Often, photographers are obsessive collectors and these ones felt compelled to document their cities, each in their own way, leaving behind major archives - the grand views and the small details. Peter Sramek has returned to rephotograph their viewpoints to understand their motivations, methodologies and ways of portraying history. Why do these collections resonate today? How does the architectural spirit of these cities help define the identities of western culture? How do we imagine the past through these sites and how do they reinforce how each of us sees ourselves in relation to European history?
With over 140 photographic reproductions and commentary by the photographer this book allows one to examine the historical face of 3 great photographic projects.
A Passion For Cities brings together three photographic collections from three major cultural centres of Europe. These cities have played a key role in the cultural and intellectual development of European society and each of them held European prominence at different times. A rich architectural heritage remains as tangible evidence of these epochs. The photographers referenced here were committed to documenting the architectural record in more than a casual manner and left an extraordinary archive created before, or as, this heritage passed to the modern era.
Rephotography involves finding the camera positions of the original photographer as exactly as possible and making contemporary exposures. It allows one to contemplate the original photographic event. Revisiting these sites allowed me to enter more directly into the experience of the originators and to consider how they conceived their approach, what physical realities determined their vantage points and what choices they made.
Peter Sramek has been a photographic artist for over 38 years and has taught at the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto since 1976. He is currently Chair of Photography. His work incorporates photography, digital imaging, handbinding and video installation. Sramek graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973, where he studied under Minor White. In 1979, he helped found the Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography, an artist-run centre and photographic workspace in Toronto. He has exhibited his photography across Canada and internationally in Europe, Japan and the United States and is included in collections such as the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, the National Library of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Toronto Archives, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and the Allan Chasanoff Collection of Artist's Books (NYC). He is represented in Toronto by the Stephen Bulger Gallery.