Kovi Konowiecki was born and raised in Long Beach, California. After pursuing a professional career in football in Germany and Israel, Kovi is receiving his Master of Arts in photography from the University of the Arts London. His work lies between documentary and fine art, often focusing on portraiture and telling stories that reveal his identity, including his experiences of growing up in Long Beach. Many of Kovi’s subjects exist in a state of liminality, often creating a sense of tension within his work. This idea very much comes across in his last project, Bei Mir Bistu Shein, where he photographed Orthodox Jews around the world over the course of a year. Kovi was recently awarded third place at the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, held at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Delivering Flowers to Grandpa Jack
Kovi born in Long Beach, California. His parents still live in the same house where he grew up. While he has spent nearly half of my life living elsewhere, Long Beach will always be his hometown. When he comes back from time to time, Long Beach gives him all the feelings that a hometown should. Childhood friends always seem to gather on the same street corner; the same golden hue hits the rooftops every evening right before the sun goes down. Long Beach is by no measure a small town, but for him, it has always felt like one.
Delivering Flowers to Grandpa Jack is a series of photographs that Kovi began creating to capture the uniqueness of Long Beach—the people and places that he thought made it different from everywhere else. But as he spent more time documenting his hometown, he realized that its uniqueness does not stem from the people who live there or the streets that comprise it. Rather, it is the things that don’t stand out that make Long Beach like nowhere else for him. The series pays tribute to the elements of Long Beach that many would find commonplace and un-extraordinary, highlighting the beauty of familiarity that can transform the mundane of one’s hometown into something very personal. The photographs’ devotion to the elements of the everyday signifies how the special feeling one associates with their hometown does not come from the place itself—it comes from being from the place.
Delivering Flowers to Grandpa Jack also endeavors to illustrate how the familiar sentiments attributed to one’s hometown are oftentimes undefined by the contours of time. In this sense, the photographs maintain an aura of timelessness through their ethereal coloring and sepia tone, which keep the viewer from placing the subjects in any particular era. This sense of timelessness is further accentuated through the use of vintage photographs of my family living in Long Beach in the 1960’s, which are interspersed seamlessly throughout the series and enable the viewer to move fluidly through time without recognition. Undefined by a specific era, the people depicted in the series exist in a setting created by my perception of home—a place that remains intimate and ageless—an embodiment of the feeling that no matter how many years pass, and no matter how many things change, there are certain things that never change.
To view more of Kovi’s work please visit his website.