More on Russian Photography

Irina Popova is a young Russian photographer who submitted some of the most haunting images I received from the My Own Wilderness call for work. Her documentation of a small child being raised in an environment of drug addiction left me so unsettled and difficult to forget about. One of the most powerful examples of wilderness I saw from the entire competition. Popova writes in her statement about the intense struggle between remaining an observer versus intervening for the safety of the child.

Irina Popova



Irina Popova


In conversations with Irina Popova about her work I learned that she regularly contributes to the Russian photography website Photographer.ru and in reading her posts I discovered her account of the recent portfolio reviews conducted in Moscow. This is a great follow up to the post from several weeks ago regarding Russian photography today. More great incite into the current trends in Russian photography from a young participant on the Avant-garde. The translation is from Google. A bit rough around the edges, but I actually don't mind it that way.


Portfolio revue in Moscow. Message from the battlefield
by Irina Popova


I ride the subway in the morning, four days during the week. The train beats with frantic rhythm, syncopation, and the transitions in the crowd flows through the veins blood razed the city, and I dissect her arm to go across. I realize that the first time in Moscow trudge somewhere so early and regularly, both at work. I've been involved in portfolio reviews.


The form of portfolio revue - a rather new for Russia. We are accustomed to communicating in the kitchens, and afraid not ready - but we want to try and - try to show itself in all its glory and to hear the truth in just 20 minutes. But it's great. We are a discipline. The only pity is that we treat the event as the battlefield and look at him cause for gossip.


Who gave it all? Who and why? And most importantly - who all paid off? - Are the main issues, secretly stirring all the photographers present at the great event.


I give the rumors - idea and Eugene Irene Chmyrevoy Berezner, large but not fully seen in Russia, experts in the field of photography. In conjunction with the festival photography in Houston, who spend portfolio revue for 30 years, and know how to do it. It is done - the money garage, and in fact Abramovich. While this issue remains the most closed to the uneducated masses.


Who needs a portfolio revue? the organizers? Western critics? or by the photographers?


The organizers have spent great efforts - and it shows. The project - an excellent, top-quality site, where all is clear, all questions are answered. I thought I was in Russia that does not happen. Preparing for the winter (!), Was hired a few professionals on a permanent salary. And then - to bring revyuerov, to settle them, feed, well, probably pay a fee (it's the stars, critics and curators, and zaznayki opportunistic, and their simple gingerbread not fetch).


Schedule is made of specially developed computer program, running hither and thither pomoschnichki that helps, if you are lost. Each revyueru put in charge of an interpreter, the only thing that massage is not enough in between, and everything else is))


At the end of each session dealt bell, which resembles a school lesson. Only, unlike in the lesson, which lasts forever, in a portfolio revue is a feeling that as soon as you say "hello, my name is John, I'm a photographer and shoot dahlias in galoshes," at once the bell rings.


The best Russian photographers, color photographic community, large nerve is compressed folder. Who do I see? Mokhorev, China, Lovygin? They are on this side tables or on the other? Well, since I agreed to play by those rules - so, even when well-known maestro, should allow some punk to teach you align the horizon, or, even louder, say, your picture - not fashionable. What we must learn to take a number)))


And someone was going to pile into the smoking room and discusses: something fishy here, the participants selected unfairly, and in general, I think this is the Alien Conspiracy ...


Among the Russian photographer has an atmosphere on the shelf zasidevshihsya aunts, who are ready to jump out to marry anyone, blindly. Too long our photo sitting somewhere in the back of the global community, no one recognized. And now she has shed light on, and what happens? Beauty and the Beast it? Covered with pimples or through ill? No, just not fashionable, not of this party cool modern art.


Expectations for this event are directed sverhogromnye. And I have a feeling disillusioned bride cries - "he said, that have yet to learn! or - "keep on working, reported on progress". This is the same boorish, disgusting! "


The correct attitude to the event in a very few. For those who are sitting on the couch, drinking coffee, met with colleagues, and get pleasure from the process. It's a game - a fascinating, lively, but all the same game. And the main task - not to "win" and to unite and integrate. Be in the same space with people who have something to talk about. And then exchanged addresses, and go to each other at home, on the kitchen gatherings and more intimate shows of the portfolio.


"You are no longer a photographer. You - the one who should sell povygodnee. Or sell. Manager, Marketing, Sales-department. Who else but not the photographer.


The photographer should have four different professions. And it's not all photographers can. It does not know how one person on this earth "- confidently told me over a glass of champagne, Jim Kasper, founder of the site LensCulture.


And I said - the last couple of years when my pictures began to gradually exhibit somewhere, I do not have enough time to shoot something. But can it for the better. Then the cycle of preparation, filming and presentation becomes significant and meaningful.


- Tell me, you tried to change the world picture? Well, stop the war, shall we say? - Asked Bart Finger, director of the gallery «PhotographersDoNotbend» (Photographers do not bend).


- Well, actually I do believe that photography can save the world. I even have a slogan on your business card.


- Yes. You should go and stop the violence and injustice of his photography. That is the goal at least.


One interpreter said: "My revyuer says the same phrase to all photographers. "It's a good picture, but it already was. Painted pictures in the 30s of last century. "


To me, many said, "Well, you're still a beginner photographer. No need to hurry. "


I have the feeling that the longer doing photography, the more stringent criteria by which you get. And the status of young talent to flow smoothly into the enclave of timelessness, of whom you know somebody vytsepit and show the world.


And one revyuer asked me how old my husband. And if I take drugs.


During the breaks I'm keen to mahjong on the computer - perhaps to believe that the world photographic market, which seems heaven and earth, because of his extreme concentration here - even more artificial and schematic than this simple game.


At the end of the fourth day hits toppled to the ground not only photographers, but also to the curators.


"Call me, I'll tell you later, but now the language falls off" - I asked a Russian galeristka.


But older Uotriss Wendy and Frederick Baldwin (FotoFest, Houston, USA) keep a stiff upper lip and even promised to come for a visit to one generous photographers to the Far East.


They - some of those who were clearly excited about - photography, atmosphere, talking with photographers.


- How to select photos? Yes, it is difficult. If there was a series of at least one photo, which would look for a long time, it is something touches - hence, in this photograph there was something interesting. And wanted to talk to that person.


Photographers perceived as a zone revue competition with each other. They wanted to know who "won". Kharkov and Petrograd garde young talents deserve special attention at the conference. But overall - kept silent or spoke revyuery generalities for fear of offending.


- Photography is highly dependent on context, - said Charlotte Cotton of the British media museum. - We are all placed in a socio-cultural contexts, and this affects the photographer as he shoots, and the viewer who sees the work.


At meetings, she advised photographers to go to study abroad, "to immerse themselves in the international context."


And Frederick Baldwin was inspired by the case when he was visited by a young man, himself a photographer, but was not showing their work and the work of his father, a good documentary photos 60s.


"Photography is so different, how different our world, which can be imprinted on it", - concluded Eugene Berezner.


A question as to whether Russian photography world photography trends, remained unheard - perhaps because of ethical considerations.


So I ventured to analyze what he saw itself.


One day a big fair - photographers spread out their local produce - as if selling potatoes or onions, fresh from the garden. And all who came, arranged alphabetically, from 20 to 80 years, recognized masters and nuggets from the provinces, can be classified as the same vegetables.


I noticed four trends of Russian photography.


1. The so-called "documentary photography" (and in fact, the rigid social photography). We still shoot psychiatric hospitals, prisons and boarding schools, because we believe that this is important and can someone with something to open my eyes. It went from the Soviet era, when this picture was banned. All the foolish and anti-social elements crammed and shoved behind high walls in tridesyatoe kingdom, so as not to disturb the construction of the great common future. And the photographs in newspapers and on the rare exhibitions appeared well-built Pahari, the proud new tractor and busty milkmaids smiling. So we still think of inertia, we must take social programs, treshak. And then the photographer would look like a hero - has climbed, gained access, survived. Communal alcoholics, homeless people with transitions, homes with dying children, lonely old village with houses and boarded-up, delusional religious frenzy.


At a time when magazines want positive start - stories of young entrepreneurs, the positive outcome of the struggle against evil, or just funny stories. A conceptual picture they want and cold, which in these photographs do not.


Purpose - a protest against social injustice.


Photographers - the average age muzhchinki, sometimes with a beard, and punching young ladies of indeterminate age, sometimes similar to the cleaners, dyed blonde with regrown roots. Beige pants with wide pockets, jackets or even where hidden away a lot of lenses. Characterized by general sloppiness.


Landmarks - Cartier Bresson, Josef Koudelka and Salgado, but not achieved. Books - Kafka, Dostoevsky. Photos - black and white, sometimes color. Complicated, but still classic songs, caught the movement and emotion. Looking twists in the image.


The best representatives - Vladimir Semin.


2. Pictorial Photography. This phenomenon is, in fact, not the past, and even the last century. It started with the fact that the picture is not seen as art, but really wanted to become one. Photo replaced the painting, took up its main trends. Hence - fixed genres (portrait, still life, landscape).


Purpose - search for beauty or her creation.


Photographers - bearded uncle for 40 or 50, unsold in his studio, fans miss on a glass. Fans gather gatherings in the same studio, fans are women (amateurs make a compliment)


Landmarks - Moholy-Nagy, Josef Sudek.


Photos - erected a still life, portrait posing by the window, the absence of motion. Life of the photos are not in motion of an object and scene, and look at the motion on the image and examining the film grain, the smallest transitions between light and shadow. These photographers, unlike the first, shoot the film and always very careful to include printing (often manual). Possible interleaving with collage, photograms.


The best representatives - China.


3. The avant-garde photography. This species also originated in the hard ideological pressure. Photographers combining critical discourse left with a very personal, sometimes frikovatym inner world, and his attempt to convey. Goal - not a search of beauty, but not explicit protest against social injustice, but rather a desire to prove themselves.


Photographers - bearded uncle again, but with the "Circuits" - point to a button or braids in his beard.


Landmarks - Boris Mikhailov, Nikolay Bakharev. Mikhailov was the first photographer of whom I asked to the west, when I came to the residence in Rayks. This is the only "Russian" (actually, Kharkov), a photographer, about eccentric antics of which are well known in the west (to get vagabonds naked shot per bottle) or to arrange an exhibition on the ship from discarded feminine sanitary pads). Unfortunately, their time, too, like the other two, it took the departure of Soviet power, as frikovat no longer trendy, not cool, and nobody appreciates it now not as a gesture.


Painting - Late Picasso, Andy Warhol.


Photo - color by hand Polaroid paste black and white pictures treshovoy porn party in the Soviet manual on pregnancy. Capture one self-portrait every day for a year. To print are careless in andegraundski. Fingerprints do not value. Often use found photos.


Subject - often revolves around sex, perversion or transformed ego.


The best representatives - Andrew Chezhin.


4. Naive girly picture. She is young, and was born in the 2000s, respectively, when the basic contradictions of the Soviet state were removed, it was necessary to strive for something in the photo, such as its expression. These photographers have increased in relative abundance, and sometimes received a classical education. Their world is very delicate and fragile.


This photo is more in demand than the previous three species, in particular, it is often exhibited in every way and promotes FotoDepartament, but it's also sensual dry and devoid of analyticity as the first three types.


Photos - often the "nice" portraits of friends and friends with frank views. Sometimes naked, but not on an artificial background, and the rumpled bed. Furniture from Ikea. Sunbeam hits the window. Photographed on any Mamiya or any other medium format. The colors - muted, pastel (bedding), tender. Key - light.


Purpose - to overcome children's complexes.


Landmarks - the movie "Amelie", "Zabriskie Point".


Photographers - girls with hipsterskim views. Ringlets. Strange skirts. American jeans, bananas from the 80 with a belt high above the navel. Boys gay in funny hats.


Subject - tenderness, friendship. Lying in the grass. Dreams. Morning coffee. Little things that make your life atmospheric.


The best representatives - Margo Ovcharenko.


Branch - photo "stream of consciousness." It is confusing, the image is clearly not related to each other (for high-rises may follow someone's stomach), there is no plot, narrative, and a fair view of the world. Often carelessly, shot on various cameras (medium format up to a miserable soap dish with the flash on a drunken party).


Literature - Marcel Proust, James Joyce.


Platform for development - FotoDepartament


The best representatives - no.


Typical representatives - Alex Vanyushkin, Cyril Savchenkov.


This photo is close to a fifth type - obviously hipsterskoy photos. Unmarked on Holgu or Lomo, often with glare or the sun ray hitting the frame. Also about friends and acquaintances, and their world of fashion loafers. Purpose - to publish in her LJ.


This photo is not at all qualified to portfolio revue, and thus not recognized as worth at least a phenomenon on the Russian scene.


But - none of these currents (!) Does not intersect with the world trends in photography. No-one then!


"Everything is fine, but it was 15 years ago," - whispered to each other in a closed room revyuery for coffee breaks.


But there are exceptions to the rule. A pair of Russian fashion photographers.


When I was in Europe say that I'm from Russia, the first thing people ask me, "Oh, Russia. Gronsky! "


All they know Gronsky.
Cool, verified and neutral pictures. Zero emotion. Zero plot. Snowy landscapes with high-rises.


Russian photographer is hard to understand - why is it there so amazing?


Gronsky very conjuncture, is aware of the market (looking for, learn, ask about prices, profits in the conversation). He knows his worth. When portfolio revue ends, he carefully puts the prints as a jeweler - diamonds, and ends the conversation slowly.


But Gronsky - he's from Latvia, so that it belongs to Russia is of belonging to Europe.


The second - a conventional Russian photographer - Lucia Ganev, who has lived more than 10 years in Holland. She - the portraits of museum professionals in their halls of the Hermitage. Photo is as cold and verified, as well as herself a photographer. The large black-rimmed glasses, which are all current artists in the west. All of the roll out of suitcase.


There is much to learn.


There are a few names that were not in the list of participants, but they also have long spilled over to the west.


Broken out unrecognized geniuses have softened the exhibition opening of one - and an unprecedented number of eating caviar - without forks and even bread. Before the pictures Many never reached. To it formed a queue. Reminded all that standing in the church - kiss the icon.


She was in a dark room, under a black curtain, with a guard from the film "James Bond" or "Men in Black." None of the hall did not come back (there was another way), so the queue was exciting and scary. One prominent let actionists in the crowd hearing that we should go only naked. Many believe, be alarmed even more.


In a dark room barely illuminated only the work itself, walled in glass cube with a temperature sensor and the desired humidity. Line drawn in the middle of the hall, for which one can not even bend (immediately yells alarm). Meet with a wonderful person and get the right holy enthusiasm did not work - it was just an attempt to examine the naked body, nakollazhennye in image capture and symbolic meaning.


But if a picture is capable of causing such a stir, it may be worthwhile to continue to do that?


Irina Popova Photography

Photographer.ru

Read the previous post about Russian photography here
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