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 Germany and Israel, 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.
About ‘Delivering Flowers to Grandpa Jack’:
The lake of his childhood, now twilit, mauve and lusterless in the August evening,
is the only thing worth sizing up to the increases of his future.
Reflections of clouds and trees rescind, become formless voices wrangling
deep in the water, taking on big words like dependence and love,
ones that the open, stretched out world of unknowns makes us incapable of.
Once, when decisions were shut tight, no onlookers, he would have stripped down
to the small particulars of his body, dipped into the dark, indefinite sheets,
swam swiftly to the middle.
He knows, now, what he would find: Only the cold on his skin.
The internal daze of water and night. Thoughts yearning for the shore.
I was born in Long Beach, California. My parents still live in the same house where I grew up. While I have spent nearly half of my life living elsewhere, Long Beach will always be my hometown. When I come back from time to time, Long Beach gives me 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 me, it has always felt like one.
Delivering Flowers to Grandpa Jack is a series of photographs that I began creating to capture the uniqueness of Long Beach—the people and places that I thought made it different from everywhere else. But as I spent more time documenting my hometown, I 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 me. 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.