05 August 2006


This afternoon I came across the most recent issue of Private: International Review of Black & White Photographs & Texts. This is an Italian journal that has been publishing since 1992. The issue I found is #33, Summer 2006, EASTEUROPE. It contains a lot of terrific work by 16 photographers accompanied by some very brief comments by the editors and photographers as well as by short selections of verse (presented bi-lingually Italian/English). You can preview a miniture version of the current issue and also access their archives at the journal webpage.

The photographers are individuals with whose work I am entirely unfamliar. They are (mostly) European and mostly from countries of the former Soviet-bloc: Alain Keler, Andras Fekete, Andrea Hoyer, Franco Zecchin, George Georgiou, Hana Jakrlova, Imre Benkö, Ireneusz Zjezdzalka, Jason Eskenazi, Klavdij Sluban, Lenke Szilágyi, Marco Pighin, Ron Sluik,Vanessa Winship,Vladimir Markovic.

The verse selections are for a variety of "appropriate" writers: Joseph Brodsky, Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Boris Pasternak, and several others with whom I am unfamiliar. In each instance the verses compliment the photographic work in interesting, provocative ways.

It seems like the editors are trying to overcome the unfortunate aversion to text that plagues nearly all displays of photography. It is not that we always need words to "explain" pictures, but that the words and the images might well work in tandem to good effect and so prompt us to think and imagine in useful, creative ways. That, I think, makes this an extremely interesting venture - assuming, of course, that this is also what the editors have done in earlier issues.

The substantive focus of the images ranges across Moldova, Kosovo, Chechnya, Poland, Hngary, Russia, Albania, Serbia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan (obviously exploring, thereby, what bounds we might place on our conceptions of "Europe"). In this way too I think the journal is extremely interesting.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I looked at the journal web site and enjoyed the images. The text of the verses is had to see though, unfortunately. There are numerous striking photographs, I liked the Eastern Winds series among others. One thing that fascinates me, why is the journal titled "Private" do you suppose?

06 August, 2006 08:03  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

I had the same question myself. And I have no idea really. Perhaps hte opening introduciton in the first issues provides a clue. But I have not seen that one - and as you note the "miniature" issues in the archives really are tiny.

The "Eastern Winds" images are of Kosovo and Chechnya. They are by Alain Keler. The verse that accompanies them is by Anna Akhmatove:


No, not me, someone else is suffering.
I could not be this way; but black cloths mantled
and lanterns took away
what had happened . . .

You can find a different translation of the entire poem on line here: http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/akhmatova/akhmatova_ind.html

06 August, 2006 14:24  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Here is the whole url:


06 August, 2006 14:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the link to the poetry - I think you chose some of the best lines here. I have not had time to read the poems properly and do them justice, but a few I read where pretty powerful, "In Human Closeness" and "Music". On the whole they seem very "real" and very sad, but not entirely without hope. I think the depth of emotion on the faces of the women in one of the photographs and the piano player in the barren landscape were what drew me to the images so the poetry seems a great compliment. - I was not familiar with this poet or site - thanks again.

06 August, 2006 22:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the poster above. There is something so achingly beautifuly about the sadness and emotion of these Eastern European images: Suffering personified. I feel that Eastern European art in general shares this sweet, sensual, melancholy atmosphere-the cinema of Tarkovsky and Bela Tarr, the words of Akhmatove, the music of Arvo Part! UGH! My heart belongs to the East.

07 August, 2006 00:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's Akhmatova, not Akhmatove :-)) For those who liked Akhmatova's poetry I'd recommend reading another great poetess of the Silver Age -- Marina Tsvetaeva. You can find some English translations here:

07 January, 2007 14:29  

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