Ivo Sekulovski went back to his home country, Macedonia, where he developed the concept for his latest photographic series. Influences come from a wide range of inspirations for this project. Scientific-inspired references like chemical instruments and anatomic illustrations are coupled with cryptic still lifes and representations of inner feelings.
Sekulovski has conceived the series as a visual story, where traditional rules of narrative are not followed in a consequent way, and where the viewer is allowed to freely move from one image to another one. The photographer explains what has influenced him, the creative process behind the project and what he wanted to represent through it.
How did the idea of this project come up to you and what is it about?
It all started when I went back to my country, to my hometown, for a holiday. I hadn’t seen my mom for a while and I noticed her body changed a lot, and also herself as a person had changed. It was not the same as I remember six years ago, before I moved abroad. This was quite interesting for me, as I also noticed I changed as a person in the last years, including my physical attributes as well. This idea of growing up and understanding more about oneself and the changes one goes through immediately interested me. I really wanted to combine this idea with scientific references, creating a scientific-like project that has actually nothing to do with science, depicting some sort of experiments and creating a feeling that something is going on, something uncanny.
I wanted the photos to have magical qualities combined with pure aesthetics, almost natural – like documented events –, or to seem visually effortless although being taken in completely constructed situations. There are my recent obsessions as well as childhood memories and personal interests; it contains also photos I took from my mom in my hometown as well as self-portraits. There is a non-linear narrative in this fictional story that is achieved by this association game that challenges the viewer to go back and forth through the photos and start exploring. It’s a sort of visual puzzle or maze; like a sort of visual investigation.
There are many scientific references in your images. Why? What themes and messages do you want to represent through this series?
Even if the project is quite sporty and looks like body science, it’s more about the scientific look and feeling; the project has nothing to do with particular science, actually. It’s about what we consume in general – not only physical things, but also visual messages, for example – and how it gets integrated to us. But even more important, it’s about how we digest them and how this reflects on human body and image. For example, the black motion capture suit refers to the kind of parallel world we all have, the imaginative one of a body that we admire. Here comes the idea of constriction and liberation of the human body in relation to ourselves and to others, its transformation and its acceptance.
Depicting this scientific feeling, magical qualities and experiments act only as signifier while the signified is actually a human analysis on its body and its acceptance. It’s a documentary-style that sometimes becomes surrealistic, mixing constructed spaces with intimate imagery. I really like blending genres, as I see it like a new language that transforms the conventional genre and challenges the viewer to rethink photographic iconography. We consume a lot of visual messages everyday; we are bombarded with photos everywhere. Nowadays the presence of visual media is so integrated in our lives that its pace makes photos become ‘fast food’, and we all know that fast food is bad. I think the ability of telling a story or idea with photos that contain a lot of elements and meanings on many different levels is the way to get out of the flood of banal imagery we suffer from today.
All the images are quite staged and it seems like you have studied all the details. Can you describe us the process behind your work for this project?
The process was quite chaotic, as usual. The initial idea was to take photos of my mom and some still lives. But later on, the project started to split in different paths because I wanted to give it a scientific twist and include science objects, self-portraits (the ones with the black suit, that’s me) and scans of a book I found from my childhood. It got also experimental and it relied on trials when I came across objects that I hadn’t thought of using before. Then I started playing with these objects and tried to figure out in which ways could I use them and how to possibly integrate them in the project. While I was reading Rudolf Arnheim’s Art and Visual Perception I got influenced on how mundane objects and shapes could be analysed and perceived in many different ways, and how meaning could be easily altered, which was frankly fascinating for me. Also how photos themselves alter meaning depending on if they are analysed as single images, seen together in a series or recombined in different groups from a series is a very interesting aspect for me.
It took me a long time to create the objects and find the right details, but also to understand what did I want to include and what I didn’t, which speaks about the choices I do (that define my style). Details are important: there are repeating shapes and elements, they balance the whole story, they make the series visually coherent and significantly contribute to the concept. After all this, the chaos of images I had kind of found their place together and started to make sense, connecting each other and making this visual puzzle. Details serve in clarifying my style, which is a hard and long process. I’m constantly working on that every day, day by day, and it becomes more and more defined as I grow, as I become more conscious, as I understand myself more.
You have described this project as a visual puzzle, and indeed there’s an uncanny feeling that runs through all the pictures. How do you imagine the viewers’ reactions?
While working on projects I rarely think about responses. I think of me first, and not on what reactions will the series provoke to the viewers. I just know that some people will feel more touched and some others will be less, and probably there will be some who won’t understand it; but there will also be ones who will get it more than I do. In this project I just wanted to show what was actually going on in my mind. I hope these juxtapositions, visual proposals and questioning the notion of photo and its transformative nature, both aesthetically and significantly, will bring the viewer a curiosity in finding new perspectives and perceptions about oneself and the things that surround us. Nevertheless, I don’t want the story to have an end, leaving the viewers with open trains and inviting them to reinterpret and reinvent meanings inevitably made by one's own individual contexts, experiences and cultural background.
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