In the first of a series of six solo shows exhibiting the works of Masters in Photography students at Brussels’ Sint Lukas, current Word intern Miles Fischler will be presenting two series at Brussels’ Recyclart. We put a few questions to the budding talent in the run up to the show’s opening this Thursday.
Token, the series you’ll be presenting at Recyclart, takes as starting point personal family pictures to reveal only the slightest of details – what are you hoping to achieve by paring the image down to such an extent?
First of all I find the visual result of zooming in closely on these photos very interesting. One colour gets divided into many different tints and the grain gets emphasised. Also it implies that a specific choice was made, cropping the image exactly this way. The viewer gets the feeling that the image has an important meaning.
The crops were made very intuitively. Something intrigued me and I decided to isolate that element, leaving out the original context. By cropping, the images become more recognisable or even universal, on one hand, but they also bring up many questions due to the lack of information.
The crops were made very intuitively. Something intrigued me and I decided to isolate that element, leaving out the original context.
In addition to Token, you’ll also be presenting another series at Recylcart – can you tell us a little bit about it?
I have been working on this new series for a few months now, but it is still a work in progress. It consists of screenshots of places I found on Google Earth. I started making this series by coincidence. I found one image which led to another and so on. The screenshots mostly show isolated buildings or other man-made structures. They often seem surreal or even absurd at times, the 45 degrees perspective also plays a big part in this. I decided to show this series together with Token, because they have a lot in common. They are both fragments of images taken from archives, so they both have this specific grain and lack of sharpness in them.
How would you describe your overall approach to photography?
I suppose visually, I’d divide my photography in two parts: the series where I use archival images and the rest of my work. Colour and composition are important in all of my work. I need to reach a certain balance between shapes, light and colours to be satisfied with an image. Many of my pictures are made when I stumble upon scenes where everything kind of fits together and I photograph them. With my series using archival material I also worked in this visceral way. Except here I’m searching for something specific in a collection of already existing images.
I need to reach a certain balance between shapes, light and colours to be satisfied with an image.
What are the references you feel are the most present in your work? Who would/should you credit the most for shaping your visual narrative?
The photographers who use archives that I appreciate a lot are Michael Wolf who used Google Street View to make very pixelated screenshots of pedestrians in all kinds of situations. Gestures and human behaviour play a big role.I also love KesselKramer’s work. The collections of other people’s personal archives bundled in their series of In Almost Every Picture are crazy, endearing and sometimes pretty hilarious. In general, I really appreciate some colour photographers from the ’70’s and 80’s like Joel Meyerowitz, Saul Leiter, Harry Gruyaert, William Eggleston, Joel Sternfeld. The way they frame their photographs and are able to obtain a kind of balance and the choice of colours are really exceptional.
Recyclart can sometimes be a challenging space to exhibit in, what did you think?
It’s not the typical white box gallery. You have to make it work. But I enjoy working within constraints, it forces you to think more deeply and be creative. It is a pretty big space for me alone, so I can’t complain. Plus, I really like the windows in the front.
I enjoy working within constraints, it forces you to think more deeply and be creative.
You’ve been working with us at The Word for a while now – how, if at all, has a more commissioned-based environment to photography informed your artistic approach?
I don’t think my photographic style has changed much. But working with deadlines does make you learn to be extra watchful and think things over before releasing the shutter. Also not every place I have photographed was as simple and nicely structured as I would have wished. So again, the constraints make you think further and be extra concentrated.
The exhibition is the first in a series of 6 from Masters students in photography at Sint-Lukas. What were the guidelines/tips handed over to you by your teacher?
You have to think of the bigger picture. How everything works in the whole. So even if there’s an image you absolutely want to show, sometimes in function of the series you have to let it go. What we hear a lot as well is that it’s all about persistence. Keep on inviting the right people and they might just show up…
What, in your eyes, will make this exhibition ‘A success”, if an exhibition can be talked about in those terms….
I really enjoy it when people see something new in my work, make associations I hadn’t thought of. It’s nice to discover something else in your own work. It reminds you that the meaning of your work is ever-changing. In that way your work can stay relevant. So if I have someone come talk to me and tell me something new, then I guess that would be a success for me, since he/she might have opened or changed my perspective.
If I have someone come talk to me and tell me something new, then I guess that would be a success for me, since he/she might have opened or changed my perspective.
Other than your studies and your ongoing internship at The Word, what’s next in the coming months?
I’m dreaming of my trip to California in September, really looking forwards to traveling around. I always get a great boost when I’m in a new place and photograph a lot more then when at home (I think that’s something most photographers have in common). For the rest I’m looking for different experiences to prepare me for the moment I graduate.The exhibitions runs from Thursday 20th to Sunday 22nd February. Recyclart – 25 Rue des Ursulines, 1000 Brussels. recyclart.be