Month of Photography in Dom umenia (House of Arts)
“I started photographing in 1967”, says Bruce Gilden in retrospect, “but I became Bruce Gilden in 1981 when I began using flash. This is when I came to realize that since I couldn’t be better than Henri Cartier-Bresson, I could be the best at being Bruce Gilden.”
Leaving behind the open backgrounds of Coney Island, Gilden felt ready to face the streets of New York City: “I decided to use flash, work very close and use my athleticism and my abundant energy to photograph the city.” New York is a vertical city, full of contrasts of light and nonstop motion. “In New York you have to be fast”, explained the photographer, “there’s sun, shade, people walking in front of you. It’s not like you are doing a photo shoot where everything is cordoned off.”
For the next 30 years, between commissions, personal projects, grants and assignments all over the world, Bruce Gilden returned to his favourite terrain, New York and Fifth Avenue in particular. “I guess what appeals to me the most”, he explains, “is that you never know what you will find around the next corner. I think that’s the best thing. When I work in New York City there are certain areas I go to all the time, but I never know in advance what I’ll see, and in what combination. It’s not always one person walking; there are different kinds of situations involved. It’s the unpredictability of the street that I’m fascinated with.”
As writer Hans –Michael Koetzle wrote, “Gilden is interested in people, in types and characters in a world of social difference, anatomical, contrasts, physical peculiarities”. The photographer reacts to human shapes and forms and French writer Pierre Borhan explains that “this search for form speaks of an honest interest in people, guided by empathy”. Interestingly, Gilden masters so well what Pierre Borhan called “his humor of contrasts” that some of his characters can make you smile, but they never make you laugh. “It’s not easy”, says the photographer, “there is a tricky fine line to avoid caricature”. What Bruce Gilden says about the people he captures in his pictures is one of the most intimate statements about photography:
“I love the people I photograph. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never met most of them or I don’t know them at all, yet through my images I live with them.”
Magazine pin-ups aren’t interesting, are they? Especially now that they’re shot digitally, they lack eroticism. They’re doing it wrong. That’s why I had to come in. It's not about an ambiance or concept; it’s about being real. Not realism, but real—ero-real. I have to say it straight. It’s not about nudity; clothed subjects can be erotic. There’s eroticism in the moments before undress and before being tied up. That element of implied eroticism has to be there. An image of a person just si ing in a hotel room can have what I call “erotic presence” because it anticipates the sexual relation that’s going to follow. Trust me, this is what today’s erotic photography needs.
Nobuyoshi Araki April 8, 2013
Nobuyoshi Araki’s photographs have always posed questions regarding how one forges relations with others and develops those relations in a meaningful manner. Eros and Thanatos, the fundamental themes of Araki’s works, have been interpreted in numerous ways through the various interpersonal relations he captures in his images. In the works of the current exhibition, Araki argues for the importance of what he calls “ero-real” photography in response to the clichéd visual expressions he sees in the pin-up photography disseminated throughout Japan. For him, the “erotic presence,” which comes into being prior to the development of interpersonal relations, enriches any relationship that follows. In his works, Araki continues to employ typical photographic metaphors. Flowers, adding further notion of eroticity to his already erotic snapshots. Kinbaku, the Japanese art of bondage, bringing aspects of eroticity, power, but also beauty.
And last but not least, the li le plastic dinosaur that impersonates the artist himself. But if you take your time to look more closely at the photographs, you inevitably find a subtle feeling of sadness and, so to say, wisdom of an old man who is coming to a close (Araki turned 77 this year). It is this dialectic that makes Araki’s work so unique.
Curator: Branislav Štepánek