Iwan Baan Captures the Story of Prague
World-renowned architecture photographer Iwan Baan showcases his urban pilgrimage through the streets of Prague in an exhibition at the Centre for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning (CAMP) in Prague that runs till August 20, 2023. Iwan Baan: Prague Dairy exhibition shows the city as raw, often neglected, and miles away from the glossy pictures in tourist guides.
Last summer, Dutch architecture photographer, Iwan Baan visited and photographed Prague for the first time in his life. Seven days with a camera in hand – on foot, on a bike, and from a helicopter. Through the center, the periphery, and the landscape along the Vltava River. He is now presenting his work, which shows the city as raw, often neglected, and miles away from the glossy pictures in tourist guides. The exhibition, entitled Iwan Baan: Prague Diary, is ongoing till 20 August at Centre for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning (CAMP) in Prague.
The exhibition is conceived as an imaginary urban pilgrimage, permeated by four thematic levels – first contact with the city, the center, the periphery, and natural scenery. The visitor is free to wander through them and get lost in various nooks. A large-format projection of the exhibition hall is dedicated to Baan’s aerial photographs – visitors to the exhibition thus have the unique opportunity to see Prague from unusual angles and in unsuspected contexts. On the opposite wall of the exhibition hall, the exposition reveals almost all the photographs that Iwan Baan took in Prague. Raw, unedited, random. Accompanied by an audio commentary by Iwan Baan himself, the visitor can thus get a glimpse into the “behind the scenes” of the photographer’s creative method.
“I always try to get to know each new city in a very intuitive way. I try to let go of different expectations and draw inspiration directly from the place itself and the encounters that happen here. It is good to visit landmarks and think about why that place is important to people, but at the same time, you also need to turn your gaze in the other direction and observe what’s happening where people actually live. I would say that this kind of interaction is perhaps even more important in capturing the story of the city,” says Baan.
“Prague is of course significantly defined by its landscape – especially by the shape of the flowing river on whose banks the city was gradually built. It is interesting that even though you cannot see the river from many places, you constantly feel its presence in the city. It is in aerial photographs that this interrelationship between the city and the river comes out very well. For me as a photographer, these moments are very valuable because they give me what I am looking for – the connection of details to the whole,” says Baan.
The title of the exhibition “Iwan Baan: Prague Diary” is based on the caption “A diary of travels with the iPhone” on the artist’s Instagram account. The idea of endless wanderings through the city from one end to the other, recorded in the form of a pictorial diary, has been part of the Prague exhibition concept since the initial idea of a joint project.
“The historical architecture of Prague reminds me of big metropolises like London or Paris. But what’s different here is a certain contrast between that grandiose urbanism with its grandiose architecture and the sort of very pleasant relaxedness of the rest of the city”, says Iwan Baan about Prague.
Baan is known primarily for images that narrate the life and interactions that occur within architecture. Born in 1975, Iwan grew up outside Amsterdam, studied at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and worked in publishing and documentary photography in New York and Europe.
With his combined passion for documentary and space, Baan’s photographs reveal our innate ability to re-appropriate our available objects and materials, in order to find a place we can call our own. Examples of this can be seen in his work on informal communities where vernacular architecture and placemaking serve as examples of human ingenuity, such as his images of the Torre David in Caracas – a series that won Baan the Golden Lion for Best Installation at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale.
All Images from the exhibition, entitled Iwan Baan: Prague Diary, is ongoing till 20 August at Centre for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning (CAMP) in Prague.