(this page was last updated in December 2021)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1952.
Lives and works in London, UK.
PIPA 2021 nominee.
Faced with ecstasy and awe at the purposes of life and the painful awareness of finitude, photographer Ilan Kelson perceives photography, with its promise of eternity, as a powerful way of investigating what is essential to us. What we cannot name, but only perceive, distractedly in the flow of time, as a genuine power of life, of continuous transformation of visible matter and, therefore, of the cosmos. Ilan is the author of the photobook “Tempus Fugit” (Fotô Editorial, 2020).
Video produced by Do Rio Filmes exclusively for PIPA 2021:
Creating images that deepen my questioning about existence has become a powerful way to position myself in the world and start a more sensitive dialogue with others. Through photographs and their multiple symbolisms that mix with the unconscious, I attempt to map through poetics what sounds intangible to me in my everyday activity. These relations between images and thoughts have expanded and become a safe refuge as they free me from the apprehensions that guide the perception of finitude.
I developed the body of my work over four decades, in the intervals of a busy professional life linked to my training as an economist. When this career pointed to the end of its cycle, I decided to organize my photographic collection with the help of the curator Eder Chiodetto. It had a great impact on me when I realized that, after many editing exercises, I created images over the course of my journey that invariably showed a pulse of life, the mutation of matter, the vital cycles, the patina of time sculpting the accumulation of days. Images that portray childhood, a flight of birds, trees connecting land and sky, the fleeting beauty of clouds, among others, gradually created a symbolic constellation that reflected my desire to understand where life begins and becomes effective.
This process led to the publication of my first photobook Tempus Fugit (Fotô Editorial, 2020). Since then, incursions through my collection have produced new perceptions and a new essay has been concluded, as seen in the PIPA Prize image gallery. I continue my self-knowledge journey through images that portray the labyrinths of my existence, and where I hope to create powerful dialogues with people around me. For me, the exercise of art expands my perception of who we are and where we are. Today I realize that every atom preserves the expanding universe in itself. Nothing is finite.
Ilan Kelson (Rio de Janeiro, 1952) graduated in Economics after interrupting his bachelor’s studies in Literature, course in which he was enrolled at the same time. Years later he realized that he should have studied Architecture. In 1976, he moved to Paris where he worked as a reporter. Then he spent two decades living in the United States and now he lives in London. This changing nature of Ilan Kelson, of being and living in different places, also led him to become interested in photography when he was 17 years old.
During his time in New York, while working in the financial market, he took several courses at the International Center of Photography (ICP). Photographing unpretentiously for 50 years, at a certain moment he started to organize his collection, and then he realized it was an important source for reflections on his existentialist nature.
“I am enslaved by the aesthetics that acts as a way to organize my mind. Photography has always been for me a need to silence. That was the way I found to contain the world through images,” he says.
Over the past three years, the photographer has systematically supervised his work with the curator Eder Chiodetto and, since the beginning of the pandemic, Ilan has taken the Fotografia: Curadoria, Edição e Repertório course taught by Eder Chiodetto.
In 2020, Ilan Kelson launched the book titled Tempus Fugit (Fotô Editorial, 2020), recently selected and exhibited at the Pequeno Encontro da Fotografia, held in Pernambuco. In May 2021, Tempus Fugit was selected as one of the 28 best international photobooks of PhotoEspaña 2021.
“TEMPUS FUGIT“, 2021. Duration: 1’48”, video by: Marbo Mendonça, soundtrack by Jaques Morelembaum.
“Tempus Fugit – Book by Ilan Kelson published by Foto Editorial – Video by Sheila Oliveira”, 2021. Duration: 1’14”
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