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Europe? 4 Approaches to the Contemporary European Photography

2016-11-02

The first image that comes to my mind when pronouncing the word "Europe" is the painting The Rape of Europe (1628-1629) by Rubens painted after Titian, today in the Prado Museum of Madrid. In this Baroque painting, the mythological character called Europe is portrayed as a strong woman astride a beautiful white bull. Because its variegated pictorial composition, everything in this painting speaks of fullness and movement. Long before the invention of photography, this baroque master depicted the mythological history of Europe by the time of her abduction and for that the biggest challenge was to capture the movement of the bull over the waves. Thus, Europe has become a synonymous of motion and vitality in the imaginary of European visual history.

This exhibition shows for the first time in China the latest work of these four young photographers and their look at the old European continent, which will allow the Chinese public better understand European culture today and its current social concerns.


MAUDIRE, BÉNIR

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Photography is constantly in my life - thereby the subjects I choose, or choose to be represented, are linked to everyday life: I wish to turn banal things into monuments, as I perceive them when claiming my attention. In this case I photograph without a purpose other than respond to a will, an impulse towards something. A response to a request of attention, as a voice raising from things and scenes. Maudire, Bénir (to curse, to bless), a collection of photographs on luck: good and bad. While photographing we face this or that. To make photographs is always an act chaired by fortune or fate. What force impels us to be there and not elsewhere?



MY DANUBE

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Many of Lurdes’ narratives are perceived from a distance enabling the Danube environment to play an allegorical role. The sea and the sky’s reflection act as a prelude to vignettes of women – portraying intimacy, acts of duty, sensuality and uncertainty. There is a strong sense of timelessness and alienation achieved in part by alternating nature and portraiture. These seemingly quiet photographs have a surreal dynamic through their subtle strangeness.



PARALLEL CRISIS

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Over the last six years a destructive financial crisis has struck Greece, dismantling an already wrecked social balance and driving the population into a state of collective depression. A condition of stagnation is ruling the capital city of Athens.

The project Parallel Crisis is a creative document that addresses the ways in which the Medium of Photography is capable of describing this socio-economical event. An uneasy affinity develops between the property of photography to produce events of immobilized time and the negation of social time that widespread crisis instigates.

What photography is really recording in Greece, is a certain condition of numbness: subjects without the possibility of development, crippling unemployment, confined migrants, neighborhoods reigned by silence and fear. 

In these conditions, the Medium suspends time that has already stalled. 

It is well known that the media have reorganized our way of life; how this manifests within the bounds of a western society where limits have been reached and dreams have been buried is of particular interest to the Parallel Crisis project. The Project investigates society's involvement not with certain types of icons (movies, advertisements, television) but with the hardware of Photography, with the immobilized time itself.

It is a crisis, sure, but parallel to what?

Parallel crisis, which is both the title and the overall theme of this series, speaks of a crisis in time on multiple levels. Still pictures (photographs) betray the symptoms of immobilized time; as such, they grant photography a certain degree of selfconsciousness where what is narrated is the story of a people whose time is already lost, the sad story of entrapped existence.



MADRID INTERIOR

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I was attracted by photography very soon, when I was 15 years old and I discovered the book Autobiografía de un madrileño by the basque photographer Alberto Schommer.

That discovery was an impulse to move to Madrid and become a photographer 3 years after. My first shots were very influenced by the masters of photography like Guy Bourdin or Franco Fontana but also by cinematographers like Federico Fellini or Pedro Almodóvar. All of them with a very strong eye into Colour.

Some of my initial projects had architecture as a main point but soon I realized I had much more to discover into the interiors of those buildings. I started to explore my closest environment, Madrid, and begin to shoot all kinds of interiors; from the most public to the most private, from luxury to poverty…. I wanted to show the city trought all his different faces. After 8 years I published this first photoessay. Madrid interior which I see as a memory or a portrait of a city's intimacy.



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