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A Conversation With Martin Parr

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David Alan Harvey: What I do on Burn is I will run a set of pictures and then have what I call a conversation, I don’t even call it an interview. You like beaches. I like beaches. You and I see different things at the beach but I am interested in this new take on Benidorm. Had you been to Benidorm before?

Martin Parr: Oh yeah, I did a little book on Benidorm before.

DAH: I didn’t see the book on Benidorm, how did I miss that?

MP: I don’t know, I did it about 15 years ago.

DAH: Somehow I missed that one. I have a pretty good collection of Martin Parr books but obviously I don’t have them all.

MP: It is more of a catalogue type, I’m sorry. I think of all this stuff as beach therapy, you see.

DAH: Explain beach therapy to me.

MP: When I try a new technique, I always do it first on the beach. There are about six phases of my photography career, black and white, then wide angle with medium format, etc., etc., but I always try them out on the beach first because it’s like an experimental laboratory for me. You have all these people, you can do different things, so this is no exception. It is really like the last chapter of exploration. So inevitably, therefor, I begin at the beach first.

DAH: Why do you think that is? How did that come to be your laboratory?

MP: Well I love beaches anyway, so it is always a good excuse to go to the beach and take more photographs and when you are trying out a new idea I always make it the place where I start.

DAH: What led to the long lens? Before you were always up in people’s faces, popping a flash with fairly close range with a wide angle or normal lens. Is it something that changed inside you that said “okay I want to pull back a little bit”, or you just like the look?

MP: In more recent times I have been using the digital on the beach, I have been pulling back anyway, but now I wanted to pull forward. This is all brought about because I had these big propaganda photography books that were from all over the place, but in particular they have very interesting, creative use of the telephoto lens and it just struck me that in the art photography business, which we are part of, the art photography / documentary business, this is a lens that is basically rejected and not used at all with the exception of Beat Streuli. It is very very occasional when you see it, but basically we all use wide angle as a standard.

DAH: Well I think you told me a couple of years ago in Arles, “David why don’t you go a little bit longer”, and you know I started out in photography with a 50mm lens, so I did, I went back since I had been shooting so much with the 35mm. So now I am in the 50-75mm range. I am not as long as you are – you are out there with the 200-300mm length it looks like.

MP: I think it is interesting to experiment and basically I am using this propaganda material as my starting point because they show me what is possible with the telephoto lens, because the art world hasn’t. As you know we turn a blind eye to it. We just blank it out. So it is very interesting to see if it can be made into something interesting. And you know I have had a few experiments now – I think those were the most successful.What I have done in Italy I haven’t edited very thoroughly yet, but you suddenly start to see a pattern emerge and it looks interesting.

DAH: Well that is great. So you will do another book on Benidorm?

MP: I will do a book eventually that will be called “beach therapy” where I’ll explain this process of experimentation and then illustrate it with the set of pictures done with the telephoto. If I do a book called “Life at the Beach” I have to set the whole thing back a bit.

DAH: Yeah, that’s right.

MP: There are different version of that. I did a deluxe version and and beach bag version. There is only so much power the world can take and there are only so many beach photographs that the world can take, but none-the-less you feel that you are onto something. That’s why I was quite happy to isolate the Benidorm pictures from one particular shoot that seemed to really work.

DAH: Well you have Argentina also.

MP: That was the start of the experiment and that showed me what was possible, and then I tried to build on it and since then I have done stuff in England and in Italy.

DAH: Also at the beach?

MP: Yes. It is more difficult though. I am shooting in Rome now and didn’t even bring the telephoto lens with me. What I am generally doing is having the foreground out of focus and focusing way beyond. That is the thing that to me looks more interesting. Now when I did my previous Benidorm book I was using the macro lens which is an insane lens to use on the beach. Macro with a ring flash. And there I was focusing on the foreground and letting everything else fall away. So now I am doing the entire opposite.

DAH: Is the woman with the glasses an original Benidorm picture?

MP: That was one of those things that inspired me, in fact. The out of focus there is very effective. It is an icon that you will remember and I am trying to replicate that feel and look, but that was done on the macro lens. So that was a 50mm lens compared to the 70-200mm lens which I am using now.

DAH: Right. Now this puts you into a completely different relationship with your subjects. Before, obviously at some point, you were so close to the people you had to engage with them probably some of the time. Now you are completely disengaged from the subject.

MP: In fact it works in my value because as you know it is getting more and more difficult to photograph on the beaches in particular when there are kids around because people go nutsy when you start photographing kids. I have been not quite arrested on the beach in Rio, but I have been apprehended to the police being called. Therefor, [the lens] does get rid of that problem. I had my phase of getting really close, and I still do get really close. For example this current session I am photographing in the Vatican Museum for the Museum here, and I am right on top of people so it is not like I am not doing that anymore. But the beach has become a particularly controversial place to photograph.

DAH: I think that is right. I always look around for mom and dad first if I see a kid because that can be an issue.

MP: Years ago when I was doing the last resort, which is the first big body of work I did, I shot on the beach, again as part of the beach therapy process, people didn’t even think about that. Now it is always in people’s minds.

DAH: At my beach here for some reason nobody minds. There are kids running all over the place. But in most beaches it has gotten like that. Well that’s great, thank you Martin.

MP: Thanks David.

 

zhang kechun – the yellow river

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Zhang Kechun

The Yellow River

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Saying that it is a song might have been a popular joke. Saying that it is our mother river or the root of soul might have been a deliberate oblivion. Indulging ourselves in the turbulent pleasures of modernized world day after day, we might have put the winding river out of mind, and would not like to give any more calm gaze on it, even a second.

It is a river! No matter if it meanders or goes forward straight; if it’s swelling or dry; if it flows rapidly or slowly; if it’s lively or tranquil; if it’s majestic or elegant; if it’s simple or magnificent; if it possesses brightness or dark; if it’s colorful or gloomy; if it’s only an imagination and reality, it always embraces people’s life and fate, joy and sorrow, faith and hesitance.

Then I determined to go and follow its pace, with all my courage and my only presentable tool — a large-format camera. That is my implicit expression. I have the knowledge that mountains and rivers are nothing a photographer may properly comment on, and behaviors like growling, making a bold pledge or a plaintive complaint on the presence of such an eternal being may look inappropriate. Now, it’s the moment that I must wake up my silent soul to quietly keep watch on it flowing for seasons, to stare at it through this journey, to drink a toast to it, to sing a song for it, and to have a sleep beside it.

Who is keeping watching on whom? Who is wrapped with the flow with whom? While be alive, we all go by with time. But we are still here, and we may have a better consideration on the future after having a look at the past and the present with heart.

Bio

Zhang Kechun was born in 1980 in Sichuan province, China. He now lives and works in Chengdu. His work has been reported by multiple publications including Time, BBC News, Telegraph Magazine, China Photo Magazine and so on. His works have been collected internationally by many other museums and private Collectors from U.S.A, France, Germany, Japan and China, such as Chinese Image and Video Archive, Canada; Williams College Museum of Arts, USA; and CAFA Art Museum, China.

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Zhang Kechun

boris eldagsen – the poems

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Boris Eldagsen

The Poems

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Boris Eldagsen’s photographs explore the limits of what can be depicted. The ‘POEMS’ utilise the external reality, to paint the inner reality, that of the unconscious, archetypical and unspoken. Without excessive materials or digital effects, Eldagsen combines street with staged photography and recreates spectacular and dreamlike images. The photographic mediums of light and shade become symbolic of the spaces between, those that are inaccessible to the rational mind and compel the viewer to resort to their own memories and feelings.

Beyond what is fashionable and current, Eldagsen creates alchemical connections between painting, film and theatre that defy categorisation.

This work was awarded the Prix Voies Off / Arles in 2013.

 

Bio

Berlin-based German artist Boris Eldagsen has studied photography and visual arts at the Art Academy of Mainz, conceptual art and intermedia at the Academy of Fine Arts Prague, fine art the Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communication Hyderabad / India – and philosophy at the Universities of Cologne and Mainz. Boris works as a multi-media consultant and a lecturer.

In 2013 he became a member of Deutsche Fotografische Akademie.

 

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Boris Eldagsen

BORIS+NATASCHA - collaborative work with Australian artist Natascha Stellmach.

SUPERHIGH – mockumentary reality show on getting high, a collaboration with Sabine Taeubner.

imants krumins – stories you will never know allocated randomly

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Imants Krumins

Stories You Will Never Know Allocated Randomly

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…………………….vastness treads so still as my eyes gaze the sun
keen green are the fields of rain sick with agony
and the smile
the bird hums the same tune day in day without
once again
Ahh …………..if only the scent of the forgotten milk boiled on my mind

sweet with the success we all know

 

Bio

There is a heap of things that I did but I no longer do now.
I still teach but that will be for another four months and then I am off to  build a stone wall to nowhere. Why? because I can and I like doing stuff like that.

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Etrouko

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                    Photo for BurnDiary by Diana Markosian, 2013 EPF Winner

 

This is week is number 52 for BurnDiary. Our anniversary. One year of weekly diary posts by 52 photographers from a multitude of countries within all five continents.. So many different approaches to daily life that after looking backwards is kind of impossible to imagine all in one place… But they are, here in BurnDiary; city life, love stories, landscapes and social issues and mainly many pictures about the record of a moment.
I write now not for the past but to announce that this diary will be turned into our third printed magazine, entitled Diary. Yes – life moments disappear while we are living them, but this is also about photography… these images, for the beauty, the pureness, the immediate feeling deserve the possibility to say something for longer. This is why BurnDiary will be a book.
The photographer this week is Diana Markosian, our 2013 EPF winner, announced when BurnDiary was at the very first steps. She continued her work all along 2014 showing very well how a grant can be important in a photographer ‘s life to have the freedom to develop a project otherwise hard to fund.  The current year edition is almost to its deadline, so Diana’s week is just the perfect coincidence for this anniversary, the perfect candle for this birthday.
We want to say once again the 52 photographers who have joined us this past year are with us as part of Burn’s enlarged family and surely they have been able to create one of the best family diaries ever!
Many thanks to all who have created this most amazing collective one year essay. Our team at Burn Magazine looks forward to seeing what the next year will bring. In the meantime, please join us in our excitement for the soon-to-be release of Diary..
Diego Orlando, Editor, BurnDiary