Aki Inomata uses her art to amply depict the anxieties of her time. Series like Why Not Hand Over a “Shelter” to Hermit Crabs? is an unerring commentary on the synthetic to downright ludicrous aspects of modern civilisation. Questions are often raised loud and clear. Somewhat ironically though, these very aspects of her art tend to harmonise instead of polarising views. For in the heart of heart, Aki carries the precious age old sentiments of her land that believes in life, in its every form and expression, to be sacred and reverential. Despite the wide usage of modern technology such as 3d modelling and printing, her art remains very close to nature and intends to be an interpretation of it.
Born and brought up in Tokyo, Aki may have been enclosed in an eternally expanding urban landscape all her life, but she knows where her inspiration lies. After all, she has been busy worldwide in solo and group exhibitions ever since the completion of her MFA in Intermedia Art from University of Tokyo (2008). In the process she showcased her art installations in places such as Hamburg, Linz, Paris, New York, Shanghai and of course at home in Tokyo. Such cultural exchanges only helped to expand her views. Her latest Hermit Crab series named White Chapel is testimony to that.
On the question of a distinguishable existence of man in respect to other living beings, ancient philosopher Zhuang Zhou narrated his experience, Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamed I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awoke, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things. When in the maze of modern living our ways seem to be hopelessly lost, then in art do we find solace. Because in art remains discreet the answers of such painfully pertinent questions that we continue to bury deep within us till we lose that crucial perspective about our own existence.
Laura Barisonzi prefers capturing images of her subjects in natural surroundings instead of depending on the tried and tested ambience of the studios. The NYC photographer also likes showcasing people in action. Since she often works with sportspersons, fitness fanatics and dancers, particularly for her commercial assignments, this aspect of her visual narratives thrives on an added dimension. The photographs, exuding a youthful verve, appeal to the senses of the audience. However, as an artist she does not want any stereotypes. So every now and then, camera in hand, Laura embarks on a trip to gratify her inner creative. Her restless eyes keep searching for ‘stories’ in the obscure shades and corners of New York and beyond, before she finalises on the latest topic for her explorations.
In challenging herself Laura finds great satisfaction, for only by doing so she manages capturing such evocative images that otherwise would have been beyond her. Her dedication towards her craft also forces her to stay super–fit as she needs spending long hours under the sun. An outdoor–oriented person and admirer of many sporting activities, this aspect of her work too does not bother her unduly. Many years ago Paul Cézanne said, ‘Right now a moment is fleeting by! Capture its reality in paint! To do that we must put all else out of our minds. We must become that moment, make ourselves a sensitive recording plate. Give the image of what we actually see, forgetting everything that has been seen before our time.’ This holds true for the making of any visual representation, painting, sculpture or photography, for artists before and after Cézanne, including, such talents as Laura Barisonzi.
Connor Stefanison was born on May 31, 1991 in Burnaby, Canada. He was introduced to the world of photography while indulging his other passion, mountain biking. Since then Connor devoted ample time to better understand the nuances of the craft. And when, less than a year ago, he became the first Canadian to receive the prestigious Eric Hosking Portfolio Award, presented to him in London, he knew he is on the right track. The honour not only granted him instant international recognition but also provided him with motivation to broaden his horizon even further.
Being a student of Zoological Sciences, Connor Stefanison’s deeper understanding of the wildlife seems to positively affect his capability as a photographer. This in turn is reflected on the images captured by him of birds and other animals in their natural habitat, such as the baby American dippers screaming for food or a solitary Agalychnis callidryas peeping from behind two slender branches of a tree.
The scenic landscapes closer home or in other parts of North America do not escape Connor’s keen eyes either. Using his enthusiastic mind and roving camera lenses he keeps on registering the lavish flower bed in Mount Revelstoke National Park, the threadlike streams of Fern Falls or the frozen tunnel in Summer Melt on photographic plates — the ever changing grand canvas of nature fresh and fragrant at one point, eerie silent the next.
Legendary artist Paul Gauguin said, Nature has mysterious infinities and imaginative power. It is always varying the productions it offers to us. The artist himself is one of nature’s means. Even considering all his accomplishments Connor Stefanison’s career as a visual artist has only begun. It will be of infinite interest for all the aficionados of photography to follow his development as a visual storyteller closely and find out for themselves if he has done justice to his natural talent. Encouragingly for him, he will always find inexhaustible sources of inspiration in nature that will never fail him if he continues remaining truthful to it.
Robert van Koesveld’s passion of photography found able allies in his artist’s mind which in turn joined forces with his restless feet always in search of wonders in distant landscapes. Still it remained largely a hobby for him until recently and only received primary focus during his many sojourns. About four years ago, he took a break from his full time profession as a psychotherapist and educator. As usual he enjoyed his journey through different places and relished the opportunities of photographing the known and unknown facets of the land and the people living there. But this time he did not go back to his work, instead, he devoted time in exploring the world even more. To ensure the imagery what his mind absorbed is presented faithfully to the audience across the globe he started maintaining extensive visual diaries. While many locales unmasked themselves in front of the camera lenses of this photographer, Bhutan — a tiny nation nestled into the Himalayas, enthralled him most.
Illustrious sojourners or a common man, who keep an open mind during their trips to foreign land, have discovered for themselves the immensely nourishing experience of travelling on both mind and body. Yet, with each of our perspectives being unlike, even if slightly, the other person’s standing next to us, an image may uncover different versions of a story to each one of us. A reflection on a dewdrop hanging from the edge of a blade of green grass, a wildflower thriving on the roadside in defiance of the tramples she puts up with everyday of her existence or the octogenarian woman sitting beside an earthen oven and fanning the fire not essentially out of necessity but more of habit may evoke varied emotions in different person’s hearts. But irrespective of that shade of sensation, it will stir a creative mind enough to let it yearn for an expression. And for an artist it is vital to be truthful to his or her own vision. While erstwhile travellers like Marco Polo resorted to cartography to have the viewers retrace the places he visited, modern technology has given us camera for capturing tiny moments of this rapidly flowing time. And while people like Robert van Koesveld are striving to hold the glimmering gems in palm before their sparkles are lost forever in the annals of time, let us not dither any longer in retracing the steps of his photographic journey.
Jody MacDonald learned to appreciate remote landscapes and foreign cultures early in her life. A childhood spent in Saudi Arabia has been a big help in her effort of deciphering an exotic climate. So, now when she paraglides over a forgotten piece of land or holds a tête–à–tête with a little known soul in some remote corner of the globe she feels completely at home. The photographer traverses the land, delves deep into the water and darts into the cool gale for locating and capturing that elusive photographic moment that seems wonderfully ‘perfect’. But being the purist that she is, it is extremely difficult for her to be satisfied with her craft and she continues to hone her skills. In 2006, Jody, in order to satisfy her thirst of both art and adventure, conceived The Best Odyssey. She and her partner, Gavin McClurg, trot the whole world sailing, surfing or spearfishing on the Pacific and Indian Ocean. Needless to say, these wild expeditions make Jody blissfully happy. For Jody it could aptly be said that, ‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.’