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

Chewed: photos of dogs’ second best friends

And when I thought a photo series cannot get more bitter-sweet than Mark Nixon’s Much Loved, I discovered Ron Warren & Arne Svenson’s Chewed. No big philosophy, just a series of dogs’ second best friends: chewed stuffed toys.

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The kitsch update: Elena Eremina’s still life with hamsters

It’s official: all the good kitsch comes from Russia. Or at least a good part of it. I hope you’ve seen Svetlana Petrova’s cat, Zarathustra, making classical paintings ‘better’. Or Svetlana Novikova’s crazy coloured animal paintings. Well, Elena Eremina photographs her hamsters, in the kitchen, after her husband and child go to sleep. The result is this photo series with a Flemish still life painting air in contrast with these too-cute-to-sweet sentimental scenes. I find this contrast surprising, terrible and lovely at the same time.

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What’s it made of: close-ups on animals’ skin that make you want to touch (or not)

Yusuke Sakai got a simple idea, and as usual, the simple ideas are the most touching. For Skins, he photographed just that, the ‘skins’ of different animals, so close you can see the texture, can imagine what it might feel like to touch. It is a somehow peculiar experience to look at these photos, because they make these animals come closer and at the same time become somehow alien. Some I’d like to touch, some I rather not and either way I can already feel on my fingertips the sensation I could have.

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Reenacting love: a photographer’s reflection on her past relationships

Jeniffer McClure‘s series You Who Never Arrived is a collection of photos reflecting her past relationships. And while I deeply felt for this series of women wearing the t-shirts of their lost lovers, and I could empathize with Laura Steven’s imagines reflecting the stages of letting go a relationship, You Who Never Arrived feels more emotionally complex. The photos are staged in hotel rooms, the men are friends and acquaintances, and taking this photos was for the photographer a process of understanding and letting go her own misunderstood emotional past. The project caught my eye because the photos are good and so painfully personal, but not only because of that. Recalling my past relationships trying to understand what went wrong is something completely foreign to me. While I can feel the pain and the discoveries this close look at the past can bring, the series made me realize I feel no need to reprocess any of my past relationships, and I also don’t think of them as ‘failed’.  They are not failed, they somehow organically reached a natural end, and I feel it was no one’s fault.

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From grandma with love: a photo series of grandmas and the special food they make

I stared at these photos for quite some time because they’re such a warm illustration of human diversity and culture. Gabriele Galimberti’s series In Her Kitschen is like a thank you note for all grandmas and such a complex illustration of traditions, social customs (some grandmas are really young, for example) and the table atmosphere in different countries. More than that, for sure we all recognize the comfort of food, and unless your grandma is or was an evil witch, it’s most likely that thinking of her and her food is comforting and brings some nostalgia.

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The comfort of taking a break from being you: Tom Broadbent’s portraits of Furries in their homes

What you do when you’re a Furry is that you dress up as a fluffy character and you meet up with other fluffy characters and you chat and have and hang around. You can also do other things, like you dress up as a fluffy character and then go fishing, or cut a leek or iron your stuff. What you don’t do is two things: reveal your identity and talk to journalists. I think there’s something liberating in being a cartoon and I am currently looking for something liberating, so I am considering becoming a Furry journalist, perhaps I’d be the first ever. And perhaps Tom Broadbent will add me to his collection of photos of people who like to dress up like this.

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Before they pass away: Jimmy Nelson’s glamorous photos of tribes tell the kind of PR stories we want to hear

What initially might seem to be the very best of anthropology meets photography, Before They Pass Away eventually turns out to be a (talented) photographer’s imagination at work. Jimmy Nelson tells the kind of stories we want to hear and takes the kind of photos we want to see, but in the end they create a imaginary that does not reflect the reality of the people photographed. Plus, most of these tribes are not really about to disappear.

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Many in one image: the aerial photography of Alex MacLean

Unlike Edward Burtynsky’s Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark, which overwhelm and invite to reflection, Alex MacLean‘s aerial photos are only surprising eye-candies picturing human patterns from above. Why is it that ‘many’ of one thing captivate us and seem beautiful to us, well, I don’t know. But there are many planes, many trains, many people and many boats among other many things in these photos. And they do look beautiful and I cannot stop looking at them.

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Beyond time: photos of some of the oldest trees out there

Some of the trees in Beth Moon‘s Portraits of Time photo series are 4000 years old, which means these trees were present when whoever you can recall from history was alive. They were around when Jesus was around for example, and even then they had been around for quite some time. They’ve seen history, climate changes and the whole process of our world becoming as we know it. And they’re still here.

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The Romania I love: a photo series about the surprising and the charms I’ll miss

I’m leaving Romania today and going back to The Netherlands, and it’s also the last day of the year and the last 2014 post on Passepartout, and somehow it feels just right to show you these photos. Hajdu Tamas doesn’t only seem to be at the right place at the right time, he actually has an eye for everything I love in Romania – the bitter-sweet, the absurd, the sentimental and the everyday surprising with an Eastern flavor. I think the kind of things he photographs are everywhere here, if you pay attention. And for some reason that fails me, many people see this as a mark of inadequacy and not of something to embrace and enjoy.

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Pay attention: portrays of an orangutan and all that magic point to an environmental issue in Indonesia

Look what I found! This chimp – Man of the Forest, photographed by Ernest Goh touched me and made me wonder. Yes, I know, you’ll say Bianca, this is precisely what you talked about in your previous post. It’s called anthropomorphism and this is what you’re doing right now. And how could I deny that? And eventually…why not? As long as we see, and feel and keep in mind that it’s more than ‘just a monkey‘. He is much more. And he’s in danger.

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Do they resemble us or we resemble them? A photo series inviting us to question our relationship with animals

Wikipedia says that anthropomorphism is the attribution of human form or other characteristics to anything other than a human being. And I think that’s one of the most imaginative and empathetic things we do: we see faces and gestures and symbols in things, and most of all, in animals. We want to recognize ourselves in the world outside and we project what we know and how we are in places where they don’t exist. But doing that makes our lives more playful. And it helps us relate better to animals for example. And this is precisely what London-based photographer Tim Flach is counting on. His More Than Human photo series is an eye-candy with a twist.

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Oversized: surreal photos of animals in the middle of the city reminding they used to be welcome there too

Liu Di is a Chinese photographer and his Animal Regulation series is about breaking mental patterns of what our cities look or should look like, and have a thought of two about animals and how urban growth impacts them, or to be more accurate, excludes them from our life. Now that’s a good subject for reflection, and I know a thing or two about this. I could tell you about the fox I met in my street because we’re basically expanding our neighborhood on her land and she kinda lost her way. I could tell you about the hedgehog shelter I volunteered at, where wounded hedgehogs come to get better after being hit by something while trying to cross the street, because they do remember their home used to be on the other side. Or I could say nothing, nothing at all, just wish everyone not to see concrete and flats out of their windows, but green and animals, or even a giant bunny or an elephant (my guess is that the huge frog won’t be most people’s first choice).

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Home in an unfriendly place: a photo portrayal of life in the city of Norilsk, close to the polar circle

Here it is: Norilsk – photographed by Russian photographer Elena Chernyshova. You’ve probably never heard of the city, and there’s no particular reasons you should have. Its list of achievements include being the 7th most polluted city in the world. That’s no surprise, Norilsk is a mining city, the closest to the polar circle. Its mines and metallurgical factories were constructed by prisoners of the Gulag. All together, there’s no happy story there, and yet, there’s something charming in these photos looking into life there and, in Chernyshova’s words, looking at ‘human adaptation to extreme climate, ecological disaster and isolation’. I love the photos, their details, hidden symbols and atmosphere. But life there must be really tough.

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Not your usual family picture: portraits of farm animals

Glossy magazine-like, Rob MacInnis‘ photos of farm animals point at two issues: the way we consume images, and the way we consume these cool fury guys. I find the images bitter-sweet. I’m not so touched by the consuming images issues, but certainly touched by the thought of the ‘real life and destination’ these animals have.

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Satellites: photos capturing the uneasy post-communist feel in the ex-USSR republics

The reasons why I find this series interesting 10 years after it was made go beyond the fact that I am 1/4 Moldavian, that I am interested in the Caucasus and in Central Asia, and that photographer Jonas Bendiksen traveled to every single place I want to travel to sometime soon. It is actually about how these photos manage to capture the feel that all these very different places have in common, the feeling of a shared soviet past. It’s also about a certain awkwardness I am familiar with, an awkwardness he seems to have looked for in all the obscure corners. And about the fact that 10 years later, some of these places are less unstable than back then, and yet, not much has changed. ‘Many of these places are quaintly obscure, but as I came to discover, they offer stark proof that the breakup of the Soviet Union is still a work in progress’ said Bendiksen long ago. And 10 years later it still is work in progress.

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Break-up: a photo series illustrating the inner phases of letting go

I didn’t break up with Mr M. and it’s no longer November, but both have nothing to do with how personal this photo series is and feels. I saw these photos some time ago and then I forgot the name of the photographer, the name of the series, I only remembered some keywords: women, break-up, feelings and Paris. And of course, I remembered the strong images that link these keywords: images of women, and their feelings after breaking up with the one they loved. In Paris. In the end the mix of words was enough to re-find Laura Stevens‘ photo project called Another November.

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Beautiful or creepy? Portraits of Erna and Hrefna, two young twins from Iceland

They might have a special connection, get the same grades and have to same dreams, but to me these airy photos of Erna and Hrefna, twins from Iceland… well, they’re rather creepy. I don’t even have to explain why, I mean we’ve all seen enough horror films. Of which one do they remind you?

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The pack: photos of working dogs in New Zeeland

This might be the shortest post I have ever written. This week I didn’t manage to put anything new on Passepartout. There’s IDFA (and I will write about it later in the week) and there’s me being busy with all sorts of other stuff. And it seems like even Andrew Fladeboe‘s working dogs seem to get more time for themselves. There’s work and then there’s play, and these loyal shepherds are good at both.

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Human/Animals: a portrayal of the many nuances our relationship with animals has

Corey Arnold is a photographer and a professional fisherman. I don’t know how being a photographer influences the fishing, but how his fisherman life impacted his photography, well, that’s very clear. In his photo series Human Animals he portrays the complex relationship we have with animals and points at things we often ignore, don’t think of, consider normal. The photos are great especially because there’s something raw and honest in many of them, something uncomfortable and yet true. The big picture is actually made by the puzzle of all these human-animal relation instances he photographed. And there’s a bit of all of us in this big picture.

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