PLACES ALMOST NOWHERE
We know him at the latest since his 1997 big exhibition in Arles : Klavdij Sluban in France one of today's most interesting talents. His latest cycle takes us to Black Sea. But is that important ?
When he talks, he talks slowly.
Not that he doesn't master the french language. Quite the opposite
: his French is excellent. Although Klavdij Sluban never tires
no stress that his Slovenian is a lot better. But then, that
is the native tongue. He grew up with Slovenian : Klavdij Sluban,
born in 1963 in Paris, childhood in the Balkans, high school
and studies literature in Paris, returns to Slovenia, and back
in Paris since 1992. As we already said, when he talks, he talks
slowly, thinks before he speaks, reflects on the question instead
of providing a quick answer. This could be because Klavdij Sluban
has been very much torn between two cultures and nations, and
he first doubts everything and everyone. He shoots photographs.
But is he a photographer because of it ? French' nationality
is written in his passport. But wasn't he as a foreigner long
enough ? He of course participated in darkroom courses with Georges
Fèvre, the legendary printer at Picto. But perhaps expressions
that go beyond the sphere of technology are more apt for the
field of photography ? « For me », says Klavdij Sluban,
« photography has a great deal to do with language. A good
photo is like a well structured sentence : It explains an event
to those who were not there at the time. »
Klavdij Sluban is a traveler
out of season and away from any commercial aspects, Brigitte
Ollier writes in her preface to the latest book of the photographer.
« From desolate, poor, grey regions he brings home pictures
that are alwyas in B&W. His work encompasses the subject
of time. He is interessed in people, without wishing to expose
them. Sluban is not a paparazzo of realism. He shoots with the
people at eyes' level, constantly aware of his occupation that
allows many different kinds of interpretations. Including the
worst ones. »
Since the end of the nineties, Klavdij Sluban has been shooting pictures at the Black Sea. These do not convey the view of a geographer or photojournalist. They are not shot on commission, but are free and intrigue the artist who mixes his palette from the subdued colors of the regions. « Especially in winter the grey tones are remarkable », says Klavdij Sluban. Everything appears wiped out. Everyone is hilding away with their thoughst. It is just the opposite to an extrovert way of living, and should not be confused with emptiness : Adeventures are never where one expects to find them. » Klavdij Sluban's adventures emerge from the half-light. They are actually more like well-caught gestures. The event is not his subject matter, but the quiet moment. Not the sensational point, as Roland Barthes puts it. But the actual study : the atmosphere of a region ans its people dipped into dark tones.Possibly the Black Sea its seven countries along the coast is just a excuse for Klavdij Sluban to get away and be on his own. On his own with his thoughts and the piece of literature he always takes with him. And the camera which, of course, is a Leica. « Today » says Klavdij Sluban, « you see the photographers that will tell you the time in Tokyo or the cinema program of New Yorkk and perhaps they can even make coffee. I am not interested. Because at some stage the only thing that counts is what goes on between the camera and the motif. I want a relationship to develop between me and what I shoot. The one thing that is then in between is called a Leica ».