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.
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…
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!
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:
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.
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
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。
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.
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.
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/
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!)
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.”
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.
Thoughts and features
My name itself, Holger Feroudj, should be used as the main brand. The initials HF were stylized and turned 90 degrees, resembling the Japanese/Chinese character 生 – meaning life, genuine, raw (which, being in Japan, most people actually understand, haha).
Complete name was included for the main purpose of indicating the orientation the card should be held by the viewer.
The signature was added to instill a personal and handmade feeling, both qualities I stand for and try to represent in my work.
Backside of the card was kept simple and includes the Japanese phonetic name, so people actually know how to pronounce it.
Two versions were made, the one here showing twitter and facebook social media information, and another one that shows my address (not shown).
Versions and flexibility
The black-heavy logo offers good possibilities to be used in all kinds of modifications, e.g. as a mask for my photographs and similar, depending on context.