Book Review: Nothing but Clouds by Kristina Jurotschkin
By Scarlett Davis
Nothing but Clouds, is the visual by-product of student ambition, curiosity, and creative genius, met with with the subdued undertones of complex scientific thought and philosophical musings. Kristina Jurotschkin began her photographic education in Leipzig, Germany in 2014. As we've seen from previous archives by Jurotschkin, she has developed a photographic sensitivity for structure and architecture and a notable eye for alternative composition. Nothing but Clouds was shot and chronicled through black and white imagery of everyday objects and structures, juxtaposed in unfamiliar and alien-like ways.
Jurotschkin's series was inspired by the 1972 Soviet science fiction film, Solaris. “Nothing but clouds” were the exact words from the film spoken in defiance of any video evidence supporting the existence of alien life on the planet. At first glance, Nothing but Clouds might be overlooked for its meditative position and contemplative nature towards inanimate things, but when examined in context of the fodder for its inspiration, the work itself becomes a kind of a “mind blow.”
Here the artist’s fascination with science fiction, archeology, and philosophy are all presented through the medium of photography. In her artistic statement Jurotschkin said, “In my photography, I want to free things from their functionality.” The photographer implores the viewer to question the veracity of what we qualify as time, instead of perceiving time chronologically, to see it more as an infinite loop. Jurotschkin’s work begs the question: is a table just a table, or does it take on a life of its own when viewed from a perspective relieving it from its utilitarian confinement?
How our time on this planet will be archived and remembered continues to burden the human psyche, much the same way death and the after-life tend to weigh heavy. There are moments in the film Solaris, which warrants discussion here. Similar to the images in Nothing but Clouds, there are scenes from the film of quotidian life on the Earth that evoke an uncanny sense of foreboding, challenging our understanding of what is familiar. In a notable scene from the film, the astronaut while in space takes a photograph, claiming to have seen a gigantic baby walking the surface of the ocean. The photo was relayed to the researchers back on the home planet who saw nothing but clouds and ambiguity. It is later revealed that the unapparent in the picture was actually the “spatialized memories” of one of the characters, a deceased astronaut. Jurotschkin reimagines this notion of material within the immaterial and the possibility of a parallel universe and beautifully conveys these ideas through her imagery.
Russian writer, Vladimir Nabokov once wrote, “Time is the rhythm: not the recurrent beats of the rhythm, but the gap between two such beats, the grey gap between black beats: but the Tender Interval ... rhythm and probe the interval. A hollow, did I say? A dim pit? But that is only Space… .” Nothing but Clouds is a reminder to not discount fantasy in its ability to allow our imaginations to perceive what our rational minds cannot and to revel in the pits, the hollows, and the voids with the possibility with which they might hold. However remote and alone we may feel, we are never truly ever alone.
Nothing but Clouds by Kristina Jurotschkin is published by MACK at mackbooks.co.uk.