Interview Benning and Gladkova
The Amsterdam artist and photography duo Arjan Benning and Polina Gladkova work for various cultural institutions, advertising agencies and magazines all over the world.In their work they are looking for the fine line between authenticity and wonder, balancing on the intersection of visual art and photography.‘As an individual you are ‘only’ a singer-songwriter, together you are a symphony orchestra.You can endlessly collide with ideas, which provides more depth, more richness and fun.In addition, almost every farm is run by a married couple; it's nature, it's life.They have won many awards for their work, including 2 gold, 5 silver, 4 bronze and 2 lamps at PANL, AOP, ADCN and LUERZERS.
How long have you been working together?
We started working together as a duo in 2017.It's a 100% collaboration.In fact, we both do everything that comes with our profession.Together we came up with concepts, photographed, directed and even painted together.
Of course we each have our own talents and we don't literally always sit next to each other.Focused on photography; when our concept is ready, Arjan is often the first to come up with a lighting plan (based on the idea), after which we fine-tune the light together.And after photography, Polina usually picks up image editing.On set, we actually both press the button.Sometimes we take turns and other times we both hold a camera at the same time and shoot from different angles and focal points.The division of tasks also goes further than just the technical implementation.Think of making cups of coffee, choosing a playlist for the day or giving each other some rest.Moreover, we live together, so this form of division of labor continues 24/7 (think of a renovation of our farm or the maintenance of the garden).
In short, no two days are the same.Our photography is not only about the supposedly all-important moment of pressing the button, but also about the dialogue with the subject (whether it is a person or a still life).This dialogue is very important to us and the guiding thread in our lives.Dialogue expresses itself as the conversation we have together, with each other, before we write out the concepts on paper (for example when we are asked to come up with a theater poster), as well as the dialogues with the people who appear in front of our lens.A conversation can fall into words, but sometimes also into a few glances or non-verbal communication.As well as the interaction we enter into with a still life before it is captured on screen forever.We are viewers.We shoot with our eyes even before we have made the physical print.
How did the work 'Eidetic Memory ' come about?
We went in search of our own joint, collective memory.What started as an investigation into our being together has ended up in exactly this project.Our roots are very far apart, but our love feels close.Love for each other and love for our work.This series is a for the time being unending investigation into that.We try to create moments and seasons, seasons in which we could have run into each other.Reconstructions of memories or even of old family photos where we are.As an investigation into a certain experience and whether this experience is still true years later or has been distorted by our mind.Have our paths crossed before, without our conscious knowledge? What comes first, the photo you see years later or your memory of a certain moment?
The work Eidetic Memory is a layered installation of different aspects of us (perhaps collective memory) translated into a two-dimensional plane.
Are you currently working on new projects?
Eidetic Memory is an ungoing project for which we are still making new works.In the first series of Eidetic Memory, we focused on faces and persons from our memory.We now plan to extend this to architecture and landscapes.We are also doing more and more research into the translation of 3-dimensionality to 2D and the use of different media in order to create more depth, mysticism and layering in our work.This is even literal depth lately; for example, we are exploring the field of 3D and the confluence between 3D and photography together with 3D artists.We also dive into our studio with paint, epoxy and brushes.The flat photographic surface is the door to another world for us, and we will continue to focus on this.