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  • Writer's pictureАнђела Петровски

Sentimental journey / Sentimentalno putovanje

During my visit in March 2024 to my hometown, Negotin and the village of Prahovo in Eastern Serbia, a large number, over hundreds of analog photographs were taken, but only a few of them are presented as part of this text. Although the project doesn't have an official name, I've used the term 'sentimental journey,' borrowed from the Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki and his decade-long project with the same title, which means a lot to me. However, my inspiration stems from a different context and perspective, so aside from the name and potential emotional connections, there are no other common points.


I didn't think too much about what exactly I would photograph; the whole process was instinctual, a kind of journey into my childhood and a visit to places where I used to spend time. On the other hand, I wanted this to be an anthropological/ethnological document, showcasing my origins and roots from Eastern Serbia, interesting and specific objects and interiors, as well as the presence of my grandmothers who live in Prahovo. Thanks to the analog format of the photographs, I had the opportunity to experiment with different techniques. For example, I used the black and white film, and I adjusted ISO sensitivity from 200 to 800. This resulted in pronounced contrast and deep black tones, achieved through extended 'push' development of the film in the photo lab. Additionally, using the almost forgotten 110 mm film contributed to create a unique 'vintage' aesthetic with a more pronounced grainy effect, which further highlighted the composition in some photographs.


Although my grandmothers are primarily portrayed through objects and the aesthetics of their living environment, they are also present in three photographs; however, only their shadows, clothing and movements are visible. By fragmentarily depicting them and omitting their faces and expressions, I aimed to focus more on intriguing details such as gestures during conversations and certain poses to respect their privacy. Additionally, I was fascinated by other objects of the family and motifs from the environment, such as the icons illuminated by a lamp and painted by my father and as well as the calendar with religious motifs. Walking sticks, arranged in opposite directions on two chairs in the hallway, or the old doll belonging to my mother in her childhood room, adorned with necklaces... These are all some examples that caught my attention. The swing attached to the tree in the garden represents a very melancholic scene for me, especially because I spent a lot of time playing there as a child. The crookedly hung picture of a smiling girl with a dog and a bird on a branch also evokes a sense of longing, but there is also something sublime and peaceful in this composition. Her eyes are directed towards the sky or the space above her, as if searching for something beyond our reality.


Through these and also other selected examples, there is a connection between the past and present. Some people who lived in these houses, or tended to the garden, where the swing now hangs, are no longer with us. To a large extent, they are also immortalized in this project through the objects that belonged to them and the environment that carries the spirit of a past era. Their black and white photographs also serve to evoke memories. One showed here, hidden behind a plant casting a shadow on it, depicts my young great-grandfather; interestingly, it also hangs crookedly like the previous example with the girl. A crochet doily and keys of some photographed rooms hang next to the mentioned photography. Most of these rooms are empty today; no one lives in them anymore, but they still resist the ravages of time. And it is exactly this process of documenting everything during those visits that forms the personal thread I would like to develop and expand through the continuation of the project: the interaction between the past and the present, immortalizing family moments and interesting scenes and compositions that depict a specific aesthetic, but also focusing on the characteristics and treasures of the region of Eastern Serbia, which has much to reveal.




Photo & Text - Filip Blagojević

 


Tokom posete mom rodnom kraju, Negotinu i selu Prahovu u istočnoj Srbiji, u martu 2024. godine, nastao je veliki broj, preko sto analognih fotografija, od kojih jedan deo prati ovaj tekst. Iako projekt nema zvanično ime, koristio sam termin 'sentimentalno putovanje', pozajmljen od japanskog fotografa Nobujošija Arakija i njegovog višedecenijskog, a meni jako bitnog projekta 'Sentimental Journey'.

Međutim, moje uporište proizlazi iz drugačijeg konteksta i razmišljanja, pa osim imena i mogućih emocionalnih poveznica, nije moguće uporediti ih.


Nisam mnogo razmišljao o tome šta bih tačno fotografisao; ceo proces bio je instinktivan, neka vrsta putovanja u detinjstvo i poseta mestima gde sam često provodio vreme. S druge strane, želeo sam da ovo bude i jedan antropološki/etnološki dokument, prikazujući svoje poreklo i korene iz istočne Srbije, zanimljive i specifične predmete i enterijere, kao i prisustvo mojih baka koje žive u Prahovu. Zahvaljujući analognom formatu fotografija, imao sam priliku da eksperimentišem sa različitim tehnikama. Na primer, koristio sam crno-beli film čiju sam ISO osetljivost podesio sa 200 na 800. Ovo je rezultiralo izraženim kontrastom i dubokim crnim tonovima, postignutim produženim 'push' razvijanjem filma u foto laboratoriji. Takođe, korišćenje danas skoro pa zaboravljenog 110 mm filma doprinelo je stvaranju jedinstvene 'vintage' estetike sa izraženijim zrnastim efektom, poznatim kao 'grain', što je na nekim fotografijama dodatno istaklo kompoziciju.


Iako su moje bake prikazane pre svega kroz predmete i estetiku njihovog životnog okruženja, na tri fotografije su i same prisutne; međutim, vide se samo njihove senke, garderoba i pokreti. Fragmentarnim prikazivanjem i izostankom njihovih lica i izraza, želeo sam da se fokusiram više na zanimljive detalje poput gestikulacije u toku razgovora i određenih poza, poštujući i njihovu privatnost. Takođe, zanimale su me i ostali porodični predmeti, ali i motivi iz okruženja, poput onih na kojima su prikazane ikone uz osvetljenje lampe, naslikane od strane mog oca, ali i kalendara sa religioznim motivima. Štapovi za hodanje, poslagani u suprotnim smerovima na dve stolice u hodniku, ili stara lutka moje majke u njenoj devojačkoj sobi, ukrašena ogrlicama... Ovo su još neki primeri koji su mi izazvali pažnju. Ljuljaška prikačena za drvo u bašti, predstavlja meni jako melanholičnu scenu, posebno iz razloga što sam u tu provodio mnogo vremena igrajući se kao dete. Krivo okačena slika devojčice koja se osmehuje, sa psom i pticom na grani, takođe budi neku setu, ali ima i nečeg uzvišenog i mirnog u ovom prizoru. Njene oči su upravljene ka nebu ili prostoru iznad nje, kao da tragaju za nečim izvan naše stvarnosti.


Kroz ove, ali i ostale odabrane primere, prožima se veza između prošlosti i sadašnjosti. Neke osobe koje su bile prisutne i živele u ovim kućama, brinuli se o bašti gde sada visi prikazana ljuljaška, nisu više sa nama. Velikim delom su i oni ovekovečeni u ovom projektu, kroz predmete koji su i njima pripadali, ali i okruženje koje nosi duh prošlih vremena. Njihove crno-bele fotografije takođe bude uspomene. Jedna ovde prikazana, sakrivena iza biljke koja baca senku na nju, predstavlja mog mladog pradedu; zanimljivo, i ona stoji krivo poput prethodnog primera sa devojčicom. A pored nje, uz ištrikani milje, vise i ključevi soba od kojih neke kroz fotografije, prate ovaj tekst. One su uglavnom danas prazne, više niko ne živi u njima, ali ipak i dalje odolevaju zubu vremena. I upravo taj proces dokumentovanja svega iz mog okruženja tokom tih poseta, jeste ta lična nit koju bih želeo da nadograđujem i razvijam kroz nastavak projekta: interakcija prošlosti i sadašnjosti, ovekovečivanje porodičnih trenutaka i zanimljivih scena i kompozicija koje prikazuju specifičnu estetiku, ali i fokusiranje na karakteristike i blaga podneblja Istočne Srbije, koja ima itekako šta da pokaže.




Photo & Text - Filip Blagojević





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