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Oleg Videnin

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Portraits from the Outskirts

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        In the visitors book of comments of the exhibition "Portraits from the Outskirts" someone wrote: "Hey dude, we have been different for a long time. And you have not noticed". I quite distinctly imagine the generalised image, both the external and internal, of the one who wrote that. And this voice from the shell of a megalopolis is most certainly right, in his own way. He has his local truth. My truth however is no less subjective and, at the end of the day, is no less local. And that is normal. Because looking at people through the prism of romanticism of the careless and unconquerable empire, the attempt by means of photography to lay the return road to bygone youth, the nostalgic devotion to silver techniques are, by definition, not capable of helping objectivity. However, it is also like the salutations to globalization, to the gloss of magazines or to the digital matrix. And who needs it, in the creative sense, this objectivity.
        To this day I cannot, as much as I try (although I have not tried very much), answer what would seem to be a simple question what compels me to stop and photograph absolutely specific people? When I happen to be strolling around town with someone who is familiar with my photographs, I sometimes hear look, thats your kind of person, why dont you photograph him?! And I dont photograph for the simple reason that the person is definitely not mine, he may be similar to "mine", but he is not mine. Why isnt he mine? He, you see, is visually just as interesting, he has just the right texture, appearance, clothing and so on. And the light is good and the background wonderful. I do not know. I simply feel. The process of defining "mine" from "another's" is unbelievably fine and partly mystical. I definitely know that the choice is not made using the mind. And neither the heart. Of course, it does happen that it can be from both the mind and the heart, but as a result it is never right. Most likely it is something intuitive, instinctive, even animal. One can probably say it like this I am searching for a suitable mirror. Not a person, who is interesting to me as such, with his internal world, happiness, sorrow, illnesses and love. In the given case that holds little interest for me, although I am not devoid of that level of ability to empathise and even for some time whilst photographing, perhaps, I do it. But it lasts seconds and is of secondary importance. Whats most important is to find a mirror. All people, of course, are mirrors for everyone else, but they are all different, they reflect in their own way, distort, embellish, disfigure. My task is to find for myself that one and only mirror, albeit wry, mouldy or cracked, which in the given moment will most accurately reflect my inner state. This state for a fraction of a second, in some invisible way, has to diffuse, unite, mix with the image of the person in the viewfinder and be poured as reflected light onto the silver emulsion. Consequently, a photograph should appear that satisfies me.

Oleg Videnin