FACES OF PERU
"...what a play, big staging, excellent scenery, absurd theatre with attitude and precision. Such is the reality: a house, a cloud, a small black woman and the man who thinks he is God. You have with oversized focal length and a significant reworking, creating a grotesque idea of belonging."
Morten Bo Director - Fatamorgana Danish Art Photography School
FACES OF PERU (Art Critic)
More than a report by an image-maker
Danish Per Valentin (b. 1961) award-winning photographs from the series Faces of Peru, 2007, are more than simple documentations. Much rather the
images emphasize fascinating, tactile statements, enlightened through the landscape and portraits of Peru.
Per Valentin is a diverse photographer, and therefore the images can be perceived as much more than idealistic aesthetic assertions of the Peruvian
scenery and population. Through the depictions he further more transforms himself to a storyteller and anthropologist. The photographs are distinguished
through the articulated imagery, which an image-maker and storyteller master. If we take a closer look at his works we find different tendencies, which are
powerful manifests – not only in the image but also in the perception of the image. Therefore it is obvious of Valentin’s images that they embrace
distinctive and essential formalistic tendencies but at the same time insist on a metaphysic dimension in the photography. In other words Faces of Peru are
visual formations of personas in the backdrop of Peru.
His photographs of people in grandiose sceneries are not just merely regarded as great photo opportunities of a traveller. Rather with Faces of Peru one can speak of black and white photographs, which through the configurations of portrays induce to manage the diverse multiplicity of Peruvian scenery.
But let me start at the beginning: It is quite obvious that the photographic media can capture, compress and (re-) present our (mental) image of the
world. A succession of photographs can thus produce a context, in which we can look upon ourselves, and our understanding of and relationship to the
world; it is precisely this reflexive function Valentin employ via his visual bearings throughout his Faces of Peru. The works are a series of portraits Per
Valentin produced by coincidence at a trip to Peru. Originally Valentine's mission was of a different matter completely. But struck by the light, shadow,
scenery and without a doubt: the human interaction in the settings Valentin’s mission transformed to a new work, and has become a journey into the being
of Peru depicted through iconic charisma of the Peruvian culture. Documented as visual proof by the lens of Valentin photographic perception.
All images are composed by a specific analytical grip that pushes the portrayed far into the foregrounds that the face is the most visible of the human body. But even though he seems to capture the essence of each image as a report of the population of Peru the series' particular aesthetic grip reflects an entirely different agenda. Through his radical formalism, the viewer's eyes are being indulged to participate in a certain rhythm of perception, whereby all elements of the image appear to connect, and a gentle rhythm in the body of the perceiver, can break the silence of the immediate perception. Through this compositional grip Valentin manage to equate the portrait with stunning topography of the landscape: Whereby a photographic narration can commence.
The portrait in the landscape
Since the Romantic era the landscape has been regarded as an illustration of Modern spirit’s (as well as lost) correlation to the world. Images of the landscape made views of the world possible as well as they could be contributions to various visions of all sorts of imaginaries. In one part euphoria
of natural splendour and one part profanity the image of the landscape seemed to have contributed to the relationship between the cultivated spirit
and nature. As well as it was depictions of the imaginary bridge, which completed the gap between man and nature. The landscape was at once a
testimony to the state of affairs, but was also being regarded as the viewers understanding of the universal and the existential way of being.
The relationship with the landscape altered radically the view of the beholder with the photograph. The naturalness of the landscape, its realisticness or
truthfulness was of no importance before the photograph demonstrated what the world actually looked like. The photographic realism attributed to a greater ability to define a realistic role into the picture space, than the painting was able to deliver. Photography, which was seeking its own identity, thus found
itself offering a third, highly attractive alternative: since painting, even as animitation of reality, is inevitably a fiction, photography was left with the role of
portraying real reality. And it is in this tradition Valentin with the series Faces of Peru inscribes himself. It is in that way we understand that the relationship between photography and reality is much more complex than that, this knowledge does not invalidate the fact that the power of photography lies in the relationship with what has to be in front of the lens as well. It is not only the scenery, which creates meaning, it is also the incomparable ability of the photograph to combine time, space, light and place into a narrative, which has made it self-evidently and as a part of the real history of Faces of Peru.
It is as if Valentin, through the highly contrasting effects of light and shadow, wants to provide us with an access to story behind the obvious sight of the
landscape, in order to be able to define a common attitude between the mind and the landscape of the persona in the photographic portrait. Just consider
the photographic demarcation of the landscape: these seem to contrast the facial features of the portrait, which also brings back memories of the
aesthetic considerations of New Objectivity. Because of the fact that each photograph reflects a transparent and subtle perception of the fundamental
light and shadow sentence, thereby pointing towards both the photographic landscape and the underlying characters of the portrayed.
It is these considerations, which defines the access to the understanding of Faces of Peru. It is a photographic practise per se, which in general can be
considered as documentary and quite similar to reality. But at the same time points to a resemblance of the aesthetics and philosophies of black and white
photographs, which also can be depicted as an outline of an anthropological visual frame of work. Because of the fact that the images by Valentin in one
way portraits the distinct realism of the Peruvian landscape and the culture, but in another way creates an sensibility via the low-lying horizons and wide
formatted framing, that can draw yet another image of Peru. The images are a reflection of the photographer’s desire to tell a story.
It is easy to consider this way of perception via the image of the old man with the dark hat and the age and weather-related wrinkles that seem to imitate the
menacing of the sky. This also draws attention to the harsh story, which is an inevitable fact of the story of merciless glare of the sun and life.
The gripping tale of Faces of Peru
It is exactly via these documentations that you can be swept away by the images of Per Valentin. Because even though the photographer has
delineated a landscape that through its fluctuations between light and shadow and the immediate physical recognizable tableau it constantly creates an
image that inoculate our perception emotionally. His images involve an aestheticism of the Peruvian landscape that accentuates the photographer’s
exceptional vision of the form and dramatic claire-obscure in the scenery. But with the portrait as the absolutely dominant entity in the image Valentin
creates a story, which is different than the one the immediate topographic narrative of the landscape at first creates. For although the landscape in his
works can be considered as a frame for the story, since the landscape is always present as a determined setting for the portrait, it is the people being
portrayed in claire-obscure, which is the mimetic turning point of Faces of Peru. The portrait becomes, so to speak, in distinguished manner by Per Valentin, the backbone of the story. It seems as if through a specific play with light and shadow has managed to get an almost transcendent lighting into the
portrayed faces, which in turn accentuates the underlying and surrounding scenery. Throughout his works we are being presented by the story of photography per se – in regard to the transitoriness of the world. At the same time it seems as if he lets the photographic image be depicted as a quantum for the being of the world, which in his imagery can imitate itself and in this imitation fixate and preserve all things, which without documentation would vanish like dew before the sun.
The dramatization of the documented reality
You can also perceive Faces of Peru in regard to the dramatization of the documented reality. It is due to the fact that the photographs can be understood as depiction of man’s perceptive of nature because of the staging of the aesthetic realism in the images. Through Valentin’s images Peru becomes visible to us. It is made obvious through his characteristic creation of scenery in the stylistic framing of the horizon. Through this Valentin creates an unconscious awareness between the image and the perceiver, as if the horizon was a specific intrinsic instrument with similarities to the golden ratio’s aesthetic means.
But also the portrait can provide you with a profound insight. This is in a tactile matter documented through the similarities between the facial lines and the
topographic unconscious streaks of the landscape. Thereby Valentin creates a kind of deliberate narrative in the stylized tableau of the image.
The conscious registrar
Faces of Peru is not an expression of an unconscious photographer's gaze. Rather the images are an expression of the conscious registrar's emotional
and empathy of the Peruvian culture and nature. The stunning and aesthetic claire-obscure equates the conscious awareness of more cruel side of reality.
The controlled strokes of the light and shadow in the images create a romantic idea. But in the same way it also forms an idea of cruelty: In each photograph Per Valentin has captured elements that indicates that neutral documentation does not exist. That is obvious and exemplified in the image of the tortured face of the young man, which in obvious matter imitates the portrait of the dead man in the series: The inclination of the head, the opening of the mouth, the unfocused or impossible glance seems to be common features in both images. But where the image of the young man is an obvious image of death and decay through its symbolic features that underscores the harsh message and the loss of aesthetic innocence at once becomes apparent. The image of the dead man is in completely different in contrary. In this image an elegiac aesthetic seems obvious and almost connotates the ideas of symbolism. But in this way the series confirms it strength and at the same time punctures a romantic idea of the documentation. But it confirms it selves as reality: Because even as
different they may seem as likely they are considered as description, since storytelling always detach it selves from a descriptive function via the
materialization as symbol images. This ability leaves a tacit understanding of the puzzle picture of realism – that through time, space and imagination helps to create an understanding of the world and us. It is the image of a cacophony that reflects his true ability as a great photographer.
Because through this series of portraits Valentin has created an unification of conceptual rigor and magical sensibility, which in some ways seems to
orchestrate the imagination of the aesthetic style of Inca Empire. But it is not a dreamlike, escapist universe rather he has created a realistic perception of
Peruvian culture. And through this distinguished an ambiguity that enables you to create a representation of the Peruvian culture and nature by yourself.
The aesthetic image-maker
Per Valentin has with Faces of Peru created an intense series of images, which allows you to see a different image than the one the scientific positivism
era has created through its cultural chauvinism. For it is precisely the force of Valentin that he, through the configurations of the images, manages to launch
the meeting between the diversified materiality and the shifts in reality of Peruvian culture. And he is thus to create an understanding of reportage
photography's ability to be a catalyst in forming a conceptual discourse as a metaphorical return – as an attempt to maintain a dialectic between culture
and nature. It is precisely through this that Per Valentin demonstrates his ability to be the aesthetic image-maker he is. Faces of Peru are much more
than striking photographs, rather they are reality, interpreted in black and white or in other words: they are photographic, lyrical compositions. These
perspective conquests, which Valentin at the same time creates, are burdens of proof like powerful means of expression that helps to portray a empathetic
empathy. And although the images often are characterized by a profound melancholy, which is being defined in the introverted and depressed glances,
its melancholy is being contrasted through the background, where nature draws its lines against more promising horizon. With Faces of Peru Per Valentin provides us with a new image – an image, which opens new associations. In other words he has create a series of photographs, which not only creates the idea of images of allegoricality. At the same time he creates a characteristic form of tableau a visualisation of how light and shadow can create an emblematic image on what you see.
By Cecilie Bepler, Art critic, and MA in Philosophy
"..he Created a book that breaks new ground in photojournalism..."
Per ValentinTraveling throughout Peru, focusing his camera on the faces and vistas of this exotic world, he created a book that breaks new ground in photojournalism—using digital technology he merged portraits and backgrounds into visual documents that are at once both objective and subjective..
Black & White Magazine Issue No 55 - For Collectors of Fine Photography
Viva la Revolucion
For et par år siden havde jeg den fornøjelse at tale med den tyrkiske Nobelprisvinder i litteratur, Orhan Pamuk.
Han fortalte, at alle store kunstværker i dag er politiske – og at det er de politiske værker, der kommer til at klare historiens overlevering. Det er dem, der vil blive husket. Resten vil forblive i den tidsånd, hvor de er skabt. Jeg spurgte ham, hvornår et værk er politisk. Han svarede, at det er når et værk ændrer status hos den, som ser værket.
Det tager lidt tid, at reflektere over det, som Pamuk fortalte. Når det har indlejret sig, så begynder det at give mening. Når et værk når en politisk status, så betyder det, at tilskueren begynder at ændre holdning. Det ændrer den måde, som vi ser på alt det, der foregår bag værket. Scenografien, landet, det politiske styre, sundhedssystemet, uddannelsessystemet, virkeligheden. Alt det gemmer sig i analysen af billedet – men kun hvis billedet tillader det.
Per Valentins portrætter fra Cuba evner det. Alt sammen.
De er brutale, de er dystopiske – de favner realismen, absurditeter og ekspressionismen. De er stærkt politiske, de er voldsomt kompromitterende for en nation, der som en af de sidste naive, diktatoriske stater må erkende, at verden rundt om den har udviklet sig eksplosivt, mens de selv har stået stille. Helt stille.
Jeg oplever virkeligheden passere ansigterne. Bag den tandløse dame er fremtiden, drengen. Han har dog ingen fremtid i et tandløst samfund.
Jeg ser den gamle mand med dollar-sedlerne i hånden – den forbudte valuta, som giver ham status i den nye verden, som han dog ikke er en del af.
Jeg mærker trøstesløsheden i den gamle mand, der sidder på sin stambar – hvor man ser plakaten med teksten ”Sublime Ilusion”. Den sublime illusion. Som et billede på et Cuba, der midt i skønheden og idealerne har tabt sig selv.
Jeg smiler til manden i den åbne dør omgivet af Fidels portræt, der står som en drømmende protest, en lille flugt ud af denne her verden sammen med skyerne, der er ved at viske Fidels historie ud.
Fokus er skarpt på de knugede, rynkede ansigter. Ansigterne fortæller historien. Det samme gør facaderne, den smadrede scenografi, der hver dag konfronterer de gamle cubanere. Et land, en ideologi i opløsning.
Per Valentins billeder tillader den analyse, og dermed ændrer de status for publikum.
Søren Høy 2011
Manuskriftforfatter og filminstruktør
Al Thani Award Winner 2007
Per Valentin receives Al Thani Award. The world's largest photo competition with more than 150 thousand participants. He won with his picture "Fur"
Per Valentin udstiller på "Det lille Kasket" i Thy.
Ny cocktail af fotokunst og fusionsjazz
Fotografisk billedkunstner Per Valentin udstiller på fotofestivalen i Thy.
Læs om fotofestival.dk's arrangement i Thy på deres hjemmeside:
Her finder du alle praktiske oplysninger om tid og sted.
Når fotograf Per Valentin og de tre musikere fra Ibrahim Electric går på scenen sammen under dette års Fotofestival i Thy, ved ingen, hvad der kommer til at ske.
De ved det ikke selv endnu. Arrangøren ved det heller ikke. Men noget finurligt, grænseoverskridende og nybrydende kommer til at ske, når to i forvejen eksperimenterende kunstarter tørner sammen lørdag den 25. september i Frøstrup Kulturcenter. Her præsenterer fotofestivalen et sammensurium af fotokunstner Per Valentins udtryksfulde billeder og Ibrahim Electrics energiske fusionsjazz.
Hovedmanden bag Fotofestivalen Carsten Krog Pedersen har bragt de to sammen og givet dem frie hænder til at eksperimentere.
"Under en koncert med Ibrahim Electric sidste år fik jeg bare en masse billeder i mit hoved. Det er glad musik, der giver mig en fornemmelse af glade gadedrenge, der hopper af sted. De skaber et helt specielt univers - der er sådan lidt Twin Peaks over det. De former de samme stemninger, som Per Valentin gør i sine billeder - mærkelige eksistenser i mærkelige omgivelser, voldsomme kontraster og kraftige fremtrædende skygger. Derfor fik jeg den idé, at det kunne være interessant at få dem til at lave noget sammen," siger Carsten Krog Pedersen, der helt sikkert er at finde på 1. række lørdag aften.
Krydser grænsen til det urene
Umiddelbart har fotokunst og fusionsjazz ikke meget med hinanden at gøre. Men Per Valentin og Ibrahim Electric har det til fælles, at de eksperimenterer med hvad der sker, når man krydser grænsen fra de rene stilarters land til mixet af forskellige genre. Orkestret blander jazz med rock, afro, funk og andet godt fra den musiske verden, og fotografen blander fotoet med det grafiske og alle de muligheder det digitale foto giver for at fortolke og manipulere med billeder.
"ALT er en fortolkning. Der findes ingen sand virkelighed - hverken i musikken eller i fotokunst. Lige så snart jeg vælger motiv, fortolker jeg virkeligheden, giver det mit udtryk og den umiddelbare følelse jeg giver videre. Derfor sætter jeg aldrig lighedstegn mellem fotografi og virkelighed," fortæller Per Valentin om sit billedsyn og fortsætter: "Det må være det samme for Ibrahim Electric, når de laver deres musik. Jeg glæder mig til at opleve, hvordan de vil fortolke mine billeder. Musik er med til at forstærke stemningen i et billede og udvide følelsesregistret hos publikum. Jeg har tidligere sat musik til mine billeder, men jeg har aldrig prøvet med improviserende live-musik."
"ALT er en fortolkning. Der findes ingen sand virkelighed - hverken i musikken eller i fotokunst. Lige så snart jeg vælger motiv, fortolker jeg virkeligheden, giver det mit udtryk og den umiddelbare følelse jeg giver videre. Derfor sætter jeg aldrig lighedstegn mellem fotografi og virkelighed..."
Niclas Knudsen fra Ibrahim Electric, som i øjeblikket er i fuld gang med at optage deres nye CD i studiet, har samme nysgerrige forventning til arrangementet:
"Vi er vant til situationer, hvor vi ikke rigtig ved, hvad der sker, så det tager vi helt roligt. Vi tænker meget i billeder og film i kompositionen af vores musik, så det bliver interessant at se, hvad vi får ud af samarbejdet med Per Valentin og hans billeder."
Per Valentin vil denne aften vise billeder fra sin nye bog "Viva la revulocion", hvor han portrætterer cubanere i deres eget miljø.
Sammen og hver for sig
Udover dette fælles initiativ skal Ibrahim Electric og Per Valentin også optræde hver for sig. Per Valentin lægger ud med et foredrag, hvor han præsenterer sit billedsyn - som han ikke altid deler med alle fotografer - og fortæller om, hvordan han planlægger og kreerer sine billeder fra idé til færdigt produkt. Som formand for Selskabet for Dansk Fotografi mener han, at der skal være plads til at komme 360 grader rundt om tingene.
Ingenting er ulovligt, når det gælder manipulering af fotos. Selv gør han flittigt brug af den grafiske værktøjskasse til at give billederne det unikke udtryk, han leder efter.
"Jeg forsøger at være unik i mit billedsprog, og så er jeg egentlig ligeglad med, om folk kan lide det. Bare de kan genkende det som mit - lige som man genkender et Picassomaleri," griner fotografen, der helst vil kaldes billedmager.
Ibrahim Electric, der befinder sig på toppen af det europæiske jazz-bjerg med deres grænseoverskridende fusionsjazz, tager over efter foto-musik-cocktailen og underholder med deres glade, energiske og helt igennem særegne musikstil.
Så sæt kryds i kalenderen den 25. september og glæd dig til en anderledes og unik oplevelse i Frøstrup Kulturcenter. Vel mødt!
Represented in the magazine "Danish Photography" with works of art from the portfolio "Viva la Revolucion"
Promoting his book "Faces of Peru in Qatar
Per Valentin promoting his new book Faces of Peru - 17 portrait in 17 days. Here with the president of Kuwait Photographic Society
Per Valentin recieved Prix Christian Collaine 2008