Arles 2012: Anna-Maria Pfab reviews 2
Another day in Arles, another day of seeing countless people walking around the small city in the South of France, another day of looking and thinking about photography, and, another day at the Photo Folio Reviews at the Rencontres d’Arles festival! I have seen ten very different projects today, ranging from poetic, black and white photographs of the old tradition of bull fighting to a colour-full quest to depict Danish youth culture and their longing for love – herewith I present three of the most interesting projects I have come across today!
Mette Frandsen came to my table, table nr. 7, exactly at 15:40 today to present me with a neat, black book. The pages of this book were filled with images that made up her project ‘Sin City’, Frandsen’s portrait of the city of Las Vegas, as she explained. The Danish photographer has been fascinated by the most visited city in the world and her contrasty, black and white images pull no punches. Without any clear goal in mind, Frandsen wondered through the city, photographing landscapes, details and people that caught her eye. The result is a very different view of the city of sins than the one we are usually presented with and is definitely worth looking at.
After my twenty-minute break, at 17.00, I met another Danish photographer – Kajsa Gullberg. Gullberg put her professionally created dummy of her, hopefully soon-to-be-published, book entitled ‘Womanity’ (although she is now thinking of other titles) in front of me. Without further introduction the raw, yet poetic, black and white photographs have taken me on an intense journey. The Sweden-born photographer, who is now living and working in Danemark, describes her project ‘Womanity’ as ‘a journey back and forth, between happiness and pain, hope and disillusions, love and emptiness, trust and desire’. The book features landscapes, objects and foremost women of all ages, many of them showing off scars; the traces that their life has left on their bodies. And although Gullberg project is highly personal , it is a documentation for finding her own identity, as a woman, a photographer, a mother and a human-being, it nevertheless carries a very universal quest – our need to belong.
Soon after my encounter with Kajsa Gullberg, at 17.40, I spent twenty minutes with the young photographer Maria Gruzdeva who was born in Russia but is now living and working in London. With ‘The Borders of Russia’, a project in progress, that she has shown me today, Gruzdeva has recently won the IdeasTap Photographic Award, which has been judged by prestigious Magnum members such as Mark Power. The 23-year old photographer has been shooting this project in her native country, Russia, it presents a documentary photographic study of the country’s border, the longest national border in the world. ’A complicated Soviet past coupled with the vast geography of Russia has made border territories a problematic area both politically and physically,’ she explains. ‘The territories illustrate the state of modern Russia, how it is shaping its identity and its relationship with the Soviet consciousness, which it seeks to both outlive and preserve.’ The photographs Gruzdeva presented today are a successful start to an examination into the subject of what constitutes modern Russian’s identity.
After a long day in the very hot ‘Salles des Fetes’ I now feel relieved to be sitting in the lovely garden of my hotel but I am already looking forward to discover more exciting photography projects tomorrow..
To be continued …