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The Glow of a New Project

It is always exciting to look at the first frames of a new project. Is it any good? Do the images live up to the expectations? As the winter sun of Brussels illilluminated the first role of 120 Ilford Delta 400 film from Ethiopia, I knew I am on the right track. It’s all there: the quiet, humble aesthetic of slow portraits, the aura of people that are firmly self-assured of their duty.

My current project, Apocalypse, is a long and multi-faceted documentary project. I look at foreshadow of a mega-earthquake that scientist expect to hit Istanbul in the near future. I investigate architecture designed to withstand the future – the Onkalo-Project in Finland (designed to last 100’000 years), the Norwegian Svalbard Global Seed Vault, etc. And I portrait traditional leader figures such as village elders, tribal leaders, sheikhs, and the like, whose authority is of a quality that is – to some extend – immune to changes in the sophisticated political organization of modern states. I shot sheikhs in Yemen (as part of my Socotra project), and now priests in Ethiopia – a country that adopted Christianity almost two millennia ago. (In two days, I will fly to South-East Asia (for security reasons I can’t disclose the country yet) and -among others- will continue the project there.) more…

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Allmost there! (Printing the Proofs)

It’s another three days. In three days, I will send my book to the printer. In three days, I will board an aircraft to Istanbul. And in five days an armada of  monstrous offset machines will start printing my book. It’s exciting. It’s nerve wrecking.

The last days (not to say weeks) I was a single-minded nerd, not able to do anything but think about the book, talk about the book, work on the book. As I am writing these lines, I am printing the hard proofs. I am waiting for my proof reader to send me the (hopefully but of course not) errata-free texts.

Today, I will go out with friends and have beers in the sun, the first step in a re-socialization process that hopefully won’t take as long as the production of this book – that is over a year.
At least, the book looks great! (And it does, really.)

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Very Last Special Editions for Auction

Most of the 100 numbered, stamped, and signed special edition of my upcoming ‘Socotra’ book is sold already. The very last 25 books will now be auctioned. Lovers of opulent photography, book worms, collectors, and Friends of Socotra have now a last chance to secure one of the few remaining copies of the strictly limited edition.

(The idea is to raise additional funds necessary to make the (very expensive) printing of the book possible.)

The special edition includes a 20*30cm print of one of the photographs in the book, and a numbered and signed copy of my Socotra book. Most importantly, supporters will be named and thanked in the final book. (Please also see the initial blog post on the presale for exact information about what the special edition is like.)

(There are also some very very few books of the all hand made and self bound version, covered in goat leather which is died with resin of the rare Dragon Blood Tree from the island Socotra, available – contact me for exact details.)

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The Cynical Dairy Farmer’s Guide to the Middle East

Remember the socialist, communist, and capitalist dairy farmer jokes? “You have two cows…”

FP greatly revamped them. Have a taste:

Libya

You have two cows. You wish they were camels. Feed them only your words of wisdom and kill them if they dare moo.

Yemen

You have two cows. Feed them khat instead of grass and neglect to milk them. Watch them fight each other.

Turkey

You have two cows and one sheep. You claim that the sheep is really a “mountain cow.”

via Foreign Policy.

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Yet Another Dummy

I don’t even know how many dummies I produced over the last couple of months but it is at least half a dozen. This is yet another one.

This time, it’s all about the binding of the book. I wanted to see how the combination of open spine, cloth covered hard back, and waist band look. I think: great!

The idea is to have a reference to library bindings (plain cloth cover) but with  a contemporary touch (visible binding). All photographs will be double page spreads running over the fold. The open spine allows the book to open completely flat – for the strongest impression of the images.

For the final book, I want to use black thread for the sewing. Black contrasts very nice with the red of the cover and the white of the paper and will make the sewing more visible, too.  The two versions of the book will be differently stitched. The hand made edition will feature a combination of Coptic and French binding while the regular edition will be sewn.

It kind of makes sense to put a photograph on the title of a photography book, right? I decided for a waistband cover. That way, the beautiful cloth of the cover and the open spine are visible but there’ll be also space for one of the gorgeous panoramics.

What do you think?

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Schock am Montag (I): Der Spiegel & The Barbarian Arabs

The current Spiegel Geschichte, Der Spiegel’s bi-monthly history special, is all about “Caliphs, War, and Struggle for Freedom”. And it has a cover of the worst kind: orientalist, chauvinist, and most of all depicting Arabs as barbaric and chaotic. It makes me want to choke.

Linda Steet, in her excellent book “Vails and Daggers, wrote that “What signifies the best of the Arab world, as we have so often seen, was the period of the Arabian Nights and what conjured up within Orientalism.” The fairy tales of Thousand and One Nights draw the positive image of the Arab: romantic and beautiful women, depicted in the Spiegel Geschichte cover as a magnificent arch and young women. Everything else about the Arab world is -in the White Christian Male (WCM) depiction which Der Spiegel follows- barbaric and reactionary, well summarized in one of the article’s title: “The Muslim is not modern.” Consequently, the cover is full of a dark collage of slaughter, veiled women, yelling, revolution – and even a flying axe. As if there is nothing bright, nice, and postive to say about Arabs.

The particular dangerous about this (and similar) illustrations is their claim to be objective and scientific. Der Spiegel Geschichte is published by a respected (though notorious) publisher and creates credibilty by (pop-)scientific self-conception and the prominent placement of a story about “What Europe learned of the Arabs” on the front page. I haven’t read most of the articles in the magazine but I am honestly not motivated to spend time with gibberish teased with “The French wanted to turn Arabs and Berbers into “Modern Humans”.” (about the Algerian War of Independence), “League of the Lame” (about the Arab League), “a World Going To Pieces: Backward Orientated, Divided, Suppressed – for Centuries the Arab Countries are lagging.” (about the Arab Spring).

The magazine’s cover collage says it all; this publication is yet another example for the visual language that sub-consciously reconfirms negative stereo-types about Muslims and Arabs in the West. ‘Slaughtering with axes, veiling and suppressing women – The Arab can’t be anything but a primitive’ is the unequivocal message this illustration conveys. It is yet another brick for the construction of the WCM-world view in continuously-colonial, chauvinistic tradition. Thank you Spiegel-Geschichte Team. I ward you the first Schock am Montag award for your sincere efforts in promoting the clash of culture.

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Support my Socotra Book!

Girl in the Highlands

UPDATE: The fund raising was succesful and the book is now regularly available. A big thank you to all supporters.

Dear Friends,

It is over five years ago, that my interest in the very isle Socotra was ignited and almost one year, since I first set foot on it. In the mean time, I explored Socotra and the concept «island», spent over seven weeks worth of shooting on the island, got countless fleabites, took almost 20 000 pictures, walked my feet sore more than once, ruined two lenses and almost my knees, and spent all my savings. Now, after endless months of editing, the writing of many thousand words of text, and production of four dummies and one exhibition, I am at the point that I can proudly say: Yes! I am there; I have a book that is worth standing in one shelf with other great and famous volumes.

Have a preview yourself:

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And this is what friends say who had chance to go through the complete volmume:

“Wow! This body of work is stunningly beautiful. It is magnificent. It is striking and powerful, but also luscious. Bravo!” Ed Kashi, Photographer, National Geographic.

“When you look at Claudius’ panoramics of Socotra, it’s as if you’re immersed in the place 360 degrees.  His photographs of the people there draw you into their lives.” Elizabeth Krist, Senior Photo Editor, National Geographic.

“This photography is visual journalism of the finest kind – powerful, important, and gorgeous.” Andreas Trampe, Head of Photo Department, STERN magazine.

“It’s not an Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin fine arts project, nor is it a photo-naïve National Geographic magazine story, nor is it Alex Webb – just purely visual response – , nor is it ethnographical photography – it is all these great things together. It is a rare example of visually powerful, critical, sophisticated, and intelligent photography.” Paul Lowe, Professor, University of The Arts London.

 

On almost 130 pages and 50 photographs, the volume explores one of the most bizarre places on earth. The magic and fantasy of the place is intriguing and the isle is the perfect scene for a visual journey into the concept of islands.

The book is ready to print – I just got first quotes of printing houses. The devastating news is: Nearly 10,000 Euro printing costs alone! I do not have this money but I believe nonetheless in my book – and I believe in you!

Help me pull this project off – to make the printing of my book possible, I need 100 supporters! Supporters who pre-order books and help me advance money for the print. If you pledge a minimum of 50 Euro for me now, you will be named in the book, you will receive a 20*30cm print of one of the photographs in the book, and – of course – a numbered and signed copy of my Socotra book!

Please support my project! I can go only on print if 100 people pledge for me. (For now, you just have to pledge. As soon as I found enough supporters, you can pay by wire transfer or PayPal.)

(Die-hard collectors and supporters only: I will hand-make an edition of five books. These will be covered in manually with Dragon Blood resin (acquired on Socotra) dyed goat leather, hand-bound according to old traditions and pigment-printed on heavy gallery-grade paper. These five exclusive volumes are numbered and signed, plus you will be specially acknowledged on the first page of regular edition. In addition, you will get a limited (edition of 12) 30*40cm signed and numbered print of a photograph of your choice as on show in London (there sold for 300 Euro.) Collector’s price: 1250 Euro)

Please support my work and pledge for it! It is a great book and worth to be brought out there!

 

Thank you for your help!

your
Claudius

 

Socotra – the Idea of an Island, Strange and Magical: ca. 128 pages, 47 large colour photographs including 6 fold out panoramas, two essays. Hard cover, 20*30cm. ca. 45 Euro plus shipping.

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