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What interests me in photography is what you can create with the images.
This is how Michael Ackerman starts introducing himself. A narrator who uses images to tell stories. There is a relationship between photography and reality, photos are not inventions but meeting points.
In his artistic research in black and white, he steals fragments of reality, photographs people he might know or maybe not, trying to capture something that is difficult to grasp: the essence.
Photography is writing with light, a language that builds a relationship between the person behind the camera and the one in front. When he started, he took photographs of everything in the world, now he creates a relationship with the people he photographs. Ackerman recalls the memory of a woman dancing in the subway in Berlin, and of how he wanted to photograph her. To do it, he started dancing along, following her moves and her emotional energy. It wouldn’t have been the same if he would have asked her to stand in front of the camera.
Ackerman talks about his work and if you ask him why he still shoots film, he answers simply that photography is instinct and when he prints an image he wants it to surprise him, to teach him something. He lets surprises and accidents influence his work.
This is how it is – there is no set rule for taking a good photograph.
Every image has a power, something to communicate, that does not fully reveal itself immediately, the first time you see it. ‘When I look at my work, I see limits, I explore the territory of emotions – and each time I look at it , it reveals something new’. This is what happens when you show your photographs to somebody. We all feel images in a different way and this is an opportunity of creating a connection. We all need to share our life with other people and photography is a way of doing it.
According to Ackerman, the making of a photograph is an experience filled with emotions that are continuously transformed. It is his way of trying to capture what an action can trigger. His openness and the lack of bias allow him to face in an extraordinary way issues dealing with the passing of time and death. His curiosity and openness challenge shades, capturing even the tiniest sparkle of light.
Images portray crystallized life, as amber protects the mosquito, and they vibrate with movement in the stories that Ackerman mounts as videos. Sequences and still frames that create a different time; far from real life, they have the same magnetic power of movies, theatre plays, novels.
In every frame, time is suspended – but they are nonetheless vibrant with life. He photographs people because they suggest something to me and imagines that other people, looking at them, can have different feelings.
This is the mystery in Michael Ackerman’s images. They arouse questions to which the photographer does not want to give an answer. He is telling us something: this is what it is.
Micamera / Giulia Menegardo
Michael Ackerman is an American photographer born in Tel Aviv in 1967 and grew up in New York in 1974 with his family. Today he lives and works in Warsaw. He is represented by Agence VU
He has published three monographies: End Time City (Nathan Delpire / Scalo 1999), Fiction (Delpire / Gena Kehayoff, 2001), Half Life (Delpire / Dewi Lewis / Lunwerg / Peliti, 2010)
For his books: www.micamera.com