In the heart of any successful story lies man, man as a sentient being, der Mensch as in German or manushya as in Sanskrit; the great doer and the chronicler, an observer as well as the observed. He picks up his instruments of creativity, a pen, a brush, a camera, facial or bodily expressions, voice and so on. He becomes a narrator. He keeps registering events or things that stir his passions through means that he chooses for himself. He weaves himself in his story just as much as he describes his outer world in his narrative. In fact, he becomes his story. The audience too does not remain isolated from the premises of his storytelling but becomes a part of it. In that respect, Giovanni Savino is at once a protagonist, an author and a critic of the many tales that he endeavours to narrate each day. After all, these are nothing but mini episodes of his great life’s show, the core of his creative self. Camera in hand he observes each moment as a precious uncut diamond waiting to be given shape and context to let it shimmer in exhilaration. The weather–beaten traveller that he is Giovanni knows the how a man’s freedom and restriction both lie in these four letters, Time. The acute awareness of it driven him from his birthplace the Tuscan landscape to Dominican Republic and now New York with many stops in between. The consciousness of the same also motivated him to extract the maximum out of his own self, day in and day out, testimonies of which galore on the pages of his illustrious albums and now in this thoughtful interview.
The fact that a city so readily divulges her secrets to Viviana Peretti, or more aptly to her camera lenses, does not come as a big surprise. Viviana spent much of her childhood and teens in a small town close to Rome, greater part of a decade in bustling Bogotá, Colombia, briefly spent time in beautiful Marseille, France while firmly anchoring herself in the global village of New York. In true sense, as in life so through her art, Viviana has treaded from serenity to pandemonium before being back to orderliness. The artist is also an anthropologist who graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Rome in 1997. Viviana is fluent in multiple languages besides being proficient with the language of images. Nine years spent in Colombia have provided her with the necessary impetus to document lives of people around her as viewed from her own unique perspective. In 2010, she duly earned a degree in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism from the International Center of Photography in New York.
Unlike many other photographers of her generation Viviana Peretti finds herself equally adept in using analogue, digital cameras or even iPhone for the purpose of storytelling. These are only instruments for her to be used in accordance to the objective of the visual narratives akin to a painter’s choice of medium or different types of brushes. She also loves the freedom of selecting the subject of her photographic essays for herself, so much so, that often for her personal projects she captures the imagery for a particular series first and then pitches it to media for publication. It is undoubtedly an extremely risky venture, something that many would dare not attempt. But she hardly believes in a set formula for success. Viviana received numerous fellowships and awards including the Sony World Photography Award earlier this year. She keeps herself devoted in honing her skills as her reputation increases by the day and her photographs are featured in many esteemed newspaper and periodicals across the globe. She is determined to give every flying minute something to keep in store.
Ron van Dongen is up to capturing earth’s laughter in flowers. And in the process he continues to create photographic pieces that transcend the ephemeral nature of time. To be fair to him, it is not only the floral essays that he keeps himself busy penning. But, his portrayals of human form and even canine species are equally impactful. Largely monochromatic, his work embraces the subtleties of nature and features them meticulously on photographic canvas.
Ron van Dongen spent time across various time zones during different phases of his life. He was born in Judibana, Venezuela, 1961. He spent his early childhood in Warmond, The Netherlands. Perhaps, it is self-explanatory from where his intimacy with the floral world originated. Ron completed studies from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. Ron van Dongen can truly say, ‘I know that if odour were visible as colour is, I’d see the summer garden aureoled in rainbow clouds.’
Billy Dodson is sitting inside a dry and shallow trough. His eyes are fixed far into the horizon. He has been told that a herd of elephant is on its way to the nearest waterbody. Like a skilled marksman he too is ready with all his arms and ammunition, his camera with an optimal setting. The excitement starts building up in him with every passing minute. But his many journeys into the wilderness have taught him the value of patience. He knows it may take several hours. It could also be a possibility that the herd changes its track and could not even come anywhere near the area where he is waiting to photograph them, in which case it the whole endeavour may turn out to be fruitless. But he takes heart in knowing that Africa has never been a source of disappointment for him. He simply needs to find more ways in exploring the treasures tucked in every nook and corner of the continent.
It is a trip to Tanzania in 2001 that influenced Billy’s course of life in many ways. Not only he visited and revisited the continent many times since to fulfill his passion for photography but also to collaborate actively with many institutions striving to preserve the wealth of African fauna. He is a patron of Giraffe Conservation Foundation. He also regularly donates images both for spreading awareness about the cause and also to help in raising funds for African Wildlife Foundation, the Nature Conservancy and other conservation initiatives. That his art has found a greater purpose beyond being a source of a positive delight for the audience is perhaps his greatest achievement.
If ‘thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel’ Michael Kahn surely caught the wind and set forth his sail to explore, dream and discover the ebb and flows of life. In the contrast of light and darkness do the protagonists of his play reveal their characters, frozen in time; the boats, the marine scenery soaking in the light and sometimes the dearth of it, all become unified in a grand scheme of things. And this masterful story-teller from Southern Pennsylvania continues on his journey for the next sparkle on the wave, however far from shore may it be.