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"Cloud Arrangers" Ziga Koritnik's photo exhibition in his hometown Ljubljana

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“Cloud arrangers" Jakopicevo sprehajalisce at Park Tivoli in Ljubljana—Slovenia / outdoor gallery opened 24h a day from 5th of May till 31st of July 2011 opening at 18h, at 20:30h Jazz Passangers concert

Cloud Arrangers
by Ziga Koritnik

Being a jazz music photographer is very interesting. This work is my priority: to be close to musicians, to become their friend... Emotions are always very close to the surface, especially since the music often carries positive or negative messages.

I started documenting the jazz scene in 1987, when I went to the Belgrade Jazz Festival with a friend of mine to hear Miles Davis. Before that I mainly listened to rock music. Frank Zappa was—and still is—one of my favorite musicians, a real genius. I quickly had the Ljubljana music scene under control. In those days it was still possible all different types of music, and there weren't a lot of organized concerts. Pat Metheny came to Ljubljana— unexpected and nearly unannounced—with his first solo project. His three hour concert totally impressed me. This was my first discovery of the never-ending story of jazz. Later on came “world" music, and I still manage to mix in a rock concert here and there.

What I like is not a specific type of music, it is quite simply, good music.

Parallel to music, photography has always been a passion of mine. Wherever I went, I carried a camera—to parties, with friends, and of course at concerts. I carried a camera on my journeys and was always practicing. I began getting official credentials to cover concerts and started coming into direct contact with musicians. By publishing my photos, I was fulfilling obligations both to concert promoters, but also to the musicians, whose souls I was “taking." You need to be very careful that you treat this “soul" very gently—you nurture it but never exploit it. At the same time I helped support the local music scene.

To be a jazz photographer you need to travel a lot and associate with many different types of people (often late at night). Your equipment always needs to be ready, and you always have to have lighting and focus in mind. On a piece of photo paper you need to bring to life something that happened only once, but which gives the viewer the opportunity to creatively imagine that moment. Photographers are like fishermen who wait for a fish to swim by that they really want to catch.

In the beginning I was fishing only in shallow waters. Now, years later, I prefer to go hunting deeper. I try to capture the atmosphere created by concerts. At good festivals and concerts this process puts me in the right mood, and I begin to “see." I am interested in presenting the best side of the music. If I feel I cannot do this, I often will not shoot at all. You need to be in a certain state to capture good shots. Of course, you also need technical knowledge, good equipment and experience—so that pressing the shutter becomes automatic.

At first I paid out of my own pocket to travel so much. Later, I began to get invitations from some festivals—which eased the financial burden, but brought also additional responsibilities.

For this Tivoli Park exhibition, I am presenting an opus of my 24 years as a music photographer, featuring pictures taken at festivals in Slovenia and abroad: the Ljubljana Jazz Festival, Saalfelden Jazz Festival, Skopje Jazz Festival, the Vision Festival in New York, Druga Godba, Musique Metisses, Womad, Konfrontationen in Austria, Metelkova concerts, festivals in Sardinia and elsewhere in Italy, and more...

I present musicians from many different jazz styles, from mainstream to modern to improvisational. I give honorable placement to African musicians that are my great love. These photos were used for reportage in magazines and newspapers, on CD covers and booklets, for posters and festival announcements. I am also presenting photos from my archive that have never been published, but which have gained value to me over time. Some photos are action shots, taken during performances, others are from backstage and still others are more formal portraits.

A common theme among music photographers is that we like good music—and all that surrounds it—as much as we like photography. We like being with company we are never bored with and can always rely on. Concerts are ever-changing atmospheres.

In most cases photography holds a uniting and/or educational meaning. We encounter and accept different cultures around the world, acknowledging that we all similar underneath our skin. Until I feel the creative excitement that comes with this, I am often unable to make a good photograph. I still love the feeling of going to new festivals and discovering cultures unknown to me—this always draws me in close.

The title of this exhibition—"Cloud Arrangers"—came to me years ago while I was lying on the shore of Lake Bohinj, admiring the clouds above me. A friend of mine from Scotland rowed past with his kids in his canoe. We greeted each other, and his son said “Who is this?" He responded, “This is the cloud arranger." I immediately made a connection with music, photography and the atmosphere found at truly great festivals. I said to myself that this might become the title of a future exhibition, or maybe a book title...

The way I see and hear musicians, they are also somehow arrangers of clouds—of the atmosphere in our minds. Every listener develops his own emotions at concerts, the music adjusts these moods, and can put us all on the same wavelength. These are the most beautiful moments, where the created energy stirs within me, and it is then that I can make a good image—a moment of photographic greatness.

This is the first large retrospective exhibition of my music photographs. I am honored that the Embassy of the United States in Slovenia undertook this project, and appreciate the common bond that jazz music has created between our countries. We all know that an extraordinarily high number of great jazz musicians come from the U.S., the place where jazz was born.

Enjoy the show. Music is the best.

Žiga Koritnik
March 1, 2011


By prof. Branka Taskar:

In his artistic opus, Ziga Koritnik has managed to catch—through his objectivity and with the filter of distance—moments of passion and close communication with music; it is a “cry and echo"—the inner message between performer and photographer.

Moments of inner dialogue which bring messages that mimic “coloring the sky and catching a cloud"—when the artist in his improvisation merges into a single musical expression and is carried away by the energetic passion of rhythm, freedom and expression, with a silent, subconscious melancholy with which Koritnik the photographer guards his dreams. The time is still; the light overshadows the dark; the voice shuts down the silence.

Ziga also flew all the way to the clouds and did not break his wings. To find one's dreams, a cloud, as if you found the plan of your life; as if you stopped the time which reflects the playfulness of childhood. A gene in action.

The performers do not seek permission from the audience for what they feel. They share the sky with the clouds, and the colors of the clouds depend on the transparency and the light which Ziga has captured in his objective and his sky.

People have built-in neurological patterns which accompany emotional reactions, and facial muscles play an important role. We can infer feelings from the active muscle system. Of course a grown can simulate expressions (while a baby cannot) and this then is a face of lies. Ziga is not attracted by such faces. The clouds too, despite identical chemical structures, come in different shapes and sizes. Some produce curtains of rain, others are harbingers of good weather, still others say very little.

Ziga's photography is like jazz meeting the tango—when a cloud in the sky meets with the wind, the silence, the pain. And Ziga as an artist allows himself such meetings and such feelings. He catches them, “arranges the clouds" and the dreams, and then he shares them with others—just as those he photographs do. Cry and echo; expression and message; silence that the artist can read. And dreams are the imagery of the soul.

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