Nautilus // Let Me Fall Again // White Blonde,
Self published // Self published // Editions Bessard,
The artist's books by Julia Borissova are small acts of faith. Prayers enclosed in treasure chests waiting to be read. These publications require time, dedication and, through tactile and visual contact, direct interaction. Tiny precious objects that contain very distant worlds. Treasures to discover for travelling in time and space in unusual shapes. Stories that unfold and then open to collective knowledge. The book conceived as a sculpture, as a mutant, physical and material object.
This project, born in 2018 during a residency at the National Center of Contemporary Art in Kronstadt, Russia, is influenced by the fascination for Captain Nemo "Nautilus" as in the book by Jules Verne and more generally for the marine world. Among others, in very different eras and worlds, I think about: Jean Cocteau, Jean Painlevé, "Millions Now Living Will Never Die" by Tortoise, the aquatic saga of Drexcya, the myth of Atlantis, "L'Atalante" by Jean Vigo, "The Aquatic Adventures of Steve Zissou" by Wes Anderson... Starting from the idea of giving back to the inhabitants the images kept in the spaces of the local historical museum of Kronstadt fortress-city, the artist has re-photographed some archive photos at the museum. Subsequently these images were presented such as collages on the city walls, with the intention of giving back their iconic and identity value. Not really an immersive experience but certainly an exploration full of surprises for curious and attentive visitors.
Self published in November 2018 // Limited-edition of 315 copies. 46 photos on 72 pages, folded to 205 x 250 mm, open spread 615 x 250 mm, printed on strong paper, housed in the box.
Let Me Fall Again
This passage from the poem "Worstward Ho" by Samuel Beckett gave the author the idea of the book title : Let me fall again: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." Then, as if Samuel Beckett met Maria Lai, the artist's book evolved according to the principles of origami art through paper inserts, fragile red and colored strand, unexpected openings, new shapes, continuous metamorphoses, direction changes and unexpected surprises. The rhythm falls, stumbles, gets up and starts again ... as life does. A delicate consideration, at the same time light and profound, on the notion of falling into artistic practice. Julia Borissova declares herself inspired by the works of Yves Klein, Bas Jan Ader, Peter Greenaway, John Baldessari. I also suggest the splendid cover by the American artist Robert Longo for the album "Ascension" by Glenn Branca, produced by 99 Records in 1981. "Let Me Fall Again" is an imaginary and fantastic journey through the performances and actions of the aeronaut and American parachutist Charles Leroux. Born in the city of Waterbury, Connecticut, Leroux came to Europe in 1889 in order to demonstrate his flying skills with hot air balloons and parachutes. Charles Leroux was about to finish his European tour in Tallinn, Estonia, the artist's hometown, when he finds death. His last fatal fall.
Self published art book, 2018 // Limited-edition of 239 signed and numbered copies. 145 x 200 mm
The book "White Blonde" was born as part of the BeSpoke collection of the French publisher Editions Bessard in 2018. "White Blonde" is the nickname that polar explorers gave to Antarctica. Hostile environment, mysterious, repulsive and attractive at the same time, the South Pole has always catalyzed the attention of the pioneers of the unknown and pristine lands. Becoming in the end , in the collective consciousness, an extraordinary and imaginative place of the mind, full of memories and stories. Julia Borissova freezes the archive photographs of anonymous Antarctic expedition researchers as well as her self-portraits "buried in the ice". The final result takes us into a new landscape, cold and hostile, dreamlike and forgotten, deadly and suspended in time.
Published by Editions Bessard, 2018 // Limited-edition of 250 signed copies with a 15x20 cm signed C-Print. 190 x 260 mm, Hardback
Gianpaolo Arena: Could you tell us something more about how your project "Nautilus" started? Did you start the project with the idea of making a book?
Julia Borissova: I worked on this project during my stay in the residence of the National Centre of Contemporary Art in Kronstadt, Russia in September 2018.
From the very beginning I knew that this will be a book. In recent years I have been developing my artistic practice through the medium of artist's book. I come up with unusual shapes, look at the book like a body, a sculpture
Kronshtadt (German: Krone for "crown" and Stadt for "city") lies on Kotlin Island near the head of the Gulf of Finland. A town established as a sea fortress and the base of the Baltic Fleet for a long time was closed to outsiders.
Through Nautilus, I wanted to allow the viewer to immerse themselves in the certain space and translate the experience I was able to get - the ability to perceive and alive a place not only visually, but also through direct interaction, tactile contact with it.
At first, I re-photographed some archival photos in the local historical museum, and then I used them to create collages right on the walls of houses. My intention was to remove these images from the museum space and return them to the city, I wanted the city itself to become a museum.
This intervention to the urban context continues to exist in the form of a book, which is a mobile exhibition and installation. Holes in some pages allow to focus your eyes on specific parts of the image, to separate the figure from the background. This idea was born as a reference to Captain Nemo's Nautilus in the book of Jules Verne, which was a kind of museum and allowed to admire the ruins of Atlantis through the observation glass.
My goal is to find a connection between viewer and artist through this unbound artist's book, which encourages to interact with and, using these pages, everyone can create an imaginary city, which, according to my plan, is a museum open to all.
GA: Could you tell us something more about how your project "Let Me Fall Again" started? Did you start the project with the idea of making a book? JB: A few years ago, I happened to know the story of Charles Leroux - a self-taught aeronaut, who performed his first public parachute-jump in New York in 1886. From there he travelled the world, including England and Germany, Poland and Russia and died at the age of thirty-two, drowning off the coast of Tallinn, during his 239th jump. I was captivated by the fate of this man who fly away from America to the shores of the Baltic Sea and made his last leap in the city where I was born.
At the same time, I was wonder about the notion of the fall in artistic practice. I was inspired by artworks of Yves Klein, Bas Jan Ader, Peter Greenaway, John Baldessari. Because of this concurrence I decided to look at Leroux's activities from the point of view of art. I decided to create a book that would be a part-factual, part-imagined journey in the footsteps of his performances.
I wanted to encrypt the message in my book about the necessary of persistence and courage for any artist, and this passage from Samuel Beckett's poem "Worstward Ho" gave me an idea of the title of the book - Let Me Fall Again: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better".
GA: Could you tell us something more about how your project "White Blonde" started? Did you start the project with the idea of making a book? How did your collaboration with Editions Bessard start? JB: I've always been interested in Antarctica, the space mysterious and frightening at the same time. I learned that many polar explorers are returning there again and again, despite the most difficult conditions for life and work. As if the White Blonde, as polar explorers call Antarctica, calls and attracts them. I was also stunned that before going to work in Antarctic region, everyone signs a document in case of his death, and many express their desire to be buried there.
Working on my project, I did not initially have an idea to make a book. I wanted to create objects for subsequent shooting that would reflect a feeling of the hostile and unfamiliar environment of South Pole.
I froze the archival photos of Antarctic expeditions, as well as my own specially photographed for the project self-portraits, turning them into "icebergs". I wanted to being a part of the landscape to express a sense of awareness of time, to show the fear of oblivion, termination of activity, entropy through a collision with a smooth, hard, cold ice surface. I aimed to create images where the geographic reality give way to the space of dream.
The book 'White Blonde' was born as part of the BeSpoke collection of publisher Editions Bessard in 2018. Pierre Bessard already was familiar with some of my books. I received an invitation to collaborate and gave him an idea of White Blonde. I'm happy the edition came out, it means that more viewers will see my work...
GA: What has been your 3 favorite photo-books in the last few years? JB: Recent years have been very fruitful for photo-books, but I don't try to see all of them and my choice is based on a very personal level.
Michiko Hayashi, "Hodophylax: The Guardian of the Path" is my favorite. This atmospheric and astonishingly beautiful book like a marvelous adventure in the mystic forest full of surprises.
Another one - deeply moving and very important book: 'Internal Notebook' by Miki Hasegawa. This is a strong, dramatic story told with big love.
And recently joined to my collection - Katherine Longly's "To tell my real intentions, I want to eat only haze like a hermit". This is a deeply anthropological research and, at the same time, very sophisticated artist's book.
Of course, there are other books that I love very much, and there are those that I saw only at a distance and still dream of getting into my collection, but, according to the question, I had to limit my choice and name only three.
GA: Are you currently working on any new project? If so, can you anticipate anything? JB: I think about time as a space of parallel realities, and I would like to reflect this in my next work. It will be several stories with blurred boundaries between fact and fiction. Perhaps this book will be created in the concept of matryoshka - a book in a book in a book.
Julia Borissova was born in Tallinn, Estonia. She lives in St.Petersburg, Russia where she studied at the Academy of Photographic skills in 2009-2010. She graduated from Foundation of information and cultural projects "FotoDepartament", program "Photography as a research", 2011-2013. Participated in a Master class of: S. Maximishin (Russia), 2010; Nordic Photography Experience - Jan Grarup (Denmark, agency NOOR) class, 2011; Morten Andersen (Norway) class, 2011, 2012; Luuk Wilmering (Dutch) class, 2012; Anouk Kruithof (Dutch) class, 2013; Jaap Scheeren (Dutch) class, 2014; participated in a Workshop of the international photography magazine FOAM.
Her work has been exhibited in national and international solo and group shows.
Julia Borissova employs a greater variety of photographic techniques and styles. Her interest is in the conceptual side of the work. During the last years she focused her artistic expression through photo book projects.
Self published // Self published // Editions Bessard