48 Hours Blackpool

by Benita Suchodrev

“I have no expectations of Blackpool and no preconceptions. It is a place as anonymous to me as I am to it; a makeshift wonderland where the insatiable craving for wonder far exceeds the wonder itself. On this terra incognita, I sketch a path of meridians and parallels through wandering flocks of young and old caught in consumption frenzy, eager to fit as many thrills as possible into the smallest window of time. Blackpool is after all a weekend getaway; a traditional destination for no-holds-barred stag and hen parties and wacky characters. It is also a playground for kids with painted faces wearing candy-colored tops, gangsta hoodies, and fake tattoos, fervidly dragging their moms and pops (and vice versa) in and out, to and fro amusement parks, bingo halls, arcades, and restaurants. “Kids eat free!” A sense of self-perpetuating urgency and appetite pervades the air, accompanied by the frantic cry of seagulls. In this vortex of bread and circuses, mouths and hands are always busy with fish & chips, Blackpool rock candy, and cell phones. Mini dramas and the occasional contemplative moment pop up when least expected. I hold them forever still by the click of the shutter…. From sunrise to sunset I scour the back alleys and the promenade, watching life unfold before my eyes, untiring and resolute; rowing against the current, diving into the hard shadows, a quasi-tourist with a camera and a backpack of surplus equipment I never use. On the second day, I leave my weight at the hotel and I am free; free to roam, dissolve myself, and “sniff, sniff, sniff” for coincidence, as Henri Cartier-Bresson so tellingly put it… I am not interested in pure documentation or sensation. In this resort town, where crime and poverty rates make it a point of convergence for the cheerful and the destitute, I am not looking for emptiness, distress, or alienation. But to my surprise I seem to find it almost everywhere, in almost everyone I see… One challenge for a street photographer is to strike a balance between the blatant and subtle. Turning the street into a stage is not the same as turning it into a zoo, into a spectacle of the carnivalesque where human subjects are robbed of the slightest shred of dignity, turned into caricatures so visually and ideologically distorted that their sole purpose in the image is to arouse sensation. Like all sensation, this kind is bound to satiate then leave empty, only to return, but it is short lived. A touch of subtlety cannot hurt even the most blatant photograph and it is found more often in questions than in exclamations.”

Benita Suchodrev

Benita Suchodrev was born in the former Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts with a focus on Art History from SUNY Purchase, New York, continuing to a Master of Arts in English Literature, graduating with high honors.

In 2008 Benita relocated to Berlin where she began an extensive documentation of the cosmopolitan city’s multifaceted art scene while working on diverse photographic projects. Later she studied at the Neue Schule für Fotografie in the class of Eva Bertram. Her portrait and documentary work has been exhibited in solo and group shows nationally and internationally and is part of the Rafael Tous Foundation for Contemporary Art in Barcelona as well as private collections in Moscow, Berlin and New York.

She has published with KEHRER Verlag and her photographs have appeared in NACHTLEBEN BERLIN 1974 – BIS HEUTE (Metrolit Verlag, 2013), BERLIN NOW (teNeues Verlag, 2009) and have been covered by various media including THE GUARDIAN, ZEIT ONLINE, ARD, FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), BZ (Berliner Zeitung), STERN.DE, DNCHT, AMICA Italy, ART, mare, Neues Deutschland, TAZ (Die Tageszeitung), Tagesspiegel, SCHWARZWEISS, MIND China, The Moscow Times, NOOVO Editions Barcelona, Brennpunkt, Germany, Российский Фото Союз (Russian Photographers Union), Photo & Video Russia, Искусство – The Art Magazine Russia, among others. Benita currently lives and works in Berlin.

“I am attracted to the poetic and the bizarre, the bold and the vulnerable. But of all things I am interested in the transitional moment between states, between blinks; that elusive split of a second between what was and what will be and the traces it leaves behind. The drama and ambiguity of human expression and gesture during that transitional moment is what fascinates me the most.”

More pictures and further details can be found at http://www.benitasuchodrev.com/

All images copyright © Benita Suchodrev