Over the course of thirty years, Josef Koudelka has visited two hundred sites of archeological interest in twenty countries, taking hundreds of panoramic photos in black and white.
The BnF says that Ruins is “a project with no equivalent in the history of photography”, pretty bold talk that you will hopefully agree with when you see the enlargements up close.
Koudelka has photographed astounding scenes that show how great civilisations can also be surprisingly fragile, something that has particular resonance in today’s world.
During his travels, the photographer didn’t just visit, shoot and leave – he returned to the same sites over many years, and the resulting photos prove that it does not necessarily take centuries for seemingly solid structures to crumble. The organisers call this “the melding of beauty and time”.
The image format – panoramas – also lend extra drama to the photos, playing with our perception of the scenes. Each one seems vast, making visitors reflect on the effect these constructions must have had initially.
To ensure that this important work is preserved, Koudelka has donated 170 prints to the Engravings and photos department of the BnF – a very kind gesture.
A catalogue of the exhibition is also available in English (368 pages, 170 photographies £33 here at amazon.co.uk).
The Josef Koudelka Ruins exhibition is at the BNF (here) until 16th December 2020
Ouvert tous les jours sauf le lundi de 10h à 19h (ouverture à 13h le dimanche)
Admission: 9€ / 7€
En écho à l’#ExpoKoudelkaBnF à @laBnF, #Gallica vous emmène sur les traces d’artistes et photographes qui, depuis des siècles, arpentent ruines antiques et paysages méditerranéens. Découvrez cette sélection d’estampes et daguerréotypes avec la #Gallicarte!https://t.co/ru48u3QYgh— Gallica BnF (@GallicaBnF) October 5, 2020