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

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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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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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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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Arctic Magic: Evgenia Arbugaeva’s Idyllic Photos of a Place Called Tiksi

Wait, I know what you’re going to say: it’s spring already and you’re not so much in the mood for photos from the Arctic. But these are not just any photos, they are a magical portrayal a photographer made when she returned to the place where she grew up and which she missed.

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The Way of the Reindeer: photos of the Mongolian Dukha people

It looks romantic but it’s actually a really tough harsh life. So tough and so harsh that it’s actually disappearing. The Dukha people live in the North of Mongolia and they domesticated reindeer but the current population is now estimated between 200 and 400 people. Many moved to the cities and the herds diminished. The remaining people make most of their money from tourists buying their crafts and riding the reindeer. Hamid Sardar-Afkhami documented the life of this shrinking community in these beautiful and poetic images.

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Photos in February: my commitment to search for visual details in my own routine

In the end of January this year, I decided that for the whole month of February I will take photos every day. Not random photos, but photos of the same route I walk every day. I really live in one of the most uneventful places possible, and especially the route I walk is pretty plain, passing by flats, a huge parking lot (where I found the heart balloon) and the Shell offices. But the commitment to keep taking photos, even though not a recipe for some amazing photographic project, proved to be a way of paying attention, searching and finding something new and something beautiful in the routine the mind normally ignores. These are some of the photos I took.

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Photographic Darkrooms: Michel Campeau’s Photos of a Disappearing and Often Romanticized World

I think most people have seen darkrooms in films, where they can seem this mysterious places where pictures come to life. Film characters are either developing their films there because they’re artists, or is their craft or perhaps because they’ll reveal a secret this way. But truth is hardly anyone uses darkrooms anymore. Truth is they’re smelly places, far less charming than portrayed in movies. Truth is photographer Michel Campeau documents a world that is disappearing.

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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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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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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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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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Early morning happiness

I’m back home and back home one can find things and beings close to their heart.

This pointy nose is dear to me. We met this morning.

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The best milkmaid and the best welder: portrayals of state and local prize winners in Belarus

Belarus is one of those places in which the smell and the air of the Soviet Union is still alive, safe and sound. And Rafal Milach‘s photo series portraying Belarusian winners of the most ridiculous prizes you can imagine, is the perfect example of that. As you can see, the regime awards the working class and the people supporting the regime. More important: it awards the loyal and the good citizen all around the country, in kolkhozes, schools, nightclubs and village discos. The winners receive a state diploma which must be a great status boost in a country in which facade and prestige mean the world.

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