Valérie Belin‘s series ‘Black Eyed Susan’ – interweaving images of flowers and women to question the concept of consummate beauty as pure decoration.
Using the plastic beauty of the ideal post-war female and mixing it boldly with plenty of flowers, the artist created dreamy painterly portraits of the excessive decorativeness to evoke our societal stereotyped visions fractured through the layers of time.
Valérie Belin – Black Eyed Susan
Currently there are two series dated 2010 and 2013.
“Follows a baroque still life tradition to evoke meaning by showing and choosing certain objects. My images are very much about the transitoriness of being and the constant human involvement in it – and its resulting changes of fates. Photography seems to snatch moments of time from mortality. But the captured moments are not more than representations of the past. In my photographs I try to stop the decay, well knowing that all is in vain. Still I love to linger on the beauty of decay.
All the lighting in all the photographs is natural daylight coming in through a window. I found reference and inspiration in baroques paintings.”
‘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.”
The photographs were taken along the Rhine on the verge of the absence of light – in twilight, just before dawn, shortly after sunset, in the fog, in the late fall and winter season – to convey that gloomy romantic mood and giving them the sense of generic atmosphere of any lazily flowing river in the world.
“To lose myself in situations and images, to indulge in the longing for stillness, is a major element of my artistic work. My works are intimate encounters. Emotion and ephemerality become manifested in them.”
“River” is a consistent sequel to the “Wald” series confirming that in Michael Lange’s images the dark beauty of nature is magical.
Using colour is something unusual for the German photographer who has mastered to look at the world in black and white. “You can’t just take a colour picture and turned it to black and white, and expect to have the same impact. To achieve the perfection of that way of looking have to sharpen the view towards black and white.”
However while visiting Paris for specimens all of a sudden he saw their beauty in colour. “There it was. Something amazing, that could be told only in colour.”
The elaborate creative process to achieve such a transparent effect and reveal the fine details is his own invention and printing them in handcrafted Japanese paper highlighten their beauty and fragility.
To learn more about the artist’s thoughts behind the series watch this video
Adolphe Braun (1812-77) was one of the most influential French photographers of the 19th century, best known for his floral still lifes, Parisian street scenes, and grand Alpine landscapes. He used contemporary innovations in photographic reproduction to market his photographs worldwide as well as to reproduce famous works of art to mass audience, which helped advance the field of art history.
Trained as a textile designer, Adolphe Braun began his photography career in 1853. He created a catalog of photographs of flowers for designers and art students providing them with a source of natural models. This herbarium earned him a medal at the 1855 Paris Exposition Universelle.
In 1866, he started photographing paintings, drawings, lithographs, engravings, sculpture and other works of part in the Louvre and other places in France as well as treasures in foremost museums and private collections in the Vatican, the Netherlands, Austria and Italy. Photography historian Naomi Rosenblum suggests that Braun’s detailed reproductions of works of art in European museums brought these works to art students in North America, providing a major catalyst for the field of art history in the United States.
Mårten Lange’s ‘Chicxulub’ – a story of a journey to a lost world as a part of the cycle of creation, evolution and destruction.
Mårten Lange – Chicxulub
Located at the Yucatán coast in Mexico, near a small fishing village called Chicxulub, the Earth was hit by an asteroid about 66 million years ago. The impact led to the extinction of the dinosaurs along with more than 75% of all species on the planet. The crater is half a mile underground now, so there are no obvious visual traces left of this dramatic event.
“I’ve been fascinated by dinosaurs and prehistory since I was a child. The Chicxulub impact event has become something mythic in my mind… But how can I make a story about something that is so far in the past, something invisible, beyond the reach of photographic observation? By creating photographs of flora, fauna and ruins that had something violent, apocalyptic, ancient or cataclysmic to unfold the themes of evolution, extinction and exploration.”
“I believe we carry with us into this life more than simply the codes for the present iteration of our limbs and eye color and liver size. If we carry inherited physical and behavioral traits, wouldn’t we also carry inherited traits of consciousness? We are all a learned thing – an ever-gathering and ever-adjusting animal – nothing is lost. It is those traits that I use my camera to find. They are the ghosts of presence and memory, the vestigial elements we carry within and about us as invisibly as spirits.”
To learn more about the artist and his other projects watch his talk at 555 Gallery.
Ann Rhoney – a photographer with painterly sensitivity to color and light.
In 1980 to overcome the expressive limitation of commercially produced colour film, the artist started to apply by hand thin layers of oil pigment on top of black and white gelatin silver prints. The result was works with great chromatic subtlety and un-real effect in the tradition of the Photo-Pictorialists during the early 20th century.
Ann Rhoney is the artist who coloured now iconic photograph of David Kirby used as ads by Benetton in 1992. The original photograph is black and white, taken by Therese Frare and published for the first time in LIFE magazine. Still the topic about the proper use of the photograph remains controversial, but none has disputed the amazing work of Ann Rhoney.