Photolucida 2008 Critical Mass winners – published 2009
From the nice folks at Photolucida: Andy Freeberg’s Guardians, Céline Clanet’s Máze and Priya Kambli’s Color Falls Down…three rich visual perspectives from an American photographer in Russia, a French photographer in Lapland, and an American photographer with roots in India. All three gorgeous books, sure to make their mark in the photo book world!
Andy Freeberg – Guardians
Clifford J. Levy, New York Times Moscow Bureau Chief, review:
The “Guardians” are former economists and dentists, engineers and singers, teachers and clerks — a corps of grandmothers perched on chairs throughout Russia’s finest museums, forming a kind of latter-day addition to artistic landscape. They are the guardians of the country’s masterpieces, but also of much more. This series of photographs reflects the singular role that these women play in both the Russian art world and society as a whole. These women occupy a significant place in Russia, purveyors of wisdom and keepers of cultural traditions. Grandmothers in some sense rule not only the museums, but also the streets.
One woman described how even on her day off, she comes to the museum to sit by a painting because it reminds her of the countryside during her childhood in Ukraine. “I’ve been working here for 10 years and it feels like one day, I love it so much,” she said.
The photographs that Freeberg took at four museums in Russia — the Hermitage and Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Tretyakov and Pushkin in Moscow — present a humanizing contrast. These guardians are not only visible, but exert a powerful hold over the viewer, in some sense helping to bring the art to life.
Hardbound, 64 pages, 37 photographs, cloth/embossed image on cover, text in English and Russian
Céline Clanet – Máze
review by Awen Jones, Curator/Writer:
The subject and outline of the pictures in the book concentrate on the Sámi people. They spread out over an immense area, from the extreme north-west of Scandinavia as far as the Kola peninsula, in Russia. These people survived for thousands of years in extreme climatic conditions. Their existence is often precarious, as they have lived through periods of colonization, and the gradual erosion of their culture. The “Máze” series of photographs touch upon the environmental, political and economic aspects of the Sámi, but the pictures are also concerned with vital contemporary issues such as IT globalization, the preservation of individual identity, as well as broader issues.
The pictures of Céline Clanet seem to share a documentary vision and a conceptual approach. This juxtaposition translates into one of her main concerns: the importance of time present. For her, life consists of a succession of moments set firmly in the present, not events which occur or have occurred after a lapse of time, highlighted by some seminal event…she shows that action and contemplation, daydream and objective observation are all one, and go together as an integral part of life. They can also, thankfully, generate sensations of wonderful serenity despite a sometimes hostile background.
Hardbound, 80 pages, 52 photographs
Priya Kambli – Color Falls Down
Review by George Slade, Independent Curator:
Priya Kambli’s works introduce us to an unfamiliar language. These elegant statements force us to pause, to learn and utilize at least one new mode of translation. The reading requires effort; there are several distances to cross to unveil their full meanings. She applies her translation skills to images that derive meaning from cultural, inter-generational, and trans-global sources. She is making viewers — not from her family, not Indian, not first-generation immigrant — confront a set of symbols and relationships that do not fully reveal themselves on first encounter. The success of her work, however, lies in its eloquent capacity for fascination. It employs many devices; pattern, texture, screens, color, and mysterious deletions and exclusions weave a tale of vulnerability, transience, inheritance, and transformation. And the photograph as an evanescent container of memory has a vital role.
Kambli discovers her heritage in herself and her surroundings, employing a photographic strategy of longing as a means of translation. Her longing is both retrospective and anticipatory — longing for a future in which the past makes sense, in which a fragmented sense of self is made whole.
Softbound, 64 pages, 32 photographs
best regards, Douglas