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Michael Ackerman

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Interview With Michael Ackerman

By Anna Moderska

That is the first thing I wanted to ask. I've read that you prefer slide shows rather than regular exhibitions. Why?

I prefer slideshows because they happen in a small room in the dark, like a movie.

The music during the slideshow is very special and moving, for those who are keen on sounds probably as much as the photos themselves. How do you decide on music chosen for the show? Is it made specially for it?

The music was not made especialy for me. i'm not sure how i chose it. there are many things i tried and this is what remained.

All of your photos presented in galleries that I saw are black and white. Does it mean you don't like colour photography?

No. Maybe i will try it some day.

What are the stories about, that you show? Another words, what moves you to move people?

I can't really say what the stories are about or why the need to show pictures to people. i think some things don't need explanation.

And artist when one makes art, shows it, has an idea of what would like to achieve as a performer. How would you like people to react on your art? What do you try to achieve through your art?

I think i want people to see themselves in the pictures because i think i only photograph people i recognise something of myself in. that might sound too abstarct or even untrue but i din't know how else to say it.

While meeting people at your slide shows, what do you cherish most?

A few drinks.

When you work with young people at the photography workshops of different kind, what do you tell them is the most important in photography?

To make mistakes.

You have cooperated with many artists, performers. Which do you find the most interesting for you and why?

Not sure.

In all the biographies accesible on the net it is mentioned you come from Israel, although you have left it when you were really a child. It seems like an important heritage for you. Could you say something more about it?

I think in all biographies place of birth is mentioned. i don't know how important it is for me. sometimes i think it's more important that i was moved from my place at an early age and it could have been from anywhere. when the roots or the connections are broken it has to have an effect on anyone from any place. we are always told that rootlesness is a part of being jewish but i think the feeling of not belonging is true to being alive. people cover it up or deny it... this is a big question and i'm probably not answering well. for sure i don't feel at home anywhere.

You have travelled a lot, for the last two years you have lived in Cracow. What do you find about this place different than other that you decide on living here?

It's a beautiful hole to hide in.

What is your dream, as an artist and also as Michael Ackerman?

Also big question. No answer.

Michael Ackerman
Interviewed by Anna Moderska


© Michael Ackerman

Michael Ackerman


Born on 3rd of September 1967 in Tel Aviv, Israel. In 1974 his famili moves to New York where in 1985 he goes to New York University in Alabany, but in the end he starts photographing and gets worse at school.

He leaves University in 1990 goes back to NY to shoot streets, night-clubs, docks. Starts his own darkroom in his mother’s kitchen. He also has his first individual exhibition at Alabany Centre Galleries. He works sending weekly pictures to New York Perspectives – free city newspaper.

In 1993 he goes to India for the first time where among different cities that he shoots, the most charming for Ackerman is Benares – which he visits many times.

In 1995 he starts working for the Village Voice. He designs his first slideshow for New York University Students. This will be the way to present his works in the future (pictures combined with music). He meets Barbara Millstein who works for Brooklyn Museum – she buys from him three photos for the Museum’s collection and declares strong support. Michael goes to India again, worked in Benares. After coming back to New York he meets The Cohen brothers – film directors, with whom he starts a longterm friendship and artistic cooperation.

In 1996 he meets Margaret Bodell with help of which he has his first exhibition in New York City. He goes to Italy where he has his first European exhibition in Brescia at Ken Damy Museum. He starts cooperation with Elena Ceratti from Grazia Neri agency and gallery in Milano. He shares darkroom in New York with photographers like: Teru Kuwayama, Gigi Cohen and Sean Sime. He shoots Times Square Streets when it turnes into turist paradise.

“The Last Days of Times Square” exhibition is being placed in 1997 at Margaret Bodell’s gallery. He designes slideshow at “The Community Garden” in downtown Manhattan. He starts yearly cooperation with many photographers, such as Erik Wolf and Teru Kuwayama and musicians, such as Mark Mulcahy and Cat Power. He goes for the third time to Benares and makes about 100 pictures with the idea of creating a book. He shoots Cabbagetown, Atlanta for the purpose of “Smoke” Project. He travels all around Europe, meets and starts working with Christian Caujolle, UV gallery director in Paris. He meets Robert Delpire, who agrees to publish photography album from Benarespod titled “End Time City”.

Individual exhibitions take place in Berline, Vigo, Bobigny and New York in 1998. He is invited by Slawomir Sierzputowski, photography director of Gazeta Wyborcza, to Poland. He works in Warsaw, Cracow, Katowice and Auschwitz. He receives awary “The International Center of Photography Infinity Award – Young Photographer”.

In 1999 “End Time City” is being published in France by Nathan Delphire and worldly by Scalo. First individual exhibition is taking place at UV Gallery, as well as exhibitions in New York, Honfleur, Groningen, Milano, Briesc and Madrit. Amnesty International organizes moving gallery “The Last Days of Times Square” in France. “End Time City” Album receives award Prix Nadar for the album of the year.

The next year he works in Naples, Marseiile, Berlin, Katowice and Havanna. Individual exhibitions take place in 2000 in Zurich, Vavey, Nyon, Marseille and Rotterdam. “Smoke” project photos are added to Jem Cohen and Pet Sillen film “Benjamin Smoke”. Starts working with the album “Fiction”. He was giving lectures at photography workshops in Tuscan, near Sienna and also in El Centro Del Imagen in Mexico City.

In 2001 Delphire in France publishes “Fiction” and Gine Kahayoff publishes word edition of it. Ackerman prepares his second individual exhibition in UV gallery and spends night in Le Petit bar in Paris making Polaroid portraits of the bar’s clients.

Next years are abort continuing portraiting people In bars. Polaroids are being turned into bigger pictures and added as panel to individual exhibition in Munich and Belgrad as well as photography Biennale in Naarden He gives lectures during workshops in Tuscany, Mexio Venice and New York. He moves to Cracow and starts working in Eastern Europe.

Anna Moderska

wersja polska »»

Michael Ackerman

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