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Michael Nguyen
Michael Nguyen
Michael Nguyen

Michael Nguyen

Country: Germany
Birth: 1958

Michael Nguyen is a photo artist and documentary photographer living near Munich, Germany. He takes photographs since 1988. He has been living in Munich since 2007 and moved to Gauting near Munich in 2015. After a long break in the cultural sector and after a sickness he has dedicated himself 2018 entirely to art again. He is an artist and a photographic poet who moves away from the mainstream, at the same time blurs genres. Most of the time, he focuses on small, ordinary things but through the subjective lens, he give them new perspectives, a new soul.

I found my way to photography when I was a journalist for art and culture. One of my main subjects was "Greece", and there was a lot to do with photography. Then, in close cooperation with Dr. Matthias Harder (now Director of the Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin), we laid the foundation for understanding the photographs of Herbert List and Walter Hege. Since then, photography has opened up a whole new world to me.

Michael Nguyen roamed various cities in Bavaria during the Corona pandemic. A focus of his works since COVID-19 are urban landscapes as well as urban spaces in different cities. Urban spaces can all enrich a life between buildings. Since Covid-19, social interaction in the Urban landscapes with their spaces has lain fallow. Michael Nguyen conveys this sensitively in his mostly "deserted pictures“. Nguyen enters the motifs of his urban landscapes with a great deal of empathy. He makes the city, urban landscapes and architecture visible and documents them for posterity. With his artistic documentary photography he refers to a reality that we all know, but interprets this reality with his images.

Everywhere I go, my eyes and senses are in motion. With my camera I capture little things that we often don't notice in everyday life.

At the BIFA Budapest International Foto Awards 2020 his artwork "Antimatter" was awarded in December 2020 with Gold. In addition to his artistic activities, Michael Nguyen is in Editor-in-chief of the online magazine for photography and art: Tagree.

End of March 2021 Michael Nguyen is nominated for the Tassilo Culture Prize of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) is a German national daily newspaper. It is published in Munich. SZ is the second largest daily newspaper in Germany (as of October 2020). Promoting the cultural sector in the Munich area and motivating creative artists (these are the goals of the Tassilo Culture Prize), which the Süddeutsche Zeitung is offering for the eleventh time this year. The SZ Prize is named after the Bavarian Duke Tassilo.

Statement
Our head is round so that thinking can change direction - a sentence by the writer and artist Francis Picabia, who inspired me as a young man interested in art and the art scene. Art broadened my perspectives and saved my soul. In the 1980s and 1990s I was a journalist, poet, photographer and event manager. After almost two decades, I found my way back to art in the dark times of my life in early 2018. Yes, once again art has saved my soul. Everywhere I go, my eyes and senses are in motion. With my camera I capture little things that we often don't notice in everyday life.


The power of design and the contradictions between art and life
Munich's most colorful shopping center facade by Prof. Dr. Rainer Funke

When will the containers be loaded? Such a question comes to mind when approaching the shopping mall built in 2008 from a distance. But stop! The intense colors of the seemingly stacked cubes and their sophisticated composition immediately give rise to other associations. As if someone had created a special order out of building blocks. One wonders whether this is already the perfect final state, as one tries to create with the Magic Cube, for example.

The variety of combinations seems too great for this. Both that of the colors and that of the surface structures. Added to this are the manifold reflections and the astonishing visual dynamics. One does not seem to move past the building itself, but its facades begin to run, to turn, to flow. One is almost reminded of the dancing of the facades and interiors of baroque courtly buildings in downtown Munich. Instead of baroque figurativeness, however, here it is geometry.

The closer one gets, the more details become visible. No, these are neither containers nor building blocks. The prismatic shape of the colored and reflective metal plates gives the building shell pronounced plasticity. One would not have expected so much sophistication from a shopping center, especially not here, where Munich hardly has anything typically Munich anymore and is fraying into the landscape.

Whether red voluptuousness with bold blue, pastel sweetness, noble gold, lush, or pale green: the overwhelming power of color is, of course, the basic theme of the series of images, always in powerfully soaring, a contrast-rich vertical sequence of seemingly endless parallels.

Michael Nguyen's imposing photographs take us very close to this color organ. They make us stand at attention on the parade ground of the verticals. Especially the severity of the composition in detail becomes a theme.

This gesture appears once again mercilessly emphasized by Nguyen's camera, as refractions and disturbances emerge from close up. Two framed, square blue lockers, for instance, according to their dimensions probably placed on a blue ground with metallic fittings not colored blue - the attempt to hide them has failed. Nguyen places them in the center. The wonderful striped pattern is disturbed in this way, less perfect and also a bit more lifelike. We experience something similar with the door locks (here the hinges additionally form a counter-rotating rhythm), the intercom, and the stickers on two other images. As a photographer, Michael Nguyen is as uninhibitedly consistent as the facades depicted want to be but cannot be in the storm of life and entropy.

The mirrored surfaces evoke almost poetic associations when nature and urban space gently and carefully combine in them (in one picture, the soft shapes of the snow remains are added). Here, too, Nguyen is provocative. One picture is intended to irritate through eight seemingly irregular horizontal cuts in the surrounding colour surfaces. And, of course, dirt and trash. Such a design focused on geometric color perfection is highly moralistic. It points its moral finger in full size at the viewers, admonishing us not to disturb order, to preserve perfection and cleanliness. When we then perceive small discarded things and in addition a dirty floor or even dirty facade surfaces, it hits us with full force. At the same time, we are referred to the particularity and artistic rapture of the facade. Even a traffic sign, placed somewhat askew and in turn, defaced with remnants of a sticker, emphasizes the distance of the art object from life. Even the clash of different grid dimensions of the facade strips and the paving of the sidewalk draws attention and distances. Here nothing has grown out of the ground, where it has been landed. This impression is further emphasized by the filigree grid structure of the surfaces pointing to the left.

If then still objects stand before the work of art, like a somewhat demolished container for the clothes collection, an ashtray (nevertheless in strict vertical-orthogonal high-grade steel form and exactly aligned), or admittedly color-coordinated garbage can one wished a ban mile for objects around the building. People appear in two photos. They make us breathe a sigh of relief: yes, the whole thing is made for people. The two people in a picture, shot somewhat voyeuristically behind a lamppost, could, however, already be a bit tighter, more upright, and perhaps defilade past the facade in step! The man with his shopping cart, on the other hand, seems to want to save himself from the austerity of the backdrop into the organic world of the leafy settlement.

In an impressive way, Michael Nguyen presents us with this photo series of a building as a work of art and thus points us to the power of design but also to the contradictions between art and life.

Prof. Dr. Rainer Funke researches and publishes on design-theoretical issues from a semiotic, cultural-theoretical and philosophical perspective and works as a design consultant for companies. He teaches design theory at the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences. After studying philosophy at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, he earned his doctorate in semiotics and subsequently worked in design-theoretical research at Burg Giebichenstein - University of Art and Design Halle. In 1992, he was appointed to Potsdam as the founding dean of the Department of Design. Rainer Funke was the owner of a design agency, chairman of the board of the Brandenburg Design Center, and visiting professor at the University of Art and Industrial Design Linz.

Design theory is supposed to motivate in an enlightening way by conveying methods for the analysis of design, especially for the manifold relations between perceptible forms of artifacts and their meanings in the context of the process of use. Design theory explicates modes of action and historically founded developmental relationships of design and their various influencing factors. (Prof. Dr. Rainer Funke)

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Chris Rainier
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Rosita Delfino
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Virginia Hines began photographing when, as a high school student, her parents (both newspaper editors) handed her a Pentax SLR - set at f/11, loaded with Tri-X - with a Honeywell flash, and sent her around town on "idiot-proof" assignments, shooting the likes of large garden vegetables, ladies luncheons, and presentations of jumbo facsimile checks. Scrupulously saving her $1.60 per hour minimum wage earnings, in due time she managed to buy her first camera, a Singapore-made Rolleiflex SL35 with a 50mm Zeiss lens. In college at Rice University she studied photography with Geoff Winningham and came to favor the 4x5 format. Encouraged by receiving "honorable mention" in a show judged by Garry Winogrand, she bought her second camera, a Calumet 4x5. In its rigid case this camera still sits in the back of her closet and provides an excellent step for reaching items on the top shelf. After graduation, awakening to the need to keep a roof overhead and food on the table, Virginia adopted the family profession and began working in publishing, putting serious photography aside for a long time. She spent five years in the Washington, DC, bureau of Fairchild Publications; later, in New York, she launched the first business publication focused on bioinformatics and genomics. As the internet gained traction, Virginia got an MBA from UCLA and started working at Yahoo, the dominant internet company at the time. In 2016, a workshop with Bruce Gilden was an inspiration and a wakeup call. Observing that the best photographers never stop pursuing artistic growth, Virginia began seeking out opportunities to shoot in the Bay Area and elsewhere that stretched her skills and comfort zone. She took more workshops, including from Harvey Stein, who became an important mentor. Also at this time, inspired by Gilden, Stein, and other photographers she admired, she began using digital Leica rangefinders. Their greater manual control echoes her affinity for the view camera, while the compact size better fits her current shooting style. Today Virginia lives in San Francisco and is a frequent contributor to Street Photography Magazine. Her photos have appeared in a number of print and online publications and she has been invited to join group shows in the US and Europe. Current projects include exploring Alcatraz from the perspective of Covid-era themes of confinement, isolation, and social control; The Loneliest Road, shooting along socially distant Western backroads; and China on the Move, images made from a moving train traveling across China's once-cultural, now industrial heartland that reveal the country's social and environmental challenges in fresh ways. You can follow her progress @vhines_photos on Instagram. Statement For me, the reason to make art is to help heal humanity's many self-inflicted wounds; to bring to light patterns and themes, commonalities and, I hope, compassion, through the unflinching observation of a wide swathe of phenomena. This vision motivates me to venture into the world with a camera and start chipping away at an impossibly immense goal. One of my photographer icons, Dorothea Lange, observed, "I realize more and more what it takes to be a really good photographer. You go in over your head, not just up to your neck." Following her advice, I jump in the deep end and hope for the best. I also feel it's essential for an artist to be a truth-teller; all the more so as culture bends away from authenticity toward the highly performative. Yes, there are no absolute truths, but I want to document my truth in photographs that may not be completely truthful in and of themselves but, through synecdoche, aim at conjuring a more universal meaning.
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Billy and Hells are two photographers: Anke Linz, Billy (Nürnberg, 1965) and Andreas Oettinger, Hells (Munich, 1963). They met in 1986, found a shared interest in photography and became partners in life and work. Inspired by the photographs of Irving Penn and Helmut Newton, Billy und Hells started to work in the field of fashion photography. Accidentally, they came across a technique that would define their future works. By forgetting to take a black and white negative out of a Wühltisch developer, they developed a beautiful Baryt picture. This process is now known as a Lithprint. Later on they discovered that combining a black and white slidefrom a colour negative with a colour picture, a beautiful photograph emerged with fantastic effects. Because of this technique, the colours are reduced but give an intense effect. This technique reduces the colours but results simultaneously in an intensity, which they were unable to reach with regular photography. The results were unexpected but very satisfying. In 1999 they started working professionally for adverting campaigns and magazines. However, this branch of photography did not provide them for the artistic freedom they were looking for. In 2000 they settled in Berlin and started a studio there. This is also the year that they started to work with digital cameras, taking advantage of all the benefits these provide. Amongst others they exhibited in Tokyo and Berlin. One of their photographs, Nabil, was used in a fashion exhibition on the Ideal Man in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. Another work, Sophia, featured in the National Portrait Gallery’s advertisement campaign for the exhibition of the Photographic Portrait Prize 2007. Source: Morren Galleries Billy & Hells’ photographs exist in a world of in-betweens. Their deceptively simple, straightforward portraits convey a certain complexity. The archetypal characters depicted in their photographs—mothers, soldiers, cowboys, nurses, and teachers— possess an underlying sense of mystery, hinting at the duality of the sitter as well as the fictional world they inhabit. Although Billy & Hells’ images call upon historical and art historical references, their portraits are not burdened by the stipulations of historical recreations. Instead, seamlessly blending past and present, reality and fantasy, their photographs become a nostalgic diary, purposefully left open for interpretation. The duo discovered what has become their signature visual style via a typical lab-accident story— by forgetting to take a black and white negative out of the developer, they inadvertently produced an intense image with colors that appear simultaneously rich and muted. Their portraits combine elaborate, hand-painted backgrounds and draw inspiration from countless samples of fabrics, color compositions, and clothing that generate the distinct mood for each portrait. In a special issue on Young German Photography, Deutsch magazine described the experience of viewing a Billy & Hells photograph as the following, “Inevitably, without warning, you enter a unique world of images. Each scene becomes a kind of pseudo-dwelling for the person contemplating it. The situations seem to be familiar, but you are never absolutely sure just what is happening in front of you, who the characters are, where to place the individual scenes. The commonplace is bristling with exceptions, the direction of narrative changes continually and leads you astray. Trivial things are combined with the bizarre. The mixture deriving from this casts a spell on us.” (Deutsch, “Young German Photography”, 2000 Published by Kruse Verlag, Hamburg) Billy & Hells were nominated in 2007 for The National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait. The series Blue Moon was recently featured in the photographic quarterly Eyemazing. Their work has been exhibited and collected internationally. Anke Linz and Andreas Oettinger live and work in Berlin.Source: Fahey/Klein Gallery
Mo Verlaan
Netherlands
1963
"After graduating from the Rietvelt Art Academy in Amsterdam, I started out in experimental theatre, creating sets on location as well as performing. In 1993, I founded De Drie Gezusters with my sisters catering to (inter)national film crews on location from a converted truck. Eight years ago, my love for photography made me enter the Photo Academy. The book and series titled Resonance was part of my graduation in 2016. In these photographs my fascination with light and luminance finds its expression. The Memory of Time is a study about the plasticity of time and light, to see time and light as something elastic. For me there is a strong correlation between the impermanence of light and the fluidity of time." "In The Memory of Time I explore abstract spaces. What interests me most, are architectural structures where light can fleet in and out, creating a new space. To me light is both a tangible and evanescent medium, if not a language. By fading, molding and carving the light in my photographs, I transform reality and move into an imaginative and intuitive realm. The process involves composing layered images that nearly look like drawings, scraping off the innate realism that is part of photography, thus creating a more sensorial and subliminal world." Winner Single Image 9th Julia Margaret Cameron Award 2016, Category Architecture. Works from the series Resonance received several Honorable Mentions: Tokyo International Foto Awards 2016 (2x), The Monochrome Awards 2016 (4x), The Monovision Photography Awards 2017 (6x), IPA 2017 (2x), IPA 2018 One Shot Harmony (1x). The series Resonance was exhibited at The Indian Photography Festival 2016. The book Resonance was exhibited at: Scan Photobooks (Spain), The Griffin Museum (USA), RPSP (UK), Tripp Gallery (UK), Unveil'd (UK). Publication in the NEW2017, 100 Best Emerging Dutch Photographers of the year 2017.
Cedric Delsaux
France
1974
Cédric Delsaux was born in 1974. For almost 20 years, his oeuvre has sought to deconstruct our conventional view of the relationship between reality and photography. His aim is for the medium of photography to no longer directly express Reality, but rather the Fiction through which it is perceived. First known for his work as an advertising photographer, he has since made a name for himself through his personal long-term photo series. His first, Here To Stay/Nous resterons sur terre, was published in 2008 in France, and by Monacelli Press (Random House) in the US the following year. This series takes us on a subjective tour of symbolic places in our (post)modern world; these places are at once beautiful and ugly, conventional and crazy. His second, Dark Lens, was published in France in 2011 by Éditions Xavier Barral, distributed in the US by D.A.P., and translated into Japanese through publisher X-Knowledge. George Lucas wrote the foreword to the book. Dark Lens places characters from the Star Wars saga into real-world settings—like Dubai, Lille or the banlieue of Paris—and reveals the extent to which our perception of a city passes through the filter of fiction. In his next series, Échelle 1, he asked random passers-by to stand on a white wooden base, instantly transforming them into 1:1 scale figurines. For his 2014 book, Zone de repli, published by Éditions Xavier Barral, he spent three years reexploring an infamous news story, revisiting the haunts of a notorious imposter-murderer. The series he made with "France Territoire Liquide", a group co-founded with three other photographers, featured in an exhibition at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in 2017 (Paysages français: Une aventure photographique) and in a collected volume published by Éditions du Seuil ("Fiction&Cie" collection). Welcome to the Dark Corporation. It all began over 14 years ago with Dark Lens, Delsaux's initial series combining everyday places with the universe of Star Wars. Hailed an international success (...), it was honored by the Master himself, George Lucas.* After taking a break, Cédric Delsaux now reawakens the fantasy with this new opus, irreversibly breaking down the boundaries between Reality and Fiction... While the vehicles and characters of the famous Star Wars saga still haunt the real-world places he shoots—like Paris, Dubai, Marseilles, and Abu Dhabi—, this time Delsaux has worked with a full team (designer, 3D graphic artists, retouchers) to further tear back the veil between true and false, to the point that we begin to wonder if even the slightest frontier still remains. What was originally a simple confrontation between Reality and Science Fiction is finished; now the World and the "Dark Corporation" become one. It is as if the characters of the series have now permanently settled on Earth, bringing with them their ancient powers. These new residents have acquired their own vehicles, which are inspired by the Hollywood saga but recreated in the style of earthlings, borrowing design and techniques from the world that came before, the one that belonged to humankind... With this approach Cédric Delsaux combines two opposing states, reality and fantasy, as if to suggest that one can no longer be perceived without the other. The present of his photographs is no longer in the indicative, but is modified using some unknown conjugation to produce a sort of present of the conditional, distorting Roland Barthe's formula "this has been" into a puzzling "and if this was". Delsaux also uses his sets to suggest a looming, insidious threat. Each piece of land he captures depicts the latent conflict between human beings and the technology they have created... And he has an original way of exploiting the modern myth that is Star Wars to summon up all the anxieties and ambitions of a generation abandoned at the edge of the gaping chasm left by the disappearance of the Grand Narratives. Designer Vincent Gravière
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