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Deborah Bay
Deborah Bay
Deborah Bay

Deborah Bay

Country: United States

Deborah Bay is a Houston artist who specializes in constructed studio photography. She has exhibited most recently at Photo London Digital 2020, Foto Relevance (Houston), Texas Contemporary 2018 and 2019 and Photoville Brooklyn. Her work is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson and Dorsky Museum of Art at State University of New York at New Paltz. LensCulture and the Griffin Museum of Photography highlighted images from her Traveling Light series in on-line features earlier this year, and the British Journal of Photography has published her work on its cover. Her work was recognized in the Texas National 2018, and she was a finalist for Artadia Houston 2015. An active member of the Houston arts community, she has served on the board of the Houston Center for Photography and its Advisory Council. She holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from The University of Texas at Austin.

Statement:
My work explores the beauty of light and color. It builds on a studio practice that has focused for the past 15 years on constructed, macro photography. The images in the work presented here bring together an eclectic set of influences, ranging from geometric constructivism to color field. After collecting an assortment of prisms and lenses, I became interested in capturing how light and color interact with optical materials - seeming to bounce nonchalantly across surfaces, yet strictly bound by the laws of physics. Lenses and prisms were layered and stacked at angles to capture light wrapping around form. Chromatic geometries emerged from the planes and lines of color created using film gels. In my practice the camera often is a tool for highlighting details of physical phenomena that are overlooked or not easily observed. Particularly intriguing is the mystery created by the juxtaposition of scale - making close-up images of small objects and showing them as prints at many times their actual size. The images were produced in-camera and follow in the lineage of experimental studies exploring the most elemental components of photographic processes: light and lenses.
 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Avarino Caracò
My Love for Photography comes from an anthropological background that over the years has led me to observe every aspect of the cultural expressions that I happened to observe. The leitmotif of each of my projects always has an identity basis, whether it is collective or individual expressions, through travel or personal experiences, conceptual representations or close portraits. I live my photographic experiences as a continuous revolution, as if it were a magnet that projects me towards a future, partly visible, but mostly to be discovered. The commitment in my projects is mainly to establish a relationship with a social context, through the technique of participating observation, trying each time to establish an honest balance between what my gaze is able to see and what the subject that photographer wants to convey. T Life T life is a very intimate project in which I wanted to know the daily life of some transgender people in Palermo (Sicily). The aim of my project is to emphasize the dignity and strength that the people I present here have every day facing all the difficulties that there are in their social contexts that have a binary structure of gender identity. Gabriel is 22 years old and has just undergone a mastectomy, the very important support of his mother Caterina has made this path very serene and she herself declared that her son's body must be shown to the world to allow them to understand what it means to face a path of identity reassignment. Rashmi is 19 years old and is a non-binary person, she recognizes herself as both a man and a woman. During my interview I got to know the different aspects of her personality, her way of seeing herself as a woman and a man, the most problematic aspects of her relationship with her family and her dreams. Fed and Giorgia are 18 years old. Fed is a transgender person in a pre-hormonal phase, but his family does not allow him to complete the transition by putting a deep communication barrier between them. Giorgia is cisgender and bisexual but has not come out with her family because she is afraid in their violent reaction. They live a hidden love and are planning to go and live in France where they can study at university and feel freer.
Jack Delano
United States
1914 | † 1997
Jack Delano (August 1, 1914 – August 12, 1997) was an American photographer for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and a composer noted for his use of Puerto Rican folk material. Delano was born as Jacob Ovcharov in Voroshilovka village, Podolie Governorate, near Vinnytsia, Russian Empire and moved, with his parents and younger brother, to the United States in 1923. The family arrived at New York on July 5, 1923 on the boat SS Homeric. Between 1924 and 1932 he studied graphic arts/photography and music (viola and composition) at the Settlement Music School and solfeggio with a professor from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After being awarded an art scholarship for his talents, he attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) where, from 1928 until 1932, he studied illustration and continued his musical training. While there, Delano was awarded the Cresson Traveling Scholarship, on which he chose to travel to Europe, where he bought a camera that got him interested in photography. After graduating from the PAFA, Delano proposed a photographic project to the Federal Art Project: a study of mining conditions in the Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania anthracite coal area. Delano sent sample pictures to Roy Stryker and applied for a job at the Farm Security Administration Photography program FSA. Through the help of Edwin Rosskam and Marion Post Wolcott, Stryker offered Delano a job at $2,300/year. As a condition of the job, Delano had to have his own car and driver's license, both of which he acquired before moving to Washington, D.C. Before working at the FSA, Delano had done his own processing and developing but did neither at the FSA. Other photographers working for the FSA include Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks. In 1943 FSA was eliminated as "budget waste" and subsumed into the Office of War Information (OWI). He travelled to Puerto Rico in 1941 as a part of the FSA project. This trip had such a profound influence on him that he settled there permanently in 1946. Between 1943 and 1946 he served in the U.S. Army Air Forces. With his wife Irene (a second cousin to fellow photographer Ben Shahn) he worked in the Community Division of the Department of Public Education producing films, for many of which Delano composed the score. Delano also directed Los Peloteros, a Puerto Rican film about poor rural kids and their love for baseball. The film remains a classic in Puerto Rican cinema. Jack Delano's musical compositions included works of every type: orchestral (many composed for the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra), ballets (composed for Ballet Infantil de Gilda Navarra and Ballets de San Juan), chamber, choral (including Pétalo de rosa, a commission for Coro de Niños de San Juan) and solo vocal. His vocal music often showcases Puerto Rican poetry, especially the words of friend and collaborator Tomás Blanco. Blanco, Délano and his wife Irene collaborated on children's books. The most prominent of these remains a classic in Puerto Rican literature: The Child's Gift: A Twelfth Night Tale by Tomás Blanco, with illustrations by Irene Delano and incidental music (written on the margins) by Jack Delano. His score for the film "Desde las nubes" demonstrates an early use of electronic techniques. Most of his works composed after he moved to Puerto Rico are notable for using folk material in a classical form.Source: Wikipedia
Gilles Nicolet
France
1960
I am a self-taught photographer who spent 35 years living and working in Africa, with long stays in Somalia, West Africa and Tanzania. I started out as an agricultural engineer but soon switched to photography in order to follow an old passion. I have since shot numerous stories for all sorts of magazines, including the Sunday Times Magazine, National Geographic Magazine, Geo, the Smithsonian and Paris-Match. I have a special interest in anthropology and ethnography, something that - I hope - has helped me capture the essence of my subjects. In the past most of my stories where about rare traditions that somehow linked man and wildlife, but Africa has changed a lot in the last few decades and unfortunately most of these traditions have now disappeared. My recent work has therefore been more personal and contemplative and less focused on narrative picture stories meant for magazines. In fact, today my interest lies in the convergence between art and documentary photography. I have also moved away from color photography and now only shoot in black and white. My work has received several major awards, including a World Press Photo Award and a Fuji Award. My latest project on the Swahili Coast also obtained the following recognitions: 2017 HIPA Hamdan International Photography Awards - 2nd Prize, Portfolio Category 2017 Elliott Erwitt Havana Fellowship - Nominee 2017 Seventh Annual Exposure Photography Awards - Winner 2017 IPA International Photography Awards - 2nd Prize, People/Culture Category 2017 Meitar Award - Nominee 2017 Monochrome Photography Awards - Photojournalism/Professional - Two Honorable Mentions 2017 Monochrome Photography Awards - People/Professional - Honorable Mention 2018 CAP Contemporary African Photography Prize - Finalist 2018 SIPA Contest - Honorable Mention 2019 SOPHOT Award - Winner This work on the Swahili Coast is featured in "Swahili", a book released by Contrejour Publishers in May 2019 (available on amazon.fr and amazon.co.uk). Six degrees south The Zanzibar archipelago, an highly evocative name even for those who are quite unable to locate it on a map, lies six degrees south of the Equator. It is also the exact geographical center of the Swahili Coast, a unique physical, historical and cultural entity running from Southern Somalia to Mozambique, which first grew in the 10th century through trade with the Arab world, India and China. Gold, coconut, ebony, mangrove wood, sisal, myrrh and the infamous slave trade helped make the wealth of this region, slowly shaping it and giving it its unique present character. For a thousand years now, wooden dhows have sailed these lonely shores, with their characteristic white cotton sails, using the monsoon winds to help traders move goods between Africa and Arabia. And for a thousand years too, fishermen have ploughed these rich seas for their bounty of fish, contributing with the traders to the emergence of rich city-ports like Stone Town or Mombasa. But all of this is changing now. A combination of overfishing by both local and foreign ships, population increase, changes in weather patterns as well as the recent discovery of huge gas fields in the region, is threatening this fragile equilibrium. The fishing communities that occupy these shores are particularly at risk, and it could be that we are now witnessing the last of fishing and sailing traditions that had remained largely unchanged since Ibn Battuta, the famous 12th Century Arab explorer, first described them in his travel memoirs. With this recent work I have tried to testify to the unique beauty and timelessness of the Swahili Coast, and to record it for generations to come. It is a personal, melancholic, sometimes dreamy vision of a place and a culture that are very dear to my heart but which, I now realise, may soon disappear.
Miguel Rio Branco
Miguel Rio Branco (born 11 December 1946) is a Brazilian photographer, painter, and filmmaker (director and cinematographer). His work has focused on Brazil and included photojournalism, and social and political criticism. Rio Branco is an Associate Member of Magnum Photos. His photographs are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Rio Branco was born in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, in the Canary Islands. His parents were diplomats and he spent his childhood in Portugal, Switzerland, Brazil and the United States. In 1976 he moved to New York City, where he earned a BA, and took a one-month vocational course at the New York Institute of Photography. In 1978, he moved to Rio de Janeiro and studied at the Industrial Design College. He has been an Associate Member of Magnum Photos since 1980. He lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. Rio Branco's Silent Book (1997) is included in Parr and Badger's The Photobook: A History, Volume II.Source: Wikipedia Miguel Rio Branco (born in Las Palmas in 1946) is a Brazilian artist (photographer, painter, filmmaker and creator of multimedia installations) living and working in Rio de Janeiro. In 1966 he studied at the New York Institute of Photography and in 1968 he left to study at the School of Industrial Design in Rio de Janeiro. Between 1970 and 1972, he worked in New York as a director and cinematographer, and in the following years directed several experimental feature and short films. At the same time, he began exhibiting his photographs in 1972. From 1980 he became a correspondent for Magnum Photos and his photographic work was published in numerous magazines (Aperture, Stern, Photo Magazine). Considering the book as an essential medium of expression, he conceived many books including Sudor Dulce Amargo (Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico City, 1985), Natka (Fundação Cultural de Curitib, 1996), Silent Book (Cosac & Naify, 1997), Miguel Rio Branco (Aperture, 1998) and Maldicidade (Taschen, 2019). His work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including Beauty, the Beast at the Art Institute of Boston in 2003; Plaisir de la douleur at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris in 2005; Solo at Kulturhuset Stockholm in 2011; Miguel Rio Branco: Nada Levarei quando morrer at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in 2017 and Miguel Rio Branco at the Moreira Salles Institute in São Paulo in 2020. His works can be found in many European and American public and private collections, including: Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro; Museu de Arte de São Paulo; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; MoMA, New York.Source: LE BAL
Joseph Szabo
United States
1944
What strikes us first in the photographs of Joseph Szabo is a quiet shock of recognition. His poignant images of the life of American teens present a nostalgic portrait of those tumultuous years between childhood and adulthood. We remember our own high school years - first loves, classic rock, hanging out. We see ourselves in his photographs. Born in Toledo, Ohio, Joseph Szabo discovered his passion for photography as a student at New York's Pratt Institute. By the early 1970s, he was teaching art and photography at Malverne High School in a working-class neighborhood on Long Island. As he struggled to connect with his students, Szabo began using his camera to bridge the gap between teacher and student. In the classroom or on school grounds, and with the neutral eye of a documentary photographer, Szabo depicted his subjects as they were - preening and posing, showing off and goofing around, kissing, smoking - without judgment. What emerges is a dignified, compassionate, and tender view of teenage life rarely seen by adults. Although Szabo's portrait of adolescence in America is specific to suburban Long Island in the 1970s and 1980s, the images are universal and timeless. They capture the bravado and vulnerability, the joy and exuberance, the angst and fear, and the blossoming self-confidence and emerging sexuality of those complex years at the cusp of adulthood. Describes as a "chronicler of teenage life," Szabo's work actually comprises several distinct series - adolescents, Rolling Stones fans, Jones Beach and hometowns - that share a common aesthetic. Wether his camera is focused on his students, the "melting pot of humanity" at Jones Beach, fans at a rock 'n' roll concert, or the suburban streets of the East Coast and Ohio, Szabo's interest is in capturing quintessential American experiences, familiar to all of us, no matter where we grew up. He taught at the International Centre of Photography (ICP). Szabo is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and his work resides in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, International Center of Photography and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris. Szabo is most notable for his photographs of American youth taken during the 1970s and collected in the books Almost Grown and Teenage. His photograph Priscilla was featured as the cover of alternative rock band Dinosaur Jr's 1991 album Green Mind. Szabo made a body of work on Rolling Stones Fans photographed at a concert in Philadelphia in 1978. Joseph Szabo currently lives in Amityville, New York with his wife Nancy.Source: Wikipedia Joseph Szabo is a teacher, photographer and author. He taught photography and art at Malverne High School on Long Island for 27 years and for over 20 years at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan. His 1978 book, Almost Grown, featured many of his students and was acclaimed as one of the “Best Books of the Year” by the American Library Association. In the book’s forward, legendary photojournalist and Founder of the International Center of Photography Cornell Capa, wrote that “…in Szabo’s hands, the camera is magically there, the light is always available, the moment is perceived, seen, and caught.” Throughout the 80s and 90s, Almost Grown attained cult classic status in the fashion world, prompting Vogue editor Grace Coddington to notice that “all the young fashion photographers were looking at Joe’s photographs as their bible.” In 2003, Szabo released Teenage his more complete view of adolescents coming of age. His most recent book Jones Beach captures his forty year exploration of summer at New York’s most popular beach. Szabo’s evocative black and white images have won him worldwide recognition and admiration, from photographers including Bruce Weber and filmmakers Cameron Crowe and Sofia Coppola. He is the recipient of a photography fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and his images reside in the collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, the George Eastman House museum in Rochester, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among many others. His photographs have been published in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Times, French Vogue, Women’s Wear Daily and exhibited at galleries in Paris, London, Japan, New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles.Source: josephszabophotos.com Galleries Jackson Fine Art Michael Hoppen Gallery Gitterman Gallery M+B Gallery
Michael Ackerman
Israel/United States
1967
Born in Tel Aviv, Israel. His family moves to New York in 1974. Lives and works in Warsaw. Since his first exhibition, in 1999, Michael Ackerman has made his mark by bringing a new, radical and unique approach. His work on Varanasi, entitled "End Time City," breaks away from all sorts of exoticism or any anecdotal attempt at description, to question time and death with a freedom granted by a distance from the panoramic – whose usage he renewed – to squares or rectangles. In black and white, with permanent risk that led him to explore impossible lighting, he allowed the grainy images to create enigmatic and pregnant visions. Michael Ackerman seeks – and finds – in the world he traverses, reflections of his personal malaise, doubts and anguish. He received the Nadar Award for his book "End Time City" in 1999, and the Infinity Award for Young Photographer by the International Center of Photography in 1998. In 2009, he won the SCAM Roger Pic Award for his series "Departure, Poland". His last book "Half Life" has been published in 2010 by Robert Delpire. In 2014, he collaborated with Vincent Courtois, cellist, and Christian Caujolle, behind the project, in a show called “L'intuition” which proposes a dialogue between photography and music creation. This show was presented, in particular, as part of the festival Banlieues Bleues and for the Rencontres d'Arles 2014.Source: Agence VU Selected Publications 2wice, Abitare, Aperture, Art On Paper, Beaux Arts, Die Zeit, Doubletake, Eyemazing, French Photo, Granta, Harpers, India Magazine, La Humanite, Internazionale, Les Inrockuptibles, Liberation, Le Matin, Le Monde 2, Metropolis, New York Magazine, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The New Yorker, Ray Gun, La Repubblica delle Donne, Rolling Stone, Stern and The Village Voice. Awards SCAM Roger Pic Award, 2009. Prix Nadar, End Time City, 1999. Best Documentary of 1999, photo-eye, 1999. Infinity Award, Young Photographer, International Center of Photography, 1998. 2014 L’intuition – A projection in collaboration with musician Vincent Courtois, curated by Christian Caujolle. Performed In la Friche Belle de Mai, Marseille, 4 Fevrier Le Lux Scene national de Valence, Festival Banlieues blues, Paris and Rencontres photographiques d’Arles SUSPENSION Noun: Suspension, Verb: suspend: “To cause to stop for a period, hold in abeyance; suspend judgment.” In Michael Ackerman's work, documentary and autobiography conspire with fiction, and all of the above dissolve into hallucination. The particular journeys of his book Half Life encompass New York, Havana, Berlin, Naples, Paris, Warsaw, and Krakow, but the locations aren’t necessarily recognizable at all. Michael has been moving towards this erasure of geographical and other distinctions in his photographs for some time. It hasn’t become dogma - the Smoke photographs shot in Atlanta’s Cabbagetown remain a beautifully regional document, but they document a neighborhood as a particular dream state rather than a set of facts, and the photos could wander easily into his other bodies of work. In all cases, there is surely a trajectory away from the constraints of a traditional documentary mode towards a very different way of getting at the world. Some notes about particular photos in Half Life: A family, seen on a decaying porcelain tombstone portrait - solarized by decades of exposure - is falling apart, as families do, is holding on together, as families do. The shape of their little monument is uncannily like that of the Hotel Centrum on a later page, where such a family, had they existed in the same era, would not have been able to stay. The Centrum, a modern Polish megalith, floats absurdly in the frame, freed from all scale but heavy on the page. A naked man kneeling on a bed; we find him in supplication or some unspecific bondage. He is trapped, caught between stations, and the terrible but accepted scratch lines on the negative make it feel like TV or video, as if the man is seen through some screen, receding. It’s no longer a portrait of a particular person. It seems as if the man has become some vague entity, a sick feeling, a migraine headache, I don’t even know. A man goes up stairs or an escalator and his hand is ridiculously long, maybe like that of Nosferatu in Murnau’s silent film. The stairs begin in Lodz but, according to the next page, pass a landing in Havana. Suspension... A woman, naked, holds her arms against her torso. She looks up, somehow in simultaneous surprise and recognition. I can’t say if her face shows love or sadness or fear, but there’s something inevitable in her expression. It’s strange how she seems so caught in flux, while her shadow, so dark on the wall, is just the opposite, permanent.* * * In the early stages of his building the Half Life book, Michael and I talked about where to put the series of pictures taken from train windows, mostly in deep winter. At one point they were scattered throughout, at other times they fell together in a bloc, but in any case, the body of work, and the book as a whole, started to feel to me like they ran on rails in the snow, and the places and people within them were stops, things seen or felt in passing. They’re encountered, drift away, are longed for, returned to, left behind again. If Michael’s work is sometimes tough, the landscapes remind us back to a balancing delicacy, a faith in beauty. Michael deeply loves the snow trains that cut archaically through Europe, especially through Eastern Europe, especially the overnight trains which he and I share as our transportation of choice. On these you travel but are nowhere for the duration of the trip, floating through whiteness if it’s wintertime. This nothing in which things float is echoed in his prints, though the white is sometimes heavily vignetted, as if darkness wants in. Alternately, the backgrounds can be of total blackness, and then the subject radiates like a candle. But back to the snow trains, which often run through the most ignored and beautiful parts of cities, where commercial facades drop away like forced smiles into debris and frozen mud and warehouses, which then give way to fields. Riding on one of these trains outside of Katowice, Poland en route to Paris, Michael spotted in the distance the warped row of dead train cars seen in the book. Desperate to photograph them, he guessed at their location and eventually returned. He got off at the closest stop, trudged through the snow, and found the trains, but approaching across a frozen field, camera in hand, his legs suddenly plunged through a chasm in the whiteness, a missing manhole cover. In what he referred to as a “rare case of quick thinking,” he stuck out his arms, breaking the fall, and managed to pull himself out. No one knew he was there, and if he’d perished, it would’ve been for the love of trains, and of wreckage, and of course, of pictures. * * * Many in the panel of men at the beginning of Half Life were photographed in bars. Some were found in a bar in Paris where the old and ageless proprietor became one of Michael’s favorite people, not just in the city, but in the world. Her bar was a special refuge, and though she was difficult, she truly took Michael in. This tiny bar remains a constant, a place of return, but many of the regulars he’s met over the years are now gone. For some moments however, they drew, or seemed to draw, terribly close, with alcohol as glue and pictures proof -- but of what… mutual need, eventual isolation, or the pendulum swing between the two… A bar is something like the center of an hourglass: at the top is time disappearing, and at the bottom, time spent. But to those in the place, the regulars, the middle is the only thing apparent and there time has stopped. (An interesting circumstance for others in the time-stopping business, and not just still photographers. The phenomena is beautifully understood in Daumier’s paintings of drinkers or Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son). It is illusory, of course; the people are held in that place where, like the proverbial cartoon character who’s gone off a cliff, they just don’t realize the ground has dropped away beneath their feet. Once again, suspension. Which also has a musical definition: The prolongation of a tone in one chord into the following chord, usually producing a temporary dissonance. This prolongation of tone, an ongoing search, gives the work continuity, as does the dissonance, which can be restlessness or loss. I won’t talk much here about the emotional drive behind the work, or the personal ramifications, but that’s my hesitation, not Michael’s. There’s a picture in Half Life of the photographer and a woman, both with shaved heads, a troubled mirroring, a last strange union. The photograph is a pact: see you now, see you later, so long... In the last few years, such goodbyes have given way to a series of welcomings, explorations of the concrete changes and dream states of immediate family, wife and child. These pictures, deeply caring but by necessity fearless, reverberate with bluntness, warmth, shock, matter of fact erotics, and of course love, which when regarded honestly, includes a steamer trunk of contradictions. So, there is fear mixed in with the fearlessness, the joy includes some trepidation, the innocence is utterly real, but tangled and fleeting. How disappointing it would be if a photographer so open to the wrenching truths of the world would suddenly pull all punches when faced with the most intimate situation of all. How unfortunate it would be, for all of us, if investigations of intimacy were left to the whitewashers and the advertisers, the puritans and the pornographers. And so, in the recent work, new tightropes are stretched and new risks are taken. But in looking back at Michael’s work as a whole, I’m reminded that one of the great challenges artists face is when to pull back from the proverbial edge - those addicted to pushing the envelope sometimes fall into a negative trap which has its own complacency. A kind or subtle or purely beautiful image might actually be the risk that they can’t seem to take. The walking of tightropes has always been integral to Michael’s work, but I don’t see him falling into that dark trap, which is why the work is thorny but never cynical, heavy but also sweet. Beyond all of that, I still don’t understand how the pictures happen, how he gets them. It certainly isn’t about the equipment, the cameras come and go, sometimes literally broken but still pressed into use. I think Michael feels that taking pictures and taking chances should be kindred enterprises. I’ve met few artists less uptight about the technology and intricacies of gear and production, though he does of course become completely intimate with what he needs in order to get at what he feels. Once I heard him suggest in a Q & A that he just doesn’t care about technique, but knowing the time and tortures he’s given over to darkroom work, I thought that was a touch disingenuous. He meant that technique and technology are never the core of the matter, and that he doesn’t like to be precious about them. And he needs accidents; they might reveal something, break something open. Sometimes they might go too far and the image itself is obliterated: again, necessary risk. I’ve seen him photograph without putting the camera to his eye, as if to confirm that what he was after wasn’t primarily even about seeing. (That too is deceptive; with time, some photographers know what the camera is getting, regardless of where it’s held). Maybe I mean that compared to many other photographers, Michael’s work isn’t so concerned with sight itself. If he could have been a writer, painter, or a musician, that might have worked too. In any case, the results speak for themselves, and the results are often kind of insane. Sadly, because of the madness of these photographs and the digital times we’ve entered, people increasingly assume that certain pictures must be computer manipulations. Michael is no purist, but that simply isn’t what is going on here. Do you see how it matters that even if these are accidents of light and the distorting lens, they are things that somehow happened, that were? They come out of the real; however unlikely or impossible, they are measurements - not constructions. They are measurements, but in the end, of the interior as much as of the world. But like I said, Michael’s not a purist, and in his impure searching, he occasionally walks a thin line between accepting pure actuality and giving it a nudge. We argue about it. I don’t know what to make of the picture where someone else’s old portrait of Anna Akhmatova is held up and rephotographed. I guess Michael wanted to invite her into that streetscape, felt she was part of his history or emotional landscape; maybe he just loved her profile and wondered, what the hell, why not? Sometimes the work is funny. The absurdly mismatched nude couple in the book aren’t funny but they are, as is the man who wears a monocle made of smoke. The Coney Island hotdog signs reading ‘Franks’ and the American flag they stutter towards comprise a whimsical tribute to one particular, beloved photographer; first name - Robert. Occasional whimsy aside though, Half Life is a rough ride through damaged places and situations. And what’s it like to be with Michael when he’s photographing such things? Well, it isn’t necessarily comfortable, or easy, or pleasant. Sometimes artists push their work, and their luck along with it. Sometimes Michael just plunges in. I was crossing the street with him on the Lower East side once when a woman suddenly appeared, coming towards us in the intersection. Something in her presence struck us instantly with force -- she might have been beautiful or she might have been mutilated -- we had no time to register anything; but he lunged and got off one picture as I stood by and winced. I doubt she noticed at all, but what if she had? (The picture is in Fiction; it appears to be of a ghost in a miniskirt, perhaps with a black eye.) Such pictures do not come out of discretion, or delicacy, or fair exchange. In many of Michael’s pictures mutual understanding simply may or may not have existed. There is a harshness to this observation; it troubles me, and yet I can say that Michael’s pictures are always, deeply made without judgment, in total acceptance. That in itself is a kind of love. And the subjects obviously extend him enormous trust. (Well... except when they don’t. Walking with Michael on a street in Krakow, he photographed another approaching woman, a middle-aged matron. She yelled angrily at him in Polish; he kept walking but yelled back, in Polish: “You’re beautiful.”) It is probably no accident then that the gesture of the embrace recurs again and again in Michael’s work. Which leads me to what may be my favorite set of pictures that Michael has taken, of the couple on the stairs: To what do we owe this strange and tender record ? And what is the record of? An older man and his young girlfriend collapsed in drunken surrender… or perhaps a father and son broken together on a subway staircase ? Who is holding who up? Was the man once a boxer? If the younger one is in fact a woman, is she his lover? The stairs are at once unyielding and rippling, bending and unbending. This couple, whatever their relationship and circumstance, are attended to then in a series of photographs, equally harsh and gentle, unwrapped over time. But what time is given - minutes, hours, or an unending day or an unending night? You can just about hear the tinny loudspeakers in the background of the train station, and thinking of stations, I am reminded that the 13th station is the descent from the cross. The actual circumstances, the truth of it, the year and the gender, hardly matter, don’t matter at all. At its best, the work speaks past such details, and even beyond photography.
Filippo Venturi
Filippo Venturi is an Italian documentary photographer working on editorial, corporate, commercial assignments and personal projects. His works have been published in different newspapers and magazines such as The Washington Post, Financial Times, Vanity Fair, Internazionale, La Stampa, Geo, Marie Claire, Die Zeit, Gente, D di Repubblica, Io Donna/Corriere della Sera. He cooperates with several agencies in Italy and abroad for advertisement projects. He also pursues many personal stories and projects on the critical issues that he finds interesting. In 2016 his work, "Made in Korea" about South Korea, has been hosted at the Italian Center for Fine Art Photography in Bibbiena, at Modena's Foro Boario as New Talent selected by the Modena Foundation Photography, at Rome's Museum of Contemporary Art (MACRO) as selected Emerging Talent and at Somerset House in London by the Sony World Photography Awards. In 2017 he was the photographer sent by Vanity Fair in North Korea. In 2018 he is Testimonial Photographer for Fujifilm.I work as a multi-disciplinary photographic artist specialising in conceptual documentary and reportage Photography. I look at identity, displacement and the human condition. I also work as a photojournalist, documentary filmmaker and freelance commercial photographer.About Korean Dream Between 1905 and 1945 Korea was dominated by the Japanese, thus becoming a colony of the Empire. In 1945, after Japan's defeat, Korea was involved in the Cold War and became an object of interest for the USA, the URSS and lately for China as well. This brought to the division of the country in two along the 38th parallel and to the Korean War between 1950 and 1953. On the 27th of July of 1953, an armistice was signed but a declaration of peace never followed, leaving the country in a permanent state of conflict. North Korea is officially a socialist State with formal elections but in fact, it is a totalitarian dictatorship based on the cult of the Kim dynasty, practically an absolute monarchy. Since 1948 the country was ruled by Kim Il-Sung, the "Great Leader"; in 1994 his son, Kim Jong-II the "Dear Leader" succeeded him and until in 2011 Kim Jong-Un, his son, the "Brilliant Comrade" became Supreme Leader. North Korea is one of the most secluded countries in the world, we know little about it and the citizens' rights are subdued to the country's needs. Citizens have no freedom of speech, media are strictly controlled, you can travel only with authorization and it is not allowed to leave the country. The few foreign travellers who get the visa can travel the country only with authorized Korean guides, who have also the task of controlling, censoring and finding spies. Pyongyang, the capital, is the centre of all the resources and the country's ambition to boast a strong and modern façade (the rest of North Korea is composed of countryside, rice-fields and villages usually with no water, electricity or gas). The continuous and incessant propaganda against the USA portraits the South Korean population as a victim of the American invasion; young generations live in a constant alert state as if the USA could attack any day. At the same time, the propaganda aims at instilling a great sense of pride for the country's technical progression, fueled by the Supreme Leader and culminating in the atomic bomb and the subsequent tests. Pyongyang youngsters have been educated to be learned and knowledgeable people, especially in the scientific field, to foster the development of armaments and technology, chasing the dream of reuniting Korea in a whole and free state.
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Solo Exhibition June 2022

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