido, Takashi Homma, Osamu Kanemura, Rinko Kawauchi, Keizo Kitajima, Asako Narahashi, Katsumi Omori, Koji Onaka, Martin Parr, Anders Petersen, André Principe, Ken Schles, Joachim Schmidt, Oliver Sieber, Katja Stuke, Aya Takada, Ali Taptik, Stephen Gill, Mika Ninagawa, Alec Soth and Terri Weifenbach.
During his youth, the Swedish photographer Martin Bogren learnt to cope with the long Swedish winters and lack of daylight. He describes it as a ‘state of waiting’. Bogren’s series HOLLOW sketches his personal, subjective experience of this period, which takes place in a figurative winter landscape, somewhere in Northern Europe. The winter levels off human emotions and brings people into a state of slumber, a form of loneliness which is something in between desire and waiting. It is a comfortable emptiness, says Bogren, while we wait – for something that must start or rather must end.
The analogue black and white images from the series ECLAIRAGES by the French photographer Stéphane Charpentier are a cross between street photography and a photo diary. His existential images form a path to an ambiguous world, in which the photographer attempts to distil the hint of uncertainty surrounding objects and humans. With his sincere images, Charpentier brings our world’s wounds and feelings of anxiety to the surface. It is an ultimate attempt, from a photographic perspective, to provide real life with a doppelgänger.
Rather than researching stories, a place or a person, Boris Eldagsen hijacks and transforms reality. Eldagsen uses the outside world to sketch an image of the subconscious. Without making use of extravagant effects, Eldagsen combines the techniques of street and staged photography to create images that are somewhere in between painting, film and theatre. He presents his photographs in installations that are fine-tuned to the space in which they are exhibited. In doing so, he creates a fluid reality, in which visitors are able to walk through the images towards an inner space.
With his work in progress OVER|STATE, Ilias Georgiadis fights his demons: loneliness, squabbles in relationships, excessive alcohol and drugs use, and self-destructive behaviour in general. He views the distance we keep to others as a living organism, fed by our fears, which we struggle with in a search for love and empathy. Georgiadis uses his camera to observe this instinctive urge – his urge – for isolation and his desire for the fringes of society. In doing so, he hopes to establish a connection between light and dark, as he on occasion works his way through the darkness with his cutting flash.
For Nicolas Janowski, THE STATE OF THINGS is the account of a transition in his work and life. He wanted to liberate himself from prejudices, fears and mistakes from the past. In doing so, his camera not only functioned as a means to express himself, but also as a vehicle on his journey towards the release of this burden, to go through life lighter henceforth. Where in his documentary projects he attempted to be as true to what he saw as possible, in The State of Things he tried not to think about the images, but to feel them with his heart; resulting in images with a great narrative power flowing from the personal need of expression.
Faces, body parts, and everyday objects reflect a bright, ghostly light against a dark background – in GLOW, Katrin Koenning focuses on that which would normally only have a momentary glow, or none at all. In her black and white photographs it is often not visible what reflects the light. This play with light underlines the transient nature of the world around us, and the ways in which we can look at it. “We see only what we want to see,” says Koenning. “If we liberate our gaze on the world, both physically and in the metaphorical sense, everything changes.”
For Helio Léon, the boundary between life, dreams and imagination is thin. He keeps coming across situations in which he is reminded of people and moments that have influenced his youth. This wasn’t any different when he returned to Istanbul for his series THE PURPLE ROOM, the city in which he spent a happy and romantic period of his life some five years ago. All of the photographs taken in the Turkish metropolis are reflections of his own life, says Léon. He came back to a city that is still being destroyed at a rapid pace. The wounds of the city seemed to mirror his own wounds: his anxieties, obsessions, mourning and intimacy.
Léonard Pongo has been taking photographs in the Congo of daily life in the districts of the megacities Kinshasa, Kananga and Lubumbashi. Stemming from his desire to come into contact with the Congolese culture of his father, Pongo followed not only friends, family and strangers, but also local politicians, church leaders and TV broadcasts. The result is a collection of encounters influenced by life experiences, desires and a shared reality, which Pongo was able to utilise to capture the inhabitants of the Congo’s urban districts. Instead of focusing on the country’s conflicts and crises, Pongo wanted to understand what the Congo’s existence looks like outside of these trouble zones.
An endless night that stretches over Berlin and St. Petersburg, and penetrates into decrepit interiors in which people pass by or pose – that’s how you could view Alisa Resnik’s series ONE ANOTHER. She has been taking photographs of life and its reflection, fragility, grace and melancholy. The result is a succession of lonely people, with deformed faces, withered bodies, entwined in an embrace or alone. It is a troubled universe, shot in heavy colours, in which the viewer principally feels Resnik’s profound empathy for the protagonists and the places she has photographed.
In November 2012, Ronny Sen went to the Cambodian city of Siem Reap, hired a bike for two dollars a day and rode around at night taking photographs. Without a preconceived plan, he photographed faces, animals and bodies, in an attempt to capture decisive moments as well as those in a state of suspended animation. He was attracted to people on the fringes of society who manage to survive and thus escape the predictable final destinations such as prison, the mental institution or death. The city’s dark side not only fascinated Ronny Sen, but it displayed strong similarities with the disillusioned feeling he had at the time.
Besides paying homage to Daido Moriyama’s photograph Stray Dog, the neighbourhood in Istanbul where Yusuf Sevinçli lives has this title as a nickname. Here he photographs the everyday scenes he encounters day and night. His raw, coarse-grained, black and white photographs seem to come from days long gone, by which they underline the fleeting nature of human existence. Sevinçli does not want to show reality as it is, but rather his own reality and his own dreams. He shows what remains of humanity once we have passed the political.
In the eyes of Polish-born Magdalena Åwitek the earth is an unbelievable laboratory, which we as individuals spend a mere fraction of a second in. Everything that we experience, create and are witness to in life forms part of us, says Magdalena Åwitek. In her long-running series BORDERLINES, she gathers her personal gaze on the world, in which her eyes patrol the border of consciousness and disbelief, like a guard. The purpose of this borderline is to be able to distinguish and capture the moment between dream and reality, dirt and purity. Each photograph tells of the continuity of the body, the fragmentation of time and the apparent unpredictability of our existence.
According to an old Japanese saying, a child who dies before his parents is punished by having to pile up stones that are repeatedly knocked over by an evil demon. Parents therefore ease their dead child’s suffering by also building towers themselves. After a good friend had taken his own life, Munemasa Takahashi went to ‘lay stones’, as it’s called in Japan. At the same time, he took photographs of flowers, plants and people’s bodies, all of which will come to an end in order to lead a new life in a different form. They are rituals to find closure to events that are irreversible, a path from darkness into the light.
Rogier ten Hacken
It doesn’t matter where Rogier ten Hacken finds himself: he feels strange and awkward wherever he is. He believes that he may reside in a permanent state of dreaminess. It was in this state that he travelled across the country, all the while carefully looking around him and intuitively photographing whatever attracted his attention or mirrored his emotional state. While a certain place attracted him the one time, another time he may have ended up somewhere by pure coincidence. As the days slipped by, Ten Hacken found a sense of silence.
In the series NIGHTS OF GRACE, Peruvian-born Gihan Tubbeh documents the most primitive human instincts. The tone is piercing: the series sees man exceeding all his limits. Tubbeh’s stories are about the fragile abundance of desires, the insatiable hunger for pleasure, on the edge of suffering, about the violation of flesh, pleasure through crime, fear, weakness and guilt: the body as a battlefield of desires and destruction.