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Sub Rosa, Birthe Piontek

Sub Rosa
Birthe Piontek
Kominek Books


16 pages
150×120 mm
ISBN: Not available


“Sub Rosa” invites us to recollect. Sub Rosa reminds us of a time, a stage in one’s life which could not have been more intimate, and nevertheless exists as a romanticised blur in our mind today. No period in life is so comprehensively enriched with emotions, frustration and high expectations as the stage between our youth and adulthood. Adolescence, the loss of prolonged innocence and the desire to belong and to be different at the same time, seems to be an unconquerable obstacle in the journey of discovering our identity.

The portraits show teenagers in situations that expose them as contemplative, vulnerable individuals. Their innocent faces contrast the partly gloomy stills, which uncover suspicious situations without revealing the suspects. They give hints of the beginning or ending of stories in which the viewers are supposed to imagine themselves. They refer to furtive things and secrets that they want to stay hidden.

“Terrain Vague” is about the twilight zone between good and bad. The project explores the diverse facets and semantic levels of cultural myths, figures and symbols, and illustrates them via combinations of portraits and classic interior and still life photography.

In staged arrangements the portrayed protagonists are seldom involved in any particular action, which makes it easier for us to read our own stories into the pictures. We are invited to bring in and question our own paradigms, symbols and experiences. This demonstrates the impossibility to successfully judge people and situations on grounds of their appearance. Thus, those people are – figuratively – transformed into a terrain vague. A projection screen for our individual assessments. A no man’s land, populated with our personal fears and desires.

Birthe Piontek is a German fine art photographer based in Vancouver BC, Canada.

Kominek Books is a publishing house focusing on documentary photography, geographically in Eastern Europe.