Monday, March 1, 2010

Duane Michals - Nothing is as it seems

I came across these wonderful quotes from Duane Michals a photographer who is on of my short list of favorite artists with a camera. The quotes deal with "appearance" which sits alongside the idea of "view" which is up there with the Buddhist concept of "emptiness".

Here they are:

"Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what it appears to be."

“How foolish of me to believe that it would be that easy. I had confused the appearance of trees and automobiles, and people with a reality itself, and believed that a photograph of these appearances to be a photograph of it. It is a melancholy truth that I will never be able to photograph it and can only fail. I am a reflection photographing other reflections within a reflection. To photograph reality is to photograph nothing.”

Michals, now 78, is largely self-taught, and makes work noted for its strange innovation with a style which often features photo-sequences and the incorporation of text to examine emotion and philosophy. A unique body of work.

It is little wonder then that in 1965 he travelled to Belgium to photograph Rene Magritte.
He writes of that visit: "If I indulge myself and surrender to memory, I can still feel the knot of excitement that gripped me as I turned the corner into Rue Mimosas, looking for the house of Rene Magritte. It was August, 1965. I was 33 years old and about to meet the man whose profound and witty surrealist paintings had contradicted my assumptions about photography."

And a delight to see that in May Steidl will publish a book of Michals Magritte photographs.

Sadly my attempt to persuade him to come to Auckland to present at an AUT ST PAUL St workshops failed. "Too far", he said.
Michals is known for his irreverent, sense of humor. On various attempts to reach him by phone I was pleased to find him "not home" because I then got to listen to his crazy answer phone messages for which he is renowned.

The photographs:

Christ in New York, No. 2: Christ Sees a Women Who Has Died During An Illegal Abortion

This Photograph is My Proof, 1974

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