Once upon a time, an imaginary photographer named Franz took imaginary photos for an imaginary journal, which came to find itself in a highly imaginative photo exhibition: A Glimpse at Anti-Terra. A melange of film noir photographs line the walls of the small but prestigious MILS gallery, which sits like a wedge of cake on Randle Street, Surry Hills. The brainchild — a haunting, oneiric and whimsical collection of work — can be attributed to a very real person: 24-year-old, Libran, Ukranian lawyer and photographer, Vladimir Kravchenko.
Despite this being his first solo exhibition of both analogue and digital work, capturing a world beyond this one is something Kravchenko achieves best: landscapes slide off the edge of the Earth, upside-down puddles reflect the sky and ghostly shadows elide your vision. The fine grain tones and contrasted shadows are testimony to that eccentric, Eastern European stark obscurity that lives someplace deep inside our minds.
Each untitled artwork delivers you, with immediacy, into the odd and explicit moments that define Franz's life; as does the accompanying narrative penned by Kravchenko. The combination is somewhat intoxicating as you find yourself stalking Franz, as he stalks the Earth and the people in it.
From the window of a dismal grey block apartment, a woman appears with pert breasts and an Amelie bob framing red lips. Far below, dunes of shiny blonde sand replace what would otherwise be a street path. According to the narrative, it is the apartment that Franz can no longer climb to see Fredericka, "Now that she was gone, her window gained a sinister air and he knew that it was not just her absence, it was something else, some quirk in space altering the view."
Aptly named, this Kafka-esque character goes through aspects of stark misery but also comedy whereby his friend Karl appears in a single portrait with a side part and top buttoned shirt, clasping his own head with wonder. Franz observes, "Eggs Benedict was Karl's favourite breakfast and he found the idea that his head also resembles an egg an endearing one."
I shall never think of eggs Benedict quite the same way again.
MILS Gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday 12-4. Image by Vladimir Kravchenko.