Intervista a Miron Zownir
Intervista al fotografo berlinese Miron Zownir a seguito dell'esposizione dal 4 al 28 ottobre 2017 presso INTERZONE GALLERIA.
Camilla Ferrario: Since the seventies you have been dealing with street photography, photographing the urban underground culture. How have the street and who lives it changed over the years?
Miron Zownir: If I go back to the beginning when I started out, you’re talking about over 40 years. That’s a long time. 10 years longer than from 1914 to 1945, a period that included two world wars. Compared to that, the changes are much less significant. But if you compare the 70’s or the 80’s with now, it is obvious we lost much of our optimism, enthusiasm or believes in a better world. There is a feeling of failure, a sense of insignificance and fatalism. Liberty, personal freedom, and individuality became virtual values overwhelmed by capitalistic greed, disinformation and forced conformism. With the gentrification of our cities life on the streets got tougher and more desperate. There are much less loopholes for the undesired and less perspectives to recover and reintegrate. The funk and the glamour of the 70’s and 80’s is gone, there are no traces anymore left on the streets. And sometimes a street photographer’s camera is mistaken for a Kalaschnikow.
CF: Your style has never changed all these years. In your opinion, however, could you have taken the same photos you did in the past in today's world? Would the places and events you photographed then be photographed today with the same eyes?
MZ: My eyes didn’t change but the world as it always will. It is not my intention to force my stile on reality. I try to catch a significant moment in time. Situations I can’t ignore. And subconsciously I give them the frame of a painting, a composition of shadows that might raise questions.
The world doesn’t repeat itself. Every second is different. But misery, despair and loneliness have always the same look of defeat. They leave deeper traces than happiness and won’t be erased by cosmetics or facelifts.
CF: Generally speaking, how has the role of the photographer changed today, in a world full of images, in which everyone photographs and is photographed all the time?
MZ: My intention was never to play a role in the world of photography. I am not concerned with all the internet images but with my own vision. Nobody has to look at all that is imposed in the global internet media world. That can never replace a painting by Rembrandt or a photo by Weegee. You can’t force the public to be selective. It’s up to each individual to look or appreciate what he or she wants too. But the abundance of millions of images doesn’t make good art or photography superfluous. On the contrary. An abundance of pencils or computers didn’t produce more great literature either.
CF: In some ways, your work can be related to that of artists like Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, Robert Mapplethorpe, etc., who have been able to photograph the strange, the marginalized, the alternative, in a documentary and personal way at the same time. Who are the photographers you value the most?
MZ: Weegee, Diane Arbus, Brassai, W. Eugene Smith, Kertesz, Don Mc Cullin, Bruce Davidson, Josef Koudelka, Letizia Battaglia, Ed van der Elsken, Anders Petersen, Robert Frank, Gordon Parks - the list is long and even longer.
CF: You have witnessed some of the major historical crisis of the contemporary world (for example the plague of AIDS, the post-war period in Berlin, the revolution in Kiew, etc.), which you have represented according to your personal vision. What do you think of the delicate moment we are experiencing? Have you thought about whether and how to represent it?
MZ: Actually, I covered the Corona crises from the beginning of its first shot down. The isolation of the homeless, countless of demonstrations and arrest. It’s a tough time we’re living in. It enforces a sense of isolation and a feeling that we’re finally paying for all the senseless abuse of nature. But of course, some pay more than others. And some even profit from this global pandemic.