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 is the way that I often use to move away from the objective 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 subjective 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. So far I have been trying to render the image to make it appear potentially real, so the viewer could not understand what I did to it. With Blokovi, I wanted to unveil the abstraction.
2) A series of images must be consistent in the style. Same crop, same tones etc. As a father, I appreciate that my kids are different and unique. So, why standardizing my photographic subjects? 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 “dry” architecture to death. Walking around the blocks I realized that these buildings were backgrounds to various micro-worlds. Life had its full cycle within the blocks. I could see schools, playgrounds, shops, bars, restaurants, offices, funeral agencies and drug dealers. 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 wanted to uncover the human element so I also included environmental frames.
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 and a fine art photographer must have photoshop under his/her belly, but I believe that the immediate impact of the image is what is left in the viewer. I did spend a more than fair amount of time in post-processing these images but I have been more focused in unveiling the character of the subject rather than in obsessive technique.
5) You built up a series over time. For me this is increasingly 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 of each room. The past is gone, the future is not real, there is only present. I try to squeeze the time as much as possible. My mood, which is influencing the way in which I photograph and post-process the images is where I want to ensure consistency. I shoot a huge amount of images in two days and 23 were utilized for the series. These images do not stand individually, all together they make the final image.
6) Don’t drink and photograph
Background. For years my main project has been about spomenici, monuments from former Yugoslavia. Spomenici are considered by some as being part of “brutalism”, a term coming from Le Corbusier’s definition of “beton brut”, concrete. While working on spomenici I came across several amazing brutalist buildings throughout former Yugoslavia. So, the step was natural. Most of these images were taken in Belgrade but they will be probably followed up with images also from other locations. As I always associate images with music, for Blokovi it has been Brian Eno’s Music for Installations. I will also continue to work in black in black with my usual approach. but with Blokovi I got out of my comfort zone, which I believe 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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