Joerg Colberg interviews Nadav Kander

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Joerg Colberg, who writes the blog Conscientious, recently interviewed Nadav Kander about his Prix Pictet–winning Yangtze project, a conversation that led the two into a discussion on the nuances that distinguish documentary work from art and the affinity between Nadav’s portraiture and his landscapes. Here’s an excerpt:

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JC: If a lot of the Chinese people didn’t really understand why you were taking those photographs in some ways it’s similar to people complaining that a lot of contemporary photography is “boring.” A lot of people in the West also love photographs of sunsets and something that’s beautiful, the beautiful landscape photograph. For you, when you see a picture or a scene that you want to take a photograph of – what is the appeal of that which you see? If somebody came up to you and said “why is this photo not boring? Can you explain this?” what would you say?

NK: I think it’s a universal Western truth that we have a real problem thinking any lower than our head into how we feel about things. I think when we are always trying to make our brain do the work and separate a picture into why I like it or why I don’t and what are the reasons for it, it’s often as simple as that it touches me in an emotional place, in a place inside me that responds to this for whatever reason. Maybe the way I was brought up, maybe the way my parents were brought up. Who knows how far these things go? We all have a problem in knowing that.

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“I photograph everyday situations that compositionally attract me in a very beautiful way.” —Nadav Kander

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Good art works on that level very, very well. Think of Rothko as an excellent example. There’s almost no information on the canvas, and people can sit in front of them for hours, with very, very strong feelings. So composition in itself and weight of composition and colour can give you very strong connections to you and your past. I think that probably explains it.

But I would say to people, if I was going to simplify it, that I photograph everyday situations that compositionally attract me in a very beautiful way. What’s probably more succinct is what is boring is something that is just beautiful. Beauty, like yellow or red or boy or girl, is just a word.

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You’ll find the complete interview here.

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