Fotograf Magazine

#29 contemplation

For a topic of “contemplation” there is an essential moment in the history of photography that brought the search for it through photographs into the spotlight. It was after the publication of Stieglitz’s famous cycle Equivalents: records of a visual game, perhaps of symbolic messages, unknown to us and communicated through the clouds in the sky above and their situational compositions. In this spiritual space, the artist seeks a deeper connection to our ephemeral lives and suggests that these insights into the nearby celestial space may bring a sense of harmony with the depth of the heavens and the universe, and perhaps even provide relief from the pettiness that life constantly forces on us.

In Central and Eastern Europe, the tradition of contemplative photography is particularly strong. There are conceptual and performance artists – those who seek a distinctive form of harmony between themselves and their chosen space through meditative activities connected with natural rhythms, using nature as a studio for their actions. In all of these approaches, time plays a central role. Quite often it is in the form of the ritual repetition of similar approaches, when time and never-ending shifts in the protagonist’s life rhythm constantly change the default situation, while, at the same time, there remains a noticeable common order, which dominates the resulting feeling one has from individual photos and entire series.

#29 Contemplation — Profiles

Miloš Šejn

Thanks to the light reflectance values of black and white, their varied tonality, contrast, and brightness contained within a wide range of shades, black and white photography has acquired the ability to express an extraordinarily persuasive imaginative nuance of reality and fantasy, dreams and reality, idyll and horror – the atmospheres of our lives…

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#29 Contemplation — Profiles

Zbigniew Dłubak

The Gesticulations series, sometimes referred to as Systems-Gesticulations, was started by Zbigniew Dłubak in 1970. At that time, Dłubak was already quite an eminent figure in photographic circles in Poland, as editor-in-chief of the Fotografia monthly (1953–1972), the author of many theoretical texts, the co-founder of Group 55, and, above all, as the author of one of the first photographic environments in Poland – a series titled Iconosphere I (1967)…

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#29 Contemplation — Profiles

James Welling

When I look at the Glass House photos by James Welling, I have a similar feeling as Murray did standing before “the most photographed barn in America” in White Noise by Don DeLillo…

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#29 Contemplation — Profiles

Viktoria Binschtok

In her slowly expanding series Cluster, Viktoria Binschtok creates groupings of two, three or more photographs, always consisting of one older picture from her archives plus one or several more that she made by reconstructing images found online…

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#29 Contemplation — Profiles

Martin Vongrej

In his all-encompassing exhibitions Slovak visual artist Martin Vongrej (b: 1986) combines photography, painting, text, and objects. Within his words, the image and the word are complementary components of spacetime animations of the relationships between the acts of perceiving and thinking, realised through reversing, cyclical, mirroring, or repetitive systems…

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#29 Contemplation — Profiles

Jan Svoboda

The oeuvre of Jan Svoboda (1934–1990), one of the crucial figures of Czech post-war art, although easily divided into distinct periods, continually and determinedly explores the very essence of photographic depiction, questioning fundamental issues of the medium and conversing with parallel practices in painting, installation, and even conceptual art…

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