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

IDFA DocLab: Virtual Reality experience

My first Virtual Reality experience was pretty intense and pretty nauseating. Yet, I didn’t stop, I wanted to go through everything to be able to write about it (I’ll do it soon). One thing that’s particularly interesting besides the experience itself, is what people think VR does or has the potential to do with our minds, and societies, and ethics and everything else. Follow up on the topic soon.



I know where your cat lives!

Basically the title says is all. I know and everyone knows. And now you can know where other people’s cats live too, there’s an app to help you with that kind of knowledge. Ingenious idea, I love cats, works for me, take a look.

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The kitsch accident: when old paintings, onions and eggs collide

Here is your dose of kitsch. When art meets onions and broken eggs, this is the result. It doesn’t happen often, and when it happens it’s not really an accident. In this case, Zeren Badar caused these particular accidents. He says he is hugely influenced by dadaism and neo-dadaism. He creates three dimensional collages with found objects, food and cheaply printed old paintings. Bottom line, the recipe is to take on per-existing work of art, put some onion, put some egg, some objects you find or just paint on them somehow, and take photos of the resulted collage. Yes, try at home.

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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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That’s an old name and an old poster. This year’s version of IDFA DocLab conference was called Immersive Reality. We’re moving a scary step forward.


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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Vote? (check). New books? (check). And I also got to tell (a part of) my story.

Friday I got books in my mail. It’s a good day every time I get books like that, and Friday was extra good because I got two of them and loved both. One of them is Giovanni’s Room, this 1956 tiny novel written so beautifully, a book that everyone seems to know and I didn’t know.  The second is something I was curious about and needed at the same time. It’s called Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That, written by Susie Hodge, and it looks at 100 pieces of modern art that were somehow controversial or criticized/misunderstood/ridiculed/you name it, and explains the thoughts behind these pieces, their roles in contemporary art,  and how not random they are and all sorts of other things, which makes the book pretty entertaining and also informative. So I woke up this morning and decided I’m not getting out of bed, there’s no need, no rush and no pressure, and I spent some quality time with this book, which is – bonus – printed on good paper, nice to touch and nice to turn.

Why Five SPREADS RGB150 _905Weekend was not only with books but also with voting. Romania chose its president on Sunday, and for the first time fraud and arrangements of all sorts – including not letting a good part of the large diaspora vote – did not decide the winner. I felt relief and joy when I heart that our new ethnic german president won. Had Cointreau and watched the news until 3 AM.

This weekend i also took part in this curious project called The Human Library, organized by a friend of mine, Katerina. The idea behind it is to put face to face people that otherwise might never meet and to get them to tell a story otherwise they might not tell. The ‘readers’ can come and ‘rent’ a book, and the book is a person telling a story, their migration story. You can rent a book for 20 minutes and then you have to return it. There were even library forms to fill in!

I thought it was a great idea, the stories opened a conversation. I told about me moving here which seems nothing compared to people fleeing Somalia and Afghanistan. But especially because I’m coming from so ‘close by’, it’s quite interesting to tell about how many stereotypes one can encounter when moving to a new place. And about how that stops the conversation. Anyway, most important realization from that night was about how confrontational it actually feels to tell something personal to a stranger. And have him listen. It made me see that somehow this story is also far from the most important I have to tell. I thought I wanted to write about this in an article, but now I’m not so sure anymore.


The Island of Doctor Moreau: the surprising-kitschy-collage version

Andrea Mastrovito makes a lot of stuff, and most of it is worth seeing so check her website and look carefully. What caught my eye is – predictable, right? – this amazing-kitschy-surprising-collage, a recreation of the animal kingdom, her own version of Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, now called The Island of Dr Mastrovito with version I and II. Well. Truth is her version is much more gentle than the original story, in which a mad doctor does all sorts of experiments hoping to transform animals into people. Mastrovito only cuts all these animals from nature books and puts them all together in this arresting installation.

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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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Mimi Revencu’s world: cats, houses and the power of colors

These paintings come from somewhere very very close to me. So close that I have actually been around when some of them were painted. And that’s because the painter, Mimi Revencu, is my mom. She made art since she was young, then for years she did not. And in a twisted moment, when my uncle died, something changed. She went back to painting and ever since then – many years ago – she has been painting almost every single day. She defines her style as Mirabilism and every day, stroke after stroke, she creates a colorful world, full of energy.

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All work and no play – the weekend and its treats

This weekend I reached the obvious conclusion that I don’t have a normal life rhythm. Although my day begins early, nothing stops when it normally stops for other people, and almost nothing happens in the classic parameters of a normal person’s life. Same with weekends, work doesn’t stop in the weekend for me and I often have no concept of ‘it’s Saturday, I should go out’. In fact this Saturday I wrote until 3 in the night. At the same time I do have the luxury to hide in the cinema in the middle of the week or take a Tuesday off just like that.

This weekend I re-read part of my favorite short story book – A Thousand Years of Good Prayers written by Yiyun Li – and a good part of Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground, which until now I find partly insightful into human nature and partly terribly disturbing, the result of a circular messed-up mind (the character or the writer himself?) that makes perfectly coherent thoughts most of us only occasionally have.

And I did make a couple of discoveries, one of the most significant being this great TV-series, The Affair. I already watched everything there is to watch, only 4 episodes by now, 5th one comes today and I look forward to it. Well built, well chosen actors, at least Alison, played by Ruth Wilson, certainly is versatile and can play with her role and with my emotions. And the story avoids all the cheap excitement that usually surrounds affairs in films. So see the trailer. See the film.

Off working on my little festival.

I’m from here: the amazing photos of Sebastião Salgado

When someone asks you where you’re from, you can say – I’m from here – and show the wonderful photos of Sebastiao Salgado. And that’s no lie, we all belong to the world he portrays, untouched, simple and natural, even though we tend to forget that and feel far away, separated. But we do belong there, and when we see it, we remember. Just look at the photos, doesn’t that feel like home? There’s simplicity, beauty and peace of mind there. And unfortunately, most often this is the place we long for but feel we lost, and we feel guilty for being part of the cause of its destruction.

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The place where time stopped and the Soviet spirit is still at home

Belarus. No, this is not a photo from the 80’s. This is a photo from 2009. The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution Day is celebrated on the 25th of October by the old calendar and the 7th of November by the Gregorian calendar. The anniversary is a state holiday in Belarus. Even today.

Belarus Portfolio

© Andrei Liankevich

Stalker: a photo series of people living in the shadow of the Chernobyl disaster

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is a 30 km area surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The estimated levels of radiation there are really high and living there is not safe for any living being. But still, there are three categories of people who do go into that zone. Some of them are workers, who risk their lives to construct a new sarcophagus to isolate the melted core of the reactor. Their work has been documented by Gerd Ludwig in his long term project about Chernobyl. In the second category are the people who couldn’t say goodbye to their homes, and I previously wrote about Diana Markosian’s bittersweet story of Lida and Mikhail, a couple who chose not to abandon their village, if though they were advised to do so. And the last category is the one documented by Donald Weber, in his Stalker photo series. This category is made of people who transgress the border of the forbidden area and enter Pripyat, the abandoned Chernobyl city to strip it of its remaining valuables.

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The beautiful drama: photos of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill

The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was an environmental disaster. Photographer Daniel Beltra took these amazing photos of the spill and I find it fascinating how such a drama can look so beautiful. I cannot stop looking at these photos and I wonder, does the beauty blind the eye for what really happened?

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