Following text and photographs by Ieva Jansone.
Morgen schneit es (tomorrow it will snow) is a project with a longer background-story.
If I chose it as the subject of my submission for “Camera Obscura” it’s because it is quite representative for my work in general and because I’m currently working on it (again).
Parts of this photo-story have been already included in a solo-show in Augsburg last autumn and in January 2010 it was featured in the Australian online photo-magazin UYW (issue 3); As I already wrote in the synopsis of the latter – it could be described as “film-stills without a film”.
It all started spontaneously last September – with the picture of a woman standing with her back to the camera, head slightly bent down. This picture was not new (I shot it 2004), but I discovered it anew and it didn’t let me go. Suddenly the process was kicked off, in a couple of days I had gathered a certain selection of pictures from my photographic archive and organized them in a kind of “storyboard”. The motives dealt with autumn, evening, dusk, flog, enclosure, longing, motion, departing, leaving, going away, some latent aggression or even death…
As to the persons – it came to 4 leading characters – The Woman, The Man, The Child and The Other (these are working titles but so far I still stick to them).
All the pictures are from different years, different locations, situations, but suddenly they seemed to fit together, thus creating something new, some kind of a blurred, film-like story.
I started to organize them and at times it felt as if the story was about to reveal itself, the characters were about to “tell” me how the storyline goes (I’ve heard of similar experience from some novelists). During this process I printed the pictures in thumbnail size and glued them into my notebook, and wrote down some notes next to them – my “directing suggestions”.
The title tomorrow it will snow refers to the time of the year which in our climate region is represented by trees stripping off their leaves and the sky becoming “higher” and the air – crisp and clear. I’ve always loved autumn for these ascetic qualities. This time of the year, in particular shortly before it starts to snow is magical. The processes in the nature and the altered light influence my thinking too. Autumn, not far from winter is inviting to contemplation, finding back to my “inner centre” (“innere mitte” – I love this German idiom!). At the same time autumn may wake longings, urge for going far away. “Fernweh” – another great German word, quite impossible to translate in any other language I know. More great words, which help to understand this special state of soul that I associate with tomorrow it will snow are – “toská” in Russian or “sodade” in Kreol Portuguese.
I came to photography through cinematography, when I studied at the European Film College in Denmark. I still feel a very strong inner connection to film and I think it rubs off on my photography, too.
For example, image-sequences like these:
Or this: looking into the eyes of The Other and then “zooming in” to his wet hair..
The choice of the subsequent two pictures is more “photographic”: the images connect to each other primarily for formal reasons, taking on the vertical lines (hair – – reflections of the trees in the ditch – – hanging clothes). At the same time, of course, the image sequences never are built together only based on formal speculations.
Another “cinematographic” sequence could be this: a glass of water on the bathroom sink –- looking on one’s self in the mirror –- then images of a staircase –- harbor workers ready to doc a ship.
In three of the five images the view from above predominates, which – combined with the blurred stairwell – suggests motion: possibly in the next moment the woman in the mirror will run down the stairs and get on the ship. Or – she imagines/remembers doing so).
The so-called “narrative photography” is something I felt at home with already from the very beginnings of my photographic practice, and even earlier: long before possessing a camera, as a teenager, I used to create photographic sequences (“stories”) putting together photographs cut out from newspapers and magazines. Later I went on using my own photographs.
Apart from some projects, which were limited in time or/and photographed following a certain theme (such as: refugee milk, closed and secret, paradise is…, the oracle of the streets), I’ve been working so far mostly creating new cycles and sequences from the already existing image-archive of mine, combining newly taken photographs with the older ones. As a consequence it is very much possible that the same picture becomes part of different photographic works.
For example, a sequence called one of these mornings (2006) is completely incorporated in tomorrow it will snow – it is the character of The Other, the alleys and the ditch with the geometric reflections in it. And the title picture of this project (the woman’s nape) as well as many of the rural motives are taken from a cycle called garden (2003/09).
I think I would be incapable of writing a “real” scenario – a storyline/plot – as for a conventional film. My photographic storytelling is very associative, metaphoric. It’s always something in the mood of the pictures, apart from the formal qualities, which make them fit together. Possibly the most of the story “happens” between the pictures and – in the head of the viewer.
Laurent Lambert (a NY-based artist) once described my work as follows:
Your pictures have a very intimate quality, it’s almost as if I can touch, smell, connect to the subject matter but there is a very tiny distance at the same time, like a drop of melancholy or a sense that maybe it’s a dream … It’s very real and a little unreal at the same time.
Actually tomorrow it will snow will be exhibited in Berlin in a couple of weeks, this time in co-operation with Indre Zetzsche who wrote 9 poetic chapters, inspired by the pictures. The text will be printed on long vertical sheets of paper, which will nine times cross the horizontal row of the photographs.
This is the first time I’m taking part in such a collaboration, and it is really exiting to figure out in which spaces the text should cross the picture-flow, to see how it interacts with the photographs and how it changes the final choice and final succession of the motives.
Unfortunately the text is not yet available in English. But I can tell – it is really fascinating how these two media (photography and language) work together. The text does not “explain” the photography, nor does the photography illustrate the text – the latter being itself very “visually” loaded (the man biking home in winter, his frozen hands being glowing red; he is thinking where he could have forgotten his gloves; the woman feels the urge to break out, be wild, her longing is so strong… instead she keeps on brushing her teeth with the electric tooth-brush, and so on).
The online version of this co-operation is accessible under morgen schneit es.