In the world of the Internet, there are no geographical limits to where inspiration can come from. Over the two years that photographer Laurence Von Thomas has been running his blog If You Leave it has grown into a large-scale collaboration, with contemporary photographers across the world submitting their work. Focusing on single images, it’s an ambiguous archive that moves through desolate landscapes and mysterious settings, celebrating the power of a photograph rather than one specific photographer. Having already released a book of selected images last year, Von Thomas has curated a second book featuring the work of 85 photographers and 20 nationalities that have been exhibited on the site since 2011. An exhibition of the photographs is currently at Radio London.
Twin spoke to curator Von Thomas and challenged him to name his three favourite images…
Do you have any favourite images from If You Leave?
I once had a teacher who taught us the necessity of having to ‘kill your darlings’, but I hoped I had already passed that stage with the selection for the book.
With If You Leave, as a rule of thumb I never analyse an image. Selection is based purely on impression and personal disposition, but I like the question.
So then, which is your first image?
The first image – done alphabetically – would be that of Daniel Castaneda (above). I’ve seen this picture both small – we used it as a flyer and invitation for the book launch – and blown-up.
When you see it small you get drawn in by the little black dot set against the horizontal lines and the amazing, somewhat unearthly colours. When you see it big and stand right in front of it, you become part of it.
Why this image works for me, is it reminds me of the balance between man and the elements.. like Friedrich’s Wanderer. Oh, and if you play Superstar by Sonic Youth while looking at it, it adds an extra dimension – that did happen to me at around four in the morning after a bottle of wine and having had no sleep for over 24 hours, so I’m not quite sure about this statement.
What image have you chosen next?
The second photograph is by Dylan Shaw (above). Again, the colours and composition and lateral light determine the style, but the atmosphere for me is a mixture of voyeurism and nostalgia, caused by the subjective position of the camera peeking in and creating a frame within a frame.
On a more personal level the style and especially the haircut recalls scenes from Goddard’s nouvelle vague classic A Bout de Souffle. It’s quite an iconic image in its own right.
And last but not least?
The third image is by Miet van Hee (above). I could try to explain, but I don’t really want to. It wouldn’t have much of a meaning to any one else.
That said, I think one of the most rewarding things about having done these two books, is that the images have so much soul that there’s always going to be one or two you will relate to more, depending on when you pick up the book.
By the time this gets published, I will probably have three different images that I prefer.
If You Leave is available at fourteen-nineteen.com and arthur-frank.com
An exhibition of the images is at Radio London 93-97 Redchurch St, London E2 7DJ until November 29th