Saturday, July 7, 2012


Photo essay by Andre Dot reviewed by ypell.

This is a difficult subject, because it looks directly at a human being in a state of deep and perhaps irrecoverable misery. I know I would personally have difficulty undertaking this as a subject, but that doesn't mean one shouldn't. I give Andre Dot credit for taking it head-on.
Andre Dot clearly gave this work a lot of thought and effort. There are many pictures of homeless people on various photo sites, and they rarely go to such lengths to communicate the message of loneliness and despair inherent to this topic. To achieve his effect, Andre uses a series of strongly contrasted black and white stills. Those stills are further given an aesthetically degraded appearance in post-processing. This mirrors the degradation of the subject and his environment. In many instances, the use of devices such as film roll thread and artificially damaged print results in a gimmicky feel that detracts from the subject or fails to save a poorly done photo. In this case however, these devices have a purpose and the "wince factor" is absent.
A simple series of stills may not have conveyed the message that much more forcefully than a single one. Indeed, it may have appeared needlessly insistent. But in this work, the appearance and departure of a dog brilliantly establishes that the series is chronological and unifies the series into a quasi-cinematic whole. Furthermore the dog adds a key element to the pathos of the scene.
This work has a strong emotional impact not only because of the subject, but also because of its delivery which forces us to dwell on that person's plight in its many unseemly and pitiful details. We inevitably ask ourselves who this person is, how he got to this point, and imagine the before and after of the current scene. We also have to face our own reaction: are we feeling compassion? Repulsion? Superiority? Are we like him somehow? And how do we feel about those feelings and what are we going to do about them?


To paraphrase Andre, photography is not only about pretty things: flowers, blue skies, beautiful women, cute babies and animals. Life is full of ugly and unsightly scenes that most would rather avoid and pretend they do not exist. 
The images in this essay are raw. They tell a story of a miserable human existence without any embellishment, pretense or excuse. 

The original photo essay can be found in Andre's stream on ipernity. Andre is a photographer from Russia who I had the pleasure of discovering recently. 
Ypell is also a photographer. He is from Montreal, Canada. To see his work please visit his ipernity gallery.

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