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Frank Rothe –Lost in White Nights


Technically speaking the so-called “White Nights” (Beliye Nochi) are not unique to St Petersburg, but only here the northern nights have received such a poetic acclaim. What could be more romantic than walking along rivers and canals when night is as bright as early evening? It is the worId’s only city where such a phenomenon takes place every summer from mid June to beginning of July. Every year there are days when the downtown St Petersburg is full of people, even at night. It is a great time for those in love and for those who seeking love or just want to enjoy the endless nights. In that period of time people dont sleep as much as they Should. Because the day never ends.

People become a bit lunatic. Therefore I choose to name my project “Lost In White Nights”. I also was attracted by the softness of the light during that time. I shot on 6 by 6 negative color film without additional light. After my return to Berlin, I scanned the images. The digital files where desaturated on the computer and transformed into black and white images. Now the other half of the project had to be done.

Beginning of 2008 my beloved grandmother died. A year before she gave me an old photography. It shows my grandmother as a 4 or 5 year old girl, taken around 1920. Its a hand colored photograph. At this time it was a norma| way to turn a black and white photograph into a colored one. This photograph is the main reason why “Lost In White Nights” became a.

From a trip to India I remembered hand colored images, l’ve seen in peoples houses. Its a dying art used a century ago. Through a friend of a friend I got in contact with Mr. Rajesh Roy. And beginning of december 2008, the same year I shot the images in St. Petersburg, the first print was sent from Kolkata to Berlin. It was shortly after the mumbay terrorist attack and the print was destroyed. Because the custom service checked my package to good. Also crisis hit the world. Luckely my contact in India kept on with his company. In fact I never met the artist who colored my work, because Mr. Rajesh Roy managed the business on my behalf. He actually runned an lnternet company and was only a kind of middleman between me and the artist.

Every two or three months some hand colored images where sent to my studio. Luckely nothing was touched by custome anymore. But it looked like the project will never end, because the quality of the images went up and down. But there where also other emails when I wished Happy New Year to Mr. Roy or felt pitty for him, when he or one of his family member became ill.
The last package should have come end of summer 2010. when I opened it and checked the work I knew that I had to sent it back. Some of the images where great, some not. One print did not had the right size and was smaller then the others. But then end of october 2010 everything was fine. The unique moments I captured in St. Petersburg became not reproducible unique art works.
The best moment in life of an artist is the one when the idea becomes reality. You see and touch what was only in your head before. The dream to catch images of a city and its people during a lunatic time with a lunatic light and transforming it into unique master pieces with the endangered art of hand coloring, became reality.

Frank Rothe, Berlin november 2010

Represented by
Tschangizian Photographers (GER)
Hedi Senteler (CH)
Contrasto (IT)
Visum (GER)

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