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Klavdij Sluban

Prix Leica 2004, the Prix Niépce 2000 (main distinction in photography in France), and the Villa Médicis Hors-les Murs1998.
Klavdij Sluban has been photographing teenagers in prison since 1995. Sharing his passion, he organises photography workshops for young inmates. This commitment, which began in France (Fleury-Mérogis) with the involvement of Henri Cartier-Bresson for seven years, as well as the occasional participation of Marc Riboud and William Klein, continued in the disciplinary camps of Eastern Europe, in the former Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Serbia) and the former Soviet Union (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldavia, Latvia, Russia), then in Central America among the gangs, maras. Since 2015, he has been photographing teenagers in prison in South America, particularly in Brazil and Peru.

Klavdij Sluban’s work has been exhibited in major institutions in recent years, including the National Museum in Singapore, the Académie des Beaux-arts de l’Institut in Paris, the Museum of Photography in Helsinki, the Fine Arts Museum in Guangzhou, the Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo, Rencontres d’Arles, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, the Museum of Modern Art in Guatemala City and the Centre Pompidou/Beaubourg in Paris.
In 2013, the Musée Niépce devoted a retrospective to his work, After Darkness, 1992-2012.

He has published numerous works: 7AM, with Tereza Kozinc, éd. IIKKI, 2023; Photo Poche, n°169, text by Željko Kozinc, éd. Actes Sud, 2022; In Vivo, éd IIKKI, 2022; Entre Parenthèses, Photo Poche Société n°12, éd. Actes Sud, 2005; Transverses – 1992-2002, éd. Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Balkans Transit, text by François Maspero, éd. du Seuil, 1997, East to East, European Publishers’ Award of Photography, 2009 published by six European publishers, including Peliti Associati, All’est dell’este, text by Erri de Luca.


East to East, Erri de Luca

Klavdij Sluban comes from the segregated half of Europe, he is used to fences and to bars. He has even taught photography in prison. In this cycle he visits the East, an East whose people have been set free, like monks released from an enclosed order.

Like his fellow countrymen Klavdij Sluban, who spent his childhood in Livold, Slovenia, belonged to Yugoslavia, a country which ended up being torn apart in the final decade of the century.

The photographer emerges from this region of all-consuming hatred. He tells about those in the East, to those who hardly knew the East existed revealing the shadows that emanate from there. Even the snow is dark, the light a faded white, exiled to the surface.

The photographer walks through the abandoned cities of the East. Where have all the inhabitants gone? Is anyone left hidden in the mist, is there some poor wretch on the run or with their back to the wall. The photographer presses on, in search of people, beyond Europe, advancing into Asia, Russia, Mongolia, China, on the Trans-Siberian Railway, but he finds no areas of dense population. Everywhere it is the geography that dominates, making human beings insignificant.

The journey of the photographer, rather than leading him to an East that is conceived as time past, opens a crack in the wall of time and takes him into the future. He visits the East as if he were a pilgrim consulting an oracle. From it he receives visions veiled in smoke and mist: the East is a defeated future, a time yet to come for humanity, stretched out and flexing.

And the future depicted here in photographic images is hard, hard to listen to. From the noisiest century of all, the greatest producer of mechanical clatter, we shall pass into a world of silence. The future will be accompanied by the silence of those who have been struck dumb. In these photographs, the use of black and white is like the fitting of a silencer to the barrel of a gun. The photographer is a marksman.

The photographer is homesick for the native snow of his childhood, the snow that used to blanket his corner of the world. But here it has become a white leprosy; it doesn’t coat the ground but eats away at it. Its silence is oppressive. To give subjects stillness a longer exposure is required. Stillness is the state of grace of a messianic moment, not the thrill of a divine visitation, but the conclusion of a race.