lucida momenta
Uladzimir Parfianok
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about my photography early photographs fragments of being bathing the last days of the past war (1945-91) market place here, there and everywhere garden of stone dedications persona non grata lucida momenta unfinished story intimate life of a seashell untitled (1996) untitled (1997) catalogue of afterimages letters from faraway photographic offering for liudmila rusova unreliable facts from the spot of events
 

about my photography

 

My understanding of photography is mainly based on Roland Barthes' ideas about its magic nature and incomprehensibility. Therefore, I have little trust in computer-manipulated (both digitized and digital) photography and prefer to deal with traditional photographic technologies that seem to be more authentic and significant as a means of artistic expression. I normally work in b & w and use different toning processes combining them in an untypical and spontaneous way so that the result cannot be predicted in advance. This technique produces unique and unrepeatable pictures, at the same time destroying our notions about reproductivity of photography. However, in my most recent works I use colour as well.

 

Uladzimir Parfianok.
early photographs

Uladzimir Parfianok.
fragments of being

Some of my early works from the late '80s were based on Cartier-Bresson's method of 'the decisive moment' in photography. In my opinion, the rapidly changing reality of Perestroika time demanded exactly that direct way of interaction between a photographer and the environments. As a result, the majority of photographic series from that time were created in that way. Among them I could note Fragments of Being (1987-88) (different scenes from urban life of Minsk and Vilnius), Here, There and Everywhere (1990-91) (the Soviet time symbols and signs of the Soviet power manifestation placed inside urban landscapes, which one could see everywhere in the former Soviet Union, The Garden of Stone (1991) (a collection of collapsing samples of mass propaganda which carried out its ideas by means of installing thousands of cheap gypseous copies of primitive sculptures all over the country), The Market Place (1990) (scenes from marketplace life, which reanimated during Perestroika times) and others.

 

Uladzimir Parfianok.
market place

 

Uladzimir Parfianok.
here, there and everywhere

 

An obvious interest in the outdoor reality of the late '80s was replaced by a certain disillusionment with both the new reality and the applicability of the direct photography method in the '90s. At that time, the registering function of photography and its seeming objectivity were of minor importance to me. I began to work out my own ways of photographic vision, more subjective and more emotional ways. The picture toning process was converted from a mechanical procedure into a real artistic action with unpredictable results.

 

Uladzimir Parfianok.
garden of stone
Uladzimir Parfianok.
the last days of the past war (1945-91)

The so-called 'spontaneous toning' method is used in Persona non grata project, which can be considered a complex collective portrait of my contemporaries who are not compatible with the System - the System, in which they were born and in which they are forced to continue their lives. The Persona non grata series includes different nude, semi-nude and so-called "ordinary" portraits of people, in which the degree of their nudity can probably be used as an indicator of a model's frankness during such a photographic confession.

Uladzimir Parfianok.
persona non grata

The majority of pictures were taken inside the real interiors without any staging. Sometimes models suggested their own ideas, which produced a somewhat surrealistic effect (for example, "The Future Patron of Arts" -- a picture of man in a gas-mask holding a copy of Sovietskaya Kultura newspaper). The Swedish photography expert and director of Fotografiska Museet in Stockholm, Jan-Erik Lundstroem, called these pictures "kitchen surrealism". The Persona non grata series was begun in the late '80s and now includes about two dozen portraits. But the project is not finished yet, which means new personages are constantly added to it.

Uladzimir Parfianok.
persona non grata

Another idea that is still important to me is connected with a quest for new expressive means in the very structure of photographic image. In the past years, I have been working with blurred images produced by taking pictures out of focus. All the pictures from the Lucida momenta exhibition project were consciously made in that way. The blurred close-up pictures are combined into a few big grids (composites) and sequences in order to give them additional narrative possibilities. Some pieces from this project have their own titles.

 

Uladzimir Parfianok.
lucida momenta

Nadzeja Karotkina, art critic from Belarus, wrote: « "La musique savante manque a notre desire" -- these words by Arthur Rimbaud are not merely a title of one of his compositions. I think they perfectly reflect the character of the artist's pursuit for emotional content. [...] He searches for a "strange melody" in the everyday reality and finds it in mundane objects by stretching their contours over the limits of our superficial, terse ability to cognize. [...] The artist deliberately avoids the clarity of image, and thus he achieves a certain isolation; he protects a photograph from a brutal invasion from the outside. The blurredness in his pictures makes the process of perception complicated, or -- to be more precise -- our ability to recognize objects. It is almost exclusively our feelings that are able to filter through such a "protective coating".

The series of works "... i po soshestvii svyatogo duhka rekshe po rusaliikh..." is not less interesting and extraordinary than the previous one. Parfianok undertakes the issue of paganism and thanks to this he goes deep into national mentality which is rooted within primeval, pre-Christian times. However, the author does not attempt to reverse the flow of time. This series is his endeavor to reflect over past cultural tradition by means of visual media available in contemporary art. It is his way to simplify form and achieve the lucidity of concept. The motif of an ancient worship of the Sun appears in a very laconic way here. The culmination of the worship was a pagan festival of the night of Kupala deity when divine Nature and human Spirit united into one symphony. Parfianok's photography is profoundly reflexive. It does not overwhelm the viewer; it only invites him to co-creation and promises a rich variety of experience to his mind and heart.»

 

Uladzimir Parfianok.
intimate life of a seashell

Some monochromic pictures from the series "Intimate Life Of A Seashell" and black and white images from the series Untitled (1996) were specially made for the exhibition "The Field of GRAVity. Artists Agains AIDS". They deal with our uncertainty in contacts with the reality. By means of specially prepared lenses of my mirror camera I took real pictures of virtual human bodily forms -- pictures of a body, which is probably ill. A human naked eye does not recognize this invisible illness, but the optically armed eye can discover another reality - the hidden reality. Every picture in this series is numbered in accordance with its original, not manipulated negative, which can serve as a certificate of another reality existence...

Uladzimir Parfianok.
untitled (1996)

More recent works reflect the idea that photography gives us a great illusion of understanding of the outer world. In fact, we can never comprehend the unknown, alien reality with the help of a photographic camera. The only thing one can do is to fix his or her uncertainty and doubtfulness while taking a picture.

 

Uladzimir Parfianok.
unreliable facts from the spot of events

New exhibition project has a title Unreliable Facts from The Spot of Events (1998-2002). It incudes rather old pictures taken in very different places in late 1980s and early 1990s and new pictures taken in Austria in 1998. It is my incertitude that outer reality can be decoded with the aid of photography (as well as it can be apperceivee at all) let me unite such different pictures into the same exhibition project.

Some old pictures were united into pairs and settled into common frames. Such a neighbourhood of rival pictures led to inversion or convergency of their meanings. Terse information under a picture (only year and place where a picture was taken) can not help to retain its original meaning -- influence of another picture was too strong.

 

Uladzimir Parfianok.
unreliable facts from the spot of events

Another series of pictures entitled Austrian Diary incudes verbal materials -- some excerptions from anonimous phrases in German which were used by Jenny Holzer in her project "Survival series" and some lines from Ossip Mandelstam's poem "Finder Of A Horseshoe / Der Hufeisen-finder" in German translation by Paul Celan. Handwriting phrases placed on the surface of every photographs had led to a conflict with visual images and changed their original meanings.

 

Uladzimir Parfianok.
unreliable facts from the spot of events

The series of pictures Unreliable Facts from The Spot of Events was taken in 1998 in Austria during my month stay in a small town of Horn. At that place, I had a physical feeling that the surrounding reality resisted my attempts to get into close contact with it. Every image from this series demonstrate fragments of frames that followed one another on an exposed film. In fact, every frame means my attempt to contact with the outside reality, whereas black separatory spaces between frames should remind us about non-realized, missed or impossible contacts with the reality. They intensify our uncertainty regaring the authenticity of events recorded by a photographic camera.

We are full of illusions that photographic camera can help us to understand the unknown world. In a way, that's really true. But in the majotiry of cases, the camera let us fix only our mazement when we face with another reality and our doubts that we can grasp what we see around.

August 2002

 

 

 

 

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photography
about my photography early photographs fragments of being bathing the last days of the past war (1945-91) market place here, there and everywhere garden of stone dedications persona non grata lucida momenta unfinished story intimate life of a seashell untitled (1996) untitled (1997) catalogue of afterimages letters from faraway photographic offering for liudmila rusova unreliable facts from the spot of events

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