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Artist Feature

Every week an artist is featured whose single image was published by Der Greif. The Feature shows the image in the original context of the series.

Ina Lounguine - The Price Of A Black Life In America

May 05, 2017

Whether it is Ferguson, Baltimore or Oakland. Whether it is a mass murder perpetrated by a fanatical or recurring violence with impunity from police officers.

 

From all the crisis the USA have been creating and struggling to get away from, racism is by far the most obvious one and apparently the most widely spread out.

 

Yet it is the elephant in the room. And it is no modern history, in a country with a past of brutal well spread slavery and which government ended public segregation officially only 41 years ago.

 

News keep breaking the same stories, repeating in a concerning loop as if massive media coverage could not bring awareness nor work law reinforcement.

And there should be, nowadays, more than ever, as the African American community faces daily injustice and lives in constant social inequality.
This community is secluded primarily in precarious social conditions, suffering from stigma and we have been witnessing -with blinders- for the past years an outburst of racial crimes all across the country. History is made everyday and this is a dark chapter of Northern American History, that doesn’t want to turn its page.

 

In a country where anything beyond one’s imagination can be purchased, this corrupt, greedy, dysfunctional system shows everyday the price it puts on black lives.


Artist Blog

The blog of Der Greif is written entirely by the artists who have been invited to doing an Artist-Feature. Every week, we have a different author.

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

May 13, 2017 - Ina Lounguine

This is my last post therefore I’ve decided to share here my latest work.
Using a wedding photo album -purchased in a yard sale- as the basis of my work, imparts a universal quality to my intention. This album with no identity could tell the story of absolutely anyone and everybody and is the deeply sad evidence of a failed relationship.
Aiming to challenge the relationship we have to photography as visual documentation of a fact, I distort the information the image gives away and the keys we have to analyse it.
Using the negative layer of the image symbolically turns the story upside down, highlights its dark aspect and darkens its light. This switch of elements of light take greater resonance in such a holy setting that is a wedding.
Typical immoderate display and staged representation of love, the whole ceremony is widely photographed, freezing on paper the climax of relationship commitment.
Though we tend to over document and overexpose our lives, images are the tip of the iceberg from our stories. The surface we decide to show off. By the use of Braille, I intend to bring another layer of information to the image.
Both informative and disruptive, this element emphasize the various reading degrees we can have of a picture while symbolizing scars and wounds, by the agression of the paper’s surface.
Now visible, these scars relate another story, darker, sadder, unknown and so far, unseen. 
With almost endless interpretation, the input of braille on these pictures can illustrate our facility to overlook things we see, our difficulties to comprehend relationships, or even looking away from an abusive relationship. Far from a dramatic statement, I intend to keep a playful tone in my work, and could sum up this piece by tackling the idiotic adage « Love is blind ».
Could we then love what we don’t see? Do we love by lack of knowledge?
This piece can be read on several scales, and I like to consider different approaches for its presentation. Exhibited for instance, the image resonates differently if the embossed image is printed on a flat sheet of paper and framed, or embossed directly on the print and left available for the audience to touch.
With these options of presentation the relationship to our senses is challenged and we question our faculty to feel, read, and see as well as our ways of communication, which can ostracize blind people, in the virtual world especially. This particular aspect brings us to analyse the ironic lack of connexion between a blind person and a virtual world and the truthful existence of invisible things. 
Doesn’t one base ones faith on what one sees?
In this work, a sighted audience has several keys of reading which assembled together produce a fussy image, while a blind audience only has one, extremely clear, revealing a completely different story.
Under the fingers appears parts of some of the saddest love songs of the Blues. Blues that can find an echo in the significant presence of the color blue in the images.


Staring Quietly At The Backwash

May 12, 2017 - Ina Lounguine

After introducing the works of some of my dear collaborators, I’d like to present my two latest projects. Both deal with the idea of perception and challenges the position of the viewer. The first one is from 2016 and questions our relationship to current events.

Within the past few of years, Europe has seen mass human migrations, due to chaos and civil wars all across northern Africa and the Middle-Eastern countries – Syria especially. Staring Quietly At The Backwash is a sensorial take on analyzing the crisis we are currently witnessing in Europe, where thousands of refugees are trying to cross the Mediterranean sea; a proposition for a different read into the matter, offering different degrees of perception.

One is the use of close up images, a symbolic hint toward the project’s discreet ambition to shed light on the European crisis. The pictures of smiles were cut out of portraits of all European leaders who have been in power since war started in Syria. A smiling mouth, or the epitome for what is said rather than what is done. The emphasis is put on the distance Europe has set itself from the Middle-Eastern crisis.
Another is a metaphorical immersion into the sea, although calm, soothing and friendly, it is also an angst- ridden, resourceless habitat. There is a voluntary awkwardness in the setting, with the encounter of the two videos , the shaking hands of europeans politicians floating like belongings in the deep blue sea, triggering a certain anxiety of a frozen, seemingly irrevocable situation. In this layout, the first place is given to the human action and the decisions made by our governments -and their repercussions- somehow become of a greater dimension that the immensity of the seas.

The two images evolving at a same time and intended to linger for too long,  cause unsettlement and discomfort. This image of shaking hands has a deeply spiritual aspect to it. Floating in the see almost like god’s hand sealing our fate, it also stand for the hand we are incapable to open to our neighbors.

Although there is no use of archive images, no actual documents about the refugees, or even any clear indication regarding what the subject matter is, all is suggested and appeals to the subconscious. This lack of journalistic reportage is in fact a way to highlight the lack of concrete action in an Europe seen too passive, where this crisis, though pervasive, was experienced fantasized, abstract, almost unreal.

Associating images of calm and relaxing sea, warm smiles, holidays vernacular photography, and shaking hands with a recording of refugees in pain and chaos on their journey points out the drastic distance between what is heard and what is seen – or what is reality and what is fantasy. No further indication is given on the soundtrack in order to keep a blurred reality.

There should be a feeling of uneasiness coming from being mislead by the imagery, echoing with the news in various media, equally as misleading. The sea here comes as the ideal setting. Principal scenery of the horrifying  and deadly journey the refugees are forced to travel, it is nonetheless related to a immediate sentiment of relaxation and holiday. The sound of backwash itself is one of the most soothing sound there could be, sound commonly used for people to fall asleep to. The viewer is now left with the association between image and sound his/her subconscious operates.

This is essentially a forced encounter of perception, imagination and reality and video, sound and photography offer a total immersion in the matter.
Here the viewer is asked to give more depth to his reflexion, and further dimension to his perception, to analyze the information he is given instead of judging it hastily.


Lila Khosrovian

May 11, 2017 - Ina Lounguine

Whether it is with Petrichor, or The Spectacle Of Nature Lila’s work weave an ode to nature in all its forms.
Growing up in a very remote part of the Armenian countryside she learnt to attache great attention to her surroundings. Active both in animal rights and nature protection organizations, she uses her photographic works to immortalize the wonders of the nature around us and the way its presence affects our daily lives. Lila relocated in California where she often works in National Parks.

About The Spectacle of Nature she writes, ​
Nature has its own unremitting cycle. She needs no settings, no embellishment. But Americans are no ordinary people. And they did not build such an empire on average representations for satisfactory feelings sake. They hit hard and they went for the extraordinary, the amazing, the incredible. In everything.
The amount of adjectives to describes these feelings are as immense as the energy they put in creating such marking settings. They may have one of the most impressive industries of entertainment and excel in transforming mundane into spectacular. I came across a few places where entertainment had been built around nature. Zoos, Botanical Gardens, Nature Themed Parks, Natural History Museums, and I was amazed at how much care and creativity was put into building outstanding settings to fit these expositions.
Murals narrate stories of the wild jungle, there are sounds here and there of a bird that isn’t there, subtle lights, sophisticated scenery recreating with impressive accuracy the original surroundings of the animal, the plant we’re observing. Plastic plants stand alongside real animals, real flowers accompany embalmed animals.
The spectacle of nature is offered manipulated by human hands, in all the glory it can have, in a cage.

thelivewildcollective.com


Charlotte Fos

May 10, 2017 - Ina Lounguine

Charlotte’s work main topic is technology and how one relates to its environment in a world now mainly digitalized. Since her project Digital Communications she’s been working on the creation of an archive of digital content and the idea of fossilized contemporary objects.

Her practice emphasize her topic with the use of animated gifs and digital imagery. Blending photography and vapor wave visuals she aims at celebrating the new digital era.
After billions of years of human evolution, science evolution, social revolutions, the technology evolution landed like a storm and wrecked everything around us and all we thought we knew about our possibilities of communication. Today, technology is a the core of every conversation and new social medias are the key to every success whether it is professional or personal. Often criticized for tearing people apart, for isolating youngsters in a digital, parallel, fake universe, we tend to forget what amazing, ground-breaking tool we now have to access infinite knowledge all over the globe. Even muzzled population in chaotic political and social context find ways to reach the chip, to communicate with the outside world. We’re running fast, and although dizzying, this ascension to ultimate ways to evolve around and with each other takes our breath away and does not seem to be willing to stop. We live the digital revolution. It is now on us to use these technologies wisely. And we may have satellites all over the galaxy, our part is to keep this ‘analog’ side of ourselves alive and stay down-to-earth.


Camille Lévêque

May 09, 2017 - Ina Lounguine

With her latest series, La valeur évocative and Familiar GesturesCamille explores notions of intimacy and body language.
Obsessed with details and patterns she gathers in this series elements of both pictures she’s taken or vernacular photography from her own personal archive. Looking at these images more closely, various elements catch the eye.Working in diptychs bouncing off one another, she highlights parts of the images that have a strong visual appeal and numerous connotations. Like visual vestiges, neglected, underrated elements of the picture are now brought to light and given a new purpose. They are no longer a part of a bigger image, they become the image itself. Out of context, these frozen moments are transcended instead of becoming tainted. A tiny fragment of image resonates with greater strength and wakes up buried memories. Illustrating her visual obsessions, these close-ups are the rebirth of overlooked photographs.

 

Her projects think about relationships, matters of identity and origins – often looking at family as the cornerstone of her analysis. Working mostly around the archive, whether is it the subject or the media, she aims to illustrate the idea of memory, its impact on the present and future, its limits, and its fading.
If photography is a piece of evidence, she uses it either as a statement or to distort the truth, playing with the boundaries of the medium, and in a way, with the past. Very much influenced by her own family archive she makes encounters between various eras of photography, creating discussions working in echo around the photographic object.

 

thelivewildcollective.com

 


Lucie Khahoutian

May 08, 2017 - Ina Lounguine

Lucie’s work questions relationships, faith, seclusion and dementia. Her latest project With All This Darkness Round Me I Feel Less Alone  approaches a wide range of topics while being very focused on religion, spirituality, and mystical matters.
Very influenced by traditional caucasian visuals she is interested in the conversation of this very traditional imagery with a more contemporary aesthetic.

 

 

This is also a conversation that she likes to nourish through the themes of her works. This dichotomy expresses the states eastern countries are in: stuck in time and traditions but also very much opening up, and very fast, to new technologies, ideas, to the west in general.
There are in this work strong references to traditional caucasian folk tales in her images, whether in the poses or the patterns, and she is also strongly influenced by Sergei Paradjanov’s works and surrealism. There are here and there hints of magic or witchcraft, presence of a ghost, elements relating to Armenian’s superstitions.

 

 

At the crossroads between religious rituals and psychotic behaviors, this story narrates a slow plunge into insanity. From one step to another we are taken onto this one-way journey, wavering between isolation, abandonment, blindness and oblivion.
The timid human figure fades away, becoming its own shadow, ghostlike, maybe, dehumanized, doomed.
If eyes are ‘the window to the soul’, here they are often missing, hidden under blinders, ornaments, veils, or on the contrary, omnipresent, in the form of artifacts. As if our subject was literally loosing sight along with their discernment.
Simple rituals of communal life become rituals of faith and devotion, soon one belongs to the other.
Protagonists are then shapeless, passive forms, they don’t really see what is happening. They’ve become the shadows of forgotten ancestors.
In this traditional setting, magic is invoked, to test faith almost, and resolve the inexplicable.
The isolated duo appears weakened rather than fortified and struggles to communicate in the muttering of Babel’s tower.
In the most absolute harmony we could not hide from solitude.
Could we then be alone together?

thelivewildcollective.com


Anna Hahoutoff

May 07, 2017 - Ina Lounguine

This week I will be presenting some photographers from Live Wild, a female artistes collective that I am part of.
I’ll start with Anna Hahoutoff. She is currently living between France and America and working on a large scale photography project gathering series, documenting each American state.
In this essay called Americana -her core photographic work- she reveals the beauty and efficiency of the American dream imagery looking through a Russian lens. Shooting almost exclusively in digital and color, Anna’s photographs navigate textures, shapes and colors. Her scenic, rhythmic series all intertwine and together knit a canvas where her journeys seeking spiritualism appear clearly. The recurrence and mirroring of themes aspire to set a certain rhythm in motion to the photographic works, following her own odyssey, scenic and vibrant alike.