Klez Brandar is about to exhibit the sixth edition of Lusk Dizehan – a unique concept Breton artist has created himself and started in 2016. Collection of 21 stories told with digital photographs and followed by brief text with thoughts of the artist on the topic. The first official exhibit of a photographer will take place in Gallery 35 of Institute Français de Prague from July 1st to September 3rd.
I bumped into Klez on the corner of the building in the Florence area when we both were rushing to Kasarna Karlín for the interview, the place he picked earlier. Klez takes Malinovka and we are looking for a place to make ourselves comfortable for the next few hours. Playgrounds are full of kids, Praguers are chilling under the warm evening sun. Kasarna Karlín courtyard is upbeat.
SKATER/ARTIST // ARTIST/SKATER
Klez Brandar does photography, sings and just started acting “and skateboarding” adds the artist. “I don’t do it professionally, but I’ve been skating for 22 years and it’s like part of me I guess it has an influence on my arts”. Brandar is 36 and he is often described as a photographer with an analogue camera in one hand and skateboard in another. “Back in times when I started it was very uncommon” he continues “everyone was confused what the f*ck I am doing, peers thought it’s just for kids and the older generation thought I’m a drug addict” he laughs. “The approach to making skateboarding videos in the ‘90s was super original, each skater was choosing his music and some of them making their graphics and it was super creative, so it does have an influence on every skater/artist or artist/skater. Many artists are coming from skateboarding, because we were advanced in a way. It was a subculture, but we were open to other things. In one skate video you could hear hip-hop, heavy punk rock, as well as folk or jazz. So it was a good ‘pot-pourri’ ” a wisp of a smile on Brandar’s face.
MY PERFECTLY IMPERFECT ALBUM
When it comes to music Brandar is creative as in photography, however tends to refuse it. “I am personally very eclectic” explains the photographer “I can listen to classical opera and then to end up in Klub 007 Strahov (supporting underground music since 1969), I can enjoy a good wine at a fancy place, but also I love to go to the shitty place where the beer is still for 22kc and people have no teeth.” he shrugs. “I think one of my strengths is being open to everything. I know that I’m not good enough at music and I know that by doing too many things I might never be really good at anything. Sometimes I’m asking myself if it is a good thing, because I will never be very good at anything when doing so many, but at the same time this is me and I accepted it. For my first album, which I recorded in Buenos Aires (Solitania, with Corco 2014) I wrote all the lyrics and had an idea of the basic course for the melody and even played two songs myself. I never took any guitar lessons, I am completely self taught. I’ve never learnt singing either, so I didn’t know how to use my voice or even breathe properly, but I felt it, so it was full of mistakes, and I used to call it my perfectly imperfect album. The point is I would do it differently now, but back then it was a way to express myself and I had a need to do it.” Later Brandar confessed that he made up the word ‘solitania’ he used to name his album. “That’s what I do, I make up words!” he laughs.
YOU HAVE TO DO IT AND MAKE MISTAKES
The artist comes from Nantes in Brittany. At the age of ten when the family moved to Rennes, and a few years later, around 15 Brandar started skateboarding and shooting 35mm Black-and-White Film. His main subject was architecture, “I was into taking architecture pictures, the f**ked up places, abandoned places. You just start and that’s how you learn, taking 10 pictures, and only two are good. You understand it by doing, like with everything in life, from the love to arts to work. You have to do it and make mistakes. I learn by myself and from my friends, people I meet, from magazines and so on.” says Brandar. He was constantly doing analogue photography till his 20s. “At that point one day I went to the shop and I was surprised to discover that I was one of the best customers frequently buying a film. Shop assistants knew my name and mentioned they even talk about me sometimes” he smiles. Then the photographer had a break, because the digital displaced analogue. “Beginning of the digital was not so good, and also I preferred the relationships with an old camera when you put the film and hear the ‘click click’, it is very different. However, I bought a digital camera in 2012, because I was missing it, so let’s be open-minded, right? So this is when I started I’d say.” In his mid 20s Brandar created the first small fanzine, the magazine without the budget he printed himself. “I needed photos for this fanzine, so this is how I knew I was back to doing photography. Architecture, portraits, one day being at the end of the metro waiting for people to come and snapping them.”
THE COCKTAIL OF TRAVELLING AND SENSITIVE PERSONALITY
Brandar had an opportunity to see the world. He lived in South America, New Zealand, Italy and Spain. This experience, admits the photographer extended his artistic potential. “I engaged with photography again later at the age of 25 and of course travelling played its role. When you mix this experience of seeing different cultures and the beauty of nature with being a sensitive person. You put them in a cocktail and shake it…” he laughs, “…here comes the boundless inspiration.”
Six years ago Brandar landed in Prague with his suitcase and films just to crash at his friend’s place for a few weeks to check it out. “Remember I had a very simple phone, so no internet or Google Maps. I remember taking a photo of the ‘Křižíkova’ metro station and asking people around how to get there. ” he smiles. Brandar admitted that he didn’t know much about the country before moving here. “I myself have a slightly stupid explanantion for why I stayed in Prague. Yet, it might be true. The light here is not so good all year, because it’s quite cold and cloudy. It is challenging for the photographer to work with these weather conditions. So I wondered how it is possible that such a small country as Czech Republic with just twelve million people and such conditions can have so many good photographers like Josef Koudelka, Jindřich Štreit and so many others. It was inspirational. Besides that, I like that Prague is a human sized city, pretty chill and safe. At the same time it is big enough to be a capital and offer a cultural life, you can go to the opera, you go to the restaurant on Monday, everything is open. It is also cosmopolitan, you can meet different people, who are coming from different cultures. That’s what I like about Prague. And a lot of green parks!”
ONE PERSON // ONE FILM
In October 2018 the photographer exhibited a series of portraits called ‘Bydlíte tady na Žižkově?’ in Kavarna Dobrodruha. The idea behind was similar to such projects as Humans of New York, however, Brandar wasn’t aware of its existence back then. The series about the people of Žižkov is not less than unique and atmospheric. Photographer was approaching people making just one shot. “Just one person, one film. I was going to the streets and creating interactions, and that was pretty tough, because sometimes peoples’ reaction was negative, they could have shouted at me.” the kid is screaming behind us, Brandar chuckles. “It was a sociological experiment in a way, like you can feel the ‘temperature’ of the neighbourhood. I was trying to get the interesting beats, to get something meaningful within a minute or two. Sometimes with a little talk before, sometimes just a quick shot and done. I did such a project because I like people. I am a humanist. Have you seen this photo of a girl in the tram?” I saw it earlier on the photographer’s instagram and this picture definitely caught my eye. “These eyes of hers are amazing, you can see the question on the future, like they say ‘I am worried about the future. What kind of world is waiting for us?’ This is amazing! And this is just my interpretation, people can imagine whatever they want. For such pictures it is the part of a concept, this is a fragment of a time that is crystallized within a few seconds.”
GOOD PHOTO IS A GOOD PHOTO
The photographer prefers black & white photos over colour. “It is a question of habit. And this habit came from the influence of past big photographers, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus and so on. Whoever are your influencers, we are all influenced by someone. For me Black & White photography was the most classical one, it gives some ellagance, prestige, so it is aesthetics and references to the previous great masters of photography. I think it also goes straight to the point. I love it.” Despite his preferences, Brandar does colour photography as well. “At some point, I thought it’s time for a change and the next series of photos is going to be only in colour. I wanted to challenge myself. After all, a good photo is a good photo, end of a story. Then it’s only about how you judge a good photo, with objectivity or subjectivity, depending on your culture, your taste and knowledge. I would like to hear an opinion of a high ranking professor who has taught photography for decades, however I or you we do not necessarily have to agree with his opinion. It is subjective. But sometimes a good photo is a good photo, and a shitty movie is a shitty movie. So not always that subjective.” he laughs.
LUSK DIZEHAN CONCEPT
“For me the entire series of Lusk Dizehan starting from 2016 is a search” says Brandar. “I am seeking for something maybe even I’m not aware of. Searching for emotions. When you paint, when you take photos you can’t explain everything. If we speak about Lusk Dizehan in general, one day I would like to publish a book, when I have let’s say 10 editions. So I will pick the best photos. I am sure it will be interesting and you will see a nice ‘pot-pourri’. The beginning is digital, then analogue and back to digital and so on. Different techniques, but in the end by the same person, photos taken by the same hands with two different cameras.”
Photographer’s main concept Lusk Dizehan includes five editions exhibited before, each of them is analogue or digital exploring various themes – travel photos, life scenes, portraits, architecture and nudes. It uncovers the extraordinary of everyday life and deals with the constant movement. “The Lusk (movement) is what makes me happy because our bodies are fundamentally made to move. With the advent of technology – especially in the past two decades – more and more people, including myself, tend to spend more and more time working and wandering around with computers and all kinds of devices in their hands, their ears and their minds. As a result, we find ourselves becoming more static and we forget about one of the things that matter most in life. Lusk.”
“Dizehan (“without break” or “perpetual”) is the movement towards death. Dizehan is the movement of our body and our mind, of technological progress, of our desire to live, of my desire to seek meaning. I’m trying to find a framework that makes sense, that allows me to understand and decipher our societies and our behaviors in a certain way. An emotion crystallized in a photograph.”
LUSK DIZEHAN / 06
This time Klez Brandar presents not just another photo exhibition, but the 21 stories of the 21st century taken with the digital camera. The 6th edition of Lusk Dizehan (‘Perpetual movement’ in Breton) explores contemporary topics and criss-crosses electricity and movement.
Brandar admits that he likes the black & white analogue photos the most, especially portraits. The edition #6 is totally different, there are only digital photos in colour. “21 chapters are a reference to the 21st century. A series of conceptual pictures, some of them are pretty simple. Some of them are more experimental, I mix two pictures, for example. For others I experiment with different techniques, I am moving the camera in a way there is something else happening, not just focusing on a particular object. I played with settings, shutter speed or aperture and lights. I walked at night to shoot. At some point I f*ked it up, sometimes this is what you need to do. You need to learn a rule and then break it.”
The entire edition explores the main themes of the 21st century, the changes our planet faces, the human race’s disconnection from the past, our distancing from nature and many more. The artist created the audiobooks for this edition read by native speakers in three languages he speaks, French, English and Czech. Brandar even confessed that he would be honored if one day teachers could use the Lusk Dizehan // 06 to teach languages.
The extraordinary approach and unique format make the Lusk Dizehan // 06 a must see exhibit in Prague this year. It is just one part of a photographer’s journey and he has no intention to stop for now. Meanwhile the artist continues exploring the world around him through his camera lens, and looking forward to an acting career that might bring him fame. Brandar currently lives between Prague and France where he plays a small role in a forthcoming big screen series. But this is another chapter of Klez Brandar’s story.