Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Varanasi, holy city for photographers (Part 2)

Unique, impossible to imitate, Varanasi is timeless. Out of the world, the city seems to have stopped at another age. Many photographers have managed to capture its universality.
Michael Ackerman
One of the best photographic interpretations of Varanasi has to be End time city the book by Michael Ackerman (American photographer member of the Vu agency). In this fantastic book Michael Ackerman gives a deeply personal vision of Varanasi. His extreme black and white images depict a ghost city at the limit of reality. Very contrasted, blurred, intriguing, uncomfortable and oppressing, his photographs are the perfect representation of emotions one can feel when walking through the narrow streets and the dirty overwhelming ghats. His unique style also questions the principles of photography and its capacity to show or to transcend reality. Far from conventional images Ackermann plays with lights, movement shapes and formats to offer an emotionally strong testimony. He knows how to challenge our blasé vision of the world and play with our feelings and imagination.
 More on Michael Ackerman: www.agencevu.com
François Fontaine
“The moon and the sun are your eyes,
I see you as such, the face shining with fire,
Your brightness illuminates the world”
(Bhagavas Gîtâ, verse 11.19)
The holy hour is a series of photographs taken in 2010 by the French photographer Francois Fontaine (represented by Vu agency). Again no one could say if these images were taken yesterday or 50 years ago. Their universality and timelessness shake our representation of Hinduism as we follow the pilgrims through their quest for God or for eternity. While with Michael Ackerman we felt lost in a dark threatening place, here we immerse in a soft poetic dream. Taken between dawn and twilight, Francois Fontaines photographs focus on gestures and attitudes, depicting fervent believers as shadows inhabiting the place. Nothing is clear, every one is depersonalized, everything is suggested, leaving it to our own imagination to recreate the story. With touches of color and lights each photograph seems like an impressionist or abstract painting where the souls of the person or the divine breath illuminate the mystical night.
 More on Francois Fontaine: www.agencevu.com

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