about money and time

so many things to share. last night, as i was writing on my journal, i noticed i am facing myself with practical issues as well as “psychological” ones, and i don’t make it to understand and process them all at the same time. i’m a mess!

the practical issues concerning this project are basically two: money and the pre-production.

1. money
working analog in brazil – specially if you are out of sao paulo, which is my case – is expensive and difficult. one can’t find films to buy – i’m a fuji person but i had to switch to kodak, simply because i didn’t find any over here – and when one finds, it is hell expensive (+- 7 euro, 35 mm, 36, 400 ASA). plus: you have no good labs, with bad development and bad prints. i am sending my stuff to a laboratory in sao paulo, and the post fees will melt my money away. and then, since paying someone to scan my negatives just increases the costs, i am scanning everything myself (thanx, severo, for lending me your scanner), but the results are not the best. at all!

besides that, there are the travels’ costs. this week i am going to joao pessoa (123 km away from recife) and fortaleza (787 km away). so think about the flight tickets, food, transportation within the cities and accomodation… then i’m broke. fortunately some great friends bought some photos of mine, with no other intention than to help me hahaha and it saved me from bankruptcy while doing this homework.

2. pre-production
i am applying a HUGE amount of time searching for girls and approaching the possible characters. i receive and answer hundreds of emails per week, make hundreds of phone calls, set appointments, go to appointments, listen to the girls and invest money and time in coffees, taxis, bus tickets… and it hardly HARDLY almost never turn into photos.

now i am reconsidering my own working process. as i began, i decided the first dates would be without camera, so me and the person would just talk and get to know each other and just get used with the theme. but now i am seriously thinking that the first date will include also some photo-taking, because the second date almost never happens.

i see that these girls, after our first contact, might realize that this is not an easy subject to talk about and change their minds about being photographed. they simply disappear, without answering any of my emails or phone calls, and without telling me they changed their minds or anything.

after me reading and listening to their stories, getting involved and getting emotional along, and after trying to shake them up (which is not my duty, I KNOW, but i feel like doing it, since i have faced it and survived it myself), i can’t help but feel very frustrated to be left behind with no conclusion. maybe if i wouldn’t be so emotional while dealing with them, i wouldn’t feel like that. but that is a subject to another post, which i plan to write asap.

i am in brazil since more than 3 months and i have photographed only 5 girls – and considering i am leaving in 40 days, it is a very bad panorama…

but then again, how many people should i photograph? photographing just a few isn’t also a result? because it is a sign of something. but there is another thing: if i would WRITE an article about violence against women, i would have more than sufficient material (really, i have listened to more than 40 testimonials). but i decided to make a photography project, so i need PHOTOS and i really think 5 girls are not enough.

i’d be more than glad to listen to some opinions on whether i am being unpractical or not haha feel free to be rude at ivanova.ivanova@gmail.com

it’s ok to be a boy

one of the hardest things for me on the writing craft is creating titles. giving a text a little sentence that will describe it is a perverse task. the power of a title is unfair: a good one can atract people to shitty books and articles; a bad one repel readers from great pieces…

i was always ridiculously bad with giving my chronicles a name – it is a task i tried to leave to the editors. and i still feel the same way with entitleing a photo series. you see how creative i am: “grandma” for a series on my grandmother, “100 men” for 100 pictures of men, “berlin” for a series on berlin. WOW! hahaha

i am struggling with this same non-talent, for naming the school’s personal project.

but i found it, i think: “it’s ok to be a boy”.

i adore this sentence, it is so self-explained. it comes from a song i love (and great video as well) and the first verse is just brilliant. it particularly motivates me the fact that madonna was sexually abused – or raped, if you consider the new concepts on rape – when she was on her early twenties.

Girls can wear jeans
And cut their hair short
Wear shirts and boots
‘Cause it’s OK to be a boy
But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading

for sure i will change my mind 32984 times and will in the end pick up a very silly one.

where i come from #2

being sexual abused, being beaten, being raped, being sexual assaulted are not things we want everybody to know. i have no idea why (really, i don’t), but it is like that. the girls i’ve photographed wanted to share their stories, but they also wanted to have their identities preserved.

so as if it wasn’t challenging enough to find people willing to be photographed, i must also find ways of telling this story without faces. in other words: all i have learned about portraiture is now useless.

on the beginning of my trip a friend of mine tried to calm me down: “don’t worry about how you’ll photograph them, everything will be said by the look in their eyes”. but what eyes, since i can’t show faces?! i have to find a way to capture a state of mind.

and how the hell does one makes it?

the first time i thought about it was with joao castilho, whose work i adore. he gave a lecture on last year’s paraty in foco (i was still working mainly as a writer and wrote something about it – only in portuguese, sorry) about his works. he said he used to ask himself how could he catch the fear and the disappointment on a community, who was about to be drowned by a new hydroelectric (or something similar that needs water). he said just taking portraits would be pointless. but he and his colleagues found a way out and the result is the beautiful paisagem submersa.

and me? how do i catch that, that state of mind? i have no idea.

some days ago i was watching this interview with marguerite duras and i was amazed as she said that her l’amant was first to be called “the absolute photography”. and she explains that this ‘absolute photography’ didn’t exist: it was the very moment in which she saw the lover for the first time. i believe this “concept” is much more than bresson’s decisive moment, because the decisive moment relies on its recording. this “absolute photography” is rather something independent from the register, it already exists.

this brilliant description of her own writing made me look for my old copy of l’amant. i was really interested in this synesthetic way of describing her writing – i mean, she was trying to write a picture, i am trying to photograph a state of mind…

so i found the book on my mother’s office. i have read it in 2002, when i was in love with a green-eyed bass player, ages younger than me. having in mind this synesthetic way of thinking from duras, i tried to find some guidance, some advice. i found nothing, though hahahah

the funny thing, however, was looking at the things i underlined back then. i captured my state of mind not by my own diary, but from these traces, these underscored sentences:

and specially this phrase really got my eye, since it describes a lot what a person who’s been through sexual violence feels: “we are together on the shame of being forced to keep living”.

then another smart french woman came through my mind, as i was diving through duras’ waters: simone weil. on her gravity and grace, there is chapter called “self-effacement” in which she says “to see a landscape as it is when i am not there”. wouldn’t that be also absolute photography? be able to capture something even if we don’t see it? the landscape, here, could be my girls’ eyes…

but anyways……. i have no idea what’s my goal by writing all that bullshit on a saturday night. i think it only means i am 28 and my social life is a joke. i should be on a bar, shouldn’t i?

very personal project

as you don’t know – since i never really explained it here – i am currently in myhometown in brazil, working on the personal project for this school year. i decided i would “talk” about violence against women.

my wish was actually to start in sweden, but for practical reasons i was forced to come to brazil. so i decided to use this special time here (#kidding) to investigate this subject in my hometown, recife – and, as i predicted, the panorama is very “rich”.

i arrived late in april and started asking my girlfriends whether they knew someone who has been through violence, or if they themselves have been through it. and for my gigantic suprise, almost all of them (despite for 2 or 3) knew someone or have faced it. the thing was: i never knew it, because we simply don’t talk about it. and they obviously never knew that i was also part of the statistics, because i never talked about it as well.

so, then, i have found my subject matter: middle or upper class girls, highly educated, preferably white. and why is that? because i wanted to skip the profile of “women at risk” – which means, at least in brazil, poor, black and poorly educated women. that was the reason why i preferred to find characters among my friends, and not through NGOs (because NGOs work basically with that type of profile).

since then, i have photographed 5 girls, who have faced sexual and/or physical and/or psychological violence. so far, they are between 20 and 35 years old. i photographed them in recife and sao paulo and i will soon travel up north (to cities like natal and fortaleza), to photograph another girls. all of them have been abused by people they knew and trusted. all of them live in nice neighboorhoods, went to private schools, attended university, speak more than one language and have visited other countries or studied abroad.

my goal is help to erase the concept of “women at risk”. every girl is at risk for being a girl, and social class plays no role on the safety of women. and, at least in brazil, it doesn’t matter how educated you are. the aggressor is usually as educated or even better educated than the victim. it is not about level of education. it is about something else (and not just macho culture, that is kinda obvious, right?), which i still haven’t understood.

where i come from

i should actually be sleeping but oh, boy, i’m thinking. i was actually reading, trying to get some sleep but it made it worse.

i ran into two quotations from mikhail bakhtin and they appear in the end of “demons” (dostoievski, 1872), which i finished 2 days ago and now i am reading the translator’s notes. mr. paulo bezerra cites bakhtin to describe the tone and technique used by dostoievski in this romance – he uses the first person as the voice for his narrator, because he had very histerical and personal motivations to write this story; he couldn’t help himself but get involved, get engaged – and then speak in first person.

and, about that, mr. bezerra says: “this eagerness for representing the facts, giving the awe and the anger with which Dostoyevsky received them, could lead to loss of critical perspective.”

and the reason why i am talking this bullshit is because i am dealing with the same aesthetic dilemma: trying not to get involved with the story i am trying to tell, so i won’t screw the very story. but it is so hard, SO HARD. how can i not get angry, not get involved? how can i keep cool so i won’t lose my critical perspective?

then later on his text, mr. bezerra talks about bakhtin, whose concepts on authorship are very interesting (totally unhelpfull for me on the daily photographic craft, since i am very distracted, but still, beautiful). so: there is the “primary author”, which is the real figure, who creates the work but remains out of it; and there is the “secondary author”, which is the one who integrates the work and from within it, is responsible for its narrative’s construction. wow!

i fell i am kinda like a feminist secondary author with insomnia.

i will go back to my reading. i hope on the next days i find a path and a balance to this inabillity of being unparteiisch, because i am photographing girls whose stories don’t reflect and remind only of my own – that i have to keep in mind and be careful. but yeah, it is hard…

today, no pictures. cat power says it better.

for two things i adore

i am late on updating this here… two weeks ago, aurora magazine published a video that i did for their love issue. the video mixes moving images from armin and berlin, plus pictures taken in the city during autumn and spring. the soundtrack was created after pieces of my favourite song ever, “wild horses”, from the rolling stones (actually, using the therm “created” is very arrogant, since i am no sound editor).

on the same issue, you can check the impressions on love of some other artists (including my dearests, from rodrigo braga and cia de foto).

berlin + continente magazine

my dear friend schneider carpeggiani went to the berlin on february, to write an article about it, to a brazilian magazine named continente. he wanted to write about the clichés surrounding the city and picked pankow as the appropriate neighbourhood to be shown in the article – no tourists seem to go there, but he had also other reasons, way too  neurotic to be quoted!

schneider wrote a realismo mágico-kind of article, about the city itself, but also about his emotional impressions of it – and impressions, as we all know, are always doubtful…

he invited me to go to berlin and take some pictures of the city – and i suggested him, we should go until ruhleben, the other end from u2’s line. and so we did. he also used some archive photos.

the article and the pictures can be seen on this month’s issue of the magazine. some shitty scans below:


gone wrong

i wanna talk about one issue i have been confronting myself with a lot: what makes a photo a photo.

i knooow it is a ridiculous question. it was motivated by looking at my recent negatives, paying attention on that first frame, which we never make consciously (you know the process: after loading the camera you press the button 3 times, so you won’t click on already exposed film). the labs where i took my negatives to be developed and scanned, never scanned it. and the images are simply beautiful. why don’t they consider these images?! why did I never consider them? aren’t they photos?

and then i was brought to questions of authorship: are these beautiful images mine? i didn’t take them, i was not looking at the viewfinder, i didn’t measure the light, i did nothing.

still, i am in love with them.



prenzlauer berg

prenzlauer berg

on authorship, i have something else to say: the great russian writer gogol had his themes suggested by puchkin. and it doesn’t mean at all gogol’s novels and short stories weren’t great. he mastered his craft. he was inspired and pushed by puchkin’s (haha) suggestions and created out of it. what makes me unquiet on these images is, therefore, the fact that they are result of chance – they are not my creation, as gogol’s novels were his’.

and there are more elements against me: the image owner is not the one who presses the button and our beloved cindy sherman is here to prove. but for loving my pictures made by chance, i just name myself a lucky author.

i will keep searching and scanning them.