Ivars Gravlejs – My Newspaper

Probably like many others I first came across the work of Latvian photographer Ivars Gravelejs through his ‘Useful advices for photographers‘ also published in The Gawno Magazine as 78 Photography Rules for Complete Idiots.

In Gawno it has a warning at the top “Don’t take it serious, please“, although there are quite a few things my long dead Aunty Vicky could have benefited by following; her colour slides often shown at family gatherings often reduced me to uncontrollable giggles and could have provided some very splendid illustrations for the series. But Gravlejs’s advice is of course hilarious, not least for being so dead-pan.

For those of a rather perverse spirit (and like me, Gravlejs is obviously one) it would be an interesting extension of this work to produce an updated version in which the “wrong” images were all sourced from the work of the great masters of the medium – and certainly the odd Cartier-Bresson, Rodchenko, Friedlander and others sprang into my mind. There are also a few well-known photographers whose oeuvre would have been considerably improved had they ignored rule no 15 “Before you start photographing remember to take the lens cap off.”

But what I really wanted to bring to your attention is another work by Gravlejs, ‘My Newspaper‘, made while he worked as a photojournalist for one of the major Czech daily newspapers, ‘Denik‘, an example of “subversive art” in which he deliberately manipulated some of the images he supplied, starting with small unimportant details of pictures and then moving on to considerably more radical interventions.

He exhibited this work in Prague in 2009 where the text spoke not just about the way in which his work challenges the authenticity and objectivity of media information (and makes me think why, when I expect much of the text to be fabrication we expect more of photographs) but also of the frustrations felt by many press photographers in having to photograph trivia for the papers rather than working creatively as photographers. Although I think few press photographers actually play with their pictures in Photoshop as he did, rather too many probably set up fictions for their camera to record.

The rest of Gravlejs’s site is also worth a look, and there are quite a few images that brought a smile to my face, many of them in various ways ‘bad’ photographs, and some clearly breaking those 78 rules.

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