A feature by Yevgenia Belorusets
Yevgenia Belorusets is a Ukrainian photographer who lives between Kyiv and Berlin. Her photographic work calls attention to the more vulnerable sections of Ukrainian society: queer families, out-of-work coal miners, the Roma, people living in the warzone in the East. She has just published a book of stories called Fortunate Fallings, about women living in the shadow of the now-frozen, now-thawing conflict in the Ukrainian East, the result of Russian military intervention after the Kyiv Maidan of 2014. The book’s linguistic eclecticism—the stories are in Russian but the publisher and packaging are Ukrainian—silently defies hardline cultural propaganda in both countries. Apart from being political, Fortunate Fallings is also an astonishingly intelligent, moving, and exquisitely written work of ironic European literature. The publishing house Matthes & Seitz will issue it in Germany in the fall; meanwhile, we have translated two stories from it into English, as well as asking the Russian writer Maria Stepanova to review the whole. . .
A feature by Cynthia Haven
Music & Literature found photographer Lena Herzog early on a February morning at a San Francisco landmark, the Renaissance Forge. The venue, on a gritty South-of-Market alley, is a marvel: the cavernous dark interior looks like a modern alchemist's lab, with a large open kitchen, cooking utensils, and pots hanging from the ceiling. Jars of herbs and spices line the walls. They share space with red-hot forges, wrought iron, sheets of metal, and iron rods . Blacksmith, hunter, and master chef Angelo Garro, the Sicilian proprietor, is a personal friend of Lena and her husband, the filmmaker Werner Herzog. The Herzogs are in a rush to return to Los Angeles—he has a film schedule and Lena must resume her tours for her newly published Strandbeests: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen. Lena Herzog spent seven years tracking the evolution of a new kinetic species, intricate as insects but dwarfing its creator, a scientist-artist, in size as they roam the beaches of Holland. Her previous book, Lost Souls (2010) takes her back to her Russian roots: Peter the Great purchased and kept a remarkable collection of human and animal anomalies and kept them in the “Cabinet of Wonders,” housed in Russia's first museum on the Neva. But it is the human remains that are the “lost souls”—never alive, not even ghosts, but these Siamese twins and deformed fetuses remain heartbreaking in their eternal vulnerability, preserved in Herzog's humane and intimate photography. But Lena Herzog has a lot more to say in the brief hour before her departure, and not only on her photography . . .