World-renowned architecture photographer Iwan Baan showcases his urban pilgrimage through the streets of Prague in an exhibition at the Centre for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning (CAMP) in Prague. Iwan Baan: Prague Dairy exhibition shows the city as raw, often neglected, and miles away from the glossy pictures in tourist guides.
Urban pilgrimage through the streets of Prague.
Last summer, Iwan Baan, a world-renowned architecture photographer, visited and photographed Prague for the first time in his life. Seven days with a camera in hand – on foot, on a bike, and from a helicopter. Through the center, the periphery, and the landscape along the Vltava River. He now presents his work, which shows the city as raw, often neglected, and miles away from the glossy pictures in tourist guides. The exhibition, entitled Iwan Baan: Prague Diary, runs until 20 August at CAMP.
The exhibition is conceived as an imaginary urban pilgrimage, permeated by four thematic levels – first contact with the city, the center, the periphery, and natural scenery. The visitor is free to wander through them and get lost in its various nooks. A large-format projection of the exhibition hall is dedicated to Baan's aerial photographs – visitors to the exhibition thus have the unique opportunity to see Prague from unusual angles and in unsuspected contexts. On the opposite wall of the exhibition hall, the exposition reveals almost all the photographs that Iwan Baan took in Prague. Raw, unedited, random. Accompanied by an audio commentary by Iwan Baan himself, the visitor can thus get a glimpse into the "behind the scenes" of the photographer's creative method.
"I always try to get to know each new city in a very intuitive way. I try to let go of different expectations and draw inspiration directly from the place itself and the encounters that happen here. It's good to visit landmarks and think about why that particular place is important to people, but at the same time you also need to turn your gaze in the other direction and observe what's happening where people actually live. I would say that this kind of interaction is perhaps even more important in capturing the story of the city", says Baan.
"Iwan Baan does not limit his photographs of Prague merely to notorious and sought-after locations but focuses also on the neglected ones. He also maps important brownfields such as the Žižkov Freight Station or the Vltavská metro area and captures them in their raw state. Baan focuses on buildings near the river, industrial buildings, transport infrastructure, islands, the landscape, and the busy and quiet life around it. From the contradictions he creates a mosaic which he has used to put together an urban portrait that visitors can see at the exhibition in CAMP", says Ondřej Boháč, Director of the Prague Institute of Planning and Development.
“Prague is of course significantly defined by its landscape - especially by the shape of the flowing river on whose banks the city was gradually built. It is interesting that even though you cannot see the river from many places, you constantly feel its presence in the city. It is in aerial photographs that this interrelationship between the city and the river comes out very well. For me as a photographer, these moments are very valuable because they give me what I am looking for - the connection of details to the whole”, says Baan.
The title of the exhibition "Iwan Baan: Prague Diary" is based on the caption "A diary of travels with the iPhone" on the artist's Instagram account. The idea of endless wanderings through the city from one end to the other, recorded in the form of a pictorial diary, has been part of the Prague exhibition concept since the initial idea of a joint project.
"The historical architecture of Prague reminds me a lot of big metropolises like London or Paris. But what's different here is a certain contrast between that grandiose urbanism with its grandiose architecture and the sort of very pleasant relaxedness of the rest of the city", says Iwan Baan about Prague.
Dutch photographer Iwan Baan is known primarily for images that narrate the life and interactions that occur within architecture. Born in 1975, Iwan grew up outside Amsterdam, studied at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and worked in publishing and documentary photography in New York and Europe.
Iwan Baan’s love for photography goes back to his twelfth birthday, when his Grandmother gave him his first camera. After his studies in photography at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, Baan followed his interest in documentary photography, before narrowing his focus to record the various ways in which individuals, communities and societies create, and interact within their built environment.
With his combined passion for documentary and space, Baan’s photographs reveal our innate ability to re-appropriate our available objects and materials, in order to find a place we can call our own. Examples of this can be seen in his work on informal communities where vernacular architecture and placemaking serve as examples of human ingenuity, such as his images of the Torre David in Caracas – a series that won Baan the Golden Lion for Best Installation at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale.
With no formal training in architecture, his perspective mirrors the questions and perspectives of the everyday individuals who give meaning and context to the architecture and spaces that surround us, and this artistic approach has given matters of architecture an approachable and accessible voice.
As the inaugural recipient of the Julius Shulman award for photography, today, architects such as Rem Koolhaas, Herzog & de Meuron, Zaha Hadid, Diller Scofidio & Renfro, Toyo Ito, SANAA and Morphosis turn to Baan to give their work a sense of place and narrative within their environments. Alongside his architecture commissions, Iwan has collaborated on several successful book projects such as Insular Insight: Where Art and Architecture Conspire with Nature, Torre David: Informal Vertical Communities and Brasilia & Chandigarh – Living With Modernity. Baan’s work also appears on the pages of architecture, design and lifestyle publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Architectural Record, Domus, Abitare and Architectural Digest.
Iwan Baan was named one of the 100 most influential people in contemporary architecture world by the magazine Il Magazine dell’Architettura on occasion of their 100th issue.
Iwan Baan is recipient of the AIA Stephen A. Kliment Oculus Award.
CAMP, the Center for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning, is an urban hub whose main mission is to improve the current form of public discussion on the development of Prague. CAMP is opened not only to architects, designers, and investors but also to city districts, non-profit organizations, and all citizens as a basic source of well-arranged and available information about the presence and the future of the capital. Housed in a modernist building designed by a famous Czech architect Karel Prager, CAMP shares the address with its guarantor and implementer Prague Institute for Planning and Development. CAMP hosts an exhibition hall with a unique large-screen projector, a study room, a café, an outdoor terrace, and a modern lecture hall with a rich programme consisting of public debates, lectures by local and foreign experts, workshops, screenings, and other activities addressing the sustainability of our cities.