Leo and the forest ghosts

Photographic Works by Julian Atanassov


8.11. – 23.11.2019


Curated by Katharina Rippstein

Julian Atanassov photographs people and places in Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Croatia and Iran. The pictures in the exhibition «Leo and the Forest Ghosts» are just as atmospherical as the title. In his first solo exhibition he is presenting twenty photographs which stand out from the mainstream of contemporary image production due to a deliberately decelerated way of working.


Still images function differently to moving images. Julian Atanassov is familiar with the methods of filmic storytelling from his work as a cinematographer. His photographic works, however, emerge at the periphery of, or far from the film-set, in a diffuse zone somewhere between fiction and reality.


Each photograph stands on its own – without a previous or subsequent image.

In the twenty-part series it may well be possible to make out loose links between the images, yet their significance remains uncertain.


The photographs of people are neither arranged nor unobtrusively «stolen», so that it is difficult to assign them to the usual categories of reportage, documentary or staged photography.


The moments snatched from time are reminiscent of film scenes from European auteur cinema, even if it is unclear whether the pictures were taken in the photographer's private or professional environment.

No story is told and yet each image evokes the possibility of a narrative.


Observing the faces and landscapes captured at a momentum that is both incidental and atmospheric opens up mental, associative spaces. Country, urban and suburban landscapes serve as metaphors for longing and melancholy, or as places of looming disaster.


The empathetic impact radiating from the protagonists is enhanced by precisely chosen light and colour moods.


Julian regards the slowness and unpredictability of analogue photography as both a challenge and an opportunity. The inadequacies of the light sensitive silver emulsion, the coincidence, and unintentional aspects – all these characteristics account for the particular charm of the analogue aesthetic.

The picture series «Leo and the Forest Ghosts» celebrates the hidden independent existence of the film negative and is also to be understood as an appeal to the ghosts of the disappearing technology.

Julian Atanassov lives and works in Berlin and Sofia. His feature-film collaborations have been shown at the major festivals in Cannes, Tokyo, Berlin, Locarno and Sundance. Among others are EASTERN PLAYS, 2009, by Kamen Kalev, THE ISLAND, 2011, by Kamen Kalev, THREE QUARTERS, 2017, by Ilian Metev, YALDA, 2019, by Massoud Bakshi.


So far his photographic works have neither been published nor exhibited.

All images in the exhibition are shot on colour negative film and printed out analogously on Fuji colour paper.