Library of
Design, Art and Idea

Observatory

21.02.2015
Vol. 5

In the exhibition Observatory, Istanbul Modern Photography Gallery presents a retrospective of the later collaborative work of Barbara and Zafer Baran, from 1999 to the present. This is the Barans’ first comprehensive exhibition in Turkey, bringing together 11 series that the couple liken to “the top layer of an archaeological dig”. Curated by the Head of the Photography Department at Istanbul Modern, Sena Çakırkaya, the exhibition will run from November 28, 2013 to April 27, 2014.

Barbara and Zafer Baran have been collaborating since 1981. Through their experimental practice, which interweaves art history, nature, science and technology, they create images that bring out the hidden simple, ordinary, minimal aspects of life. The couple have always kept at the heart of their work “the enjoyment of photography for itself, at its purest (the act of beholding and transforming)”. They prefer to keep their imaging devices, techniques and processes as simple as possible. Using in-camera as well as camera-less photography techniques, they enrich their experimental approach through narrative. “Since 1999 we have relied on two techniques: in-camera and camera-less, using basic equipment and a minimal amount of post- production.” The Barans have featured in solo and group exhibitions in various galleries and museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Photographers’ Gallery, Saatchi Gallery, British Library and Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and their work is held in the collections of the V&A and Tate Britain among others. The couple have also produced numerous works for commissioned projects, ranging from corporate to cultural. Among these works are: the first opera poster in Britain to feature abstract photography, produced for the English National Opera; a photo-typographic alphabet created for the well-known cover of Phaidon’s The Photography Book; stamp designs for Royal Mail, including a series celebrating the bicentenary of the Royal Horticultural Society; and film work for the title sequence of David Hare’s The Designated Mourner. “Time” is at the heart of their work “Time” is at the heart of the Barans’ work. They document the natural wear and tear caused by time, they document ephemerality, transformation, the fragility of nature and the impact of humans on the world, visualizing these subjects in diverse ways: via rocks and stones from archaeological sites, decaying flowers, the depths of a captivating yet noxious bloom, disregarded weeds, contrails, bird’s-eye views of cities as seen from an aircraft, the light radiating from the moon and stars, or moonlight sparkling on the surface of the sea. “Seeking out what is timeless and quiet”, the Barans prefer to draw inspiration from what they see and find in daily life, working with the materials directly around them. “In our images, the passage of time is implied in the decaying petals of a flower; in the slow erosion of rocks and stones; in the movement of the moon across a sheet of water, or of clouds across the sky; in the yearly dispersal of seeds; or in the light reaching us from an unimaginably distant star. There is the time of the photographic exposure itself, varying from split seconds to many minutes. And there is of course our own time, as we move along within the framework of our life.”
Vol. 5
After the Biennial Bindik Bir Alamete