"Once upon a time"
“Once upon a time” is a photographic exhibition that showcases six photographs, each one representing a mutated story, mostly known as fairy tales. They say mutation is an alteration of pre-existing form or idea. Fairy tales and culture, that is mutation!
Why? Because of the people and their desire to create stories (in any form - written, visual, etc), stories that destroy the barrier between reality and fantasy, stories that transport the spectator into another universe dominated by good, evil, semiotics and colour. Of course, all these factors are influenced by culture, usually the culture of a country.
In this case, the six images have been influenced by the Romanian culture, a culture that suffered numerous mutations in time because of other countries that have been friends or enemies of it, such as Greece, The Ottoman Empire, Russia or the very old Roman Empire.
The images are not an exact 1:1 representation of the original stories, they have been mutated by my vision and my imagination, just as the stories themselves have been mutated in time by other people, some of them being verbally transmitted over generations.
The mutation process has been done by combining digital photography with retouching in order to create fine art pieces of work - from a regular image that represents the reality as it is, due to photographic camera’s mechanical nature to a fictional image, an image that does not represent the reality anymore, represents my vision!
“One day...” is a story written by Petre Ispirescu and presents the story of two lovers, a girl and a sailor.
The sailor left his homeland in order to explore the sea and find a new world. He told the girl to pray for his return and come every day by the sea to watch for him. She listened to the sailor and prayed for him three times per day and every evening, she went by the sea and looked for him.
There was no sign from her lover for three years and she thought that he died and will never return. That day, when she lost her hope, she saw a paper boat that has been brought to the land by the waves. She knew that was a sign from her lover, telling her not to lose her hope and that he is still alive. One day, after three more years, she saw her lover’s ship returning to home, they reunited and lived happily ever after.
The photograph has been taken in Romania, more exactly in Vama Veche (The old border), by the Sea, right at the border between Romania and Bulgaria.
The model is one of my friends, Andrada. The makeup artist for this shoot was my girlfriend, Monica.
The photograph is simple and powerful. This photograph did not require too much retouching, the only added object being the ship in the background. Also, a palette of colours has been chosen before the shoot and the prop (paper boat) has been inventively created out of kitchen towels and then arranged in post-production.
Gaia - Mother of Earth
A story that has been influenced by Greek culture, ‘The Legends of Olympus’, written by the Romanian author Alexandru Mitru.
Gaia (Gaea) was the goddess of the earth. She was one of the primordial elemental deities (protogenoi) born at the dawn of creation. Gaia was the great mother of all creation--the heavenly gods were descended from her through her union with Ouranos (Uranus) (Sky), the sea-gods from her union with Pontos (Sea), the Gigantes (Giants) from her mating with Tartaros (the Pit), and mortal creatures born directly from her earthy flesh.
Gaia was the chief antagonist of the heavenly gods. First she rebelled against her husband Ouranos (Sky) who had imprisoned several of her giant-sons within her womb. Later when her son Kronos (Cronus) defied her by imprisoning these same sons, she sided with Zeus in his rebellion. Finally she came into conflict with Zeus for she was angered by his binding of her Titan-sons in Tartaros. She birthed a tribe of Gigantes (Giants) and later the monster Typhoeus to overthrow him, but both failed in their attempts.
In the ancient Greek cosmology earth was conceived of as a flat disk encircled by the river Okeanos (Oceanus) and encompassed above by the solid dome of heaven and below by the great pit (or inverse dome) of Tartaros. Earth supported the seas and mountains upon her breast.
Her visual representation may be the subject of different visual interpretations, but in my vision, Gaia is a half-human half-tree mythical creature that watches the world from above and protects it. Also, her white dress suggests purity. The sky in the picture is cloudy, representing her conflict with Uranus.
The photograph has been taken in Northampton, just on the side of a main road. Tree roots have been added to represent her connection with the Earth and enforce the concept of “Mother of Earth”.
The chair has been erased and the dress has been extended in order to increase the mystery behind the character and make the viewer ask: What’s behind the dress? What is her full appearance?
“Marionette”, a story that brings the subject of metamorphosis, a girl transformed into a string manipulated marionette by an evil Master of Puppets, written by Petre Ispirescu. The story has Czech influences (the Czech string puppet) as the writer has Czech origins.
The appearance of the Master of Puppets is unknown, unspecified by the author, while the marionette is a poor girl of an unbelievable beauty from an isolated village which refused to marry the Master of Puppets.
The evil character decided to punish her for her refusal and transformed her into a marionette. The only way that the girl can be retransformed into a human being is that a man with a noble soul must kill the Master and cut the strings with a golden sword.
In order to lift the model off the ground I have placed her on a soup pan as a chair would have been too tall. The pan has been erased in post production.
The strings have been added to the photograph while the marionette lines have been done by the makeup artist and readjusted in post production.
Also, I have chosen not to include The Master of Puppets as it gives the photograph a dose of mystery, making the viewer ask - Who is The Master of Puppets and what is his appearance? Is he a human being as well or is it an entity, a magical evil force?
Queen of Atlantis
“Queen of Atlantis” is a story written by an unknown author, representing the Queen of The Land and her desire to conquer The Empire of the Sea.
After hearing about the discovery of the underworld the Queen became obsessed about conquering the Sea, but no soldier of her army agreed to help her. The only way to become The Queen of the Sea was to marry the King of the Sea and then kill him.
She met him, the King fell in love with her and proposed her to marry him. The Queen accepted immediately and decided that the wedding should take place in the underworld the next day.
The next day, when she entered the water, she felt very happy and powerful, but, there was one more thing. Blinded by her greed of becoming The Queen of the Sea, she forgot the fact that she could not breath under the water and died from drowning.
The photograph has been taken at Castle Ashby in Northamptonshire. The underwater effect has been added in post production, the whole process taking more than 3 hours.
The model has been erased from the frame and added again a few centimetres above to create the floating effect. The King of The Sea has been added as well in the background, only his tail being visible in order to enforce the mystery of his appearance.
“The path” is a popular Romanian fairy tale, with an anonymous author, a story that has been verbally transmitted over generations. The story represents the journey of a brave princess in order to meet God – The Creator of the World.
Her journey is a long one, full of obstacles, but, most importantly, she needs to find her way back to the Castle after meeting God. Her mother, The Queen, gives her a magical bucket of flowers, flowers that will spread an infinite number of petals behind her, creating a path as she walks.
After six years of walking alone she manages to find God, but never came back to the castle, as the magical flowers proved themselves to be a tool of guiding other people to God, not a tool of showing the way back to the castle.
The photograph has been taken at Netley Abbey in Southampton. There is not too much manipulation, except the path of petals that has been added in Photoshop.
“Floating hopes” is a story written by Ion Creanga, a legend of Romanian Literature. The story presents a regular woman that does not possess any magical powers called Anna, that is trying to bring back the spring time, as the world is dying because of a three years continuous winter.
Anna starts in a journey full of obstacles in order to find the magical objects that will bring back The Spring. She must go past The Sea of Ice, The Forest of Wolves and The Mountain - Guardian of Winter in order to take the “never seen before, indescribable floating objects” that will bring back The Spring in the World.
I have chosen to use balloons in order to represent the “never seen before, indescribable floating objects”. Also, I haven’t been able to find helium for the balloons, so I decided to add them in Photoshop. The birds in the background are a metaphor for the coming of spring and the end of the winter.