Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Light floating like fog

The English version of Instant Light: Tarkovsky Polaroids is now available in paperback (Thames & Hudson). Andrei Tarkovsky took to using a Polaroid camera in the late seventies and these images of Vermeer-like interiors and landscapes of memory are a distillation of the particular atmosphere that some of us find compelling in his films. The Guardian site has some of these photographs alongside some brief commentary by Andrei Tarkovsky’s son (this commentary would have been welcome in the book – instead there are quotations from the director’s writings).

Instant Light includes an essay by photographer Giovanni Chiaramonte which is available at the excellent Tarkovsky site Chiaramonte draws attention to the way these photographs capture different aspects of the light of Italy and Russia. There is ‘a soft, suffused light floating like the fog over the fields of the immense plain around Myasnoye’, Tarkovsky’s house in the country, ‘low, raking light given off by the grass in the woods’, and ‘evening light reflected, lighter than the sky, in the water along the bank of the ParĂ  River’. For me, the small Polaroid photographs of the Bagno Vignoni, with steam rising from the water in a golden haze, are almost as affecting as the slowly moving images in the film Tarkovsky’s made there, Nostalghia.

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