Monday, April 13, 2009

Books : East by Anzenberger (Part 1)

The Vienna based Anzenberger Agency will celebrate 20 years of Activity in May 2009 and with the occasion the second volume "West" will be presented . The first volume "East" which represent a photo-essay from 17 photographers was published last year. Is rare to see a photo agency representing photographers by publishing books and portfolios , Regina Anzenberger has been always active in promoting young talents with a special eye on the so called "Former East Countries".
I will introduction the book East in different posts,
Here the statement of the book edited by Regina Maria Anzenberger:
“The agency remains – is perhaps now more than ever – a place for photojournalists with the ambition to witness the world and produce exciting photo-essays that are visually interesting and journalistically relevant. A meeting place for photographers from both East and West. A family, not a factory, dedicated to photography and quality. A place for people with passion. A virtual home for photography in the midst of Europe, the beautiful city of Vienna.” Regina Maria Anzenberger, Vienna, April 2008 Publisher: Moser Verlag München Text: German and English 288 pages
size: 24,5 x 29,4 cm

Here the first four photo essays of the book , all texts written by photographer and journalist Robert Haidinger :

Life in a block of Flats by Andrej Balco

Dolphins are leaping across the wall, their leaps frozen against the blue background of the wallpaper. Then there is the reference to Alcatraz, but the floors of the cells are covered with industrial oriental carpeting. People, like furniture, sit between furniture, but there is also a touch of glamour in the chipboard ambience, not to mention the varied longings in the interior of the housing blocks. No, the inhabitants of these Slovakian prefabricated buildings probably do not behave as uniformly as might be suggested by the exterior of the omnipresent high-rises filling the suburban landscape. Built with the intention of providing affordable housing for everyone, the industrial structures of these buildings quickly became synonymous with a highly anonymous lifestyle, devoid of any individuality. This the point of departure in this photo essay by the Slovak photographer Andrej Balco. Who are the people in these prefab buildings? Is there a prevailing type, perhaps even a prefab person? These unavoidable questions are a natural response to something as stereotypical as these buildings, providing a starting point from which Balco undertakes his photographic exploration of these boxes full of everyday Slovakian life. What he brings to light creates a sharp and varied contrast to the serial façades: dreariness has been replaced by individuals, who have rescued their palms, baroque fantasies and eroticism by bringing them into their apartment block. A bit of heaven on a flat roof, a hint of countryside in the garage, if only as a pig in the boot of a car.

Macedonia Dreaming by Ivan Blazhev

A box is turned into half a knight’s helmet, but between the face and cardboard is an echo of the war; the game with bow an arrow seems anything but harmless, and more confrontations are waiting. Today the word Macedonia evokes the country’s recent past: folklore poses headlessly against a bare wall. Will a soapbox race ever lead beyond the courtyard? This is highly doubtful as well. The year 1991 marked a new beginning for the people of Macedonia. They opposed the horror of war, corruption and ethnic tension with a special human quality of their own: hope. The desires that implies are often compressed into a seemingly somnambulistic situation, which the filmmaker and Macedonian photographer Ivan Blazhev approaches from the inside out in his photographic “road movie”. For two years he worked on the project “Macedonia Dreaming”, documenting the idea of dreams as a bridge between what the people of Macedonia people desire and what does not exist. Geographic or even political classifications play a secondary role here – they are the last aspects Blazhev wants in this portrait of his homeland. The country rather transformed itself on a extra-territorial plane, which is revealed in “Macedonia Dreaming” as its real strength: namely the sum of the personal microcosms, some bizarre, some poetic, that he traces here.

The Girl from Szymanow by Jan Brykczynski

The high wall at the far end of the park – it might have been erected by Franz Kafka. A boundary that is more perceptible than visible and hidden in the soft fog: intangible and hyperreal at the same time. Like the severity that seems to surround the girls’ smiles like a hard case. The girls, the boarding-school and the wall against the temptation of the world. Brykczyński did not exactly make it easy on himself. That is revealed at every glance. The distance between the viewer and the motif is difficult to comprehend. And the place is as alien and rigid as an insect preserved in amber. These pictures have something unapproachable about them, even in those moments when an effort is made to wring a tiny bit of exuberance from the rigorous life of a boarding-school. The sleigh ride across the virgin snow; the dancers in uniform: these small freedoms are frozen here into minor escape attempts that are doomed from the beginning to fail. Education lasts four years at this Catholic girls’ boarding-school in Szymanow, an island to the south of Warsaw and really located somewhere between anachronism and timelessness. Education here used to be restricted to daughters from “better families”, but now the school is open to all strata of society. The rules, however, have remained the same. Clothing, schedule, etiquette: a long list of regulations leaves little space for individuality. That can be seen in the details, among them the wrinkles on bed sheets that seem to be resisting attempts to smooth them. And certainly the flowing white robes of the nuns with their charges kneeling beside them.

The Ferries of Istanbul by Sinan Cakmak

Crossing a bridge would be another possibility, and not a bad one at that: they also connect Europe and Asia. And they also have their place to place in Istanbul life, especially given the amphibious environment of this city. The peninsula and the water licking the shore of its salt, dirt and history, and three bodies of water at its disposal. There’s hardly another city in the world that thrives as successfully between low and high tide as this lovely metropolis on the Golden Horn. Thus it is more likely the traffic and the risk of being caught in a jam, especially on one of the bottlenecked bridges, that persuades many of the people of Istanbul to take the only real alternative plying its way from shore to shore: the popular ferry service. From the moment they cast off from a harbour mole, the real destination is neither Galata nor Karaköy: it’s a quiet moment spent watching the wake receding in the distance. Finally. Waiting or weeping on the waves of the waterway. And perhaps just as important: the chance for a tender embrace where the world is at its loveliest: in the no-man’s land between two continents. It’s no wonder that the announced threat to take the old ferries out of service and replace them with new ones sparked a wave of angry protests and had to be withdrawn. Sinan Cakmak lives in Istanbul, and the motifs of his photos capture the commuters’ trips, their moments of freedom and the range of their emotions as the ferryboats rock and roll across the water. One might say: the music of travelling from the city to the city.