Matjaz Krivic – Urbanistan

Matjaz Krivic


The story of a quiet loudness.

As soon as you hear the word Urbanistan your imagination is whisked off into the traffic mayhem of Calcutta, the tawdriness of the neon sex nightlife in Bangkok, the unbelievable structuralized yet frenzied Tokyo, the suffocating and dusty streets of the (hardly) living body of the decaying Cairo, the roundabout of the hedonistic and aggressive Rio, the unstoppable narcissistic Manhattan, the global supermarket of turbo consumerism.

However, Matjaž Krivic’s Urbanistan is a miraculous anti-thesis to all this. It is a story from the other side – a story of the quiet loudness on the margins of total existential, religious, economic and geopolitical chaos. A story that speaks of the indestructible spirit and the eternal search of inspiration that enables survival. It is a story of individuals and social groups who, putting aside the racket and general urban angst, keep searching for the core of existence in a different space and a different time. It is a story of survival through play, prayer, tradition, rituals, travels, socializing and especially, a special light, that the author of the exhibition sees and records so well.

Urbanistan is a space that allows you to take a breather from the city. Any city.





Matjaz Krivic is a globe-trotting photographer specializing in capturing the personality and grandeur of indigenous people and places. For 15 years he has covered the face of the earth in his intense, personal and aesthetically moving style that has won him several prestigious awards. He has made the road his home and most of the time you can find him traveling with his camera somewhere between Sahara and Himalaya.

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Matjaz Krivic


22 Responses to “Matjaz Krivic – Urbanistan”

  • Simply beautiful, images that will last for future generations. Thank you for this

  • Lovely traditional work. A joy to view.

  • Some really terrific shots in here. I really enjoyed this essay. Matjaz Krivic has a good eye!

  • 1st pic stopped me dead in my tracks…..havent seen anything like it, really7…..

    i’d like more pictures (given the project’s name and notion)…i’d like more picts too w/out people (just like the first) to establish the ‘urban’ as a character (just as it does so beautifully and monumentally, in the 1st pic)…..needs more pics w/out people, which i’m sure you have…

    14 not enough to build the essay….some strong shots, some significantly powerful photographs and others that seem more predictably NG…

    w/that in mine, follow the vision that unites the strongest and strangest of your pictures: therein lay both your voice and the ‘theme’ that you write about….hope that makes sense :)

    congrats on publication Matjaz….especially thankful for seeing the first image, just towering (pun not intended)


  • For me, some of the pictures work well individually, which is the way I like #5, my favorite in the series. As an essay, however, I find that either too many are of the same theme and color and tonality (such as the Yemen pictures), or too far off (such the #13). Perhaps this would work better in a larger set, as Bob suggests.

    Also, as in a couple of other recent essays, I am somewhat put off by the artist’s statement: I have trouble with the “Urbanistan” title, and think that neologisms rarely work well in this respect — and the definition of the word is too contradictory and verges too much into “art speak.”

  • For some reason the opening shot makes me think of Klimt. My favourite shot. Also Webb comes to mind.
    Color is hard to do well and this is pretty slick. 1 and 3 I think are great 10 is also sweet. Not sure its an essay as such and I agree with bob and Mitch in that regard but good photography chops for sure.
    The glossy’s will surely beckon.

  • Nice pictures. My favorites 1,3,6 and 13 (i am not sure why this last one…)
    I agree with bob black 14 pictures is not enough. Maybe more without pepole, to transmit that breathier form the city…
    Congrats for the work.


  • The first image looks like the opening shot to some kind of very dark science fiction movie. It is my favorite as well. Quite excellent photography for certain.

  • @john gladdy, I thought of Webb too! Especially #3.

    I loved this essay. Loved the harmony and quietness of it. The description was off-putting until seeing the pictures, but now it makes a lot more sense. I did think #13 was jarring on its own. It seems out of place to me among the warmer pallet and built environment of the others.

    Agree with Mitch Alland too… It’s a wide ranging work geographically, yet there are two pictures of the same building among the 14 (though not tied narratively), and only one from the Mongolian grassland. I needed a longer bridge to connect them.

    But yes, a really strong start. Lots of fantastic pictures in the set, but not quite a fantastic essay.

  • Actually, the longer form of this essay on Matjaz’s website reads quite well:

    Slightly different feel, but at 74 images, you can see why this one feels abbreviated. Would love to see the full essay at full screen Matjaz!

  • That first image blew me away. Wow.

    Overall, great set of individual images. I’m not seeing a story though.

  • I am always fascinated by what viewers think is a picture story and/or a photo essay…..the opinions on what is “a story” vary wildly….referencing classics like Gene Smith’s “Minamata” or Koudelka’s “Exiles” are two examples of totally different kinds of “storytelling”…one linear, one multi layered…both work in my opinion….personally i enjoy both classic didactic storytelling and at the same time probably prefer a more subjective personalised “collection” rather than the linear…it honestly depends in either case on how good it is…show me a classic brilliantly told old fashioned picture story, and i am most likely going to fall for it…at the same time my inclinations generally go in the direction of a more intellectualised piece like Bob’s “Bones” or Imants essays which allow for the imagination to wander and voyage through the images taking what one wants out of it and at the same time try to “get”what the author is telling us, or suggesting to us….

    what i really dislike is the straight linear “picture story” with no good pictures in it!! this kills me every i go for what the author says he/she is doing…i go with the titles and the intent…does that always work? of course not…but i will take an abstract thinker over didactic teller any day….unless of course the didactic teller is so brilliant that all bridges are crossed…..

    in the last few weeks i have been looking at lots and lots and lots of work from emerging photographers….the biggest weakness i see in so much work is simply not seeing really strong single images…for whatever reasons i see so many quit…stop short…not finish what they started….it might be a product of our collective ADS or digi photography or some combo of the two…i think many get too self satisfied with that beautiful image they see on their preview screen and forget to KEEP GOING…

    i also listen to so many….dozens in the last couple of weeks, and on my way to Paraty Em Foco in Brazil where I am sure I will encounter many more….almost to the person, i hear “I want to do a book”….then I look at the work, and i see that they are nowhere near ready to do a book….the “rush to publish” syndrome is for real and all around us and probably influenced by the easy to print Blurb books etc…this puts “a book” in the hands of everyone, yet often gives a very false sense of what a book actually is in its best manifestations……neither a book nor an essay should be just a collection of good pictures….that is a portfolio…..understanding the differences is surely the key towards gathering of imagery that purports to be real authorship….

    i think i will set up in New York this coming spring of 2015 a BurnSeminar to deal with all of this…to really explore visual literacy….to really explore the common language of photography…to help clarify for many… lines in the sand…quite the contrary….open open open…and yet the only way one develops taste in anything is to look and study the best examples of any genre….lots and lots and lots…most of the new emerging are not opposed to this idea, they just never thought of viewing lots of classic books before somehow publishing their own Blurb book! they are not in error…it is just that the way people learn photography today just does not allow for nor require this contextual perusal….

    ok gotta go catch a plane to Rio….i will be back home in a week and stick around for awhile on my front porch and be more active with all of you here, and set up this seminar for spring….and get my own books together as well…and get Burn03 rolling….and well, lots to do….as always….

    by the way, there are two very straight linear essays coming here on Burn in the next days..i like them both because they are well done….well done works, for linear or for the more subjective….

    cheers, david

  • DAH, isn’t more accurate to say that you “Get to go catch a plane to Rio?” :-)

  • @ALL:

    BurnSeminar to deal with all of this…to really explore visual literacy….to really explore the common language of photography…to help clarify for many…

    Personal literature and music brings and set the base for visual literacy. Your teenage books and CD’s have a vital importance in your future life!

    Hence, go to the local library and music store!
    Shine. P.

  • I think you’re right DAH, but I’d like to offer a counterpoint — readership and authorship are different teachers. I’ve loved pouring over and thinking about great books all my life, but it wasn’t until working in the design dept of a publisher that I actually worked on laying out real books. And doing that I learned that laying things out so that they ‘read’ as a sequence on screen is not at all how they read printed. And that how they read printed is not how they read trimmed stacked, and bound. I learned over and over again to print the whole thing, trim up a dummy and thumb through. Does it make sense? Does it feel right? How many pages do the strong spreads carry for? Where is the gutter, where is the edge? Does it read well?

    You only get the lessons that come from practice from practicing. Even the little blurb books I’ve made for myself — they really arrive as little bound up epiphanies of how to make a better one next time (I don’t have a high-volume printer at home). That’s half the delight, but looking and thinking only takes you so far.

    One of the big struggles for me is understanding the planning mindset, the in the moment shooting mindset, the editing mindset, the authoring-the-object mindset — together and in sequence. All different but needing to be connected, no? In the big bad world, at a professional level, I’ve never actually seen these combined in one person. It happens, but more often it’s a team.

    I think even of Aue Sobol and his girlfriend who does his first edit, or the Webb Norris-Webb team. And then the publishers and editors and curators. In writing this production-ised teamwork is really well acknowledged, it doesn’t seem so on the surface of things to me (never having practiced photography professionally), but I assume there’s a ‘thing’ between great photographers and great photo editors that makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

  • Firstly, David, and the team behind Burn, thank you. I’ve been following this place for a few wonderful years, and I feel, it is one of the few places I can go on the internet, and see great photography, that I can often learn from. And the comments, boy, are they worth reading, this is quite the community.

    Moving on…

    It might be best to put myself into the “rush to publish” group, because I’ve recently self-published.

    If you asked why exactly I did this, I am not sure I could provide a sane answer at all. It evolved out of an idea or concept of combining my photographs with some of my own philosophical views, sparked by the content of those images. It’s no doubt pretentious to some, and has been enjoyed by others.

    It is impossible to answer if it was a success from the standpoint of the book, sure I’ve sold a few copies, and the reception to those who’ve bought it has been good.

    But from the perspective of a student attempting to teach myself, it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve studied and enjoyed photography books for a long time. I love seeing how my experiences as a human, intertwine with other the authors photographs, and how our combined narratives move together through the pages of the book. But it took until I attempted it myself, for it t actually make sense, to understanding the purpose of a selection of images, of order, page layout, where the eye naturally wants to rest. This might be from naivety, but actual practice has provided the biggest learning experience (abet, had this been without a large collection of photobooks behind me, and many hours reading / viewing them it wouldn’t have been an experience to learn).

    More than all of that though, it has given me a much better understanding of where I want to take myself, and the projects I want to do. Not all those ideas could lead to books, but the act of producing more than single prints, and creating this small, cheap book, has provided me with direction. Something I don’t feel like I had before.

  • wow, i love these photos, they take me to faraway places and make me feel like i can see into people’s souls. thank you, Matjaz Krivic for bringing these amazing and powerful traveling stories to us. when i saw the exhibition Urbanistan in Ljubljana, Slovenia, it took my breath away and i recommend to all to visit the exhibition and see the enlarged photos, take the prints home with you and possibly hang them all around your walls at home, like i did :). the photos, the story, the presentation are all simply amazing, i have no words to describe, you just need to feel it…


    it sounds to me like you have things in good perspective…and for sure you learned a lot…can you send me a link to your book?

    books mean different things to different people…and now with anyone being able to publish a book, just as everyone can be a photographer, it comes down to levels…what level of being a photographer and a published author do you want to be??…surely accolades can be garnered from a loyal fan club of friends and family and this is a GOOD THING….at the same time, i think photographers should really study what table they want their books to be on..with the physicality of book publishing easy, still does not making the parameters of real excellence easy….for the astute, there are really only a few books per year which hit the real high water mark for those who study the art of bookmaking…and who have the reference points needed to really judge a book…both for pictures and for design, production etc….this is the same for the photographers and the photographs themselves….

    at the same time , i hear you…i can tell this was a true learning experience for you…and this is always good for sure…

    i do look forward to seeing your book….

    cheers, david


    you are absolutely correct all around…it takes collaboration to do almost anything…doing a book sure looks simple…yet you have pointed out a few of the things one must think about..and you did not even mention two of the biggest things: (1) the concept (2) the selling of the concept….most photographers see a stack of pictures on one subject as automatically becoming “a book”….

    interestingly enough, a great collaborative team usually only does one great thing together…i.e. the team that makes an Oscar award winning movie does not turn right around and make another Oscar award movie with the same team…if the team was so good, why couldn’t they simply do another? well, creativity does not work that way…that might work in manufacturing, but it does not work with the creative act….even super successful rock bands usually break up…..why? because creativity is SPECIFIC to a particular mood and at a particular time and this just cannot be put into a bottle….everyone WISHES it could …and many TRY..but i have never seen it actually work..nope…one must start all over again each time one wants to be actually on the leading edge of creativity….

    super successful magazines also, which come close to repetitive creativity (actually an oxymoron), still change editors every few years….there is simply no way to “manufacture” more than one great film or great book or great music album with the same team over and over…good maybe yes, great i don’t think so… there might be exceptions, but i cannot think of any…

    thanks for your well thought out comment Steve…

    cheers, david

  • Haha, yes, the idea!

    Pitching the idea was something we were really bad at at Lonely Planet — outside of guide books at least. I stayed away from that at the time. But working on pictorials was one of the greatest joys of my entire career. Whole days down in the dungeon with a light table, a loupe and glorious slides, picking the pictures we wanted scanned as candidates.

    That too though was building a narrative from a library of images. Not really the same as what you’re talking about — a truer form of authorship I think, from a single photographer with a viewpoint. I agree with everything you’ve said too.

    Not 100% sold on the idea that a long-standing team can’t keep on producing … so long as they get a break to have some daylight between their efforts; side projects, whole other areas to explore and then come back together to do something new again. Can think of a few examples in other media, but like you say, you can’t burn that candle constantly, it fizzles somehow in the end.

  • David,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply. You can check out the images and texts here:

    So… the level of photographer I want to be, is to be up there with the best. Not because I want to be the best, rather, I would like to be around the best, and learn from (and with) them. As for the type of author, I want to produce personal work, which comes from the heart to challenge its readers, and help them on the their path of development.

    With those things in mind, I would like my books to be on the tables of people who appreciate photography, in addition to the non-photographers who are comfortable with the unfamiliar, those who explore and want to find new things to expand their world views, just a little bit.

    The one problem with quality books which are more like art, rather than mass printed media, is the feeling of them being a bit insular. Do people who are non-photographers, or those who haven’t spent a lot of time looking at photography books, gain an understanding of their vocabulary? Are they going to understand? Would something like Dream/Life get the time of day it requires for these people to make connections with it?

    I feel your solution to this, is the one that best suits my feelings and outlook, produce art style books for those who enjoy that side of things, as well as cheaper, more mass produced versions for selling at a lower cost, lowering the barriers to enjoyment (or giving them away, as with your Magazine). This book sits in the second bracket. So if you send me your address (, I’ll be more than happy to pop a copy in the post to you.


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