Russian photographer Maksim Dmitriev liked reality, and in the beginning of the 20 century he photographed bums, workers, farmers, bankers and monks. Hundred years later we showed these photographs to nowadays heroes and they recognized each other in unpredictable ways.
Optical Axis, time travel through a photograph
In the study of film language there are those who establish two points of view on cinema. Some, led by Pasolini, see cinema as a world where the image is put at the mercy of reality, representing it to such an extent that its properties multiply making it more real. Others, such as Godard, put the image on a religious, magical pedestal, attributing to it an infinite formal potential, a power of its own, independent from the natural world.
With an intelligent device, veteran Russian director Marina Razbezhkina puts these two worlds in crisis in the documentary Optical Axis. A frozen piece of the past is seen on an enlarged photographic copy by those who live in the present. The place is the same, the viewers change in time, they identify themselves in the ghostly faces of those who — already dead- occupied that same space in the past Soviet era.
The expanded copies are the work of documentary pioneer Russian Maskim Dimitriev. They address seven places, from the interior of the luxurious hall of a palace, the exterior of a humble house in the countryside or the photo studio occupied by a burlesque diva.
Ordinary people are confronted with the power of image and reality confronts itself on different temporal and social levels. It is an exquisite visual experience in which, with a simple look at a picture, the most unusual emotions and thoughts emerge.
A cry, a grimace, an indifferent yawn, every gesture tells us something about these spectators. The world of image, embodied in these photographic copies, and that of the natural experience, which occurs in front of the photo and inside it, thus converge in an exciting magical moment.