Introducing 'Relaxing Chamber': Aleksei Kazantsev's Photobook Exploreing Consciousness and Archetypal Symbolism of Animals
by Maya Hristova·
We are thrilled to announce the release of the highly anticipated photobook Relaxing Chamber by renowned Belarusian photographer Aleksei Kazantsev. Published by dienacht Publishing, this remarkable collection was launched at the prestigious Polycopies photobook fair in Paris, held from November 9th to 13th 2022.
Relaxing Chamber is a continuously evolving series of photographs that delves into the intricate theme of consciousness in both humans and animals. Kazantsev's captivating images feature motifs of human faces and animal forms, often concealed or obscured, creating an aura of mystery and intrigue. Within the frames, one can find claws and tentacles, frozen in motion or at rest, along with individuals immersed in a black void—some seemingly asleep, others in ecstatic trance, and some in deep contemplation.
This extraordinary project revolves around the exploration of the human psyche and delves into the archetypal symbolism associated with animals in the collective unconscious memory. Kazantsev draws inspiration from altered states of consciousness found in trance, hypnosis, and other phenomena, such as the experience of euphoria, isolation, and dissociation within everyday life.
The title of the book, Relaxing Chamber, originates from an entomological term. It refers to a container with high humidity used to make insects flexible after their death. Similarly, Kazantsev's work invites us to contemplate the fragile boundaries of our own consciousness and the flexibility of our understanding of the world around us.
Accompanying the visuals is a thought-provoking text by Dr. Christian Tudorache from Leiden University. Dr. Tudorache's essay provides valuable insights into the current state of scientific knowledge and philosophical ideas surrounding animal consciousness. Drawing on a rich historical backdrop dating back to Aristotle, the text offers readers a deeper understanding of this captivating subject.
In addition to the standard edition, a completely handcrafted Special Edition object is available, offering a truly unique and immersive experience. Each Special Edition includes the photobook and a meticulously pinned print, both elegantly framed by handcrafted frames made from reclaimed wood by Calin Kruse. Each frame is a one-of-a-kind creation, adding an additional layer of artistry to this already remarkable edition. The signed and numbered print measures 13 x 18 cm and is printed on Hahnemühle Fine Art Baryta.
Aleksei Kazantsev, born in Slutsk, Belarus in 1975, is a visual artist whose primary medium is photography. He currently resides and works in Antwerp, Belgium, where he studied photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Kazantsev's artwork draws inspiration from archetypal images, the collective unconscious, symbolism, hypnotic states, and liminal states of mind. His pieces aim to twist reality by utilizing altered perspectives and distorted vision, leading the viewer to experience disorientation and recognize the uncanny. His work has been showcased in several galleries across Europe, including L'Enfant Sauvage, Pulsar, LWM18, National 55, Archiraar Gallery, Liège Photobook Festival, L'image sans nom, PAK-Gistel, and Psychiatric Center Sint-Amandus in Belgium, pic.london festival and The Minories Galleries in the UK, as well as Arsenal Gallery, Fundacia Villa Sokrates, and Gray Mandorla Studio in Poland.