Kovi Konowiecki (b.1992) was born in Long Beach, California. He holds a BA in Media Communications from Wake Forest University and an MA in Photography from University of the Arts London. After playing professional soccer in Europe, he turned to photography as a way to document the things around him and shed light on different aspects of his identity. Kovi was shortlisted for the 2016 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, and was the first ever nominee to have two images shortlisted for the first place prize. He also also been featured and published on platforms such as British Journal of Photography, The Guardian, i-D, amongst many others.
Angela and Daughters, Yucca Valley
Henry, Beaumont Swap Meet
The Hawks Come Up Before the Sun
The desert valley where the fog splits the ridge:
above the hidden hawks fly,
and the people,
Below. It reminds man that unconditional access
to the world is not granted; the pearl end of the skies
But sometimes the sun jars through and gives glory to the hawks.
Fathers point fingers at the dazzling sky-dwellers
as if they were as rare as stars.
Trailers and truckloads of fathers and sons come to cherish
the life of birds—see them float on the whims of the
play through the tips of trees and chisel the San Jacintos.
These are simple, beautiful things
that can stop the earth-delving jaunt of man.
Glory to the hawks and their awing ways,
The following photographs were taken between 2016 and 2018 in the western side of
the California desert. The approval to capture the subjects in many of these photographs
was given in exchange for a pack of cigarettes or a liter of soda from the local Country
Mart liquor store. During those years, I was introduced to things that were altogether
unfamiliar to me: bible study, fruit orchards, arsonists, stories of abandoned
twin brothers. I became close to those who have come to be known in those parts as
the “black eyes”. I constantly asked myself what drew me back to that place. Perhaps
it was the geography—the feeling of vast openness after all my city years. Or maybe
it was the people that seem to care about nothing except for what is directly in front
of them—the ability to fit every serious thing into so much less. Or maybe it was the
conversation between the people and the land—how they spoke to each other about
freedom and hope. It is a language that I waited too late in life to learn.
Steven, San Jacintos
Family Portrait, Cabazon
Michael, San Jacintos
Cowboy, Broken Glass
Larry, Before Dusk
Grant and Brother, Mountain View Drive
San Jacintos, Before Dusk
To view more of Kovi Konowiecki’s work please visit his website.