Niv Shank// BY THE LAKE
Introduction by Niv Shank
By the lake is a collection of environmental portraits of youth culture, that were captured in a documentary style on a 35 mm camera and observe the lifestyle around the European lakes. The series focuses on lakes around the Eastern bloc, mainly Berlin, and tells the story of it’s lake culture. I discovered the free body culture movement while working on this project and I adore the European nonchalant approach towards nudity in public.
Today, to me it seems like the most natural thing to do when you visit a lake. Some images in the series are pure documentary and some are planned in a semi-documentary style, inspired by real moments that were developed to some scenes in this photo series.
I was hypnotized by the panorama of lakes surrounded by forests and often designed in communist style, reflecting the long presence of the Russians for almost 50 years.
I was fascinated by the simplicity of the people hanging out by the lakes, who, I noticed, reflected a good mix of ethnicities. The portable picnic style set-ups, the alcohol-friendly vibe, singing in different languages, playing to- gether, smoking, and just enjoying what nature has to offer us.
The nudity didn’t seem to provoke or oversexualize anyone. On the contrary, it added so much more beauty and romance to the entire scenario, and I was fascinated by these moments and the people in them. Everything felt very nostalgic and I wanted to tell this from an observational point of view in order to let the action be born on set and be spontaneous.
I guess you could say that I’m looking to discover beauty in my journey, and when I do find it, I feel like I have found hope and reason for my existence.
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