Zak Dimitrov: Branches of a Tree in Winter

© Zak Dimitrov | Branches of a Tree in Winter
© Zak Dimitrov | Branches of a Tree in Winter

Photography is a medium of love and loss. As Carol Mavor suggests, the photograph is an amorous catastrophe severed from time, yet loved for holding time, umbilically connected to its referent, the thing it signifies. A picture of a lover is stolen from the original like a thin layer of skin. Mavor also posits that a photograph takes over an event. Once we take a picture of something, even if it’s the most memorable time of our lives, a wedding or a funeral for instance, we are much more likely to remember the picture rather than the event itself. In a way, a photograph becomes a substitute for a memory.

Zak Dimitrov moved to London in 2015 and by 2018 he had been on over 100 dates. The man he was going out with at the time, Reggie, turned out to be, as cliche as it sounds, his photographic muse, partially caused by practicalities as he had very little spare time, all of which was spent with Reggie, and he had to take pictures for his final MA project. It made sense to photograph the person he was spending the majority of his time with, but there was something deeper than that — he knew that Reggie wasn’t going to be here forever as he was an exchange student only visiting England briefly for one term and his plane tickets had been pre-booked for three months from then. What felt like their fairytale at the time had been tagged with an expiry date from the very start. This sense of urgency and fleetingness motivated Dimitrov to photograph his man as much as possible — at least the photographs will remain once the person is gone.

Later down the line, the photographer decided to reconnect with his former lovers. They spoke about their time together, why their relationship unraveled and how life had been since then. A melancholic journey exploring and celebrating the image maker’s amorous past, the project empowered him to finally come out to his parents after a decade of unspoken truths. The work combines portraits of the men he once desired with stills from LGBT films and typewritten quotes from his partner at the time. Photography brought these people together, once again, perhaps for the last time — this was Dimitrov’s attempt to gain closure. Not forget the past, but close the circle in a way and move on.

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