BOJAN'S BLOG

Photographs, words and sounds
Vis

The doctor is in…

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The doctor’s in the house! It’s been a long and rather treacherous road to the very end – to the very last minute – but my fabulously smart M has successfully defended her PhD. No idea what’s in store for her after this, but I bet it’s going to be interesting.

Thirteen

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Miss F. turned thirteen today. So ridiculously proud of the young woman she is becoming.

Saying random things is not a good idea

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Poor Little Miss F had a rough night with a stomach bug. The worst and the messiest of it was over by 3:30 am and she fell asleep on the couch in the living room. By the time noon came about she was almost herself. M asked her if she wanted to go to school after lunch. Thinking about it for a moment, Little Miss F calmly explained that if she goes, she feels like she’ll be tired and if she is asked a question she won’t remember what it was and she’ll just say something random so it’s not a good idea. She stayed home for the day.

A sleepless night and Interstellar science

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Aware just how pointless it is to be irrationally angry at the fact that on one night we could use a good night of sleep, Little Miss F, poor thing, had to come down with a stomach bug, I spent the early hours of the morning watching Interstellar on Netflix. Not a great movie, but it beats laying in bed seething.

After finishing it, I was wondering about the science of the whole thing – in fact, it was a particularly silly scene where the little spacecraft hits an ice cloud and the shards of ice FALL DOWN while the cloud itself defies gravity that lead me down some interesting internet rabbit holes (there was no explanation for that particular silliness, though). Here is an interview with Kip Thorne, scientific advisor on the film (he spends a bit too much time selling his book, but whatever).

The photo is from Vis Island.

Photo links from New York to Yangtze River

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Photo links galore:

Apparently, Bruce Gilden has a new book out and it makes Sean O’Hagan uncomfortable. Bruce Gilden makes everybody uncomfortable, but I doubt he cares.

Robert Frank’s series From the Bus is interesting and totally new to me.

Fantastic photographs of East and West Germany from 1977 to 1987 by German photographer Rudi Meisel. Now a book, too: LANDSLEUTE 1977 – 1987. TWO GERMANYS.

Tatiana Plotnikova’s photographs of Russian pagans are beautiful. Really nice work and a fascinating story.

I am not sure what is more odd, the story of photogrpaher Mustafa Abdulaziz and his photographic work or the photographs he made along the Yangtze River in China.

The photograph above was made in Komiža on Vis Island in Croatia.

Photo links from Cuba to neighbourhood shops

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Photo links post today:

Three things you should take a look at on [LENS] (incidentally, see how good and smart a photo section in a newspaper on-line can be when you dedicate resources to it!):

Photography in Cuba: It’s Not Easy. An interesting take on the International Centre of Photography retrospective of Cuban photography by both Cuban and non-Cuban photographers.

Visualizing the Common Core Curriculum. How do you photograph a government policy? Here is one photographer’s take on a new education policy in the USA.

In China, the Photobook as Art and History. I would love to get my hands on this one.

After [LENS], head over to The New Yorker’s Photo Booth and take a look Zoe Leonard’s photos of old neighbourhood shops. As somebody who photographs corner stores, I suspect I find this more interesting than most.

In the photograph is a scene from Vis Island, Croatia.

Photography related links

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Vis on Vis island, Croatia.

Some photo links today:

Guardian has a story and interview with Stephen Shore on his exhibit in Arles.

An interesting story on women photojournalists in [LENS]. Incidentally, I believe June issue of National Geographic had all the stories but one photographed by women and you could see the difference in approach, subjects, and themes they covered.

Fantastic photographs and a very important story in New York Times Magazine on Wisconsin’s governor Scott Walker’s efforts to dismantle organized labour in America.

Silently cool

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We passed this skateboarder on Vis island in Croatia whose board had lit wheels and we all commented on how cool that was. In fact, Ms. M. said she wished she had a cool husband like that. Little Miss F., without missing a beat, looked at her and said with absolute conviction: “Dad is cool in a silent way.”

Take that world.

Photo: Vis island, Croatia.

You have to be careful with the island…

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“You have to be careful with the island. There is a trap here. If you prevent a young person from leaving, the island turns into a curse. They must go and get to know the world and it has to be their own decision to return and to love the island. If you tell them: “Don’t go there. That’s not for you,” then there is going to be resentment. It’s our job to push them out into the world. We have to give them the love for the island, we have to teach them about life here, but it has to be their decision. If you don’t do that, than they have no reason to come back. It’s only love that works… That is what happened to me. I had a grandma who passed that love on to me and I left to see the world, but I also felt that I can affirm myself the best here, that here, I am myself and that here I can make the greatest contribution. But if I didn’t learn that love, if I did not have that contact with the island, I would have left and would be contented somewhere else and I would not feel that I belong to this island. It’s all about where you belong.”

That is a quote from one of my interviews on Vis island, Croatia.

Also in the news today is the inclusion of a particular style of a cappella singing on Croatian coast into the list of the world’s intangible cultural heritage. The song bellow is performed by Klapa Otok (Island) and it’s called “Islanders’ Ballad.”

My not so great translation is below:

Islanders’ ballad

We live off sea, by nets and lines,
We count the blisters from oars, picks.
Red are our eyes from sleepless nights and tears,
Our callused hands are hard as rocks.

And we are lashed by storms and rains,
And every day we are bent over a bit more,
And yet, more than anything and more than all other beauties
Our entire lives we love sea

Our blue sea, you know all our desires
You are strength, fortune – our life

We count the sails and white ships,
The days are passing with nor’easters and sou’westers. 
Miserly land gives all it can,
Life on an island is a joy and sorrow.

Islands – Otoci

 

Wow… It’s been a while… Lots of good news to report.

The printing for the exhibit is coming along nicely; the frames have been picked; and I think I’ll manage to do all this on time.

I also have a trip scheduled for Fogo Island and Change Islands in the first week of October so that I can slowly start working on a new but related body of work around my longterm islands project.

The most exciting news of all is that I have also started writing what is probably going to be a monthly column for a news website on the Island of Vis in Croatia. It has been good 12 years since I wrote something in my own language and after initial jitters, it was such an enormous pleasure to string those words together. They flow so much more naturally for me than English. Below is the first text on island landscapes for those of you comfortable reading in Croatian. I am also wondering if it is the time to make this blog truly bilingual, although that my be more work than I can now afford to do. Still, it would be quite fun to do.  Above is a photo from Vis…

Otočni krajolici – krhka opstojnost

I opet ta riječ “fragile”. Svaki put kad se razgovor dotakne otoka i otočne tematike, netko će već posegnuti za tom riječi: krhki otoci. A meni dođe da vrištim.

– Krhki?

Evo ovdje na ovom mom otoku Newfoundlandu, kojeg tako nemilosrdno tuče sjeverni Atlantik, mi stojimo na nastarijim stijenama na svijetu. Nema tu ništa krhko. A na Visu, ‘mom’ drugom otoku, Višani, sve nešto krhki i lomljivi, već 6,000 godina žive na svom otoku.

Ali ništa se tu ne može. Čak i ovdje na Malti, na konferenciji o otocima, okruženi debelim zidinama i kičastim crkvama koje stoje kao spomenici rasipništvu i potrebi da se dokaže kako je moj ipak veći od tvoga, profesor nakon profesora, akademik nakon akademika, ustaje i priča o krhkim otocima koji, eto, samo što se nisu raspali rastočeni od mora, ljudske nebrige i neke, očito samo meni nevidljive, prirodne krhkosti.

Otoke sam zavolio još kao dječak koji je čitao Julesa Verna i Raphaela Sabatinija i nadao se ljetnim praznicima, kad morski vidici nakratko zamjene one industrijske kojima je moj rodni Sisak oduvijek obilovao. To dječačko romantično ljubovanje s otocima nije me napustilo ni kasnije, ali se pretvorilo u nešto zanimljivije i kompleksnije.

Ja sam fotograf i geograf.

Spojiti te dvije strasti, naravno, nije teško čak ni danas kada su i fotografi i geografi više preokupirani zaslonom svojih računala i matematičkim modelima, nego onim sto se nalazi ispred njihovih vrata. A i jednostavnije je tako, jer nepredvidljivost onoga što se nalazi s druge strane naših kućnih vrata je toliko nerazumljiva da se često čini zastrašujućom, umjesto uzbudljivom. No još uvijek ima nas kojima su udobne cipele najvažniji dio fotografske i geografske opreme. Tako su i moji otoci meni neprekidno izvor inspiracije, ali i ispitivanja ne samo otočnih krajolika nego i sebe samoga.

Otoci se često smatraju zatvorenim i nazadnim sredinama, no daleko je to od istine. Okruženi morem, poput pustinjskih oaza, oni su utočište lutalicama i spas brodolomnicima. Otovoreni prema svima koji pokažu malo dobre volje, otočani su upućeni prema svijetu barem isto onoliko koliko i prema vlastitim obalama.

John Donne je napisao da nitko nije otok, i mogu mu to oprostiti jer on nije imao prilike upoznati modernog imigranta. Podjeljenog identiteta, mi imigranti nemamo izbora. Biti otok, čvrsto se držeći morskog dna, upućeni na sebe i otvoreni prema drugima, to je jedini način da ostanemo normalni – barem donekle, rekli bi zlobnici. I tako svaki imigrant izgradi za sebe identitet koji je samo njegov baš kao i što svaki otok ima neki svoj, neponovljiv izričaj koji ne može postojati nigdje drugdje – arhitekti bi rekli “genius loci”.

Može li se taj “duh mjesta” uhvatiti fotografskim objektivom? Ne može. Ono što se može, a možda čak i mora, je držati oči otvorene i pokušati opisati neke od osebujnih načina na koje otočani žive sa svojim otokom.

Na samom početku svoje priče o mostu koji spaja beznačajne ljudske sudbine i svemoćne carevine, Ivo Andrić je napisao da “nema slučajnih građevina, izdvojenih iz ljudskog društva u kome su nikle, i njegovih potreba, želja i shvatanja”. Kakvu nam to priču pričaju kamene stepenice viške crkve i drvena sojenica za ribolovnu opremu okovana ledom na Change Otocima u Newfoundlandu? Zašto su Komižani izgradili svoj gradić kao kompaktnu urbanu sredinu, a zašto mještani Joe Batt’s Arma, mjesta na otoku Fogo, ribari kao i Komižani, vole svoje drvene kućice raštrkati po ledom okovanim granitnim stijenama svog otoka?

Ja duboko vjerujem da fotografski proces ne završava fotografijom u galeriji, na masnom papiru časopisa ili zaslonu računala. To je za mene samo početak. Fotografija je uspjela onog tenutka kada postane razlog da razmjenimo doživljaje, iskustva i priče i pronađemo nešto zajedničko u našim različitostima. To je ta snaga otoka i otočana, koji usprkos krhkosti ekonomskih i demografskih prilika uvijek nekako pronađu načina da opstoje i da se prilagode novim vremenima, baš onda kad svi zaključe kako je, eto, došlo vrijeme da se još jedan mali otok pretvori u morsku hrid.

Bojan Fürst
Newfoundland, 13. 09. 2011.

 

 

 

Campaign update

The fundraising campaign for my Islands Landscapes exhibit has officially launched two days ago. I announced it on facebook, twitter and Google+ and it took less than 15 minutes for the first donation. That was really amazing. And it was a bit humbling because it came from somebody I don’t personally know beyond the fact that we have common interest in photography and occasionally contribute to the same photography forum. There were also friends who shared the campaign with their contacts and networks as well as sent kind words of encouragement.

On my end of things, I am making final selection of the prints that are going to be on display and trying to make some decisions on sizing and sequencing. I would also like to make the exhibit a bit more interactive and am exploring different possibilities to do so. I am also pleased to confirm a show in New Brunswick in spring 2012. And, again thanks to a Croatian photographer I met on a forum, but not in person, there is a possibility that the exhibit might see more than one location in Croatia.

Finding darkroom facilities remains a challenge. In fact I am surprised that there are no professional darkrooms left in the city that I can find.

One thing at the time, though. For now it would be great to hit $750 which would cover all of the materials necessary to produce the prints.

Below is the pitch video and you can also visit the campaign page:

A doorway on Vis Island, Croatia.

Croatian word of the day: stranica page [stra ni tza]

Support Island Landscapes exhibit

 

 

Island wisdom…

“…ni bogât oni ku ima puno, nego oni komu je potriba mālo!”

Anela Borčić
Garbîn, zao vjetar

 in my clumsy translation:

“…rich is not the one who has a lot, but the one who needs little!”

 Anela Borčić
Garbîn, evil wind

 —

Komiža, Vis Island, Croatia.

Croatian word of the day: bogat rich

Support Island Landscapes exhibit

 

 

Island Landscapes exhibit

I will be one of the exhibitors at the North Atlantic Forum conference scheduled to take place in St. John’s, NL on October 14th and 15th.

Here is where you can help me out.

I decided to try crowdfunding the exhibit using IndieGoGo engine as a backbone of the campaign. You can visit the campaign page and the first person that makes a donation gets an 11×14 print regardless of the amount donated (of course, if that person donates $250 or more, I’d be happy to send you the print as an extra on top of what you will be getting anyway).

Some of you may know that I made an attempt at crowdfunding before it was fashionable to do that. At that time, quite frankly, the technology simply wasn’t there. Believe it or not, there was no twitter at the time and facebook had nowhere near the reach it has now.

Blog updates will continue, of course, with occasional campaign update.

 —

A church and stone steps in town of Vis on Vis island, Croatia.

Croatian word of the day: stepenice stairway [step enee tze]

Support Island Landscapes exhibit

Vis on BBC

Town of Vis, Vis Island, Croatia.

Here is a short and somewhat odd travel show on Vis from BBC (h/t Moj otok Vis). There is a really nice footage of the traditional fishing sailboat falkuša with its gorgeous lateen sails.

Croatian word of the day: jedro sail [yedro]

Photo links…

The Guardian has recently ran an interesting set of short reflections from well-known documentary photographers and photojournalists about their colleagues whose images inspire them (h/t photojournalism links).

I always liked photography and I do remember reading a book about photography that my dad had. I knew absolutely nothing about documentary photography until I took my first photojournalism class in college. Even that encounter with the documentary photography and in-depth photojournalism was almost accidental. As an assignment in that class, we had to pick a photographer and write an essay about him or her. No names came to mind so I went to Calgary public library which had a rather decent photography section and started browsing through the books. I stopped when I picked up a book of photographs by Werner Bischof. I still love his work. When I think back to that essay, it really was an eyeopening experience. Today, I have dozens of photographers whose work I admire and photographs I really love. Here are some of them:

Larry Towel’s photograph of a baby sleeping among the cucumbers from The Mennonites still makes me smile every time I see it. I carried the Canadian Geographic with that photo on the cover for years with me and through many moves, but I am afraid that now it is truly lost.

Bruno Barbey’s The Italians is one of my favourite books that I still find inspiration in.

Jean Gaumy’s Man at Sea is another amazing book I keep coming back to over and over again.

And lately, remarkable work by Reza Deghati has been something I have been coming back to as well.

A typical street on Vis island in Croatia.

Croatian word of the day: učitelji teachers [u chi te lyi]

CLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE TO ISLANDS DOCUMENTARY PROJECT

 

Boats and sunshine

I have a perfect antidote to occasional curiosity about the latest and greatest piece of digital equipment – I develop some Tri-X in D76 and it reminds me that I love everything about it: the process, the look and feel, the work and the imperfections and the limitations. It also reminds me how little I know and how much more is there to learn… Not dissing digital, just not for me at this point in time.

Boats and sunshine on Vis Island in Croatia.

Croatian word of the day: sunce sun [soon tze]

CLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE TO ISLANDS DOCUMENTARY PROJECT