Nat Urazmetova

University: London College of Communication & Goldsmiths, University of London

Graduation: 2009 & 2010

Websitewww.hiddenshine.net

Statement: My photobook is called The Persimmon’s Fruit, it is an intimate photographic essay depicting the journey to Japan. It is also a visual reflection on the concepts of ‘traces’ (omokage) and ‘changeability’ (utsuroi) found in the works by Seigow Matsuoka. Rather than attempting to arrive at something descriptive and concrete, the book is instead trailing the elusive atmosphere, the new sensibilities and subtler connections, accentuating the beauty in imperfections and incompleteness, through light and shadow, contours and fragments, whispers and feelings.

The Persimmon’s Fruit photobook

The Persimmon’s Fruit photobook

My artist practice is at the intersection of video, photography, storytelling and live visual performance. 

What university did you attend and when did you graduate? I did BA in Photography at London College of Communication, graduated in 2009, which was followed by Master’s in Digital Media: Technology and Cultural Form at Goldsmiths. 

What is your favourite photobook by another photographer? Bill Henson’s Mnemosyne continues to be one of the most inspiring, emotionally charged and treasured photobooks in my library alongside with Eikoh Hosoe’s Kamaitchi.

From the series The Persimmon’s Fruit

From the series The Persimmon’s Fruit

Direction: Despite the fact I studied photography and I'm now spending a lot of time working on, reading about, and seeing still images, using the medium is just one amongst the many possibilities of artistic undertakings for me. The intention to make a photobook helped me to reconnect with and reframe my practice of taking pictures. 

Self-publishing was the initial route considered when I started working on the project, but eventually my very good friend and the experienced publisher from Cygnnet became interested in the work, so we decided to cooperate. 

From the series The Persimmon’s Fruit

From the series The Persimmon’s Fruit

Considerations: Essentially, my book tells a non-linear story that unfolds, spirals and takes sudden detours as the pages are turned. Preserving intimacy and integrating some poetic observations in the most subtle, understated way – I followed these intentions. I also believe the work has to circulate autonomously in the world, sometimes beyond the author’s control, to be very accessible in that way. There is some magic in the physicality of a publication, in the tactile sensations arising from holding it, and a different, more emphasised type of engagement. In the conversation with The Happy Reader, Hans-Ulrich Obrist mentions artist books might be seen as some kind of portable exhibition, through which the work comes to the people. I can totally relate to this idea. As opposed to prints, creating a book seemed to me the most organic trajectory to communicate the message.

All the considerations regarding the physical attributes of the book materialised naturally in the discussions with my publisher – for the most part, we followed our intuition, and opted for the following: Hardcover; Offset printing on Munken Lynx paper, 170gsm; size - 16,5x23,2cm, extent - 120 pages / 78 images; 250 numbered copies. 

The Persimmon’s Fruit photobook

The Persimmon’s Fruit photobook

Interior: Once I started working on the mockup, it became instantly apparent that the layout has to be plain and unpretentious to accentuate the images, floating on pages, surrounded by the abundant white space. I wanted to achieve an almost musical rhythm and reciprocity between the photographs and the poetic notes, visualising the book as the assemblage of the freeze frames and the snippets from the character’s inner monologue looped together like in a film.

By publishing the book without any introduction I hope to avoid any prescribed or confining interpretation of the work. To whom I dedicate the book is of the primary significance for me, and the rest – is up to those who find it in their hands. 

From the series The Persimmon’s Fruit

From the series The Persimmon’s Fruit

Inspiration: My journeys to Japan were uniquely transfixing and profoundly moving. And the other sources of inspiration include: Daido Moriyama’s On The Road, Geert Goiris’ Prophet, Yohji Yamamoto’s My Dear Bomb books; the photographic work by Yutaka Takanashi, Saul Leiter and Gueorgui Pinkhassov; David Campany’s writings on photography and cinema, The Aperture Photography Workshop Series books; Chris Marker Sans Soleil and the Japanese new wave films.

From the series The Persimmon’s Fruit

From the series The Persimmon’s Fruit

Advice and Future Goals: It’s vital to outline goals and be clear about your aspirations, the theme, your audience, and to keep in mind that book making is a very time-consuming and compromise-demanding process. It’s also worth being mindful of how much of the author’s autonomy and voice could be sacrificed. 

I would recommend going to bookshops, researching the publications which appeal to you, approaching the publishers, or talking directly to the authors. This would rather be done at the stage when the project is still evolving. Participation in portfolio reviews and showing your work/sharing your ideas with fellow artists, or anyone, actually is also tremendously important. There are also awards and bursaries available, for instance, the European Publishers Award, Bar-Tur Photobook Award, and MACK’s First Book Award.

The Persimmon’s Fruit photobook

The Persimmon’s Fruit photobook

I am deeply thankful to my publisher, Cygnnet, and the Calvert 22 team for their guidance and support. 

Speaking about my future plans, I have a few video projects in production, some of them are documentary, the others are more fiction/narrative-based, aimed to interrogate communication in the era of the digital (dis)connection, memory traces, non-places and thresholds. A series of live visual performances with my music collaborator, Ulrich Schnauss, is being lined up for 2017.