Helene Schmitz’s series ‘Kudzu Project’ – poetic expression of the eerie beauty in the fascinated phenomena of nature that are beyond our grasp. Capturing the magnificent ‘sculptures’ of Kudzu plant, one of the most invasive plant on earth, to question the constant endeavours of humanity to control the balance in nature and the ever-changeable character of the viewpoint on the reality – is it our friend or enemy now?
“I see photography as a way of dealing with time and transience – which is a fundamental theme in my images. The medium of photography also has an interesting connection to these concepts”
Helene Schmitz – Kudzu Project
The series was shot in the summer of 2012 in Georgia and Alabama where the Kudzu plant has already transformed vast areas into apocalyptic landscapes.
Kudzu plant is native to Eastern and Southeastern Asia, but in 1876 it was introduced to the US as a garden novelty in the World’s Fair Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. With its beautiful leaves the plant enchanted the hearts of the Americans and was used mainly for decorative purposes. It was not a threat until the 1930s and 1940s when was rebranded as a way for farmers to stop soil erosion in the South — in Alabama, in Georgia and in the Mississippi. As dust storms damaged the prairies, Congress declared war on soil erosion and enlisted kudzu as a primary weapon. Kudzu seedlings were grown in nurseries by the newly created Soil Conservation Service and the farmers were paid high wages to sow topsoil with the invasive vine. However it felt so comfortable in the warm wet climate that quickly spread and conquered the new environment (read the whole article about ‘The True Story of Kudzu, the Vine That Never Truly Ate the South’ in Smithsonian Magazine)
Kenro Izu’s series ‘Bhutan’ – black and white hand-printed platinum prints of portraits and landscapes shot between 2002-2007 reveal the beauty of a real place full with life, traditions and spiritual values as a fairy tale frozen in time and space.
Kenro Izu – Bhutan
“Traveling many years, I have not yet seen a place as peaceful as Bhutan, or a place affecting such peacefulness within myself. If there is a place indeed named Utopia, this place may come the closest to it… Seemingly, an existence of the precious culture in the edge of Himalayan itself is the fantasy of the 21st century, and I can’t help having a fear of its delicate fragility, which may easily dissolve into surrounding enormous clouds and fogs”
Beth Moon’s series ‘Portraits of Time’ – powerful portraits of the world’s most ancient trees as priceless living wonders and magnificent guardians of our planet to inspire for saving them from the danger of destruction.
Beth Moon – Portraits of Time
“Standing as the earth’s largest and oldest living monuments, I believe these symbolic trees will take on a greater significance, especially at a time when our focus is directed at finding better ways to live with the environment, celebrating the wonders of nature that have survived throughout the centuries. By feeling a larger sense of time, developing a relationship with the natural world, we carry that awareness with us as it becomes a part of who we are.”
“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.” Hermann Hesse
Pieter de Vos’s series ‘Mandalas of Sand’ – telling the history of Nicaragua through stories of patterns created by sand: the birthplace of volcanoes, the serpent and the tree of life, the origin of language, the arrival of the conquistadores, the Somoza dynasty…
Pieter de Vos – Mandalas of Sand
“While walking along a stretch of beach in Aposentillo, Nicaragua, I was struck by the unique images left behind by retreating waves. It occurred to me that the layers of light and dark volcanic particles convey deeper meanings. There is a dialogue between the land and the ocean: a visual communication transmitted by the perpetual movement of water and sand. In this case, the writing in sand reveals the origin of Nicaragua and its tumultuous past. The mandalas also reveal what might happen as traditional ways of life are disrupted by the arrival of tourism and the increased investment of foreign capital.”
Robert Voit‘s series ‘The Alphabet of New Plants’ – a beautiful way of presenting man’s eternal desire to conquer the nature – either by borrowing forms through imitation or to substitute it in the 21st-century.
Robert Voit – The Alphabet of New Plants
Inspired by the great work of Karl Blossfeld from 1928 “Urformen der Kunst“, the series resembles at first glance a photo album of gorgeous plants photographed in a neutral background. On closer look though it reveals that actually they are artificial. Plastic plants produced for mass consumption for decorative purposes.
The photographs have not been retouched or artificially manipulated and are collected in a photo book published by Hatje Cantz
Laura Letinsky’s series ‘Time’s Assignation’ – a collection of black and white still lifes Polaroid made between 1997 and 2007 to question the danger of “the act of looking back”.
Inspired by the story of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt just because she looked back “is this a lack of trust or a punishment for nostalgia? Punishing a person who expressed fondness for what she’d had, as flawed as it might have been? … Here I am, a human. Really, is there any way to not look back? Even if not consciously, our past directs us in the here-and-now, and into the future. So why the imperative to not look back, even if it means being calcified, dissolved into the elements?”
Laura Letinsky – Time’s Assignation
“My book, Time’s Assignation, is an important set of images for me, and it’s been interesting to return to that work… When the photograph was an analog process, it used light sensitive salts, and I love this material connection between Lot’s wife and the photograph.”
Alex Timmermans’s ‘Storytelling’ – using the 19th century collodion wet plate process to create a series of narrative about magic, mystery and imagination, told with a subtle humour and unexpected ends.
Alex Timmermans – Storytelling
“I always have been fascinated by photography. But with the introduction of the digital camera it all became too easy, too predictable …to me. So I forced myself to go back to the roots of real analog photography. Not just by making the photograph itself, but by controlling the entire photographic process. It may sound strange, but the amount of work it takes to make just a single picture returned the joy of photography to me.”
The photographs are collected in a photo book and to learn more about the artist and his workflow, watch this video.
“Nebula” is a series of portraits about time. Time passed. Time elapsed. Time suspended. Time ahead or behind us… These portraits required long exposures which eased the sitters into detaching themselves from their immediate surrounds, as if suspended in time and in space. The individuals in these portraits are neither children, nor adolescents. I wanted their portraits to emerge from that state of limbo to evoke the transitional stage that they are going through. “Nebula”, Latin for mist, reflects on the turmoil of growing up with all its relational, sychological and emotional changes.
The series is made using the old photographic technique wet plate collodion because making wet plates goes beyond the photographic process itself. It is a sort of inner journey. A state of mind.”
Nebula in astronomy is a cloud of gas and dust in outer space, visible in the night sky either as an indistinct bright patch or as a dark silhouette against other luminous matter. They are a window into the life cycle of the universe and often called “stellar nurseries” – i.e. the place where stars are born. Even some are the remains of dead or dying stars, in the end, the same raw material that is left behind when star dies, form in turn new stars and the cycle begins again.
‘Exposure‘ by Kazuma Obara – abstract images telling the story of people who live with invisible health problems following the sudden release of atomic energy caused by the Chernobyl explosion (April 1986). Diseases, still doctors can’t explain and cure.
Kazuma Obara – Exposure
“The series is about the life of Mariya. She was born 5 months after the accident happened, in Kiev, which is located 100 km south of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Since her early age she was constantly sick and spent many years in hospital without receiving a diagnosis. Growing up other symptoms appeared like severe fatigue, insomnia, panic attacks, her hair began to fall out … Following doctors’ advice she removed thyroid gland. Currently she has taken around 10 to 20 pills every day to maintain her hormone balance and will continue to take them until she will die. A harsh life for a 30 years old girl.”
Kazuma Obara – Exposure
“All pictures were taken by old Ukrainian colour negative films (expired day of films are 1991 and 1992) and exposed. While my film was only recently ‘exposed’ in the conventional sense, it seems to be receiving exposure to radiation from the nuclear accident for the past years. Just like Mariya, who had been exposed before birth, before visibility, and before volition, my use of this film, with its unruly and visually confusing character refuses the apparent instantaneity of the photographic image, instead calling the viewer to consider that our present lives bear the traces of a life-long and prenatal exposure to the world.”
To learn more about the artist’s thoughts behind the series watch this video.
The series is available as a self-published photo book.
Susan Burnstine’s ‘Absence of Being’ – exploring of the subconscious world. “Does something/somebody ceases to exist because they no longer have a physical presence?”
After the death of her father the artist questioned the limitations of our senses, beliefs and the collective (un)consciousness. “A plane disappears into the clouds. We can’t see it, hear it or touch it, but we know it’s there. Our senses can give us no tangible evidence it continues to exist. But still, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt it’s there.”
Susan Burnstine – Absence of Being
In the series, she portrays her dream-like visions from a higher perspective reflecting the vision of her father, looking down upon her. Retaining her signature dark and dramatic, blurred effect the images “capture fleeting memories, spotted from the corner of an eye that vanish the moment we turn to really look. And yet they remain, for the imprint remains with us. We are living in the present, but the past reminds us that it is part of us, too, as is the future, and we of them.”