Alexander Mendelevich – Planning The Emptiness

Alexander Mendelevich

Planning The Emptiness


We have a rectangle in which we keep reassembling the world. It’s a fantastic tool; it fixates what’s in front of the camera and also what’s behind the camera. It is an objective picture in subjective viewfinder. Through photography we are re-framing our memories, fantasies, thoughts and our reality.

I try to find a new shape, which will be more accurate and fitting to the time because photography keeps changing and constantly crosses a new pain threshold, because the world changes; especially nowadays, when we get a huge number of diverse visual information.
I increasingly inclined to think that the only document that can enclose the realistic feeling it is emotion, a pain that comes to being through some conflict in frame.



In this series I create some conditions without a special event, without specific time and place. This space aimed at the creation of pure sense, where less important to understand, but more to feel. I perform a kind of ritual and this ritual creates a basis for a conditional reality.
People in this series are in their rented apartments. I see them as kind of inconspicuous survivors of today, torn apart by typical modern reality, where they are between livelihood and studies, banks and dreams, trends and personal style, fashion, news and war, and so on.
It is unclear whether they are awake or going to bed. There is state of sticky enveloping sleep and insomnia. What is life? Is it a dream, an illusion or a long jump from nowhere to nowhere? This series it’s like a song that’s about the beauty and drama that can be noticed in everyday routine life; poetics of enclosed spaces.
With all the strangeness of the picture, for me it feels familiar and real, more natural and alive. I wanted the weirdness of the image would resonate with the weirdness of the world. It’s like understanding what’s beautiful only after viewing what’s ugly.



Originally, I’m from a small town Pyatigorsk in the North Caucasus of Russia. From the first meeting with the world of photography, I felt that the reality and the image in the photograph are very similar and at the same time different, the world in the viewfinder seemed like mine. At the age of twenty I moved to Israel. The type of photos I’d shoot back then was very different from today. I took many nice photos whose only essence was formative aesthetics, and maybe a little surreal. Another pretty picture and another pretty picture? I had a feeling I’m going over the same mistake and every time I felt that I’m missing some important element. The change of view on photography came during my studies in Bezalel Academy. One of the interesting things I learned is the understanding that, with time, photography changes, that the view towards photography as a media changes, as well as its value.

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Alexander Mendelevich

17 Responses to “Alexander Mendelevich – Planning The Emptiness”

  • Sorry, I just don’t get this one. It seems the photographer is saying that living in apartments sucks, at least from the perspective of superior beings. In order to illustrate how much living in apartments sucks, the photographer has made up his models to look like they are physically abused? Am I reading that wrong? Jesus, I hope so. I actually am half blind these days and have probably taken a few more blows to the head than were good for me, so observational mistakes happen. Apologies if this is another case of that. Now if you made up people in mansions or penthouses or trendy apartments like that to illustrate the horrors of their lives, I might think differently about it. Man bites dog and all that, you know.

    I absolutely love the top image of the kid in the tv though. What a great single. Looks like something outta Laurie Lipton’s imagination. Unfortunately, imo, none of the other images look, or feel, anything like it. If you’re looking for an argument for the wisdom of publishing singles, I’d say that photo nails it.

  • Put first screws careful for break at some point. turn to make a join well in case of move. Take up for less loose in chain before making turn.

  • MW

    i am not surprised this is not your cup of tea…and you wont be surprised that i love it…

    you may remember we have published Alexander Mendelevich prior on Burn…with equal responses….go check the archive…

    you prefer an A to Z classic storytelling essay….linear and clear and clean and journalistic…and with an obvious reason to be….you are not alone…you are in the majority….

    what excites me however about photography and art in general is seeing inside a mind which is thinking something way out from where i would be thinking…i get refreshed when i see a new way of thinking about the ordinary in particular….

    do i really want to see another essay that is photoJ approach to apartment living for example? please spare me……i am not at all saying this is “better” than another approach…it’s not…yet for sure this guy is marching to his own drummer…..and staying visual all the while….no small feat at all….very well produced and executed to the tiniest detail….not a single wasted visual element…super tight…it’s like the Cohen Brothers do a photo essay…..

  • ” like the oohen brothers do a photo essay’ :)….EXACTLY…

    have always loved Sasha’s stuff…i remember (years ago) when BURN PUBLISHED him for first time…i tried to write, then, about how funny, smart and very much the work was like Theatre….Beckett, Ionesco, Bulgakov, etc..and very much Russian (now Israeli) in its sensibility…

    his work has become much darker with the years…which only makes sense to me….

    nice to have something different as well here…:)

    but have always loved the work…particularly like the shock it gives now after so many more traditional, albeit powerful and thoughtful and beautifully executed, essays of light….

    love the clash it makes suddenly :)

  • Man, when you said go check the archive, I figured I must have written something really stupid about his last essay. Thankfully, that was not the case… that time.

    Perhaps, well no doubt, as someone who’s read my crap a lot over the years, you have some insight into my character that I lack, but I don’t think I prefer linear, clear and clean journalistic essays, certainly not all the time. In my mind, I prefer literary type essays that tell a subtle story that may be hard to discern but is there entwined among the many layers of meaning and possible meaning. That’s why I especially enjoy your “Tell it like it is,” or Bob’s “Loomings,” for example.

    I think Mendelevich makes that kind of effort and I appreciate the work for that. My criticism above was that, based on the artist statement, the work appears elitist (which almost always elicits a knee jerk reaction from me), and rather ham fisted in its treatment. That’s if I understand it correctly; and I admit it is quite possible I don’t understand it correctly.

    But this is actually a good representation of the kind of thing I like about burn. I like seeing ambitious projects that are out of the mainstream. I like seeing them even if I don’t like them or otherwise think thy fail to realize their ambition. At least some people are trying to show the world according to their unique vision and you are providing a platform that regularly publishes them.

    I’ve recently honed my definition of what I like in a photograph, or series of photographs, as something that is both visually compelling and meaningful (not that I can’t appreciate a pretty picture from time to time). This series meets that criteria – it’s visually compelling and meaningful; I’m just not sure I care for the meaning.

  • David…
    But when the classic pj approach is done with an incredibly good and inspired eye it always seems to beat every other style of photography hands down. Absolutely untouchable. Just look at a Tomasz Tomaszewski’s or Jordi Pizarro’s essay published round here, comment count on those essays suddenly woke up. Yes majority but also honestly good stuff. Now I’m not saying this essay isn’t any good, it’s making me curious to see what I can learn from it. But I can’t see my wife allowing me to hang one of these images on our lounge wall and before anyone says her taste are just typical comfy stuff she also wouldn’t let me hang any of Steve McCurry’s work. She finds it boring and essentially out of date.

  • New directions in all of the arts are to be pursued and encouraged and nurtured always. How else can we discover new things about ourselves and how we experience each other and the world around us. But ‘new’ in and of itself does not automatically mean better, in fact most times not. Ultimately it is usually down to a small elite group within each discipline who will have the influence needed to decide who has a chance to succeed and who gets essentially ignored. The public only rarely overrides this decision on deciding/recognizing the zeitgeist and not surprisingly that is mainly in the field of music.
    DAVID. Do you love this? Really? or do you love what it represents; change, movement?
    I dont see the cohen brothers reference at all. A low rent DIY Crewdson perhaps.
    The treatment is interesting, a sort of bleach bypass/medium or large format/toy lens deal. But in these days of potatoshop cloning that sort of speculation in pretty much meaningless.
    I am quite happy to say that i do not like it. Looking at it does not do anything for me (same with his previous work).And yes, thats subjective too.

  • But in these days of potatoshop cloning that sort of speculation in pretty much meaningless.,,,,,,,,,,,,depends how it is used…….fried likes macas

  • Imants. I meant speculation as to the works medium, but i realise this is more and more pointless and less and less people care at all. But I still care so I still harp on about it.

  • To “non film emulsion /plate etc users” using photoshop isn’t cloning it is the real deal……….bleach bypass/medium is something achieved by using PP filers and pressing the keys on the computer or taping the finger on s a phone/tablet

  • Imants…
    Photoshop filters the real deal? Well that’s interesting because I wish I could feel the same as you do about those filters at least with BW. I use them a lot but toning a print in photoshop just doesn’t give me the same kick as toning one of my wet darkroom prints in a tray. Be it sepia, tea or selenium. Now colour is a totally different ball game especially if you’re trying to imitate transparency film.

  • People who have never used film are not imitating film to them it is just another look a way of getting their message across, creating a emotional response etc

  • I think Imants nails it on that one. However I ultimately choose to process digital images for a project, I’m not imitating anything or anybody, and I imagine that’s true for most.

    As for Gladdy and his constant put downs of Potatoshop, I just don’t get it. My Potatoshop (made by Ronco of course) slices, dices, slashes, mashes, Juliens and peels. It makes home fries, American fries, German fries, French fries and even Freedom Fries. With Potatoshop, you can prepare any sort of potato dish quickly and easily. You can even use it to make a composite, such as laying a bed of mashed potatoes, adding a layer of German fries and topping it off with thinly sliced chips. And with the handy food dye accessory, you can even change the potatoes’ colors to get wild effects that will amaze our friends and is sure to make your next dinner party a smashing success.

    And if you order in the next 15 minutes, you get a free mood ring and set of hand crafted potato knives. Shipping and handling not included.

  • This one is drawing a fair amount of discussion which makes me kind of feel like I ought to join in, but I am having a bit of hard time seeing through the fog inside my own brain right now and can’t really come up with anything relevant to say. For sure, I can see how well-crafted and thoughtful each image is and it does make me wonder about the particular horrors this particular photographer and these particular people have seen and experienced in life and apartment living and yet it fails to move me much, to dig into my emotions, as I understand the images to be staged. I am not sure why this is. When I read a novel or watch a drama movie, I know that what is before did not actually happen, is also staged, but yet I can be very moved by what I read and see. I will try to remember to look at this work again once the fog currently dominating my brain has lifted and see if I can then see deeper and feel the intended emotions more strongly.


    ok “love” is probably too effusive …let’s just say that i appreciate it a lot…so well crafted…and i do enjoy sort of being creeped out by it…it scares me….i don’t know any of these people..and don’t want to know them either…i have no idea where he finds these people….Ballen sort of the same…morbid fascination may be the key here….for sure i am not bored by it!!


    well this stuff for the wall? no….well maybe the lead shot as a small print… i do think the best of any genre will get my motor running…not just photoJ….yet yes in a “popularity” contest more “likes” for photoJ compared to most genres AFTER landscape and wildlife which are clearly the MOST popular subjects for most people most of the time….only NatGeo with 26 million Instagram followers gets even slightly close to Beyonce or Justin Bieber in mass hysteria popularity….and inside NatGeo landscapes and sharks get the MOST likes…put in a starving African baby and “popularity” drops drastically..the PhotoJ essays you think most like would not be popular on that venue….

    so all of this just depends on the audience you want…..or want to appeal to……and how you see yourself…and how you want others to see you….of course best to just not give a shit…about appeal i mean…do your work and hope you appeal to someone is probably the best way to go….

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