Youth Without Age and Life Without Death is a visual re-interpretation of the Romanian folktale of the same name. Over a period of five years, photographer Laura Pannack journeyed frequently to Romania in response to her desire to escape and to slow down time. The resulting book combines large format photographs, Polaroids, drawings and notes through which Pannack explores the intangible and her connection with time itself.
The landscapes, portraits and still-lifes in the book depict a place in between reality and fantasy. The absence of cars, technology or period fashions, allow the images to remain unrooted from time. Subtle interventions and symbols such as clocks, orbs, animals and the motif of red twine running through the book contribute to a feeling of magical realism. The large-format photographs are interspersed with handwritten notes and diagrams of both the physics of time and fairy tales, as clues for the reader in their attempts to understand the inscrutable.
The photographs were made in response to Pannack’s feelings of separation from the modern world. When travelling in Romania she stumbled across the folktale Youth Without Age and Life Without Death, collected by Petre Ispirescu. In summary the tale follows the protagonist encountering challenges to reach the palace where there is everlasting youth and life without death, but then he becomes homesick. The moral of the tale is that life outside of linear time does not cure our desire to control it. The value of how time is spent and who it is spent with outweighs the value of its longevity.
‘This project is a response to my need to escape, adventure and roam in reaction to internal pressure I feel that time is moving too fast. It seems like a shared experience that hours, days and weeks pass, and we can’t recall them, life continues, and time slips away. My adventure began in Romania. The strong sense of timelessness, tradition and untouched scenery mirrored my desire to stop time. I soon stumbled across this local story which perfectly echoes the many questions that I have. This is a photographic exploration of the fabric of time, and of the people, places and landscapes I encountered in Romania, drawing directly on this famous mythology and a sense of a temporal place to offer a view on the fragility of life…. Like a web of nostalgia and resistance, all the signs of temporality come to bear in objects that are charged with tensions of permanence and impermanence. Time elsewhere is relentless but here something of it is left behind.’ – Laura Pannack
Laura Pannack (b.1985) is a London based photographer educated at Central Saint Martins, LCC and University of Brighton BA Hons. Known for her portraiture and social documentary work, she seeks to explore the complex relationship between subject and photographer. Pannack’s work has been exhibited internationally and at the National Portrait Gallery, Houses of Parliament, Somerset House and the Royal Festival Hall in London. She is recipient of the John Kobal Award, Vic Odden prize, World Photo Press Awards, Juliet Margaret Cameron award, The Sony World photo awards, and the HSBC Prix de la Photographie. Pannack is represented by Open Doors Gallery.
Laura Pannack : Youth Without Age and Life Without Death
210 x 280mm, hardcover in a golden brown cloth
Image inlaid into the cover and foil embossed title
112 page silk image section, 60 colour plates
8 page gloss polaroid section, 12 polaroid plates
8 page translucent section with pencil drawings
8 page notes section of artist diaries and notes
17 November 202319.00 – 21.00
Laura Pannack in conversation, followed by a signing at National Portrait Gallery, London. Further information and tickets here
7 December 2023 18,00 – 20.00
Signing at The Photographers’ Gallery, London