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Olivia Milani
Olivia Milani
Olivia Milani

Olivia Milani

Country: Switzerland
Birth: 1984

Artist and photographer Olivia Milani has been captivated by images and the power of visual language since she can remember. Olivia studied photography at Central Saint Martins in London, graduating with a Postgraduate degree in Photography.

Through her curious, inquisitive and lyrical looking, she creates subtle, open narratives that usually develop into long term projects. Travel is an important source of inspiration for her work. As much as representing outer places or destinations, her dreamlike images conjure inner landscapes suggestive of internal states and the fluidity of emotions.

Partly constructed, partly simply observed or gathered as they happen in the moment, her images are often situations encountered by chance which she then invests with symbolism, mythological and literary references.

Her work has been exhibited internationally and she has enjoyed collaborations with many gifted artists. Growing up in the context of a multicultural background in the Italian speaking region of Switzerland, she lives and works in London, England and feels at home in the world.

Olivia sees photography as a tool for outer and inner exploration and discovery. Approaching her work with serious playfulness, she likes to let its meaning unfold.

About Eastern Winds
"Eastern Winds is about a journey of tracing my roots and reconnecting the fragmented aspects of my family past. It all started when I opened an old suitcase filled with photographs and letters - the remnants of my grandmother Lydia's life in Russia. The photographs were mainly portraits from 19th and 20th century Russia. Their soulful and enigmatic quality captured me immediately and led me on a voyage, first inner and imaginary, and eventually outer - like following a river back to it's source, I decided to travel to Russia.

Starting in Moscow, I crossed the country by land, from West to East, travelling along the Trans-Siberian railway route all the way to Siberia, that to me felt like the far northern edges of the world. As I was travelling through the immense vastness of the endless Russian plains, I was imagining the lives and destinies of my ancestors. A great stillness stretched around me and it felt as if the limitlessness of these landscapes was re-shaping my inner geography, linking me back to the continuum of my ancestral connections.

My grandmother Lydia was born in Moscow to a Russian mother and Swiss father. All I know is that during the time of the political turmoil of the Russian Revolution her family got torn apart and she had to flee Russia over night. She was 20 and travelled to Switzerland on a cargo train with one sister. She never saw her family and homeland again.

These images are a way of weaving back together the broken threads of my family history - a tapestry composed of lost and found family photographs, untold stories and memories half vanished through time.

An act of remembrance and a way of reappropriating my family history and transnational heritage.

Blending the pictures I took during the journey with the photographs of my ancestors is an attempt of linking past and present together, one family member to another, one generation to another. Reconnecting to the ancestors returns us to the river of life that flows from the past into the present moment to nourish us."
-- Olivia Milani
 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Rena Effendi
Azerbaijan
1977
Diane Arbus
United States
1923 | † 1971
Diane Arbus was an American photographer and writer noted for black-and-white square photographs of "deviant and marginal people (dwarfs, giants, transgender people, nudists, circus performers) or of people whose normality seems ugly or surreal." Arbus believed that a camera could be “a little bit cold, a little bit harsh” but its scrutiny revealed the truth; the difference between what people wanted others to see and what they really did see – the flaws. A friend said that Arbus said that she was "afraid... that she would be known simply as 'the photographer of freaks'"; however, that phrase has been used repeatedly to describe her. In 1972, a year after she committed suicide, Arbus became the first American photographer to have photographs displayed at the Venice Biennale. Millions of people viewed traveling exhibitions of her work in 1972–1979. Between 2003 and 2006, Arbus and her work were the subjects of another major traveling exhibition, Diane Arbus Revelations. In 2006, the motion picture Fur, starring Nicole Kidman as Arbus, presented a fictional version of her life story. Although some of Arbus's photographs have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction, Arbus's work has provoked controversy; for example, Norman Mailer was quoted in 1971 as saying "Giving a camera to Diane Arbus is like putting a live grenade in the hands of a child." Others have, however, pointed out that Mailer was dissatisfied with a picture of him holding his crotch taken by Arbus for the New York Times book review. Diane Arbus was born as Diane Nemerov, to David Nemerov and Gertrude Russek Nemerov. The Nemerovs were a Jewish couple who lived in New York City and owned Russek's, a famous Fifth Avenue department store. Because of her family's wealth, Arbus was insulated from the effects of the Great Depression while growing up in the 1930s. Arbus's father became a painter after retiring from Russek's; her younger sister would become a sculptor and designer; and her older brother, Howard Nemerov, would later become United States Poet Laureate, and the father of the Americanist art historian Alexander Nemerov. Diane Nemerov attended the Fieldston School for Ethical Culture, a prep school. In 1941, at the age of eighteen, she married her childhood sweetheart Allan Arbus. Their first daughter Doon (who would later become a writer), was born in 1945 and their second daughter Amy (who would later become a photographer), was born in 1954. Diane and Allan Arbus separated in 1958, and they were divorced in 1969. The Arbuses' interests in photography led them, in 1941, to visit the gallery of Alfred Stieglitz, and learn about the photographers Mathew Brady, Timothy O'Sullivan, Paul Strand, Bill Brandt, and Eugène Atget. In the early 1940s, Diane's father employed them to take photographs for the department store's advertisements. Allan was a photographer for the U.S. Army Signal Corps in World War Two. In 1946, after the war, the Arbuses began a commercial photography business called "Diane & Allan Arbus," with Diane as art director and Allan as the photographer. They contributed to Glamour, Seventeen, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and other magazines even though "they both hated the fashion world." Despite over 200 pages of their fashion editorial in Glamour, and over 80 pages in Vogue, the Arbuses' fashion photography has been described as of "middling quality." Edward Steichen's noted 1955 photographic exhibit, The Family of Man, did include a photograph by the Arbuses of a father and son reading a newspaper. In 1956, Diane Arbus quit the commercial photography business. Although earlier she had studied photography with Berenice Abbott, her studies with Lisette Model, beginning in 1956, led to Arbus's most well-known methods and style. She began photographing on assignment for magazines such as Esquire, Harper's Bazaar, and The Sunday Times Magazine in 1959. Around 1962, Arbus switched from a 35 mm Nikon camera which produced grainy rectangular images to a twin-lens reflex Rolleiflex camera which produced more detailed square images. In 1963, Arbus was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for a project on "American rites, manners, and customs"; the fellowship was renewed in 1966. In 1964, Arbus began using a twin-lens reflex Mamiya camera with flash in addition to the Rolleiflex. Her methods included establishing a strong personal relationship with her subjects and re-photographing some of them over many years. During the 1960s, she taught photography at the Parsons School of Design and the Cooper Union in New York City, and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. The first major exhibition of her photographs occurred at the Museum of Modern Art in a 1967 show called New Documents, curated by John Szarkowski. The show also featured the work of Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander. Some of her artistic work was done on assignment. Although she continued to photograph on assignment (e.g., in 1968 she shot documentary photographs of poor sharecroppers in rural South Carolina for Esquire magazine), in general her magazine assignments decreased as her fame as an artist increased. Szarkowski hired Arbus in 1970 to research an exhibition on photojournalism called From the Picture Press; it included many photographs by Weegee whose work Arbus admired. Using softer light than in her previous photography, she took a series of photographs in her later years of people with intellectual disability showing a range of emotions. At first, Arbus considered these photographs to be "lyric and tender and pretty," but by June, 1971, she told Lisette Model that she hated them. Associating with other contemporary photographers such as Robert Frank and Saul Leiter, Arbus helped form what Jane Livingston has termed The New York School of photographers during the 1940s and 1950s. Among other photographers and artists she befriended during her career, she was close to photographer Richard Avedon; he was approximately the same age, his family had also run a Fifth Avenue department store, and many of his photographs were also characterized as detailed frontal poses. Another good friend was Marvin Israel, an artist, graphic designer, and art director whom Arbus met in 1959. Arbus experienced "depressive episodes" during her life similar to those experienced by her mother, and the episodes may have been made worse by symptoms of hepatitis. Arbus wrote in 1968, "I go up and down a lot," and her ex-husband noted that she had "violent changes of mood." On July 26, 1971, while living at Westbeth Artists Community in New York City, Arbus took her own life by ingesting barbiturates and slashing her wrists with a razor. Marvin Israel found her body in the bathtub two days later; she was 48 years old.Source: Wikipedia
Sandrine Hermand-Grisel
Sandrine Hermand-Grisel grew up in Paris, France and in London, UK. She studied International Law before deciding to dedicate her life to photography in 1997. Influenced by her late mother's sculptures and her husbands paintings and films, she worked on several personal projects before her series Nocturnes was recognized in 2005 by Harry Gruyaert, Bertrand Despres and John Batho for the Prix Kodak de la Critique Photographique. In 2006 she moved with her family to the United States and began experimenting landscape photography with her series Somewhere and On the road. Despite the diversity of her projects she has a unique, very intimate, relationship with her subjects. Photography provides her with a way to express her feelings, like in the series ''Nocturnes'' where she photographed only close friends and family members peacefully abandoning themselves in front of her camera. ''Somewhere'' is her dream of America, a road trip through her adopted country. And ''Waterlilies'' is full of joy and love for her two children as she watched them jumping and playing in pools over and over again. Sandrine Hermand-Grisel not only photographs what she loves, she breaks free from her own reality in her poetic vision of the world. In 2013, she created the acclaimed website All About Photo and now spends most of her time discovering new talents while still working on personal projects. All about Sea Sketches Since I was a little girl my parents insisted that my brother and I accompany them almost every weekend to see an exhibition, a museum or an historic house. What was excruciating at first slowly became a real pleasure. Thanks to them, I had the privilege to see incredible exhibitions both in Paris and London where I grew up. Depending on my age and moods at the time, I favored a century, a movement, a painter... It was love at first sight when I discovered "Wanderer above the Sea of Fog" by Caspar David Friedrich. In the foreground, a young man stands upon a rocky precipice with his back to the viewer. He overlooks a landscape covered in a thick sea of fog. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of nature, the subtle colors, the calm and yet the movement that came from the wind. I perceived the character as content and in harmony with nature and I wondered if one day I would find my perfect place... and many years later, I did. On the west coast of Florida lies Anna Maria, a quaint barrier island nestled in the Gulf of Mexico. The water is warm and turquoise, the sand is white. Well preserved, the birds and turtles come here to nest while the respectful tourists lie on the sand every night to witness the incredible sunsets. Time is suspended. With the romantic painters Turner and Friedrich in mind, I captured a glimpse of Anna Maria, its light, its beaches, its movement, its unleashed elements... I hope you will immerse yourself in my Sea Sketches "paintings" and escape with me, even for the length of a sigh, from the harsh realities of life and share my happy place.
Angelika Kollin
Estonia
1976
Angelika Kollin is a 44 year old Estonian photographer currently based in Tampa, Florida. She is self-taught and engages with her passion for photography and art as a tool of exploration of interhuman connections, intimacy, and/or the absence of such. Angelika has spent the last 8 years living in African countries (Ghana, Namibia, South Africa), where she explored the same topic in a variety of different cultures and economic conditions. More and more it strengthens her belief that despite many circumstances in life, the one thing that shapes us the most is our relationship with our parents. Through intense artistic evolution she has arrived at her current and ongoing project You Are My Mother/Father. Statement: My main project for the year 2020 became You are my Mother that subsequently expanded into You are my Father. As the covid pandemic rolled over the world, many of us found ourself going back to basics and spending more times with our families. I started photographing my project in April, while we were still in complete lockdown in Cape Town,South Africa. Initially I only wanted to document an act of acceptance and joining I witnessed between a mother and her adult daughter. Afterwards I continued to explore same "story" in other mother/child connections, examining the impact it has on my own family life and on my audience. There is no groundbreaking story occurring in my project, and yet, at least for myself, I am learning to understand the significance and value of connection to our family and how it shapes us for the rest of our life.
Deborah Bay
United States
Deborah Bay is a Houston artist who specializes in constructed studio photography. She has exhibited most recently at Photo London Digital 2020, Foto Relevance (Houston), Texas Contemporary 2018 and 2019 and Photoville Brooklyn. Her work is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson and Dorsky Museum of Art at State University of New York at New Paltz. LensCulture and the Griffin Museum of Photography highlighted images from her Traveling Light series in on-line features earlier this year, and the British Journal of Photography has published her work on its cover. Her work was recognized in the Texas National 2018, and she was a finalist for Artadia Houston 2015. An active member of the Houston arts community, she has served on the board of the Houston Center for Photography and its Advisory Council. She holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from The University of Texas at Austin. Statement: My work explores the beauty of light and color. It builds on a studio practice that has focused for the past 15 years on constructed, macro photography. The images in the work presented here bring together an eclectic set of influences, ranging from geometric constructivism to color field. After collecting an assortment of prisms and lenses, I became interested in capturing how light and color interact with optical materials - seeming to bounce nonchalantly across surfaces, yet strictly bound by the laws of physics. Lenses and prisms were layered and stacked at angles to capture light wrapping around form. Chromatic geometries emerged from the planes and lines of color created using film gels. In my practice the camera often is a tool for highlighting details of physical phenomena that are overlooked or not easily observed. Particularly intriguing is the mystery created by the juxtaposition of scale - making close-up images of small objects and showing them as prints at many times their actual size. The images were produced in-camera and follow in the lineage of experimental studies exploring the most elemental components of photographic processes: light and lenses.
Mária Švarbová
Slovakia
1988
Mária Švarbová was born in 1988; she currently lives in Slovakia. Despite studying restoration and archeology, her preferred artistic medium is photography. From 2010 to the present, the immediacy of Maria's photographic instinct continues to garner international acclaim and is setting new precedents in photographic expression. The recipient of several prestigious awards, her solo and group exhibitions have placed her among the vanguard of her contemporaries, attracting features in Vogue, Forbes, The Guardian, and publications around the world; her work is frequently in the limelight of social media. Maria's reputation also earned her a commission for a billboard-sized promotion on the massive Taipei 101 tower, in Taiwan. Maria's distinctive style departs from traditional portraiture and focuses on experimentation with space, colour, and atmosphere. Taking an interest in Socialist era architecture and public spaces, Maria transforms each scene with a modern freshness that highlights the depth and range of her creative palette. The human body throughout her oeuvre is more or less a peripheral afterthought, often portrayed as aloof and demure rather than substantive. Carefully composed figures create thematic, dream-like scenes with ordinary objects. Her images hold a silent tension that hints at emergent possibilities under the lilt of clean and smooth surfaces. There is often a sense of cool detachment and liminality in Maria's work. Routine actions such as exercise, doctor appointments, and domestic tasks are reframed with a visual purity that is soothing and symmetrical and at times reverberant with an ethereal stillness. The overall effect evokes a contemplative silence in an extended moment of promise and awareness—a quality difficult to achieve in the rapid pace of modern life. Maria's postmodern vision boldly articulates a dialog that compels the viewer to respond to the mystery, loneliness, and isolation of the human experience. Nevertheless, deeply embedded within the aqueous pastels, Maria's compositions hold to a celebratory elegance that transforms the viewer's gaze into an enduring reverence for life's simple beauty. Hasselblad Master 2018 Forbes 30 under 30 Winner of International Photography Awards 2016 All about Swimming Pool In the Swimming Pool is Maria's largest series yet, originating in 2014 and continuing to develop to date. Sparked by a hunt for interesting location, her fascination with the space of public swimming pools contributed to developing her visual style. Sterile, geometric beauty of old pools set the tone for these photographs. Each of them pictures a different pool, usually built in the Socialist Era, in various locations in Slovakia. There is almost cinematographic quality to the highly controlled sceneries that Maria captures. The figures are mid-movement, but there is no joyful playfulness to them. Frozen in the composition, the swimmers are as smooth and cold as the pools tiles. The colours softly vibrate in a dream-like atmosphere. Despite the retro setting, the pictures somehow evoke a futuristic feeling as well, as if they were taken somewhere completely alien. There is no disturbing emotion, there is no individuality in their stillness. The artificial detachment, created by Maria's visual vision, allows unique visual pleasure, unattainable in real life.
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