2 February - 30 March 2013
The exhibition was part of the Duesseldorf Photo Weekend 2013.
“I’m a reflection, photographing other reflections within a reflection. To photograph reality is to photograph nothing".
– Duane Michals
In 1958 Duane Michals travelled to the ex-Soviet Union and, with a borrowed camera, took his first pictures – portraits of people. He got so much approval for his photos when he returned that soon he started working as a freelance photographer for different magazines. His best client - to this day - is the French Vogue which has a penchant for commissioning Duane to do special projects. Those commissions gave him the financial space to do what he was interested in most – to understand life and to visualize, in his own "language". Michals soon found his own distinctive style. His first photo sequences emerged at the end of the 60s. At the beginning of the 70s he started to write stories in terms of poetic texts in ink under the photos. "I had a lot of things on my mind, that I wanted to talk about, personal and psychological things - questions that I was trying to answer - and they couldn’t be obtained in a single image." From then on, pictures and letters in form as well as in content create a bizarre symbiosis that are – along with his distinctive humour – so characteristic of his work. In it, he discusses the “conditio humana”, like Magritte, whom Michals appreciated a lot and of whom he made a series of great pictures. They can be seen in their own room in the Magritte Museum in Brussels. People meeting other people, with all their facets of love, fear, longing, disappointment, loneliness and, last but not least, the meeting with one-self, is the substance of Michals’ photos. The invisible turns visible. The “I“, a construct of the imagination, describes the world as interior and exterior and inevitably produces its own reality.
In his most comprehensive series, "The House I Once Called Home” (2001, 30 photographs), Michals reflects on his parent’s home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is a time travel through the memories of his childhood. In double exposures or superimpositions of new and old photos and in written texts under the pictures an intimate section of a life story is presented. It is a very private work, a hymn to life and to every human being. The observer almost automatically remembers his or her own family history, is led down “memory lane”.
“When I indulge the whims of nostalgia,
And daydream bittersweet scenarios of what might have been, These foolish phantoms of regret vanish
In the clear light of reality,
And everything is as it should be.
Our little lives are thus -
Perfect in their pain and happiness. “
The series “Things are Queer" from 1971 invites the observer to a happy hunting ground through his spacial awareness and fantasy. It is a game of difference in size and a picture within the picture. And one asks oneself: what is really happening here? Other photo sequences that can be seen are, among others: “The Once and Always Now”, “Andy Warhol”