Aliki Braine’s altered images speak to obliteration in its many forms. Synonymous with annihilation, eradication, extinction, ruination, and termination, the act of obliterating implies a kind of killing, and at first glance her images, like memento mori, conspire to remind us that all life inevitably ends. (From the Online Etymology Dictionary: memento mori, n. “reminder of death,” 1590s, from Latin, lit. “remember that you must die.”)
However, within the same list of murderous synonyms, tabula rasa stands apart. (From the Online Etymology Dictionary: tabula rasa, n. “the mind in its primary state,” 1535, from Latin, lit. “scraped tablet,” from which writing has been erased, thus ready to be written on again.) Similarly, and quite literally, Braine scrapes (or cuts, or punches, or pricks, or obscures, or erases) the surfaces of her images, envisioning absences asking be filled, evoking the ever-present possibility of new beginnings. Not ruination, but renewal, the other side of obliteration.
Perhaps the woodland image at top reminds you a bit of the photograph by Palíndromo Mészáros’ that we posted about back in March, titled The Line.
Some readers raised questions regarding that image, specifically whether it had been altered in any way. We reached out to the artist, who graciously wrote back with this (lightly edited) reply:
This is not the first time I’ve been asked about this, as you can imagine, and in the beginning I was quite shocked about how much interest this issue gets. But now I accept that sometimes reality is difficult to believe. I imagine this reaction means that the image is good, so I’m glad.
So to answer your question, if your readers are suggesting that the image is a composite of different photographs, or that there is any kind of manipulation of the image, like adding/eliminating elements, or painting parts of the photograph to make the Line more perfect, the answer is categorically, “No, there is no alteration”.
Of course, I made decisions in developing, but really, really basic ones: curves, white balance, and colour (hue and saturation applied to the whole image). There is not even zone editing. The image has definitely had less work on it than most of the images consumed in the media nowadays.
Many thanks to Palíndromo Mészáros for the clarification.
Want to see more? Watch a short video presentation of his beautiful new photobook, The Line, which tells the story of a massive 2010 toxic waste spill in Ajka, Hungary, here. The original post may be seen here.