Monica Denevan

Sometimes a photographer finds a part of the world that resonates so completely with their sensibilities that the marriage of the place and the person results in perfection.  Monica Denevan has been creating photographs in Burma (and China) for many years and with each new visit she adds to her stunning portfolio of images.

Burma, 2006

I seek out quiet, remote places that have been relatively untouched by industrial development in order to photograph those whose culture and traditional way of life reflect a deep authenticity or bond with the past. I try to focus on the intangible spirit of a place that, for those who live there, represents their daily landscape. Within this setting, the confident, self- possessed courage of the individual reveals itself. Although the people I photograph make up the content of my images, I hope to transcend the depiction of individual lives, by acknowledging their participation in a grander existence; a world of extraordinary resonance and harmony, humming within lives most ordinary.

Monica was born in San Francisco and studied
photography at San Francisco State University but it wasn’t until she started
traveling extensively that she began to see differently. She has been returning
to areas of Burma for many years, always with an open mind, a sense of humor,
and much patience. Monica’s photographs have been exhibited internationally.

Her work had been published in ZYZZYVA, Communication Arts Photo Annual, SHOTS,
Black and White Magazine, The Photo Review, The Sun, Artvas-The Photo (Korea),
and the Oberoi Hotel Magazine (India) among others. She is represented by Scott
Nichols Gallery in San Francisco, Duncan Miller Gallery in Santa Monica,
Capital Culture Gallery in London, and Tao Evolution Gallery in Hong Kong which
produced a small catalogue of her work. Monica’s photographs are in the
permanent collection of UCSF Medical Center.

Monica’s work was recently featured on Le Journal de la Photographie and is included in The Summer Show at the Scott Nichols Gallery in San Francisco, running through September 1st.

New images from Burma

The first time I traveled to Burma, I knew very little about the country and it’s politics. I remember being struck by the meditative beauty of the landscape, the sensory chaos of the cities, and the quiet elegance of the people. As I read and learned more about the history and political situation, it seemed as though the only news and images coming from the country were exceedingly negative and ugly.

 Most tourists are kept away from this reality, myself included. I was interested in photographing the people I was spending my time with and soon my days were all about making pictures. What I was drawn to were the areas outside the cities, the villages next to the river, where fishermen and their families lived and worked.

In that spare and graphic river setting, I made intimate portraits, mostly of the men I encountered, in isolated and stylized poses.  My impression is that much of the country looks like early 20th century images and I kept my version of that look in mind as I made my photographs. 

I travel with my Bronica, one lens, and a couple of plastic bags filled with Delta 400 film. My prints are made in my traditional darkroom and selenium toned.