Kir Esadov – The House That Kir Built

Kir Esadov

The House That Kir Built


This is not a reportage type project, although much of it was taken while I was doing reportage work.

You can rather name it a fairytale than a rough veracity of life, although, again, in the heart of any fairytale lays the truth.

Some of it appears as a proof of existence of marvelous events, some of it is just a digital modified shot that has nothing to do with serious documentary type of work. Ultimately, this was not a planned out unified series.

I feel that I can never do consistent photographic series. My goal is to create a massive and complete view of my tiny and immature inner anxiety. Very slowly, step by step, this micro world is forming from pieces, fragments, shards of the physical world.

The house that Jack built. The circus stage that Kir built.

In the course of the story I’d like to take the opportunity and say hello to my mother. Dear Ma, things are going pretty smoothly, though I look worse. Boris has developed metastases, intestines will be removed. Adah already has lost her breast, but do not worry, it is unnoticeable under her clothes and we have been promised to stew a new one soon, we just need to save up a little first.

Rustam has AIDS. Marta also doesn’t seem very well, but she is always a pain in the s. Neither of them wants to take their pills. Galya has spread her arms and is waiting for applause. A grave has spread its legs and is craving love. Music is starting.

Nevertheless, this story is not about social issues, this story is about the egocentrism of the author who creates some kind of refuge where it is possible to shelter, to forget, so that all our grudges, all our fears would not seem so significant.

A music is starting. A fever is rising. Strike the violin, touch the lute. To wake yourself and to hop into dense weekdays. To give blood for some tests and to leap into a magic world right away. We are invincible while we jump.




Kir Esadov was born in 1988 in Moscow to a circus family.

He received a B.A. in social pedagogy in 2008. After graduating, he worked at a special orphanage for children with severe speech disorders.

In 2011 he graduated from the Rodchenko’s Art School. He had three solo exhibitions in Russia and he also had several group exhibitions in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kiev, Zrenjanin, Belgrade.

He has participated at QueerFest 2011 in St. Petersburg and Fotofest 2012 in Houston. At the moment he works as freelance theatre photographer.

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Kir Esadov


17 Responses to “Kir Esadov – The House That Kir Built”

  • No idea what this is. A drug induced nightmare? Is #8 a composite? Strange stuff.

  • Wow.

    I am floored – totally love these. Hopefully, I can articulate my thoughts better after reflecting on this work for a while.

    I can’t wait to read what Bob Black has to say about this collection.

  • took the words out of my mouth. This is just totally amazing. Bob…where are you? (he’s probably typing furiously in Russian}

    This is my second look, but I will come back. Co-incidentally, I received “Josef Sudek, poet of Prague” last week. While there are no obvious similarities with Sudek’s work and the work here, I was immediately reminded of it. Perhaps it is just the poetic nature of both.

    Wow again, congratulations Kir

  • These images stir the imagination, and thus demand the viewer’s willingness to think and feel associations.

    Folk tales are our collective conscious and unconscious. Powerfully visualized!

  • The images are quite visually powerful, evoking much thought, and to each their own. It is provoking, strange, and captivating.

  • Ah – maze – zing!

    What an artist you are, Kir!

    I want to hold this in paper, lean back on the couch or recliner and page through it very, very, slowly – going back and forth as I feel like.

    Somehow, digital onscreen compels me to click through quickly, but I will compel myself to go back through, take my time, and look again.

  • “A deception that elevates us is dearer than a host of low truths.”–Marina Tsvetaeva

    There are two ways, just as there are two paths to wander, that allow for the negiotate and navigation of the world: the light-webbed external world of sense and reason and calculus and the shadow-chambered internal place of pulpy rhyme and instict. Neither one truer, neither one more at rest. Both necessitate reckoning, both entail expression in their living. Most choose one or the other, rarely both. In photography, both are equally at play and both necessitate the nourishment of the other. In a photographic landscape that often seems dominated by the former (and true here generally at BURN), it is always refreshing to see a body of work at play in the darker chamber of dream logic and instinct. Somehow always odd to me that so many (especially photographers) trust their eyes (as if those organs did not lie in their own conjuring) over the alchemy of invention and yet, what is and which place seems to most often care about us in our daily and solitary huddling?

    In 20th century Russian poetry, this interesting divide was often marked by the titan work of Akhmatova and Marina Tsvetaeva. Akhmatova whose verse struggled with the external world and its bloody messy history and the effects left scarred and Tsvetaeva whose sang out in feverish language the internal. Akhmatova the poet of the expanding, infinite world, Tsvetaeva the mistress of the infinite internal world. Both extraordinary, one a miner the other an astronomer. Though I love Akhmatova, it is the verse of Tsvetaeva and all that dark and gloamy language that seemed to make the most sense to me, the inside of the imagined world as it gets refracted even more ‘real’ to me than the outside one. NOt a question of passion or emotion but something more eternal. Call it the siren song stamped along the dna.

    What I love about Kir’s project here (and elsewhere on his site) is just that: a song constructed from the ringing of the inside of a well. Drop a stone into a well and listen to that echo and reverabation: the sound of not only the falling and the splash, but the echo against the trapped stone, the waved water, and what the return sound calls forth. Extrapolation and Expansion. An elephant caught at night attempting to fly through the knobby forest is just an elephant at night and yet it can be so much more in its resonance with us, or at least with me. There is metaphor, of course, and then there is something more rooted, called it the fibrous sounds and tightening the remains after the words have disspipated in the air. Call it what you will: symbol, fairy tale, madness, poetry, or something simpler and more rooted: imagination. The gift somehow bequeathed us past the x’s and o’s of our senses. Our human groping.

    Many of the images in this series are powerful and haunting but I wish (for once?) not to dissect them for their value (for me) and their power and poetry (for me) lay not in their explanation and signifying but in their both elusiveness from language and in their specificy. How to properly explain a sound? How to properly detail the folding (that sound) from exhaustion rent with joy. It matters very little to me (though maybe to others) whether some of these images are composites of pictures and layers and additons (some are) or they are cut out from other images, or constructed or seen or drawn or snapped. What matters, to me, is their opening, a place into much can be seen or felt or even ignored. There is something both preternatural about the pictures and hopelessly (thank god) ‘in-love.’ about them. Not the dark (as in dreary) but the dark as in the course of memory and expression that bites the body electric, even without limbs.

    Sarah Moon (and I hope Kir has a look at some of Sarah’s work) was for me the first of the great dream-tellers. Before Peterson and before Ackerman and before D’agata and before D’Turberville (who influenced an entire generation of Russian photographers) and certainly long before I tried to scribble up a world of my own, Moon’s work haunted and captured not only the ‘blurry, dream scapes’ of the internal fairy tale, but a way out of the specificity of that mechanical box. Sarah’s work on Circus and Zoo’s (as well as her fashion pics) set the standard by which much of the lyrical dream stuff would follow. And also, there is something at play here in Kir’s work that may not be known by some of the viewership, something very distinct about the tradition in Russian photography.

    This isnt about its literary history and poetry (all ove rthis work) but about the mechanics. These old Russian cameras…processing and developing film in kitchens and bathrooms…recognizing that part of the lineage of great 20th century Russian photography lay in an equation that seems often to undercut the drive toward sharpness and precision of great glass and finer and finger pixels, which is to express oneself not necessary through the confines of the machines but beyond the mechanics of the machine.

    Of course it is a trope that there are 2 kinds of photographers. One sees the world as if looking through a window and one sees the world as if looking at a mirror. I dont really buy into that easy dilineation though I understand that taxonomy and understand why Swarovski described the photographic world as such. But for me, its not that its about which craft is which, but about something simpler, which can be applied to both and it is this:

    Does the work make me fall in love, all over again, with either the beautiful madness of the human imagination and experience or with the act of speaking about that life through the operation of light and shadow with a camera. that, in the end, is all I ever care about, whether black/white blurry dream images or crispt, color digitalized documentary.

    Have I been bitten and sent aflight.

    here: i have. not simply for the images themselves but for the beautifully unafraid way that Kir has conjured from his life and the life around a world that looks not like the world but what has been created inside him.

    that itself should always be a celebration.

    Очень, очень красивые фотографии. Их красота не только потому, что каждая фотография красива по вкусу и плавать дюйма Их красота, потому что они создают мир, который дрожит, как будто прикосновение кожи в лесу ночью.Песня.Язык-Touch.Испарения слова, так как они в бегство. Я вас поздравляю. С уважением.

  • love the elephant image, so much. you’ve accomplished a dream like state of being in all of these, or even a nightmare as jim says. either way, truly artistic, led by your heart.

  • Bob Bob Bob, you are such a treasure.
    Thanks once again for your insight and intelligence. I always want to smack my forehead and say, when reading you, yes, yes, of course.

  • So dark and heavy, with just a glimmer of what we need to see. I love these. 5/10/19 are images that stopped me in my tracks. Incredible. Congratulations for creating such a magical collection of images.

  • This is such beautiful, heart-breaking, wonderful stuff. I am inspired, awed, saddened, buoyed, puzzled, amused,….this is what art is supposed to do.

    Thank-you Bob, thank-you Kir

  • A lot of arresting images. Feels like advertising aesthetic to me though. Sorry.

  • Bob:

    I like this dualistic approach you write of, and your warning of the limitations between viewing photographic approaches as either a mirror or a viewing window. Especially since the photography I respond to best has a one-way mirror quality to it, hitting at both the internal and external worlds of the photographer. Adding into this is the novel idea of categorizing national currents of artistic approaches – in Kir’s case, the “Bathroom Sink School”. It was an idea you first introduced me to in our (private) conversation regarding the sincerity you felt among Canadian photographers. This was a fresh point of view to me, the idea that a photographer is invisibly influenced by the culture around him. Martin Parr is another who is fascinated by the connection he sees between the photographer and the surrounding cultural connections. Between the two of you, this leads me to want to pay strict attention to the subconscious influences hitherto unaware of, as opposed to the obvious artistic, social, political and technological influences I purposefully grab onto, and am only too aware of.

  • MW

    just curious…what part of this looks like an advertising aesthetic? you lost me here….

  • BOB

    Thanks a lot! I was left wanting to know more about the work of Akhmatova and Marina Tsvetaeva.

    “Two voices used to speak to me. One, sly and firm,
    Would say: “The Earth’s a cake full of sweetness;
    I can (and then there’d be no end to your pleasure!)
    Give you an appetite of equal size.”
    And the other: “Come travel in dreams
    Beyond the possible, beyond the known!”

    Deux voix me parlaient. L’une, insidieuse et ferme,
    Disait: «La Terre est un gâteau plein de douceur;
    Je puis (et ton plaisir serait alors sans terme!)
    Te faire un appétit d’une égale grosseur.»
    Et l’autre: «Viens! oh! viens voyager dans les rêves,
    Au delà du possible, au delà du connu!»

    ‘The voice’, ‘La Voix’, Baudelaire.

  • David, I regretted making that comment and several times came close to posting a follow-up. I can’t justify it in words. In my previous job, I looked at a lot of photographer directories such as Workbook and it’s true that few, if any, of them look remotely like Kir’s work. Yet I hesitated a few times before I clicked, went back and reviewed the work and ultimately felt right with my take on it. And although it doesn’t look anything like advertorial portfolios I’ve seen, several of the more dramatic images have seem to have that feel I associate with that kind of work (1, 5, 6, 8, 11, 16, 17, 18, 19) to be specific). But that’s probably off base.

    But in today’s world where the Clash’s “London Calling” is used to sell tourism and the Who’s “Won’t get Fooled Aagain” is used to sell crappy cars and Iggy’s “Lust for Life” is used to sell pretty much everything, what the hell can’t be used for advertising?

    So sorry again. Didn’t mean that to be as harsh as it probably sounded. In a different mood I might have compared if favorably to Tim Pope.

  • I just love this, it makes me dream of far away places that only exist in our minds…dreams and desires brilliant.

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