I was commissioned to write this a few years ago for the Central European House of Photography in Bratislava (and thank you to all the photo...
Thursday, 5 November 2015
New Black Landscapes, New Spanish Landscapes, All Brazilian Landscapes
It's Sound, Word and Landscape at the Southbank Centre this Saturday. You can buy tickets here for an event that is about how we think about, make and show pictures, about how you can use word, sound, music, biography and geology to deepen the viewer's connection to the world around us.
You can buy tickets here.
And because of that, there are a few landscape related book reviews on the blog this last week. First up was Martin Cregg's Midlands, next was Salvi Danes and today we have Laura del Rey's Hart.
This is a book made in collaboration with cinematographer Alizo Barboza, following a workshop at Blank Paper Escuela in Madrid. The Spanish connection is evident in a book which looks at the earth as a birthplace for humanity. That idea comes across in the cover which features a striking embossed crack running across it.
Open the pages and you're into the landscapes. They are misty, unclear pictures of the sea, of clouds, of sand and mud. It's a textured world in keeping with what we might as well call New Spanish Landscape . This is a primal landscape that uses basic elemental images to take us back (or more likely forward) to another place, another time. It's both apocalyptic, escapist, but also somehow connected to the very obvious economic disasters that have befallen the country - while also not being connected to them.
Del Rey and Barboza are Brazilian but never mind, the work was inspired in Spain, right down to the over-poetic statement. It wasn't made in Spain though, but in a way it doesn't matter where it was made, because where it differs from, er, New Spanish Landscape, is in not having that definitive sense of place. Instead, there's a strong cinematic element that comes across in Hart. Most of the pictures are panoramic, very panoramic. It works really well, because the mistiness and murkiness gives an elevated quality to the pictures. It looks like it's shot from the heavens in other words, even though it quite obviously is not.
There's a distance to it, it's looking down on the world, it's A Matter of Life and Death in black and white, with the almost whites rubbing up against deep charcoals. It's New Black Landscapes meets New Spanish Landscapes in Brazilian form. The only picture which has a tangible earthly feel is the last one - this is the rebirth image I guess, the sea-land link emerging from the mud. I think it would be better without but ultimately it doesn't really matter. Because Hart is a well-thought out and beautiful book that looks much better in real life than it does on the screen..
Buy Hart here.