Irene Kung’s series ‘Trees’ – a poetic invitation to explore the metaphysical side of nature in searching of the essence of being.
Irene Kung – Trees
Part of the project ‘The forest of the soul’, in this series the artist focused on trees enchanted by their symbolic meaning as a circle of life, time and re-birth, and undoubtedly fascinated by their shape and beauty. She leads us into a mysterious, magical and almost unreal forest inhabited by different trees as a silent guardian of all our feelings, emotions and dreams.
“In my way of working I am able to return the tree to what I have felt. This is the way I perceive my work: to strip away what is not essential in order to show a tree as it really is, as I feel it. This is intuition; it is the irrational. What is rational may deceive us. Feelings don’t.”
Jessica Backhaus’s series ‘Once, Still and Forever’ – with form, light and color on an intuitive quest for traces of the phenomenon of time. These vibrant still lifes deal with the artist’s personal past and the present as a new start. They reflect her inner world and different feelings in lifetime experience. It’s not a chronology, nor a documentary project, but a contemplation of emotions and existence.
“A quiet melancholy that tells us that we cannot change the tides. In other words: that we should follow them instead.” Jean-Christophe Ammann
Jessica Backhaus – Once, still and forever
“My photographs are like a mosaic, a puzzle that evokes the beauty of ordinary moments often ignored as well as the residue of loves past and memories forgotten… I believe that everything takes time. That’s the beauty of it … Sometimes you have to go away in order to come back.”
Flore’s series ‘Lointains souvenirs’ – a slow long-distance journey to Indochina in the company of her grandmother and the French writer and experimental filmmaker Marguerite Duras, who both lived there once at the same time and locations.
Flore – Lointains souvenirs
It is neither a documentary of her family history nor an interpretation of the mythologies of the author. This is an intimate adventure to capture the echoes of two women’s voices and along with her own to compose a new delicate story woven from threads of melancholy tones, timeless memories and nostalgic poetry.
Guided by Marguerite Duras’s knowledge of the places in her works, Flore walked along the banks of Mekong River, the rice paddies of southern Cochin China, entered colonial houses, to find the atmosphere evoked by the imaginary she had created about these past times while visiting her grandmother’s house. This is not a simple tale about ordinary harmony and beauty, but through a kind of haze and blurred horizon, the artist immersed us into a fascinating world with enigmatic landscapes, mysterious roads and dreamlike buildings.
RongRong & inri’s ‘Tsumari Story’ – a tale about a man, a woman and their three children capturing their experiences and emotional journey in a unique and rural area as a response to primeval concepts of ‘the circle of life’ and ‘humanity as part of nature’.
The series was produced in Niigata Prefecture, one of Japan’s snowiest regions, between 2012 and 2014, following to an invitation by the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial. Because its transport network was comparatively late to upgrade, it has somewhat escaped the effects of the globalization. There, time flows according to its own rhythm and the lifestyles of those who still inhabit the villages haven’t changed for centuries.
RongRong & inri – Tsumari Story
“Our original intention for this series was to reflect a worldview based on the image created by the origin of the name of this area, “Tsumari” and its local legends. We wandered through the snow-covered maze with no clear objective, imagining a story of a man and woman who are seized by extreme emotions while living within Tsumari’s harsh natural environment.”
Christopher Thomas’s series ‘Passion’ – human emotions of pain and sorrow like paintings of the Old Masters, taken during the rehearsals for the 2010 production by amateur actors for the Oberammergau Passion Play.
Christopher Thomas – Passion
“It is not an overview, offers no explanation and makes no claim to completeness. My intentions was to convey the timeless impressions of the Passion that are taken from classical painting – an attempt to capture the enormous energy and emotion of the performance. It is not a collection of the most important characters and scenes but tries rather to show just how important is the dedication of everyone. The few people show here stand for the huge number of participants.”
Kikuji Kawada‘s series ‘The Last Cosmology’ – deeply emotional imagery of mainly stars, eclipses, cloudscapes and other celestial phenomena as a chronicle of the dramas in the skies and symbols of life and death, and the fragile nature of our existence.
The photographs were captured between 1980 and 2000, feeling a sense of nostalgic void caused by two historical events on earth: the death of the Emperor Hirohito in 1989 and the Showa Era in Japan ending with him, and the end of 20th century.
Kikuji Kawada – The Last Cosmology
“I was born at the beginning of the Showa Era. There was a great war during my boyhood and then I lived during the period of re-construction and growth and now I slowly approach the evening of life. Through these photographs the cosmology is an illusion of the firmament at the same time it includes the reality of an era and also the cosmology of a changing heart… I imagine the era and myself as an implicitly intermingling catastrophe… I want to spy on the depths of a multihued heart that is like a Karman vortex.”
Andrew Zuckerman’s series ‘Flower’ – a rich visual tour of mesmerizing nature’s timeless treasure comprising of radiant close-ups of more than 150 species, exotic and familiar. Set against his signature stark-white backdrop, the complexity of color, structure and texture in each specimen is lightened in detail revealing the subject’s essential qualities and giving a pure aesthetic pleasure to the viewer.
Andrew Zuckerman – Flower
“White for me has a sense of modernity and absence. From absence and white I can create something… It’s not about what I’m uniquely bringing to it, it’s more about what I’m bringing together and collecting in a consistent way.”
Driven by his obsessive taxonomical pursuits and removing all context, the artist created a sort of catalog with a contemporary, minimalist attitude to manifest the beauty and ephemerality of life.
Bill Henson’s series ‘Kindertotenlieder’ – poignant meditation on longing, loss and sadness inspired by the works and personal tragedies of German poet Friedrich Rückert and Austrian composer Gustav Mahler.
Bill Henson – Kindertotenlieder
‘Kindertotenlieder’ is a group of 428 poems written by Rückert (1788 – 1866) in 1833–34 in an outpouring of grief after the death of two of his children from scarlet fever. They were not intended for publication and appeared five years after the poet’s death. Their effect was particularly felt by celebrated composer Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911) who read them and opted to set five of them to music, for a song cycle composed between 1901 and 1904. Having two young daughters, his wife Alma was against the idea fearing that Mahler was tempting fate. And indeed, three years later, in 1907, their eldest daughter Maria fell ill with scarlet fever and died during the summer holidays at the family’s house in Maiernigg in rural Austria. Devastated family closed up the home and never returned.
The series started in 1976 and 40 years later after multiple visits he made to Austria, it is finally completed and published as a photo book by STANLEY/BARKER in an edition of 150. along with a 12” record of the Mahler song cycle.
Anup Shah’s series ‘The Mara’ – an intimate portrayal of the essence and wonder of the wild animals world and their fascinating life performance at the stage in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Anup Shah – The Mara
“A few years ago, on the open plains of Maasai Mara, I was in the midst of elephants and within touching distance of a couple of them. I felt a primeval sense of being, a connection to a distant past. I wondered if I could translate that feeling into photographs. I opted for an approach that is immediate, intimate, immersive, inclusive and involving but which also gives a feeling of space. I wanted to impart to the viewer what it feels like – mentally and physically – to be inside the vast and lively landscape of Maasai Mara, being among wild animals…Then, perhaps, the viewer might connect with the Mara and extend sympathy to this natural world”
Levon Biss’s project ‘Microsculpture’ – breathtaking visual experience that celebrates the stunning beauty of the natural world and challenges to explore the familiar surroundings in a new creative way through the curious eye of a child.
The project is a collaboration with the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and presents a unique opportunity to study in details the insects’ structure in a mind-blowing magnification and appreciate those extraordinary creatures some of them have just been outside our window.
Levon Biss – Microsculpture
The process is quite elaborative. Each image is created from around 8000 individual photographs and it took the artist approximately 4 weeks from the start to finish.
“The pinned insect is placed on an adapted microscope stage that enables me to have complete control over the positioning of the specimen in front of the lens. I shoot with a 36-megapixel camera that has a 10x microscope objective attached to it via a 200mm prime lens and photograph the insect in approximately 30 different sections, depending the size of the specimen. Each section is lit differently with strobe lights to bring out the micro sculptural beauty of that particular section of the body… I repeat this process over the entire area of the insect and once I have 30 fully focused sections I bring them together in Photoshop to create the final photograph.”
The project started in 2014 and could be enjoyed in full zoom on the specially created site and is also available as a photo book published by Abrams. There is as well a short TED talk where Levon Biss explains how the idea appeared and evolved in such impressive project.