Looking up with Sivan Askayo
As much as cultural difference is part of the appeal of travel, some things are universal. Sivan Askayo has turned the seemingly mundane subject of laundry into an ongoing photographic project with a surprising amount of life and insight. So far her “Intimacy under the Wires” series has featured the laundry of Tel Aviv, Madrid, Barcelona, London and Buenos Aires – with more to come.
Sivan, who is a New York based photographer originally from Israel, was kind enough to fill us in on the details.
This project began when I was in Israel, meeting a friend who lives in the old part of Jaffa. While waiting for him, I wandered the back streets of the flea market. The streets were quiet till I heard a woman’s voice talking to someone while hanging out her laundry. So I looked up, to locate where the voice was coming from, and saw this beautiful view of colorful clothes hanging, blown in the wind.
At first, I didn’t think to create a series of laundry, but I liked the different point of view and the way the wind gave it life and movement. Before going back to New York, I spent few days in London that ended up being a longer stay due to the volcano eruption last April. Being ‘stuck’ in London gave me more time to walk through parts of the city I didn’t see before and take pictures. In another flea/vintage market I took the shot of the pink dress and the green skirt and I realized how interesting it is to look up and see what is above our heads. Look at laundry from underneath. Since then, every place I travel, I make sure to allow myself enough time to look for laundry and shoot it.
As much as laundry is a universal thing, there are so many differences between locations and we can learn so much about the culture, the people and their life. In Barcelona and Madrid I saw a lot of football T shirts hanging, in Bnei Brak (an Orthodox city in Israel) there were mostly black robes, socks and leggings that are part of their religious uniform, and I’m sure that once I travel to India I will see more silky light saris. A lot also has to do with the climate, the time of year, holidays, etc.
We asked Sivan about the photography equipment used for the laundry project and also about her usual travel photography must have gear.
I am shooting with Nikon D90. For this project I rotate between 2 lenses; Nikon f4 24-120mm and f3.5 18-105mm. I don’t use my tripod for this project as most shots are hand held while looking up at the laundry wires.
As much as I prefer to travel light, I always end up carrying 2 bodies of camera, 2-3 lenses, a light tripod and a wireless remote shutter release. That doesn’t include my laptop and 2 external hard drives to back up my files.
No matter what equipment you have available to you, we think this clever project is a perfect example of looking out for unique subject matter during travel and creating a cohesive series of photos. Do you have a favourite subject to shoot while travelling?