"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Thursday, March 14, 2013

michael wolf

I'm assembling work for my May exhibition and have been looking again at my Streetcar series. Recently I just happened to come across this amazing work by German photographer Michael Wolf.

Wolf grew up in Canada, Europe and the US. He moved to Hong Kong in 1994, where he worked for Stern Magazine for eight years. Since 2001, he has been working on his own projects. He won first prize in the World Press Photo Award Competition in 2005 and then again in 2010.

He has made a lot of work. His focus is on life in huge cities. His projects document the architecture and the culture therein. "Tokyo Compression" is the series that blew me away. Here's how it is described on his website:

"with his most recent series, wolf moves away from the ‘objective’ detachment of his early work to question the role of the photographer within the city. this is perhaps most evident in tokyo compression. in this series, he aims his camera at captive passengers pressed against the windows of the crammed tokyo subway. the density is no longer architectural but human, as commuters fill every available square inch of these subway cars. as with architecture of density wolf uses a ‘no exit’ photographic style, trapping the gaze of the viewer within the frame just as the passengers are unable to escape the confinement of these temporary cells. the images create a sense of discomfort as his victims attempt to squirm out of view or simply close their eyes, wishing the photographer to go away. tokyo compression depicts an urban hell and by hunting down these commuters with his camera, wolf highlights their complete vulnerability to the city at its most extreme."

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