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Summer 2016, Firenze. Italy.

Summer Escape 2016: Italy

This summer was my first summer outside of Japan in many, many years. Europe seems to have this image of people setting work aside each summer and taking weeks and months of holidays. Luckily, I found this to be true! Having been out of Europe for so long, I decided to travel around my backyard for a bit and went to Italy, Vienna and Munich.

The main part of my trip was in Italy, going down South from Milano to Genova, spending some time in the beautiful Cinque Terre, a passing obligatory glance at the tower of Pisa on the way to Firenze/Florence, and then on by car exploring the infamous landscapes, wine hills and villages of Tuscany and just chilling out. Before flying to Vienna, I spent a day and night at the ocean in Civitavecchia.

Summer 2016 travel map

Summer 2016 travel map – starting from Milano

 

Pressure-free photography

Taking photographs was not a main focus of this trip. Whereas when I travel usually I try to bring home the best photos possible, this time I just tried to relax and take photos only when I felt like it – and not when I didn’t. Sounds like common sense, really, but I believe some of you will understand the urge of having to take photographs of something, even if you don’t really “feel it”.

Letting go of this compulsion led me to

1) take mostly photos with my iPhone instead of my “real” camera, the Fujifilm X-Pro1, and

2) take a lot of very unimportant photographs, at least from a travel/tourist perspective. This is because often I saw something that I liked much more than the obligatory shot of chapel XYZ: What attracted me was the quality of light rather than the subject.

 

An old-fashioned photo album

Last week I finished binding a big leporello style photo album, into which I glued a selection of photographs from this trip. I can fold that one out to as big as my apartment is and beyond, if I wanted, to see all the photos lined up in a nice timeline of my trip – but to be honest, the book is too damn huge and next year I will make an album half the size…

Summer 2016: Leporello album with glued in photographs, linen hardcover

Summer 2016: Leporello album with glued in photographs, linen hardcover

 

So, where are the photos?

I have uploaded some of the photographs from my trip to an album on this site – below is the summary. Enjoy!

 

Japan #flashback7188

Sayonara Japan

One day, death will knock on your shoulder and tell you the party is over. This sucks. What stinks even more, though, is that you will be the only one who has to leave – everyone else is still going to have a partylicious time.

This is, freely put, what some smart person I don’t remember wrote about people’s relationship with death.

Now, I’m not dead (yet), but this also pretty much summarizes the way I feel about leaving Japan after all these years.
“Oh! It must be like your second home!” is what the old Japanese lady sitting next to me on my flight said surprised, when she found out I’ve lived in Japan for 6-7 years. Wrong. It is my “first home”.

And now a new chapter is just about to begin, and there is no way of knowing what it is going to be like.
But I know I had to do what I did, and I am looking forward to what my “new life” brings (in the end the “death” analogy wasn’t that far-fetched after all, was it, haha).

Sentimentality is something I’m often accused of. That’s why it won’t come as a surprise to you that I went through my photographs of the past years to find some I especially like, memories I don’t want to miss.

You probably noticed that I’ve been sharing those photographs these days on social media – the perfect medium for this kind of flashback.

Join me on my little daily journey into the past under the hashtag #flashback7188 on Ello, Facebook and Instagram. I just can’t let go of Japan yet 😉

Here are some of the photos so far, and now I need to run catch my connecting flight! See you on the other side.

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

Japan #flashback7188

#flashback7188

#flashback7188

 

Sexy Dance Night. Shisui deux, Tokyo. Japan. 2015.

Sexy Dance Night

A while ago my friend taka waka told me about this event named “Sexy Dance Night” at a place called Shisui deux here in Tokyo. It included pole dancing, he said, and well – that’s really all it took to get me hooked. A bit more than a week ago the chance to attend this show finally came around, and taka waka, being the good guy he is, made sure I was seated on the stage, 3 meters from the pole. Now, boy, that show was good.

I’m ashamed to admit that until then I had never seen any pole dancing show, but this was not at all as I had imagined it. And I’m pretty sure this is not what your off the shelf “pole dancing show” is supposed to be like. Nothing sleazy at all, just pure beauty. It was spectacular and miraculous to see the performers defy gravity.

My seating on stage and a fixed lens gave me little options for variation when taking photographs, especially since I wanted to absorb as much of the show as possible and not get caught up too much in my viewfinder. I’ll certainly go again, and might leave the camera at home. For now, though, here are some photographs I took:

 

BLACK ICE exhibition by holger feroudj

BLACK ICE exhibition

I’m happy to announce my BLACK ICE exhibition in Tokyo from 2014 Oct. 17th to Nov 1st and the reception party on Oct. 18th

It is my first exhibition after 2 years and going to be themed around my recently released book “White Snow on Black Ice”. Of course, the book itself will be on display, as well, so everyone will have a chance to experience it without the need to commit to buying one, if it’s not sold out by then anyway.

Details

BLACK ICE photo+book exhibition
by Holger Feroudj

Duration: Oct. 17th to Nov. 1st
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat. 19:00 – 3:00
Venue: OFFICE Gaienmae

 

日本語

BLACK ICE展示で最近手作りの自分で出版した「White Snow on Black Ice」という写真集/アーツブックの上、本から取られた画像が違った風に大きいプリントとして展示されます。
記憶というものを本とプリントの作品を見ながら感じられます。

Description (English)

This exhibition is based on my recently released handmade art- and photobook “White Snow on Black Ice,” and will show both the book as well as abstract large format black and white photographs taken from the images in the book.

Synopsis of the book:

“‘White Snow on Black Ice’ is the result of using photography and book design to capture the invisible bond of memories connected to places of my past I have rich memories tied to. Places that make me re-live certain events, painful and happy alike; however, memory does not work like a video recorder. Memory changes upon re-living it. The harder you try to see and remember, the deeper you go, layer by layer, the more likely you are to re-write your past without even realizing it. Until you feel that you really experienced it.
Using a multilayered design with a special kind of reflective printing on black paper, the process of browsing and looking at these photographs of the frozen ground I experienced so much on supports the feeling of how memory works.”

Both the exhibited photographs, as well as the book, give a deep impression on the fallibility and bias of our memory.

The story of the Fox

Not a part of the BLACK ICE series, I depended on it to keep the series together when on a wall instead of in the book. The fox is a print of mine that I come to love more and more as the years pass – I already shot it like 7 years or so ago. It’s like only now I get to know the little fella with his glance straight into my soul better. This is also the reason why so far it is the only print that I explicably offer as fine art print on my little store: holgerferoudj.com/store/shop/prints/fox/

Some of the other prints I have have to stand the (emotional) test of time first.

 

 

Awesome Photographers on Ello

10+ Ello Awesome Photographers

The social platform Ello has been really taking off in 2014 – and the trend continues this year with ever rising speed.

So, you just joined and now you need to find people that share awesome content? Well, if it’s fantastic photographs you are looking for, congratulations: Your search has come to an end.

There are already one or two lists with photographers to follow online, but instead of putting hundreds of people that take photos (e.g. everyone!) on a list like the others, I decided to do my own with people that I follow and love myself, and who I have hand picked to high standard, giving priority to others than the usual suspects, so you can meet some new awesome people.


 

(updated 2015/07/03)

by @holgerferoudj (that’s me, haha)

The New Ones – July 3rd:

Matthew Schiavello @matthewschiavello
Can Agaoglu @canagaoglu
Ilya Perfilyev @perfilyev

The List:

Luca Venter @luca
Witchoria @witchoria
Timothy Saccenti @tsaccenti
Zack Roif @zckrf
James Heal @healbyphoto (some NSFW)
Resa Rot @resarot (some NSFW)
Simos Xenakis @simosxenakis
mamo delpero @mamo
Martin Gommel @martingommel
Georgios Karamanis @georgios
Grant Blakeman @gb
Damon Way @damon
Rinzi Ruiz @rinzizen

 

 


 

The list is going to be updated and extended on my blog as soon as I find more high quality photography.

If you think you got what it needs to be added or know someone else, send me a message! 🙂

Film sucks

This is why film sucks

This is why film photography sucks.

… no, just kidding… or am I? 😉

Some spontaneous mood drove me to bring a film camera with long expired ISO100 slide film to a party – no idea which evil fairy put this idea in my head. I tested my flash on my digital camera to get an idea of how strong it would need to be for a proper exposure, but when I actually used it at the venue it blasted everything away and I chickened out and against logic turned it down as much as possible – now half the roll is wildly underexposed.

And because the film was expired, it’s heavily magenta shifted PLUS the tungsten interior light with the daylight balanced film makes everything super-red, and and and… all other kind of other ugly troubles that are so much easier to avoid on digital.

But I still like it. This time was really the last, though.

In the beginning, my flash was still firing more or less at what I tested to be about right…

In the beginning, my flash was still firing more or less at what I tested to be about right…

People started shielding their eyes from my weapon of blinding brutality - making me doubt if it really should be THAT killer-bright?

People started shielding their eyes from my weapon of blinding brutality – making me doubt if it really should be THAT killer-bright?

… and then the doubts had their way. I dialed that damned flash down. People weren't much happier, the photos red mushy grain not even Photoshop can rescue.

… and then the doubts had their way. I dialed that damned flash down. People weren’t much happier, the photos red mushy grain not even Photoshop can rescue.

Film sucks

Film sucks

What are your 50 best photographs? - holger feroudj / blog

What are your 50 best photographs?

Two weeks ago I ran into trouble: A very experienced and successful photographer asked me to send him my 50 best photographs by the morning of the following day. Not 10 good photographs, but my 50 best photographs. Now, I would already be a very happy man if I had even 50 good photographs… and besides, I have been shooting a lot of different things over the past 10 years, how could I possibly make a good selection without any restriction other than “best”? Worse yet: I only had half a day to make the selection.

Needless to say it was a long night. When it was already getting bright outside, I was exhausted, sleepy, tired. I wasn’t satisfied with my selection. Once again I realized there’s so much more work to do, so many photos I didn’t take yet, but have to. And it was really hard to decide which ones to keep and which ones to delete. I decided to let it be, sent the 50 photos in, and went to bed in a rather ill mood.

This is the selection I came up with, my 50 best photographs as of July 2014: holgerferoudj.com/album/50-best-photographs/

What are your 50 best photographs?

Show me YOUR 50 best photographs!

I am asking you now to do the same. I am challenging you: Which photographs would you choose if you had to send me your 50 best photographs by tomorrow morning? I promise, it is going to be an eye opening experience. One that is worth it.

(e.g. share it on your website, flickr, some other social media thing where you can share albums, dropbox, etc!)

 

 

White Snow on Black Ice

Making the Book: Black Ice

Update (2014/8/3): The book is finished. See detailed photos of how it turned out on the new holger feroudj / store section.
 

When I went to Germany last winter, for the first time after more than 3 years, it was only natural to take my camera and use photography to connect to what I was feeling when re-visiting all these places I had rich memories tied to.
Acting out of intuition at first, I pretty soon knew what I wanted to say – my vision was clear and I worked every day on this Germany project I had on mind.
This book here is an initially unplanned side project, a sub chapter of this larger Germany project.

At the core, I was looking to capture the invisible bond of memories connected to these places of my past. Places that make me re-live certain events, painful and happy alike; and yet, memory doesn’t work like a video recorder. Memory changes upon re-living it. The harder you try to see and remember, the deeper you go, layer by layer, the more likely you are to re-write and change your past without even realizing it. Until you become convinced of it. Until you feel that you really experienced it. Crazy huh?

With this in mind, not articulated yet, though, I set out to take photos…
Back in Japan, I then spent a long time with these photographs, putting them on my wall, living with them while focusing on other things. I went into the incubation phase I mentioned before in “The Yin and Yang of Creativity.

Making the book: Black Ice

Making the book: Some sketches

Making the book: Black Ice

Making the book: Black Ice. Cutting and trimming.

One of those other things I was focusing on is learning how to make proper books with my own hands. Materials, techniques, binding, gluing, folding… Using ancient manuscripts and modern textbooks as a guide. Fascinating stuff, and powerful. (And fun!) Sure, you could merely have your photos printed in a book and that’s it – as many people do -, and that’s fine, but a book can be so much more than that.

Read more

Art is a Lie

Art vs. Craft

This is an excerpt taken from my last LETTER – my monthly newsletter about visual arts, photography and Japan. If you’ve already subscribed to it you’ll know this, but still feel free to discuss in the comments 🙂

 

Did you ever think about what the difference between Art and Craft is? Can craft be art? Does art require craft? And where does photography fit into this? I’ve been thinking about that after listening to a conversation on On Taking Pictures that contained more thoughts than fit easily into my brain. I’m rather slow at “getting” things.

Emotion – one key element?

Photography arguably is a craft, as in you have to use the camera’s settings skilfully to get a decent picture. But then, it also isn’t because many cameras allow you to merely press a button to get a picture, and I don’t see any craft in that. One can carefully craft a picture by taking all the settings in their own hands, and by crafting the composition etc. – or, on the other hand, one can come up with a wonderful photograph with a point and shoot camera, without crafting anything. And we’re not even including printing in the discussion here.

So, what is the difference between craft and art? Both, a well-crafted as well as a point-and-shoot’ed photograph, can be art, and both can not be art. A well crafted photograph, tack-sharp, perfectly exposed and composed, maybe using the latest gear, but that I still would never consider “art” is what I see more as a rule than an exception these days. It satisfies gear affectionados, but doesn’t really stir any emotions. “Emotion” – one key element of art?

Intent/Vision

Another element I thought important for some time might be “intent,” “vision,” or some kind of concept: “What do you want to say?”
But then, I know many renowned art photographers – especially Japanese – just shoot and do that thinking/intentional part much later. And many others come up with meticulously planned concepts for a photograph and go through greatest efforts to produce an image that often seems way too planned out, way too conceptional, and rather tedious.
And then there are big artists like Magnum photographer Antoine d’Agata, who is very conscious about wanting to eliminate every single bit of consciousness when creating his photographs, numbs all thinking with drugs, gives his middle finger to all technical aspects of photography and acts from a very primal, unconscious place.
Antoine’s exhibition is on in Tokyo right now, by the way, and I admit that if I hadn’t kind of “befriended” him over the course of the last year, and as a consequence hadn’t learnt about his backstory as well as hear him talk about his work, I would have easily disregarded his photography as artsy-fartsy merely controversial “stuff” without much to it. I still don’t get my head around his photographs, but I know now that I don’t have to – and that they aren’t digested easily, but instead encapsulate something rooted very deeply.

Being called an “artist”

So, you see, I still can’t get my head around this whole arts thingy, and that is probably also the reason why I feel very uncomfortable with people calling me an artist – which sometimes happens – God knows why – and which always makes me feel pretty phoney.
Being called a craftsman is nice, because it implies you do something very well. What does being called an artist imply?

Tell me, will I ever have to understand all that artsy stuff to be able to create something that can be called “art” by someone some time and NOT make me feel pretentious? I guess you’ll only know after the act. Or what do you think?

 

Addition (July 3rd): Beautiful follow-up/write-up on this ongoing conversation by Kristopher Matheson. Well, I think we arrived more or less at the conclusion that it does not matter what is art when making your works, but that conclusion comes with a big chunk of content hiding under the surface, iceberg like.

 

 

THE real LETTER

What is The real Letter?

THE real LETTER is my free original newsletter about visual arts and photography, handwritten and spiced up with prints of my photos. Yes, you heard right: ink on paper, and prints to hold in your hands, delivered by your local postman. Because it is different from seeing it on your screen.

So, why am I doing this?

When I started out writing my newsletter – THE LETTER – I naturally wrote each month’s issue by hand before typing it up – and I still work that way for almost anything. Why? Guess I’m the kind of person who finds it stimulating to write with ink and paper in a cafe or somewhere, while observing people around me (and also, I don’t have a laptop, so I don’t have much choice have I, haha). There’s something about that tactile feeling that stimulates the mind. Also, I just can’t think properly in my tiny Tokyo apartment, which is as big as my bed x2. Actually writing you a letter that I’d type up later also helps in giving the newsletter the feel I want, I guess. It’s not called THE LETTER for no reason!

After issue #02 (that’s after the 3rd issue, if you count the prologue) I realized that I end up having these real letters lying around – and unsent letters always evoke that miserable feeling in me. A letter unsent is an extremely lonely thing, I could write books about it, But I digress. I thought, even if I can’t send a real letter to everyone of you, at least I can send it to one of you each time I write it, so you can have the real experience in your hands.

Problem is: How to find/decide who is going to get THE real LETTER – and do people actually give a damn? That’s where I need your help, because even more miserable than a unsent letter is a letter without response. So far I thought about handling it like I wrote below, but what do you think?

How do you get your real letter?

If you’re already a subscriber of THE LETTER – my monthly-or-so newsletter about visual arts and photography – you’re automatically in the drawing box. I will send you a mail and let you know if you’re the lucky one before I send out the e-version. Even if you’re not the one, there’s a fancy scanned ebook pdf-version in the newsletter.

If for any reason you’re not subscribed to THE LETTER and don’t want to, then there’s still a chance – I am thinking about special events, or those who help spread the word, and so on.

Want to write your own letter?

Who knows, some of you people might be crazy enough to write a letter themselves and add some photos, drawings, sketches, doodles, whatever. It’s fun to not be restricted by a keyboard! I’d love to read it, and share it with everyone, if you want. Write me a mail if you are interested in contributing.