10.98 seconds of Wellington Artists

This is a selection of photos from a photo book portraying Wellington’s community of artists, published in 2011. My first contact with this special group of people happened in 2006 Tim Prebble’s and Tatyana Protsenko’s wind-swept Brooklyn mansion on Tanera Crescent as I met more and more of their friends. Since it started this way, I let the project continue to grow through personal connections, and this is reflected in the way the photos are arranged. It starts with Tim and follows along the branches of the collaborations, friendships and partnerships within the community as they unfolded. Rather than imposing an external and artificial conceptual framework, I allowed chance and coincidence influence the course of the project in the same way as it does in real life. Shared moments and memories connect the individual people and represent the fabric holding together the community as a whole. They provide the threads connecting the people as well as the portraits in this book. At the same time, this portrait in its entirety is no more and no less than a snapshot. The photos were shot over a timeframe of less than ten months and this portrait has no aspiration of being ‘complete’, an impossible aim anyway. Neither does it aim at being timeless. It is a portrait of the community as it was during this time and, if successful, it represents a moment in the history of Wellington. Some prominent people are missing from the book, just as they were absent from the city during the course of the project (about one year). There is, however, one overarching theme. By combining photographs of artists ‘at work’ –musicians on stage or painters in the studio–with portraits in their domestic surroundings, I aim to show both the artistic and the everyday sides of their personalities. In this way, it also a portrait of the artistic process as a whole. None of these portraits were arranged. Instead, I approached each of them with an open mind, trying to keep myself in the background and leave as much space for the artists to choose and express themselves.

Always I was looking for these rare moments when there is a fleeting sense of balance in which people reveal a part of their inner-selves. These seem to take place somewhere between the conscious experience of reality and the subconscious world of feelings and premonitions. They have one thing in common though: they cannot be planned and often take place within fractions of seconds. This is the mysterious nature of photography that continues to fascinate me, the ability to capture all the facets of a moment in time as it happens in front of the lens and conserve it in its entirety–something our senses and our minds are simply (and fortunately) unable to do. It is impossible to ‘see’ everything in a picture as we press the shutter, since our perception is always focused on particularities, fragments of the sheer abundance of events which happen every moment most of which we are bound to miss. The camera does not select though, it is blunt in the way it simply captures and freezes all events simultaneously, yet at the same time it is sharp in eliminating the flow of time which in turn only exaggerates its effect. I think that conscious perception alone is unable to capture the ‘right’ moments out of this incessant flood of events, thus subconscious feelings and premonitions are just as important in anticipating the brief flashes of balance. Altogether, the amount of time captured by the photographs in this book adds up to just over ten seconds–therefore the title. Yet by these fractions of seconds, I hope, sometimes more may be revealed than in any written descriptions–the spirit of the people who make Wellington the unique place it is.


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