Monday, November 2, 2009

Chris Steele-Perkins

Images are from the book "Euro Visions"

Chris Steele-Perkins has been a Magnum photographer since 1982. Most of his work revolves around 3rd world countries that are stricken with poverty, war, famine, and strife. But the series of work that I am focusing on of his is the series "Slovakia." In Slovakia, he embarks on a photographic journey through a country where he has little knowledge of and no sense of their language. He used a friend photographer from Slovakia, Andrej Ban, to be his guide and translator. He doesn't use title because he feels that when titles are used, they guide the photograph too much and don't let the images transform as much as they can. A quote from an interview in the book "Euro Visions" that I have taken a fancy for is this:

"Clearly Photographs describe everything and explain nothing. It is a strength because i like ambiguity in photographs, and sometimes when you put a caption on it, it starts to limit that ambiguity and pushes you down one direction. In situations where there are really big political or social issues at stake, like a war going on, the caption is essential. There is a real purpose to it. But when you step back from those situations, I like the idea that the photographs, their ambiguity or strangeness, or lack of immediate meaning can kind of come out. In books that I have done previously, my captions are pretty limited, minimal." P.150-51

His photographs are primarily landscapes, and I feel that this series is topographical in certain aspects. He is using the landscape of Slovakia to transform and communicate with a culture in which many have no idea. These landscapes describe the people, their hard working pedigree, how many of them are raised and how they make ends meet with their cultural situation.

This is something that I am aspiring towards and seeing if it is at all possible to describe a sub culture of people with just the use of landscape. I am creating a visual survey of a social landscape and trying to analyze the need for a current American Topographic tradition by focusing on the contemporary, rather than the past. Seeing if a culture can be described through landscape photography.


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