Winner of the Second Edition of The Anamorphosis Prize 2016
Winner of the 2016, Second Edition of The Anamorphosis Prize
A Golden Apple of Discord tossed into the midst of the feast of the gods is torn apart by those immortals who lust over its prize beauty, its seeds spilled upon the ground sowing a terrible fate for mortal man.
Discordia is the Latin name of Eris, the Greek goddess of chaos and strife, tosser of Golden Apples. Of one body but two faces, her influence on the lives of men has both ill and good effects. For just as her gaze instigates war and terror with one face, with the other she inspires men to envy the efforts of their neighbor or colleague and thus improve themselves by trying to do better.
With his book DISCORDIA, Moises Saman has built her a magnificent temple. Omnipresent, she; the photographs bear screaming witness to the tumult of her touch. Discordia dances over the wreckage of rubble strewn streets, delights in the wails of widows, drinks up the blood of the tortured and wounded, all the while demanding more and more. Never satisfied.
It is ironic then that the book could only come alive under her eye. Because with her other face, Discordia makes men strive. And this Saman has done, creating a spectacular photobook, a monument to the maelstrom of the Arab Spring and the winner of the 2016, Second Edition of The Anamorphosis Prize.
A distinctive work of unflinchingly terrible beauty, DISCORDIA elevates the act of photojournalism to art. Satisfyingly solid and well crafted in content, design and physical construction, this tome serves as a landmark in demonstrating the freedoms and possibilities of self-publishing resulting through an uncompromising commitment to quality and endurance.
Alive with an organic discord like a cell or an atom, the book not only depicts the actions and uprising of the protestors as its recurrent theme but mirrors them by becoming a daring act of protest itself against traditional narrative and presentation through its inventive use of the haunting, gestural collages of Daria Birang, his collaborator, lack of page numbers and the overall fine edit, a novel exploitation of the subtlety, ambiguity and repetition of Saman’s photography. Therefore, we not only view the chaos in the photographs, we experience it ourselves. Historical in subject but timeless in theme, DISCORDIA demonstrates the contemporary reality of ancient myth in an original way. No matter how hard man attempts to order or reorder the world around him, Eris smirks and chaos reigns supreme.
2016 Jury Special Mentions
LOOKING FOR THE URSA MAJOR
Marie Ilse Bourlanges & Elena Khurtova
Marie Ilse Bourlanges and Elena Khurtova in collaboration with graphic designer Xavier Fernández Fuentes created the exquisite, mysterious, and outstandingly produced book: Looking for the Ursa Major. I met the authors in the spring of 2014 in Paris where they had started their now years long ongoing research, interpretations and interventions with the found archive of Marie’s grandfather Jacques Bourlanges. With his passing away in 1991, he left an archive of twenty-four boxes, which contained an overwhelming abundance of notes carefully organized in self-made folders, geometric drawings and a profusion of maps overlapped with mysterious lines. The book is only one of the outcomes as artworks of the transformations Bourlanges and Khurtova made and still are developing based on this archive.
The project at large is called The Sky is on the Earth. This book shows the authors’ reaction to this quite esoteric and informationally surprising archive, which I receive as a guided tour of curiosities about the never to be understood mysteries of star constellations. Browsing back and forth through the book makes us somehow feel as if we are within the brain, the energy and the spirit of the complex Jacques Bourlanges. It’s a trip through symbols, geography, the mapping of the universe, nature, spirituality and the connection of our search as humans with the greater elements of a universe where humans maybe never will get a real sense of. Humans are just interpreting, telling stories and associating with symbols. History floats through the constellations of the stars but never reveals itself the same way. We fly and we get lost. We do not know what the research of Jacques Bourlanges meant to him and maybe we will never know and that is exactly what makes Looking for the Ursa Major so utterly fascinating. We are guided through the very thoughtful, sensible interpretations of the 2 authors by means of several “chapters” and the steps of the process of this project reflected in this book and we think about the mysteries of the universe at large. This journey through star constellations brings us not only geographical landscape information but also we feel through this book that the stars have a subconscious influence on shaping our constructed environment. The Sky is on the Earth is something that keeps you wondering. After seeing this book we basically want more and I am looking forward to following the next steps of this project. Merci Marie Ilse Bourlanges and Elena Khurtova for your imaginative guidance in showing us what the universe’s presence on the Earth can mean.
BILLABLE HOURS by Robin Dahlberg is a strenuous exercise in subtlety in the best artistic and intellectual sense. Photographed in the unlikely but refreshing setting of a white shoe law office, the book, prima facie (at first glance) appears to be a straightforward depiction of rather banal goings on, the day to day business of billable hours; the primary revenue source of any legal firm by which law professionals charge clients for their services, right down to the minute. However, a strong argument can be made ad litem (for the case) that this book is one of timeless themes classically presented in the form of good, old-fashioned, strong photography.
The fluid, exciting dynamics of emotion, gender, sexuality and gesture mix freely with the humdrum of hand shakes, neckties and waxy potted plants. In one photo, the lower halves of a skirted, bare legged woman and a pinstripe panted man face each other, the pointed taupe toe of her high heeled shoe suggestively touching the tip of his freshly shined black oxford. In another, a mess of mismatched women’s shoes of various styles and colors are strewn haphazardly in an opened bottom desk drawer, a used hairbrush perched atop this precarious pile. These are surprisingly charged scenes of both flirtation and humor, where the focus of Dahlberg’s eye allows the viewer to see things that most likely would normally be missed.
This theme is the leitmotif of the book, the wonder of the hidden, right out there in the open. On one page, an ordinary scene of a man sitting for lunch in a conference room about to bite into a sandwich. Three pages later, a stunningly beautiful woman gazes vixen like into the camera lens while three indistinct, similarly blue shirted, dark trousered men stand behind her, their heads decapitated by the frame, like a male version of an ancient Greek statue of the Three Graces, Aphrodite in the foreground. The gestures here are classical and their effect a striking vis major (major force) that reinforces the female/male dialectic that courses through the work.
Throughout the book we see many pieces of saccharine, corporate art hanging on the office walls. They stand out in sharp contrast to the real work of art here and its genuine depth, that is, BILLABLE HOURS itself. There are many layers available to be pulled back, examined and explored in this rich work that hides beneath its seemingly sedate veneer of a workplace, like a blood red high heel covered by the long cuff of a plain navy pantsuit. With this photobook, res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself.) One need only look carefully in order to listen.
Federico Carpani and Indra Kumar Jha
Artists’ books in general and photobooks as a sub-set of this art form are a time-based medium for which the control of time rests with the viewer. MAA by Federico Carpani and Indra Kumar Jha is both a time-based work and about the subject of time; the cover image has a date stamp of 31/10/2013 19:45 and the first page bears an indistinct image with another date stamp on it. Open the folded pages of each page spread, and you enter layers of documentation of life and death in India, portraits of live persons and dead persons, young people, more dead people—with fold-out images of Indian god and goddess figurines. Marriage ceremonies, graduation festivities, more dead people, two views of a funeral. A dead man wearing sunglasses. An abandoned store. Yet more dead people, one face swathed in red dye. A newborn and his family. Another wedding. More dead people. A military officer. Although as viewers we don’t know the people in this book, portraiture lends an air of intimacy that enables us to meet the gaze of the live persons, and mourn the people who are no longer alive—some of whom are presented upside-down, as if we are surrounding the body. Death looks different in each portrait, as various as life. On the closing pages, the authors note, “Bodies from all over India come to burn in the open-air crematory, located on the stairs of Manikarnika Ghat. Here Hindus greet and celebrate their dead before delivering them to the eternal flames of Shiva. Situated in the core of India, Varanasi is a border town; its principal purpose is to enable the passage from life to the hereafter.” Later in the endnote we discover that the portraits themselves were going to be deleted by the photographer Indra, because his digital card got full. Federico Carpani wouldn’t have it—giving Indra his own card and establishing their collaboration. One of the last images is of the Print button; like every other image in this book, it has a date stamp on it.