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Matej Michalik
Matej Michalik
Matej Michalik

Matej Michalik

Country: Slovakia
Birth: 1981

My name is Matej Michalik. I was born in 1981 and live in Bratislava, Slovakia. I came in contact with photography in 2010. Apparently, I belong to the new wave of photographers who didn’t go through the analogue era and developing films in darkrooms but ended up in times of digital cameras instead. I am convinced that no matter how expensive your photography gear is, having a good imagination is essencial.

From the beginning, my intuition was leading me towards black and white photos. I began observing the work of several fine art photographers whose work I enormously appreciate. I started communicating with them, sharing pieces of advice and experience. That‘s how it all started.
 

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Vanessa Winship
United Kingdom
1960
Born in the United Kingdom. Vanessa Winship lives in London. After studying cinema and photography at Westminster University (Polytechnic of Central London), Vanessa shares her time between photography and teaching. She then fully devotes herself to photography and lives for about 10 years in the Balkans and Turkey. She joins Agence VU in 2005,and the Gallery VU in 2009. Laureate of numerous prizes, including the World Press Photo (Amsterdam) twice, the National Portrait Gallery Prize (London), PhotoEspana Descubrimientos (Madrid). Exhibited her works in numerous museums and festivals such as the Rencontres d'Arles, the Kunstall Museum of Contemporary Art in Rotterdam or the Horst Gallery and Photographers Gallery in London. Prize-winner of the HCB Award 2011 for her project "Out there: an American Odyssey." Source: Agence VU Winship grew up in Barton-upon-Humber, rural Lincolnshire. She studied at Baysgarth School; Hull Art College (which included a photography module); photography at Filton Technical College, Bristol; and photography, film, and video at the Polytechnic of Central London from 1984 to 1987, graduating with a BA (Hons). She met her husband, the photographer George Georgiou, on the degree course. From 1999 she spent a decade living and working in the Balkans and surrounding territories of Turkey and the Black Sea. First she lived in Belgrade, for a short while in Athens, and five years in Istanbul. Her work is about the concepts of borders, land, desire, identity, belonging, memory and history, how those histories are told and how identities are expressed. Her books have been widely acclaimed. Sean O'Hagan, writing in The Guardian, said "She is perhaps best known for Sweet Nothings, one of my favourite photography books of recent years". She Dances on Jackson was considered by Simon Bainbridge (editor of the BJP), Sean O'Hagan, Rob Hornstra and other reviewers to be shortlisted amongst the best photography books released in 2013. Phil Coomes, Picture editor at BBC News said "This is pure photography, and in my view, when viewed as a whole, is about as good as it gets." Winship and George Georgiou travel together, alternating between one working and the other either supporting them or experimenting with their own photography. She uses black-and-white photographic film in natural light. For her work in a reportage – or street – style she has used a 35 mm hand-held camera, for her landscape work she has at times used a medium format camera and for her portraiture work she has at times used a 5×4 inch large format camera. She says of the difference between using 35 mm and large format that "Each methodology makes for a different relationship with my subjects [and] both have their own beauty for me." Source: Wikipedia
Evy Huppert
United States
Evy Huppert lives and works in the Upper Valley of the Connecticut River spanning Vermont and New Hampshire. She is a fine art photographer, administrator, and educator. Her black and white film-based work explores emotional narrative in both landscape and portraiture. A native of Minnesota and long-time resident of New England, she considers herself to be a true 'child of the North.' Permanently light-deprived, her remedy for personal and collective seasonal affective disorder is making images that are often about light itself. Evy is a 2019 Critical Mass Finalist. Her work has been exhibited as a Portfolio Showcase by the Davis-Orton Gallery, Hudson NY, and included in exhibitions at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester MA, ASmith Gallery, Johnson City, TX, the Center for Fine Art Photography, Ft. Collins, CO, PhotoPlace Gallery, Middlebury, VT and others. Her project "Wild Spirits" was featured in Lenscratch in July 2019. Evy was the Fall, 2017 featured Emerging Photographer in SHOTS Magazine. Her work has also appeared in The Hand Magazine, and will be included in the forthcoming 10th anniversary issue of Diffusion Annual. Wild Spirits I made this work on journeys south to untamed places in the Sea Islands of Georgia with a tribe of like-minded artists. The images and characters come from dreams and memories the land drew out from my personal mythology. Timeless, yet inhabited for millennia, the islands carry a spiritual presence of deep wildness palpable in the light and shadows; the ancient alligators and birds, the feral pigs and donkeys, and the artifacts of their existence lying everywhere. My photographs explore the emotions and spiritual experiences that the land and the light evoked: vulnerability, captivity, lost-ness, sanctuary, and wildness set free. Photographing in collaboration with the other artists, I conceived of these images made on black and white film as stills taken from a movie. Each is an instant of a longer feature, of a fuller picture not seen but understood to exist. There is a narrative between the frames and a soundtrack within us that I aim to invoke. What we imagine might be the rest of the story is as much a part of the photograph as what we believe we are seeing.
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
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.
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