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Lucas Olivet is a photographer based in Switzerland and graduated from the Vevey School of Photography. He addresses issues of memory, loss and longing by way of his own life as well as through a wider historical and cultural frame. His photographs capture the living and intimate details of the everyday while inserting a touch of the supernatural. In Kopiec Bonawentura, Olivet’s debut monograph (Kerber Verlag, Berlin), the photographer capture scenes of Poland and the exiled lands of its diaspora called Polonia.

To start us off, instead of asking you about you early steps in the medium, I would prefer you to mention a major difference between back then and now in your art making or art perceiving in general.
The desire and enthusiasm are the same, doubts as well but no more romanticized the idea of being an artist!

I don’t think I’m in my prime now, or better shooter, but I trust more my intuition, as far as projects pile up, they’re talking to each other in harmony and disharmony. I realized over the years that photography wasn’t about obstructions but possibilities and a mixing of categories is not to be avoided but to be embraced, protected even.

What/who were the key elements to your photographic education? I don’t just mean photographers—I’m thinking of key life experiences or other forms of art, such as music/cinema?
After the Photography School (Vevey, Switzerland) I had a compass plugged in my eyes: nothing but the 4×5 was legit but I wasn’t patient enough, especially in the dark room. I still did a first series (Martisor) but my way of practicing was rigid.

But contemporary art was the big deal to me, my surroundings were more artsy, meaning that photography was kind of minor art as well, even though it would drive me nuts:

-Old f****** victorian idea! I had to distance myself at some point. Anyway, long story short, I took different jobs in art galleries in my hometown (Geneva) and closely observed artist studios; show displays, somewhere it between, it gave me in some details the best definition of what art is. At Blancpain Art Contemporain gallery, I encountered Sophie Ristelhueber and Eric Poitevin. Those two people brought the sparks!

About music, I’ve done years of drums and percussions and believe that it helps me a lot for sequencing images. Roe Ethridge speaks admirably about relationship with music and editing by the way. Otherwise, Photographing is very physical to me, can’t barely shoot with a tripod, I need to be in motion and for that reason I sometimes feel I’m on a movie set!

What is Kopiec Bonawentura about?
It takes its origin from a quote by french author Alfred Jarry from its play Ubu Roi (1896): Set in Poland, that is to say nowhere.

I build a multiple and transnational answer, somewhere between Poland and the exile lands of its diaspora called Polonia. I lets myself be driven by a Polish legend, the one of Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kosciuszko that historians call the last knight or the first citizen of the world. Kopiec Bonawentura examines the uncertainties of memory where photographs exist to contradict one another and to build a narrative that is elusive.

In the photobook you have combined images and text. Can you elaborate on this procedure which many photographers find quite difficult ?
I couldn’t be visual only with this specific topic, there were multiple voices, divergent subjects, eras,I had to do a bricolage to reveal unexpected relationships. Weaving a narrative mode through images and texts helped me to loosen up in term arrangement and sequence, allowing myself to the poetic without indulging in kitsch.

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Lucas DeShazer is a photographer born and still living in Portland, Oregon, USA. As he makes a living by developing softwares, he mainly shoots on large format focusing on the landscapes of his region. In his series Waves of Change, he reflects on the changing place of Oregon, but also in his life.

Can you give us some background information about how you got to photography?
The memory of it is hazy for me at this point. When I was a kid I wanted to make backgrounds for my computer like the landscapes I found online, including digital ones from websites like Digital Blasphemy. At some point I spent quite a bit of time trying to recreate landscapes with recorded elevation data and 3d rendering programs and eventually had the realization that I could probably just get out of the house and take a picture of it with a camera. Eventually, I was introduced to “conceptual” photography (in a very loose sense) and realized that photographs didn’t have to be “real”.

Born and raised in Oregon, you’ve been photographing this area since always, what makes this place so special to you?
There’s a very special mythos of the American west that keeps me here. Open public space and the idea of the “frontier” (no matter how gone it actually is) feel very western.

“I think Shore’s work made me feel like the photographer wasn’t even there, the image just existed for me to step into, and that was sort of a revelation for me”.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time driving around the US and once I’m east of the Rockies it feels like something inside of me has died a little bit.

Tell us more about your series Waves of Change
Waves of Change was my first “real” attempt at a project. Most of the images were made around the time where a lot of my family was dying rapidly – both of my mother’s siblings died within a year or so of one another, followed by my father’s only brother, and then shortly after my father died very unexpectedly. It’s my visual and emotional response to feelings of the world changing rapidly around me without the ability to influence the change myself. It’s also somewhat about my feelings towards a changing Oregon and the rapid gentrification of Portland – the old is out, the new is in, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

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Matthew Genitempo is an North American photographer and book publisher currently living and making work in Marfa, Texas. His first book, Jasper, published by Twin Palms, was photographed in the Ozark Mountains and is inspired by the poet and land surveyor, Frank Stanford. The poetic, caption-free sequencing, bounces between fact and fiction and suggests a double escape: from contemporary society standards but also from yourself in. Jasper is completing his graduate thesis for an MFA at the University of Hartford in Connecticut and will be at the heart of our conversation.

What was the starting point of Jasper? It feels like you didn’t have a “storyboard” in mind before start photographing and you dove in the subject without predefined ideas.
I sort of fell into everything all at once. Escaping preconceived ideas for pictures was something that I dealt with quite a bit before beginning Jasper. I had spun out on a project out West and I was trying to redefine my practice. I had switched to black and white, I started including flash, and I quit thinking about making pictures. Coincidentally that time matched up with meeting some people that were living in the woods. I never really stopped to question what I was doing. It felt right, so I went with it.

Would you consider yourself a land surveyor? How did you manage to keep this wide body of work both documentary and conceptual?
By my understanding of that occupation, I wouldn’t consider myself a land surveyor. However, I spent a considerable amount of time being in and being aware of my surroundings while making the work.

Keeping the work both documentary and conceptual wasn’t something I was consciously after. Maybe it’s just something that photography is inherently successful at doing. I think if there was any conscious effort, it came later when I was sequencing the book. There are a lot of pictures that didn’t make the cut that fall on either end of that spectrum.

“There were folks that I spent time with every single time I visited the Ozarks and others I met once, photographed, and never saw again”.

What drove you in the woods of the Ozarks? All these people look very intimate near you and your camera. How was your relationship?
Before I got to the Ozarks I was making work in a small forest called The Lost Pines. It’s a disjunct belt of pine trees that is separated by over one hundred miles from the Piney Woods region that runs through east Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri and eventually connects to the Ozarks.

Subconsciously I think I wanted to end up in the Ozarks because at the time I had a small obsession with the poetry of Frank Stanford. My relationship to the inhabitants there varied. There were folks that I spent time with every single time I visited the Ozarks and others I met once, photographed, and never saw again.

Picking photographs can be tricky, but that’s where curators come in. Some photographs are just better than others at conveying the entire narrative of Jasper.

Why did you decide to use black & white film instead of color?
I was primarily working in color before I began Jasper. I started using black and white because I needed more restrictions and I needed to make less decisions. It also helped build a more convincing world, in my opinion. Color is tough. It can be distracting. Black and white also never really grounds one in a specific time or place and that was very important to me.

Was there any particular poem/book of Frank Stanford that you had in mind while forming Jasper?
Mostly I carried his collected book of poems with me. There was no particular poem that stood out as a major influence for the project as a whole, but I did find a few times that I would make a photograph and then later discover that I was almost illustrating scenes from poems. His words became fixed in my subconscious.

Do you listen to music while editing your series?
I tend to play what I was listening to at the time while I was making the pictures. I suppose in attempt to reenter the same or similar atmosphere, but most often it doesn’t work.

What are you working on now?
The wheels are in motion, but I haven’t committed on any sole direction.

More on his website.

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Gina Maragoudaki is a greek photographer based in Athens. She studied piano and advanced theory of music. Metronome series is the result of her first seven years of photographing. She has constructed a bright black world where darkness spreads around her subject matter which intentionally doesn’t give the viewer much information about its origin.

In the Metronome series one notices a delicate color pallet and texture that is familiar to paintings from the Renaissance period. What do you think about the the relationship between painting and photography, which exists since the birth of the medium?
There is a whole philosophy on this particular relationship, and despite the extreme and fanatical views I sometimes read, I prefer to see things very simply. These are two visual arts and it is very reasonable to interact.

In particular, in Metronome, this palette was not consciously chosen as a reference to the Renaissance, but it is the colors that appeal to my own perspective.

Why did you title the project Metronome?
Metronome is not exactly a  project. There is no specific idea on its base. It’s just the images of my first 7 years of  my working on photography.  I was looking for a title so open and general to fit in. Music, on the other hand, was the first art I have studied, and therefore I had a daily relationship with the metronome. Taken for granted that time as a concept, is intimately linked with photography, I didn’t think much about it. It was an easy way to combine, even superficially, the two arts.

What are the range of physical dimensions of the photographs of this project?
I took those photos with my first cameras that offered resolution of 10MP, so the sizes are no bigger than 60×40 cm and 50×70 cm.

After presenting this project in your solo show in Athens Photo Festival 2018, is it fnalized? Do you intend to publish a photo-book or do you think it matches more the nature of the exhibition walls?
As I said before, Metronome is not exactly a project. It’s the way I photograph  for the time being, so I think it is not over yet. I have the impression that if I do not put boundary lines on myself, it will never end. And yes, surely, at some point of my life I would like Metronome to become a book.

What music do you listen to, while editing your series?
I listen to music that relaxes me and helps me stay focus. From Chet Baker to Bach, depending on the mood.

What are you working on now?
My new project ‘Salon’ is among other things an attempt to escape from the form of the Μetronome. It is a kind of exercise and an attempt to renounce the palette and lighting conditions of the Μetronome.

Visit her flickr & instagram.

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Karla Guerrero is a Mexican photographer from Mexico City, where she lives. Within her artistic practice, she writes articles in a platform named Espacio Gaf dedicated to the investigation and promotion of Latin America Contemporary Photography. Her series Berta deals with her grandmother with Alzheimer’s.

First of all, how did you start photography?
I started while I was studying my bachelor degree. I took diplomas from the Fundación Pedro Meyer and Academia de Artes Visuales in Mexico City.

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Klavdia Balampanidou is a photographer based in Nicosia, Cyprus. She studied Audio & Visual Arts in Ionian University and took photography classes in Stereosis School of Photography. She is currently studing History and Theory of Arts (MA) in Cyprus University of Technology. Her series Birthplace and Birthname document her roots.

Forced by the difficult conditions after the collapse of the Soviet Union, her family fled their homes in Avranlo, a small village in Georgia. Twenty years later, Klavdia returned to the village and created a narrative that focuses in the concept of collective identity, while re-considering her origins. This autobiographical documentation does not only return the photographer to its roots, but it also concerns the evolution of societies and an innate human need.

What prompt you to start photographing for the Birthplace & Birthname ?
It was something that came naturally. I have always been interested in concepts such as identity and memories since I was an art student. The starting point was three years ago when I felt the need to explain who I was by re-introducing myself. I wrote a small text about the names I had in my life (Klaudia, Klodia, Klavdia) and their meanings to me as a person.

In the same year, I visited Avranlo, my birthplace, a small village in Georgia, in the area of Tsalka where the inhabitants of the village were Greeks. I returned to the village after 20 years and the occasion was the nostalgia of my parents and my grandfather to return to their “place”, to the place they grew up, loved and forced to give up.

“Photography acts as a tool for self-exploration and that is the reason why all of my projects are autobiographical”

One year after, having in my mind the concept of the collective identity, I decided to return to Avranlo to photograph my stay. I was trying to understand the community of the village, my own identity and to figure out if I had something actually in common with the community, except the same place of birth.

Tanya Traboulsi : Into the Question of Home

How did you present this project? Would you like to share with us some spreads of this photobook ?
Birthplace & Birthname was completed in 2018 and presented as a photobook (edition of 5) at the Ionian University as my thesis. The photobook is divided into two parts, as the project itself, the Birthplace (20 x 27cm) and the Birthname as a small booklet (20 x 7,5cm) with the map of Avranlo on the book cover.

Some photos of the Birthplace series were presented at Athens Photo Festival as part of the New Greek Photographers, with prints of 20x30cm, on fine art paper placed on wooden frame with glass, presented together with some stickers/images in two different sizes.

What is your relation to color red? I can clearly see it in many of your projects.
I can’t help it, it is something natural for my universe.

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Amanda Harman is a photographer born in Sussex, UK, now based in the south west of England. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Photography at UWE Bristol and continues to work on personal projects. She has used her photographic skills to work on a range of commissions, residencies and projects for galleries, museums, and commercial clients. While her first book A Fluid Landscape was recently published by Another Place Press, we’ll take a look at her series Garden Stories.

How did you get interested in photography and why did you pick photography as a medium and form of expression?
I was given an Olympus OM10 for my eighteenth birthday and that is where the passion for photography began. Then, in 1984 I saw the Josef Koudelka exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, and I was captivated by the magical and ethereal quality of the Gypsies series and the power of photography to communicate a story with such emotion, passion and power. I went on to study for a degree in photography and some years later an MA in photography at LCC.

Introduce us to your series Garden Stories
This series of unintended or ‘accidental’ still-lives, were made around the gardens and outbuildings of an English country house, and seek to make visible the unseen and often unsung work of the gardeners. I find my photography is often about revealing the hidden or unexpected stories of the people and places I encounter and that the most successful of these projects is where I have a personal connection with the place or the people or both.

“I was seeking to embody the gardener’s labours and to reveal the unseen stories of the gardens, and those who tend them”.

It was this personal connection which inspired me to make these photographs of the gardens at Tyntesfield.

Your photographs embody the gardener’s labours & life of gardens, what motivated you to create this project?
I first encountered the gardens as a volunteer, working in the cut flower garden for a year alongside the other gardeners. Later, I was drawn back to the gardens to make pictures of my experiences there. Initially I wanted to explore the ‘behind the scenes’ work of the gardeners, and to do this by making a series of portraits. Whilst I was looking for locations, I started to notice some intriguing ‘still-lives’ of potted plants, ladders and discarded clothes and tools left lying around. I felt photographing these details added to the story of the people working in the garden. The more I looked, the more I noticed these things, as well as the small changes that happened over time. The jacket hanging on one side on the door then the other, the radio moved here and there, plants, pruned, wrapped, and cut down. And for me, more than the portraits, it was these ‘still lives’ that spoke most eloquently of the hidden work of the gardeners.

What are your current projects?
My first book A Fluid Landscape, has recently been published by Another Place Press, and I am currently researching venues for a future exhibition of the series. I have also recently moved to an area of the country that was once a centre for the woollen and weaving industries in Gloucestershire. I am currently working on a project that will trace the evidence of this industry in the present-day landscape and have started researching, walking and exploring, using the camera to record some initial ideas which I will be sharing on Instagram (@amharmanphoto).

Discover her projects on her website.

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Released in 1979, Stalker is at the end of the career of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky. It is a poetic and atypical story of a guide, a stalker, taking an artist and a scientist, to a forbidden area called the “Zone” to find the “Room”, which is said to grant the wishes of anyone who enters. Despite being ranked in the sci-fi category, the strength of Stalker lies in its simplicity, notably thanks to its cinematography coordinated by Gueorgui Rerberg and then by Aleksandr Kniajinski when an incident lead to reshoot the film. Stalker is above all an atmosphere in which one immerses himself without needing to understand it.

From sepia…
The opening sequences of the film that take place in the urban areas outside the Zone were shot in sepia, giving the imagery a old dust feel. This tone is mostly used when the stalker and the three men are in their village, contrasting with the Zone rendered in color. This natural / industrial duality is a recurring theme in Tarkovsky’s work.

…To color
After the three men reach the zone, the use of color comes depict these rich tones, magnifying the grip of nature, also making viewers more aware of the set in a new world of misty landscapes. Rusty industrial detritus litters the ground as witnesses of time going, and the way these wrecks are engulfed in the landscape suggests a personified nature. Moreover, over their journey, the characters give the impression of being engulfed by their environment, with more and more close-ups.

Minimal light
In an article on Cinephilia & Beyond that I highly recommend, Sergei Bessmertniy, hired as a trolley mechanic, delivers interesting facts about the lighting process: “Most of the scenes were filmed in the evening, in that short part of the day, when the sun had set behind the horizon, but it is still light.The director of photography Georgi Rerberg mostly didn’t illuminate the scene. He rather limited the light coming from the sky and put big black cloth shaders behind the camera or under the heads of actors, so that’s how the required lighting was achieved. Here with sometimes only a small light fixture worked. It slightly illuminated the actors’ faces below in filming close-ups. Thus, the quantity of light was at the limit of possibility.

“Most of the scenes were filmed in the evening, in that short part of the day, when the sun had set behind the horizon, but it is still light”.

We had been waiting for a few days when high-aperture lenses Distagon would arrive from Moscow that were needed for such conditions. Of course, we had to film with full open lens aperture (1,4) that created great difficulties for the focus assistant: there was almost no depth of field in close-ups. Actually Rerberg preferred to use lenses with constant focal length and also camera geared head. Camera was old: the american Mitchell NC. Without doubt Rerberg was one of the best masters in the country at that period.”

Stalker is full of slow rhythms, visions close to hallucination, and cinematography plays a key role in shaping that sensation. The story is timeless and stripped of all artifice: simple. Andrei Tarkovsky himself said: “I only aspired to the simplicity and discretion of the entire architecture of the film”. Despite the mishaps surrounding the shooting, this project is one of his masterpieces. Rewarded at the Cannes Film Festival, it will inspire many artists from all backgrounds. By the way, did you know that Andrei Tarkovsky also took photographs?

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Landon Speers is a 31 year-old artist born in the Rocky Mountains of Canada and grew up in Alberta. Now based in Brooklyn, USA, he makes music alongside his freelance photography job. His last series Wild Rose combines nature portraits and ambient soundtracks together.

How did you get interested in photography and why did you pick photography as a medium and form of expression?
One of my older brothers ran into some trying times & had to move back in with my parents when I was in the middle of high school. I’d shared a bedroom with siblings most of my youth & so while I wasn’t pleased that the only available space was in my bedroom, I didn’t really have much of a say. So with him came all of his things. He’d won a small point & shoot camera during a raffle at his work so it ended up just floating around the room all the time. I started taking it out with me during wanders & bike rides snapping stuff as I went.

At the time I also was getting into the punk scene in Edmonton & as much as my parents were resistant at first, they eventually realized that some of their preconceived notions were unfounded & let me explore my curiosities there.

“There’s a sense of whimsy I’d like to keep in tact with the project so adhering to that seems fitting”.

Having grown up in a conservative home, in a religion I did not identify with made for a head long run into a community I felt much more aligned with. I started saving up my meager grocery store pay cheques & borrowed a bit of cash from my parents to buy my first camera. I took photos of everything & it quickly became a way for me to meet new people, places & satiate curiosity in the unfamiliar. That permission I felt to explore & push myself has been a central force in driving me forward.

Ultimately I’d inadvertently discovered that having a camera gave that curiosity some purpose & it’s largely the exposure to the unfamiliar I relish the most. I’ve always been a pretty sensory person so while I strive to imbue my work with purpose & intent, it’s also a pretty selfish act for my own desires rather than some really calculated expression.

Was your portraiture approach an intent to personify these landscapes?
Entirely yes. I wanted to have the process be about me placing myself in environments & being struck by particular elements in nature in the same way I would a person I encountered on the street. There was a desire to practice awareness in my surroundings that started in nature, that I’d then carry back to urban spaces to seek out the same things there. I found it made my time in the city a bit more peaceful & also imparted some presence in my daily life through that approach. There were aspects about this I’d noticed in the past but never really was conscious about then. There’s one particular park here in Brooklyn that is my favourite to visit & a few trees that I really enjoy checking up on through the years to see how they’ve changed & refer back to older photos of them in younger states.

How photography has nourished your music, what relationship do these two mediums exert on each other?
I think it’s pretty common to be interested in different mediums, but I think the fact that I’ve mostly treated making music as a passion project with little expectation has allowed me to enjoy it as a kind of escapist retreat. Its felt like a safe space to lose myself in and after the fact I’m able to return to my normal flow with a renewed outlook. It’s been advantageous in that it’s still creative & productive, but think because it engages different parts of my brain, my more pragmatic side can take a needed pause. Much of it ends up being pretty impulsive & spontaneous so ultimately has formed this sort of meditative quality that I really appreciate.

I think I’m still learning more about how they influence one another, but can say I think music affects my photography more than the other way around. I know inherently I’m drawn to certain things in music & photography that share themes, such as repetition, limited palettes, texture, space, a sense of presence, tension in conjunction with peace, etc. The aural aspects of all of that conjure up visuals in my head that are fun to play with in their own way. I can listen back & see hues, landscapes & imaginary places that lend themselves to exploration & wandering through that mental space. 

Because my music is often minimal & sparse, I think it’s lent itself to nuance & subtlety in my visual work as well. I feel like editing an image is similar to mixing or mastering audio, in that it’s a practice of finding the small details that collectively impart the whole with a greater sense of intent.

Was making a book the ultimate goal from the beginning, what did it bring to your project?
It was the end purpose yes. I hadn’t released music in some time & nothing physical in years. I also hadn’t had a project focussed enough yet to feel a book was warranted but knew it had been a goal of mine for a long while. The idea of shedding my music pseudonym & embracing a physical result of both things combining was just a driving force to take it all more seriously & really reflect on my process & entrench the approach I had to the whole project. I intend to have this be the way I release music from now on though. Accompanied by some visual component that’s intentionally made to accompany it.

Visite his website.

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Olivia Becchio is 24 year-old photographer from Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts, USA. She received a BFA in Photography in 2017, and currently works as a waitress during the winter and as a landscaper in summer, alongside her personal projects. Shot on the island, her series It’s a Shame About Ray deals with the experience of living on a island, as a psychological space, and it has just developed into a book.

How did you come to photography?
Photography has always been attractive to me for its analytical and metaphorical tendencies. I think of it much like writing, which I also practice, in the way unrelated images can be placed next to each other to evoke a feeling or meaning otherwise not seen or felt, similar to the way language is used in a poem.

“It’s a Shame about Ray is an acknowledgment of that trauma and how it is experienced communally and shapes a landscape just as it does a memory”.

I am tragically sentimental and thus obsessed with documenting my experience. I have come to enjoy the space where images exist in between a memory and a falsehood and how they often offer insight into ourselves rather than insight into what is photographed.

Walking on Broad Channel Island with Maureen Drennan

Introduce us to your series It’s a Shame about Ray
It’s a Shame About Ray, as a series, aims to articulate an island as a psychological space and to document a ‘coming of age’ brought about by the realization of death and how one comes to understand it. Island living attracts a certain type of person seeking an experience or an escape but often traps its youth with its illusion of safety. And though our community is strong, as isolated communities often are, our history is plagued with trauma many suffering from substance abuse or struggling with mental health issues. We’ve lost many much too young. It’s a Shame About Ray is an acknowledgment of that trauma and how it is experienced communally and shapes a landscape just as it does a memory.

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