Irina Rozovsky – One to Nothing

Photographs ©Irina Rozovsky

One to Nothing depicts an Israel we do not see on the news. These images go beyond politics: they do not defend a side or critique the conflict. Here, Israel is seen in an unexpected light, a mythological backdrop to the age long struggle between man and the dusty, sun bleached landscape of his origin. The score to this existential battle is locked at 1– 0, with no finish line in sight. A loose, subtle, and open-ended narrative One to Nothing describes a historic tension with striking and unusual observations.

I had the chance to meet up with Irina a few weeks ago to take a look at her book One to Nothing which was published by Kehrer Verlag. As I paged through it, I asked her how long it took her to make the photographs. I’m not sure why that came to mind, or why it matters, but she told me that it was made in a pair of two week trips to Israel. I was a bit surprised. Why? Despite knowing better, I think I’ve come to expect that projects are generally created over a few years time. This probably comes from repeatedly hearing photographers talk about how it’s necessary to take a few years to finish projects. I’m not really sure there’s much to debate on that issue. A project is completed when it’s completed. There are no rules. But it was refreshing to hear Irina was very economical in the time she spent make the photographs.

Looking at the work naturally, there’s not way to tell anyway. The book is a mix of landscapes, candid moments of humans and animals in public, vegetation, etc. Basically, they type of mix that I’m generally drawn too. There’s a good amount of subtle humor involved as well which I appreciated. Sly visual wit you might call it. Was I thinking much about Israel or any subtext? Not really. It’s there but not obvious which I think is one of the strengths of the book.

After finishing the book it left me with that good feeling of wanting more. I’ve probably said this numerous times but for me he best photography books require multiple viewings and allow you find new nuances each time. I look forward to viewing One to Nothing again, if I can get my hands on it.

The book was on Alec Soth’s Top 20 Photobooks of 2011 , as well photo eye Magazine’s Best Photo Books of 2011 . You can read an extended interview with Irina on fototazo. Jorg Colberg also did a video review. And lastly, her latest project, In Plain Air, about Prospect Park in New York City was recently featured in Ahorn Magazine.

  • Che Parker

    If the kooky colours offend, it seems Irina just might not be the photog for you, going by the link to her In Plain Air project feature on Ahorn.

  • Zisis Kardianos

    Blake raised a valid issue but the sloppiness I see is not just in color balance. There is nothing wrong with completing a project in a very short time. It actually adds more value I think. However this book just looks to me hastily contrived. I don’t give a rap about the subtext of the photos. But the photos themseslves don’t add up to much. Imho!

  • Blake Andrews

    This was one of my holiday pickups this past winter. I like the photos quite a bit but the color balance seems so skewed that for me it was a distraction. Way too much yellow and magenta throughout most pix. You can see it most clearly above in the camel photo and the sheep photo. I couldn’t tell if the shift was intentional –to say something about Israel? — or an oversight. I bought the book to my photo club and we discussed it but none of us could decide for sure. Maybe it’s done on purpose but for me it took away from the photos, I think because I see so much sloppiness with color everywhere I look nowadays. Many many photos out of balance, and I don’t think most are intentional, so when it’s very blatant like this my warning flag goes up. I’ve read several reviews of the book and no one mentioned it, so thought I’d raise the question. Maybe if you know her personally you can ask?