Tales Without Borders
November 26 – December 15, 2015
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Originally from Vienna, Austria, Krystina lives in London (UK). She holds a degree in Fine Art, has worked in independent film, development education, and urban regeneration; since 2007 her focus has been solely on photography. She exhibits regularly, her works have been published in various magazines internationally, in print and on-line. Some of her limited edition prints are in private collections in the US, UK, Australia and various countries in Europe.
If, as it is argued, each photograph contains several images, then each photograph harbours several stories. Never linear, these stories may be mundane, surreal or even contradictory. They are however always illusory. Put any one, two or three photographs side-by-side at random and each viewer may weave different narratives from them. For the photographs themselves do not tell stories. They are merely riddles, “factual enigmas” as David Campany argues in his blog. They offer catalysts for tales yet unborn, tales that are boundless.
There is a paradox at the heart of photography; whether analog or digital, it is uniquely able to simultaneously represent and transform ‘the real’. At a time of rigid fences and borders, I seek refuge in the fact that as a photographer I can be Alice looking through a glass, asking questions, digging beneath appearances, looking again, aghast and in wonder.
Text and photography by Krystina Stimakovits.
Krystina Stimakovits: Tales Without Borders
One may wonder why a collection of images, none of which contains a single human figure, is referred to as ‘tales.’ And then it is yet another question what makes these tales without people borderless. These questions point toward some of the several layers of meaning we need to uncover when looking at and appreciating Krystina Stimakovits’ work.
Even though there are, indeed, no people in the photographs, all of them show traces of human activity; people constructing, amending or even having abandoned their physical environment have clearly left their mark. The images show us what places and objects look like once the people who had brought them into being withdrew from them for shorter or longer periods of time. The places and objects observed and recorded in the photos tell us tales about attitudes ranging from care and attachment to utter neglect, and in turn, suggest tales about the people having these attitudes. They also tell us these stories in a way that each specific image is open to numerous interpretations; a number of tales may be constructed when trying to understand the series of events that had led up to the very moment when the photograph was taken. We might also imagine various possible future sequels to these stories. The tales, in that sense, are in the eye of the beholder. In other words, the places depicted in the photographs are without borders temporally as well.
Fabulating tales implicit in these images requires that we pay close attention to the details of the photographs. Having a strong impression of overall compositional unity, however, does not depend on whether we can see footprints, ladders or almost unidentifiable pieces of various manmade objects in the images. Varied as they are in their figurative details, the photographs in the series all have an abstract quality to them, too; appreciating their formal structure does not rely on recognizing the particular objects they depict. The tales are not only without borders but they are also told with the help of graceful photographic compositions.
Image No. 6 relies on the elusive architectural properties of a building. The straight lines are softened by pastel coloured blurry reflections. As a result, the image lacks sharpness in spite of its geometrical composition. The definite rigour of the tetragons in image No. 13 may dominate the picture if it were not for the whirling dance of the footprints that transform the static photograph into a dynamic swirl. The graphic pattern on the surface of the glass in No. 24 shares the image area with the blurry reflection of the house. The two layers interact with diverging colours, tones, lines and forms, creating sharp visual tension and soothing harmony in the same photographic space.