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Lise Sarfati
Lise Sarfati

Lise Sarfati

Country: France
Birth: 1958

Lise Sarfati has lived and worked in the United States since 2003. She has realized six important series of photographs there. They have been followed by exhibitions and publications. Each of her works makes clear the identity of an approach focused on the intensity of the rapport established with the person photographed, and of that person with the context. A vision in which the individual is environment, a map outlining a perilous cultural geography. The richness of perception is constructed without effects. The compositions are flawless in the simplicity and unity of the image – the style tends to be elementary and clean, avoiding all qualifications, but the traits of each thing and each person trace a hundred thousand folds. The dimension of the interplay of postures is that of a solemn immaturity: the scenery formed by the people and places is the silent crumpling of a dream in which each risks his or her skin. A feminine seduction tinged with fateful coincidences; the beauty of the adolescents looks like a magic spell. Their solitude and strangeness in the world turn the image into an echo chamber inhabited by the photographer, her subject and the viewer.

The earlier period of a photographic work carried out in Russia (continuously from 1989 to 1999) confirms the tendency of this research. She identifies a very precise and endless psychological spectrum. The projections, the ambitions associated with the immense space, the way in which they compose these figures, play an essential role: the supporting roles are incandescent. A determinism of the heroic, inevitably tragic figure, as if not even we really have another choice.

 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Ernst Haas
Austria/United States
1921 | † 1986
Ernst Haas was born in Vienna and began studying photography at the Graphische Lehr und Versuchsanstalt in Vienna six years before acquiring his first camera in 1946. After several photography-related jobs, he was offered a position at Life, and his first feature article, "Returning Prisoners of War," was published in both Heute and Life in 1949. This prompted Robert Capa to invite Haas to join the Magnum agency, the international cooperative founded by Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and Chim (David Seymour). Also in 1949, Haas purchased a Leica and began experimenting with color photography, the medium in which his work is best known. His "Magic Images of New York," a twenty-four-page color photo essay, which appeared in LIFE in 1951 was both his and LIFE's first long color feature in print. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Haas worked in both black-and-white and color, contributing to LIFE, Look, Vogue, and Holiday. He also worked as a still photographer for films, among them The Pharaohs, The Misfits, and Little Big Man. Haas served as president of Magnum in 1959-60, and as second director for The Bible (John Huston was first director) in 1966. The Creation (1971), a book of his photographs, eventually sold more than 300,000 copies. Ernst Haas pioneered the use of color photography at a time when it was considered inferior to black-and-white as a medium for serious creative photographers. His innovative use of the slow shutter speed, which gave many of his pictures the illusion of movement, and his emphasis on audiovisual presentations (works involving sound, poetry, and pictures) opened many possibilities in color photography and in multimedia art. Although he is famous for his color photography, Haas's black-and-white images are among the most incisive, evocative, and beautiful images of postwar Europe and America, as was demonstrated in ICP's exhibition of his work in 1993. Source: ICP
Dennis Stock
United States
1928 | † 2010
Dennis Stock (July 24, 1928 – January 11, 2010) was an American photojournalist and documentary photographer and a member of Magnum Photos. He was born in New York City and died in Sarasota, Florida. Stock served in the United States Army from 1947-1951. Following his discharge, he apprenticed under photographer Gjon Mili. In 1951, he won a first prize in a Life magazine competition for young photographers. That same year, he became an associate member of the photography agency Magnum. He became a full partner-member in 1954. In 1955, Stock met the actor James Dean and undertook a series of photos of the young star in Hollywood, Dean's hometown in Indiana and in New York City. He took a photograph of Dean in New York's Times Square in 1955 (the year Dean died) that became an iconic image of the young star. It appeared later in numerous galleries and on postcards and posters and was one of the most reproduced photographs of the post-war period. The black and white photograph shows the actor with a pulled up collar on a casual jacket and a cigarette in his mouth on a rain-soaked, gray day. From 1957 until the early 1960s, Stock aimed his lens at jazz musicians, photographing such people as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Sidney Bechet, Gene Krupa and Duke Ellington. With this series of photographs he published the book Jazz Street. In 1962, he received the first prize at the International Photo Competition in Poland. In 1968, Stock left Magnum to start his own film company, Visual Objectives Inc., and made several documentaries, but he returned to the agency a year later, as vice president for new media and film. In the mid-1970s, he traveled to Japan and the Far East, and also produced numerous features series, such as photographs of contrasting regions, like Hawaii and Alaska. In the 1970s and 1980s he focused on color photography of nature and landscape, and returned to his urban roots in the 1990s focusing on architecture and modernism.(Source: en.wikipedia.org) Dennis Stock was born in 1928 in New York City. At the age of 17, he left home to join the United States Navy. In 1947 he became an apprentice to Life magazine photographer Gjon Mili and won first prize in Life's Young Photographers contest. He joined Magnum in 1951. Stock managed to evoke the spirit of America through his memorable and iconic portraits of Hollywood stars, most notably James Dean. From 1957 to 1960 Stock made lively portraits of jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Sidney Bechet, Gene Krupa and Duke Ellington for his book Jazz Street. In 1968 Stock took a leave of absence from Magnum to create Visual Objectives, a film production company, and he shot several documentaries. In the late 1960s he captured the attempts of California hippies to reshape society according to ideals of love and caring. Then throughout the 1970s and 1980s he worked on color books, emphasizing the beauty of nature through details and landscape. In the 1990s he went back to his urban origins, exploring the modern architecture of large cities. His recent work was mostly focused on the abstraction of flowers. Stock generated a book or an exhibition almost every year since the 1950s. He taught numerous workshops and exhibited his work widely in France, Germany, Italy, the United States and Japan. He worked as a writer, director and producer for television and film, and his photographs have been acquired by most major museum collections. He served as president of Magnum's film and new media division in 1969 and 1970.(Source: Magnum Photos)
Lucas Foglia
United States
1983
Lucas Foglia grew up on a small family farm in New York and currently lives in San Francisco. His work focuses on the intersection of human belief systems and the natural world. He recently published his third book of photographs, Human Nature, with Nazraeli Press. Foglia exhibits internationally, and his prints are in notable collections including International Center of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Victoria and Albert Museum. He photographs for magazines including Bloomberg Businessweek, National Geographic Magazine, and The New York Times Sunday Magazine. Foglia also collaborates with non-profit organizations including Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, and Winrock International. Source: lucasfoglia.com A Natural Order I grew up with my extended family on a small farm in the suburbs of New York City. While malls and supermarkets developed around us, we farmed and canned our food, and heated our house with wood. We bartered the plants we grew for everything from shoes to dental work. But, while my family followed many principles of the back-to-the-land movement, by the time I was eighteen we owned three tractors, four cars, and five computers. This mixing of the modern world into our otherwise rustic life made me curious to see what a completely self-sufficient way of living might look like. From 2006 through 2010, I traveled throughout the southeastern United States befriending, photographing, and interviewing a network of people who left cities and suburbs to live off the grid. Motivated by environmental concerns, religious beliefs, or the global economic recession, they chose to build their homes from local materials, obtain their water from nearby springs, and hunt, gather, or grow their own food. All the people in my photographs aspire to be self-sufficient, but no one I found lives in complete isolation from the mainstream. Many have websites that they update using laptop computers, and cell phones that they charge on car batteries or solar panels. They do not wholly reject the modern world. Instead, they step away from it and choose the parts that they want to bring with them. Frontcountry The American West is famous for being wild, even though its rural areas have been settled for generations. The regions I photographed between are some of the least populated in the United States. In rural Nevada, there are still twice as many cows as there are people. While the ranchers I met were struggling to survive the economic recession and years of drought, almost anyone could get a job at the mines. Coal, oil, natural gas, and gold were booming. Ranching and mining in the American West have had parallel histories and a common landscape. Cowboys and ranching culture are the chosen representatives of the region. Men on horseback ride through countless movies. Their images are printed on license plates and tourist souvenirs. But, the biggest profits are in mining. Though miners haven't found any raw nuggets for generations, the American West remains one of the largest gold producing regions in the world. Companies are digging increasingly bigger holes to find smaller deposits, leaving pits where there once were mountains. When I first visited, I expected cowboys to be nomads, herding animals on the edge of wilderness. I quickly learned that most ranchers have homes with mortgages. I also learned that all mines close eventually. When a mine closes, the land is scarred. The company leaves and people have to move. Miners are the modern-day nomads, following jobs across the country.
Urszula Tarasiewicz
Urszula Tarasiewicz, Photographer, organizer of events and photo exhibitions. Studied at the National Film School in Łódź, Poland. I produce pictures with a medium format Hasselblad, which for me retains a particular sort of magic. The quality, the way light works on film, always elevates my interest when I decide to shoot a particular subject. The 'truth in photography' is a continuous debate. But that idea has always fascinated me. I observe the space around me, searching for a contrast between people and their environments. At times I allow the subject to play different roles or use simple props to alter the mood in the picture. There are many stories you can choose from when you observe the picture. I like the viewer to question its authenticity. For me, it's the interpretation that creates the magic. - Urszula Tarasiewicz Her photographs are the effect of acute observation of her surroundings and the ability to notice intriguing details and phenomena which are sometimes absurd and marginal, sometimes sentimental reminiscences of the People's Republic of Poland and the birth of the capitalism in Poland. Marcin Krasny The artist's eye focuses on the margins of reality, the kitsch and grotesque public space. Simple, plain and ascetic compositions, or quite the opposite - full of details, colorful - frames of Urszula Tarasiewicz's works depict the world as a place which is not as much absurd as it is pleasant and charming- Anna Czaban - Art Historian Urszula Tarasiewicz /b. 1975/ studied Photography at the Leon Schiller National Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź, Poland. The works from the series New Urban Legends which are on display at the andel's Hotel in Łódź /curator Lucyna Sosnowska/ have won the portrait category at the 2010 Curator's Contest of the Photo District News Magazine, the 2012 New Talent Award of the German edition of the FotoMagazine, as well as the contest of the Norwegian photography magazine Fotografii for a place at the 17#Debutantutstilling 2012 exhibition in Oslo. The New Urban Legends series has been exhibited in, among others, the Milk Gallery NYC (2010). Other photo series by Urszula Tarasiewicz have been shown internationally: in the US at the Critical Mass exhibition (2012), the series The Future Is So Bright created in Norway during the Artist in Residence program at the Halsnøy monastery was presented at a group exhibition in Norway in 2013 and in Warsaw in 2015 at the Ja to Ktoś Inny show /curator Klima Boheńska/, at the Krinzinger Galerie in Vienna during the group exhibition Call Me on Sunday (2014, curator Ursula Maria Probst), at the Jam Factory gallery in Oxford (2014), in Stuttgart at the Face to Face show (2014), at the Bunkier Sztuki gallery in Kraków during the show Kasa z Widokiem /curator Lidia Krawczyk. Ogrodowa/Garden Street Garden Street, A project documenting flats after evictions on Garden Street. 150 families left the building. It was the first residential complex for workers in 1880 in the new industrial city of Lodz. Izrael Poznański wealthy entrepreneur (1833-1900) is regarded as being one of the icons of Łódź. His monumental factory just across Ogrodowa street along with the labourers' tenement houses, is a true city within a city. In its best years, nearly 7000 people in total worked and lived here. The moment Poznański's empire fell after World War II was the beginning of the estate's and all of its inhabitants' long agony. Its fate was concluded with the decommissioning of the Poltex company in 1991. Famuły became a no man's land, its residents left to their own devices. The project 100 Tenement houses in Łódź, thanks to which a major renovation of the Poznański's factory housing estate started in 2014 was preceded by a long process of relocating all the residents. It was during this time I began to document the empty flats. The famuły rooms stun with their ruthlessness, their coldness, with the visibly absent inhabitants. The artist guides us around the world which is already gone, lost. Looking at Tarasiewicz's photos, we're confronted with desolate rooms, dilapidated walls out of which someone ripped off electrical wiring and where time imprinted the ghosts of furniture and lost artworks.
Zanele Muholi
South Africa
1972
Zanele Muholi was born in Umlazi, Durban, in 1972. She completed an Advanced Photography course at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown and held her first solo exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2004. She has worked as a community relations officer for the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), a black lesbian organisation based in Gauteng, and as a photographer and reporter for Behind the Mask, an online magazine on lesbian and gay issues in Africa. Her work represents the black female body in a frank yet intimate way that challenges the history of the portrayal of black women's bodies in documentary photography. Her solo exhibition Only half the picture, which showed at Michael Stevenson in March 2006, travelled to the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg and the Afrovibes Festival in Amsterdam. In 2008 she had a solo show at Le Case d'Arte, Milan, and in 2009 she exhibited alongside Lucy Azubuike at the CCA Lagos, Nigeria. She was the recipient of the 2005 Tollman Award for the Visual Arts, the first BHP Billiton/Wits University Visual Arts Fellowship in 2006, and was the 2009 Ida Ely Rubin Artist-in-Residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Muholi's photography has been compared to the way W.E.B. DuBois subverted the typical representations of African Americans. Both Muholi and Du Bois have created an archive of photos, working to dismantle dominant, pre-existing perceptions of the subjects they chose to photograph. Muholi views their work as collaborative, referring to the individuals they photograph as "participants" rather than as subjects. Seeking to empower their subjects, Muholi often invites participants to speak at events and exhibitions, adding the participant's voice to the conversation. Through their artistic approach they hope to document the journey of the African queer community as a record for future generations. They try to capture the moment without negativity or focusing on the prevalent violence, portraying the LGBTQI community as individuals and as a whole to encourage unity. Thus, their work can be considered documentative, recording the overall community LGBTI of South Africa and their challenges, and at times, more specifically the struggle of black lesbians. Before 1994, black lesbian voices were excluded from the making of a formal queer movement. Muholi's efforts of creating a more positive visualization of LGBTI Africans combats the homophobic-motivated violence that is prevalent in South Africa today, especially in the case of black lesbians. While black women's bodies appear frequently throughout sexualized pop-culture, black lesbians are viewed (through the lens of the patriarchy and heteronormativity) as undesirable. This negative view of homosexuals in Africa lead to violence, such as murder and rape, and rejection from their families. Muholi's Zukiswa (2010), shows an African lesbian woman making eye contact with the viewer, displaying an unwavering gaze of confidence, self-awareness, and determination. This example encourages awareness, acceptance, and positivity with the queer community as well as South Africa. Although Muholi became known as a photographer who engaged with the then-invisible lives of black lesbians in South Africa, they began to recognize this idea of "gender within gender." In 2003, and their sense of community definitively began to include trans people. Muholi was employed as a photographer and reporter for Behind the Mask, an online magazine on LGBTI issues in Africa. Muholi first received global attention from the art world in 2012 at Documenta, a world-famous exhibition of modern and contemporary art in (Germany), for a series of portraits of lesbians and transgender participants titled: Faces and Phases. The photos were also exhibited at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.Source: Wikipedia
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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Photographer and film director, Michel Haddi has photographed many high-profile celebrities while living in the USA including, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, David Bowie, Uma Thurman, Francis Ford Coppola, Cameron Diaz, Faye Dunaway, Nicholas Cage, Johnny Depp, Heath Ledger, Angelina Jolie, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and many others. He also manages a publishing house, MHS publishing, which publishes his own books. Currently based in London we have asked him a few questions about his life and work
Exclusive Interview with Sebastien Sardi
In 2008, Swedish photographer Sebastian Sardi, inspired by an article exposing hidden mining-related incidents, embarked on a photography journey. Without formal training, he explored mines and ventured to India's Jharkhand state to document coal miners in Dhanbad, known as the "coal capital." His project, "Black Diamond," captured the lives of people, including men, women, and children, dedicated to coal extraction in grueling conditions.
Exclusive Interview with Debra Achen
Monterey-based photographer Debra Achen was born and raised near Pittsburgh, PA, where she developed a passion for both nature and art. She studied a variety of studio arts, including drawing, painting, and printmaking in addition to her training in traditional film and darkroom photography. Her project 'Folding and Mending' won the September 2022 Solo Exhibition. We asked here a few questions about her life and work.
Exclusive Interview with Steve Hoffman
Steve Hoffman is a documentary photographer who has who spent the last dozen years working with and photographing the people that live the housing projects in Coney Island. He was the winner of the July and August 2022 Solo Exhibition. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive Interview with Aya Okawa
Aya is passionate about exploring the natural world and protecting ecosystems and wild landsAll about Photo: Tell us about your first introduction to photography. What drew you into this world? Her project The Systems That Shape Us'won the February 2022 Solo Exhibition. We asked her a few questions about her life and her work.
Exclusive Interview with Réhahn
Réhahn discusses his groundbreaking new photographic series ''Memories of Impressionism,'' his artistic journey during and after Covid, and how modernity can draw inspiration from the past. French photographer Réhahn's career started with a face. More specifically, the face of Madame Xong, an octogenarian with an ''ageless beauty'' and ''hidden smile'' that inspired the world. From there, his portraits and lifestyle photos were published all over the world, in pretty much every major magazine and media out there, including The New York Times, BBC, National Geographic and more. His work centered on people living ''outside of time'' with traditional jobs and skills that had been passed down through generations. This focus led to his Precious Heritage Project, the photographer's decade-long research project to document the more than 54 ethnicities currently living in Vietnam, along with their textile and craft traditions. The final collection is housed in The Precious Heritage Museum in Hoi An, Vietnam.
Exclusive Interview with Patrick Cariou
For more than 25 years, French photographer Patrick Cariou has traveled to places around the globe, documenting people living on the fringes of society. Whether photographing surfers, gypsies, Rastafarians or the rude boys of Kingston, Cariou celebrates those who meet the struggles of life with honor, dignity and joy. Bringing together works from his groundbreaking monographs including Surfers, Yes Rasta, Trenchtown Love and Gypsies, Patrick Cariou: Works 1985–2005 (published by Damiani) takes us on a scenic journey around the world, offering an intimate and captivating look at cultures that distance themselves from the blessings and curses of modernity.
Exclusive Interview with Niko J. Kallianiotis
Niko J. Kallianiotis' Athênai in Search of Home (published by Damiani) presents photos taken in and around Athens, the city in which he grew up. The images reflect the artist's eagerness to assimilate back into a home that feels at once foreign and familiar. Throughout the years the city and the surrounding territories have experienced their share of socio-economic struggles and topographic transformations that have altered its identity. The city of Athens in Kallianiotis' photographs is elliptically delineated as a vibrant environment that binds together luxury and social inequality. The photographer depicts a city in which the temporal and the spatial elements often clash with each other while conducting his research for a home that has changed over the years as much as he did.
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