Photo, But Not Photo
the top ten
Photography is a lot of things.
It’s a scientific amalgamation of time and light,
called a “window” by some for its ability to depict humanity and worldliness.
It’s a tool for documentation, a way of recording events and experiences.
It’s how we hold onto the past, and how we memorialize loved ones.
Photography is an astonishing, indispensable medium, unique and necessary in a plethora of ways.
But, there’s plenty of things that pictures can’t do [alone].
“Photo, but not Photo” is a collection of pieces that ricochet off of photography—
works that use picture making as a base to do something else; something more.
They take the medium we most commonly associate with reality and fuck it up.
They’re drawn on, digitally enhanced, cut up, and ripped apart.
They distort, emphasize, reinterpret, and dismantle.
Brimming with artists pushing the boundaries of contemporary photography,
“Photo, but not Photo” sets the bar for picture making to a chaotic new level.
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Here are the top ten artists from our show in collaboration with Float Magazine,
"Photo, But Not Photo".
"My work is surreal. Symbolizations, implications, and disguised up drawings of memories, dominate. I have been affected by hyper-realism and the Dada movement. Lately, I have been experimenting with mix-media techniques. Μy inspiration comes from un-satisfaction. From love. From small, apparently indifferent details which will turn into the whole universe of the artist if you isolate each of them…From every barely noticeable thing. Taste, sound, feeling, crash and crumble of everyday people. From memories.
Photography balances between memory and oblivion. The one thing that is sure, is her evanescent nature. Like everything that is evanescent and transient. Even we are… So if we could realize through the identity of the photograph that our presence is only temporary on this planet, maybe we would change the way we deal with the people around us. We are not of such a great importance as we might think. Life sometimes lasts only as much as a snapshot!
The only thing that I’m sure about is that I don’t want to give answers, but I want to create questions. For me, capturing a moment should create doubts."
"I am an artist/designer whose work merged art, architecture, science, technology, and sustainable design. Throughout my over 50-year career, I have always focused on innovation. My only interest is to reinvent everything I am able to reinvent whether it is sculpture, architecture, design, and/or digitally altered photography.
Much of my three-dimensional work is presented in the form of small plastic models that are meant to function on their own as art pieces, and/or refer to much larger objects that could be made from other material. I often photograph these models, isolate them from their original backgrounds, and place them into different places or landscapes in order to show the way they might look if made larger. This process often includes the addition of images of people in relationship to the objects so as to suggest various scales. I also make full-size objects that are often made of painted wood, metal, and/or mixed media. Some of those objects have included full-size functional art buildings made of painted wood, concrete, or steel.
Much of my digitally altered photography starts with images I take of my three-dimensional objects. Those images are often placed into my computer where I digitally manipulate the original object images into many different kinds of two-dimensional abstractions. Sometimes I will then be inspired by those images to create new three-dimensional objects based on the new two-dimensional images."
"In my works I like to return to nature, observe and photograph flowers, investigate natural processes, pick plants and fruits, make natural dyes, dabble with alternative photographic techniques and in this way combine botany and art. The lay love for botany has been present since childhood, when my mother and I filled herbariums with dried meadow plants and when my father took me to the forest to pick mushrooms and berries. Creating works of art in nature and with natural materials awakens these feelings that have been soothing me since I was a child.
Much of my creation is made with alternative photographic techniques that have emerged in response to the question of how to practically combine photography and botany. In the graduation series Flora Femina I made dyes from plants, fruits and flowers which served as emulsions and the basis for the photographic image in the process called anthotype. With a similar procedure, chlorophyll process, I also made images on plant leaves. The most literal combination of the above is an experiment by placing fresh plants on photographic film negatives, where the organic structures of gelatin and plants combine and react, resulting in mold and rot. Something so natural, but in the form of a magnified scanned image, so beautiful.
In creating and expressing myself, I am most interested in experimental techniques, techniques in which at the initial stage I do not know what the final product will really be. I like it when nature has the last word in the form of organic material, which sometimes reacts in its own way. However, there are also cases when I inadvertently rob nature during the process. Thus, in the series Žbunje / Shrubs, I found out that I wanted to return the organic motifs in the photographs to the organicity that was lost through the process of photography. My answer is the manipulation of negatives with harvested plants, the laying of petals, the sewing of negatives with yarn obtained from yucca leaf veins, coloring images with plant dyes, and partially decomposed emulsions of films buried in the ground.
I am currently actively working on my master's thesis in which I am developing plant extracted CMYK cartridges for inkjet printers, which will serve as a basis for printing my own botanical photographs. At the same time, my love for plants, both wild and housebound, led me to the establishment of my own online houseplant store, which my friend and I opened in 2020."
Naomi Vona (Desio 1982), is an Italian artist based in London.
The artist defines herself as an "archival parasite, with no bad intentions".
Her works combine different interests like photography, collages and illustration. Her research is focused on altering vintage and contemporary found images, creating a new interpretation of the original shots.
Using pens, paper, washi tape, and stickers she gives every image a new life.
Every work is basically composed of three elements: her life background, her inspirations, and subconscious, which is also the glue that puts it all together.
Being born in a post-Soviet country, it is especially interesting to explore the period of the USSR. How was it to live in a ‘utopian’ country of equality and proletariat? What was it like to be a part of a single entity that contained so many different republics with their own traditions and history? And what might have happened had history turned in a different direction?
After the Soviet Dissolution, the post-Soviet countries were overwhelmed by new exotic Western culture – new food, new clothes, new TV shows. In this project, I tried to imagine the world in which the merging of different cultures happens much earlier – right after WWII, as if the Cold War had never happened. American pop-art comic book culture, recreated by Roy Lichtenstein, merges with photographs taken from my family archive that document Soviet daily life. Ordinary everyday scenes cease to be so when they merge with a riot of colors, the combination of which carries almost metaphysical undertones.
"My work has become a vehicle for personal examination and investigation into my own identity. I’m very interested in the exploration of “nature vs. nurture” and how our experiences shape us as people. I found that most of my identity has been built upon the feminine relationships I have in my family so my recent work has been created through collaboration with them. My art has become a valuable tool for navigating tough conversations with my family and has created a bridge for us to work towards healing. More recently it has also become a way for me to connect my trauma to broader issues that I see affecting the world around me. I know that even if my experiences are unique and only belong to me, there are others out there that can somehow relate on some level. I find power in sharing my story and learning about others because we are all connected through a vast web of each other’s personal experiences.
This project, titled “The Sleep In My Eyes”, primarily deals with themes related to memory, trauma, and identity as it is formed by the nurturing of our families. This specific body of work is centered around my recent discovery of my mother's long-term addiction to methamphetamine and how this knowledge has affected the memories I have of my childhood, my family, and my relationship with my mother. Since she had kept it hidden from me up until my adulthood this knowledge created a sudden sense of clarity about her mental and physical deterioration over the years. However, it also changed how I perceived my own upbringing and brought about an entanglement of feelings I am still trying to unravel. With this project, I have created a platform that allows me to share my perspective on the situation with my mother and to help spread awareness on the effects substance abuse has on those closest to an addict, especially their children.
By growing salt crystals on my family photographs and objects reminiscent of my childhood, I am exploring how this knowledge of my mother’s addiction has affected how I see my own memories and the relationships within my family. The salt is a symbol for the destruction substance abuse brings about in the lives of addicts and their close friends and family, but its beauty is also symbolic of the healing I hope to bring about with the project as well."
"Endometriosis is a pain that you have to cope with as a woman. Trying to fight against it means physical and mental side effects. With this project, I decided to overlap analog photos of travel and a portrait of myself dedicated to French administration. Therefore, this face is the "official one" I have on my ID card, but I have decided to show all the others, through different collages representing different stages of pain from migraine to acne through sunspots, medication, and bleeding.
Mixing my photo with travel memories to show pain was for me a way of describing that space in between: everyday life, between imagination and representation."
"My family had always been a whole thing – relatives from my mother’s and father’s sides had gathered for weddings, birthday and New Year parties. That bond was beginning to break when I was born, in the middle of the 90s. Family members died before I could get to know them, talk to them, love them. Years later I started meeting them separately via our family photo archive. Thus my family roots research has begun.
A person preserves memory about himself using photographs, but life constantly changes, alters, the further the more. Photos end up locked in an old table’s drawer waiting for somebody to come across them. This is the way I met my father who died when I was three. He was handsome and smiling on all the photos, he also had a broken nose. My father’s image began to form; I developed an attitude towards him. A similar “acquaintance” with my grandfather occurred after his death. I knew him for a strict and morose man, but what I saw on the pictures was a merry fellow, life of the party. The same thing happened to my great-grandmother; a heavy elderly woman, whose life story was completely unknown to me, turned out to be a young snub-nosed German girl, who was once evicted from a German settlement to the Altay kray with her family.
I was going from one photo to another, from a letter to a letter. There were dates, names, wishes, thoughts written on the back on many photographs. Sometimes I failed to read the handwriting in order to understand who was on the picture. Then suddenly I succeeded and it opened a way further in the deep; and so it went along all the branches of the family tree. It was amazing to see the life of each of the families I could have never known anything about before. Even minor details about my long-gone relatives made them alive and truly close. Photography became the only way for me to break through time and become sincerely involved in it.
As a result, it occurred to me that family is formed not only of the people you spend your childhood with, but also owing to memory that can generate ties across the time, hence break boundaries. For two families living in different places at different times cannot have anything in common, but they might have a common future. Each of us, having been born, completes the chain in the present, but the chain doesn’t exist without memory.
I use my family archive photos. By combining two photo cards in one I’m trying to show the link between generations separated by time and culture."
We take pictures because we want to remember. We want to remember what someone looked like, our first day of school, our parents, and other significant moments, people, and events in our lives. We want to preserve the moments we fear will inevitably grow dim. We want to be remembered after we die, and photography serves us as a form of immortality.
Photographs provide us with proof that something once happened. They serve as documents for moments that have passed, on both personal and historical levels. But they also provide us with a false sense of security. Time moves on, photographs fade, people die, and memory deteriorates.
My interest in the role photography plays in our memory came about in a box at an antique store. There, I pieced together moments of a man’s life from his childhood through his elder years. Snapshots have become the residue, the evidence of our experiences. How does something so valuable, so representative of a person’s life, wind up as a commodity for sale in an antique store?
This work is an attempt to sustain the fleeting moments of families and lives. My desire to preserve photographs as memory in an unchanging state is symbolized by the selection of the materials used to encase them. The transparent medium simultaneously protects the image and retains a sense of memory within itself- acting as a skin containing and encompassing traces of where it has been. It holds information, immersed beneath the surface, which can be seen upon inspection. This acts much like our memories, in that the clues are there, but they are not always recognizable or understandable.
The images in this show are fragments in time. They become layered, obscured, and complicated by association with other moments. The invitation is open for the viewer to encounter these memories, discern the histories, create their own narratives, and be inspired to stimulate their own memory.
"I am a textile artist and photographer based in Nottingham, UK. I have studied photography in Spain and Chile, specializing in ethnography and documentary photography. My photographic work is an intersection between a portrayal of daily experiences and human relationships, representing the diverse feeling of human nature. I am also a mixed media and textile artist, also producing work that is close to nature and its sensibility."