Pastoral: Moscow Suburbs

Vast landscape photographs of the outskirts of Moscow — desolate places where humanity tries to find a refuge far from the city, only to collide with the endless nature of urban expansion.

An interview with Russian photographer Alexander Gronsky, who discusses his book, “Pastoral: Moscow Suburbs”, variety of interpretations, and the intuitive creative processes behind his work.
Dzerzhinskiy II, 2009. From the series “Pastoral: Moscow Suburbs” © Alexander Gronsky/INSTITUTE

GronskyPastoral

The most expensive Olympic Games in history — for less than 3 weeks

The most expensive Olympic Games in history are about to take place in Sochi, Russia. The $51 billion price tag has done little good (and perhaps long-term harm) for the local economy and gentle culture.

LensCulture presents a photoessay © by Russian photographer Mikhail Mordasov.

 

Sochi

Fisht Stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies. Nearby, in the center of Olympic Park,
an old cemetery has been preserved. Relatives visit the graves of their loved ones on the eve of
Radonitsa, a traditional day of commemoration for the departed.
From the series “Sochi: A 100 Days Before the Olympic Games” © Mikhail Mordasov

 

 

10 New Photography Features plus HUNDREDS of New Portfolios

LensCulture is always interested in discovering and sharing the best photography from around the world — and this week we have 10 stories that you really should not miss. Enjoy!

subotzky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ponte City by Mikhael Subotzky

Like a failed science-fiction utopia, this Apartheid-era residential tower has become the city’s “focal point [of] dreams and nightmares… a lightning rod for a society’s hopes and fears…”

 

gries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In/Visibility by Patrick Gries

In Tanzania, albino people are considered victims of evil — so, they are not registered at birth and they do not die — rather, they ‘vanish’.

 

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Disappearing Greenland by Ciril Jazbec

Follow the daily life of one of the last true hunters trying to lead a traditional lifestyle in northern Greenland— subsistence hunting.

 

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In Focus: Ara Guler’s Anatolia

A new exhibition of Ara Guler, Turkey’s best known photographer, debates photography’s status as art or documentation.

 

wolf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong Trilogy by Michael Wolf

Quirky typologies of ephemeral urban phenomena from Hong Kong’s streets, back alleys and unlikely perches in the sky.

 

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Mectoub by Scarlett Coten

What does it mean to be an Arab man today? Scarlett Coten explores in a series of intimate, open portraits of young men.

 

gronsky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio interview with Russian photographer Alexander Gronsky

Listen to this short interview with the author of a great new photobook, Moscow: Pastoral Suburbs

 

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Empire by Jon Tonks

60,000 miles, 32 days at sea, 400 rolls of film —Jon Tonks went far to capture life on four of the most isolated islands in the world, former colonies of the British Empire.

 


bogart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hair Study by Tara Bogart

Portraits of young women photographed from behind allow us to imagine personalities based on peripheral details like hairstyle and tattoos.

 

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Points of View by Margherita Crocco

Inspired by metaphoric expressions that people use in their everyday language, this series reveals the absurdities that can arise from cross-cultural interpretations.

 

 

NEW PORTFOLIOS — EXPLORE!
In addition to articles we write and feature in the magazine section of LensCulture, you can browse through literally HUNDREDS of other great portfolios and stories posted directly by photographers who are specially invited by the editors of LensCulture. Explore by category, most-viewed, or our Editors’ Picks. Dig in and discover an abundance of inspiration!

 


Explore-Conceptual

Imaginative Truths: Joan Fontcuberta, David Lynch

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From the exhibition Camouflages © Joan Fontcuberta

Still images can contain stories…the mind and emotions can become engaged by looking at a still image and small stories can grow into huge stories. It depends, of course, on the viewer.

—David Lynch

There is a fascinating, if ultimately unequal, pair of exhibitions which just opened at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie: Camouflages, featuring the work of Joan Fontcuberta and Small Stories, with photographs by David Lynch. While nothing explicitly links them, implicitly each casts an illuminating light on the other.

Fontcuberta’s work, throughout his long and productive career, has centered around the theme of storytelling. But Fontcuberta’s stories have always been of a particular variety, mixing fact, fiction, myth and farce in constantly changing measures. Fontcuberta grew up in Spain under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, an experience which left him painfully aware of the illusory powers of photography. Thus, beyond the individual flights of fancy present in each of Fontcuberta’s projects, we can sense a larger mission: to make us see how easily manipulatable and false photography can be, despite its long-standing reputation as a medium of truth.

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From the exhibition Camouflages © Joan Fontcuberta

In Camouflages, we see the full range of Fontcuberta’s wide-ranging and wildly imaginative ouevre. From display cases containing previously undiscovered flying monkeys with horns on their head (Cercopithecus icarocornu), to the untold story of cosmonaut Ivan Istochnikov (who, coincidentally, looks eerily similar to Fontcuberta) to pictures of the cosmos (which are actually rain on a car windshield (see above)), to the story of Osama Bin Laden’s doctor, who turned out to actually be an actor (Dr. Fasqiyta Ul-Junat/Manbaa Mokfhi aka Fontcuberta again). In each series, Fontcuberta constructs a self-contained, fantastical world, but cumulatively, in our world, he is consistently chipping away at our belief in the veracity of any kind of photograph [hear the prankster/thinker himself  describe his methods and intentions].

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From the exhibition Camouflages © Joan Fontcuberta

The second exhibition, Small Stories, is both more opaque and, in the end, much more straightforward. Based on the opening quote from above, it seems that Lynch’s works are deliberately puzzling. With titles such as Head #15 or Thinking of Childhood, it seems that Lynch is intent on letting each viewer’s mind wander into its own space. If there is a larger project, like Fontcuberta, it is hard to discern. Rather, Lynch leaves everything up to the viewer.

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From the exhibition Small Stories © David Lynch

So, what links these two exhibitions? Story-telling, but in two very different forms. One seems carefully staged and directed, causing the viewer to think one thing (“Is this true?”) and then, reliably, making them realize, “No, none of these are true”. Although Fontcuberta’s work is varied and playful, the exhibition has an internally consistent message which is hard to ignore. But for all the consistency of Fontcuberta’s larger ideas, his images also manage to allow for small stories to grow into huge stories. His alternate worlds are so powerfully imagined, so meticuously executed, so impressively crafted, that our minds do wander towards other possibilities, even though we know they’re not strictly true possibilities. And that’s what makes Camouflages such a fantastic exhibition: it manages to mix a serious intellectual message with whimsy, humor and exploration.

By contrast, Lynch’s theoretically more open-ended images/stories fall flat. Although Lynch claims that “it depends, of course, on the viewer”, it’s hard not to feel that the creator is at fault here. Compared to Fontcuberta’s perfectly realized images (and displays and videos and fake taxidermy), Lynch’s work feels fuzzy, amateurish and incomplete. Since he gives the viewer so little to engage with, the story-making process he promises can hardly begin at all.

—Alexander Strecker

Editor’s note: The exhibition will be running from January 15, 2014 until March 16, 2014 at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie.

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From the exhibition Camouflages © Joan Fontcuberta

40 Years of American Color by Dennis Church

American Color © Dennis Church

© Dennis Church

The super-saturated color photographs by Dennis Church were one of our most pleasant discoveries this year — even though some of them date back to the 1970s. These photographs capture color, light and an emotional vibration of American life from the 1970s to the present. Each image compresses a lot of visual information into a flattened plane. The more time you spend with any of these pictures, you may be surprised at the tiny details that break through the clutter to make each photograph especially delightful. See lots more in LensCulture.