SEE New Perspectives Masterclass

In 2010, fifteen young South-East European photographers and three masters met in Berlin for the SEE New Perspectives masterclass, organized by World Press Photo and Robert Bosch Stiftung. After the first meeting in Berlin all of the photographers were given a grant to photograph a story within the region but outside of their home country.

The resulting projects are now being exhibited in Belgrade, Serbia (on display until December 14 at the ARTGET gallery on Trg Republike) after debuting in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in October. The show will soon move to Zagreb, Croatia and Berlin, Germany. The exhibition features an interesting concept of displaying oversized “magazines” each devoted to one photographer’s project, with only one image from each project along with the photographer’s name on the wall.

You can see all of the stories produced in the masterclass on the SEE New Perspectives website as well as more information about the organization of the project.

The photographers are:
Andrei Pungovschi, Romania
Armend Nimani, Kosovo
Bevis Fusha, Albania
Dženat Dreković, Serbia
Eugenia Maximova, Bulgaria
Ferdi Limani, Kosovo
Jasmin Brutus, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Jetmir Idrizi, Kosovo
Marko Risović, Serbia
Nemanja Pančić, Serbia
Octav Ganea, Romania
Petrut Calinescu, Romania
Sanja Jovanović (née Knežević), Serbia
Tomislav Georgiev, Macedonia
Vesselina Nikolaeva, Bulgaria

And the Tutors are:
Regina Anzenberger, Austria, artist, curator, photographer’s agent, gallerist
Silvia Omedes, Spain, president at Photographic Social Vision Foundation
Donald Weber, Canada, photographer VII Agency

I asked my old friend Jasmin Brutus, a Bosnian photographer who was part of the masterclass, to paraphrase the statement he gave at the Sarajevo opening which expresses his feelings about the years-long masterclass project: “We [the participating photographers] all returned with nice small toolbox which our employers will never know how to utilize. So, I think experience in the masterclass is very useful for my personal projects and for my job is almost useless. I gained new skills and my old skills got enhanced. But, for me the most important thing is that I met a group of really great people and great photographers.”

Congratulations to my friends from around the region who were able to take part in this interesting project and many of whom were able to produce terrific photo stories that may otherwise never have seen light or been published. I encourage you to explore the work published on the SEE New Perspectives site or peruse the photographers’ own websites linked above.

The video below features interviews with all of the photographers about their work and experience in the masterclass:

SEE New Perspectives from Balkan Photographers from World Press Photo on Vimeo.

Book Club: Velibor Božović “photographing in character”

The NYTimes Lens blog just posted a piece including the words and images of Velibor Božović, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in Sarajevo. In the interview Božović said some things that have really echoed with some earlier thoughts of mine: is it possible for a photographer to photograph as someone else? In other words, to photograph in character? Actors can assume new personalities and do things (on set a least) that they would never say or do in their personal life. Does this, can this, should this apply to photography?

“[Hemon and I] spent hours talking about what these guys would do and about Rora — what would he really photograph,” Mr. Božović said. Through their conversations, Mr. Božović would discover that Rora possessed aesthetic tastes and instincts that drastically differed from his own.

This did not always sit well with him. One photograph he took still leaves him feeling uneasy. At a sidewalk café in Lviv, Ukraine, he sneaked a shot of a woman’s bare legs from underneath a coffee table.

“I simply would never do that,” he said. “But Rora would do that kind of thing.”

This is a proper book club post because Božović’s comments are referring to the book that he made with his friend, the writer Aleksandar Hemon called The Lazarus Project. In it there are two characters traveling through Eastern Europe (Bosnia, Moldova, Ukraine) in search of certain historical events and this is exactly what the author and his photographer friend, Božović and Hemon, did in real life. This curious parallelism is found often in Hemon’s books, which I count amongst my favorites of recent years, especially his first: The Question of Bruno. This mixing of first person narrative, of fiction and real experience, even to the point of having a character named Hemun that fits biographical features of the real Hemon, work incredibly well at playing the tensile strings of fragile immigrant identities. But what about doing this with photographs and blurring the line of who is the photographer? Does the biography of a photographer matter? Does it matter if they exist at all in a non-fiction world?

Interesting ideas for me.

Be sure to look at Božović’s work, especially the whole Lazarus Project set on his website and the Stone Sleepers project which we’ve previously written about on dva. Word is that he is traveling to Russia at the moment, I hope for some nice new secret project. Can’t wait to see it when he’s back.

Mosques in the Snow

I’ve been hanging out in Sarajevo this week as a bit of a respite from Belgrade and to get some reading and research done for a few new projects I’m trying to get off the ground. So, sorry for the lack of posting . Luckily we have M. Scott who keeps the great stuff coming…

I’ve got a couple of quick things to offer before my battery dies (for all its charms Sarajevo lacks decent internet places where I can take the time to actually look at stuff and post). First, for quick-hits of things I’m reading or finding interesting, that aren’t just related to photo (and thus don’t get much play on dva) I recommend subscribing to this rss feed of my postings to facebook. Yea, oldschool .. I should be using twitter .. but this is an easy way for me to share with friends stories and things that I’m digging.

Second, congrats are in order (again) to friend and inspiration Jonas Bendiksen who picked up another great prize this week. You’ll probably have to use Google Translate for that page unless you speak Norwegian… Also, I found this news out via Magnum’s new Twitter page, which features news, links and (it appears) interviews with Magnum photographers who are in the office. Very energetic.

Sarajevo at dusk, 13.3.09

all for now thanks