The Flight of the Dove, 30×20″ archival cotton rag print, first print of open edition. Bid here.
Dusk on the Canal Grande, 30×20″ archival cotton rag print, first print of open edition. Bid here.
Starting this week, I will begin auctioning single prints from a new series called Scenes from a Venetian Carnival, along with copies of a companion magazine-style folio under the same title. This is something new we are trying, and if it is successful we will continue to auction prints one by one as a fun way to encourage participation and add a little cha-ching to the purse so I can keep working independently and traveling and making books and living the dream–or at least continue to maintain the appearance of doing so…
So this is how it works: I will be putting up two prints every three days for auction. Though I will not be editioning these prints, I will be numbering them, and each photo in this auction will be #1. In other words, this is the first time that any of these prints will be up for sale, and I will only be selling one of each during this auction. The first two prints are up for auction now here and here, and bidding will end at roughly 2 PM on Tuesday February 5. Once the first two prints have been sold, the next two will go up for auction. After that we may put up three prints up at a time throughout the duration of the Carnival season. After that I will retire to my monastery in the misty mountains and spend my days fasting and meditating. That or go surfing.
Concurrently, I have released a companion booklet for the series, (cover below) which you can purchase here.
If any of you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send me a message on my facebook page. This is somewhat of an experimental endeavor, so I welcome any feedback. I’ll be happy to talk your ear off about it.
If you would like to know more about the history of the project, which began in the winter of 2007, you can take a look at the some of my previous posts from Venice, which will give you some idea of both the evolution of the project conceptually and the logistical hurdles and misadventures that befell me along the way: La Maschera, Il Ballo Tieopolo, Making Friends, Finish What You Started, The Glory of the Republic, Masquerade, Venice Impressions. You can also dig around for missives from my Carnival adventures in New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro if you find yourself so inclined. This year I am taking a break from Carnival, so rather than diving into another mosh pit of masked balls and gay parades, I’m rolling out this new series, and experimenting with some different product offerings to get it out there. Those of you who have me in your Instagram feed may have seen a few teasers, of which there will be more to come throughout the rest of the Carnival season.
The project has taken on a whole new look and feel as the result of a few fortuitous nights I spent this fall ignoring social obligations and pressing business responsibilities to geek out in Photoshop. Truth be told I think I was under the lingering influence of a strange liquid brew from South America…but wherever the creative inspiration came from, things started to get really strange and really cool. It started out with a few design ideas I was trying out for a book on the Venice project, which at the time I had unofficially titled “Songs of Glories Long Since Past: A Venetian Carnival”. My idea was to create ten chapters, each exploring a different aspect of Carnevale, and each beginning with a chapter page constructed out of composited images–combining everything from wall textures to water reflections to crumbling frescoes that I had photographed around the city as backdrops for the text of each chapter title. For instance, Chapter One was going to be titled “La Citta/The City”, and after a certain amount of messing around I came up with a rough draft of a title page that looked like this:
Chapter 2, “La Maschera/The Mask”, was going to look something like this:
However, I got so carried away by the results of these compositing experiments that I began to apply the same techniques to the main body of images themselves, and gradually the whole project transformed into something entirely new. Whereas previously I had straddled the line between documentary and fantasy with this series, I was now stepping into the uncharted territory of—gasp–digital art–by layering images on top of each other in such a way that the surreal and imaginative spirit of Carnival came to life in a much more powerful way.
Most important to this transformation was the use of photographs of the walls of Venice to add texture and context to the images and amplify the themes of decay and lost lost glory and the struggle between the tangibility and intangibility of the past, which have come to be the driving motifs of this project. In Venice, as in any ancient city, history is written upon the walls. Unlike fields and forests and rivers and living bodies, walls and paving-stones do not regenerate; they do not heal. They simply withstand the forces of nature that rain upon them and are transformed, year upon year, century upon century, by the unrelenting creep of decay. Buildings can be rebuilt, façades can be repainted, streets can be re-paved; but if, as in Venice, the marks of history are allowed to remain upon the walls and bridges and canal-banks, they eventually create such fascinating patterns that merely gazing upon them can bring about the same kind of inspirational delight that you might get out of looking at great works of art in the Louvre, the Uffizzi, or the National Gallery.
Since my first rambles around the city in 2007, I’ve been fascinated by these abstract works that the hand of God has wrought upon the walls of Venice, and at some point I considered doing a series consisting of nothing more than photographs of some of the more interesting patterns and patinas I came across while losing my way down a dead-end street or waiting for a friend by a back-alley bridge. So I had a fairly generous storehouse of images of decaying stucco and weathered stone to work with once I stumbled upon the idea of combining them with images from Carnival to create the fresco-like scenes that constitute the newly-imagined series.
Once I began to combine the images with the background textures, sometimes compositing multiple scenes and multiple textures, it was like magic. It just clicked. Everything started to fall into place, and the work immediately assumed a personality and a color and a thematic depth that I had only been able to hint at in my photojournalistic work on the subject. I spent several blissful weeks combining random scenes and textures just to see what would happen, while grudgingly and tardily attending to other business, much to the exasperation of my clients. Those of you out there who are photo-purists of whatever stripe, please accept my apologies for such shameless ignorance of the boundaries of truth-telling and total abandonment of the rules of photojournalism, but if you’ve been following along you should know me better by now anyway. This piece is all about fantasy and imagination, and if there is any “truth” at all to it, it’s a truth about the images that seep through our eyes into our psyches and rearrange themselves into dreams and symbols, creating a tableau of archetypes through which, if we pay attention and let them work their magic on us, we can begin to see and understand ourselves and the world around us in a new light and a new depth.
So without further ado, let the auction begin. The auction for “Flight of the Dove” will end at 2:57 PM on Tuesday the 5th, and the auction for “Dusk on the Canal Grande” will end at 3:04 the same day. If you are interested in purchasing one of these prints and the timing is bad for you, please contact me and we can discuss your bidding options. If you would like to keep updated on this an other auctions and events, you can subscribe to the chrisbickford.com newsletter or follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/chrisbickfordphotographer. Thanks so much for your time and support, and happy bidding!
(NB: Watermarks as shown on these photos are for copyright protection only. Final prints will a contain much smaller, barely noticeable watermark, which will be seamlessly integrated into the composition of the images and will not have my name over the compass icon.)