Passepartout is all about documentaries and visual stuff I find worth seeing.

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Leninopad: where did all the Lenin statues go?

I don’t remember Romania’s Lenin statues. I was too young to remember. But I do remember streets that had his name. The statues quickly disappeared after the revolution, and the names of the streets changed as well. To me, this getting rid of symbols was and still is fascinating. It is as if someone has been moved out of the apartment, throwing away all his stuff, which include personal items in the form of photos and statues, and his name on the door bell. Making these things disappear is the supreme post-regime clean-up and makes you realize just how deeply involved into the fabric of everything the regime really was. It took Ukraine a long time and some scandals around it, but here is Niels Ackermann’s photo series documenting where the ‘Lenin-toys’ go.

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The Kitsch Update: Christina Rosen and her amazing ceramic dogs

There is a small part of me that wants to say ‘this is kitsch’. And then there’s another part of me that tells this small part of me to get lost – pff, you and your categories and concepts! – this is magic, you know it is…

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This simple feeling of comfort: the art of Frances Baruch

I cannot remember what I was searching for when I came across Frances Baruch‘s work. What I remember is this feeling of comfort I had looking at the pictures of her gentleness-inspiring ceramic work of people and animals. It was that feeling I sometimes have when I discover something that resonates with me and that feels…’true’.

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Myth or Reality: The Dream of Escaping the City

Every now and then I take a step out of myself and look at my life. Every now and then I reflect on what it is that I’d like to be different. And every now and then I miss the smell of fresh laundry when you bring it from the outside during the day, and the comforting feel that slow early mornings have for me. And every now and then, especially then, when I feel nostalgic for slow paced days, I daydream about moving out of the city.

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SPOTLIGHT: Tuffi the Elephant and Her 1950 Train Jump

Hey you all, Passepartout is back. I said it would be June, I kind of meant the beginning of it, but the 26th is still in June so no one can deny that I am true to my word.

Now…have you ever seen this photo?

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Old Passepartout, New Passepartout and a Trip in Between

Dear friends,

After thinking long and hard about the changes I want to make to Passepartout, I finally reached some conclusions. Starting June 2016 you can expect some new sections on the blog: a monthly interview, stories behind photos you might or might not know, more in-depth look into photo themes and also a monthly ‘Best of’ with everything good I spot around the web each month.

Meanwhile, May will be a month of rest, and Passepartout takes some time off because I will be on a trip to Thailand and Myanmar to recharge and explore.

But let’s not lose touch. Please subscribe Passepartout’s feed & newsletter.

See you all in June,

Bianca-Olivia

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Movies That Matter Festival: Chuck Norris vs Communism and What I Remembered

The first film I remember watching – ever – was one in which the main character is a guy dressed in white. Somehow I believe it was Alain Delon but I’m not sure what makes me believe that. And what happens is that he dies in some sort of corrida arena, not killed by a bull but by someone, someone evil. I don’t remember most of the concrete details, as you can see. What I remember is the strong impact the scene had on me, it felt like something I had to think about and I did think about it for a while. I was probably 4 or 5, film ratings were non-existent back then and and my parents, like many Romanian parents at that time, were watching films in secret, illegally smuggled into the country.

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Less Than a Week Left to the Oscars: If You’re Hoping ‘Amy’ Wins, It Probably Means You Didn’t Watch the Other Films

A week from now, we will know which of the five shortlisted documentaries wins the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Bets are on Amy, Asif Kapadia’s film about Amy Winehouse. I really loved this film but I am truly hoping it doesn’t win. And here’s why.

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17th Century Dutch Humor and What Hid Behind an Apparently Inoffensive Bush

The truth always prevails my dears, that’s what I have to tell you! They tried to cover it up in this 1643 Isack van Ostade’s A Village Fair with a Church Behind painting, and they painted a bush on top of it. But 100 years later, curators spotted the fake, took it off, and revealed the true “artist’s intentions”: a pooper with a dog looking at him. In 1903 when the bush was painted on top of this shameless little fellow, it seemed more appropriate to go about doing such business in a bush I guess. But in the 16th and 17th century this kind of potty jokes in art were apparently quite popular. You don’t have to be a high-brow art lover to appreciate old Dutch paintings, you can also be a ‘Where is Wally?‘ fan and spot for the twist behind them.

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IDFA 2015: Some Documentaries You Might Want to See // Part II

People often ask me what recent documentaries I’ve seen and what I recommend them to see. When they ask me that, my first question to them is what are you looking for? What interests you in general and what kind of stories do you like? Personally, I have an interest in what’s new in general in the documentary world, what’s fresh from the oven and what’s different. But of course, I also have my specific interests in certain subjects. But beyond personal preferences of different kinds, I do think there are films that go beyond their particular circumstances to reach something universal. Something that’s important for all of us and something that we can all relate to. Those films are often unforgettable and these three films I’ve seen at last edition of IDFA are of this particular ‘breed’.

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IDFA 2015: Some Documentaries You Might Want to See // Part I

I’m starting to worry that Christmas will come and pass, we will enter 2016, half of it will be gone…and all the things I have to say about the docs I’ve recently seen will remain unsaid. So this week I’ll take some time to write about these films. Because there is one thing I do every November and I did it this November too. That is going to the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, which is my yearly treat of good docs, fresh from the oven.

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Painterly Peeks: Photos Capturing the Lives of Photographer Arne Svenson’s Unaware Neighbors

Apparently, New York photographer Arne Svenson inherited a 500 mm lens from a friend who was passionate about bird-watching. Svenson didn’t know much about birds but he put the lens to good use, taking these really beautiful pictures of his Manhattan neighbors. The neighbors weren’t as excited about the photos as I am, so guess what they did, not rocket science, they sued him. And he won. It was 2013 and a court decided that what he did – taking the photos and then exhibiting them in a nearby gallery – was something defensible under the First Amendament’s guarantee of free speech and the photos needed no consent to be made or to be sold. That’s good to know. I accidentally found this story and these amazing photos some days ago, when I started doing research for a photo project I want to pursue, a project for which I was wondering where’s the line between public and private.

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It’s all happening! Spotlight : Romania is a showcase for the real photo stories that make contemporary Romania interesting

Here is my big excuse for neglecting you and Passepartout for so long. It’s all  happening now, not even a hurricane can stay in its way. The Spotlight:Romania exhibition I curated will be on from the 3rd of October until the 8th of November in Gemak, in The Hague. It is the biggest exhibition of Romanian photography The Netherlands has ever seen, and a selection of 8 photographers and 8 photo series that tell Romanian stories. They all have a bit of everything I know, love and miss from the country, and that I think the world should see. And yes, important: the exhibition is part of Spotlight:Romania. A Film and Photography Festival me and Corina Burlacu have been baking for a while now.

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The Middle of Nowhere, the Mist and the Longing: a Series of Photos from Around the Wadden Sea

I really really miss being in a forest. I felt it today, really strong, didn’t recognize it at first but then I realized what it was. I miss the forest and therefore I miss home. Back home where I’m from. Romania. The misty days. The trees and the smells. And that certain feeling of having reached an end of the world. And strangely enough, this feeling reminded me of Henrik Emtkjær Hansen‘s photos from around the Wadden Sea.

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Doing Art and Being a Mom: a Photographer That Does Both and the Story of Travelling Around the US with Her Son

I took Casper on his first road trip when he was three-months old and by the time he was one we managed to stay out most of each year for the next five years of his life” begins the written story that comes with these photos. By the time I finish this first phrase, I’m already hooked. Justine Kurland is the photographer, Casper’s mom and the writer of this essay published in a book called How We Do Both: Art and Motherhood. And not only I love her photos and the stories around them, but I’m also genuinely interested in how exactly can we do both art and motherhood.

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The Idiot Box: a Touching Photo Series of Kids Watching TV Said to Point at Something It Doesn’t Really Point At

This photo series has been circulating around the web recently. It has been described as a series portraying children’s vacant stares at the TV, but honestly they don’t look so vacant to me. Instead, they look absorbed. Completely absorbed, the kind of surrender only kids can express. And while the series has been used to open up the never ending talks and questions regarding too much technology – to which we never seem to find an answer or at least not one that we’d like to adjust our life to – I loved these photos for completely different reasons. Photographer Donna Lee Stevens named the series ‘Idiot Box’, but to me the name doesn’t suit the photos.

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Medieval Emoticons: the Delights of Seeing Art from Long Ago in a (Funny) New Light

I’m a big fan of medieval art and representations. That’s especially when they are cherry picked around a subject. I previously loved these Ugly Reinaissance Babies, now I’m absorbed by these ‘Medieval emoticons‘, and in general by the website where I found them. Discarding Images is a real treat.

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Fairytale: a Photo Series Imagined by a Child and Made Real by an Adult

I saw these photos and thought I’d like to live inside them. Then I read all sorts of things about the series. I’m not a big fan of big and twisted metaphors that completely lose touch with reality. But I’m a big fan of these images and the ‘magic is everywhere if you bother to see’ feeling they give me. So from everything I found about the project, I will skip the metaphors and keep with me these magic and atmospheric photos and also their name, Fairytale, which I believe it suits them perfectly.

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Beijing to Sankt Petersburg: a surreal trip made and documented by Dee O’Connell

Hey, you know what? I almost decided to show you some photos of Iceland, with that kind of isolated landscape and towns with 5 inhabitants. But then I thought: it’s almost summer and you’re probably thinking of holidays and new places to see. So I picked Dee O’Connell’s old school and charming series of a trip she made from Beijing to Sankt Petersburg. With the Trans Siberian. My kind of holiday.

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All That Stuff: a Photographer Revisits His Childhood Home

Photographer Geoff Johnson lived in this house until he turned 17. Behind the Door is series of photos he took when he had to go back to this place,  after his mother passed and the house was left to him and his sister. Their mother was a hoarder, and living between piles of stuff and broken appliances had a deep psychological impact on both Johnson and his sister. To face their old feelings of shame, they photographed the place and then used Photoshop to super impose their own children into the photos.

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