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.
We would never know if the famous Rascal Flatts song Life is a Highway was in the back of the subconscious mind of Joe Simpson, the gifted artist from England, when he created Across America. For the paintings, often consisting fleeting images of a vast country, evoke a feeling of Life’s like a road that you travel on / When there’s one day here and the next day gone / Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand / Sometimes you turn your back to the wind. If noticed closely the sketches, monochromatic and denuded from any distraction, feel even more intimate. As if you may find your own home or the corner of a street of your neighbourhood staring back at you from the frames!
Joe Simpson is one of those artists whose faith is firmly rooted in realism. He uses facets from everyday lives to weave his story on canvas. So common men and women with their hopes and aspirations, love and affections, despondencies and rejections become loci of his narratives. In that respect his work is a golden link between him and the masters of Dutch Golden Age who brought genre paintings into the centre of attention. Appropriate to the age the backdrop changes as much as does the characters. The rustic folks busy in merrymaking or a lonely girl working at a corner of a room are replaced by men and women jostling with each other in an urban setting or a forlorn figure intently reading a letter with a smirk on the face. And at times objects like telegraph poles and pylons set up against the wide blue yonder are personified to communicate their own story.
Born in 1984, Lancaster, England, Joe Simpson acquired critical acclaim showcasing his work in a number of galleries in United Kingdom and beyond. Not only did he manage to excel in a relatively short period of time but also exhibited his entrepreneurial and organisational skills. His series Almost There and Musician Portraits required considerable efforts from his part to make the collaboration between him and some of the busiest musicians of this day as smooth as possible. To provide for Across America he depended on crowd funding and returned the favours of the contributors by sending them his paintings. His favourite artist Edward Hopper asserted, The inner life of a human being is a vast and varied realm. Let us then try to peep into the heart and mind of this young painter.
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.
For over a decade now Matilde Gattoni’s camera lens is faithfully capturing myriad facets of life as experienced in India or Eritrea, Uzbekistan or Iran, Syria or Somalia. Born in 1974, Matilde Gattoni studied History in Universite’ des Sciences Humaines, Strasbourg, France, before giving in to her passion for photography. Ironically, as she now treads the different parts of the world camera in hand she lets her own visual essays to be a part of mankind’s history.
Matilde’s career as a photojournalist commenced when she was travelling in Israel and ended up covering the second Intifada early last decade. In the process she received much acclaim not only from her fellow photographers but also from aficionados of the art. Since 2007, her name was a permanent feature in more than one International Photography Awards (IPA). For her project Drought and Fear in the Horn of Africa she received bronze medal in Px3 Prix de la Photographie in 2012. Her visual portrayal, The Swallows of Syria, earned her 3rd place in Portfolio Lens Culture International Exposure Awards, 2012. Matilde was also associated in the making of Uzbekistan, 10 years after independence, Tranchida Editore, Milan, 2002 with renowned journalist Ahmed Rashid. A similar endeavour with Cartiere del Garda produced A better time in 2008.
Whether, it is in The Swallows of Syria or in The Devil in Me, the plight of women feature prominently in many of Matilde Gattoni’s visual narratives. Similarly, their victories also receive due attention as could be seen through her photographic essay on Elham Al Qasim, the first woman from UAE to reach North Pole. Over a period of time she also diversified and set out exploring a wide range of topics from architectural marvels, posh interiors to high octane sports like Formula One but always with a humane touch. Read the full interview with Matilde Gattoni to learn more about her and her work as she is busy in ‘catching’ the ‘transient hour’.
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.’