Rule Breakers: Sinziana Velicescu

“I never want to see another picture of ________.” Industry veterans share their pet peeves on themes in contemporary photography. In this series they present their “rule” along with five photographs that break the rule in an effort to show that great work is the exception to the rule."

Rule Setter: Matthew Hong, Principal & Creative Director, The Artbox
Rule Breaker: Sinziana Velicescu

I never want to see another photo of a static building façade. The puddle of water to the side, perhaps some strident branches against a perfect sky, a street sign or a trash can, and, of course, the static building façade, all coming together to make an incoherent image, the staple subjects of any photography student's first batch, signify nothing to anyone other than the person taking the photo, somehow positing importance on their passage.

Sinziana Velicescu, on the other hand, one of this year's 30 Under 30 Women Photographers on Photo Boite's annual roster, in her series On the Periphery is an example of this seemingly simplistic subject, too often over-used, but executed in such a manner as to be exceptional in its artistic results.

Here, they are not the loud or kitsch neon signs of Los Vegas attractions, but the balanced lines and palettes of placid pigments charting a geography of abandonment in Los Angeles's alienating landscape.

Her work is a minimalist and abstract approach, a modern chronicling of a quiet land surveyor, completely separated of sentimentality. It is something between street photography and a kind of meta urban photojournalism in what she describes as an exploration of "human intervention with nature in landscapes that have undergone political, social, or environmental change."

The stillness and the depth of field of the abstract backdrops of the photos at times invoke paintings, some of David Hockney's pool series, or the subdued palette of Edward Hopper, the light and shadows, the lonely story told but without the human protagonist. But the movement is there in her images, the encroachment of the sharp shadows, which is another tricky subject she succeeds in capturing.

Sun-baked or rain-streaked, her elements are cinder blocks, brick, painted cement, metal posts, in the circumstances of the midday sun. One imagines the method, tripod poised, aperture closed, waiting for the shadow to enter the square chamber, balanced and perfect in its harmony.
—Matthew Hong