Sampling old musical passages to create new music is a rich and widely discussed practice. But sampling old music to make new photography?
My work with the °CLAIR Gallery introduced me to the photographer Petr Lovigin and his remarkable ‘Black Dwarf’ video. Simply put, it is the most beautiful piece of art I saw in all of 2014. It has everything I love: oddity and splendor and, perhaps most importantly, a nice little intellectual kick; thanks to Lovigin, I discovered that Alexander Vertinsky was the baddest Russian composer and artist I’d never heard of.
I sent Petr an email in Bangladesh where he is in the midst of a multi-month project. He answered three questions for me:
1. Why Vertinsky? Is he beloved in modern Russia?
I think that no. Already one century past his maximal activity. But for me that time (Silver Age of Russian Art, October Revolution 1917, Civil War 1918-1920) is very interesting… I know all the songs of Vertinsky but his romance ‘’Black Dwarf’’, the story behind it – it’s like it is about me.
2. You are like a DJ: you sample images in your photography. (I am also thinking of your Louis Armstrong series.) Why this approach?
Yes, from 2006, I used to make some photo-audio-libraries. I take my favorite songs and music, “project’’ them in my life, make some interpretation and … voila! Robertino Loreti and his “Jamaica’’, Louis Armstrong and his ‘’What A Wonderful World’’, Vertinsky and his “Black Dwarf” became part of my art.
Maybe they are not popular songs and artists now but I think that this is eternal music and I love it. Nothing is more important for me.
3. What are you doing in Bangladesh?
I like this country. I visited Bangladesh in 2013 for 5 days… it’s a tiny period of time, but it was something fantastic. But not only Bangladesh – I love all this region: India, Pakistan too. Another planet for me.