Blokovi – getting derailed into social architecture
As a lawyer, I am used to analyze the rules, including ways to circumvent them. This time I broke some of my own rules:
1) Black and white and long exposures. This are way that I often use to move away from the conventional reality. However, I felt I was hitting on a ceiling. The results were aesthetically very pleasant, the images won several awards, but I felt they were becoming a cliché. I needed to move away from my own reality and I thought: “There must be more to explore with a camera”. Good black and white photography usually has an edge in term of depth and presence, but selectively applied colors contribute very much to the emotions. I did not want to convey drama with these images but rather to give my own identity to these buildings, like in naïve painting. In general, I try to render the images in a way that they appear potentially real. With Blokovi, I wanted to unveil the abstraction.
2) A series of images must have a consistent style. Same crop, same tones etc. As a father, I appreciate that my children are different and unique. So, why standardizing my photographs? They speak to me with different voices despite being part of the same family and each of them deserves its own interpretation.
3) Photographic categories. I have beaten architecture to death. Walking around the blocks I realized that these buildings were background to micro-worlds. Life had its full cycle within the blocks. I could see schools, playgrounds, shops, bars, restaurants, offices, funeral agencies and all sort of dealings. With Blokovi, I felt compelled to create “social architecture”. Many of my architecture black and white images include a human presence, which is not the main subject but can be spotted if carefully looked for. In Blokovi, I also wanted to uncover the human element.
4) The file is my canvas and photoshop is my brushes. My fine-art photography has been about vision translated through tedious post-processing. Often, I felt I was like a monk tediously copying books and drawings to ensure their survival. I do admire the perfection of the post-processing I see in some photographs, but I also believe that the immediate impact of the image is what is left in the viewer. I did spend a more than a fair amount of time in post-processing these images but I have been more focused in unveiling the character of the subject.
5) You built up a series over time. For me this is becoming not the case. I don’t want to build up a series in the same way in which I furnish a house, trying to artificially replicate over time the style in each room. The past is gone, the future is not real, there is only present. I try to compress the past and the future into the present. My mood, which influences my photographs and post-processing, is where I want to ensure consistency. I took a huge amount of images in two days and 23 were utilized for the series. These images do not stand out individually, all together they make the final image.
Background. For years my main project has been about spomenici, monuments from former Yugoslavia. Spomenici are considered by some as part of “brutalism”. While working on spomenici I came across several amazing brutalist buildings. So, the next step was natural. Most of these images were taken in Belgrade. As I always associate images with music, for Blokovi it is Brian Eno’s Music for Installations. With Blokovi I got out of my comfort zone, which contributed to my personal development.
Link to the Blokovi gallery http://www.giuliozanni.com/p123318336
Keywords: architecture, belgrade, blokovi, brutalism, brutalist, buildings, fine art, spomenici' giulio zanni, yugoslavia
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