-------------- Nostalgic Adversaries / Ностальгирующие Противники ---------- - Joel K Photography
More than any other sphere of competition between the USSR and the US, the space race captured the imagination of the world. A Russian would call it a cosmonaut, an American would call it an astronaut. Despite their differences on earth, they shared one objective in space.

"Диптихи предлагают зрителям переосмыслить унаследованные предвзятые мнения. И заодно определить какая из неподписанных фотографий снята на «их» объектив, а какая - на «наш»?"


"The unlabelled diptychs challenge viewers to examine their received biases as they seek to determine which photograph shows the world through ‘their’ lens, versus the lens of the Other."


Gallery Наука и Искусство  and the MIR Programme present ‘Nostalgic Adversaries’, a large format photographic project from award-winning photographer Joel Koczwarski. The work has been created in Moscow with the support of the Moscow Gallery of Classic Photography and presented in the parallel program of the 5th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art.


'Nostalgic Adversaries' seeks to challenge the prevailing narrative of the Cold War by asking viewers to gaze through the two lenses - both literal and figurative - of the US and the USSR, and to examine the role that their own perceptions and biases play in what they see and what they know.


To produce this series, the artist used two WWII-era military lenses: an American lens used in US military aircraft for tactical mapping during the war, and a rare Soviet aerial surveillance lens based on the same American plans. Once used for mapping territory during wartime, these lenses are used to map a cultural landscape of the Cold War.


Using these two unique lenses, the artist creates diptychs - two photographs of the same object. The images are almost identical. Viewers are confronted with questions about their own historical political consciousness, as they seek to determine which unlabelled photograph shows the world through ‘their’ lens, versus the lens of the Other. The subjects of the photographs are toy versions of Cold War-era icons – an astronaut, a HappyMeal from the first McDonald’s in Moscow, a hockey player figure from the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit series – suggesting a certain childish immaturity to the geopolitics of the era.


The creation of the artworks follows a analog hand-printing method, in line with the technology available during the Cold War.  Also on display will be the lenses and the large format camera used to create the series, presented as important historical objects in their own right.


Photographer Joel Koczwarski has exhibited across Europe and Canada including shows in Canada (2013), the UAE (2014), Italy (2015), and Russia (2015). He has been awarded with honours from the International Photography Awards and by National Geographic. Interviews with the artist can be found in MonoVisions and F11 magazines online.


‘Nostalgic Adversaries’ is presented by curator Alexander Khmelevsky, and co-curator Mark Kobert and Simon Mraz, with support from the Austrian Cultural Forum. The series will tour to Berlin, Washington and Ottawa in 2017.

Наука и Искусство представляет Ностальгирующие Противники, широкоформатный фотопроект фотографа с мировым именем Жоэля Косварски. Работы были созданы в Москве с поддержкой московской Галереи Классической Фотографии в рамках параллельной программы V московской международной биеннале молодого искусства.


Ностальгирующие Пртоивники - это анализ двух ракурсов. Две параллельно создававшихся истории холодной войны. Два разных объектива в прямом и переносном смысле. Один – советский. Второй – американский. Когда-то, во время войны, эти объективы использовались для тактического картографирования. На этот раз они помогут создать карту культурного пейзажа во времена холодной войны.


Серия предлагает аудитории взглянуть на две фотографии одного и того же предмета через два разных объектива. И при этом обнаружить, что изображения удивительно похожи. Диптихи предлагают зрителям переосмыслить существующие клише. И заодно определить, какая из неподписанных фотографий сделана американский объективом, а какая – «нашим».


Предметы на фотографиях – игрушечные символы холодной войны – такие, как астронавт, настольная игра Монополия, HappyMeal из первого Макдональда в Москве, хоккейный игрок образца 1972 года, шахматная доска, такая же, как на чемпионате мира в Рейкьявике – разве вся эта геополитическая напряженность между двумя сверхдержавами не напоминает вам детские игры? 


Отпечатанные вручную (с негативов 4Х5) черно-белые фотографии размером один квадратный метр представлены в виде диптихов. При создании работ автор использовал исключительно традиционный аналоговый метод согласно технологии, доступной во времена холодной войны. Также в качестве отдельных исторических экспонатов представлены на выставке объективы и камера, использованная для создания этой серии.


Жоэль Косварски участвовал во выставках в Европе и Канаде, включая соло выставку в Канаде (2013),  ОАЭ (2014), Италия (2015), и Москве (2015).


Nostalgic Adversaries представлено куратором Александром Хмелевским и со-куратором Марком Кобертом, Simon Mraz, и Австрийский Культурный Форум. В дальнейшем выставка должна отправиться в Берлин, Вашингтон и Оттаву в 2017 году.

The Camera

The Graflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic was made in the USA between 1945 and 1970. It is notable for having a focal plane shutter that  allows for the use of barrel lenses without shutters. It can achieve speeds up to 1/1000 of a second by utilizing a hand wound spring mechanism attached to a roll of rubberized cloth. The American made 1945 Aero Ektar lens was fitted to the camera using a custom built metal attachment and lens board. The OF-233, the Soviet copy, being notably larger, required a significant amount of adjustments to be made to the Speed Graphic by way of metal file to force them together. One might say the Soviet lens and American camera don’t play nice. In fact, it is possibly the first time in history that these two historic lenses have been used one after the other in the same camera.

The Lenses

During World War 2 the the US military worked with Kodak to produce an aerial surveillance lens called the Aero Ektar. This lens was created for tactical surveillance and mapping during the war. It sat inside military aircraft in a huge metal enclosure with a 12 volt system feeding five inch film thorough it, mapping large tracts of terrain at a rapid pace. The lens continued to be used in aerial photography after the war but quickly became unprofitable due to the high costs of production of such a large lens and production was halted before 1960.

The Aero Ektar is mildly radioactive (akin to a chest x-ray) due to the use of Thorium in the rear element. Thorium is thought to have useful optical properties and was found in several lenses of the era. After production of the lens was halted, technicians quickly strayed from production methods requiring Thorium due to the possibility of bodily harm from the radiation as well as the ‘yellowing’ effect it has on the glass over time.

During the 1960s a copy of the design of the Aero Ektar was used by the Soviet Union to create a Soviet version of the venerable lens. However, the OF-233, as it is called, was produced slightly larger than the American version (at 210mm rather than the 178mm (7 inch) of the Aero Ektar) and without the use of Thorium in the rear element. This lens is thought to have been used in a similar manner, ie. for aerial mapping and surveillance, though documentation of its use is limited. After a few years, production was halted due to the massive amount of resources needed to produce this massive lens. It’s size and weight make it one of the largest “4x5” lenses ever made.


Joel Koczwarski is an international photographer currently based in Moscow. His work has been exhibited in several cities across Canada and Europe including recently in Trieste for the Photo Days festival. His most recent series in Moscow have received coverage in several art publications, including F-Stop Magazine, Adore Noir, MonoVisions, and F11 magazine. He has been awarded by several competitions and been given honours in the International Photography Awards and by National Geographic.

Art Management: Natalie Britton  /  +79250060640  /  info@joelkphotography.com

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