The Price of Freedom a review
THE PRICE OF FREEDOM – Series Category by Luciano Vranich
THE PRICE OF FREEDOM
This essay is a personal reflection on the state of refugees on the Australian government’s attitude to refugees called “boat people”.
Freedom is an aspiration to be free from oppression, free from hunger, free from persecution, free to desire a better life.
To achieve the dream to be free one has to escape the nightmare of oppression, the nightmare of hunger, the nightmare of torture, the nightmare of genocide.
The nightmare continues while the political wolves snare at you with malevolent eyes. You are not a human being, you are just a statistic.
There is no soul in a statistic, there is no soul in numbers and there is no soul where there is no human contact.
Look me in the eye and see my humanity, look at my clothes and see the want of being poor.
If only you could walk with me and share my despair, if only you would offer me a drink of water to assuage my thirst, then I would know you knew me as a human being.
SOUTH PENRITH, Australia
Hello Luciano. I chose your investigative portfolio series, “THE PRICE OF FREEDOM” for review because it’s visually interesting and conceptually powerful! Looking through the portfolio I feel like this is very much a cohesive series – visually and conceptually a creative, thoughtful study of situations that refugees have to endure when coming to Australia. You say that, “This essay is a personal reflection on the state of refugees on the Australian government’s attitude to refugees called “boat people”. Freedom is an aspiration to be free from oppression, free from hunger, free from persecution, free to desire a better life. To achieve the dream to be free one has to escape the nightmare of oppression, the nightmare of hunger, the nightmare of torture, the nightmare of genocide.” It’s tragic that anyone is forced to leave their homeland, not knowing if they will be met with violence, where their children will sleep or when they will get their next meal. This is, sadly, a very important issue all over the world right now.
You go on to say that, “The nightmare continues while the political wolves snare at you with malevolent eyes. You are not a human being, you are just a statistic. There is no soul in a statistic, there is no soul in numbers and there is no soul where there is no human contact. Look me in the eye and see my humanity, look at my clothes and see the want of being poor. If only you could walk with me and share my despair, if only you would offer me a drink of water to assuage my thirst, then I would know you knew me as a human being.” It’s wonderful that you have taken up this cause, to bring to viewers the reality of the situation! These intimate images bring to light some of the refugee people’s struggles and you ask viewers to look closely, to investigate the ghosts that dwell here. The people, mostly absent from the photos, can’t help but hear the echoes of the past when most all of our ancestors arrived on foreign shores to make a new life.
The photos express feelings of alienation, loneliness, sadness and uncertainty. This thoughtful visual study brings to light some of your own feelings about what it is like for people in this place and your own experiences when making the photos. I think your statement expresses a sense of genuine interest and compassion around the arrival of refugees. This subject matter is clearly important to you.
I have taken some time to study your photos, looking for visual clues that communicate ideas that relate to your statement. When I see the photos they seem documentary in nature, the way there appears to be intimate connections, or physical connections with the use of darkness, light, and moody atmospheres. Your photos challenge the viewer’s perception and invite them into the bleak world you have highlighted and captured. The result is a collection of creative images that express the mindfulness that you brought to their conception and creation. I feel like the photos are very emotionally dark, with an artistic approach in their contrast, tonality and drama in their lighting.
Another aspect of the images is that they seem to communicate a sense of solitude and alienation. There is an inherent sense of isolation in the photos, which is emphasized by the starkness, the sense of emptiness, and many barriers that you capture. For example, I see strong threads of expressed isolation and abandonment that can be seen through all the photos in the portfolio, like photos 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7. The images, to me, seem authentic and the fact that there are few people in the photos makes the photos even more haunting. It is as though the images serve to capture moments when all hope is lost and all sense community has been abandoned. Also, every one of the photos seems to capture an intimate experience within a larger story of the people who struggle to make a new life.
An interesting quality of your work is how it crosses the lines between documentary, art, and storytelling. Your images strike me as also illustrating a lot of ideas having to do with issues of identity, the entire human experience (from birth to death) and the expression of that experience. I see the photos as alluring stories of the human experience, as communicated by these abstract, cautionary spaces. For example, in photo 1 I see ideas around loneliness and identity as a solitary person stands at the transition between light and darkness. The subject, a ghostly figure, looks out upon a cemetery as two “catholic” arrows point to the right and to the left.
Many of the photos are composites that seem to be metaphors that speak about a physical, emotional, and psychological journey that many viewers can relate to. They are contemplative, thoughtful, and intimate references to loss of hope.
The photos are documentary in style in that they present an objective view of what is happening. The dramatic light, expressiveness, and earthy tonality in the photos add a sense of institutional environments and emotional depth. Together, the lights, shadows, and rich colors (especially red) serve to elicit dramatic emotional responses in the viewers. For me, the images are powerful in a group, but they are also beautiful as individual photos.
One of the things that speaks to your viewers, throughout your portfolio, is the way that design and composition become primary subjects within the frame. For example, all your images are visually dynamic and could also be viewed in terms of photographic design. Your layering, cropping, and positioning of subjects in the compositions are very purposeful. The position of the subjects in the frame creates tension with the objects in their proximity. And within the design the subjects are performing roles – a man looks at his cell phone, a shadowy figure looks through a doorway, and an elderly man looks at words imprinted on granite. It is clear the places captured in the photos are very important characters in your own life story!
In your compositions you isolate the subjects within their surroundings places importance on the photographic frame. Without those boundary elements the composition could not be contained or defined. Part of the magic of these images is what you have chosen to include in the frame and all the elements in the surrounding environment you deliberately leave out. Everything in the design of these images seems deliberate.
These photos are certainly compelling. The images are full of history, mystery and expressive emotions! As far as exhibiting, don’t feel like you need to be married to the photography world. My advice is that you enter juried art exhibitions and/or show your work within art communities. I think that your images would do well in an “art” environment. Your photos are very classical, yet cross a lot of boundaries, which is highly encouraged in the art world. I suggest you keep an eye on www.callforentry.org for themed calls for artists.
I don’t know how you would present these photos in a gallery, but I can imagine these photos printed very large, to inspire feelings of awe by creating a sense of scale for the viewer. Large-scale presentation could prompt the viewer to feel small when confronted by the ideas of standing in front of these abstract, magical photos. Viewers would feel confronted with the feeling of unexpected perspectives and important stories.
A second observation/suggestion also has to do with presentation. I suggest that the photos would be interesting in a book. I think your ideas and stories (I bet you have lots of stories), combined with the photos will make a more cohesive presentation. Also with a book, the viewer can hold the images, making the interaction more personal. You may have already published these photos, but if not, I believe they are destined to be printed on the page.
You ask, “How do the images stack up against the artist statement and how does the set stand up to a value in society generally.” I think the statement is a really good introduction to the photos, giving the viewer an idea about your inspiration for the images. It helps viewers make a connection with you and the work.
Your photographs are full of intimate and powerful perspectives! I would strongly encourage you to keep pursuing your ideas and your exploration of this place. Also, I suggest you continue to look at lots of portfolios and really challenge yourself to continue doing something unique, that will inspire you. I don’t know if you have seen the work of Josef Koudelka, but his work may interest you. His style is very different, but he covered a lot of human suffering that is at the foundation of your work. Keep digging into this story and bring everything you discover to your viewers. I very much enjoyed looking at your photos and I appreciate the way your images are masterfully considered and carefully designed. I hope this review is helpful and I look forward to seeing what you will do next!