Architecture photographer, Iwan Baan, visited and photographed Prague for the first time in his life last summer for 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. In his latest exhibition entitled Iwan Baan: Prague Diary, the world-renowned photographer presents his work at the Center for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning (CAMP), which shows the city as raw, often neglected, and miles away from the glossy pictures in tourist guides.

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 visitors are free to wander through them and get lost in its 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’s good to visit landmarks and think about why that particular 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.

“Iwan Baan does not limit his photographs of Prague merely to notorious and sought-after locations but focuses also on the neglected ones. He also maps important brownfields such as the Žižkov Freight Station or the Vltavská metro area and captures them in their raw state. Baan focuses on buildings near the river, industrial buildings, transport infrastructure, islands, the landscape, and the busy and quiet life around it. From the contradictions he creates a mosaic which he has used to put together an urban portrait that visitors can see at the exhibition in CAMP”, says Ondřej Boháč, Director of the Prague Institute of Planning and Development.

“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 a lot 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.

The exhibition runs until August 20, 2023 at CAMP.

Photography by Iwan Baan

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