Contemplative Photography

An abstract from an interview of Alex Markovich for LIFE AS ART MAGAZINE (Russia) devoted to his exhibition “Contemplative Photography” which was held in Belgorod State Pushkin Library (Russia) in February and March 2018.

Alex Markovich:

I came across the term “Contemplative Photography” in September 2014. In the comments on my other blog a lady from the States said that some of my pictures which had been presented on my site are in the genre which is called Contemplative Photography. Well, that was not something really new as I referred to those pictures as “Haiku Photography”.

I do like the word combination “Contemplative Photography” but I prefer not to place my images into any categories. Even if I do so I say that all pictures we take are “screenshots of the Universe” or “screenshots of our being”. But it’s a totally different subject.

This is my fifth exhibition on “Contemplative Photography”. The first one was held in Belgorod (Russia) in 2015. The second, the third and the fourth ones were held in the United States (two cafes and a yoga center) – I sent the electronic images to my friends, they printed them and put in those places. The pictures keep traveling from place to place and I have no idea where they are now, but I am happy that they had not been put on a dusty shelf.

Speaking in the context of Contemplative Photography most of all I like taking pictures of sunlight on various surfaces. I’ve got over one thousand photos of sunlight taken for the last 6 years. On this exhibition I have presented 24 images. Here are some examples (the exhibition is a mixture of sunlight and pure abstractions):

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On the Internet you can find some good sites which are devoted to Contemplative Photography. The other term they use are Miksang or Miksang Photography. Miksang is a Tibetan word meaning “good eye”.

I know that Contemplative Photography is quite popular in the United States and Canada. There are even schools on Miksang – classes and workshops are held in various places. In Russia I know only one person in Moscow who practices Contemplative Photography and arranges exhibitions.

I don’t want to oppose Miksang to other genres of Photography. I think that Contemplative Photography has a lot to do with spiritual evolution of a person, not just knowing how to hold a camera. It’s a matter of watching… observing… contemplating. Not just seeking for an interesting object but rather being ready when the object, scene or phenomenon would gently call you to have a look at them.

In April 2018 this exhibition will be moved to another library and then in June will travel to another city. So many people will have a chance to find out what “Contemplative Photography” is.

Watercolor Paintings as Postcards

Watercolor Paintings as Postcards.

By Nadine Sarkozi (52 y.o., Lyon, France).

I am also not a WordPress user like my husband Gerard but at request of Alex Markovich I am writing this post to share my impressions on his “watercolor postcards”.

Being a child I liked collecting postcards. I used to have a big collection of what is called nowadays “retro postcards”. I remember exactly what had happened to that collection, as when moving to a new house you always get rid of old stuff. My cousin for example had thrown away his collection of vinyl records so what to say about my pictures.

I sometimes peep into the café of our friend Andre for a cup of coffee. The exhibition of “Russian Postcards” was pinned right at the entrance. I didn’t immediately understand that those images were postcards, and not just drawings. What defined them as postcards from a closer view was the frame around the image and scratchy surface. I unpinned one of the images and it really turned to be a postcard sent from Russia.

Andre had explained to me about the whole set up. I think the most appropriate word to use here is “nostalgia” – I immediately remembered my “retro collection”.

I am not a professional artist but I like to draw. Sometimes I do pencil sketching. Some of Alex’s postcards were not just classical tourist images but nice and neat watercolor paintings.

As all the postcards belonged to our friend Bernard as he was the receiver I asked my husband to get in touch with Alex. He had happily agreed to send us a few Russian postcards. I have also got some scanned images of Alex’s watercolor paintings.

It’s so nice that you can hold in your hands a real postcard which had travelled 3 000 kilometers from Moscow (Russia) to Lyon (France).

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Travel to Russia

An abstract from an interview of Alex Markovich for “Radio of Russia”. September 2015.

Elena Ovcharenko: As far as I am concerned your “Travel to Russia” project is being developed for years. Will it have a final official launch? I mean a special site, social networks accounts, advertising campaign online and offline?

Alex Markovich: I tried many variants, but decided to stay within one site. “Travel to Russia” project is located on my artistic blog with a simple title MARKOVICH.TV. Why within this blog? It has already acquired an interested audience. It’s much easier to promote something which has an established following and reputation. There will be no official launch. First of all I would like to concentrate on the visitors who are already in Russia: those who came on business trips, or visiting their friends or relatives.

Elena Ovcharenko: OK. If somebody agrees to use your services, what do you offer?

Alex Markovich: I would like to make it very clear – I do not offer any services as a tour guide or an interpreter. I wrote an article “Photo story of your travels” where I explain that my services are based on documenting the visitors’ time spent here in Russia. I take photos of them within the context of their environment. Here is an example. A husband and a wife come to Russia. Of course they have got their own cameras. But I am sure they would like to bring back home lots of pictures of them being on photos TOGETHER. And more than that – in a natural environment: at the cafes, exhibitions, walking in the streets, feeding the pigeons, etc.

Elena Ovcharenko: Will you offer the visitors any routes or just follow where they go?

Alex Markovich: I prefer rural areas, but I believe for a person, who comes to Russia everything is a potential interest. I can offer them a visit to St Petersburg, The Golden Ring of Russia, and of course to spend a couple of days in picturesque places at the lake, pond, forest, etc. Photos are the main impressions people can share with their friends and relatives after their return. I will follow them wherever they go; but, in addition, I can recommend and advise many destinations in Russia, based on my own first hand experiences as well as feedback from many a satisfied former customer. I have traveled the length and breadth of my Motherland, and over the years have developed an instinct of sorts for people’s photographic preferences.

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On the photo: The Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl River. Vladimir, Russia. October 2014.

Russian Postcards – Every Month

Russian Postcards – Every Month

By Gerard Sarkozi (56 y.o., Lyon, France).

I am not a WordPress user as my friend Bernard whom I have known for over 20 years. And I am not a good writer too. But a friend of Bernard Alex Markovich asked me to share my thoughts on getting Russian postcards. So here we go.

In 2017 Bernard arranged at the café of our mutual friend Andre an exhibition called “Postcards from Russia”. There were about 40 postcards (pinned to the walls) presented at the exhibition. Those were the photos and watercolor paintings of Alex Markovich.

When I was much younger I used to send greeting cards to my relatives in France, Italy and Greece but with the age of computers physical postcards were replaced by electronic cards. In the beginning of the millennium it was fun to send virtual postcards but with the development of cellular networks it is much easier to make a phone call rather than sending a letter or a card.

I go to Andre’s café almost every weekend for a glass of beer or two. And when it was a regular beer time and I came to the café in the evening I saw an exhibition of the postcards. What really impacted me – those Russian postcards were not the ones what we call “tourist postcards”. Alex’s postcards were the kind of “art postcards” or “landscape postcards”. Each one had a description of the place where the landscape was captured or painted.

I asked Bernard what it was all about and he told me the whole story how he had met Alex and since then had been receiving Russian postcards once or twice a month. Though I did hear of postcrossing (exchanging postcards) it was weird that someone was sending his photos or drawings as a postcard via regular mail. Why not to scan the image and e-mail it?

The next day I came to the café and was looking at those Russian postcards again. There was something peculiar and nostalgic about them. I asked Bernard to give me Alex’s e-mail and asked him to send me a postcard. In two weeks I got it. A postcard from Russia with handwritten message on the back of it and with a real stamp! I told Alex that I would like to get one or two Russian postcards every month and that I would reimburse all the costs.

It is April 30, 2018 and by now I have got in my own collection 11 postcards from Russia. As my wife is fond of art I ask Alex to send me only his watercolor paintings. Maybe this winter we will repeat the exhibition at Andre’s café and it would be my collection of Russian postcards.

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Russian Postcards in My Mailbox

Russian Postcards in My Mailbox.

By Bernard Fortier (51 y.o., Lyon, France).  

I met Alex Markovich online via his project “Russian Postcards” in 2015. I was looking through different websites on traveling to Russia as I was going to fly to Moscow in October 2015 on business and bumped onto Alex’s blog. Though I did not have a chance to meet Alex in real life – he was in October 2015 in Kazan at the theater festival taking video – we could chat on the phone every day. We keep doing that now once a month via Viber.

I was thrilled with what Alex had been doing – sending Russian postcards all over the world, so I asked him to mail me one. My wife and I got so excited when we received a real postcard from Russia in our mailbox that we asked Alex to send us a few more cards.

It’s been now 2.5 years, as we right along get two Russian postcards every month. One card is with a photograph and the other one is with Alex’s watercolor sketch. I counted them: we’ve got 64 postcards – a decent collection. I even arranged an exhibition of these Russian postcards at my friend’s café in November and December 2017. Three of my friends were imbibed with this idea and since then they also get Alex’s postcards.

I think this idea of sending postcards all over the world is really cool, especially in the age of smartphones and computers.

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