Archives abounding in collections of nineteenth-century photographs contain numerous examples of works dealing with the subject of bodily anomalies. Information about such pictures being taken used to be published on a regular basis in daily press, in which the readership were notified about photo ateliers which immortalised a variety of “monstrosities”. Although it would seem that such pictures were taken solely for scientific purposes, the many and varied contexts of their use let us link them to a much older tradition of viewing and collecting visual curiosities. Having the above facts in mind, this article confronts the popular habits of photographing peculiarities in the 19th century, with museum practice and the Wunderkammers tradition. The space of a photograph may substitute exhibition space, while a desire to watch all kinds of abnormalities and the culture of curiosity determines the connection between former museum visitors and recipients of photographs.
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Digital imaging may have tied us to the computer keyboard, but it allows us to recuperate for photography the freedom and control that painters and draughtsmen have always had when reconstructing space on a flat surface. Angles of vision can be explored beyond the normal reach of the human eye or the camera lens. For the last few years I have concentrated in particular on the application of orthographic projection to photographic images, both moving and still. I have found that removing the conventional perspective has the effect of defamiliarising and enriching what we see: objects seem to pass directly into memory not as images but as realities.
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“For each photograph raises its subject to a degree of abstraction which automatically confers on it a certain generality, so that every child photographed is a thousand children possessed.”
The article that aims to analyse the artistic production of photographer Bojan Salaj is based on conversations and reviews of his archive. Among Slovenian photographers, Salaj is the one who has been seen as an embodiment of the decisive shift in perception of the photographic medium that occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He has never worked as documentary photographer or photojournalist; his authorial practice has always been primarily focused on the context of exhibition and against unconventional solutions. Salaj is one of those photographers who are characterized by the deep reflection of the meaning and perception of image from different, mainly philosophical, viewpoints, while at the same time following the objectivistic principles of photography. At a glance, his practice is extremely eclectic and post-modern, which is due to the fact that he is not looking to find an individual and recognizable artistic voice; he dedicates his focus to individual projects, bringing into his work various different references and themes. Nevertheless, a central motive can still be perceived throughout his output. In the past 25 years, Salaj has mostly been attracted to the here and now; this includes the fundamental problems of representation of photography in mass media, iconography of power structures, models of construction of history, and ways of establishing national and cultural identities.
Bojan Salaj (born 1964) is a photographer, who since the early 1990s continuously creates and exhibits his artistic projects. In his works he highlights and questions the representation of photography in mass media, iconography of power structures, models of construction of history, and ways of establishing national and cultural identities. He commonly follows distinctly conceptual approaches and objectivistic principles. Since 1994, he is employed as a photographer at the National Gallery in Ljubljana, and is the author of numerous photographs from the field of Slovenian fine art cultural heritage. He lives and works in Ljubljana.