Julia Borissova – White Blonde

Review by Douglas Stockdale •

Antarctica, the South Pole, a forlorn, and icy desolated location that is not on very many individual’s list as an idea of place to vacation with the family. Julia Borissova takes on the subject of this hostile and unfamiliar environment, called the White Blonde by polar explorers, in a dreamy and poetic visitation. Using a combination of found Russian photographs of Antarctica in conjunction with her self-portraits, she then froze these images in ice and re-photographed the results.

The resulting images are tightly framed and it is not always apparent that that the artwork has been encased in ice, the clue being provided in her introduction. The ambiguity as to reason for the visual distortions creates an unease as to why the reading of the artwork is difficult. Borissova includes images that are best described as abstractions, in which the chaotic patterns of line, color and mass hint at a something both wild and disturbing. As a reader, I find myself on edge and uncomfortable. Her resulting narrative is a wonderful metaphor for the harsh and cold realities of Antarctica.

This might also be considered a semi-autobiographical narrative as the author, Borissova, is also a ‘white’ Caucasian adorned with Blonde hair. Similar to the early Polar adventurers that she depicts in her narrative, she frequently ventures out into uncharted waters with her various artist book projects. 

Unlike her earlier artist books, this book does not employ any of her venturesome creative book design endeavors, such as multiple gatefolds, hand sewing, cut-outs and other crazy attributes that I have come to expect. Her book falls into the overreaching book concept design that Pierre Bessard has for this series of books, known as the BeSpoke Collection. As such, being bespoke, it is a custom-made series and this one in particular is an intriguing narrative of Borissova’s seemingly endless curiosity of all things related to the history of Russia and its people.

Other books by Julia Borissova which have been previously published on PhotoBook Journal (PBJ); Nautilus, Let Me Fall Again, J.B. about men floating in the Air, DOM, address, Dimitry, Running to the Edge


White Blonde, Julia Borissova

Artist; Julia Borissova, (born Talinn, Estonia, resides St. Petersburg (RU))

Publisher: Editions Bessard, BeSpoke Collection (No10) Paris, France copyright 2018

Essay: Julia Borissova

Text: English, Russian

Hard bound, embossed with tipped-in image, perfect bound, with 14.5 x 20.5 cm C-print, signed and numbered, Edition of 250, ISBN 979-10-91406-64-2

Photobook Design Concept: Pierre Bessard

Layout: Julia Borissova, Pierre Bessard, Cyrielle Molard


Articles & photographs published on PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s).

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