Saturday, March 10, 2012

►Misha Gordin - An image that talk

Misha Gordin was born in 1946, the first year after World War II ended. Having survived the hardships of evacuation, Gordin's parents returned back home to Riga, Latvia, after the war which was then under Soviet occupation. Growing up among the Russian speaking population of Latvia, Russian became Gordin’s root culture. He graduated from the technical college as an aviation engineer but never worked as such. Instead he joined Riga Motion Studios as a designer of equipment for special effects. At this time social realism was an official culture of the country and having little formal knowledge about art, Gordin did not care about it too much. Information about modern western art was scarcely available.

Gordin started to photograph when he was nineteen, driven by his desire to create a personal style and vision. He was involved in portraiture and did some documentary shots, but soon realized the results were unsatisfactory. Putting his camera aside, Gordin concentrated on reading (Dostoevsky, Bulgakov) and cinematography (Tarkovsky, Parajanov). He was constantly looking for the right way to express personal feelings and thoughts using photography.
One year later it came to him clearly and simply. Gordin decided to photograph "concepts" rather than the literal capturing of a moment on film. In 1972, Gordin created his first, and most important image, Confession. Instantly recognizing the potential possibilities of his conceptual approach and the knowledge acquired from creating this image, Confession become the backbone for the work he has since produced.
In 1974, after years of disgust with communist authorities, Gordin left Latvia and immigrated to America.

Artist's Statement…
"My technique, though polished and improved throughout my career, cannot compete with the ease of digital manipulations. My first introduction to digital photography demonstrated how similar it is to analog techniques and I believe that a soul of a photograph, its magnetic language of feeling, can be achieved both ways. At this moment, however, I do not see any reason to switch to digital manipulation. My technique is unforgiving and laborious. Mistakes can be made, but not corrected. A trace of fear of making a mistake is present in every image I make, as is the precision of every move and the complete concentration necessary for my repetitive steps. These limitations and imperfections add to the power of my images with blade-line simplicity. While digital approaches may be instrumental in bringing conceptual photography from the periphery to a well-deserved place in Art Photography, I prefer the glowing material qualities of original gelatin-silver prints. Despite its similarities to other means of manipulating images, I think some element of "truthfulness" is lost in digital photography. It is, after all, truthfulness, and our trust in it, that made me choose photography as my tool.

The greatest power of the photograph – our belief in its straight-forward truthfulness – has been lost forever. We place our confidence in what accurately represents reality, and photography, with its realistic accuracy, has long been aligned with "truth" and its etymological relative, "trust". Its undeniable advantage to painting and other mediums is that we subconsciously believe that what is photographed has to exist. In the digital era, however, truth can be conjured and changes made quickly, with no chemicals, no darkness and no mistakes. An obviously manipulated image tries to "trick" its viewers with its version of the truth, thereby diminishing our trust in its image. The question arises: do my photographs represent external reality, or do they point inwards towards my soul? Am I documenting the existing world, or creating my own world, so real but nonexistent?

What truth can you find in the manipulated image, what is trustworthy about visions of a world that does not externally exist? And does it matter? To me it matters. The translation of personal concepts into the language of photography reflects possible answers to the major questions of being: birth, death, and life. The transformation of a concept into reality is an essential part of conceptual photography, and imbues it with the reality that resonates with one’s inner sphere of experience, as in painting, poetry, music, and sculpture. Conceptual photography employs the special talent of intuitive vision. The poor concept, perfectly executed and realistically portrayed, still makes a poor photograph.

In all my years of creating conceptual images, I have tried to make them as realistic as possible. The plausibility of my scenes is not the most important part; they function in such a way that the question "Is it real?" does not arise. The authenticity that I present is that of an interior moment, so that my viewers may trust and react to the conceptual truths that they may know to be external fictions. I don’t interpret my images. I feel them. Nevertheless I always encourage my viewers to interpret my work as they see or feel it. My goal is to create an image that talk."

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