The Book of Veles
The sleepy North Macedonian town of Veles put itself on the world map as the epicenter of fake news production during the 2016 US election. Tech-savvy local youth created hundreds of clickbait websites posing as American news portals.
Veles is also the name of a shapeshifting, Slavic bear- god known for spreading chaos, mischief and lies. The myth of Veles is also told in a purported ancient manuscript, which after having fooled people for decades, is now considered a forgery.
Using these stories as a backdrop, Bendiksen created a photobook which was widely praised by the documentary photography community, until Bendiksen himself eventually revealed it as something very different from what it appeared to be. The Book of Veles is a provocative experiment to see where technology might lead photography in the immediate future.
Jonas Bendiksen (Norway, 1977) began his career at the age of 19 as an intern at Magnum’s London office, before leaving for Russia to pursue his own work as a photojournalist. Throughout the several years he spent there, Bendiksen photographed stories from the fringes of the former USSR, a project that was published as the book Satellites (2006). Following this he experimented with 360-degree photography in his book and 16-projector installation The Places We Live (2008), about daily life in four urban slums. He published The Last Testament (2017) which told the story of seven men who all claimed to be the biblical Messiah returned to earth. The Book of Veles from 2021 probed the vulnerabilities of our perceptions, and became hotly debated after Bendiksen revealed that what had appeared to be a classical piece of photojournalism was in large part synthetic computer-generated renderings.
Bendiksen became a nominee of Magnum Photos in 2004 and a member in 2008. He lives with his wife and children outside Oslo, Norway.